You know those times when you reach a point where you can’t take it anymore and you just need to escape? It doesn’t matter where to. You just need to go. That’s exactly what happened with me (and fortunately my travel bestie Nicole) last March and while on the phone one day we decided to check flights to far away destinations and just go. Bali it was. A place we both wanted to visit for a long time and a destination we had both seen so many beautiful pictures from. Everything happened within 2 weeks. A good friend who spends his time there during wintertime informed us about the basics and we went on planning from there. Well, planning is an exaggeration as until the last 2 days before departure we had not even booked our full accommodation (except the 3 first nights). The truth is we both had a lot of work before leaving (plus our brains were working in “safe mode” – thus the decision to go) and everything was decided a bit fast (nevertheless good travel decisions were made and the “booking.com” site showed a lot of availability as well). So we knew we were going to be ok accommodation-wise. My luggage of course got ready the night before (as always) and I must say internet tips on what to pack really helped. It was my first trip in Asia and I was not exactly sure what should go in, or how hot the temperature would be in Bali compared to February temperatures in Greece, or even if a suitcase was a good idea or if I should have gone for a backpack as my (more experienced) friend advised. Anyway we made it to the airport without forgetting anything (which was a success) and a beautiful last-minute-escape trip happened!
Here are my tips after a most successful Bali experience:
Pack light. No heavy clothes are needed, just some raincoat and 1-2 long sleeve clothes that you may need at night. The temperatures are between 25-35 degrees Celsius the whole year so just check the rainy seasons and pack accordingly. I would say no high heels are needed and generally if you want to move easily from place to place carrying your things, take with you the basics. If you travel to more posh hotels etc and you get transfers as well, then it is probably fine. A backpack is the easy way to move around and take boats to the islands nearby but a suitcase will give you more space for the things you WILL buy from there (and believe me girls, some accessories you see in your country, you can find there at 1/10th of the price). Always have cleaning wipes with you (as there is a lot of humidity and you will feel that you will need them on the way) and you will be fine. Bali is very touristic so you can buy everything from there and also quite clean compared to other places.
There are many companies that you can choose from and believe it or not, also the “low cost” kind. I am not talking RyanAir prices but compared to the normal airlines you can find good deals and the trip will be as safe (although maybe less comfortable in a way). We travelled with Scoot airlines, the Singapore airlines’ low cost. I am not sure if I would do it again because I prefer long trips to be more comfortable but if you want to book as last minute as we did, a price difference of 1000 Euros is something you will consider. The plane was super new and the staff very polite but except the safety procedures all the rest reminded me of a bus ride rather than a plane (people with feet on the front seat’s back etc). Also, as you would expect from a low cost airline everything is at extra cost. Luggage, food, WiFi, seat choice, even water. You are not allowed to carry any outside snacks (except if you board from Athens – wink) but water is not permitted anyways so we had to buy that several times during our 13 hr flight and at about 5 Singapore dollars the small bottle. We flew via Singapore where we had a 3 hrs stopover at Changi airport and then continued to Bali. Just before landing there, you complete something like a Visa for your entrance to the country so there was no other procedure we should have done (as Greek citizens) before our trip, but since that depends on where you come from, always check your country’s bilateral agreements for Visas just to be sure. Tips for such long flights: A small blanket to wrap around you while sleeping (it will get cold) and a neck pillow helps. Oh and power banks!
We chose to do it the right way. If you go all the way to Bali (and you are over 30yrs old), you want to be a bit extra. That is why we decided that saving from the airline would allow us to enjoy the hotels we wanted (which are already at much better deals as the same quality and services in hotels anywhere in Europe I believe). As our friend Alex advised, we did not stay in the same area for the whole trip (we were there for 10 days) and that was the best choice we made, as Bali does not have any public transport and there is a lot of traffic to go from place to place. So we decided to stay in 3 different places and explore the surroundings we were interested in every time. Below you can see pictures and links of the places we stayed in.
Bali is a big island (with 2 volcanoes on it!). This means that it can take quite a long time to travel from lets say the centre of Bali to the coastline and those were hours lost from out trip. As you can realise, moving around is done by either renting a car/scooter or calling taxis/hotel transfer cars (which we did most of the days). The best thing you can do once you land is to download the “Grab” app which is a great taxi service and it also informs you of the (real) price there is to pay for any given distance. Calling taxis in the middle of the street is not advised as they may rip you off.
As mobile phone charges can be quite high if you come from Europe (Vodafone Greece was charging us about 15Euros per day just to be able to use our Greek numbers), we bought local sim cards with internet access only (about 6Euros for 8GB) that allowed us to use internet wherever, either for maps or calling each other and back home via internet call apps. In any case, free WiFi is offered everywhere.
First stop: Ubud (3 nights).
For me Ubud, a cute little village in the centre of Bali, could have also been our last stop as it is a place that you can relax and enjoy the beautiful jungle nature, stroll around the village’s narrow streets and feel time pass at a slow pace. Probably also the place I liked the most. Around Ubud there are many things to see and even if it sounds touristic I advise you to choose one of the many day tours available in order to see as much as possible of what is offered. Generally, tours are something we did most of the days as it was easier to have our guides taking us (in a private car with cold water and Wifi) from place to place while explaining us things on the way, than struggling with taxis and maps. Most of the hotels offer that option. We stayed at the magical Goya Boutique Resort which I highly recommend. Don’t miss Ubud if you go to Bali. You will see why below.
Must see things are:
- Rise fields
- The Monkey forest (although some monkeys can get aggressive so always follow the rules)
- The holy water temple.
- Swings in the rise fields (you know. It is everywhere on Instagram!)
- Local markets
- Kopi Luwak plantation (where the world’s most expensive coffee is made).
Goya Boutique Resort, Ubud.
Rice Fields (and Swing experience), Ubud.
Holy Water Temple, Ubud.
Copi Luwak Plantation (“Cat” poo coffee!), Ubud.
Monkey Forest, Ubud.
Elephant park, Ubud.
Local Markets, Ubud.
Second stop: Nusa Penida (2 nights).
It is a small island next to Bali (about 20-30 mins by local transfer boat), which is not yet as touristic as Bali, but I have a feeling it will be very soon. It became known because of its majestic beaches (Bali does not have any good beaches) and mostly because of instagrammers visiting and posting breathtaking photos from places like Kelingking beach, Diamond beach, Broken beach, etc. It is an island immersed in jungle kind nature with small villages that give you the impression of a small time travel to past decades. While in Ubud and looking for our next accommodation we were lucky enough to find this brand new resort in the middle of Nusa Penida island called The Mesare Resort that although a good 30mins drive away from the port, it was magical and the value for money was sooo good. Bamboo houses, a magical pool under the palm trees and a restaurant with local delicacies that made our 2 nights stay in the island very comfortable and I should add unforgettable. We also booked a day tour to visit the above mentioned beaches which was a fun experience but here I should add that if you want to actually swim in the water go there directly by rental or by boat. The trip we did (as we realised later) was taking us only to see the beaches from above (as most of them need climbing down cliffs and especially Kelinking beach which takes 1,5hour hike to go down to the beach from where the cars can reach. Also be prepared for some VERY bumpy dirt roads on the way to these beaches (and that is coming from me, living on a Greek island).
The Mesare Resort (Nusa Penida):
Kelingling Beach (Nusa Penida):
Broken Beach (Nusa Penida):
Nusa Penida village life.
Cave Temple (Nusa Penida):
Third stop: Seminyak (3 nights).
The capital of Bali and the nightlife place. It is probably the place we should have started our trip from instead of ending it as Seminyak is a busy town, with traffic, shops, restaurants, bars and lots of (drunk) tourists. Also the go to place for Australians from what I understand. 🙂 We luckily found a very nice place for brunch (which we visited 2-3 times), called Cafe Organic, as we were not so lucky this time with our (supposedly) 5 star hotel (which made me quite angry and that is why I will not mention it), visiting “Potato head” for dinner and cocktails for our closing night made it all worthwhile. If I would do it again I would put Seminyak first of even avoid it if you don’t like a busy town as a choice, but that depends on your personal taste only. You will not see so many pictures from here as I only carried my camera with me once and the rest were only iPhone photos which I do not post on the blog.
Potato Head Beach Bar, Seminyak.
A great experience:
If you have the change to visit Bali don’t miss it. It is a beautiful place with kind, genuine people, lovely nature, rich and interesting culture, beautiful temples, magical scenery, beaches, jungle, volcanoes, great accommodation and services and in total, a rich and fulfilling experience.
Something peculiar that will stay in my head: The smell of burning bamboo everywhere (that I took back with me on my clothes and suitcase). Not necessarily bad, just new and strange for me. Also the kindness and politeness of the people and the beautiful nature.
Thank you for reading! 😉