Things to do in Bali (Bali travel guide for first-timers)
- Stay in 3 different places. You can’t visit too many things if you stay in one place because traveling by car or scooter takes more than expected. We recommend staying a minimum 4 days/location. In Ubud you have the most interesting landscapes: jungle view, rice fields or rice terrace, mountain view (sometimes you can get them all in the same location). In Ubud, we stayed 8 days which doesn’t seem enough, but if we also recommend other regions like Sideman a less visited place that offers more privacy. The third place you should stay is near the seaside. If you like luxury accommodation, astonishing waters, and private beaches then Amed is for you, if you want cheaper, fewer tourists you can try the northern region. Also, if you prefer crowdy, fancy, expensive beaches then go to the southern part but here you can’t really swim because of the high tides. Another interesting place to stay is in the west of the island, near The Natural Park but here you will be totally isolated, there is no way to visit other places.
- Must-see temples: Mother Temple (Besakih Great Temple), Pura Tirta Empul (bathing in sacred waters), Monkey Forest, Tanah Lot and Uluwatu, Taman Ujung, Goa Lawah (impressive cave with bats – one of the best places on Earth to see bats at a close distance…)
- Walk near the rice fields: Tegalalang is the best rice terrace in the Ubud area with lovely swings to take unforgettable pictures. Also nearby is Kajeng Rice field or less known to visitors distant places: Jatiuwih rice field or Munduk. The price for entrance is up to $4/adult and a swing at Rice Terrace varies from 400-450k IDR (max $35/couple but the experience is worth a try).
- Visit Luwak Cofee Plantations – where you can taste the best coffee and probably the most exclusivist in the world. Made from the pooh of mammals and discovered by mistake by farmers. Copi Luwak, as locals call it, became very popular after the movie The Bucket List. The price for a Luwak Cofee is 60k IDR/cup ($4), and 300-400k IDR/100g ($27/100g – a perfect souvenir or gift – don’t worry here is the cheapest copy Luwak; everywhere on the internet you find fake luwak coffee with a min $500/kg and reach to few thousand bucks easily), but you can taste a set of 6 different types of coffee with a decent price or around $15. Luwak coffee is always medium roasted and stronger while Balinese coffee is always strong roasted and weaker. Balinese coffee is one of the best in the world!
- Visit Waterfalls. The tallest and most impressive is Sekumpul where rainbows are formed on sunny days. The price for entry is 150.000k IDR/person ($10), however, no money can’t buy the experience so just do it! Other spectacular waterfalls are Banyumala, Git Git, Candikuning, and many others since there are dozens of them near the mountains you may find near your place.
- Swim near Vulcanic Beaches – Virgin Beach, Bias Tugel or and Amed Beach are full of corals and colored fishes. No dangerous creatures near the seaside.
- See Vulcanos at Sunrise. Is a trip you should plan in advance if you want to take an amazing picture, because in order to see the sunrise you need to consider 1-2 hours driving + 4 hours climbing…
- ATV+Rafting in jungle + rice fields. Rafting: $35/adult. ATV: $60/couple.
- Drive a scooter. Price: $3/day + gasoline $0.7/liter.
- Eat at Warungs. Local restaurants serve traditional Balinese food at decent prices. Any warung with a minim of 4 stars on Google is safe. Almost all Balinese dishes are tasty and made only from local products. There are different types of warungs but all are very cheap or cheaper than other types of restaurants. Dare to taste their local Arak (local liqueur).
- Attend the Mass Cremation ceremony. Death rituals is not what you think. The cremation ceremony is a joyful party with songs and colors.
Top misconceptions about Bali
What is NOT true about Bali (or you got it wrong about a tropical country):
- Is a cheap island. NOT true. People often come here to live by months or even years because of the prices are much lower than in Western countries, so they usually want to live with the lowest budget as long as possible. Because of those people and their reviews, tourists have the impression that everything here is cheap and can be negotiated. The true is the prices are for made for all the pockets. Let me tell you some interesting facts about the real cost of living in Bali. A death ritual costs from $3000000 IDR ($200) but can reach $100000, a young family with children have a lot of ceremonies once at 3 months, so people end saving up to 40% of their earnings for ceremonies only. For example: the prices for food varies from $1/meal to $20/meal so you can pay from $10/family or $150/family. To rent a decent villa (a family with minim 4) starts from $150/night. The cost of living doesn’t feel cheap, and the general feeling is the country offers a very good quality/cost services but this doesn’t mean are cheap.
- You can rent a car. Do NOT. It is much cheaper to rent a driver than a car because renting a car do not include costs: international license fee, cost of fuel, insurance, parking, stress, google maps are not relevant. Price: $40-$70 depending on the distance travelled. Most of drivers ask you 600000 IDR ($40/day) for short distances, however you will pay more because you will probably need to see a lot of places. A trip in Ubud with driver, no matter the distance, is 70000 IDR ($4.6/trip). Driver sometimes are good local guides, so by renting a driver you get guide + transportation which is cheaper vs pay in advanced tours…
- The food is not safe. NOT true. We have been prepared with a tone of drugs and medicine hoping we avoid malaria mosquito, tropical infections, however here was a surprise: there are no mosquitos except during rainy seasons and only in a few regions, and eating, drinking are as safe as in any safest countries visited before.
- Temperature is TOO high. NOT true. A pleasant surprise. The temperature of avg 26 degrees Celcius makes this location perfect all year long. It feels cooler than Mediterana, but water is hotter all the time so you can swim in all the seasons. The only problem could be rain, in October-March when monsoons can ruin your pictures.
- Lempuyang Temple is a must-see. NOT true (the long queues of tourists… makes this location an overrated place to visit; “The Instagram temple”, as we call it, is a place with a gate and mountain where you can stay with hours to take a perfect picture).
- Travel restrictions. NOTHING. At entrance they didn’t even ask you health insurance, covid vaccine or any proof whatsoever. The only thing is to pay $35/person visa at entrance.
Bali Travel guide for couples (planning a trip to bail)
Day1. Start with Ubud center, where you can visit almost any temple and get in contact with the city. Entrance is 50-60k IDR/adult but also you need to wear Sarong in temples (at temple usually they gave you 1 for free but sometimes they ask you money, so before get in a temple just buy a sarong, because you will certainly need all times during your stay; sarong price vary from 100k IDR/7$ to 400k IDR/$30). Go to Kajeng rice fields via Market Street. You can taste green coconuts with $0.3 and see the amazing country side of Bali: rice fields, jungle and temples mixted in a most natural way. Get lunch in any of warungs nearby. In the evening, go to a dance show in the center ($7/adult).
Day2. Wake up early and drive to Tegalalang and Ceking rice terraces. We recommend take a swing a make an unforgettable picture Price: 400-450k IDR ($26/couple) or a zip like for kids (350k IDR = $23/zip line). Make a stop Bali Pulina Luwak Cofee (the best coffee you can taste into a spectacular garden. Prices: 60K IDR ($4)/luwak cofee and 60k/5 cups with normal Balinese coffee in different flavours;). And finally you reach to Pura Tirta Empul, a beautiful garden with the holy water, where you need to take a bath. At the return, you can find down the road luxurious warungs with amazing views over the jungle or rice fields (ex: Tebasari).
Day3. Drive to Monkey Forest. Walk to Campuhang Ridge Walk. Dine at the best restaurant in Ubud: Balinese Home Cooking (by far a 5-star warung build around a traditional garden, inside a big Balinese house; prices are decent 200k IDR ($14/person), but wow food is delicious; just try Fried Jack Fruit at the desert then you will see yourself what we are talking about)
Day4. Start driving very early from Ubud to the southern region. This is the longest trip you’ll probably do since it takes 2 hours drive you reach Tanah Lot. From there drive another 2 hours to Uluwatu. Not sure if you have energy to visit other places on return, here but there are several in your way: Bingin Beach, Waterblow, Pura Tirta Merta Sari.
Day5. Drive to north via: Ulun Danu Beratan, a temple on a lake. Drive further to Sekumpul:
Nother spectacular waterfall in this region is: Banyumala.
Day6. Althougt a minim 8 days you need only in Ubud to explore, you can start thinking moving to different region in Sideman or northern region, however we recommend go in Amed, the second best location where you can go in Bali. On the way stop at Bat Cave from Goa Lawah (a place where you can see bats at very close distance). After a trip of 3-4 hours from Ubud, you will find Amed more relaxing place with less traffic, beautiful gardens, amazing white-black beaches and blue turquoise sea. The only thing we recommend in Amed is to get your accommodation close to many restaurants and private beaches.
Day7. Start early in the morning toward Lempuyang in order to avoid long queue of tourists. Continue your trip to Tirta Ganga, a beautiful relaxing garden. But your journey ends with the next location: Besakih (Mother Temple), the most beautiful temple in the island. The story of this temple starts 1300 years ago when the Hindu king builds the first temple here near Vulcano. Since the volcano is still active, it means from time to time a big earthquake or a massive eruption is expected, but locals are not afraid because they believe this temple will protect them. All the families from the island build their own temples inside their houses trying to mirror their mother temple. In essense all the temples on the island are linked to the mother temple. The link means the first generations of people are the ancestors of all the families in the island, so when they start building temples all over the island they draw the lines of relations between Mother temple and the rest of the temples. When a new family wants to build a new house they will also built a new temple which is always linked to his family temple and Mother Temple; once at 10 years or more, all the families from the same origin temple meet. At Mother Temple, is a place where all the families meet periodically.
Day8. Rent a boat with a local guide to go at the best spots of snorkeling: Underwater temple, Turtle beach, Japanese Shipwreck (a vessel hit by US army in WWII). At the end of the day, you can ask the same local guide to get you by boat to a point where you to sunset from the sea. There are plenty of local guides, the normal prices are 600000K IDR ($40)/familly for renting a boat, and 400000 IDR ($27) for sunset per familly. You can get a 10% discount with promo code KAD10 at a local guide: https://amedbalisnorkelingtour.com/.
Day9. Dive to US shipwreck (here you need a special equipment) and here you can choose your own provider:
Another idea is to go fishing and then experience a Balinese Cooking Class. Practically fish and eat. You can get a -10% discount if you are using our promo code AMED10. This local guide offers local fishing experience but is also a driver: https://goo.gl/maps/fkE3UaxVUgbkkRS5A
Day10. Go to mount Batur and see the sunrise. For this trip you need to start drive at 2:00 am then climb 4 hours. It is not a tour for everyone, but only for people with a good physical condition.
Althought there are plenty of things to visit in Bali, we recommend also to stay minimum 3 days just doing nothing except: eat, pray, love.
In conclusion, you need a minimum 2 week holiday to visit the most important places in Bali.
Recommendations: before all your trips start with a consistent breakfast. Balinese breakfast is like a lunch: fried rice (Nasi Goreng) or fried noodles (Mae Goreng) with fried chicken and eggs, a smoothie made from local fruits and some Balinese coffee.
Local drivers and guides: In Amed we recommend this driver: +62 857-3703-3374. In Ubud: +62 819-5366-1124. Price: 600000 IDR ($40)/day but prices can be higher (up to $60) if the distances outside their area and last 10h.
Bali travel tips
- Cheap and Private Beach Houses can be found anywhere, but if you want to avoid crowds and you want privacy you need to go in north of the island. 30% cheaper for the same view and comfort.
- Here is out top preferred accommodations in Ubud.
Jogglo Umah Sunset is a 5 star house, with infinite pool, fish tank, built with the local materials in rice fields. Here you can have a 10% discount if you use our promo code JOG10 if you contact the owner directly at: +62 821-4745-0203
Bali Ubud Deal Finder:Booking.com
FIY, In Ubud you also can stay at the house where Eat Pray Love movie with Julia Roberts was filmed.
- Here is the cheapest 5 star private villa with Jungle View in Ubud Villa Tepi:
- An Accommodation in Amed with private beach, garden, infinite pool and see view is Aquamarine Beach Villa. We recommend it because is near two top-rated restaurants (an Italian trattoria and a local warung) and the sea in front is perfect for snorkeling.
- Best warung in Ubud: Balinese Home Cooking.
- Cheap warung, beautiful view over the sea and with always fresh fish in Amed: Ibus Sea View. Here you can taste best grill fish: Mahi-Mahi (the fish that changes color from the movie Life of Pi) or beef rendang.
- Best flights you can find directly to Bali is Qatar Airlines, according to Skyscanner and other websites we searched:
- Mass Cremation ceremonies in Ubud:
What is the best month to go to Bali?
Starting June-beginning of July and October has perfect weather, also not so crowded and cheaper than high season. August is the worst month to visit. Starting from November until May is cheapest but is the rainy season.
What will be the cost for Bali trip?
We recommend a couple to start planning a trip in Bali with a minimum of $3000/2 weeks assuming they want relaxation and comfort. The most expensive thing is the airline. An average of $1000/adult no matter where you travel from. The accomodation cost in Bali depends on how many person you are. A familly 2+2 can take a luxury house starting with $150. For couples it starts from $35/night. Food at restaurant is 2-3 times cheaper than in Europe or United States. Travel/renting a taxi is $35-$60/day. However if you plan to stay in Bali on longer term, you can find even cheaper transportation using your own scooter, cheaper food at local warungs food and long stay accomodations with few bucks per day.
Is it worth travelling to Bali now?
after pandemic Bali open the gates again to tourists. Prices are still decent and lower than most of luxury and exotic places on Earth. The country is safe, clean. This country probably is unique because local people are hospitable and happy. Bali is in our TOP3 best places to spend a vacation!