Bali is my favorite place in the world. Here you will find beautiful hills, rice terraces, waterfalls, excellent surf, and such an amazing sense of community. Ahhh and the sunsets are the best I have ever seen. Ever. Each area of this city offers something different and if you still haven’t had enough, hop over to one of the many surrounding islands for a tropical retreat.
LANGUAGE: Balinese, Indonesian, English
CURRENCY: Indonesian Rupiah
CLIMATE: Tropical (hot & humid), Rainy season is Oct – April
DRESS CODE: Casual, Lightweight clothing as it can get very hot
GETTING AROUND: Grab, GoJek, Local taxi, Motobike
COST OF VISITING: $ – Hostels start at $3 per night and street food is a little as $2 to $3 (USD) per meal
TIPPING: Tipping is not expected but a nice gesture, some restaurants add a service charge to the bill
SAFETY: Generally a safe place, watch out for pickpockets as you would in any other city
PACKING ESSENTIALS: Sunscreen, Mosquito Repellent, Poncho
VISA: No visa needed for tourist visits under 30 days for US citizens, Must have passport valid for at least 6 months
FROM NGURAH RAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Bali is an island and the only way to reach it is by air unless you are coming from one of the nearby islands.
GRAB OR GOJEK
Grab and GoJek are both ride sharing apps that are able to pick you up from the airport. It takes around 15 minutes to get to Kuta, 40 minutes to Canggu, 40 minutes to Uluwatu, and 90 minutes to get to Ubud depending on traffic.
There are plenty of taxi drivers right outside of the arrivals hall. Taxi rates are much higher than ride sharing apps. I recommend pulling up Grab or GoJek to get an idea of how much it will cost to your destination. That way you can negotiate with the taxi drivers and have an idea on the price you should pay.
You are able to take a ferry from Lombok, the Gili Islands, or the Nusa Islands to Bali. The port is located in Sanur where you will then get need to get a Grab/GoJek or local taxi to your destination. Here the taxi commission is pretty strong, so if you use a ride sharing app, it would be good to not tell the taxi drivers that. A ferry to Bali will cost you about $10-$15 USD depending where you are coming from. The rate is slightly cheaper for locals.
WHICH AREA TO STAY IN BALI
Kuta was the first city in Bali where tourism really began. No matter what time of day or night, you will find people out doing things. There is a long stretch of white, sandy beach perfect for learning how to surf or spending the day lounging around. Kuta is a bit too touristy for my liking but a great place to go if you want to party.
Seminyak is Bali’s most stylish and posh resort area. Here you will find upscale clubs, fine restaurants, and boutique shops. The beach is more secluded than Kuta but the nightlife here is still excellent although a tad pricer than other areas.
Canggu is what Kuta used to be before it became packed with tourists. Here you will find plenty of good looking surfers with ripped bodies, cute bohemian style shops, and outdoor garden restaurants with excellent food. Many digital nomads live here and you will even find a few co-working spaces. Canggu is definitely my favorite beach city in Bali. It is quieter than Kuta and Seminyak and let’s hope it stays that way for awhile.
Uluwatu is located in the southwestern part of Bali and is much quieter than the other beach cities. There are more beaches here than the other cities and the waves are bigger making it a popular spot for more advanced surfers. The city was a little too quiet for my liking and it is more spread out so you definitely need a scooter. The sunsets here are absolutely amazing almost every single night. A good place to come and get away from the masses for a bit.
Ubud is definitely my favorite city in Bali which is surprising since I usually like beach towns. The nature is amazing here as you will find rice terraces and waterfalls all over the place. Boutique shops line the streets along with warungs serving excellent and decently priced food. The local community is strong here too. Everyone I met has some sort of side project going on to help those in need or to protect the environment. It was extremely inspiring. If I decide to move to Bali, this is likely where I will end up.
WHERE TO STAY
This lovely retreat offers shared dorm rooms, private dorms, and even huge single rooms. There is an excellent restaurant on site, as well as a co-working space you can use for free if you are staying there. There is a pool with a waterslide and they have events going on throughout the week including live music every night and art events to support local families. The staff is super helpful, I felt like family. Love this place and met so many amazing people here. Will definitely be coming back.
A great place to stay if you are staying in Legian between Kuta and Seminyak. I stayed here for a few nights because it is close to the airport and wanted to spend a few days learning how to surf. The beach here is long and beautiful and the waves are perfect for surfing if you are beginner. The hostel is clean and the beds are pod style giving you as much privacy as you want. Plus there is a rooftop pool with an excellent view of the beach.
I didn’t stay here but a few friends did and they brought me by to give e a tour. This place is truly magical. The decor is extremely creative and beautiful. There is a large pool, meditation rooms, and plenty of outdoor seating overlooking rice fields and a small river. The surrounding area is great too as it is nestled in a local community and gives you a sense of how the locals live. I will definitely be staying here when I return.
This is a quiet sanctuary that is perfect for those wanting to relax. The garden is beautiful and the rooms are spacious. Most of them are located in private bungalows with excellent wifi, aircon, and hot water. Plus the restaurant on site offers homecooked meals at great prices. Lovely place walking distance from some of the beaches and nightlife.
A lovely guesthouse hidden away off of a side street in the main area of Canggu. There is a beautiful pool here as well that no one is ever really using. You are located a short walk from the beach and also able to walk to most restaurants and shops.
WHAT TO EAT
WHERE TO EAT
So many great places to eat in Bali. Below is a list of restaurants in all areas and at all price points and cuisine types.
A gorgeous outdoor garden restaurant with excellent vegetarian food and smoothie bowls.
A coffee shop in Canggu that also serves amazing food. Try their poached eggs on avocado toast with a Bulletproof coffee. Mucho Sabroso.
A cute little Canggu cafe with limited indoor seating, but more can be found on the rooftop deck. Excellent food with a variety of options.
Balinese cuisine in Ubud with a pretty big menu and very affordable prices. I ended up eating here at least once a day every day while in Ubud. Sometimes even twice. They also have two locations making it likely that one will be in walking distance from you.
A funky little Indian restaurant in Ubud with delicious food and affordable prices. Try the turmeric lime coconut water. It is incredibly refreshing on a hot Bali day.
An amazing place with great energy. A sign there reads, “Imagine a place where you can feed your belly, mind, and soul to honor yourself as a beautiful being.” This is an excellent description of what you will find here. It is definitely something you need to experience for yourself. Serve yourself food from the buffet, wash your dishes when you are finished, and share your donation in one of the glass jars on the table.
A hidden gem in Ubud open either 24 hours or extremely late (We came here many nights around 3:30am after the bars closed). Excellent local food with vegetarian options as well.
A cute cafe with outdoor seating. They have a variety of food options, all which look amazing. Their breakfast is fantastic.
$, Mexican, Southwestern, Vegetarian Friendly
Jl. Kunti 1No. 6, Seminyak 80361, Indonesia (Map)
An excellent Mexican spot in Seminyak. Great flavors and big portions. I am pretty picky about burritos and this was one of my favs.
WHAT TO DRINK
WHERE TO DRINK
A great local bar in Ubud with a regular crowd who head here most nights. A dark local bar vibe with live music and also a variety of food. The best thing about this place is that a portion of their proceeds go to support the children from the Ginatri Foundation. Gives you a reason to order another round.
The Onion has live music every night of the week. Sometimes a band plays the entire night and they also have open mic night. Loved the regular crowd here full of great people who really enjoy playing music and just want to have fun. Started most nights here as the music stops at 11pm when we would then head to Lovin.
In this rockin Ubud bar, you will find live music on most nights, a good crowd, and plenty of pool tables.
A more upscale pool party and the place to be in Seminyak. No matter which area I was staying in Bali, people were always talking about this place. I didn’t get the chance to go but my friends did and had a blast. They have a huge pool with diving boards, and host international DJs for your drinking ambiance.
Single Fin is located in Uluwatu and is the place to be on Sunday nights. They have their Sunday night set featuring a DJ and also a live band. Multiple levels, pricey drinks, and pretty much everyone in Uluwatu.
In this upscale bar and dance club in Seminyak, you will receive a cold towel upon arrival. Each beer ordered comes with its own ice bucket, and appetizers are served freely throughout the entire place. Upstairs there is a club with a DJ, bar, and even has a stage with a stripper pole if you want to show off your moves.
Seems to be the place to go in Canggu most nights. Just your basic beer garden bar on the beach but there is always a crowd. Head here after sunset to enjoy some drinks, meet some new friends, and listen to live music.
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, Pretty Poison is the place to be. Such a cool underground bar + skatepark with great music as well. You can even get a tattoo while you are there!
WHAT TO DO
SEE THE SITES
Although touristy, monkey forest is a pretty beautiful place located right in the middle of Ubud. Here you will find lots of greenery and also monkeys all over the place. You can even get one to sit on your head if you are into that kind of thing.
Although you get a good view of the ocean for sunset, I would recommend staying away form this place. Way too many people and I don’t really understand what we paid for. We walked in and immediately left. Bus loads and bus loads of people. Help. Admission is 30,000 IDR.
GO TO THE BEACH
Bali has so many beautiful beaches, I couldn’t even begin to list all of them. Below is a list of some of the most popular ones but believe me, this is just a start.
Crowded, touristy but a good place to learn how to surf.
The beach here is pretty rocky but an excellent new surf spot to come and watch surfers do their thing. The waves are best for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Thomas Beach is another hidden gem in Uluwatu located at the bottom the limestone cliff that borders the coastline. The trek to get down here is a little intense as you need to walk down about a hundred steep steps, but it is well worth it. The beach is perfect for relaxing as there are hardly any people who come here. A great place for beginner surfers as well.
Suluban Beach is a very small but breathtaking hidden beach where you must walk through a cave to get there. A great place to come watch experienced surfers as there are some great adjacent reef breaks.
Located in Uluwatu, Bingin Beach is one of Bali’s most popular surf spots. Another beach hidden by rugged limestone cliffs. A great place to come surf, relax, watch the sunset, or take some photos of the beautiful coastline.
A well known sandy beach in Canggu near all of the popular bars, shops, and restaurants. Popular with surfers, offering many places along the beach with board rentals. Not the prettiest beach, but a great place to come and watch the sunset with a drink in your hand after a long day of surfing.
Dreamland Beach is located in Uluwatu and one of the many more hidden beaches in this area. Secluded by limestone cliffs, here you will find a long stretch of white sand and crystal blue water.
Green Bowl Beach is a secluded beach and surf spot 75 meters down a cliff in the village of Ungasan. A hidden gem in Bali unknown by most tourists.
LEARN HOW TO SURF
One of Bali’s top rated surf schools for all levels, offering both group and private lessons. They have plenty of instructors to make sure everyone gets the attention they deserve. The staff is wonderful, they even sent someone to come and pick me up from my hostel for no additional charge. The atmosphere is laid back and as a beginner, I felt completely comfortable during my lesson. It was an absolute blast.
GO ISLAND HOPPING
Near Bali, you will find a handful of islands with white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise water. Head over to Sanur and hop on a ferry to Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, Gili Meno, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Penida, or Nusa Lembongan.
TRY SOUND HEALING OR BREATHWORK
The ultimate sound healing experience in Ubud. Various sessions are held throughout the week in these two pyramids. I experienced a breathwork session here on a Wednesday night that was absolutely amazing. The whole atmosphere is peaceful and you will leave feeling incredibly refreshed. Highly recommend.
While there are many yoga studios around Bali (thousands most likely), this one was highly recommended by many. Even if you don’t book a class here, it is a good place to come and relax while you eat some delicious food with like minded individuals.
WATCH THE SUNSET
The sunsets in Bali are unbelievable. They are by far the most magnificent I have ever seen, and believe me, I have seen some good ones. It is amazing how every single night the sky will light up with pinks, oranges, yellows, and blues. The clouds seem to appear right before the sun goes down to grab the color and make it feel like you are walking in a dream.