Brittany’s Note: I wrote this post quite a long time ago. If you have questions (or need advice) about traveling to Bali, feel free to post or email us!
Bali has always intrigued me with its beaches, climate, night life, and extremely affordable prices. My two friends and I decided to go during our “Study Week” in Australia, June 2012. In this post I’ll share how we planned our trip, as well as some advice for what to expect & what we would’ve done differently.
To plan for this trip, we did our usual research on websites like TripAdvisor & Lonely Planet and by asking friends/acquaintances for advice. Per usual, we started a google doc to make our itinerary.
Here’s what our itinerary looked like, including links to my friend’s reviews on TripAdvisor:
Kuta – 2 nights
- Barong Bali hotel, aka Grand Barong Resort
- Thursday night: Arrived in Denpasar, took a taxi to Kuta, drank our free welcome cocktail, and explored the city. We found Kuta pretty overwhelming, with Australians, elevated surfaces, and house music galore.
- Friday: explored the city and did some serious shopping, including way too many Bintang Bali tank tops (perhaps induced by one-too-many cheap cocktails at the hotel swim up bar). Be ready for aggressive shopkeepers looking to sell their designer knock-offs.
- Also checked out the surfing – there are incredible amounts of surf boards for rent!
Gili Trawangan – 4 nights
- Rumah Saga – 1 night
- Dream Village – 3 nights
- Ok, so technically this post is about Bali and the Gili islands are part of Lombok, but if you go to Bali and you have some extra time, you should definitely go to Gili. The Gili islands are absolutely incredible; Gili T was definitely our favorite part of our Indonesia adventure. I’d HIGHLY recommend it. We planned on staying a couple nights, but we ended up staying for 4! It has great vibes, gorgeous beaches, and no cars – only horses and bikes 🙂 Gili Trawangan is the largest of the 3 Gili islands.
- A few activities we did at Gili:
- Paid $14 for a 3-island snorkel trip that included lunch, fish feeding (while snorkeling), and seeing tons of turtles! This excursion was definitely a highlight
- Rented bikes (for a few bucks) and took them around the island. I say “took” because we couldn’t actually ride them the whole way…you have been warned.
- Ate in a plethora of tree houses (what we affectionately called most of the restaurants in Gili)
- Checked out the market, where you can get incredibly cheap, fresh food, including corn and seafood
Advice for Gili:
- Book your hotel/hostel once you get here, not in advance, unless it’s high season. There are so many great places along the beach front, and many of them don’t have websites or ways to book them online.
- Negotiate the price for the speedboat that will take you to Gili. We bartered the fare down from 1,200,000 rupiah to 65,000 rupiah round trip! People on our boat couldn’t believe we paid so much less than them. Negotiating is not only encouraged, it’s expected, so do not feeel rude about doing so. The boat company will pick you up from your hotel. The drive from Kuta to the port from where the boat leaves (Pedang Bai) is about two hours, so make sure you plan for this.
Ubud – 1 night
- Puri Asri Villa & Spa
- This place was fantastic. Not only was the staff incredibly nice, but the rooms were huge! They also served free breakfast.
Activities in Ubud
- We hired a driver for $50 american dollars…for an entire day. Yes, you read that correctly. You can organize a driver through your hotel, and he/she will take you wherever you’d like to go. We asked our driver to take us to the best places in the area, as long as it included the monkey forest. Here are the places we went, but feel free to explore more!
- Monkey forest (a must):
- Coffee Fields:
- “The Mother Temple” – at least, that’s what our driver called it:
- Batur Natural Hot Spring, where we also got massages:
We bought our tickets about 4 months in advance for about $600 round trip from Brisbane to Denpasar, with a quick stop in Darwin. To be completely honest, I had a panic attack at the airport on the way to Bali – there were so many security measures & warnings about traveling to Indonesia that really freaked me out.
Once we got to explore Bali and the Gili Islands, however, we realized there was nothing to worry about as long as you use common sense, just like any other place in the world. Bottom line: be safe, but don’t get too worried about the “dangers” of this country.
Have you been anywhere in Bali or Indonesia that you would recommend? Do you disagree with my perceptions? Please comment below!