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ubud, bali, indonesia, villa sonja

Bali Travel Guide

Updated April 2020, Bali Travel Guide was originally written in December 2015

Bali, the island of the gods, a huge bucketlist destination for many travelers. With countless beaches, surreal green rice terraces, massive volcanos, gushing waterfalls, fascinating culture, and amazing restaurants and cafes, Bali is a traveler’s dream. Bali offers up countless adventures and activities and has accommodations to fit every budget from the broke backpackers to the luxury traveler.

But, parts of Bali can feel overrun by Instagrammers tourists these days, especially in the peak season. With all that said, it’s not to fear: Bali is a big island offering plenty of off the beaten path options for those of you trying to escape the crowds. Plus, if you’re not bothered muscling through the crowds of selfie sticks and Instagram boyfriends the popular spots are worth seeing because they are beautiful after all.

Read on to learn everything you need to know in this Bali travel guide.

Bali Quick Tips

  • Visas: Most nationalities can enter Indonesia visa-free for 30 days.
  • Weather: Bali is a year-round destination, though the weather tends to be drier June-August. December-January see a peak thanks to the school breaks in Australia and Europe. If you don’t mind a little rain November and February-April can be a great time to visit with smaller crowds.
  • Language: Officially Bahasa Indonesian is the language spoken on Bali, though the Balinese do have their own unique dialect. Getting by on only English isn’t a problem here as most everyone that works in tourism knows some degree of English.
  • Money: The Indonesian Rupiah is the currency of the country. As of April 2020, the current exchange rate is $1 USD = 16,500 IDR. There are ATMs in cities and major towns in Bali.

How To Get To Bali

  • By Flight: Bali is connected to several international destinations via Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar Airport). The airport is located about 13 km from Denpasar and 4 km from Kuta. A taxi should cost about 70,000-80,000 IDR to Kuta and 125,000-150,000 IDR to Denpasar.
  • By Road: Bali and the island of Java are connected by car ferry, making it possible to visit both islands by bus, car, or motorbike. The ferry is open 24 hours a day.
  • By Boat: Bali is connected to Lombok, the Gili Islands, and Java by regular speed boat and ferry service.

Shop Bali tours here

Where To Go In Bali

Amed

Head to Amed to escape the crowds and to explore Bali’s off the beaten path north coast. Amed is a series of coastal fishing villages and is known for its reefs and epic diving.

Where To Stay In Amed

Budget

Amed Stop Inn
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Kirana Homestay
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Mathis Lodge Amed
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Canggu

At one point in time Canggu was mostly known for its surf, but in recent years has become digital nomad Mecca.

Where To Stay In Canggu

Budget

Swanky Bunk Hostel
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Gong Vanka Guesthouse Canggu
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

ZIN Canggu Bali
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Denpasar

Denpasar is the capital of Bali. Most tourists skip over the chaotic city, but there are a few monuments worth visiting if you’ll be stopping over at any point there.

Where To Stay In Denpasar

Budget

Bali Kunti Munggu
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Surfer Garden
Booking.com |

Splurge

Villa Niketan
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

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Looking towards Bali from Gili Trawangan

Gili Islands

The Gili Islands aren’t part of Bali but are a common addition on many Bali itineraries. The Gilis are known for their great beaches, snorkeling, and diving.

Plan your visit to the Gilis with my Gili Islands Travel Guide

Where To Stay In The Gilis

Budget

Aquaddiction
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Belukar
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Jali Resort
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Kuta, Bali, Inodnesia, Kuta Beach
Kuta Beach

Kuta

Not very pretty, but never a dull moment either. Kuta Beach and its neighbor to the north, Legian are the epitomai of a tourist trap, but that’s not necessarily the worst– its got all the trappings for budget backpackers and those looking to party. I only came to Kuta to surf for a couple of days and that was plenty enough time there for me.

Where To Stay In Kuta

Budget

Captain Goose
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Ida Inn Kuta Bali
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Bali Garden Beach Resort
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Munduk

Munduk is the perfect jumping-off point for anyone looking to do some trekking in Central Bali.

Where To Stay In Munduk

Budget

Guru Ratna
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Lesong Hotel
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Sanak Retreat Bali
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

ubud, bali, indonesia, villa sonja

Nusa Penida, Lembongan & Ceningan

The Nusa Islands are three islands off of the southeast coast of Bali, reachable by a speed boat in about 90 minutes. Nusa Lembongan is renown for its surfing and diving, Nusa Penida is known for its Insta-famous snapshot.

Where To Stay In Nusa Penida, Lembongan & Ceningan

Budget

Candy Hostel Ceningan
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Lempeh Jungle Cottage
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Semabu Hills Hotel Nusa Penida
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Pemuteran

Escape the bustle of southern Bali and head up to Pemuteran. Located about 4 hours drive from Denpasar in the northwest of Bali, the area boasts amazing snorkeling/diving and is flanked by a beautiful mountainous backdrop.

Where To Stay In Pemuteran

Budget

Asih Guesthouse
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Pondok Shindu Guesthouse
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Kuda Laut Bungalows
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

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Sanur

Sleepy Sanur is a welcomed change from the other chaotic hotspots in the south of Bali. Don’t miss the sunrise on the beach and the nightly market. Sanur is a good launching off point to explore the offshore Nusa Islands.

Where To Stay In Sanur

Budget

Prasanthi Sanur Bedrooms
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Pondok Narita
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Akaya Bali
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Seminyak

Seminyak is a higher-end resort area situated just north of Kuta and Legian.

Where To Stay In Seminyak

Budget

Gelatik B&B
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

The Haven Bali Seminyak
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Double-Six Luxury Hotel
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

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Ubud

I get why people come to Ubud, Ubud and its surroundings are absolutely gorgeous. Ubud was really the only place I felt enamored with on my first trip to Bali in 2013, even with the onslaught of people trying to have their own Eat Pray Love moment. I’ve heard that Ubud has gotten miserably crowded in the last couple of years though.

Where To Stay In Ubud

Budget

Arta Garden Hostel
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Tanah Merah Art Resort
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Daryana Villa
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Uluwatu

With dramatic cliffs, white sand beaches, and world-class surfing Uluwatu is a popular destination on many Bali tourists itineraries.

Where To Stay In Uluwatu

Budget

SOS Sultans of Swell
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Midrange

Padang Padang Inn
Booking.com | Agoda.com |

Splurge

Pink Coco Bali
Booking.com | Hotels.com | Agoda.com |

Check out the Gili Trawangan Travel Guide

Villa Sonja, ubud, bali, indonesia

What To Eat

In major towns and cities in Bali, you can find everything from local Balinese restaurants to international cuisine. Here is a list of local foods to try in Bali. A friend suggested that I must try the coffee, but she did advise reading about it from somewhere like vickyflipfloptravels.com after I had tried it.

  • Nasi/Mie Goreng
  • Sambal
  • Babi Guling
  • Sate Lilit Ikan
  • Nasi Campur
  • Gado Gado
  • Bebek Betutu
  • Balinese Kopi (Coffee)
Villa Sonja, ubud, bali, indonesia

What To Pack

Safety

  • In general, Bali is a safe destination to visit for solo travelers, couples and friends.
  • Petty theft does happen and violent crime is pretty rare.
  • Avoid drinking locally made arak and be cautious ordering hard liquor at not well-known bars as there have been cases of bars diluting booze with fake, homemade alcohol that has resulted in illness and even death.
  • Indonesia has strict drug laws and police to pose as dealers, so its best to avoid any drugs, period.
  • Bali has some crazy reef breaks and if you aren’t very experienced it can be quite dangerous. If you are a beginner I highly recommend taking a few lessons. Check out this post for five best beginner surfer spots in Bali.

Have Any Questions About This Bali Travel Guide?

Ask in the comments sections below.

Need Travel Insurance for Indonesia?

Start shopping plans over at battleface, my go-to travel insurance choice, or over at World Nomads.

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