Bali - Island of Gods
We already had the amazing chance to experience this island twice and still there is sooooo much more to discover (pictures of our first Bali trip here)
In this blog we share some of our own and our local friends' Bali travel tips - for your perfect Bali adventure!
- holiday package or exploring on your own? Definitely on your own!! Bali has so many wonderful places that it’d be a real waste to just stay in one (touristy) place the whole time.
- On our two trips to Bali we only booked the flights and a hotel for the first two nights and then we just drifted away only led by Bali's beauty.
- If you haven’t booked a transfer to your hotel in advance, it is advisable to get a taxi from the airport. But don’t book the drivers, who approach to you right outside the airport - far too expensive. Just go a little down the road and look for a "Bluebird" taxi. Shouldn’t there be a Bluebird available, take one of the other drivers but make sure to haggle the price down by at least 50%.
- THE insider tip: Erlangga 2 in Denpasar. This is a shopping center far away from those touristy hubs. Only the locals or insiders find their way to this hidden gem. We assume that the street vendors also buy their goods there. Accompanied by typical Balinese music (actually it is just one song in a continuous loop 😉) you can spend hours here showcasing handcraft, baskets, clothes or other souvenirs for hours to come.
- The easiest way to get around the island is by taxi, a private driver or hiring a scooter. The latter offers you the opportunity to discover all those beautiful hidden corners on your own. But watch out: left-hand traffic 😉
- Tegal Wangi is one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever been to. You will reach this little paradise over a rocky path. The beach lies below impressive cliffs and offers a breathtaking view on the beautiful sunset. Disadvantage: This beach is well-known among Bali travellers, but still worth a visit! For our photographer friends: This is a beloved (bridal) photo shoot spot. But as this is a privately owned property, a small fee (about 20 €) needs to be paid for a shooting permission.
- Mount Batur probably offers the most beautiful view over the lush island and out to the sea. You don't want to miss the sunrise from up there. In the middle of the night we were picked up from the hotel and at 4 o'clock in the morning the ascent of about 1.5 hours onto the volcano began (mind that Mount Batur is not the volcano, which recently caused travel warnings. It is Mount Agung that spits out ash clouds, but this only affects a small part of tourism in the region around the volcano's area, not the whole island). As we learned from a local on our trip in October 2016, the volcano breaks out about every 50 years. We will definitely keep you up to date here.
- Have some local food from the carts along the streets or in the local warungs
- Get a world-famous Balinese massage! Around every corner you'll find a massage parlor. The best of them is the Spiral Spa @Bloo in Padang Bai, owned by our dear friend Rini. Visit her and her team and get your special goodie **
- Stroll through the rice fields of Ubud and enjoy refreshing coconut juice straight out of a coconut. The rice fields are a bit hidden north of the city center. The access to the fields is next to a small ice cream shop. The rice terraces of Tegallalang and World Heritage listed in Jatiluwih rice terraces are much more frequented but also definitely worth a visit.
- If you don’t like spicy food, you should definitely order your food "no chili". "Not spicy" won't work as they will still put some (really spicy) chili in it. Just half the amount of Balinese traditional chili usage is still way too hot for the average European taste 😉
- Currency: best to pick up some money at the ATM - they can be found around every corner. Do not go to those small exchange offices – they will almost certainly rip you off. And you won’t even notice!
- Rainy season is from November to April. Tropical rains however are not like ours, a normal downpour is usually over quickly and can actually be really refreshing
- Additional costs: low
Try to get as much input from locals as possible. We are lucky enough to have good friends on the island. So we could benefit of the local knowledge and experience many things which the average tourists rarely get to see like a typical temple ceremony. One of these friends is Stephan, who lives in Bali with his wife Rini. We love to share their best tips with you:
What was your most impressive experience in Bali?
„For me it's definitely the ceremonies and the trance sessions you can experience here. The Barong Dance at Padangbai Bay is an excellent way to see people in trance. The Barong in Padangbai always takes place over a period of several months from the beginning to the end of the rainy season. It is performed every other week on the holiday Kajang Kliwon and is getting longer and longer and more intense. The last performance lasts more than 12 hours and leads through the entire village.“
What is a must see/experience in Bali?
„Hard to say, as the whole island is peppered with attractions, culture highlights are to find everywhere. Personally, I like visiting temples used for ceremonial cleanings (Melukat). My favorite is Pura Thirtha Sudemala in Kota Bangli. Apart from that, the island also offers good destinations for divers, in eastern Bali the best spots are from Padangbai to Tulamben.“
What are your insider tips for:
„Nusa Penida. It's like Bali was 20 years ago and offers beautiful beaches and coves.“
What should you take care of as a tourist?
„Respectful behavior in and around temples as well as appropriate clothing. Just ask the locals if you’re not sure how to dress or behave. They are super nice and happy to help.“
What should be avoided? What are typical pitfalls?
„Get upset. Never helps and makes you really unpopular.“
Best shopping tip?
„Pasar Ubud (Ubud Traditional Art Market)“
Which dishes should you have eaten on Bali?
„Babi Guling, Babi Kecup, Ikan Goren Sambal Matah“
What is your best insider tip?
For the current reason: What should be considered regarding the threatening volcanic eruption?
„Flights could be affected, otherwise I don’t think tourists will be danger.“
Should I avoid travelling to the island?
„Personally, I would still travel, you just have to be aware that you may have to fly from/to a neighboring airport, Lombok or Surabaya, which can be accomplished with a little effort. The cost of getting to Surabaya by bus is only about € 30.“
** Goodie: Visit Rini & Stephan at the Spiral Spa @Bloo and enjoy 10 extra minutes of your booked massage. All you have to do is to say hello from Meli & Matze ;-)