The golden sands of Bali have been luring adventure-thirsty travellers for decades now. Those hoping to score the wave of their life, find peace through a spiritual awakening or simply work on their tan and party the night away all flock to Bali.
From the the tourist-friendly party town of Kuta, to the laid-back Bukit Peninsula and the enchanting Ubud, there is something for everyone on Indonesia’s favourite getaway island. But before you go, we’ve got a few tips you ought to know – so listen up.
1. Plan Your Visa
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You may choose to do the responsible thing and arrange your visa ahead of time, but even for those of us who prefer the visa on arrival option, it’s best to be at least a little organised.
The fee of $35 USD must be paid in cash in either USD or the Indonesian Rupiah equivalent. If, in your flurry of pre-departure stress you forget to take out cash, don’t worry, there are cash points on hand – but they do charge a hefty fee.
2. Get Your Scooter
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Once you’ve secured your place on the island and have begun to let the ‘I’m in Bali excitement’ rage to all-time levels, it’s important to think of how you’ll be getting around. You’ll find that many travellers choose to rent a scooter, which is a convenient and cost-effective option.
To begin, use your hotel to organise your rental and rent it for the duration of your stay. If you’re staying on the Bukit Peninsula you’ll quickly realise that there aren’t many taxis around and the ones that are seem to charge astronomical rates to go short distances. A typical day rate for a scooter should run you around 60,000 – 100,000 Rupiah (£3 – £5) and you shouldn’t be paying much more than that.
If you do choose to rent a scooter, remember to ALWAYS wear a helmet and drive safely. Accidents do happen and you don’t want to be a part of one.
3. Explore The Island!
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Bali’s natural beauty is breathtaking, especially once you’ve made your way out of the traffic and congestion of the central areas. Mount Agung in the north is a particular highlight, which is about 45 minutes on scooter from Ubud. On the west coast you’ll find a more secluded side of the island with incredible views and picturesque temples like Tanah Lot, just north of Canggu, a popular spot amongst surfers.
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Whether you’ve been before or want to learn, Bali is home to some of the world’s best scuba conditions with so many species of marine life to see you’ll think you’re in an aquarium. It’s also one of the cheapest destinations to get your PADI Open Water certification. Popular dives include the Tulamben shipwreck off the north coast and a drift dive off the coast of Nusa Lembongan. It’s not uncommon to see turtles, whale sharks and manta rays on your dive so be sure to bring your camera!
5. Choose Your Beach Carefully
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Although Bali has its fair share of postcard beaches, it’s important to know that not all of them are the most swimmer-friendly. There are a few factors to consider that are a result of the island being made of volcanic rock – 1. Waves 2. Reefs and 3. Rip-currents. Also, the further north you go, the darker and harder the sand becomes.
Our votes for the best sand and most inviting water are the beaches at Kuta, Seminyak Balangan and Jimbaran.
6. Don’t Forget The Sunscreen & Repellent
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It seems like an obvious one but it’s something we always forget! Of course you can buy sunscreen there but you’ll be paying probably three or four times the price. Better off just picking up a good brand before you go and saving yourself the money.
7. Go Offshore
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In between Bali and its neighbour to the east, Lombok, are three smaller islands: Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan. You’ll find a more relaxed environment here, similar to what Bali may have been like 20 or 30 years ago. The islands are quickly becoming a popular attraction for those hoping to escape some of the hustle of Bali and are great for a day-trip.
8. Eat Fresh Seafood On The Sand
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One of Bali’s most sought after dining options is a nightly occurrence on the golden sands of Jimbaran beach. Hand pick your fresh fish, squid, prawns or lobster and enjoy it grilled right off the barbecue as the sun sets.
For an added option, head down to Bingin beach to the south. You’ll find a similar offering of seafood with a fraction of the crowd at much cheaper prices.
9. Go To Naughty Nuri’s
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There is a place called Naughty Nuri’s Warung with locations in Seminyak and Ubud (original location). They serve the best ribs you will ever have in your entire life. They also serve burgers and other things but it’s the ribs you want. They’re worth every penny.
10. Don’t Forget The Departure Tax!
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So you’ve done it. You’ve been to Bali and you’ve enjoyed your holiday so much that you’re already looking forward to the next time you can return. You go to the airport with luggage in hand and souvenirs for your family, check in to your flight and head over to security only to be greeted by a nice individual who is collecting your departure tax?? Yes.
In Indonesia they have this thing called a departure tax, which in most of the world is already included in your airline ticket price. And like your visa, you can only pay in cash. And if you’ve already spent all of your cash on souvenirs, you’ll be in bit of a sticky situation.
Currently, the airport departure tax at Denpasar Airport is 200,000 RPH (£10) so remember to set some cash aside if you want to board your flight home. (We’d understand if you didn’t)
Tempted? Compare flight prices to Bali here
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