...What do you know about Balí?
Growing up in Eastern Europe, I knew almost nothing about the "Island of Gods" besides the fact is an exotic destination and is far, far away. I never even dreamed that l would have the chance to visit one day... Well, when an opportunity presented itself earlier this year, my husband and I embraced it and we were off on our first trip to Southeast Asia. Balí was the last stop in our multi-county Asian adventure and delivered an unforgettable experience.
You might find it interesting to learn that Balí is part of Indonesia, which is a mostly-Muslim country, but the island itself is home to Balinese Hindu minority. Another interesting fact is that most Balinese are bilingual, if not trilingual (Indonesian, Balinese, English). The local currency is Indonesian Rupiah and there is No visa required for US citizens.
Travel Tip: Exchange plenty of $ to local currency at the airport, foreign currency is rarely accepted for payments.
Travel Tip: Arrange transfer to your hotel ahead of time - In the event, you arrive after midnight (as we did), and there are no transfers available to your hotel so late at night, there are taxi drivers waiting in the arrival hall that offer their services. There is also a tourists desk that can help you to negotiate a lower rate.
What to expect from Balinese people?
My husband and I found the locals friendly and curious to learn about different countries and cultures. One important thing to keep in mind is that the locals are quite pious and you have to be respectful of the local customs.
Travel Tip: Respect the local traditions - Balinese are pious people and their beliefs reflect daily life. The most visible signs are the tiny offerings known as "canang sari" that can be seen everywhere (in Balinese home, workplace, in the restaurants and streets. Every house has a Pura (Balinese for "temple"), attached to it -- even the poor houses have a small one.
When to visit Bali?
With average temperature 30 C throughout the year, Balí is generally a year-round destination, with only two seasons: wet season and dry season. Note that the High season is during the months of July and August, during Easter Holidays, and Christmas / New Year (December until 1st week of January).
Travel Tip: For best deals, travel during the Low season between Jan-April, October and November. This is also the rainy period, however the rain doesn't last long.
How long to stay in Bali?
Balí is a comparatively big island (2230 sq. miles), and it's best to allow at least a week to explore it. If you are planning to include in your trip the nearby islands Lombok/Gili Islands (accessible via Fast Boat, Public Ferry or Air), you should consider staying at least 10 days.
How to get around in Bali?
Travel Tip: Renting a car or scooter is an option only for an experienced driver used to drive on the local roads. Traffic is hectic and you can easily get lost. Especially inland, in the countryside, the GPS often doesn't work and expect unmarked dirt roads with signs only in the Balinese language.
Taxis are also available in the main towns, just remember to arrange a return-taxis don't wait around!
Best option for hassle-free vacation is with pre-arranged car/driver and local guide.
Are you ready to experience the "Island of the Gods" for yourself?
Where to stay in Balí?
The majority of accommodations (ranging from hostels to 5-star resorts) are concentrated in the southern part of the island, in a near proximity to the Airport. Southwest of the airport, Kuta is popular among backpackers, Seminyak & Jimbaran Bay area are known for its five-star resorts, brand-name shopping, and upscale dining. On the southeast side of the island, the town of Sanur, is a low key vacation spot, known for its relaxed vibe, art and local crafts scene. Settled by the Dutch in the early 1900s, Sanur draws a lot of European travelers seeking a quiet and relaxing getaway. South of Sanur, Nusa Dua area is another alternative for discerning travelers offering luxury resorts and long sandy beaches. If you scuba dive, majority of dive resorts are situated on the East Coast, where you can find the most worthy dive sites. The "Island of the Gods" is world known for its natural healers and eco yoga retreats (check out Floating Leaf, eco-luxury retreat), with their main concentration in the cultural center of Balí, the town of Ubud.
Travel Tip: To optimize your experience, stay in two different parts of the island like Ubud ( to immerse in the local culture) and Nusa Dua (beach vacation).
Travel Tip: Although Seminyak offers a wide choice of upscale hotels, If you expect to bask on the beach and swim Seminyak might not be the right choice. The beach tends to be dirty and the water unswimmable.
What to See in Bali for a Week: Just a few highlights
With its diverse landscape of hills and mountains, dramatic coastlines and sandy beaches, paired with a rich cultural heritage and archaeological sites, Bali can satisfy a wide range of travel tastes
Travel Tip: To optimize your stay, arrange most of your activities ahead of time.
Travel Tip: Visit Uluwatu Temple during the week vs the weekend to avoid the crowds
Travel Tip: Buy the local mangosteen fruit from the fruit stand located by the entrance, it is really sweet and juicy!
Travel Tip: Typically the natural healers must be reserved ahead of time and a local guide can help you to make the arrangements
Travel Tip: If you scuba dive, some must-explore dive sites are the Tulamben shipwreck and Manta Point by Nusa Penida (click Best dive sites Balí for the complete list). Located the southeast part of the island, the town of Sanur is a convenient jump-off point to many of them.
Ready to start planning?