Bali, an island of 17,000 that has Indonesia, 5,000 square kilometers of a country of almost 2 million. Making the comparison, it seems untrue that a space that does not represent even 0.25% of the extension of this country resonates so much. It’s probably because, touristically, it’s a delight. And as you surely have planned to visit it, here I leave you a guide with everything you need to travel to Bali.
By way of introduction, I would like to tell you that my visit to Bali was part of my trip to Indonesia, the destination chosen in 2019 to carry out our sustainable tourism project #LaBasuraNoDaLikes. So, between some things and others, for Bali we walked little more than a week. Is it enough?
Personally for me it was. And it is that, although at tourist level we leave a few things to see, Indonesia is a country interesting enough not to focus all your efforts on a single island. And although this is one of the most touristic, I think it is not the one that best reflects the essence of the country. So my advice is that, if you go to Indonesia, try to visit something more than Bali, even though “The Island of the Gods” is worth a lot.
Index of contents
Demographic information about Bali
As I mentioned in the introduction to this guide to Bali is one of the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia and barely measures 5,000 square kilometers. For what it’s worth, Spain could fit about 100 Balis. With this data you can imagine that it is not a very logistically complicated destination and that it is relatively easy to get from one side to the other. However, as is the case in other parts of the world, a fairly limited road network and very dense traffic means that journeys, however short they may be, take a long time. This is the main reason why the town of Ubud has become the tourist capital of the island, since from there it is relatively easy to move around these lands.
Ubud – The tourist “capital
As I told you, Ubud is the city of reference for tourists because of its location. So much so that a large part of the island’s hotel and leisure offer is concentrated here. If you are going to travel to Bali, it is more than likely that you will end up doing one (or a few) night(s) in Ubud. In fact, if you get your own transport (rental motorbike, for example), Ubud is a perfect place to go out and explore those lands. In case it suits you, here are some accommodation recommendations.
Airbnb has a wide range of accommodation on the island. And here’s a discount on your first reservation.
25 € gift at AirBnb
We spend the whole week at the Pillow Inn. And we could still be there. Perfect for backpackers.
See Hostal Pillow Inn
A pleasant and economic option for couples is the hotel Kailash Bali, valued with more than 9 in Booking.
See Hotel Kailash Bali
The Ulun Ubud Resort is a super pleasant but less economical option. 100 € costs the night in this hotelazo.
View Ulun Ubud Resort
Denpasar – The capital of Bali
Although Ubud is something like the tourist capital, the real capital is Denpasar, home to the Balinese airport. Both international flights and flights to other islands depart from there, so you’re sure to end up going through it. Tourist interest has none, although for bureaucratic, legal, economic and administrative matters is the reference.
Visa for Bali
We continue with the Bali guide talking about visas. Is that necessary? Well, it depends on where you come from, how long you’re going to be and if you’re going to go sightseeing or something else. If you are Spanish, Colombian, Argentinean, Chilean, Peruvian, Uruguayan or Mexican and you are going to stay less than 30 days for tourist reasons, you will be able to request a free visa upon your arrival to one of the main airports or sea ports of Indonesia (in others you will have to pay). All you need is, as always, a passport with at least 6 months validity. If you intend to stay longer, then you will have to make use of an embassy or consulate or pay on arrival $35 for the visa “on arrival” and another $35 for the extension for more than a month (maximum 60 days). Once inside Indonesia you will be able to move from one island to another without any problem.
View domestic aircraft in Indonesia
Do I need to get a vaccine?
Nowadays, the only compulsory vaccine to travel to Bali, and therefore to Indonesia, is the yellow fever vaccine, as long as you come from a country where this disease is active. If not, there is no compulsory vaccination, although if you ask at the international vaccination centre they will probably recommend typhoid fever and hepatitis A. At my discretion, if you are going to do a typical tourist route, don’t worry too much about vaccinations. If you plan something different or a volunteer in a rural area then I do recommend you go well prepared.
Weather: when is the best time to travel?
As it usually happens in these cases, you have to take into account that, generally, the best weather times are the ones with the most tourism and on the contrary, so I don’t think there is a perfect moment. Depends a little on what you’re looking for. That said, from November to April is considered the rainy season, and from April to November is considered the dry season. We were in March and it didn’t rain too much, just a few isolated showers. In general the climate is good, but it is true that in those parts of the world when it rains, it rains, so I personally recommend you travel in dry season, but avoiding the most touristic months (Christmas and European summer).
Currency and prices
The Indonesian rupiah is the currency used in Bali (and throughout the country) and, at the time of writing this post, you will be given about 15,500 IDR for every euro. Come on, little by little you change, you’ll have good bills on you. But do they wear out fast? Well, as you can imagine, Bali, like much of Asia, is ostensibly cheaper than Spain and most European countries. Now, don’t trust yourself.
Although it’s easy to eat and stay for little money (if that’s what you’re looking for), it’s not hard to spend your dogs if you come upstairs, especially if you’re a guiri. And is that most tourist attractions (temples, waterfalls …) charge entrance, some of them around 4-5 euros. If you add to that that you are going to depend on some transport to go from one side to the other, the bill will swell. But I also tell you that luxury in Bali is more than affordable, so if you want to give yourself some whims during the trip, do not mourn either.
How to move around Bali
We continue with the guide of Bali answering another usual question: is it easy to move around? Well yes, it is easy to move around Bali, although rarely fast and not always cheap (in comparison). Unless you travel without any rush and have all the patience of the world, public transport is a complicated option. It is best to use a rental vehicle, taxi or organized tours.
Starting with rentals, both cars and motorcycles are at your disposal. The first option, personally, I see it complex because, although the roads are not all bad, the traffic is very dense and the bikes are in charge. So if you don’t have the experience to move around in Asia’s motorcycle chaos, you may have more than one scare on wheels. Motorcycles, however, are a much more affordable option and better suited to island rhythms. If you have a minimum of previous experience or, at the very least, a minimum of courage and self-confidence, you are sure to enjoy it to the fullest. The best thing is that for less than 5 euros you can get a motorbike for the whole day, and the petrol is hard and very cheap. However, if you do, very much caution and always with insurance.
View car rentals in Indonesia
If you prefer a ride, then cabs are a good option. They work with a meter (make sure they put it in) and the prices are more than affordable, especially if you share it with more people. A similar option is Grap, an equivalent to Uber present throughout Indonesia. However, the war between taxis and VTC has also reached this far, so there are areas where you might have a problem. Better to always have a plan B.
The last option is to make use of some tour, perfect if you do not have much time or if you want to see several things in one day. Bali is full of agencies so you can hire him there on the go, although if you prefer to insure them in Spanish, take a look at the Civitatis website.
See tours in Spanish for Bali
What language is spoken?
As an Indonesian island, in Bali Indonesian is spoken, a dialect of Malay that until 1945 had characters similar to Japanese, but today uses Latin calligraphy. A complex language that in 15 days you won’t understand, but, as always, I recommend you learn some basics to earn their sympathy: hello (halo), goodbye (dahh), thank you (terima kasih), please (tolong), yes (ya), no (tidak) and I’m not married (saya belum menikah). Anyway, don’t be overwhelmed with the language if you travel to Bali: in English you will understand if you move by tourist places. And if you only speak Spanish, I don’t think you have much of a problem either. Money is a universal language.
The religion of Bali
One of the peculiarities of Bali is that, although Indonesia is an eminently Muslim country (90%), Hinduism reigns on “The Island of the Gods”. But it is not a standard Hinduism, but it has many peculiarities. Peculiarities as the “Day of the silence” and it is that, although Bali follows the traditional calendar, by religious matters it also has an own calendar whose end of year is in March and it is celebrated with this curious festivity. I recommend you keep an eye on my blog post about it.
Is it a safe island?
And security, how are we doing? Well, soon, I’d say Bali is one of the safest places I’ve ever felt. And it is that, in close connection with the previous point, the Balinese have an affable character and a very positive attitude towards life. No matter who you come across, smiles and good gestures are guaranteed. This is the main reason why, wherever you go, you’ll feel at ease, even if you don’t forget your travel insurance.
5% discount on travel insurance
As far as transport safety is concerned, as I explained earlier, you are going to have to be a little more careful here, especially if you are driving because, although the roads are not terrible, the traffic is dense and somewhat chaotic, so you have to walk with a thousand eyes. If you go on a bus or transport with a driver, you will probably go something quieter because they know how to move.
If we focus on stomach safety, can I eat anywhere? Generally speaking, I could say that yes, it is a very touristic island, so if you don’t leave the route too much, you will find decent restaurants. However, as you will suppose, water is not drinkable, so eating fresh products (salads, fruit) entails risks if you have not disinfected them yourself. The same goes for ice, avoid them unless the place gives you confidence. But come on, there’s no reason to travel around Bali paranoid. Avoid antros and problematic products and you’ll save on bathroom visits. You can find more information on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Connected with the previous thing, but leaving to the side aspects of hygiene… how does one eat in Bali? Well, it depends what you enjoy about Asian food, but broadly speaking I’d say fine. As in most countries in the area, noodles and rice are the basis of everything, so many typical dishes such as Mie Goreng or Nasi Goreng are composed of it. Now, the island is completely tourist oriented, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t be short on sandwiches, hamburgers, pizzas and other world food classics. But the more you get international, the more you’ll pay for the bill.
Internet and plugs
To focus on technological issues, the first thing I will say is that the Internet in Indonesia is very cheap, so with 10 or 20 euros you aim to be able to have a connection throughout the trip. From the moment you get off the plane you’ll find a thousand and one options to buy a Sim. When it comes to plugs, if you come from Spain or most European countries, you won’t need any kind of adapter.
What you can see on the Balinese island
Contextualized already this guide to travel to Bali, it is a good moment to go mounting a possible itinerary by the island. Although in my route by Bali you have a lot of information of what you can see, here I leave you some clues.
Temples of Bali
In Bali there are more temples than restaurants, so wherever you go you will find one. Now, not everyone is interesting in the eyes of the tourist. Some of its classics: Tirta Empul, Tanah Lot, Taman Ayun, Pura Besakih… although there are many others of great interest.
Route through Bali from the blog “Viajar lo cura todo” (Travelling heals everything)
The water in any of its forms is one of the great attractions of Bali, and the spectacular waterfalls that hides the island proves it. Tegenugan, Kanto Lampo, Tukad Cepung, Layana… are the name of some of the most popular. Now, I’m going to warn you that, in high season, these waterfalls are almost a theme park so they lose quite charm. If you travel to Bali with time ask the locals and jump off the route. I’m sure there are some not so famous, but equally interesting.
Beaches of Bali
As a good island, Bali is surrounded by beaches, some more famous, some completely abandoned and others at a halfway point. However, I can tell you that the concept of Spanish beach (beach bar, umbrella and ice cream) is not so easy to find on this side of the world. Kuta, Sanur, Jimbaran, Padang Padang… are just some of the many that can be enjoyed on this island. Find out before you go because each one has its own audience.
Volcanoes in Bali
Indonesia is a land of volcanoes and some of them are hidden in Bali. The Batur volcano is the most famous of all and one of the most visited, but not the only one. Agung and Bratan also tend to satisfy tourist desires. Please, if you visit it always do it with guide and with the appropriate preparation.
For me, one of the best moments I enjoyed on my trip to Bali was visiting one of those rice terraces at sunset. Tegallalang is one of the most quoted, followed by Jatiluwih… but they are not the only ones. Rent a bike and get lost, and you’ll probably run into one.
Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan
Despite being two separate islands, Penida and Lembongan also belong to Bali, and are two interesting visits. Sanur or Padang Bai is the name of the main ports of Bali from which you can catch some transport to the nusas. Once you’re there, all you have to do is enjoy.
Photo by Javier Godínez
Other neighbouring islands
Although Indonesia is a huge country, near Bali there are other islands worth visiting. I recommend you take advantage of your trip there to visit the impressive Komodo National Park (on Flores Island), the Gili Archipelago or Java, where you will find some of the most spectacular temples and sites in the country.
View domestic aircraft in Indonesia
And the garbage?
I can’t finish this article without giving a space to #LaBasuraNoDaLikes, the sustainable tourism project we were doing during our time in Indonesia. And it is that, among other things, this is the second country that throws more plastics into the sea, figures behind which hides a great story. Find out in my post on the subject, in the documentary we prepared on the subject and encourage yourself to lend a hand if you pass by.
Here I end this guide to travel to Bali, a perfect island who wants to start in the wonderful world of Asia without many complications. Bali is a brilliant destination, comfortable and very kind to the tourist, so I’m sure that your experience there will be very pleasant. Will you tell me?
See all posts about Indonesia.