Guide to travel to Bali Indonesia!
Bali, an island of 17,000 that Indonesia has, 5,000 square kilometres of a country of almost 2 million. Making the comparison, it seems incredible that a space that does not even represent 0.25% of the extension of this country resonates so much. It will be because, touristically, it is a delight. And since you surely plan to visit it, here is a guide with everything you need to travel to Bali.
As an introduction to tell you that my visit to Bali was part of my trip to Indonesia, the destination chosen in 2019 to carry out our sustainable tourism project #LaBasuraNoDaLikes . So, between one thing and another, we walked around Bali for little more than a week. It’s enough?
Personally for me it was. And, although on a tourist level we leave a few things to see, Indonesia is an interesting enough country not to focus all your efforts on a single island . And although this is one of the most touristy, I think it is not the one that best reflects the essence of the country. So my advice is that if you go to Indonesia, try to visit something other than Bali, although “The Island of the Gods” is well worth it.
Demographic information about Bali
As I mentioned in the introduction to this guide, Bali is one of the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia and is only 5,000 square kilometres . In case it serves as a reference, in Spain there would be about 100 Bali’s. With these data you can imagine that it is not a logistically very complicated destination and that it is relatively easy to get from one place to another. Now, as happens in other corners of the world, a fairly limited road network and very dense traffic means that journeys, no matter how short, take a long time. This is the main reason why the town of Ubud has become the tourist capital of the island, since from there it is relatively easy to move around these lands.
Ubud – The tourist “capital”
As I was saying, because of its location Ubud is the reference city for tourists. So much so, that a large part of the island’s hotel and leisure offer is concentrated here . If you are going to travel to Bali, it is more than likely that you will end up spending one (or a few) night (s) in Ubud. In fact, if you get your own transport (rental motorcycle, for example), Ubud is a perfect point to go out and explore those lands. In case it suits you, here are some recommendations for accommodation.
- Airbnb has a wide range of accommodations on the island. And here you have a discount for your first reservation.
- We spent the whole week at the Pillow Inn. And we could still be there. Perfect for backpackers.
- A nice and inexpensive option for couples is the Kailash Bali hotel, rated over 9 on Booking.
- A super nice but slightly less expensive option is the Ulun Ubud Resort. € 100 per night in this great hotel.
Denpasar – The capital of Bali
Although Ubud is something like the tourist capital, the real capital is Denpasar, the headquarters as well as the Balinese airport . Both international flights and flights to other islands depart from there, so you will surely end up passing through it. Tourist interest has none, although for bureaucratic, legal, economic and administrative matters it is the reference.
Visa for Bali
We continue with the Bali guide talking about visas. It is necessary? Well, it depends on where you come from, how long you are going to be and if you are going to do tourism or something else. If you are Spanish, Colombian, Argentine, Chilean, Peruvian, Uruguayan or Mexican and you are going to be less than 30 days for tourist reasons, you can request a free visa upon arrival at one of the main airports or seaports in Indonesia (in others you will have to pay). All you need is, as always, a passport with at least 6 months of validity. If you intend to stay longer, then you will have to use an embassy or consulate or pay 35 dollars on arrival for the visa “on arrival” and another 35 for the extension for more than one month (maximum 60 days). Once inside Indonesia, you can move from one island to another without problem.
Do I need to get any vaccinations?
As of today, the only mandatory vaccine to travel to Bali, and therefore to Indonesia, is that of yellow fever, as long as you come from a country where that disease is active. If not, there is no obligatory one, although if you ask at the international vaccination center, they will surely recommend that of typhoid and hepatitis A. In my opinion, if you are going to do a typical tourist route, do not worry too much about vaccines . If you plan something different or volunteer in a rural area then I do recommend that you go well prepared.
Weather: what is the best time to travel?
As usually happens in these cases, you have to take into account that, generally, the times of best climate are those that have the most tourism and on the contrary, so I don’t think there is a perfect time. It depends a bit on what you are looking for. That said, November to April is considered the rainy season, and April to November is the dry season . We were in March and it didn’t rain too much, just a few isolated showers. In general, the weather is good, but it is true that in those parts of the world when it rains, it rains, so I personally recommend traveling in the dry season, but avoiding the most touristy months (Christmas and European summer).
Currency and prices
The Indonesian rupiah is the currency used in Bali (and throughout the country) and at the time of writing this post they will give you around 15,500 IDR for every euro . Come on, as soon as you change you will carry a good amount of bills on you. But do they wear out fast? Well, as you can imagine, Bali, as in much of Asia, is ostensibly cheaper than Spain and most European countries. Now, don’t trust yourself either.
Although it is easy to eat and stay for little money (if that is what you are looking for), it is not difficult to spend your dogs if you come upstairs , especially if you are guiri. And is that most tourist attractions (temples, waterfalls …) charge entry, some of them around 4-5 euros. If to that you add that you are going to depend on some transport to go from one place to another, the account is swelling. Of course, I also tell you that luxury in Bali is more than affordable, so if you want to indulge yourself during the trip, do not mourn.
How to get around Bali
We continue with the Bali guide answering another common question, is it easy to get around? Well yes, it is easy to get around Bali, although rarely fast and not always cheap (in comparison). Unless you travel leisurely and have all the patience in the world, public transport is a difficult option. The most convenient thing is that you use a rental vehicle, taxis or organized tours.
To start with the rentals, both cars and motorcycles are at your disposal . The first option, personally, I see it complex since, although the roads are not bad at all, the traffic is very dense and the motorcycles are the ones in command. So if you are inexperienced in navigating the motorcycle chaos of Asia, you may have more than one wheel scare. Motorcycles, however, are a much more affordable option and better adapted to island rhythms. If you have a minimum of previous experience or, at least, a minimum of courage and confidence in yourself, you will surely enjoy it to the fullest. The best thing is that for less than 5 euros you can get a motorcycle for the whole day, and gasoline lasts and is very cheap. Of course, if you do, a lot of caution and always with insurance.
If you prefer a ride, then taxis are a good option. They work with a meter (make sure they put it) and the prices are more than acceptable, especially if you share it with more people. A similar option is Grap, an equivalent to Uber present throughout Indonesia. Of course, the war between taxis and VTC has also reached here, so there are areas where you could have a problem. Better to always have a plan B.
The last option is to use a tour, perfect if you don’t have much time or if you want to see several things in one day . Bali is full of agencies so you can hire it there on the go, although if you prefer to ensure them in Spanish, take a tour of the Civitatis website.
What language is spoken?
As an Indonesian island, Indonesian is spoken in Bali, a dialect of Malay that until 1945 had characters similar to Japanese, but which today uses Latin calligraphy. A complex language that you won’t understand in 15 days, but, as always, I recommend you learn some basics to earn their sympathy: hello (halo), goodbye (dahh), thank you (terima kasih), please (tolong) , yes (ya), no (tidak) and I’m not married (saya belum menikah). In any case, don’t be overwhelmed with the language if you travel to Bali: in English you will understand yourself if you move through tourist sites. And if you only speak Spanish, I don’t think you have much of a problem either. Money is a universal language.
One of the peculiarities of Bali is that, despite the fact that Indonesia is an eminently Muslim country (90%), Hinduism reigns in “The Island of the Gods”. But it is not a standard Hinduism, it has many quirks. Peculiarities such as the “Day of Silence” and is that, despite the fact that Bali follows the traditional calendar, for religious reasons it also has its own calendar whose end of the year is in March and is celebrated with this most curious holiday. I recommend you take a look at my blog post about it .
Is it a safe island?
And security, how are we doing? Well, by boat soon, I would tell you that Bali is one of the places where I have felt safest . And it is that, in close connection with the previous point, the Balinese have an affable character and a very positive attitude towards life. You come across who you come across, smiles and good gestures are guaranteed. This is the main reason why, wherever you go, you will feel calm, even if you do not forget about travel insurance.
Regarding transport safety, as I have explained before, here you will have to be a little more careful, especially if you drive since, although the roads are not terrible, the traffic is dense and a bit chaotic, so you have to walk with a thousand eyes. If you go on a bus or transport with a driver, you will probably go a little quieter because they know how to move.
If we focus on stomach safety, can I eat anywhere? In general, I could tell you that yes, it is a very touristy island so, if you don’t go far off the route, you will find decent restaurants. Now, as you will suppose, the water is not drinkable, so eating fresh products (salads, fruit) carries its risks if you have not disinfected them personally . The same I tell you with the ice, avoid them unless the place gives you confidence. But come on, there are no reasons to travel around Bali paranoid. Avoid clubs and problem products and save on visits to the bathroom. On the website of the Foreign Ministry you have a little more information.
The typical food
Connected with the above, but leaving hygiene aspects aside … how do you eat in Bali? Well, it depends on what you enjoy Asian food, but in general I would say good. As in most countries in the area, noodles and rice are the base of everything , which is why many typical dishes such as Mie Goreng or Nasi Goreng are made up of it. Now, the island is completely tourist-oriented, so if it is what you are looking for, you will not miss sandwiches, hamburgers, pizzas and other classics of world food. Although the more you internationalize, the more you will pay for the bill.
Internet and plugs
By focusing on technological issues, the first thing I will tell you is that the Internet in Indonesia is very cheap , so with 10 or 20 euros that you put in it, you will be able to have a connection throughout the trip. From the moment you get off the plane you will find one and a thousand options to buy a Sim. Regarding plugs, if you come from Spain or most European countries, you will not need any type of adapter.
What can you see on the Balinese island
With this guide to travel to Bali already contextualized, it is a good time to start a possible itinerary around the island . Although on my route through Bali you have a lot of information about what you can see, here are some clues.
In Bali there are more temples than restaurants, so wherever you go you will find some . Now, not all are interesting in the eyes of the tourist. Some of his classics: Tirta Empul, Tanah Lot, Taman Ayun, Pura Besakih… although there are many others of great interest.
Water in any of its forms is one of the great attractions of Bali, and the spectacular waterfalls that the island hides demonstrates this. Tegenugan, Kanto Lampo, Tukad Cepung, Layana … are the name of some of the most popular. Now, I am going to warn you that, in high season, these falls are almost a theme park so they lose a lot of charm. If you travel to Bali with time ask the locals and skip the route. Sure there are some not so famous, but equally interesting.
As a good island, Bali is surrounded by beaches, some more famous, some completely abandoned, and others in the middle . Of course, I already tell you that the concept of a Spanish beach (beach bar, umbrella and ice cream) is not so easy to find on this side of the world. Kuta, Sanur, Jimbaran, Padang Padang… are just some of the many that can be enjoyed on this island. Find out well before going because each one has its audience.
Volcanoes in Bali
I ndonesia is a land of volcanoes and some of them are hidden in Bali . The Batur volcano is the most famous of all and one of the most visited, but not the only one. Agung and Bratan also often satisfy tourist desires. Please, if you visit it, always do it with a guide and with adequate preparation.
The rice terraces
For me, one of the best moments that I enjoyed on my Bali trip was visiting one of those rice terraces at sunset . Tegallalang is one of the most popular, followed by Jatiluwih … but they are not the only ones. Rent a motorcycle and get lost, and surely you will come across one.
Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan
Despite being two separate islands, Penida and Lembongan also belong to Bali , and they are two interesting visits. Sanur or Padang Bai is the name of the main ports in Bali from which you can catch some transport to the nusas. Once there you just have to enjoy.
Other neighboring islands
Although Indonesia is a huge country, near Bali there are other islands that are worthwhile . I recommend taking advantage of your trip there to visit the impressive Komodo National Park (on the island of Flores), the Gili or Java archipelago , where some of the most spectacular temples and places in the country are found.
And the garbage?
I cannot finish this article without giving a space to #LaBasuraNoDaLikes, the sustainable tourism project that we were carrying out during our time in Indonesia. And it is that, among other things, this is the second country that throws the most plastics into the sea, figures behind which hides a great story. Discover it in my post on the subject , in the documentary that we prepared about it and dare to give a hand if you pass by .
Here I end this guide to travel to Bali, a perfect island who wants to start in the wonderful world of Asia without many complications. Bali is a bright, comfortable and very tourist-friendly destination, so I’m sure your experience there is going to be a very pleasant one. Will you tell me?