Many activities, areas, and sites are a must-see when you plan your visit to Bali. There is also a lot of information on weather, travel accommodations, food, drinks, bars, beaches, and much more. However, for first-timers and for anyone who is easily overwhelmed, you’ll find that this guide is a compressed version of the most popular advice, tips, and secret spots of Bali.
Where to Stay in Bali
There are several cities that you can stay in when you visit Bali. Where you stay depends on what you’d like to do when you are there. If you are looking to have a surfing adventure and party hard with a lot of tourists, then Kuta is the place you’ll want to go to. Kuta is great for partying, tourists, surfing, and is also affordable for backpackers. Some cons of the area include being overcrowded with people looking to party, there are a lot of construction sites, and the beaches have become polluted because of the city and its reputation.
Seminyak is a great place for luxury restaurants, shopping, and sunset beach bars. This area is also heavy with tourists; the reason is that it is central to many other places within Bali. It is known for having some of the best restaurants on the island and has a ton of accommodations for first-timers looking for a great shopping area. This area is more commercialized than others, and because there are a lot of people there, the prices are getting higher to travel there.
Canggu is a new area in Bali that people are just discovering. It is located next to Seminyak and is in south Bali. While it is still a central area, it isn’t (yet) the popular spot to go to, and you’ll be able to do some surfing, see some rice fields, and eat at some great cafes if you stay there.
This area is much calmer than Kuta and a bit more than Seminyak. However, getting around Canggu may be a little more challenging because online taxi cabs and motorbikes are not allowed.
Uluwatu has upscale, clifftop resorts and beach clubs. While Uluwatu is known for its cliff top temple, it also has many luxury resorts in the area. It’s a great place to spend a night or two and has a more calm flow to it because of the clientele. When you’re there, make sure to check out the views of the Indian Ocean, the beaches, and soak in some of the calmness that surrounds the area. There are a lot of places to hike and continue in your normal routine, too. If you are a runner and like running up hills, Uluwatu is a great place to stay.
Uluwatu is about an hour’s drive from Seminyak, and it is pricier than the other areas because of its setting.
Other areas you can stay at are Ubud if you are looking for a stunning natural setting and a peaceful getaway. Nusa Dua is a great place to go if you have a family and if you are looking to take on some water sports. North Bali is meant for a quiet escape and has access to waterfalls, rice fields, and volcanos. Sanur is great for families and houses some amazing beaches. While there isn’t too much to do in the area, you can still find some spas and good places to eat.
What to Do
You will not be bored in Bali. Between the monkey forest, surfing beaches, amazing culture, water activities, shopping, eating, spas, and hikes, your trip will fill up quicker than you realize.
The monkey forest is a must when you are going to Bali for the first time. There are a few rules to make sure to follow: don’t look the monkey’s in the eye, don’t touch the monkeys (even if they touch you), and don’t feed the monkey’s anything but the bananas you purchase in the gift shop. The monkeys are in their natural setting and are letting the tourists come and hang out with them. There is no need to disturb them because they will protect themselves by any means they see fit.
There are a lot of places to shop that range from daily, street markets to high-end, trendy places. If you go into the streets, know that haggling is expected and that they will pick out first-timers quickly. Make sure to keep your items close to you at all times because while Bali is a safe area, the most committed crimes are related to petty theft. By keeping tabs on your items, you’ll be able to stay safe the entire time.
Of course, you cannot visit Bali and not go to the temples. All Bali temples are a work of art, and some will take your breath away. If you plan on going to service inside the temples or want to take a peek around, make sure to bring a sarong because all parties who enter into the temple are not permitted to show anything below their knees. This rule is for men, women, and children.
What to Eat
While there is a lot of westernized food in Bali, it can cost more than the local food. Balinese food is not world-renowned, but it is good, and you will spend less money on the suckling pig and fried rice than you would for something that you will be able to get when you go home.
Pack for summer. There are two seasons in Bali: the wet season and the dry season. However, it rarely goes below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The air is usually humid, and you will be hot when you are doing any activities besides sitting in an air-conditioned, luxury room. When you are looking to pack, pack shorts and lots of items made out of light fabric. You won’t regret it.
Make sure to check to see what your taxi driver is doing. Many times local taxi drivers will not set their meters and will charge you a flat rate that is a higher price than what it would have taken if the meter had been running. There are taxis that you can order online, but many of those are not allowed in certain areas. Your safest bet are taxis called “Bluebirds.”
The best months to visit Bali are May, June, and September. These months are still part of the dry season, but the area is not bogged down with tourists. If you go in February, know that it rains all day, every day, and outdoor activities may be put on hold (or canceled altogether).