Welcome to Bali
Bali, the Island of Gods, is an exotic paradise that is on most people's travel bucket list. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and rich culture. However, with so many things to do and see, planning a trip to Bali can be overwhelming.
That's why we've put together a list of must-know tips for Bali, so you can pack the right items, know where to go, and what to do to make the most of your trip. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, these tips will help you have an unforgettable experience on this magical island.
A great first stop and classic tourist location. With a young and vibrant party atmosphere, great nightlife, beach clubs and lots to do and plenty of stunning local markets and shops from bikini heaven to thrifting, it’s all here! Bali is known for gorgeous home decor and interiors/furniture. Love Anchor Market – Weekend Bazaar is Bali’s most iconic market located in the heart of Canggu.
Not to mention, the perfect location for digital nomads with plenty of cafes, co working as well as co living spaces, we’d recommend checking out Dojo Bali. This is a fantastic option if you are planning to stay in Bali for a long period of time and work remotely, it’s actually where Tide + Seek first began. It’s a great way to meet some amazing people especially if you are staying for a longer period of time. .
Old Man's beach in Canggu is perfect for beginners to learn to surf, plenty of boards to rent on the beach and local instructors that will make sure you get a wave.
Downside - It is very crowded on the roads, so expect lots of traffic and the beaches aren’t as clean as other places on the island.
Uluwatu is an amphitheatre for surf! It’s pure surfy vibes here and make sure you grab a beer on one of the warungs on the cliff top to view the world class surf. Or head to Single Fin for a cocktail, its the hippest cliff top bar that evolved from a surfers’ hangouts into a fully fledged sunset chill out with live entertainment.
It’s less crowded than Canguu and some of the most picturesque beaches in Bali. If the waves at Uluwatu are a bit out of your comfort zon, check out the waves at Padang Padang Right it provides perfect conditions for novices and intermediates.
Experience a traditional Balinese performance in this area, the Kecak Fire Dance, rooted in the Hindu eclipse Ramayana, tells the tale of Prince Rama’s quest to save his wife, Santa, from the demon king Rahwana. It happens at 6pm, sunset at Uluwatu temple every day.
Nestled in the heart of Bali Island, about an hours drive from central Bali, the delightful scenery of Ubud unfolds like a vibrant tapestry. Its name, derived from the Balinese word "Ubad," meaning medicine, pays homage to the plethora of healing plants and herbs that thrive here.
If you're on the hunt for tranquility, Ubud is your haven—serene, laid-back, and brimming with discoveries. Consider indulging in a few nights at a yoga retreat to amplify the chill vibes. It's a must-visit for the wellness girlies!
Here is a list of some relaxing yoga sanctuaries and jungle spas. We recommend:
- The Yoga Barn, Ubud: Located in the heart of Ubud, The Yoga Barn offers a blend of yoga, wellness, and nature. With classes held in open-air studios surrounded by greenery, you'll experience the rejuvenating effects of yoga in a jungle-like ambiance.
- Fivelements Retreat Bali: Immerse yourself in the lush jungle surroundings at Fivelements, where traditional Balinese architecture meets holistic wellness. Enjoy daily yoga sessions, spa treatments, and plant-based cuisine in a serene jungle setting near the Ayung River.
- Ubud Hanging Gardens Spa: Located at the Ubud Hanging Gardens Resort, this spa offers a serene environment with panoramic views of the surrounding lush greenery. Indulge in traditional Balinese massages, facials, and body scrubs in a peaceful setting
Venture to East Bali for an incredible snorkelling and diving experience amidst authentic Balinese culture. Explore the enchanting black sand beaches and discover a multitude of temples that await your visit.
We’ve put a list together of diving and snorkelling schools so you don’t have to:
Places to avoid (unless you like huge beach clubs and parties): Kuta and Seminyak are extremely touristy, and not really the authentic island life.
Islands to visit just off mainland Bali:
- Nusa Lemongan: Quieter than Bali. Experience ‘Dream Beach’, it has the most golden sands and colourful reefs for snorkelling and unforgettable caves to explore. Make sure you don’t miss Manta Point to swim with the magnificent manta rays. We recommend pre-booking this with Res Centre.
Rent a scooter and explore the island. Another must is the ‘Devil’s Tear’, one of the best sunset spots on the island and possibly even Bali!
Take a boat out to some of the outer surf breaks like Lacerations or Shipwrecks for some world class waves.
- Nusa Penida: A 15-minute boat ride from Nusa Lemongan is Nusa Penida. Go snorkelling at Mushroom Bay, go to the Paluang cliff viewpoint or hike to the Peguyangan waterfall.
Must do things to add to your Itinerary:
- Get massages every day! They are so cheap and so good you will leave Bali with not only an incredible tan and new outlook on life but also feeling absolutely regenerated.
- Go for a surf lesson. This will be an unforgettable experience even if you don’t manage to get up on the board, just being one with the sea and waves will be enough.
- Head over to the monkey temples - but keep in mind the monkeys may look very cute and cuddly however, don’t be fooled! They are little thieves and will steal your phones, bags, and literally anything they can get their hands on so do be careful!
- Take a boat trip to an island off of the mainland to Nusa Lemongan or Nusa Penida.
Cheap and Cheerful
Recommended scooter hires:
- Bikago - has 9 rental shops in Bali
- Dewa Motor - based near the airport
- Bollu Garage - based in Canggu
Tip: if you have never driven one before it’s a good shout to get a lesson or two in your home country first! Bali roads are madness. So, getting a bit of practice on an industrial estate could be very helpful if you are nervous about driving in Bali.
Must have an international driving license or motorcycle license.
Wear a helmet - you could be fined between 1 million to 1.5 million rupiah and for safety, of course.
- Grab and Go Bikes (Scooter taxi)
- Blue Bird Taxi’s (Car service that metered - less likely to be scammed).
- Go Jek (Scooter taxi)
These all have easy-to-use apps that you can download before travelling.
Fake Blue Bird Taxis - Blue Bird is the most trustworthy and reputable taxi service on the island, they have metered taxis so you can see how much you are paying for yourself. To identify a real Blue Bird taxi, look for professionally dressed drivers and look for the bird logo and use the official bluebird app.
‘Grab’ taxis are forbidden in some places in Bali such as Ubud - this is to help support local businesses as Grab is Southeast Asia’s answer to Uber.
Another point to remember with Grab is not all drivers are honest, check the app as you will be quoted and you have to pay your drivers in cash.
What season is best to go to Bali?
Check to see if it is ‘rainy’ season before booking your flights. This is usually between October to February and the dry season is from March to September.
Preparing for ‘Bali belly’:
Bali Bell is a thing! Taking daily probiotics 2 weeks before arriving in Bali and drinking things like kombucha when you are there. Having probiotics helps strengthen your stomach for anything that might upset it, ‘Bali Belly’ is more or less food poisoning.
Avoid using tap water for cleaning your teeth, use bottled water instead. Try to also avoid eating street food straightaway - however, 100% try eating at the Warungs for cheap local food and try a jaffle which is a bit like a mini toastie!
When it comes to restaurant food with fresh fruits or uncooked vegetables as they may be washed in tap water. Some also suggest asking for no ice in drinks or local liquor called ‘Araq’.
Take a reusable water bottle with you. As many people buy filtered water from the shops, plastic bottles are a big issue in Bali. So, if you can, travel with a reusable water bottle that will keep your water cold and café will normally fill it up for you with filtered water.
Make sure you have at least 2 COVID jabs (you don’t have to have a booster)
Recommended vaccinations according to NHS;
- Courses or boosters usually advised: Diphtheria; Poliomyelitis; Tetanus.
- Other vaccines to consider: Hepatitis A; Rabies; Typhoid.
- Yellow fever vaccination.
What items to pack:
What to pack that you might not think of:
- Sunscreen - sunscreen is so expensive in Bali.
- Phone strap - avoid people stealing your phone or monkeys!
- Rubber flip-flops or sliders - great for rocky beaches.
- Phone adapts and portable chargers
- A water bottle that keeps your water nice and cold
- Comfortable shoes.
- Waterproof mascara and tinted moisturiser - your makeup will melt off.
What to leave at home:
- High Heels - no need to pack more than 2 pairs of shoes.
- Hair styling tools - it is so humid your hair will have a mind of its own.
- Fake tan, you’ll get the most gorgeous Bali tan.
- Less is more with packing clothes - it’s hot!
- Leave your big chunky suitcase at home, and opt for a travelling backpack if you are planning on moving around the island a lot or travelling by boat.
Apps to download:
- WhatsApp! Everything is done over WhatsApp in Bali - booking taxis, accommodation, boat trips and so much more.
- Grab App and Go Jek (scooter taxis)
- Google Translate
- Waze - Indonesian Google Maps, shows more of the city roads and side streets which don’t show up on Google Maps.
- Klook - commonly used to book accommodation bit like booking.com.
Do not argue with the police and pay the fines. They are extremely strict when it comes to punishments so for your safety and good respect their laws.
Fake police officers:
Travellers, especially those en route to Mount Batur, should be alert for men on motorbikes who pose as authorities. These individuals may look official with their aviator sunglasses and leather jackets, but their "Police" emblem may only be a sticker. Keep your eyes peeled for these Hollywood-style imposters. These fake officers will ask for your passport. Don’t hand it over! Once they have it, you'll have to pay handsomely to get it back. Instead, stand your ground, waste their time, and eventually they'll give up.
Temples & guides:
Visiting famous temples and attractions can be a daunting task with numerous hustlers fighting for your attention and money. It's not uncommon to encounter individuals demanding entrance fees near Hindu temples. However, these people may not be affiliated with the temple at all. To ensure you're not getting scammed, look for an official ticket window and avoid unofficial individuals.
Staying Safe in Bali: Preventing Bag and Phone Snatching -
While Bali is generally considered a safe place to visit, there have been instances of bag and phone snatching, especially in the main party areas at night. To avoid falling victim to these crimes, we recommend taking extra precautions. When walking on the street, keep your phone zipped inside your bag and hold the bag on the side of your body furthest from the roadside.
Obviously, don’t drink and scooter and if you are travelling with people always stick together or if you are travelling solo find some trustworthy people to hang around with on nights out - even though Bali is a very safe country, there is still a lot of dodgy people out their so just keep your wits about you as you would at home.
With all this in mind, Bali is an amazing and safe place to visit but it is always good to have your wits about you wherever you go.