Updated: Oct 16, 2021
Bali is a large island in southern Indonesia with a population of over 4 million people. There are many coastal towns and tourists spots around the island with thousands of hotels and activities to chose from. When most people talk of Bali, generally they will be talking about the very popular tourists spots of Kuta, Legian & Seminyak, all located next to each other along the same beach. Some more secluded hot spots are located in the south of the islands, they are Jimbaran Bay, Ulluwatu & Nusa Dua. Other options include heading inland to the cultural capital of Ubud, north along the coast, or offshore to Nusa Lembongan via boat.
Our first stop was Jimbaran Bay, which is the beach south of the Airport & Kuta and is famous for its nightly Seafood Restaurants on the Beach. We chose to stay in Jimbaran for a night as we had an early flight out the next morning to The Komodo National Park, so it was convenient as Jimbaran is only 5 minutes from the airport. During our stay in Jimbaran we wanted to go to the famous ‘Rock Bar’ at the Ayana Resort to watch the sunset and then to Jimbaran Beach to have a candle light Seafood dinner on the beach.
The Ayana Resort is about a 15-20 minute drive south from Jimbaran. A Taxi should cost 50,000-100,000 IDR each way, depending on your negotiating skills (and yes, dont stress there are plenty of taxis for your trip home). Set on the cliffs of Southern Bali, the Resort is spectacular, but this comes at a price and drinks and cocktails at the ‘Rock Bar’ are also expensive. If you plan on heading down for the sunset, its better to get there early to avoid queues and dress nice - you wont be allowed down without a collared shirt. The cheapest room at the resort was around $500AUD per night which is justified once you see the facilities.
After dark, the Jimbaran Beach is full of candle light tables facing the beach. It's even nice to just walk past all the tables and have a look if your staying in the area. The standard price is around 200,000 IDR for a fish or 400,000 IDR for a seafood feast. You can negotiated down and get the taxes and service charges removed and/or get a few free drinks included in the price.
We stayed the night at Sari Segara Resort & Spa which was directly opposite where the Restaurants on the beach are. Its a cool set up but a little run down. The rooms were clean and tidy, staff were very nice, big pool and as mentioned before, directly opposite the beach. The room cost 350,000 IDR for a private double room for the night inclusive breakfast.
The bus dropped us near the centre of town at around lunchtime, so we had a stroll around to find somewhere to stay for the evening. We found a place we liked, called Mira Family Homestay. The owners were very nice and the room was in a traditional Balinese complex and had a private bathroom and balcony. The price was 200,000 IDR per nights including breakfast, they can be contacted on (+62) 361 8493 019.
We went straight down to the sacred Monkey forest, which was about a ten minute walk and cost 30,000 IDR each to get in. The walk through the park is nice and scenic, with lots of monkeys and tourists, here are a couple of temples throughout with the monkeys crawling all over them and even an old stone bridge crossing through the roots of a tree which looks really cool! Apparently you are not meant to touch the monkeys but you can buy a bunch of bananas for 20,000-50,000 IDR and feed them to the monkeys which is a great photo opportunity. I found the best way was to hold up on banana above your head, then a monkey would climb up your body (technically your not touching the monkey - its touching you), sit on your shoulder and eat the banana.
The Ubud markets are really cool with lots of colours but are a little hectic at times with store, after store, after store. There are lots of places throughout Ubud to buy clothes and souvenirs, bars and restaurants, massage parlours and heaps of really interesting temples.
There are four Elephant Parks in Ubud, which all offer similar activities. I did however, find an option at the Elephant Safari Park Lodge, where you could actually bath/wash the elephants and also go in the water with them. This costs 840,000 IDR per person and included hotel transfers in Ubud and a free buffet breakfast. I tried to organise it with a lot of the tour salesmen in town but they all tried to sell me tickets to a different park so its best to organise this directly through the park.
It was my girlfriends birthday, so I had organised a package to stay at a nice resort just outside Ubud. The resort is called Puri Sebali, it is under a year old and located in a small village about 15 minutes from the town centre and they offer a free shuttle to and from Ubud for guests. The view was amazing and there is an infinity pool which over looks all of the rice terraces of the area. The package included two nights accommodation, breakfast daily, fresh fruit daily, one candle light 5 course meal and a couple of glasses of wine, a trekking tour through the rice terraces, yoga, transfers back to Bali and when we checked in there was rose petals on the bed and in the bath which was full which was pretty cool. Overall we were really happy with everything and I thought it was great value for money!
Kuta & Seminyak
Kuta is the centre of tourism for Bali. Development started 20-30 years ago and not all buildings and facilities have been as well maintained as they could have. Seminyak on the other hand has been continually developing over the past 10 years and is full of villas, boutique shops and expensive restaurants.
Traffic is a nightmare!! On a map, it looks like there is a main road that connects Kuta to Seminyak, but this road is a one way at certain sections, which means that there is no direct route between the two hot spots unless you walk and you will find yourself zig zagging across the area in all directions. Taxi's are still relatively cheap, but one night it took us an hour to go from Kuta to Seminyak for dinner. Scooters are about 50,000 IDR per day, just be careful who you chose to go with as there are some dodgy ones who will try and blame you for bumps and scratches that are already on the bike. My petrol was empty when I received the bike, so I filled it up and petrol is about 10,000 IDR per little. They sell petrol out of used 1 litre glass bottles on the side of the road, you will noticed them when driving around.
In Kuta, meals are in general between 30,000-100,000 IDR and obviously can be more expensive if you like. A Bintang will generally cost 20,000-40,000 IDR for a small and 30,000-50,000 IDR for a large and soft drinks are about 20,000 IDR. When looking at a menu, look to see if the 11%VAT and 10% service charge is included in the bill or advertised price, as you may get a little surprise at the end of your meal. Seminyak has lots of places to eat. Rumours is one of these places and it was reasonably priced, we had good Italian food one night then saw the pork knuckle come out so we went back again to try that. The Italian food cost 40,000-60,000 IDR for pizzas and pasta and the Pork Knuckle was 200,000 IDR for two and couldn't finish it, it was really nice but so much meat! Hanks Pizza was a little more exclusive but also more expensive with quality Pizzas ranging from 75,000-150,000 IDR and 40,000 IDR for a Bintang plus taxes and tip on top.
Waterbomb Park has been a family favourite in Bali for decades and being big kids, we were keen to head in for the day and were not disappointed. Located near the heart of Kuta, the park is made up of 4 towers with 2-4 slide on each tower, a lazy river, trampolines, kids pool and play centre, food, drinks, ice cream, photo shop and lockers. All the staff around the park were very helpful and nice. The rides were fun, but there were some lines (between 2-20 minutes), the facilities were all well maintained and clean. There are a few really cool rides where you can go on tubes with a partner, but my favourite was the Climax and Smash Down which is up the top of the tower, you stand in a glass capsule and then the floor falls from under you. Overall it was a really good day, tickets are 500,000 IDR at the gate for an adult but you can get a 10% discount if you purchase the tickets across the road at Centro Plaza on the top floor.
Nusa Dua is a large resort town on the south east coast of Bali. Nusa Dua reminds me of Denarau Island in Fiji, where all of the big resorts are beachfront properties located on large properties. Nusa Dua is a lot more exclusive, as you could spend nearly your entire stay in a resort here without leaving. There is a large shopping complex located in the middle of Nusa Dua Beach with souvenirs, clothes and restaurants. There is a path along the beach linking all of these resorts which is really nice to walk down and have a look. It takes around half an hour to get here from Kuta/Seminyak so could be worth a day trip if you have hired a scooter or fancy taking a taxi.
Uluwatu is a large peninsular in Southern Bali, located where the cliffs look out over the ocean. There is a beautiful temple which lots of tours make the half an hour journey from Kuta, the trip generally cost around 130,000 IDR. There are some shops and restaurants in the area, much quieter than Kuta and Seminyak and is renowned for its surf breaks.
Tanah Lot is an amazing temple located on the beach just north of Kuta/Seminyak. Make sure you leave early if you want to watch the sunset traffic is terrible and there are thousands of people everywhere (as seen below). All photos of Tanah Lot, both above and below were taken on the same day within about an hour of one another, so if you head there wanting a good photo, my best advice is to be patient. There are lots of shops and restaurants there and you will need to pay a 30,000 IDR fee to enter the site. We organised a return taxi from Seminyak for 300,000 IDR where the driver waited for us out the front. Unfortunately, there was a volcano was erupting on Java the day we were there and the smoke ruined the sunset :( Tanah Lot did seem close on the map, so we started riding the scooter there, until we got to Seminyak and saw a sign saying 43km so we ditched the bike and jumped in a cab.
Always be prepared to barter! If you have never been to Bali before, someone will tell you to only pay half what the originally offer - I don't believe this. At the start, the prices are a lot higher so if you half it from the start, you will already be out of pocket. A tactic that I used is to ask how much? They will always say a ridiculous price so I usually just say that its very expensive. They will then ask how much.. Do not give a figure, just keep saying I don't know, (the price will start dropping) then politely say its OK I will just keep looking and walk out the store. One again the price will keep dropping until they are at a much fairer price, then from here I will halve it and see what they offer back. They will always say that they cant do it and of course they can but the main thing is to be prepared to walk away as odds are, what ever you want to buy will be available in the shop next door as well. Some people don't have the patience as it is very draining, they would just prefer to pay extra and not waste time. The way I look at it is that pretty much everything that they are selling is shit that I don't need so I am doing them a favour by buying it, so I don't want to just waste my money, I would rather pay a fair price.
Prices rang from 20,000 IDR for sunglasses, 30,000 IDR for singlets, 40,000 IDR for hats, 70,000 IDR for Harley Helmets, 50,000 IDR for party shirts, 30,000 IDR for a sarong, 10,000 IDR for bracelets. Massage/Manicure/Pedicure are 50,000–10,000 IDR for an hour and unlike Thailand, there are not masseuses offer a special massage or happy ending, however they are available you will just have to ask around (a taxi driver may be your best bet).
Don't get in the taxi until you have agreed on a fair!
Kuta - Seminyak 50,000 IDR
Kuta - Airport 50,000 IDR
Seminyak - Airprot 100,000 IDR
Kuta/Seminyak - Tanah Lot 300,000 IDR
Kuta/Seminyak - Nusa Dua 150,000
Kuta/Seminyak - Jimbaran 100,000 IDR
Day trip from Kuta/Seminyak to Ubud (return) around 500,000-600,000 IDR, I have been recommend Wayan - email@example.com (+62) 08123922848
For local taxi drivers in Kuta/Seminyak, I can recommend;
Ceppy +62 81338 756 789 or Benny +62 82147 321 094 both drivers are very nice and speak perfect english.
Kuta is full of bars and clubs with some really good nightlife. Along the main road, Paddy’s Bar and the Bounty are similar, usually pretty busy each evening and are good places to start before you move onto Sky Garden. Sky Garden is the place to be in Bali, there are 7 different areas over a multi level complex, playing everything from House, R&B to Pop. The cost is 100,000 IDR for entry and you will receive two free bottled drinks (Bintang/Smirnoff/etc) and inside drinks will cost between 50,000 IDR and upward. Poppies lane is full of little bars and tattoo shops if you feel the urge to get a souvenir on the way home.
Seminyak has a lot more ‘up market’ bars that are more exclusive and expensive to drink at than in Kuta. There is a bit more of a posh feel, you are unlikely to see someone with a Bintang singlet and more likely to see people out in collared shirts. Mexicola is a very funky set up with a good crowd, Bintangs start at 60,000 IDR and the free wifi here will check you in there automatically. During the afternoon crowds flock to the famous Potato Head Beach Club or Ku De Ta, which is a large beachfront complexes comprising of an outdoor pools and bars with a restaurant with sunset views. You can lounge by the pool, on the beach or even on a large grassed area, drinks a pricey ranging from around 50,000 IDR for a Bintang or Mocktail unto 200,000 IDR for a cocktail. I definitely recommend heading there, at least to watch the sunset! Legian is halfway between Kuta and Seminyak and offers a lot of bars and restaurants on the beach, the biggest and most popular being in the centre of Legian - Cocoon! This is a large beachfront restaurant/bar/hotel, awesome set up with pools and lounges, good food and drinks but a little more expensive.
There are probably close to 100 tattoo shops in the area, have a look at their work and reviews. I liked Buch - Familia Tattoo, Gena - Big Mack Tattoo and Ague - Black Star Tattoo.. However they were booked out so I went with Kalir at Big Mack Tattoo in Kuta. Kalir has done some really cool work and was available on the day I wanted to get it. Altogether, it was in there around 7 hours and it cost 4,500,000 IDR which seemed fair - Kalir was a really nice guy but the only bad thing was, it was my last day in Bali so wanted to get the tattoo started early in the day, which they said couldn't happen, then at our appointment time, Kalir come half an hour later and said he was hungover - I don't think you can expect too much when your getting a walk in tattoo at a tourist destination like Bali! I'll let you be the judge of his work.
On the darker side - Magic Mushrooms, Marijuana, Cocain, Speed, MDMA, Extacsy, Xanax, Valuim, etc are all offered on the streets but there are huge penalties for getting caught so I would recommend avoiding it and just enjoying a Bintang. At some pharmacies you can purchase Xanex, Valuim and pseudo-ephedrine over the counters however they are all prescription drugs for a reason.
Denpasar International Airport is very big and modern, with free wifi throughout, lots of shops and restaurants, however there are no big franchises like McDonalds or Burger King. There is a $20USD exit fee which has been incorporated into your fee on your ticket so make sure you don't try and pay again when your leaving. As with any international airport meals are pricey 120,000-250,000, IDR especially in comparison with meals on the flight were 30,000 IDR for noodles or 65,000 IDR for rice and meat (typical aeroplane food). Your best bet is to load up before you head to the airport, just hope you don't get an upset stomach mid flight!