A Quick Guide to Bali

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Bali, the “land of the Gods”, has quickly become a traveller’s hotspot in recent years. This little (well, actually quite big) island paradise welcomes thousands of travellers from all over the globe daily, many of them arriving from Australia due to proximity. Indonesia or “Indo” as it is passionately known, is home to a large expat community, thriving surf scene, and even many start-up bikini and fashion labels. But when travelling to Bali it really is a case of knowing where to go, as each area offers a completely different experience. So here’s a quick guide to Bali to help you plan your trip!

Bali Olympus

Population: 2.04 million +
City Motto: City of Gods
Climate: Tropical Climate around 30 degrees celsius year-round with 85% humidity!

A Quick Guide to Bali

Prior to Arrival

Visas are available on arrival and can be paid in cash or card. Some nationals will even qualify for a visa waiver. It is important to note that your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months and your passport must have a minimum of 2 free pages available. When packing, remember Bali is hot tropical weather – so less is always more! December – March is monsoon season, though the rain showers can be quite refreshing in the humidity. When booking flights, the national carrier is Garuda Indonesia who offer great connections worldwide. Alternatively, many international airlines fly to Bali or have codeshare flights.

On Arrival

Arrival will be into Ngurah Rai International Airport or “Denpasar airport” (DPS), a huge international airport that has become very ‘westernised’ over the years. Many hotels offer free hotel shuttles services, though if not, head to the “transfer desk” outside of arrivals after collecting your bags and book an official taxi to your destination (the drivers wear blue shirts). These will be set rates and are the most reliable way to reach your hotel or villa.

Getting Around

This is highly dependent on where you decide to stay and what you plan to do. If staying in a central location (i.e. Seminyak), getting around the neighbourhood is best done on foot. Then, if you plan to go further afield, the most popular options are to a) hire a private driver for the day or b) rent a motorcycle. Be aware that renting a motorcycle comes with obvious risks and traffic can be chaotic. Private drivers available for hire for a half or full day rate are very reasonable by international standards.


Getting By

Balinese is the official language spoken, which is a dialect of Indonesian. Here are some quick phrases to help you get by, even though English is widely spoken in the tourism industry:

Hello: Halo

Excuse Me, Sorry: Permisi

Thank You: Terima Kasih

Bye: Bye

Tanah lot bali single fin bali

What to See

If you want to see all the recommended sights and attractions in Bali, you will need to hire a driver or pay taxi rates point to point, as everything is extremely far apart. Here are the WOW picks for the best sights and attractions you must see in Bali:

Uluwatu Temple, Tanah Lot Temple, Ubud Old Town and Monkey Forest, Tegallalang Rice Terraces, Mount Banur (sunrise hike), Seminyak (shopping) and Canggu (great cafes + surf).

Bali breakfast betelnut cafe bali

What to Eat & Drink

Indonesian food varies dramatically throughout the various regions, however you will find some absolutely fantastic choices from right across Indonesia right here in Bali. For vegetarians, there are many great options – be sure to try the tempeh (fried bean curd) with sweet soy sauce!

Some of my favourite places to eat (that I return to each and every time) include Betelnut Cafe in Canggu (pictured above – the famous “Naga Bomb” smoothie bowls), Warung at Alila Uluwatu for local cuisine, Potato Head for western food + incredible day club scene and Single Fin Uluwatu for the best cliff bar (best at sunset).

Bali Vacation Alila Uluwatu bali

Where to Stay

The neighbourhoods in Bali are distinctly different and will play a large part in what type of holiday you have in Bali, so it is important to choose the right area for what you are after whilst you’re here.

Jimbaran Bay

Jimbaran Bay is just 15 minutes from the airport and has become one of the best kept secrets in Bali as it flies so well under the radar. This area is great for a relaxed vacation with very few people on the beaches, as well as in great proximity to nearby Uluwatu and some great beaches away from the crowds you’ll encounter further North along the coast. This area is also renowned for its seafood offerings. I stayed at Intercontinental Hotel Bali and really enjoyed my time there, however would recommend paying the extra to get all the club benefits like complimentary afternoon tea, canapes and cocktails, and a fantastic a la carte breakfast included in your rate.


This is by far my favourite neighbourhood in Bali. The cliffs, the views, the clifftop bars… I love everything about Uluwatu. Hotels here are typically very expensive, though you really do get what you pay for. My favourite is Alila Uluwatu. If you can’t afford to stay here, stay nearby in Jimbaran Bay or Nusa Dua and visit the area on a day trip, it is a mere 15 minutes drive away from each.

Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua is an area really close to the airport but feels a world away. This is a great choice for honeymooners who want huge swimming pools and a large beach with fewer people. I can recommend The Mulia Bali, a huge resort with a wide range of room types, though I hear Bali Rani Hotel and Suji Bungalow are great for a more moderate budget.


Seminyak has become the heart of Bali for 20s-30s travellers who are willing to forego a budget and spend whatever the cost for an upmarket holiday in Bali. This area has everything – great shopping, great cafes, and a great range of luxury hotels and villas. The W Hotel is here and Alila have just opened a new property here too.


Ubud has long been considered the cultural heart of Bali, however over the past decade or so it has become really touristy. It is still a great place to find sanctuary inside the gorgeous luxury hotels that have all popped up here. I can recommend the Four Seasons Sayan and the Ubud Hanging Gardens.


Located further North of Seminyak on the coast is an area that is quickly becoming more and more popular for holiday makers; Canggu. This area is where you will find all the surfers and plenty of private villas, making it a great location for longer stays. The Chill House is also here – my favourite digs in the area and a great choice for solo travellers given the community vibe.


Legian is a great choice for family travellers as the area is still really family oriented. From Legian you can easily walk to Seminyak and Kuta, though with its party goer reputation, there really is no need to make your way there (unless you insist, then by all means!) Padma Resort is recognised as the best in the area.


Sanur is a great option for a more modest budget, though has become really popular over the years so don’t expect complete tranquility! Prima Cottage comes recommended as one of the best hotels in the area for those on a budget.

Sumba Island

Get Out

The most popular day trip outside of Bali is to visit Lombok or the Gili islands off Lombok. If you are looking to go further afield for a few days for a more authentic experience, head for Sumba Island – dubbed to be “what Bali was like 30 years ago”.

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    Suzan Hall
    December 15, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I have never been to Bali but after reading your blog I am excited to spend my vacations there. I have read somewhere that there is simply too much to discover in Bali and all areas are different.

    December 11, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Great info. I haven’t been to Bali and now I wanted to go there now.

    December 10, 2015 at 2:14 am

    I haven’t been to Bali, I can’t wait until I get a chance to visit SE Asia again! It looks amazing and thanks so much for all the suggestions!

    Miles of Happiness - Marie
    December 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I LOVE Bali! I used to spent my weekends there when I lived in Jakarta. The atmosphere, the food, the people, the smell of encens … That’s a fabulous place!!

    December 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Cool guide! I’ve lived in Bali for 4 years and worked with tourists ))
    I would add – make a good insurance and better if you would not need it, but it’s a must. Even if it’s not required for a visa.
    Also check shopping in Oberoi street 😉
    I’ve got some Bali shopping review in my blog if someone is interested 😉

    Lots of love

    December 7, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Lovely guide! Bali is home to the warmest, most lovely people ever. That alone is enough to make me want to go back. Not to mention all of the incredible things to see and experience. Great post!

    December 7, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Bali is definitely on my “must-see” travel list! Beautiful photos, and the naga bomb looks delicious. Thanks for putting together this helpful guide – I’ll definitely return to it when I plan a Bali trip. 🙂

    December 7, 2015 at 3:04 am

    I love the diversity of Bali! If you want to more quieter places, rent a scooter en drive up the east coast!

  • Sunday Things... 12.6.15
    December 7, 2015 at 1:33 am

    […] Bali is probably the number one spot on my “must travel to list” – I love this quick guide to Bali. […]

    Jessica Peterson
    December 4, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Can you recommend a guide? We’d like to explore the entire island in 10 days and hopefully find a place to settle down.

    December 4, 2015 at 10:45 am

    What a gorgeous area!

    December 4, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Couldn’t agree more about Ubud being really touristy. There are some places to check out there (e.g., Monkey Forest and the Ridge hike). But that can be done in a day. Not worth staying much longer.

    There are some other areas you can go than the ones you listed to escape the touristy side of Bali.

    For one, definitely “get out” to Nusa Lembongan. It’s the slower, more laid-back side of Bali. And there’s beautiful coastal scenery there. Go across the bridge to Nusa Ceningan for an even more remote, non-touristic experience.

    After 4 days in Ubud, I felt really claustrophobic in Bali. So I shot over to Candidasa to an awesome resort (Crystal Beach) and found completely tranquility. There are locals there who will take you around the area all day for real cheap (200,000 IDR). Tons of amazing temples (like Tirta Gangga) and a relaxing white sand beach.

    The big win for me was these places did not feel as crowded or dirty as Ubud.

    December 4, 2015 at 2:27 am

    I’m an Indonesian and it makes me so happy that many people has visited Bali! Only visited there a few times, so this post is making me want to go back very soon! x

    December 3, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    One of my favourite places!! I could visit Bali over & over again. A beautiful island with so much to offer.

    December 3, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Hey thank you so much for this post. I was just recently in Portugal for surfing. Was my first time. Fell in Love and now looking forward to try it somewhere more exotic and Bali sounds so perfect. I did on my blog posts about What to do in London on a bodged and included links to your tips – Thank you 😉

    Have a lovely day!


    December 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Mmmm interesting post, but I am not sure where you got the information? There are at least 4.5 million people living in Bali. It is not little for an island that small and in fact it is extremely congested, not to mention polluted. I actually just got back from there and also published a few posts, one of them yesterday! But… I would not go again, not until tourism there moves from being mass tourism to one that is a bit more respectful to the environment. As it is, it is not my cup of tea.

    December 3, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Bye = Bye At least that is easy to remember.

    Jelena Dragovic
    December 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Nicely said about different areas & different experience – completely agree. Bali has so many wonderful things to offer….And that smoothie looks delicious!

    December 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    This is such a helpful guide – starting to plan a trip to Bali at Easter and haven’t a clue which area to stay in so this is a great starting point, thank you!

    December 3, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    THE PHOTO ATTACHED TO ‘ABOUT ME’ is a photo u look so glam nd it reflects ur innocent look ! if i date u i will request u to meet me in that way ! i love u forever !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 3, 2015 at 4:57 pm


    Jennifer Stevens | Adventurous Appetite
    December 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks so much for the neighborhood descriptions! After living in Asia for 4 years, I’m finally heading to Bali next year. This is really helpful.

    Jessica Shook
    December 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Brooke! I’m a relatively new fan and I love your website! I browse a little more of it everyday! I noticed you haven’t been to Japan! Are you going to visit there eventually? I’d love to see a post about Tokyo or another Japanese city!

    Keep up the great work!


    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    December 3, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Bali has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, you’ve definitely summed it up perfectly! It’s been a few years since I was last there, I definitely need to go back.

    Tessa at