Bali Travel Tips
Seasons/When to go
Anytime is a great time to head to Bali. Dry season, which roughly runs from May to October is the most popular time to visit (with June/July sometimes totally overcrowded). Although during the wet season November to April still has some fantastic weather there is just more chance of rain. Having to sit back and wait for the rain to ease up is a good way to recover as it makes you stay in the one place long enough to soak up your surroundings that you may have strolled past quickly in a normal sunny day. The rainy season doesn’t really stop people enjoying their time in Bali, as any time here is a good time!
Getting cheap flights from Australia to Bali
There are quite a few airlines that can take you to from Oz to Bali. If you can try to avoid the peak times like the Australian school holidays (both secondary and university) and Christmas. June/July is the busiest period. Currently outside of these times you can get return flights into Bali from around $400 in tax, depending on your departure point. Very cheap!
Air Asia Asia’s budget airline. Extremely cheap, all you have to pay for is your food and drinks while onboard. There isn’t any in-flight entertainment although some of the flights can hire you a movie screen where you can watch TV shows and movies on demand.
Jetstar Another cheap option. Both airlines have great service, best to sign up to their websites email list and book when they send out their specials.
Strategic Air – A new full service airline from Perth to Bali, with rates similar to the no frills Jetstar and Air Asia
Check out sites like Jetabroad for cheap deals as well.
Don’t forget to check out qantas.com.au, garuda-indonesia.com, and singaporair.com even those these are known to be a bit more expensive than the no-frills airlines; they still have great specials that will bring them into line with the no-frills airline prices.
Bali is a very cheap destination, and with the Aussie dollar now buying almost double what it did last year a trip here is usually cheaper than staying within Australia. Depending on the type of traveler you are, you can opt for the 1 star hotels and guest houses to the 5 star and anything in between.
Food is extremely cheap as you can get your classic Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) and Mee Goreng (fried Noodles) for 20,000 Rupiah a meal (approx AUD$2.20). This usually comes with a couple skewers of meat and a fried egg on top with the rice crackers on the side.
Bintang is the local beer and if you are a beer drinker, a delightful drop. A small Bintang will set you back 8,000 rupiah (Approx AUD$1) and a large Bintang 640ml’s 16,000 rupiah (Approx AUD$2.00). You can find Bintang anywhere from the local 7 eleven store to the markets (just ask the shop owner).
If shopping is your reason to go then Bali is the right choice! Anything from market shopping to retail outlets you will be able to find it here. In the retail outlets all prices are marked but head into the markets and its bargain time. Don’t forget to start off very cheap around 1/3 of the price they first gave you. Just remember that towards the end of the bargain you may only be arguing over a couple of dollars. Remember that bargaining is a custom, a way of laughing and interacting with the locals, it’s a way of life so don’t get mad or treat them like they are ripping you off just keep bargaining till you both agree on a fair price.
If you want to travel around some of the surrounding islands to Bali quickly then flights is your option.
All these airlines are quite cheap; they can be booked online or through a travel agent while you are in Bali.
Getting from Denpassar airport to Kuta/Legian area
After collecting your bags and heading to the exit you will probably face the crowds of people holding signs and taxi drivers ready to pick you up. Just ignore these people and turn right to an isle of small shop windows.
Along this wall is a Taxi shop that sells one way fares for the taxis at 50,000 rupiah (about 6 Aussie dollars). This is the easiest way, as describing your hotel they will then organize a taxi to grab you and take you there. Don’t pay more than 50,000!
You can get everything from backpacker accommodation to 5 star resorts.
Backpacker guest houses range from AUD$5 per night which normally also come with breakfast. Just make sure that you check out the room before checking in. You want to make sure that the standard is exactly what you’re after. Your $5 in backpacker accommodation will change depending on the area, the further away from the tourist trail the more you will get. In most backpacker accommodation in Bali you will get an en-suite, fan and double bed for your money.
If you’re on a budget but can afford to splurge a little then going with a 3 star is always a good option. There you will usually receive a pool, possibly a swim up bar, en-suite, double room, aircon, breakfast and usually a couple of other things thrown in.
Just remember with all the options, you are never in your hotel as there are so many activities to do during the day. It’s just a bed for the night; you just need to decide what level of luxury you want to sleep in.
Popular 1 star options are scattered around Poppies One and Two, two roads at the heart of Kuta (also the noisiest and most shambolic).
Popular and still cheap 3 Star options around Kuta are places like the Legian Jayakarta, and the infamous Bounty hotel.
Seminyak, up the beach from Kuta, is the more civilized alternative to Kuta/Legian. This area houses some spectacular 5 star hotels, as well as a few decent cheapies and some of the best restraunts on the island. This area is better for families if you feel the need to get away from the bogan/crowd factor in Kuta.
For a good website to look for rooms of all varieties check out asiarooms.com.
Getting around Bali
Taxis are around on every corner and will drive past you as you walk down the street asking if you need a taxi, so these are not hard to find. They are relatively cheap and if you catch the Blue Bird taxis they have a meter. Just make sure you tell them you want a meter before you hop into the taxi.
For the more adventures hiring a Motorcycle or Car is an option. Both are reasonably cheap and you have the freedom of driving wherever you want. The only downfall is the lack of road rules might be hard to navigate. A lot is done from the horn. Just remember its not rude to toot like it is regarded in Australia, it’s just signals to warn the other drivers.
1 toot – “hi I’m here”
2 toots – “move”
The other option is to hire a car with a driver. They are more than happy to drive you around and show you all the tourist destinations.
Kuta beach is the most popular and with all the action you can understand why everyone hangs around. You can hire a sun bed with a umbrella and relax while you watch all the action from the hawkers, masseuse to the tourists learning to surf.
If you want some quiet time with a more picturesque beach then heading over to Sanur or Nusa Dua is where you want to go. Only 30min drive from Kuta it’s a nice day trip to get out of the hustle and bustle of Kuta/Legian area.
Nyepi day is Bali’s day of silence. This is Bali’s first day of the New Year celebrated in March; make sure to check out the coming dates as it changes each year.
The night before Nyepi day the Balinese celebrate by creating huge floats which they parade down the street. These floats seem to look like they are made out of papier-mÃ¢chÃ© but don’t be fooled into thinking they are like children’s art these have so much detail on them from the long eyelashes to the finger nails. Every inch of their creations have been thought about and well designed. These floats are Ogoh-ogoh which symbolizes the evil spirits which they have to get rid of out of their lives. These floats are tied onto bamboo which is then lifted by the dancers and they dance the floats around to the music. It’s quite incredible watching these huge creations dance around in fluid movements.
The next day is the day of silence, no one is to walk outside and this includes the tourist. Apparently as the story goes, the gods come down on the day of silence, look around Bali and then decide that Bali is inhabitable so they leave.
You cannot leave your hotel so make sure you have chosen one that has a restaurant inside and perhaps rent a DVD player and pick up some DVD’s to watch as if you try to leave the hotel staff will stop you as well as the police on the streets. Some of the hotels even go to lengths to put up black plastic to cover the entrances.
The Balinese love Nyepi day as it’s a day where they travel back home to spend it with their family, like how we spend Christmas.
Off the beaten path
Not really off the beaten trek, but Ubud is definitely worth a look. With awesome arts and crafts to monkey forest its worth the 1 hour drive to get there. You can stay up there with plenty of hotels offering cheap rooms. As you wonder around the town which is situated up in the mountains you will fall in love with the shopping, atmosphere and culture.
Balian is a village an hour or so north from Kuta.. A quiet alternative and more a village than the free for all of Kuta.
Also check out along the relatively new highway on the opposite side of the Island from Kuta. There’s some great surf spots and interesting villages to pass through.
Australians can get a 30 day visa on arrival which costs US$25 per person. It’s a bit of a myth that you need to have this $25.00 in USD: they will take Aussie dollars and you will get through just as quickly as if you had bothered to get the same in Us dollars before you arrive.
There are ATM’s at the airport which will give you decent rates (usually much better than changing money before you leave Australia).
If you liked this article check out my travel site Aussie Travel Advice. It’s a free and independent site with over 140 pages of travel advice and links, as well as our travel blog. It’s written by a former travel agent, doctor and journalist and contains the best travel tips for Australians going overseas.