BALI TRAVEL TIPS
Essential Bali Information, Traveling Around Bali
& Packing List (updated November 2020 with some covid details)
This is a detailed list of many of the things you need to know about traveling in Bali. I have had so many friends ask me for tips over the years that I decided to make this available on my website. I used this same info. sheet for a retreat I led in Bali a few years ago and people found it very helpful. These are just my humble suggestions, take 'em or leave 'em. :) And enjoy your travels!
- Booking Flights:
Flights to Bali from SFO or LAX can range from $750 roundtrip to over $1,500 round trip. I often buy tickets on Expedia.com (during covid we purchased tickets directly through Qatar’s website because other airlines were cancelling flights last minute and Qatar was the most reliable-- but it is a long journey on Qatar, beware).
- There is only one airport in Bali— in the city of Denpasar (DPS). If you are coming from California, (this is pre-covid info.) I liked to fly from San Francisco (SFO) to Denpasar via Taipei. There is generally only a 3-4 layover in Taipei if you fly this route. This route is about 19-22 hours. Red eye a must! I have flown on China Air, Eva Air, Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Qatar Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Remember when you book your flight from the USA that you will lose an entire day and will arrive at least one day later. However, when you return home you will generally arrive home on the very same evening.
- Please note, you will not be allowed to board a plane from the USA to Bali unless you have already purchased an outbound flight. Do not buy one-way tickets to Bali.
- Weather in Bali:
You never really know what the weather is going to be like in Bali. The temperatures are usually warm and humid, but not too hot, except down in the South near the ocean. It can rain anytime, but usually the monsoon like rains don't last too long. For more info. on weather click Here: www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294226-s208/Bali:Indonesia:Weather.
- Visas to Bali:
During covid you will need to do your own research online about the 6 month "social visas" or the 30 day "e-visas" as the rules are changing often (https://www.balivisas.com/enter-indonesia-during-covid-19-pandemic/)-- you can also look at the FB page: #stayinBali for info. You will need to apply online for a visa before coming to Bali and you will need to get a negative PCR/SWAB test within 7 days prior to arriving in Bali.
- Money & ATM’s in Bali:
I like to change some money right after exiting customs. You will see money changing stations and banks on the right and left. This cash helps you pay for the taxi to your location. The Indonesian currency is called Rupiah (Rp.). The exchange rate is about Rp. 13,000 to $1 USD. Note that some bank cards do not process in Indonesian ATMs so we encourage you to bring a few different cards and cash in case your cards don't work. There are numerous ATM’s and places to change USD into Rp. all over Ubud, but I like to use the ATM's that are inside of/or connected to Banks-- they are less likely to have cameras hidden.
- I also suggest you contact your banks and credit cards to let them know you will be in Bali so that fraud prevention does not freeze your cards. Once in Bali, you may need to contact them again to remind them you are in Indonesia.
- Taxis in Bali:
You can take any taxi from the airport to Ubud for about $30- $50 USD (they will take USD or Rp.). Make sure to have the name of your hotel/Airbnb and a phone number (in case the driver needs to call them for directions). It takes about an hour and a half (sometimes more with traffic) to get from the airport in Denpasar to Ubud. Some people like to book a hotel on the ocean after arrival (only 30 min away from the airport). If you are going to Ubud, below I offer the names of 3 drivers who are great.
- Cars in Bali:
FYI, if you have never been in Indonesia before, the driving might feel crazy to you. Drivers navigate the swarm of scooters, dogs, chickens and usually see stop lights and stop signs as an invitation to slow down. We strongly suggest that you not rent a car unless you have driven extensively in Indonesia!
- Motorbikes in Bali:
We love riding motorbikes around Ubud, Canggu and Uluwatu. It is an easy way to get around. You can rent a bike for about Rp. 50,000 – 70,000 ($5/day). Make sure to take a good look at your bike, make sure the breaks work and it is in good shape. Riding a bike can be dangerous, so always wear a helmet. You will get a ticket if you don't. Please ride slow and safe, and remember, they drive on the left side of the road in Indonesia.
When shopping, use your negotiation skills in Bali (unless you are in a nicer store and an item is clearly marked with a price).
- Places to Stay:
If you are looking for accommodation, I suggest looking on Airbnb.com for a villa, joining a Bali Facebook group like #ubudcommunity #canggucommunity to look at villas or make a post about what you are looking for, or booking a hotel on Booking.com.
- Drinking Water:
Do not drink the tap water. When brushing your teeth, do not run your toothbrush under the water. Most restaurants wash their veggies and use ice that is from clean water. If you ask for water in a restaurant it will be bottled water or purified (if it comes in a glass). Please fill up your water bottles in your Airbnb or at restaurants, and do not buy any plastic!! Thank you.
- Bring "GSE" to Bali.
Grapefruit seed extract is a great remedy for upset stomach, diarrhea or “bali belly.” We highly suggest you bring this potent extract. The moment you feel your belly grumbling (which can happen, it is Indonesia), simply drop 15 drops of extract into a glass of water. Repeat 3 times a day to kill any little buggers in the belly. You can find it here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nutribiotic-Liquid-Concentrate-Fluid-Ounce
- Vaccines for Bali:
You may want to contact your doctor about the most up to date information on vaccines/shots for Bali. What we know is that Bali has an extremely low incidence of Malaria. As a result, the CDC and most doctors do not usually recommend people take malaria medication while in Bali (this is not the case in other parts of Indonesia). You can visit the CDC website for information on Indonesia here:http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. Some people get Hep A, Tetanus, Diptheria and Polio if they are going to Bali. Some doctors recommend that you do not need Hep B unless you are staying for over 4 weeks. Please consult your doctor regarding all of this to make the best choices for you.
- Safety & Theft in Bali:
The Balinese are the friendliest people on the planet. They highly value having a good standing in their community. Therefore, the Balinese rarely steal. However, there have been instances of theft (and unfortunately since covid there has been an increase of theft and robberies). As you would in the United States, lock your doors, keep your valuables in a lock boxes (if they are available) and be smart with your belongings.
- Tipping in Bali:
Tipping is great! We like to tip about 10-20% when we use taxis, get massages, go to restaurants, or receive any service we are grateful for. And, it makes their day. Make sure to look at your restaurant and hotel bill, some of the nicer places add a 10% government tax and 5% service charge automatically to your bill. We generally like to tip a little bit over that 5% service charge.
- Budgeting for Bali:
We like to budget at least $300-$600/each per week. This may be more than some of you need. But we tend to eat 3 organic meals a day, buy little gifts, and get many massages. Meals are about $4-$10, not including alcohol. Massages are about $6-$10/hour. Lodging can range from $25-$150/night. If you are planning to rent a motorbike or scooter, they are about $5/day. Taxis around town can be about $5-$35/day.
- Crime & Safety:
Unfortunately, during Covid poverty has increased and so has crime. As a result, be aware of who is around you (especially if you are a woman on a motorbike alone). Always put your purse or bag underneath the seat of your motorbike. Women have gotten pushed off motorbikes and their purses stolen. Just stay smart and aware.
- Lastly, the Balinese people are extremely kind, genuine and friendly... this is an incredible culture! A smile goes a long way in Bali. Enjoy!
Favorite Travel Spots in Bali
1. Uluwatu, Bali
I often look for Airbnb’s located within walking distance to Bingan Beach. I have also stayed a Mu Bali—a small French owned resort and I have stayed at numerous Airbnb’s on the cliff above Bingan, but watch out for the monkeys if you are staying on the cliff. Also, Bingan and many of the beaches in Uluwatu, require that you walk down several steep steps to get to the beach. I have also stayed at Airbnb’s near Thomas Beach or Padang Padang Beach. All are great beaches in Uluwatu.
Things to do in Uluwatu include eating at Ours Restaurant, Suka Expresso, Mana, or Drifters. I would recommend visiting Istana in the mornings or after 5:30pm for their sauna, steam, & hot/cold soak (200,000 per person) on the cliffs of Uluwatu. I love going for sunset. Nyang Nyang beach is also a fun day trip excursion. Surfing at Padang Padang Beach is great, just watch for the strong rip tide on the left side of the beach. Go to Sunset Point to watch the sunset and have a drink at the end of the day.
2. Canggu, Bali
I have often booked Airbnb’s in the Canggu area. It is known for great restaurants, bars, music venues and has a good beach (black sand beach). Canggu is known as one of the hip places in Bali. Crime has increased there too since Covid, so it is wise to put bags and purses under your motorbike seat, and if you are a woman, do not drive alone at night.
Favorite restaurants in Canggu are Shady Shack or Café Organic. There are also some great Mexican restaurants too like La Casita and more! I enjoy shopping in Canggu, there are so many great stores with gorgeous, fun clothes.
3. Ubud, Bali
I have lived in Ubud and really love it there. Ubud is the heart and soul of Bali. It is surrounded by rice paddies, has great places to eat, has the Yoga Barn for great yoga and ecstatic dance, and has fun shopping areas in town.
Contact my friend Oming on Facebook Messenger (https://www.facebook.com/oming.novi) if you want a 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom villa in Penestanan, Ubud (walking distance to great restaurants like Alchemy, Zest, Bella or more). I have stayed at their beautiful villas many times and they all include a pool, cleaning and have a lovely family taking care of your needs. There are many great Airbnb's in the Penestanan area (my favorite area to stay in Ubud).
If you want a driver to pick you up at the airport (or elsewhere on the island) to take you to Ubud, I recommend the great services of these 3 AMAZING drivers: Uma, Nyoman or Agung. Here is Uma's Whatsapp Number: +62 821 4689 6334. And here are the email addresses for Nyoman and Agung: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org,
Want to rent a great motorbike in Ubud? My dear friend Nyoman will bring it to your villa. Here is his WhatsApp Number: +62 819-3728-3671
Favorite Restaurants in Ubud: Bella (vegan Italian, great GF pizza and lasagna), Elephant (delicious breakfast, vegetarian with a great view), Sayuri’s (great vegan food!!), La Casita (delicious chicken tacos and margaritas), Sri Uma Warung (a sweet local warung with amazing homemade Indonesian food), Kebun (great fish, burgers and pizza), Alchemy Cafe (great vegan food and salads), Kafe (delicious everything!), Zest (vegan and SO darn good! Try the jackfruit sushi, vegan burgers & the cocoa ceremony drink).
Favorite things to do in & Around Ubud: Champuan Ridge walk (do the walk at sunset), breakfast at Elephant Café, Ecstatic dance on Friday evening and Sunday morning (book online at the Yoga Barn website for tickets), working out at Titibatu fitness facility, dance classes or a movie at Paradiso, walking through the Monkey Forest, hiring a taxi to take you to the Water Temple in Tampaksiring (about 35 min drive) and getting a massage at StarChild #2 in Penestanan, Shambala Spa or a Putri Spa.
4. The Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are east of Bali (a 1-2 hour boat ride) and are stunning islands for snorkeling, relaxing and swimming in blue tropical waters. I have been to Gili Meno (and enjoyed snorkeling with the turtles there) but after Covid, there are only 2 restaurants open on the whole island. So, I would recommend looking on Airbnb.com or Booking.com for places to stay on Gili Air instead. Gili Air has some great restaurants and is a little more active.
5. Mt. Batur Area
Do an early morning (5am) hike up Mt. Batur to view the crater. This is a beautiful hike. You can stay at little guest houses below Mt. Batur. Try to find the ones with hot springs (hot tubs).
6. Sidemen Village
This is such a precious little village with rice paddies all around it. I love staying at Surya Shanti Villas.
Packing List for Bali
Here are some packing ideas as you begin to prepare for your trip. Remember, pack lightly! There are amazing clothes to buy in Bali. You will find that you will need very little from home. Leave room in your bags for gifts. There are so many gorgeous hand carved statues, silks and other gifts here in Bali. And remember, if you forget to bring something, there is a high probability you can find it in Bali.
Lightweight cotton, airy clothing (shorts, dresses, skirts, lightweight pants & tops)
Lightweight raincoat (and you can purchase waterproof rain "ponchos" at a convenience store)
Tampons (for women-- they are expensive in Bali)
Water bottle (to fill up with clean water at restaurants or your Airbnb, please don't buy plastic!)
Passport (don't leave this one at home!)
US Dollars or your Home Currency. (We find it easier and sometimes cheaper overall to bring USDollars and have them changed in Bali. My bank charges a high fee to use ATM's and credit cards in Bali. When you arrive at the airport, change at least $100 USD there, and you can wait until you get to your destination to change more).
AAA International Drivers License (If you plan to rent a motorbike, doing this can give you some peace of mind in case you were pulled over by the Balinese police). It costs about $20. All you do is go to AAA, take a photo and sign a piece of paper- easy! Good for one year. Remember to always wear a helmet!!
Vitamins, prescriptions meds, etc.
Mosquito Repellent (there are also great natural versions here in the health food stores).
Bring bandaids and Neosporin (or a mini first aid kit). If you get a little cut or scrape, it is smart to clean it right away to mitigate potential infections. Infections grow easily in this warm, humid environment.
Electrical Plug Outlet Adaptors (to be able to use and charge your US devices in Bali. You can find these at any travel stores or purchase online). You can find them here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Indonesia-Grounded-Adapter-Plug
Walking shoes & Sandals
Bathing suit or bikini
Lightweight towel for the beach (or you can buy sarongs in Bali)
Cell phone (if you are able to get an international plan or "unlock" your cell phone you can use it in Bali, otherwise we recommend using WhatsApp, Voxer, or Facebook Messenger to stay in contact. If you have an I-phone, you can still use it for sending i-messages and getting on the internet. Simply put it on airplane mode when you arrive in Bali and then turn on your wifi, entering the password of your hotel, restaurant, etc.).
Small bag or backpack for day trips and excursions
Ziplock plastic bags to store any food items. Bugs are sneaky in Bali and try to get into anything.
Snacks for the airplane
Small flashlight or your phone's flashlight (this is ESSENTIAL for walking around at night or walking back to your hotel room. There are many potholes as you walk on the sidewalk, make sure to look down).
Earplugs! There are loud bugs and roosters all over Bali.
GSE (grape fruit seed extract) this is handy to have in case you get a mild bout of “Bali belly”— just put 10-20 drops in a glass of water. It tastes terrible but kills the bacteria in your gut.
Hope you enjoy your trip ;)