The Hindu island of Bali, Indonesia, is more often than not a dream destination for people. In saying that though this is certainly not the case if you are Australian. Why you ask? Unfortunately, Bali has a stigma in Australia and one I listened to for far too long. Certainly not proud of that fact! Four years ago if you had asked me whether I would go to Bali, the response would have been HELL NO. Again, why? Well, I can’t even justify it. Maybe I was naive; maybe I listened to my mum too much and the fact she thinks Bali is one of the most unsafe places on the planet. Or maybe it’s the horrible drunk antics of Australian’s while holidaying in Bali. So why this post? Why share my newfound thoughts and love of Bali? Having now been to Bali 6 times, I have changed, and my opinions of this island and why everyone should visit Bali at least once. So please enjoy this true guide to Bali.
Table of Contents
I land in Bali, and my stress disappears. I land in Bali, and I feel excited. I land in Bali greeted by their unique culture and friendliness. I land in Bali with my friendly driver Nyoman waiting patiently. I land in Bali and lap up the humidity and its heat. I land in Bali, and I feel happy. I land in Bali, and it now feels like my second home. I love it! I love being there and I love taking friends to experience the side of Bali I love.
Interested in the logistics of Bali? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Visiting Bali.
With all this love for Bali’s way, it must be mentioned that even more love gets thrown to its island neighbour Lombok. Why? Because Lombok is the island, that drew me to Indonesia and the reason I now also love Bali.
So if you can drag yourself away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta Beach, Bali is full of culture and unique experiences. I mean check out this Bali bucket list for inspiration. In saying that if you want to party and be one of those drunk Australian’s by all means head to Kuta, I have done it, it was fun; I wouldn’t do it again. Whatever you do be careful and be safe because my mum is right and there are aspects to Bali that have a dark side.
So what is there to do in Bali besides drink Bintang in the Kuta nightclubs?
Heading to Bali for 4 days? Check out Life of Doing’s 4 Day Bali Itinerary.
Temples……Oh So Many Temples……
You can easily temple yourself out in this country. It is a bit like the whole museumitis when you have seen every museum in Europe. Therefore, I limit myself to two temples a visit to take in their real beauty.
So what do we have to pick from?
Tanah Lot Temple
This water temple is, of course, situated in the water and is a picturesque spot for photos especially at sunset. Located approximately 20kms north of Kuta this temple is easily accessible as a half-day trip. Just note that if you are planning on seeing the sunset get there early because it is a very popular spot and therefore is often packed, unfortunately.
Uluwatu Temple – Shared By Not Without My Passport
Uluwatu Temple may not be the most beautiful temple in Bali, but its cliff-top setting makes it spectacular. Situated 70 metres above sea level on the edge of the Indian Ocean in southern Bali, this Hindu temple is one of the six key temples in Bali. In addition to being a place of worship, Uluwatu Temple is a sunset lover’s dream, a favourite spot for watching the hypnotising Kecak dance, and home to a large group of bold monkeys (watch your belongings!). If you find yourself in southern Bali, this religious site is worth a visit.
Ulun Danu Batur Temple
Do you love Instagram? Check out The Ultimate Guide To Bali: Instagram Checklist
Situated in the northern area of Bali, where it is much quieter, is the lakeside temple, Ulun Danu Batur. Snaking your way through mountains passing strawberry fields sees you arrive at this glorious spot. Cooler than the south of Bali this temple is one of my favourites due to its quieter nature. I would suggest arriving at the temple as early as you can in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Holy Spring Water Temple
Fancy a dip in some holy water? Well, this temple, also known as Tirta Empeh is for you! Locals travel from all over Bali to collect water from these springs and in doing so bathe in it. In saying that they don’t, in fact, bathe in the sacred holy water (no one is allowed in there) but there are outlets from the holy water in different sections of the temple. This is where locals and tourists can bathe together.
Others that I am yet to visit include:
- Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)
- Besakih Temple
- Goa Lawah (Bat Cave Temple)
Pretty Places & Activities Not To Be Missed……
Interested in see more of Bali. Check out this Bali off the beaten track post from our friends at Chalkie & The Chippy.
Padang Padang Beach
Imagine descending a narrow set of stairs between a set of cliffs where you wait patiently in single-file for surfers heading back from the beach. Once through this narrow passage it opens up to this small yet stunning beach. Padang Padang Beach is easily one of my favourite places in Bali but be warned it can be supremely hot in the afternoon so bring your togs for a swim. Also, situated in the south of Bali this place is great coupled with a trip to Uluwatu Temple.
Interested in other beaches around Uluwatu? Check out the best Uluwatu beaches.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
One of my favourite spots in Bali without a doubt is these rice terraces. Situated a half an hour north of Ubud and a good two hours from Kuta these rice terraces are magical and picturesque. The photo does speak for itself, don’t you think?
Not convinced check out Visit a Rice Terrace – Bali.
If you are into massages but not interested in paying $60US, then Sedona Spa is for you. Now I will be honest and inform you that I am relatively new to the art of massage, and I like them soft so in my books if a masseuse can put you to sleep you are in good hands, literally. What is even better about Sedona Spa is its setting. Also situated in Ubud, this spa has a bungalow feel where you and your partner can have a massage in the privacy of your own bungalow. If you go for a 90 min package costing approximately 200,000 rupiah approx. $20AU ($15US) you even get to enjoy a beautiful spa bath featuring rose petals to complete what is an incredible experience. I have visited three times now and ensure I visit every time I come to Bali.
Interested in Ubud in general? Check out Best Things To do in Ubud
OR more interested in an Ubud Hike? Check out Campuhan Ridge Walk in Bali.
Climbing Mt Batur – Shared By Jon Is Travelling
Climbing Mt Batur during the early hours of the morning is one of the highlights of any trip to Bali. You’ll be guided by starlight and the glow of your torch — it’s pretty tough going but most people will be able to handle it. After a few hours, you’ll reach the top the volcano, where you’ll be greeted by one the most scenic sunrises in Southeast Asia (assuming the skies are clear!). The view of Lake Batur and the surrounding mountains is awesome, the climb back down over slippery rocks and gravel isn’t much fun, though. You’ll need a guide to climb Mt Batur so it’s best to get a group together to share the costs, or you can easily join a tour.
What about heading to the East of Bali? Check out discovering Bali, the East Coast.
After All Of This You Must Be Hungry……
Views, vibes, views and vibes, this place, has the most incredible feel. Situated again in the south of Bali you can easily finish your trip to Uluwatu temple and Padang Padang Beach with drinks and dinner at this stunning bar overlooking the Indian Ocean. Perched high on the cliff over looking Single Fin Beach, this has to be one of my favourite places to eat. The sauce came in a container made from a leaf, how cool is that? It simply is the small things!
Have you always wanted to drink cocktails and eat tapas in beanbags on a beach? If you haven’t….…I suggest you try it. La Plancha was a place recommended to me by fellow travellers while I was in Sri Lanka and I thank the Lord I met them. What an experience this place is. Situated on the beach in the Double Six area of Seminyak this hip and trendy place to eat is a must while in Bali. Ensure you arrive before sunset so you guarantee a bean bag. Then watch the sun disappear, drink cocktails and eat tapas! What more could you want?
To be frank, I am currently going through a Mexican phase and hence I couldn’t leave this place off the list. Another hip and trendy eatery you will not be disappointed by its quirks and food. The drinks list however was not extensive and was pricey unfortunately.
But How Do I Get To These Places? With The BEST Driver……
Nyoman, my mate Nyoman from Bali Tours By Nyoman Zeng, is your man. My driver from the start and now my driver every time I visit, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Arriving for the first time to Bali from Lombok, I met Nyoman, as he was my driver at the villa I was staying. Since then we have struck up a friendship through and now without fail Nyoman drives me somewhere new every time I visit this glorious island.
Or rent a VINTAGE VW and go on Safari just like Luke from the Backstreet Nomad….
Not To Mention You Probably Need Somewhere To Lay Your Head…..
Hotel, villa, resort or kids club Bali hotel? There is a multitude of options in Bali in a myriad of areas. I couldn’t possibly cover all of the options and hence have obtained the services of some incredible travel bloggers, to help me out. But before we get to them I must give a shout out to one place:
Villa Club Corner Residence – Canggu
hVilla Club Corner Residence, Canggu, is where I stayed with friends on my last trip. Situated in the Canggu area north of Seminyak and Kuta this villa was the epitome of relaxation for a group of teachers whom just required recuperation while visiting Bali. Please check out my review, the place is INCREDIBLE.
Interested in knowing more about Canggu? Check out what Canggu is really like in Bali.
Nusa Dua Resort – Samabe Bali Suites and Villas – Shared By Where’s Sharon
Nusa Dua is the area to go for Bali’s top resorts – and that is where you will find the luxurious Samabe Bali Suites and Villas. The Samabe Bali defines luxury as having space and privacy, so while you will find all the comforts (and more) that you would expect from a 5-star resort, you’ll also find plenty of space and privacy. We stayed in a suite which was just gorgeous. It was massive and more like an apartment with two rooms and ocean views. There are also suites with private pools as well as beautiful villas with pools. There are rooms specifically for families as well as a kids club, but whether you have children or not, you will love it here. On top of the gorgeous rooms, there is a beautiful infinity pool, a private beach, two restaurants – including one on top of a fish pond – a spa, water sports and a gym. You can choose whether to have an all inclusive package or not. This package includes a range of activities to choose from as well. We enjoyed a cooking class and massages in our room.
Everything is amazing at the Samabe Bali, and I can’t recommend it enough for people who want to get away from it all in style.
Villa With The Locals In Jimbaran – Shared By Travel With Bender
For beachfront dining or a low-key stay, Jimbaran is perfect. You can be a relaxed recluse in your resort or stay with the locals. Situated on the south-west coast just a few minutes south of the airport. Jimbaran is not everyone’s first pick to stay. We spent a month living in a villa with the locals in Jimbaran. Our favourite part of Jimbaran was the proximity to Kuta without being as touristy. Which mean’s lower accommodation costs, plus there’s the beach! Many people flock to Jimbaran for its famous seafood fiesta on the Jimbaran Beach. Get there early and grab a table to watch the sun go down, while you enjoy the freshest seafood in the country. Perfect for families as the kids are constantly entertained playing in the sand, while you sit back and kick down a cocktail. Once the sun has gone the beauty doesn’t stop as hundreds of candles line the tables on the beach, and the whole beach front turns into a twinkling wonderland.
Want To Stay Somewhere Quiet? Why Not Try Sanur? – Shared By Fit Travels
Experiencing the sunrise in Sanur is a good enough reason to stay here. Set on Bali’s East coast, watching the sun come up over the calm morning water is a magical sight. There’s a laid back feel to Sanur that you will notice straight away, especially if you have already been to the popular areas of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Small cafes, bars and warungs line the main street back from the beach and by 10pm you can almost hear a pin drop. On the weekend the Sanur Beach Grove market is the perfect spot to relax with food from one of the local stalls (food truck style) and bask in the afternoon sun. The more expensive hotels in Sanur are located right on the beach with their swimming pools providing views out to the ocean. I found you could get some great hotels just one or two streets back, and some even have private sections of the beach available for their guests. Sanur would definitely be one of my favourite areas to relax on Bali. Check it out on your next visit.
Now With That Inspiration You Need A Place To Stay In Bali?
Why not book your hotel, villa or resort of choice through Booking.com? I most certainly have before! The above link is an affiliate link for Booking.com and if you search and book through this link I make a small amount of commission to help keep this blog alive.
Or if you prefer Airbnb – you can check that out HERE.
Otherwise, if you would prefer check out my mate Dan and his blog over at Dan Flying Solo for in depth information on where to stay in Bali.
To Conclude, What is Overrated?
Overpriced, overpopulated and frankly I was just over it. I have visited twice, loved it the first time, despised it the second. Maybe on the first occasion, it felt exclusive, fun and fresh while on the second visit, there were too many people and it lost its exclusivity. But if you are into a place full of basically naked people drinking overpriced cocktails, by all means, check it out.
The Main Drag
I count the main drag as Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Don’t get me wrong these places are still great and serve a purpose but now having travelled to Bali so often I would avoid staying in these areas to experience other sections of Bali. These areas are the touristic sections of Bali and great to visit, but I find not great to stay. Get yourself out into the heart of Bali, experience its culture and if you are wanting to visit the ‘Main Drag’ give my mate Nyoman a call.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON INDONESIA