The mere thought of Bali puts you in the holiday mood. The land of a thousand temples has more than great beaches and bars, surfing & sunsets. From the buzz of Kuta, Legian & Seminyak to the inland world of rice terraces and mist covered mountains, temples & monkey forests, there’s something for everyone to love about Bali.
Things to see and do
Bali offers an amazing variety of activities from surfing, diving, day boat trips to tiny offshore islands, cooking lessons, silver jewellery making, batik fabric design lessons, beautiful traditional dance performances and traditional orchestral performances.
There is also horse riding, ATV rides, Treetop adventures, VW Jeep safaris, bird watching, guided tours to many parts of the islands with visits to traditional village house compounds, interaction with the local Balinese people, trekking & mountain climbing.
Bali also has it’s own zoo as well as a Bali Safari & Marine Park with tram rides through the various section of the park. You are able to interact with the animals and one of the highlights is an amazing stage show which showcases a Balinese legend with impressive stage effects and animals on stage. At one point there can be up to 10 elephants on stage. As well as the enclosed areas you can also take a day trip to the inland area of Ubud which is home to the Monkey Forest. The monkeys are so tame they wander round the streets of Ubud as shown here:
Bali has recently been awarded the Best Spa Destination in the World and has any number of fantastic spas with wonderful traditional treatments at very affordable prices. Elevate your senses and treat yourself while you’re on holiday!
There are a number of excellent restaurants in the main accommodation areas of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Sanur & Ubud which range from simple cafes to fine dining venues. Indian, Italian, French, Greek, German, Australian, Mexican and more are covered. Fast food outlets such as KFC, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts and Wendys are also represented. Seminyak is fast becoming the “in place” to be and has become known for its “Eat Street” a street almost completely lined with a variety of yummy eateries.
Bali is also well known for its great shopping! A wide variety of goods are available. Cheap markets sell simple clothing, bags, sandals, fake watches, cheap jewellery and souvenirs while more upmarket shops & boutiques specialize in handbags, shoes, designer garments and accessories. Several modern malls offer brand name garments, shoes, bags and accessories and in the cultural area of Ubud you can find a variety of exquisite woodcarvings, traditional paintings, jewellery and other handicrafts sold both in cheap markets or in the galleries of the markets.
- Entry visas to Bali are available upon arrival at Balis international airport for US $25 which can be paid by cash or credit card.
- We recommend pre-booking your airport transfers from airport to the hotel as the airport is undergoing major construction at the moment and it can be difficult to get transportation upon arrival.
- As with most tropical climates make sure you keep well hydrated at all times and it’s advisable to only drink bottled water.
- Don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry. Traffic is CRAZY! They mostly drive around on scooters but whereas in most western places you’d drive one behind the other? Not in Bali – they drive in swarms totally clogging up every inch of road space lol
- Bali is 5 hours behind NZ time.
- Bali has a variety of different accommodation options to suit everyones budget and taste from backpacker hostels right up to swanky 5 star resorts.
Where to stay:
These were my personal faves – W Bali Retreat & Spa in Seminyak – I probably wouldn’t be able to afford to stay there if it was my own personal holiday but I would say it’s well worth the $$$ All rooms in the main building are ocean facing and the private villas tucked away behind the main resort building all have their own personal plunge pools – veedddy nice! I liked the surround sound Bose home theatre system & ipod dock in my room – tested out the volume & danced around to Riri for a bit. As the sun set they had their own personal dj spinning in the lobby – who was a girl btw – (thought that was pretty cool) and she played mixes through the night while people hung out drinking cocktails (sorry about it). Seminyak is an upmarket area located north of both Kuta and Legian. It’s known for its chic boutiques and selection of day spas, along with some of the best restaurants & hippest bars.
The Ubud Village Resort & Spa – Surrounded by picturesque rice paddies in Ubud its the perfect place for a getaway if you want some peace & quiet! The whole resort is designed for relaxation & invigoration. Great hideaway for honeymooners and couples too. Ubud is the main cultural area of Bali, home of the Monkey forest full of cheeky monkeys and the town itself is very artsy with art galleries, studios and workshops. If you can’t get up here to stay make sure you at least take a day trip to explore the temples and cycle through the stunning scenery of rice paddies & quiet villages. For any of you who have read the book or seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love – Ubud is one of the places that the author and Julia Roberts stayed in. There is now an ‘Eat, Love, Pray’ cafe where you can still find the healer Wayan.
Keraton Jimbaran – located in Jimbaran Bay this property stood out to me as everything was very Balinese including the interior design of the rooms. I had to bend down to get through the doors because I’m a bit on the tall side and most Balinese would barely hit 5 ft 5 lol – ok maybe thats an exaggeration but they were generally a lot shorter than me. I really liked it though. A lot of the times you stay at hotels and it’s the same old rooms and amenities as the next hotel but this one was very different. It’s also on a really lovely stretch of beach and because Jimbaran Bay is on the west coast of Bali you get gorgeous sunsets!
The most popular tourist spots would be Kuta and Legian and would also be the most affordable area to stay in accommodation wise. I stayed at the All Seasons Legian and it’s a good moderate, 3 star property but it was cool! It had an outside shower which was a bit of a novelty for me & had a nice pool area. Breakfast is also included in the rates which I know NZ’ers like. Its in a good location too – a couple of blocks back from the beach but in walking distance to all the shops, markets, restaurants, spas & cafes in the Legian area. Its a very popular area to stay in with the Australians. The locals all joke about the ‘uniform’ the Australian men wear which seems to consist of Bintan beer singlets and stubby shorts lol Great place to stay if you’re into nightlife and like to hang out in lively bars too.
Legian street shops
World famous Kuta Beach
Memorial site for those killed in the Bali bombing in 2002
Lastly for those concerned about safety with the tragic loss of life as a result of the Bali bombing I felt very secure with the security they have there. Every hotel I went to inspect or checked in to there were security guards that checked the vehicles for (I presume) bombs or weapons and all the people were really friendly and very helpful. Very polite!
Shouts to Jans Tours in Bali for their awesome hospitality. They assigned me a driver AND a personal tour guide who also acted as an interpreter whenever I needed it as well. Awesome service & they offer transfers to and from the airport as well as between resorts. Jan was also kind enough to provide a lot of the images and travel tips as well. Get to Bali yo!