The Ultimate Guide To Bali For Beginners
IT'S HERE!!! It's been almost three months since I've gotten back from Bali and I finally was able to put together my travel guide on some tips and my favorite places I visited. My trip was incredible beyond words. It seriously is a magical place that I recommend everyone visit. The culture, people and food are really like no other. As a women, it felt extremely safe for me to travel alone and I didn't feel scared at all.
The flight is going to be the most expensive part and it still isn't even THAT bad. My roundtrip flight to and from Chicago was $791 and that's including tax and insurance. I booked my flight with Korean Air on Expedia because it was the cheapest flight I could find.
It was my first international flight and I've got to say, Korean Air really made me feel comfortable. They offer you plenty of food and drink and give you slippers, headphones, pillow and blankets as well. I really don't recommend eating the food but if you don't mind it, they offer all different dietary restrictions.
Before going on your trip, I recommend setting up a driver who can pick you up from the airport. Luckily, every airbnb we booked had a driver you could use so it was pretty easy. It was about 300 rp which is equivalent to about $20. Not bad at all! There is an area they wait for you once you get through customs where all the drivers are waiting with your name on a sign.
I highly recommend Wayan Zandink who is very accommodating, educates you and speaks really great English. WhatsApp #: +62 878 6221 0333
WHEN TO VISIT
After talking to different people, they say the best time to go is end of April/May or September. That's right before and after the tourist season so it's not too busy and flights/accommodations are much cheaper.
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
When you arrive to the airport, exchange just enough to get you to your accommodations and then find a bank with lower rates to exchange money from.
I recommend getting a travel card as this was one of my mistakes. I did not use my travel credit card and used my debit card instead which ended up charging me $5 PER withdrawal. Not fun coming back to over a hundred dollars taken out of your account. Capital One Quick Silver does NOT charge for international transactions or withdrawals.
I stayed in three different airbnb's on this trip. One in Seminyak and two in Ubud. All were clean, accommodating and super affordable (around $20-30 a night)
These are the following we stayed at that are still available: Second Airbnb (Ubud): This one was probably my all around favorite. The room had the most beautiful balcony overlooking the gardens in the villa. The birds woke you up at exactly 6am every morning and they had a great restaurant connected. It was the perfect location that's not even 5 minute walk to the Main Street with all the shops/restaurants. Check it out here.
Third airbnb (Ubud): This one was amazing but I would recommend staying with someone only because it's about a 10-15 minute walking distance from the Main Street up to the villa. It is in the rice fields so you have to walk in the fields to get to your room and if it's night time, they don't have any lights on the path. Other than that, it was so beautiful and quiet. They offer complimentary breakfast in the morning and the massages are INCREDIBLE. Check it out here.
Bali Belly is REAL and there's really no way in preventing it but there are ways to try and make it a little bit better. DO NOT drink the tap water and always make sure your bottled water is sealed. Be careful on where you choose to eat. If it doesn't look or feel safe, don't risk it.
Take probiotics and digestive enzymes. I took Nature's Way Digestive Balance probiotics that are specifically for travelers and it's also shelf stable so you don't have to worry about putting them in the fridge. These are human strain probiotics which I gear more towards than animal probiotics. For digestive enzymes, I use Enzymedica Digest Gold which is Kosher, Non-GMO, Vegan and Gluten Free.
Dehydration is real here as it's hot, you're walking everywhere and Bali belly so load up on fresh Coconut Water and Watermelon Juice. NUUN tablets are for perfect on-the-go added electrolytes and vitamins. Just pop one tablet into your water bottle and shake it up!
Bali belly sucks but it did NOT take away from the amazing trip I had and I'd do it all over again.
Wear a sarong or scarf: Sarongs can usually be rented or are included in the ticket price at most temples in Bali. They are also very cheap to purchase. There are usually people selling sarongs outside the temples.
Cover your upper body: Wear modest clothing and wear a top that as minimum covers your shoulders.
Take off your shoes before entering a temple: Leave you flip-flops or shoes among the other left behind shoes that you are likely to find near the entrance of any temple in Bali.
Don't enter a temple when bleeding or pregnant: You shouldn’t enter a temple if you have cut yourself or menstruating. Pregnant or women who have given birth within 6 weeks shouldn’t enter a temple.
Don’t point your feet toward the shrines: Feet are considered unclean, so don’t point them toward the shrines or other holy objects. When praying men should sit with their legs crosses while women kneel.
SEMINYAK VS. UBUD
Seminyak is definitely more touristy, filled with tons of Aussie cafes and more expensive than Ubud. It's definitely more hip and have trendy shops. Ubud is closer to more temples, the zoo, monkey forest and is every yogi's dream. I personally liked Ubud more but would recommend checking out Seminyak for a few days.
WHERE TO EAT
Cafe Organic - Seminyak: This was the first restaurant we went to in Bali and it completely blew my mind. The food and drinks are so good. The falafel is seriously the best falafel I've EVER had!
Kynd Community - Seminyak: 100% vegan and seriously so cute! They have a ton of raw desserts and the "pink" pancakes are TO DIE FOR!
Coffee Cartel - Seminyak: Another super cute place with a ton of unique latte options. They also have a food menu and serve brunch all day!
Sehati Herbal Drink - Ubud: Super unique Jamu spot located in the popular area of Ubud. The drinks can sound scary with ingredients like mushrooms, turmeric, ginger and much more but you definitely must try as this is something special to Indonesia.
La Laguna - Canggu: A spanish gypsy dreamland with little huts that offer tarot card reading and beautiful lawn with moroccan style seating and a beautiful view of the sunset. I don't recommend eating here as the food is not great and it made me sick but it's definitely worth going for a glass of wine, experience and watching the sunset.
Mad Pops - Seminyak: Vegan ice cream and popsicle shop made with locally sourced seasonal fruits
Bali Buddha - Ubud: We ate here over a handful of times because this place is seriously something special. The Bali Buddha tacos are SO good. Ask for a side of mushrooms or egg for extra protein and their fruit platter is to die for. They're sustainable and everything is made daily. They also have a little grocery just around the corner from the restaurant with fresh baked goods and other stuff.
Seeds Of Life - Ubud: Everything here is raw vegan and they have an amazing Tonic Bar. They have some really eclectic things on the menu like aloe vera sashimi and papaya salmon, They also offer a different variety of wild and ancient artisan Chinese teas. The Ashitaba tea is incredible!
Sayuri Healing Foods - Ubud: Sayuri holds a special place in my heart. The first time we walked in there it gave me a different perspective on Bali and the overall lifestyle there. Everyones shoes were off, laid back and hanging out on bean bag chairs. It was the definition of what you think of a yogi hangout. They offer an abundance of different raw cooking classes. I ended up taking intro to raw and fermentation class which both were fantastic. The teachers were so great and you end up meeting really cool people from all over the world.
Alchemy - Ubud: This is Bali's first 100% raw vegan cafe. They have a smoothie bar that is TO DIE FOR. You choose your base smoothie, then add toppings and such. The interior design is beautiful as well!
Clear Cafe - Ubud: I only made it here once but this place was so beautiful and had amazing food. It does get busy with a lot of families and such but definitely a must try.
Kim Soo - Seminyak: This place is every interior design lovers dream. A ton of affordable home goods with a coffee shop located inside.
Satunama - Seminyak: Similar to Kim Soo and located a few doors down. They are extremely friendly and have handmade ceramics.
Ubud Art Market: At first, this can be extremely overwhelming because the workers are grabbing you and putting things in your hands but once you get used to the currency and bargaining it does get fairly easy... and fun! It took me about a week to get completely familiar with the currency and a few times of being ripped off. But it's all a learning process, right?
This is definitely a must for all your souvenirs, house ware and super cheap clothes. They have the cutest wooden bowls, spoons and much more. This market goes on daily and in the morning around 6am, they are setting up for their "farmers" market and then switch over around 11am to the traditional art market. I recommend checking out the market in the morning as you find the local people selling fruits, vegetables and preparing daily offerings.
THINGS TO DO
Tegallalang Rice Terrace: 100% recommend visiting this rice terrace. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. There's also a restaurant overlooking the terrace with great food!
Campuhan Ridge Walk: This 5.5 mile walk is incredible and definitely a must do. You can ask your driver to drop you off at the starting point. It's seriously the most beautiful view and you pass a ton of gorgeous villas and spas. This is also where the infamous Karsa Spa is located.
Bali Swing: The swing's in Bali are super popular and great to catch an instagram photo with an amazing view.
Tirta Empul - Holy Spring Water Temple: I've never been to a temple before and the moment I stepped into this place, I was mind blown. It was seriously the most beautiful place I've ever seen with so much history. I would recommend getting a guide to explain everything to you and how to use the cleansing baths. Balinese people have a very specific way on how they do things.
Potato Head Beach Club - Seminyak: This was recommended on multiple vlog's. It gives you that Vegas vibes without spending a crap ton of money. They offer an abundance on non-alcoholic drinks, the pool is FREE and the food at the restaurant is great. You can also walk right to the beach from the club.
Tegenungan Waterfall: Seeing a waterfall for the first time was breathtaking. Definitely a must to check this out! Bring comfortable shoes and a cover up over your bathing suits. They do have lockers to rent to store your things.
Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring: I arrived here around 8am and it was the most peaceful morning of my life. It was only me and about 4 other people in the temple that morning and I really got some time to reflect and enjoy its beauty.
Mount Batur: This is a MUST! I wasn't going to do it and had no idea it was a thing until my driver recommended we go see it at sunrise. It was seriously the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The clouds and sunrise with the active volcano was so magical. Next time I want to hike the mountain and at the bottom is a hot spring.
Goa Gajah - Elephant Cave: Hindu and Buddhist temple located outside of Ubud. So beautiful and great scenery but watch out for the monks who will try giving you a tour and ripping you off.
Radiantly Alive Yoga: This was the only yoga studio I went to because it was the closest to my villa. Everyone was so friendly and I met some really awesome people as well. They offer different classes like Reiki, Chakra Healing and more.
Coffee Plantation: You might've heard about the famous "poop" coffee a.k.a the most expensive coffee in the world going for about $70 per bag. The coffee beans come from the Luwak cat who eat the coffee beans grown in Bali and poop them out. Then the shell is taken off the coffee bean and ground up into a coffee. I wasn't going to try it at first because it grossed me out but they did confirm it was safe. I wish I would've went with my first instinct because I got extremely sick afterwards. I got suckered into buying the coffee because it taste so good and they said it was only the beans. Turns out there is coffee, sugar and soy milk powder already mixed.in. It was an incredible experience overall but I don't recommend drinking the coffee personally.
Thank you so much for reading my Ultimate Guide to Bali. This took longer than I expected as there was so much information to gather and it being my first 3 week, international trip. I hope you can find some useful information and tips from this post and if you have any recommendations or tips I should add about Bali, please leave a comment below!