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14 essential tips for traveling to Bali, Indonesia

Bali, known as the "Island of Gods", is one of the most popular travel destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia for plenty of reasons. Bali is a place full of temples and ceremonies, waterfalls and rice fields, beaches and sunsets, smiles, and energy. An energy so unique that hooks you the moment you set foot on the island and follows you the entire time you are in Bali.

If you have chosen this destination for your next adventure, congratulations! I'm sure you're going to love Bali. I have had the great pleasure of living on the island on several occasions, and I am obsessed with it. As a result, I have been able to gather a lot of knowledge and provide you with essential tips for traveling to Bali, which I hope will be very useful for you when planning your trip.

Table of contents

1. Where is Bali, Indonesia

Where is Bali
Tegalalang, Ubud

If you are going to travel to Bali, you should first know its location. Bali is one of the islands that are part of Indonesia, a country in Southeast Asia formed by more than 17.000 islands. The province of Bali is composed of the islands of Bali, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. All of them are in the most western zone of the smaller islands of the Sonda, a group of islands belonging to the Malay archipelago.

2. How many days do you need in Bali

The answer is not simple when it comes to how much time is required to visit Bali. Bali is a large island with many attractions. There are numerous lovely rice fields, waterfalls, temples, beaches, cliffs, and corners. In addition, there are numerous excursions that you may take from Bali to nearby islands like Nusa or Gili.

I recommend spending as much time as you can. Taking a trip to Bali for at least two weeks seems like the perfect plan to me. Spending more days is better, of course! If you do not have a lot of time available, I suggest staying for at least 7 to 10 days so you can take advantage of everything this beautiful island has to offer.

3. Best time to travel to Bali

Best time to travel to Bali
Uluwatu, Bali

The best time to travel to Bali depends on the climate and whether it is high or low season, since hotel prices rise considerably during high season. High season in Bali is in the months of July and August, the Easter vacation, and during Christmas. On these dates, there is a lot of tourism in Bali. The rest of the year is considered average or low season.

As for the weather, the dry season is from April to September, while the rainy season is from October to March. During the wet season, the level of precipitation in Bali is not as high as it is in other countries in Southeast Asia. There are brief tropical rains, more than day with monsoon rains. In Bali, they say that the sun always ends up rising, and it is very true.

The temperature is generally quite consistent throughout the year. On average, it fluctuates between 26°C and 29°C. There are typically more clouds and rain in Bali’s center and northern regions, where temperatures are a little lower.

Considering these factors, the months of May, June, and September are the best months to travel to Bali. You will be able to enjoy a sunny and much more relaxed Bali than other months of the year.

4. Bali entry requirements

Indonesia is open to tourists through visa on arrival (VOA) for several nationalities, including US, UK and Australia.

The visa on arrival (VOA) allows you to spend 30 days in the country, with the possibility of extending the visa for another 30 days. Therefore, thanks to the VOA, you can stay in Indonesia for a total of 60 days. If you want to stay longer, you should either leave and re-enter the country or get another type of visa.

The requirements to enter Bali (and the rest of Indonesia) are:

  • Passport valid for at least the next 6 months.
  • Departure ticket from Indonesia.

Important: The requirements may change at any time. That’s why I recommend checking out this information. A good place to do it is the Instagram page @balisolve, where they are sharing the latest news. You can also keep an eye on the news from the Indonesian embassy.

5. How to get to Bali

tips for traveling to bali
Bali, Indonesia

One of the first tips for traveling to Bali you must know is how to get there. Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali’s airport, is close to Denpasar, the island’s capital, and is situated in the southern part of Bali. There are no direct flights to Bali from Europe, the US, or Canada. You will have to book flight connections to travel to Bali. There are direct flights from Australia and New Zealand. I always advise using Skyscanner when looking for flights.

At the moment, the companies that offer flights from Europe, the US and Canada to Bali with only one stopover are Emirates, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines (operated by Qatar Airways). The price of these tickets is usually around $1,000+ USD round-trip. Flights are much more affordable from Australia and New Zealand

As you can see, flights are quite expensive. For that reason, sometimes it is worthwhile to check the price of other connections. For example, you can see if it is cheaper to fly to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and then take a regional flight to Bali. Another option would be to fly to other cities in Southeast Asia, like Bangkok, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), or Singapore, and then to Bali.

6. Is it safe to travel to Bali?

For the most part, traveling to Bali is very safe. We have never had any problems during any of our trips to Bali.

However, there have been cases of people who were not as lucky and were victims of theft. It is something that can happen, but it is not very usual. Anyway, take the following precautions so that nothing bad happens to you:

  • Be sure to lock the door of your homestay room, hostel, etc. whenever you are not in it and during the night.
  • Carry your bag or backpack securely strapped to your body. Someone on a motorcycle could pass by and try to snatch it from you. Also, be careful when walking on the street with your cell phone.
  • If you take a night bus, be careful with your belongings while you sleep. I met a girl in Myanmar who was robbed while going from Bali to Java on a night bus.
  • Do not exchange money in any exchange house, and always withdraw money from ATMs associated with banks.
  • If you are going to use a motorcycle in Bali, always wear a helmet and be careful on the highway. The first day, we were hit by car (we were not hurt, but it was a bit scary.
  • Be careful with the monkeys in places like Monkey Forest (Ubud) and some beaches in Uluwatu. You will have to follow some rules to avoid any problems.
  • Remember to always drink bottled water, tap water isn’t potable in Bali.
  • Take good care of your hand hygiene. Wash them frequently, and carry a small bottle of alcohol to wash your hands without water.
  • Check that your food is in good condition, and avoid raw vegetables.
  • Take probiotics. If you usually have stomach problems, I recommend taking probiotics to improve your intestinal flora.

Solo traveling to Bali

One of the most common questions about this destination is whether going on a solo trip to Bali is safe. The answer is yes; Bali is a very safe destination to travel alone. This tends to be the case in the majority of countries in Southeast Asia. Even so, this does not mean that you can just be reckless and not practice common sense. Remember, it is necessary to take basic precautions, like being careful with your valuables.

7. Is it mandatory to have travel insurance to go to Bali?

canggu
Canggu

No, although having travel insurance was once obligatory to enter Indonesia, currently you do not need to have international medical insurance to visit Bali. However, this does not mean that it is not advisable. In fact, I recommend that you travel to Bali, or any other destination where you do not have medical coverage, with good travel insurance.

The travel insurance I recommend is Heymondo. I have been traveling while being covered by this company for several years and only have positive things to say about my experience. For example, in Bali, I had to use it on a couple of occasions due to stomach problems, and I was well taken care of. As a reader of my travel blog, I can offer you a 5% discount on your next travel insurance policy.

Mandatory vaccines for Bali

Before traveling to an exotic place, I recommend you go to the doctor to consult on which vaccinations you should get. For travel to Bali, there are no mandatory vaccinations (other than COVID-19). However, vaccines for typhoid fever and hepatitis A are recommended. You can see the complete list of recommended vaccines for Indonesia on the CDC’s official website or your country’s embassy website.

8. Currency in Bali, Indonesia

tips for traveling to bali
Lahangan Sweet

The currency in Bali is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR). $1 USD is equivalent to approximately 15.000 IDR. Surely, when you exchange money or withdraw cash from an ATM, you will see that you have a lot of bills. At the beginning, it can be complicated to manage so many bills, but you will get used to it.

In Bali, you will be able to pay with a credit card in cafes and shops, although on some occasions they will charge you a fee. In small places, cards aren’t always accepted. Therefore, you will have to have cash on you at all times.

Currency exchange in Bali

If you are going to change money, I advise you to do it once you arrive in Bali, not in your country or at your own airport. I do not usually exchange money on my trips, but I withdraw cash from ATMs therefore, I cannot give you much advice on exchanging money in Bali.

You can ask your hotel’s staff where they recommend exchanging money. I am sure they will tell you about a good place. Anyway, after doing a bit of research, some exchange houses that are recommended are: MC Money Changer, PT. Dirgahayu Valuta Prima, and Central Kuta Money Exchange.

Nevertheless, when I exchange money, the first thing I do is see what the real exchange rate is, compare it with the exchange rate they offer me, and see if the exchange rate is good. Another thing you should do is count the money before you leave, just in case!

Withdraw cash from the ATM

As I have already mentioned, when I travel to Bali, I always prefer to withdraw money from the ATM since I use a card that does not charge me commission when withdrawing money in a foreign currency.

The card is called Revolut, and it works great. They offer different plans. One of the most basic ones (Revolut Standard) allows you to withdraw money in another currency with only 1.7% commission (much less than conventional banks) and pay in another currency without commissions. You can sign up and order your Revolut card here.

There are numerous ATMs in Bali where you can withdraw cash. When withdrawing cash in Bali or anywhere else, I strongly advise you to use an ATM that is connected to a bank rather than the first ATM you come across on the street. I always use the Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) ATMs to withdraw cash when I’m in Bali. I’ve never had any issues with it.

By the way, if you are going to visit the Nusa Islands, I recommend withdrawing all the money you will need beforehand, as there are very few ATMs on the islands and sometimes they do not work.

9. Budget to travel to Bali

uluwatu
Sundays Beach Club

A trip to Bali can be as cheap or as expensive as you choose, without factoring in flights. This leads me to the conclusion that Bali is a reasonably priced travel destination. However, the cost of the vacation will be relatively high if you frequently stay in upscale accommodations and eat at tourist attractions.

For example, you can find double rooms in accommodations with very good reviews for a minimum of $15 USD per night, including breakfast. On the other hand, it is also very easy to find hotels that cost $100+ USD per night. It all depends on what you are looking for and how much money you are willing to spend.

As for the food, to eat in local restaurants in Bali (Indonesia), it can cost 2 euros for a plate and drink. Nevertheless, there are many restaurants more focused on international tourists, where a meal usually goes for $7–$10 per person. Even so, it is cheaper than in western countries.

If we’re talking about transportation, the amount of money you’ll need to set aside if you rent a motorcycle, pay for a day tour, or hire a private driver isn’t remotely close. In Bali, renting a motorcycle typically costs around $40 a month. The cost will be higher if you rent a bike daily instead of monthly. Fuel is also relatively affordable.

As you can see, traveling to Bali is affordable but it is also very easy to end up spending a lot.

10. How to get around in Bali

How to get around in Bali
My bike in Bali
traveling to bali
Amed

Bali is a big island. There are many places to see distributed in different parts of the island; therefore, you are going to need to move from one place to another.

You must first be aware that distances work differently in Bali. For instance, it used to take us about 50 minutes to go from our hotel in Canggu to Ubud. The trip is only 24 kilometers, though. The majority of the roads are in decent condition; however, traffic is frequently heavy and the roads aren’t designed for high speeds.

Next, I will explain to you the different ways to get around in Bali:

Rent a motorcycle or car in Bali, Indonesia

My advice is that you rent a motorcycle. It is the cheapest and most convenient option to get around in Bali, and it is also the option that gives you the most freedom. It costs around $40 per month. If you rent it for less time, the price per day will be higher.

The traffic in Bali can be chaotic; for that reason, always be very careful and rent a motorcycle only if you feel comfortable riding it. Remember to take a helmet and purchase travel insurance in case you have an accident. In addition, it is important that you get an international driving license.

If there are more than two of you or you do not want to ride a motorcycle, you can consider renting a car. This option is much more expensive, and, in addition, you will be stuck in traffic jams. The good thing about riding a motorcycle is that you will go faster than in a car because you can pass on one side.

Hire a car with driver-guide

Another option to get around Bali is to hire a guide-driver to make excursions to other parts of the island. They will pick you up and  leave you at the hotel. The cars are modern; they usually have air conditioning, and they have bottles of water prepared. My advice is that you make a study of what you want to visit to organize the route with your driver.

You can book your driver or guide in Bali here in advance.

Book day tours in Bali

Another very good option is to book organized tours where they take care of the transfers themselves. On websites like Civitatis or GetYourGuide, you can search for different tours available in Bali. These usually leave from touristic places like Ubud, Canggu, Nusa Dua, Seminyak, etc. Some of the most popular are the following:

Use Grab or Gojek (like Uber)

Another way to get around the island is by using Grab or Gojek, apps that work like Uber. Once you have downloaded the app, you must enter the place where you want to go. You can choose different types of transportation. Once you confirm the pick up, you will have to wait until a driver comes to pick you up. I advise you to opt for motorcycles, as they are much cheaper. I used Grab several times, and it worked well.

Although I recommend you use Grab or Gojek because the prices are more affordable and you know in advance how much a ride will cost you, if you don’t want to use this app, you can also use cabs. Make sure they turn the meter on.

Public transportation in Bali, Indonesia

Public transportation is the means of transportation that tourists use the least in Bali since it is quite scarce and slow. It is cheap and safe. There are different types of public transport: Kura-Kura Bus, Trans Sarbagita, Bemo, etc.

If you are thinking of using public transportation during your trip to Bali, I advise you to look for more information elsewhere or ask at your hotel because I’ve never used it, so I can’t give you many recommendations regarding this.

11. Where to stay to visit Bali?

when to visit bali
Travel to Bali

The most popular areas where tourists usually stay in Bali and that I recommend are Ubud, Canggu, and Uluwatu. Anyway, I recommend you read my guide about where to stay in Bali to see all my recommendations. On the other hand, if you want to treat yourself during your trip, do not miss this list of some of the best hotels in Bali.

Recommended hotels in Ubud:

Ubud is one of the most popular places to stay in Bali since, thanks to its central location, you will be near many of the island’s attractions. In addition, it is an area that offers many hotels and restaurant options.

Recommended hotels in Canggu:

I have always stayed in Canggu, an area that I recommend if, like me, you are going to spend a long time on the island. On the other hand, if you are looking for a central location that, unlike Ubud, is on the coast, Canggu is a very good option. Besides having very cool cafes, you will be by the sea, which I really appreciated. From Canggu, you are moderately close to places of interest such as Uluwatu or Ubud.

Recommended hotels in Uluwatu:

Uluwatu is a good area to sleep on your trip to Bali if what you seek the best beaches or if you come to the island in search of surfing (Uluwatu is recommended for people with intermediate-high levels). If you want to explore the rest of the island, I would base myself in Uluwatu since you are quite far from the rest of Bali and you will have to pass through Denpasar to visit the rest of the island, an area with heavy traffic.

Where NOT to stay in Bali

One of the best tips for traveling to Bali that I can give you is that you don’t stay in Kuta! Ok, perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit. If you decide to stay in Kuta, just know that it is the epicenter of people who arrive in Bali only with the desire to go out partying. It is one of the most touristy, ugliest, and least authentic places. There is not much to see there.

12. What to eat on a trip to Bali

tips for traveling to bali
Nasi Goreng
bali tip
Coconut on the beach

Let’s talk about one of my favorite things to do in Bali: eat the food!

Bali is a paradise for all those who love to eat. You will be able to find different types of cuisines, restaurants for all budgets, and places with much enchantment.

Two Indonesian dishes that you have to try are Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng. I’m sure you’ve already heard of these dishes, but I’ll remind you just in case. I loved them both.

If your budget is low, eating for little money in Bali is very easy thanks to its famous warungs (local dining rooms). Keep in mind that some restaurants use the name warung to attract the attention of tourists, but in fact they are not.

The typical warung is a small place where you will be served rice and other ingredients that you will choose from a display case (noodles, tofu, tempeh, meat, vegetables, eggs, etc.).

13. Things to do in Bali

Things to do in Bali
Things to do in Bali

Bali has many places to visit. From waterfalls and rice paddies to beaches and cliffs, temples, and palaces, there are endless things to do! I have written a lot about what to see and do on the island, but I recommend you start with this post on the 25 must-see places to visit in Bali.

If you want more specific information about the different areas of Bali, do not miss:

Best beaches in Bali

Below, you can see a list of the best beaches in Bali:

  • Melasti.
  • Nyang Nyang.
  • Pasut Beach.
  • Bias Tugel Beach.
  • Thomas Beach.
  • Bingin.
  • Amed Beach.
  • Green Bowl Beach.
  • Padang Padang.
  • Suluban Beach.
  • Nusa Dua.
  • Echo Beach.
  • Balangan Beach.

Best waterfalls in Bali

Don’t miss the best waterfalls in Bali:

  • Leke Leke.
  • Nungnung.
  • Sekumpul.
  • Tibumana.
  • Tukad Cepung.
  • Tegenungan.
  • Kanto Lampo.
  • Suwat.
  • Aling Aling.
  • Banyumala Twin Waterfalls.
  • Gitgit.
  • Red Coral Waterfall.
  • Banyu Wana Amertha.

Best temples in Bali

The temples that you must visit if you are going to travel to Bali:

  • Uluwatu Temple.
  • Tanah Lot.
  • Lempuyang.
  • Tirta Gangga.
  • Besakih.
  • Ulun Danu Beratan.
  • Tirta Empul.
  • Pura Gunung Kawi.
  • Goa Gajah.
  • Taman Saraswati.
  • Taman Ayun.

Things to do near Bali, Indonesia

que ver cerca de bali
Nusa Penida

The most popular excursions from Bali are to the islands of Nusa (Penida, Lembongan, and Ceningan) and the Gili Islands (Air, Meno, and Trawangan). Any of these islands is a great option if you want to combine your trip to Bali with a visit to other islands in Indonesia.

Nusa islands

We took a four-night trip to Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan on our first free trip to Bali. To go to the harbor of Sanur, you can take a boat. Through 12Go Asia, you can buy the tickets in advance if you’d like.

When you visit Nusa Lembongan, you must also visit Nusa Ceningan, a smaller island connected to Lembongan by a yellow bridge. On these two islands, I recommend visiting Blue Lagoon (one of the most beautiful blues I’ve ever seen), Secret Beach, Devil’s Tears, and Dream Beach.

After spending two nights in Nusa Lembongan, we went to Nusa Penida, an island with breathtaking places. In Nusa Penida, you can’t miss Kelingking Beach, Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach, Crystal Bay, Atuh Beach, and Diamond Beach.

Gili islands

The Gili Islands are a group of three islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air) located northwest of Lombok. Trawangan is the most popular island among backpackers and those in the mood to party. Meno is the least visited and quietest island. Gili Air is a mix of the two. The Gili Islands are a good destination to enjoy sunsets, snorkeling, and diving. They are also one of the most popular day trips from Bali.

14. More tips for traveling to Bali

tips for traveling to bali
Travel to Bali

Here are some last tips to plan a trip to Bali!

Internet in Bali

In Bali (Indonesia), it is very easy to find shops and cafes with good WiFi. Anyway, if you want to be connected at all times, I recommend you buy a SIM card. I bought it at the airport, but they are quite expensive. If you prefer to save some money, wait until you get out of the airport and head to a store. I recommend Telkomsel.

Food shopping in Bali

I suggest visiting the local markets if you need to buy something when visiting Bali. Early in the morning, they open. You can purchase items like fruits, veggies, bread, eggs, etc. from them for a very reasonable price. I advise you to shop at the supermarket Tiara Gatsu if you’re looking for an alternate variety of food. Frestive or Pepito supermarkets are an alternative; however, they are more expensive.

Respect Balinese culture

It is very important that you respect the local culture. For example, always wear appropriate clothing when visiting religious sites. In some temples, you will have access to a sarong, a long skirt to cover your legs. If not, you can buy one at a market and wear it during your trip to Bali. Also, be careful not to step on the canang, the small offerings that are everywhere.

Nyepi Day in Bali

If you are going to travel to Bali in March, you must know that during this month, Nyepi is celebrated. Outdoor activities, noise, lights, etc. are totally prohibited for 24 hours. This is obligatory for all the people who are on the island, whether Balinese or tourists; therefore, on that day, you will not be able to leave your hotel or villa. It is a very interesting experience.

Take care of the island

Bali recently banned the use of disposable plastic. When I was there, sadly, I saw a lot of garbage in the streets and on some beaches. Sometimes they organize meetings to do cleanup. I encourage you to participate in one. Also, I advise you to bring an aluminum bottle since most hotels or villas have water fountains to refill the water.

Check out these maps of Bali to organize your trip, and don’t miss my Indonesia travel guide.

I hope this blog post on tips for traveling to Bali has been very useful for you as you plan your trip to the island. If you have more questions, I encourage you to leave a comment or contact me by email. Enjoy your trip to Indonesia!

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