Bali Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 26, 2019

Bali is a gorgeous island province located in Indonesia. It is located between Lombok on the west and Java on the east. This is the westernmost of the islands of the Lesser Sunda archipelago. The main islands comprising Bali are: Bali, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Cennigan. The capital city of the province is Denpasar. Bali has an estimated population of 668,550 as of 2019.

President Sukarno was the first to create the tourist space in Bali by commissioning hotels to be built on the island in the 1960s. Tourism took off in Bali since the 1980s. The best-selling 2010 book by Elizabeth Gilbert called ‘Eat Pray Love’ has Ubud and Padang Padang in Bali as two of the destinations visited by the main character. This and the film of the same name (starring Julia Roberts) spurred a new slew of tourists to the island. In 2018 alone, 6.5 million tourists visited Bali. Tourism is a significant revenue and foreign exchange source for the government. Chinese, Japanese, Australian and Indian tourists account for the bulk of travelers visiting Bali.

Bali is famous for its beaches, laidback vibe and rich cultural and religious heritage. When in Bali you must visit Kuta and Seminyak for the beach life. The island has a predominantly Hindu population of over 85%. You can walk through the richly sculpted temple complexes in Besakih, Tanah Lot and Uluwatu. Ubud in Central Bali is famous for its terraced rice fields and calm greenery. Mount Agung in East Bali and Mount Batur are active volcanoes that are great for climbing and views.

“Bali has a number of black sand beaches which are rare in other parts of the world. This occurs due to volcanic activity.”

Bali – 10 Quick Facts

  1. Bali is an island and province in Indonesia.
  2. Currency – Indonesian Rupiah
  3. Bali is spread over 5,780 square kilometers.
  4. Population – 668,550 as of 2019
  5. Time Zone – Central Indonesia Time
  6. ISD Code – +62
  7. Main Language – Bahasa Indonesian and Balinese are the most spoken languages on the island.
  8. 6.5 million tourists visited Bali in 2018.
  9. Ngurah Rai International Airport is the main airport located at the Balinese capital of Denpasar. From the airport to Kuta beach is just 5.5 kilometers
  10. You can get around Bali by hiring a taxi or using the Perama/Kura Kura/Trans Sarbagita buses. Renting a bike or scooter is the more adventurous way of getting around

How to Reach Bali

Flight: The most common and easy way to reach Bali is to fly into Ngurah Rai/ Denpasar International Airport. The airport is actually located in a place called Tuban 30 minutes away from Denpasar. There are both domestic and international flights from this airport that connect Bali to the rest of Indonesia and Australia and South East Asia. Low cost carriers are very common at this airport. From the airport you can avail private or public transport to reach main areas of interest in Bali.

Boat: If you are travelling into Bali from Java there are boat rides you can take. Ketapang on Java Island is the starting point and Gilimanuk in West Bali is where you land. There are boats plying this route ever 15 minutes and the journey takes just half an hour. From Gilimanuk to Kuta is a distance of 134 kilometers. There are ferry boats also from Nusa Lembongan, Gili Islands and Lombok. There are often delays on these ferries and the safety standards are low.

Bus: There are buses from most major cities of Lombok and Java. The government of Indonesia operates the Sarbagita bus services. These are comfortable and affordable buses and the ticket cost also includes the ferry transfer.

Do not exchange currency at the airports. You will get good rates outside.

Getting Around Bali

There are quite a few options for those who want to visit more than one place in Bali. 

  • Renting a bike or a scooter is the easiest and cheapest way around. Rents are around 5USD per day and if renting for more than 3 days you can bargain for a lower rate. For this you will need an international driving permit which would be easily available from automobile associations in your native country. Not carrying your license or the IDP may result in fines if you are stopped by a cop.
  • Renting a car with a driver is a more comfortable though much more expensive way to travel from point to point in Bali. You can hire a car with a driver for your entire stay too.
  • Buses are a cheap and easy alternative for those travelling on a budget. You will get the Kura Kura shuttle bus service between the main attractions of Bali. You may have to change buses to get from one part of Bali Island to another. The bus connectivity is good enough for intra island travel if you are hitting the popular spots.
  • Taxis are operated by independent groups or syndicates. This means the prices in tourist areas are competitive and you can even haggle to bring it down a bit. There is also Uber and Grab in Bali but beware of drivers asking you for extra tips over and above the price quoted on the app.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Bali

Weather Bali enjoys sunny weather almost all year round. As it is located 8 degrees south of the equator, the tropical beach/island destination is a favorite with the tourists. It is the quintessential sun, sand and sea combination that makes you come back for more.
Islands Though Bali itself is one of the islands of Indonesia, there are many other smaller and picturesque islands around. Diving and snorkeling are popular around the islands and many of them are great as nightlife destinations. Gili Islands, Nusa Penida, Komodo Islands are some of the popular islands.
Hospitality The hospitality of the Balinese is well known in Indonesia and all over the world. It is very easy to find smiling Balinese trying their utmost to help tourists whose language they do not understand. Both in your accommodation and out and about you will experience a warmth and friendliness from the people of this island. 
Affordability For the tourists of most Western countries Bali is super affordable. Here you will easily be able to afford luxury accommodation, the best in Indonesian cuisine and as much shopping as you want to indulge in. As of today 1 US $ will get 13966 Indonesian Rupiah.
Culture Even though Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world, Bali has 87% of the people practicing Hinduism. If you are planning your trip in advance, check the local calendar to see if your trip coincides with any major festivals. If not the multiple temples dotting the island of Bali keep having anniversaries or ritual ceremonies. You could also catch a performance of Balinese dance and music. 

How to Visit Bali on a Budget

Bali is an affordable south-east Asian beach and culture destination. The Indonesian Rupiah is quite an affordable currency for tourists from the USA or Europe. Here are a few tips to make the most of your trip to Bali on a budget.

  • Bali is a place where booking in advance really helps. Scour the internet for deals on accommodation, tours, day trips, cooking classes and you will definitely get them for cheaper than if you come and book in person.
  • Make sure you know which of your debit cards for the best rates to get cash at the ATMs in Bali. The convenience fees charged on credit card transactions can be a lot and are best avoided. Use cash to pay your way around in Bali.
  • Get an International Driving Permit before you leave your home country and rent a scooter in Bali. It is easy and cheaper than other modes of transport.
  • To save money on food opt for the traditional places serving Balinese cuisine called ‘warungs’. You can have the food that the locals do for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay for say an Italian meal in Bali.
  • Instead of shopping at the trendy looking shops and boutiques, try shopping at the local markets which take place on various beaches either in the morning or evening. Eat at the stalls here and buy handicrafts and souvenirs locally made by artisans for cheap.
  • Instead of or in addition to visiting the popular destinations in Bali like Kuta and Seminyak give the off-beat places a chance. This means lower costs of food and accommodation, lesser crowds and better people-free photo-ops. Try places like Amed, Munduk, Nusa Islands and more.

Have cash for expenses. Exchange rates on cards are astronomical. The best exchange rates are for US $.

Weather in Bali

Bali has a wet season and a dry season but that said the temperatures remain fairly stable with little variations over the months of the year. Days are hot and humid while nights can be pleasant and breezy. The wet season is definitely a bit cooler than the dry season but for travelling we recommend the dry season of course. Here are some statistics for you to understand the weather in Bali better.

Place      Max Temp in ºC    Min Temp in ºC Rainfall Days in a Year
Kuta 31 24 35
Ubud 30 22 35
Denpasar 31 24 35
Sanur 31 24 34

 

Best Time to Visit Bali

  1. The peak tourist season in Bali happens around July-August and again in December during the Christmas holidays. The accommodation and flight prices are at their peak during these times and you can expect to find crowds on the popular beaches and tourist destinations.
  2. The shoulder months of April, May and September can be better for budget travelers who are looking to avail discounts. Room rents and hotel bookings have known to be slashed to about 30%-50% lesser than peak season prices.
  3. If you are coming to Bali mainly for diving and snorkeling then your planning should definitely be for the dry season. This is when the waters are the clearest and you get to enjoy marine life at its best.

Top 3 Places to Stay in Bali

  1. Seminyak – known for its sunset beaches, Seminyak is upscale and laidback too. The best hotels & resorts and restaurants are here. You can look for cheaper accommodations too. A shoppers paradise, it has designer boutiques and branded shops. The nightlife is also good but not hectic. The downside is that beaches are not very crowded and traffic jams are common during peak season.
  2. Ubud – is nature at is best. It is green all around, with all the rice fields and valleys and mountains. Ubud is for art & culture, galleries, museums, palaces and temples. Ubud is especially for honeymooners. But the streets are narrow, often congested during tourist season. The nightlife is not up to the mark.
  3. Kuta – beaches and nightlife are the main aspects here. Surfers will have their time of life. Kuta is for the budget travelers with budget friendly hotels. There are many bars & restaurants and malls. Also, it is very close to the airport (only 10 minutes drive). Kuta is the home to the largest water-park in South East Asia. Note that traffic congestion is common during peak season and places of tourist interest are spread out widely.