The mere mention of Bali connotes images of serene, tropical paradise clad in exotic culture and maidens walking on evergreen rice paddies. But once you arrive in downtown Denpasar, you will be greeted by a lively, crowded strip of souvenir shops, flashy malls, deafening all-night clubs, restaurants and resorts for all types of budget.
Don’t fret, because once you start exploring outside the tourist strip of Kuta – where Bali tourism started – you will probably agree that those picturesque images of Bali are indeed real!
Here is a travel guide for first time visitors in Bali who want to have a glimpse of the famous Balinese culture and arts.
BEST MONTHS TO VISIT BALI
When is the best month to visit Bali?
July to August – Peak Season
May to June – A good month for visiting, the annual rains have stopped
April – Dry Season
November to March – Rainy Season
Bring US dollars because Philippine peso has terrible exchange rate based on my experience. You can also withdraw from ATMs at the airport or in downtown Denpasar. Bali uses Indonesian rupiah (IDR) as currency. Current rate is around PHP 50 = IDR 13,264 (USD 1/ SGD 1.37)
BALI WI-FI/ INTERNET
Stay connected in Bali, Indonesia by renting a pocket Wi-Fi. You can RENT A POCKET WI-FI HERE, good for 7days and can connect up to 5 devices at once. Just pick it up at Bali airport upon your arrival.
Alternatively, you can also use a simcard. You can BUY SIMCARD HERE Pick up at Bali Airport.
HOW TO GET TO BALI FROM MANILA (PHILIPPINES)
Philippine Passport Holders are entitled to a visa-free entry to Indonesia for 30 days.
Several airlines fly from Manila to Bali, but some of them have a lay over at Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have direct flights to Bali from Manila.
HOW TO GET TO BALI FROM BALI AIRPORT
At Bali Airport (Ngurah Rai Airport) you can take a cab to your hotel or it’s cheaper if you book Bali airport transport here
If you are staying in Ubud, you can arrange a pick up with your hotel, or rent a car. You can book for Bali private car here
IMPORTANT: There is a toll fee from airport to downtown Bali. Prepare around IDR 11,000 (PHP 41/ USD 0.82/ SGD 1)
GETTING AROUND BALI, INDONESIA
BY CAR RENTAL
Whether you are traveling alone or with a group of friends, you can save if you hire a car when touring Bali. Pick the destinations that you want to see and create your own itinerary. You can see my sample itinerary below.
BY TOUR PACKAGE
For solo travelers or couples, getting a tour package is a wise idea. Tours Bali are quite cheap and usually include hotel-pick up and drop-off, English speaking guide, entrance fees and lunch.
Here’s some of the must-do tours for first-timers in Bali:
Visit Bali’s top attractions including Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Tirta Empul Temple & Holy Springs, Gunung Kawi Royal Monument. Witness how local artisans make gold & silver jewelries in Celuk Village and get awed by the talented sculptures of Mas Village, known for the best wood carving in Bali. Get awed by Barong Dance Performance,a traditional Balinese dance. And indulge on a Kintamani lunch with a stunning view of Mt.Batur. You can BOOK THE BALI TOUR HERE
ULUWATU TEMPLE TOUR AND KECAK DANCE
The best surfing in Bali is arguably found on Uluwatu, at the southeastern coast. Uluwatu has a world-famous surfing break that produces consistent, great swell of all sizes. It has about seven surf peaks that are perfect for advanced and expert surfers. Just south of the surfing spot, a cliff is crowned by another famed landmark – Uluwatu Temple, one of the oldest and most important temples to the spirit of the sea in Bali. During the 10th century, Empu Kuturan, a Javanese priest, established the first temple here. During the 15th century, the founder of the Hindu-Dharma religion reportedly spent his last days here when he attained moksa (oneness with the godhead).
For the uninitiated, Ulu Watu Temple is notorious for its naughty monkeys that snatch sunglasses, drinks, handbags, hats or just about anything that they can reach.
While you are here, don’t miss the renowned Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple during sunset. It is one of my favorite activities in Bali. Before the show I met the friendly performers backstage, and I got to talk to them about their practice and preparations.
The Kecak Dance is unique among Balinese dances as it is not accompanied by a gamelan, instead, a group of barechested men wearing checkered cloth around their waist chanting rhythmic chak-a-chak-chak while their arms are raised, swaying back and fort. The Kecak Fire Dance actually depicts a scene from Ramayana, the story of Prince Rama and Princess Sita.
You can BOOK THE ULUWATU SUNSET TOUR WITH KECAK DANCE HERE The private tour includes entrance fees, English speaking guide and hotel pick-up and drop-off.
While you are in the area, have dinner at one of the beachfront restaurants along Jimbaran Beach that serves delicious seafood dishes!
If you are looking to immerse in Bali culture, head to Ubud, the cultural, arts and culinary capital of Bali. Although this can be done as a day trip from South Bali, staying here is also a great idea to get a taste of the traditional Balinese life and explore the surrounding areas.
You can BOOK THE UBUD TOUR HERE. Tour already includes a visit to Bali Bird Park, Batuan Village, Pura Desa Batuan, Lunch at Bebek Bengil Restaurant, Ubud market, Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and Pura Penataran Sasih. This Ubud Tour is inclusive of hotel pick-up and drop off, English speaking guide and entrance fees.
TANAH LOT SUNSET TOUR
While in Ubud, it is recommended to see Tanah Lot and its postcard worthy temples. The rock formations here are known for its Balinese temples facing the sea. The best time to visit, especially for photography enthusiasts, is during sunset. You can BOOK TANAH LOT SUNSET TOUR HERE
BALI/UBUD COOKING CLASS
Discover the secrets of the tasteful Balinese cuisines through a Bali cooking class. There are several places that offer cooking courses especially in Ubud, Bali’s culinary capital, most of them start with a visit to a local market to buy the fresh ingredients and spices needed for cooking.
You can BOOK A BALI COOKING CLASS HERE , the tour includes learn how to make traditional medicine using locally sourced ingredients.
BALI DAY / SIDE TRIPS
NUSA PENIDA, NUSA LEMBONGAN AND NUSA CENINGAN
BALI SIDE TRIP
BY CAR RENTAL
If you are traveling in groups, I suggest you hire a car so you can pick the tourist attractions that you wish to visit. You can book for Bali private car here
BY TOURIST SHUTTLE BUS
Tourist Shuttle Bus is a popular option for tourists traveling to Lombok Island. They also connect to the main tourist centers on Bali. The most established is Perama Bus.
You can hire a motorbike in Bali. Check with your guesthouse or hotel or travel agents. Make sure you have an international driver’s license. Some motorbike rentals offer delivery and pick-up service, motorbike insurance, pocket Wi-Fi, GoPro Hero4 Silver and 24/7 roadside assistance.
BY BEMO OR BUS
The main form of public transportation in Bali is the bemo (a van or minibus). Fares are fixed, however, tourists are usually overcharged. Bear in mind that the bemo won’t leave until full. I will only recommend this if you are with a local who speaks Bahasa Indonesia or Bahasa Bali.
Buses have fixed rate and they leave at the same terminal as bemos. Only set fares are available, so if you are getting off halfway, you still have to pay for the full price.
BALI TOP ATTRACTIONS
Address: Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
Open Hours: Anytime
Entrance Fee: Free
Address: Seminyak, Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
Open Hours: Anytime
Entrance Fee: Free
Address: Canggu Beach, Canggu, North Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
Open Hours: Anytime
Entrance Fee: Free
ULUWATU TEMPLE AND KECAK DANCE
Address: Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
Open Hours: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Entrance Fee: IDR 20,000 (PHP72/USD 1.49/SGD 2)
Kecak Dance Fee: IDR 100,000 (PHP 377/USD 7/ SGD 10)
Barong Dance Fee: IDR 100,000 (PHP 377/USD 7/ SGD 10)
Address: MAS, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Entrance Fee: Free
MONKEY FOREST UBUD
Address: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Open Hours: 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Adult – IDR 50,000 (PHP 188/ USD 5/SGD 4)
Children – IDR 40,000 (PHP 141/ USD 3/ SGD 4)
UBUD TRADITIONAL ART MARKET
Address: Jalan Raya Ubud No.35, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Open Hours: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Entrance Fee: Free
TEGALALANG RICE TERRACES
Address: Jalan Tegallalang, Tegallalang, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
Open Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000 (PHP 38/ USD 0.75 / SGD 1)
TIRTA EMPUL TEMPLE AND HOLY SPRINGS
Address: Jl. Tirta, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552, Indonesia
Open Hours: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Adult – IDR 15,000 (PHP 57/USD 1/ SGD 2)
Children– IDR 7,500 (PHP 28/ USD 0.56/ SGD 0.77)
JATIWULUH RICE TERRACES
Address: Jalan Jatiluwih Kangin No. 2, Desa Jatiluwih, Penebel, Jatiluwih, Penebel, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82152, Indonesia
Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 (PHP 57/USD 1/ SGD 2)
TAMAN AYUN TEMPLE
Address: Jl. Ayodya No.10, Mengwi, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia
Open Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Foreigner: IDR 20,000 (PHP 75 / USD 1.49/ SGD 2)
Indonesian Citizen: IDR 10,000 (PHP 38/ USD 0.75 / SGD 1)
ULUN DANU TEMPLE
Address: Jl. Bedugul – Singaraja, Candikuning, Baturiti, Candikuning, Baturiti, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali Open Hours: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Entrance Fee: IDR 30,000 (PHP 113/ USD 2/ SGD 3)
TANAH LOT TEMPLE
Address: Beraban, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali, Indonesia
Open Hours: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Entrance Fee: IDR 60,000 (PHP 227/USD 4/ SGD 6)
WHERE TO STAY IN BALI
First timers in Bali often stay in Kuta (I am guilty) and Legian, honeycombed with narrow lanes fringed by surf shops, money exchange, cheap cafes and souvenir shops, not to mention ceaseless motorbikes.
While top end hotels like Mercure Bali and Hard Rock Hotel Bali seem to dominate the area fronting Kuta Beach, there a good number of budget sleeps (called losmen) tucked in narrow lanes like Poppies Lane I, JI Benesari and Gang Bedugus.
Legian on the other hand, beckons slightly older crowd and families on a mid-range budget. You can find pretty comfortable and reasonably-priced rooms along JI Padma and JI Melasti, or in areas in between as well as along Jl Pura Bagus Taruna.
For high-end tourists, Tuban, Seminyak and northern Legian are the place to be.
Pondok Denayu Homestay
Kubu Anyar Street Gang Kingkong 1 No. 4B, Kuta, Kuta, Bali
Buddha’s Guest House
Jalan. Kartika Plaza, gang Pandawa No. 4, Kuta, Bali
EDEN Hotel Kuta Bali – Managed by Tauzia
Jalan Kartika Plaza 42 Kuta, Kuta, Bali,
Bintang Kuta Hotel
Jl. Kartika Plaza, Kuta, Kuta, Bali,
Hard Rock Hotel Bali
Jalan Pantai, Banjar Pande Mas, Kuta, Bali,
Mercure Hotel Kuta
(We stayed here during our Bali trip).
Jalan Raya Pantai Kuta No. 10X,
Banjar Pande Mas, Kuta,
Kabupaten Badung, Bali
WHERE TO EAT IN BALI
Indonesian foods are generally Chinese influenced, but if you want to try authentic Balinese or Indonesian dishes, head to a warung or food carts. Many Balinese dishes require sometime to cook, two of the must-try food here is babi guling (spit-roasted suckling pig) and betutu bebek (duck roasted in banana leaves).
Bebek Tepi Sawah in Ubud serves really good roasted duck! If you want to taste them, Ubud has restaurants by the rice paddies that serve such dishes. On the other hand, Potato Head Beach Club is the place to be for sipping cocktails at sunset.
Bebek Tepi Sawah
Jl. Raya Goa Gajah
Open Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM Daily
(Roasted duck – betutu bebek)
Temple Hill Studios Jl. Wanagiri 18
Open Hours: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM Daily
Potato Head Beach Club
Jl. Petitenget N0.51B
(Cocktails at sun
BALI ITINERARY AND BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES
Feel free to modify this depending on your trip schedule and budget.
|DAY 1||ULUWATU TOUR|
|04:00 AM||ETD Bali from Manila, Philippines|
|07: 50 AM||PHP 344 (IDR 90,000 / USD 7/ SGD 9 )||Arrival in Bali. Airport to Hotel Transfer. Car Rental.|
|09:30 AM||PHP 500 (IDR 133,000/ USD 10/ SGD 14)||Check-in at hotel. Freshen up.|
|09:00 AM||PHP 1,711 (IDR 448,000 / USD 34/ SGD )||Start of Uluwatu Tour via Car rental: Nusa Dua Luxury Beach, Peninsula Beach, Nusa Dua Water Blow|
|11:30 PM||PHP 200 (IDR 52,959/USD 4/SGD 5)||Lunch|
|12:30 PM||Continue Uluwatu Tour: Virgin Beach, Dreamland Beach, Pandawa Beach, Padang Padang Beach.|
|05:00 PM||PHP 76 (IDR 20,000 / USD 1.49/ SGD 2 )||Explore Uluwatu Temple.|
|06:00 PM||PHP 379 (IDR 100,00 / USD 7/ SGD 10)||Kecak Dance|
|08:30 PM||Back to Hotel. Dinner. Shop for souvenirs.|
|DAY 2||Central Bali Tour|
|07:30 AM||PHP 100 (IDR 26,000/USD 2/SGD 3)||Breakfast|
|8:30 AM||Hotel pick-up|
|9:00 AM||PHP 2,200 (IDR 581,934/ USD 43 / SGD 60)||Start of Bali Tour via tour package with Klook. Batubalan for Barong Dance Performance, Celuk Village (gold & silver smiths) and Mas Village (wood carving)|
|11:30 AM||Kintamani for lunch w/ Mt. Batur views|
|12:30 PM||Continue Bali Tour: Tirta Empul Temple & Holy Springs, Gunung Kawi Royal Monument and Tegallalang Rice Terraces|
|06:00 PM||End of Tour. Back to hotel. Freshen up.|
|07:00 PM||PHP 200 (IDR 52,959/USD 4/SGD 5)||Dinner. Explore nightlife in Bali.|
|10:00 PM||PHP 500 (IDR 133,000/ USD 10/ SGD 14)||Back to Hotel. Sleep.|
|DAY 3||West Bali Tour (Bedugul)|
|07: 30 AM||PHP 100 (IDR 26,000/USD 2/SGD 3)||Breakfast|
|8:00 AM||PHP 1,711 (IDR 448,000 / USD 34/ SGD )||West Bali Tour via car rental|
|8:30 AM||PHP 151 (IDR 40,000/ USD 4 / SGD 3 ) + PHP 76 (IDR 20000 / USD 1.49 / SGD 2 )||West Bali Tour: Jatiwuluh Rice Terraces, Taman Ayun Temple|
|11:30 AM||PHP 200 (IDR 52,959/USD 4/SGD 5)||Lunch|
|PHP 113 (IDR 30,000 / USD 2/ SGD 3)||Continue Bedugul Tour: Ulun Danu Temple, Twin Lake|
|05:00 PM||Sunset watching at Tanah Lot Temple|
|06:30 PM||PHP 500 (IDR 133,000/ USD 10/ SGD 14)||Back to Hotel.|
|8:00 PM||PHP 200 (IDR 52,959/USD 4/SGD 5)||Dinner. Socials.|
|5:00 AM||PHP 344 (IDR 90,000 / USD 7/ SGD 9 )||Check out. Airport Transfer|
|8:30 AM||PHP 756 (IDR 200,000/USD 15/ SGD20 )||Check in, Pay Bali Airport Terminal Fee. ETD Manila, Philippines|
|12:35 PM||ETA Manila, Philippines|
|TOTAL||PHP 9,826 (IDR 2,600,000/USD 194 / SGD 286 )|
He’re a list of possible expenses in Bali. Of course, hotels, tours and food expenses will depend on your choices, can be lower or higher.
|PHP 344 (IDR 90,000 / USD 7/ SGD 9 )||Bali Airport to Hotel transfer.|
|PHP 344 (IDR 90,000 / USD 7/ SGD 9 )||Hotel to Bali Airport Transfer|
|PHP 1,711 (IDR 448,000 / USD 34/ SGD 46 )||Day 1 Car Rental (Uluwatu Tour)|
|PHP 2,200 (IDR 581,934/ USD 43)||Day 2 Tour (Central Bali Tour) inclusive of entrance fee and lunch|
|PHP 1,711 (IDR 448,000 / USD 34/ SGD 46 )||Day 3 Car rental (Bedugul Tour/ West Bali Tour)|
|PHP 500 (IDR 133,000/ USD 10/ SGD 14) x 3 nights = PHP 1,500 (IDR 397,000 / USD 30 / SGD 41 )||Hotel in Bali|
|PHP 1,200 (IDR 317,752/ USD 24 / SGD 33 )||Meals|
|PHP 76 (IDR 20,000 / USD 1.49/ SGD 2 )||(Day 1) Uluwatu Temple Entrance Fee|
|PHP 379 (IDR 100,00 / USD 7/ SGD 10)||(day 1) Kecak Dance Fee|
|PHP 38 (IDR 10,000/ USD 0.75/ SGD 1 )||(Day 1) Pandawa Entrance Fee|
|PHP 227 (IDR 60,000 / USD 4/ SGD 6)||(Day 3) Tanah Lot Entrance Fee|
|PHP 113 (IDR 30,000 / USD 2/ SGD 3)||(Day 3) Ulundanu Temple Entrance Fee|
|PHP 76 (IDR 20000 / USD 1.49 / SGD 2 )||(Day 3) Taman Ayun Temple Entrance Fee|
|PHP 151 (IDR 40,000/ USD 4 / SGD 3 )||(Day 3) Jatiwuluh Rice Terraces Entrance Fee|
|PHP 756 (IDR 200,000/USD 15/ SGD20 )||Bali Terminal Fee|
|PHP 9,826 (IDR 2,600,000/USD 194 / SGD 286 )||TOTAL|
BALI HELPFUL TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMERS
Dress and act modestly when visiting temples. A sarong or a scarf is handy to cover up; however, the most-visited ones like Uluwatu usually have them for visitors to borrow.
Take off your shoes when entering a house.
Always have a sarong with you in Bali as most temples require you to wear one both male or female.
Do not step on the offerings at doorsteps and gates which are usually small fragrant parcels made of palm leaves, incense and flowers
Avoid touching a person’s head. The Balinese believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body.
Always use your right hand when eating, receiving or giving something. Using the left hand is believed to be disrespectful.
There were reports of motorcycle-riding thieves in Seminyak and Kuta area. So please be careful with your phones and handbags. Be mindful of your things and surroundings while walking.