The Ultimate Bali Travel Guide
Bali is without a doubt one of the most Instagramable places on this earth. You can find the most beautiful scenery, waterfalls, beaches, along with beach clubs, beautiful hotels, villas, great food, the list goes on!
Bali is busy & touristy, so you really should have an idea of what you would like to do to get the most out of your experience. This is where we come in. We have been to Bali 5 times now and have travelled a fair bit around Bali and its islands nearby. This blog will cover: all the apps you need, the scams to be aware of, and how to best spend you’re time on one of the most famous islands on this earth…
Tanah Lot Temple.
Before we get stuck in… BALI IS A PART OF INDONESIA – so many people don’t seem to know that haha?
Apps you will need in Bali
Maps.me – If you haven’t heard of this app yet, now you have, get downloading! It’s an offline map, so you download the country/island you’re going to be spending time in and if you don’t have wifi or internet/data on your phone, maps.me will be a lifesaver for sure!
Currency converter – These are normally offline apps too, so definitely download a currency converter so you know how much your spending. Side note: make sure you refresh the app when you have wifi so you have the most up to date conversion rate.
Grab taxi & Go Jek – Local taxis in Bali are way more expensive than online taxi services. Grab is always good, but recently they have put the prices up slightly, so I would try Go Jek first, if there are no drivers available (which is uncommon but can happen) then try Grab. To put it in perspective, we got a taxi for over an hour and it cost $10/£5 with Go Jek, Grab would have been $15/£8 and a local taxi probably would have been $20-30/£10-20. Still cheap but if you’re on a budget download these apps. You need to verify the apps with a phone number first, so if you’re not planning on getting a sim card in Bali, do this with your sim card at home before you leave.
Things to be careful of/scams
Balinese people are super friendly. Although there are a few scams that go on in Bali so I’m going to bring it up to your attention so you can try your best to avoid any scammy situations.
Local taxis – make sure you agree on a price before getting in the car. Online taxis are the best option but if you find yourself in an area where there aren’t any available, make sure you negotiate first.
Currency exchange – I didn’t even know this was a scam until I got scammed on our most recent visit, TWICE. Lucky I triple checked and confronted them both there and then (2 separate places). They show you an amount on a calculator and then count the money to you but when they give you it, they re-count it and take some back on the sly. I used to work in a bank and know that you should always triple check counting money, and when I went back to be like wtf wheres the rest of my money, they recounted it to me and added the money back in that they took, then gave me it again after slyly taking the rest of the money back for a second time. I said to them ‘you have taken some of it, give me the rest now’ they were like ‘oh noo sorry, 8% commission’ ermm bitch, please! I ain’t being mugged off like that! & Neither are you! – I got my money back as it was still sat on the side, thank God. In the end, we just went to an official shop which advertises 0% commission but the rate is less. The little local shops that have boards outside advertising a rate aren’t supposed to take any commission and they won’t tell you they will just be sly about it and steal some of your money, so be careful.
Always be careful if you rent a scooter, it goes without saying but if you crash a scooter in Asia you normally have to pay back way more than what the damage is worth. We have never had an issue with renting scooters in Bali, but we have also never crashed one (badly ) so just be wary.
Police. We have been pulled over 3 times in Bali (twice in 1 day) by corrupt police. (We travelled Asia for 10 months without a problem, the only place has been Bali). The first time they asked us for an international license, which we/half of Bali, do not have. We didn’t even need to get off the bike, he just asked for 100,000 (£5/$10) from and let us go. The second time they pulled us over because we ‘were too near to the white line by a traffic light’ you can’t make it up haha. They didn’t even ask us for a license. We were with them for 2 hours arguing, there was about 10 of them hiding around a corner which all come out when they saw us, I was filming them, they were filming me. I was losing my shit. They wanted to take us to court and told us to get in the car, one of them even raised their fist to me and told me ‘we have a bigger problem now’ I was so mad I told him to bring it (Probably not the smartest of things but I wasn’t going to be spoken to like that by a grown man – police or not, they were breaking the law by pulling us over for no reason, so the police title went out the window)… I had done some research beforehand so knew what they were up too… In the end, they saw how livid and upset I was getting and APOLIGISED, before letting us go by paying 100,000 (on the understanding they could take my phone, go on every single app, to make sure there was absolutely NO footage of them trying to scam us, they deleted everything). On the way back to our hotel from leaving the police we got pulled over by another policeman (only in the life of the plodders will this ever happen) – this guy was on his own, he took us to the back of a local shop and asked for an international license, we explained we didn’t have one and we had already been stopped by police, he told us we had to pay 5 million rupiah ($500/£250) but would help us out by letting us pay 300,000 hahah. We emptied our pockets to show him we had no money and someone crashed their bike outside of the shop as we did that (good timing or what? Luckily the guy was fine) we ran outside and helped him up, and the policeman was like ‘go, now’ so we sped off, and went and got H.A.M.M.E.R.D and returned the bike. What a palaver.
You will be fine on a bike in Bali – I’m not trying to scare you I’m just trying to educate ya (like the good teacher I am). Just follow this piece of advice: AVOID scootering near Nusa Dua and the Sunset road between Canggu and Kuta, they are always there pulling people over. If you need to go that way get a Grab or Go Jek. There is a new president in Bali and he is cracking down on corrupt police, so now they do roadblocks and pull over everyone, locals and foreigners, they will still try to fine you for anything though so be wise, and never carry too much cash on you, if you do have a bit of cash, split it up, so at least you can be like ‘I’m so sorry I only have 100,000’ they will eventually accept it and let you go. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET (ya helmet)… Goes without saying, we have seen a few horrible accidents where foreigners are laid in the road unconscious after coming off their bikes without a helmet. We all have enough basic knowledge behind us to know that helmets are important when you’re riding a scooter.
Okay, now for the good stuff
We always head straight to Canggu. We love it there. Soo many good food choices, it’s chilled, the people are nice. Cool beach. Canggu is our favourite place ever. Pronounced ‘Chan-goo’
Things to do in Canggu:
Visit Batu Balong Beach
Go to Finns Beach Club
Old mans (surfers bar right on the beach, they have happy hour between 5-7 and the sunset here is unbelievable)
Go surfing/have a surf lesson
Tanah Lot (temple in the sea) – for sunrise or sunset
Love Anchor (market)
Loop Pool Bar – a lovely roof top bar with a great pool. Costs about £5 for the day but you get this back in vouchers for the bar/restaurant. It’s always really quiet here.
Loop pool bar
Where to stay?
Luxury: Theanna Eco Villa & Spa – This is the same place Loop Pool Bar is at.
Mid-range/budget: Cempaka Mas Guesthouse – $12 per night/£7/8 – we always stay here… aircon, it’s clean, has a pool… The place where we have gotten the most out of our money anywhere in Asia.
Budget: Beachbums Berawa Hostel
OMA JAMU – This place is to die for… Vegan buffet with all good, healthy foods you could possibly wish for. $4 approx for a big plate of delicious food. Even if you aren’t vegan, you should just go and have lunch here anyway, you won’t be disappointed. Tell our friend behind the counter that the Pair of Plodders sent you!
Any Warung – You will see the name Warung around Bali, this is a family-owned & ran business. Most of them sell delicious food for half the price of a big restaurant chain.
There are so many good places to eat in Canggu, we’ve been to most of them, haha, the only other one I would strongly recommend would be Betelnut Cafe. This place sells everything, catering to all dietary needs!
Seminyak is a nice place. The closest area to Kuta that I would recommend staying in. It still has loads going on and is very close to Kuta, but still tucked away from all the mayhem that Kuta offers.
Things to do in Seminyak:
Potato Head Beach Club
Watch an amazing sunset at Ku De Ta
Check out the Nyaman Art Gallery
Go to the beach
Where to stay:
Luxury: Kae Villas Seminyak
Mid-range: Hotel Dafam Savvoya Seminyak
Budget: ALA Hostel
There are so many amazing food options in Seminyak. Bigger chains than Warungs, but you are spoilt for choice, we cant list favourites because they were all banging.
Kuta is great for a night out, it’s deffo a fun place to hang out, get food, have drinks, but if you’re not really up for a party then I would suggest avoiding Kuta altogether. It’s hectic, people are trying to sell you stuff left right and centre. It’s super busy, to drive through Kuta is just a bad idea.
Sky Garden – Kuta
Things to do in Kuta:
Did I say Party?
Jokes aside, there is one place I couldn’t recommend highly enough, and that is Sky Garden. This place charges around £5/$10 for 5 hours of all you can drink and until 1am of all you can eat – the standard is high! It’s a fancy place, the food is top-notch, and the drinks are plenty. You can drink until you are sick through your eyes, or until 9pm whichever is first… and you can eat until the early hours. So if you plan it right, you can eat at the beginning of the night, have a mental night out and then when you’re about to leave you can eat again… Perfect.
Waterbom – Amazing water park, get your ticket online though as its cheaper. $35/£17 for a day pass. Totally worth it. It’s one of the best water parks in Asia.
Get tattooed! Eastern Bali Tattoo did an amazing job of my arse cheek!
Where to stay:
Don’t stay in Kuta – Seminyak/Canggu are just down the road so stay there instead.
Like I mentioned above, Sky Garden is your place!
Ubud, super famous for its beautiful rice fields and the Monkey Temple. Pronounced ‘oobud’.
Things to do in Ubud:
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Coffee plantation – There are so many and they all give you free samples, some of the coffee is amazing, you can also try the Bali delicacy which is Lawaki Coffee. This coffee has been eaten by Lawaki’s (wild cats) and poo’d out and made into a drink. Informally known as ‘Catpoochino’.
Mt Batur Trek – This is an amazing trek which starts at 2am and when you reach the top you can see a beautiful sunrise. Worth doing for sure. It’s not in Ubud, but you can buy the tour there and they will include transport/food etc. Do not stay in the village by mt Batur. We made that mistake. Stay in Ubud, and pay the exact same to do the trek from Ubud.
Mt Agung – Sunrise Trek
Where to stay:
Luxury: Villa Puri Tupai
Mid Range: Jegeg Mas Cottage
Budget: Halaman Depan Hostel
Just like the rest of Bali, finding good eateries wasn’t a task. Ubud too has many vegan restaurants as well as warungs and local food. I did get food poisoning in Ubud but I’m pretty sure that was from drinking holy water .
Sidemen have just pushed itself up into our favourites in Bali. Sideman is a lot like Ubud, but 10-20 years ago. Untouched Bali. Not too many tourists, beautiful landscape and it’s very peaceful. We spent 3 nights there and LOVED it.
Things to do in Sidemen:
Go and see our friend at Silver Agung and make your very own silver rings. We made our engagement rings there and it was hands down one of the best experiences we have ever had.
Drive around and check out the rice fields.
Sidemen market starts around 5am finishes at 9am. This is a food market but it’s cool to see where the locals buy their produce.
You can go on various hikes in Sidemen, you can hike Mt Agung from there, however, that has been paused for the time being as Mt Agung has been puffing away for over a year now. Fingers crossed they can continue to do the treks when it’s safe. It takes 8-10 hours.
Go to Lempuyang temple. It’s about an hour by bike. It’s where you can get a famous snapshot in the gates. If you want to go there I strongly suggest getting there before 7am or you’ll be waiting 3 hours in line (like we did).
Go to the Taman Tirtagangga Water Palace. About 40 mins away but it’s super cool and has huge overfed fish which is fun to see!
Where to stay?
Luxury: The famous Hideout. Available on Airbnb. Beautiful bamboo houses overlooking ricefields.
Mid Range: Sweet escape – loved staying there.
Budget: Astana Swaha Estate
Sweet escape had a restaurant that people were coming in and out of. The food was great but there was quite a wait as they only have 2 hobbs.
Warung organic would be our highest recommended place for food. They sell mostly vegetarian/vegan but do have meat options too – the view is rice fields and Mt Agung volcano! Beautiful.
Uluwatu, a lovely little area tucked away from the normal hussle and bussle bigger cities that Bali has. Some lovely beaches and a temple worth going to for sure!
Sunset at Uluwatu Temple
Things to do in Uluwatu:
Uluwatu Temple. Every evening at around 6pm they do an incredible performance known as the ‘fire dance’. It costs about 100,000 $10/£5 to get in and make sure you get there early as the show always gets sold out. We went there with my parents and were on time with like 10 minutes to spare, but the tickets had already sold out so we missed it.
Padang Padang Beach – A lovely little tucked away beach.
Bingin Beach – another great spot
Single Fin for food and drinks at sunset
Rent a moped and go and check out the many viewpoints Uluwatu has
Where to stay:
Luxury: Six Senses
Mid Range: Adi Bali Homestay – One of the best value for money places PLUS a lush breaky
Budget: Made Roejas Homestay
There are lots of little vegan cafes in Uluwatu, probably more vegan cafes than any other kind of food. One of our favourite spots was the Bukit Cafe.
Nusa Dua is a lot quieter than the other parts of Bali. More for people looking to get away to a relaxing beach resort holiday with not a whole lot going on.
Things to do in Nusa Dua:
Go to Pantai Geger beach. The beach in Nusa Dua is BEAUTIFUL. One of the nicest beaches in Bali.
Go to the Water Hole
Check out Pasifika Museum
Get a boat to Serangan Island
Go Shopping at the Bali Collection (this has a whole range of shops (not that cheap) and some nice restaurants.
Where to stay:
Luxury: La Berceuse Resort and Villa
Mid Range: OYO 912 Pondok Garden Bali Residence
Budget: OYO 618 Top Residence
If you are planning on going to Bali with a group of people or family, I would strongly suggest booking an Air Bnb. It works out cheaper and way more convenient having your own space and private pool for less than hotel prices!
If you are only going to Bali for a few weeks, I would suggest moving around 3 times max depending on how much you want to relax whilst on the beautiful island. If you want to explore 3+ places I would recommend staying for at least 3 weeks. Bali isn’t too big, so getting around by taxi is easy and cheap… nothing is too far away, but the traffic does get crazy (especially in the evening, 5pm onwards) and can hold you up big time.
I hope you found this extra long blog helpful! Please let us know in the comments! & If you’re going to Bali soon, make sure you tag us in your insta pics @pairofplodders … have the best time and enjoy a Bintang for us!
One love peeps