If you are planning to travel to Bali, a.k.a. “The Island of the Gods”, this article should have your every need covered. After taking multiple trips to Bali, as well as spending a month here in May/June, we’re sharing everything we know to help you plan the trip of a lifetime!
Essentials for packing
Definitely do not pack more then one pair of high heels- you probably won’t even wear them. These are the essentials:
2-3 Beach cover ups/ dresses
One dressy dinner outfit
Shorts/ T-shirt for activities
This is ALL you need and you will probably shop there too! The rest of the time wear a robe. (#robelife)
While in Bali generally people don’t rent cars, the roads can get pretty crazy, you’ll see what we mean when you get there. A lot of people will ride mopeds because they are faster in getting around traffic. We wouldn’t suggest this and do not ride them ourselves, although they are a lot of fun, thousands are injured yearly from moped accidents. Taxis are extremely cheap, around two dollars for a ride across town, so they are a great alternative.
For any day trips, rides from the airport, or drive that consists of more than 15 minutes, we use our personal drivers Putu and Wayan (www.istanabalitours.com), we would love for you to use them as well, they are like family to us. Book ahead at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell them we suggested you and they will look after you!
Our favorite restaurants in Seminyak (main town)
Revolver – PERFECT cappuccino. Every morning when we are in Seminyak we wake up craving their cappuccinos. Good spot for morning business meetings with other designers, photographers, shop owners or working on your laptop. Cool hang out; low key environment and great breakfast/lunch too. (This is a hidden gem.)
Sea Circus– Best salt and pepper calamari in the world. Super casual.
La Lucciola -Italian restaurant on the beach– Evening dining ambiance is open air under a huge Balinese thatched roof where you are served great pasta and wine.
Sisterfields Cafe– Our lunch spot. To die for Quinoa vegetable salad. Lots of young families with happy kids eating healthy treats. We wished we had ordered the dense chocolate cake in the display case …guess we will have to go back tomorrow!
Mama San– Best Asian cuisine in town PERIOD! This is a must go.
Bambu – Stunning evening atmosphere of sophistication and glamour. Entering the restaurant you walk across water and dine surrounded by it, as if you were on an island. Try the chicken skewers and make sure you make a reservation ahead of time. (Dress code is formal.)
Biku– Great prices and good food with specialty teas and a bookstore too. No need to dress up as it is a nice casual atmosphere including outdoor picnic tables.
Nook– A short drive just on the outskirts of Seminyak, this restaurant is nestled in the middle of a rice paddy, we suggest going at sunset.
Petitenget– Great ambience at night for a relaxing dinner.
Our favorites in Ubud
Bridges Restaurant– Over looking a jungle gully, nestled under an old Balinese bridge, view and food to die for.
Casa Luna– One of the oldest restaurants in Ubud and one of the best, make sure that you get the pumpkin soup, sounds simple but is so delicious.
Our favorite in Jimbaran
Sea Side Cafe– This is a must do experience, a fresh seafood dinner on the beach, definitely go for sunset and book ahead. The Jimbaran area is famous for its seafood and this was definitely some of the best seafood we have had.
Bars and Beach Clubs (drinking age is 18 in Bali)
Motel Mexicola– Best spot to hang before hitting the town.
Ku de Ta– Best spot for a sunset drink before dinner.
Potatohead– Best day club.
La Plancha– Another great spot for sunset drinks.
Town house– Best place to dance/go out.
Rock Bar– Great for sunset drinks/beautiful experience.
Our personal driver Putu can take you to all of the below activities, he knows the best spots for all of them, and don’t forget to contact him ahead of time. ( www.istanabalitours.com)
White Water Rafting
Reike Healing Session
Uluwatu Temple Kecak Dance
Monkey Temple Ubud
Horseback riding at sunset
Jimbaran Sunset Dinner
Rock Bar– Ayana Resort
Visit a school or orphanage
Shop at the markets
We have tested out multiple hotels across the island and reviewed them all below:
Gorgeous luxury private villas within a resort, including private pool and butler service. Beautiful property 2 minutes from Geger Beach, where the hotel has their own private beach area. We would suggest staying for 2-3 nights. Great for two couples or groups of 4 girlfriends, as villas have two private bedrooms with king size beds, that are REALLY comfortable! Service is five star, fit for royalty!(Approx $450 per/ night)
This grand hotel has over 800 rooms and is definitely a site to see. We love the pool areas with enormous statues facing Geger beach. The service here was absolutely immaculate, rooms have large bath tubs facing the grounds of the resort and very lush comfortable beds. Perfect for relaxing on the beach and by the pool. Definitely a luxurious experience! (Approx $218 per/ night)
A private stand alone villa minutes from the heart of Seminyak. Our favorite thing about this villa apart from the amazing private pool/backyard is that is faces an open field which is hard to find in Seminyak. It is very quiet at night and has two large bedrooms with large bathrooms. Perfect for long stays or for those who like to have privacy.
OUR FAVORITE! We felt right at home in this luxurious one bedroom villa. These villas are right in the heart of Seminyak and walking distance from all the best shops and restaurants. We could literally live in this villa, we love its modern, chic interior and the pool is perfection.(Approx $434 per/ night)
This is not just your ordinary resort, Fivelements is a health and wellness retreat tucked away in the jungle. This is an amazing for anyone who wants to recover or revitalize their soul. The resort is completely vegan and offers yoga classes, Reike healing and spa treatments. The villas face onto a flowing river and are absolutely gorgeous. (Approx $238 per/ night)
Another absolute favorite, this resort is a 1hr and 45 min drive from Seminyak but it is well worth it. Facing onto a black sand beach where we saw one of the most amazing sunsets of our lifetime, this resort is modern and extremely luxurious. The service is perfection and the menu was one of the best in our opinion. Apart from this, the private villas have a pool directly off the bedroom facing the beach. We would suggest staying for 2-3 days. (Approx $750 per/ night)
An amazing hotel facing Seminyak Beach in the center of town. This hotel is great for families or couples that want to spend a few days exploring Seminyak. We would suggest eating outside of the hotel as the menu was not great. The rooms which face the ocean and a fantastic sunset are large and very comfortable. The pool was great for kids. (Approx $700 per/ night)
This hotel is a great option for couples or friends visiting Semiyak, it is tucked away behind one of our favorite restaurants, Sea Circus, and is walking distance to infamous beach clubs Ku De Ta and Potato Head. We love the colonial style of this hotel and the “homey” rooms which are very reasonably priced; great if you are on a budget!(Approx $210 per/ night)
This resort is a two hour drive from Seminyak but it is definitely worth it. Situated on a black sand beach in the lush land below one of the biggest volcanoes in Bali, this resort is reasonably priced, has great food and is fantastic for some quiet time to relax or work out. (Approx $150 per/ night)
10. RIMBA, Jimbaran
The Rimba Resort is less than a year old but is a very cool hotel, so much to see and do. Rimba is a part of the Ayana property so the best part is that you want use the Ayana’s amenities as well. This hotel is great for families and is located in Jimbaran which is known for its fresh seafood. (Approx $250 per/ night)
The Ayana is fantastic for all, we stayed in the private villas which were really wonderful, it felt like we had our own house. Whether you are in the hotel or the villas this property has so much to do, great pools, the famous “Rock Bar”, which is a bar on the cliffs over looking the sunset and an amazing seafood restaurant which great ambiance. We suggest staying for 3 days. (Approx $400 per/ night)
This resort definitely has the “wow” factor, this property located in the lush land of Ubud faces onto a valley of palm trees. Each villa comes with its own private infinity pool and floating hut. This was definitely another one of our favorites, everything about it was perfect. Ubud has really great activities and day trips as well. (Approx $800 per/ night)
Sanur is another great area with a great beach, shopping and fantastic hotels. The Regent was great for relaxing on the beach or by the pool and the rooms were fantastic. (Approx $360 per/ night)
These gorgeous stand alone villas are wonderful, you feel right at home from the minute you arrive. They are great for large groups and are very close to Canguu, a stylish little town. The villas are walking distance from the beach and have amazing bathrooms, living space and pools. These villas are also a great inexpensive option. (Approx $270 per/ night)
Our favorites are:
Padang Padang, Uluwatu
Suluban Beach, Uluwat
Karma Beach, Uluwat
The trip there:
Make sure your passport is valid for more than 6 months or you will be sent back to your country at customs and will not be allowed into Bali (happens a lot!).
Exchange money at the airport, you will need cash for taxis, markets and certain stores.
Book your airport pick up ahead of time if your hotel does not include.
If you are a wine drinker buy wine at the airport duty free –lots of it. Wine is the most expensive thing in Bali (60% import tax), a bottle is minimum $80- $110 for a bottle that would be $10- $20 in the US.
While in Bali:
Have a crossbody handbag and always wear it on the side away from the road (so no one can grab it from a moped)
Always ask the taxi driver to turn the meter on, and by the way there is no such thing as a “minimum” price so just get out and grab another one.
Explore! With private pools in every villa, it’s easy to get stuck in your resort, but we suggest you explore as much as possible, transport is so cheap so take advantage and don’t be afraid of 1-2 hour car rides. The scenery is always beautiful!
It’s easy to get caught up in how cheap Bali shopping is and buy 1000 unnecessary things that you will never use so only buy what you really like and ALWAYS negotiate the price. You can usually get them to 25- 50% less than their asking price but you have to be tough.
Its always good to know a few of the local words and a fun experience as well, here are some of the basics:
Hello is the same – Hello
Apa kabar? – How are you? – Pronounced AH -BAK- A- BAR
Siapa nama anda? – What is your name? Pronounced how it reads.
Nama saya – My name is- Pronounced how it reads.
Bali is in the tropics, located about 6 degrees South of the equator. This means that the sun rises at 6 am and sets at 6 pm most of the year. The temperature variation is very small, and Bali does not have four seasons (except the hotel season, of course) but has only a wet season, typically from September to February, and a dry season for the other half of the year. The difference is marginal; at the peak of the wet season you will see about a half hour to an hour serious downpour in the afternoon, about perfect for a siesta. The rest of the time? Nice, warm temperature. So basically go whenever is best for you!
We definitely suggest a trip to Bali once in your life time, there is something for every one to enjoy, not matter you age or type. Bali not only has some of the most breathe taking beaches and resorts in the world, to explore in your bikini, it is also a culturally enriching and humbling experience. If you choose Bali for your next Bikini Destination, we hope you have an amazing trip and feel free to email us any further questions at email@example.com!
Written from Karma Beach, Uluwatu X