The introductory guide for Bali Beginners. Read it all or skip to the parts that you need to know about!
A quick trip to Bali, a beautiful villa, complete relaxation with my fave person in the world is exactly what the Dr ordered (then a week off of work when I got home after contracting a parasite was another order from the Dr). Not even a parasite could have dampened this super fun getaway. We can leave the dampening to the heat and humidity of Bali but nothing that a dip in your private pool can’t fix. Being my first time to Bali and booking our trip the night before we left this was very much an impromptu get-away but an amazing experience for us none the less. For anyone curious about a holiday in Bali this location will not disappoint and the type of location that will cater to any type of traveller. Whether you’re heading over for a girls trip, a family holiday or a romantic couple’s getaway there will be something to cater for all. So first of all a little background information on Bali. Bali is made up of three islands and is a part of Indonesia and while this is a popular destination for Western travellers, putting the party scene aside which draws the masses this location is rich in culture, religion, history and people. Bali has strong roots in Hinduism and Buddhism and this can be seen throughout Bali with large religious monuments, temples and religious ceremony and offering (which we personally got to see at our second Airbnb where the man who looked after the property walked around with offerings and incense).
Our Bali get-away began as a little escape to get our work done in a beautiful setting, a change of scenery and changing up the daily routine. So the day before we left (as neither of us enjoy being in charge of planning) we decided we should at least book accommodation and flights. The next day we left for half a day of travel from our corner of the world to Bali and began our Bali retreat. Our days consisted of sleep-ins, $8 massages, amazing food and a bit of work thrown in for good measure. However we couldn’t go to Bali and ignore everything else it had to offer so we spent a good two days exploring popular tourist spots before heading home.
From Auckland, New Zealand we took a flight to Melbourne that particular flight took almost four hours. We then rechecked back in on a flight to Bali which took just under 6 hours from Melbourne to Bali.
Auckland – Melbourne: QF154 (Qantas)
(3 hour transit: We had to collect bags, go through customs and recheck back in)
Melbourne – Denpasar (Bali): JQ35 (Jetstar)
Denpasar – Sydney: QF44 (Qantas)
Sydney – Auckland: JQ201 (Jetstar)
The biggest stress that I’ve picked up from being around passengers and travellers is navigating airports. I too have meticulously googled certain airports I was set to land in because the amount of transit time you’ll need varies greatly depending on what airport you arrive at. So I want to dedicate this section to explaining the four airports mentioned here for this particular trip.
Auckland International: There is absolutely nothing overwhelming about our international airport. For departing flights check in down stairs then head up-stairs to process yourselves through customs and find your gate within the terminal (only one terminal so no stress). Upon arrival depending on what passport you have you may need a visa however these can be issued at passport control, collect your bags and clear customs. The only thing you need to be careful of is any food you bring into New Zealand, we have sniffer dogs working around the clock so you won’t be able to slip past. Just declare your goods no matter what it is. For transfers to another international flight 1-2 hours depending on if you are collecting your bags. Domestic transfer 2-3 hours as you need to go through customs and either walk or catch the bus to another terminal.
Melbourne International: Slightly larger however just as easy, the same applies here as with the Auckland international terminal however if you are transferring to a domestic flight you’ll need even less time as the domestic terminal is connected to the international.
Sydney International: Another very easy airport to navigate as it is only one International terminal. Similar to Auckland airport the domestic terminal is separate therefore for domestic transfers leave 2-3 hours.
Denpasar (Bali): Upon arrival there will be several check points, the first will be checking your passport and boarding pass (so don’t lose or leave your boarding pass behind).
Tip 1: New Zealand and Australian passports are a part of a visa waiver program which makes us exempt for up to a certain period of time so ensure you know what visa you need before you leave.
This check point accumulates the biggest lines so if you don’t want to be right at the back head for this point as quickly as possible. Now in saying this the next step is to collect bags and this usually always takes over half an hour and they come out extremely slowly so either way you’ll be waiting. You will then pass through customs who will check your passport and customs form (One per group travelling regardless of last names).
I highly recommend that upon arrival (unless you have plans to hire a car and drive around Bali) to jump in a taxi to wherever you’re staying, taxis are cheap and easy. When you come out into the arrivals area in Bali you will literally be bombarded by hundreds of taxi drivers, bypass this entire crowd and walk all the way out until you reach a desk (it will be right in front of you) and you’ll see men in blue shirts, they’ll quote you a price and you pay them in cash then and there. We used this taxi service when we first arrived.
Tip 1: Bring Indonesian Rupiah with you so you have cash for your taxi. We went to Seminyak (15-20min drive from the airport) this cost us approximately $30NZD or 300,000 Rupiah (quite a good price when compared to NZ taxi prices).
When you arrive at your accommodation you could choose to continue using taxis. Uber is set up in Bali and we used Uber to get to eateries around the area however the type of accommodation we booked came with a driver who took us everywhere we wanted for two days (we had to pay him $120NZD for 2 days which is 1.2 million Rupiah, again such a good price when we consider prices in New Zealand however you could absolutely find a cheaper service if you desired). Or if you’re brave enough you could hire a scooter. I would only recommend this if you have experience and are confident. The driving conditions are vastly different.
Popular consensus for accommodation is to use Airbnb, and this will be the types of accommodation you see flooding your social media accounts. You can book unique dwellings and beautiful villas for a price range to suit and almost all come with their own private pool. We stayed in Seminyak for the convenience of the location, we travelled out to Ubud and you could definitely stay in this area of Bali and have access to what you need throughout your trip while being close to major attractions.
The Cocowhite Villa – Seminyak
The owner has created a luxurious open plan environment that makes you feel like you’re in your own little world away from everyone and everything while being bang smack in the middle of everything you’ll need for your stay. I highly recommend this property and I would happily stay here every visit to Bali. This particular property has enough room for 6 people with 3 bedrooms all with their own bathroom with a pool that extends out from the middle of the complex to surround the property.
- 500m from Seminyak Beach.
- 150m from local eateries, bars and markets.
- Hired maids that come to cook breakfast for you (they cooked for us once then we decided to cook for ourselves).
- Driver to take you to further locations if you need.
If luxury and relaxation is what you’re after then this property will be everything you could ever want and more. Such an oasis in a prime location.
Atlantis Villa – Seminyak
An absolute contrast in type of accommodation and more aligned with a traditional design blending in with the Bali setting however equally as beautiful in its own way. This property is very popular on Airbnb however before you choose to book there are a few things you should know. If you’re looking for absolute solace, tranquil peace and quiet while the setting is very much so aligned with this image the reality is that there is the constant bark of neighbouring dogs and strays (I have a dog, and barking doesn’t bother me, however the frequency of it did start to become bothersome). It is also in a secluded area of Seminyak therefore you will have to use your own transport, taxi or the driver for the Villa to get around. We used the driver and he took us out for two full days. The reception within the villa and around is non-existent however the Wi-Fi is reasonably good. In all honesty and to give you (the traveller) the best recommendations I wouldn’t stay here again (although it has good reviews and is popular on Airbnb).
We really didn’t have much intention of doing much apart from relax, work, get $8 massages and eat delicious food. We definitely got caught up in the excitement of Bali and all the touristy goodness it had to offer. Our driver from the Atlantis Villa took us to all these attractions with food stops in between.
These locations are in the Ubud area (45mins-1hrs drive from Seminyak)
Bali Swing: A very popular attraction for tourists, you may have seen photos on social media of people sitting on a swing hurling you out over the abyss of the jungle. It took us almost 2 hours to get on most swings and to sit in the nest. The swing itself is a thrill however the overall experience is definitely aimed at capturing some picturesque photos looking out over the jungle.
- Expect long wait times (open from 8am-5pm).
- 35USD (Approx. 50NZD each) this will give you access to all the picture attractions.
Tip 1: Wear a cute outfit, a long dress looks good in pictures while you’re on the swing.
Tip 2: Wear little shorts under your dress (I didn’t. I may or may not have flashed a few people).
Tip 3: There is a company that does the same attraction next door, not the official Bali swing company however less wait times but the same price.
Monkey Forest: Another popular tourist attraction where you get to interact and feed monkeys in a jungle setting. You can buy bananas and let the monkeys climb up on to and eat the bananas from your hands. I got to hold a baby monkey however be super careful and gentle, the parents keep a watchful eye and will run up and hiss at you if they think you’re about to steal their baby!
- $5NZD or 50,000 Rupiah for entry.
- It’s a reasonably large forest with so many monkeys.
Tip 1: If you don’t like monkeys or don’t want monkeys climbing on you do not visit the monkey forest!
Tip 2: Secure any items you bring in your bag, the monkeys will take anything unsecured that includes sunglasses and hats.
Tip 3: If you buy bananas you will get SWARMED. Keep enclosed in a bag and bring them out one at a time. However regardless they won’t last long.
Luwak Coffee Tasting: Such a fun tasting experience with a jungle view in Ubud where you’ll also find more jungle swings. Luwak Coffee tasting is such a popular and unique experience because these particular coffee beans have been eaten and passed through the digestive system of the Luwak (type of cat, who according to the workers act like domestic cats) then extracted from the excrement (poop) roasted and ground up into a coffee powder. We ordered the Luwak coffee and Coconut coffee (I have never had coffee in my life so this was so fun getting to experience my first coffee tasting in the home of Luwak coffee). They also bring out a full tasting platter of tiny cups with their full range of coffees and teas for you to try.
- Everyone who orders a cup of coffee get a tasting experience.
- A cup of coffee will cost approximately $5NZD or 50000 Rupiah.
Rice Terraces: An absolute visual master piece while displaying the genius work of the farmers and their irrigation system. I have never seen anything like this in my life and highly recommend a visit. While this site is absolutely free to visit carry some small notes, there is no obligation to pay however you will reach points within the rice terraces where locals may make it seem like you must.
Tip 1: Bring water it is extremely humid and the walk up and down the terraces is a little tricky.
Tip 2: My coordination and balance is slightly off therefore walking across the rice terraces was tricky and precarious for me, still walk across just be careful. There is a slight drop between terraces however I think the worst that could happen is you’ll get super wet.
Tip 3: The further you walk within the terraces the longer the walk back.
I had the best foodie experiences in Bali. Eateries and Restaurants have absolutely nailed the dining experience by taking advantage of their location while providing the tastiest food I have ever had in my life.
Seminyak Beach: I can’t remember the names of the restaurants along the beach but there are so many of them if you just turn up to the beach you’ll spot them. Head to Seminyak Beach to have a dining experience under colourful umbrellas while sitting on beanbags and watch the sun set.
New Moon Restaurant: Another beach dining experience who specialise in fresh seafood. I can say with 100% conviction that this was the best seafood dinner I have ever had.
- 1kg King Prawns (I don’t even think they can be called king prawns, Poseidon prawns would be more accurate).
- 500g Red Snapper (whole fish).
- 500g Squid.
- Veggies and Rice.
Tip 1: Don’t go here if you don’t like seafood.
Tip 2: Order your food at the very front of the restaurant (You order the raw seafood in weight increments, they’ll cook it with veggies and rice and bring it out to your table on the beach).
Bali has so much to offer and while we didn’t shop too much just remember that the price can always be negotiated and while it’s nice to get the cheapest price possible I like to think if I’ve got it cheaper than I could find at home or online then I’ve won!
Bali as a destination can be absolutely anything you make of it! It is so adaptable to what you need and desire. Be it the ultimate party destination, total relaxation, cultural experience or enlightening escape there is an endless amount of possibilities. Put in as little or as much money as you want and you’ll still have such a memorable time. Our time in Bali was fleeting and without a doubt we will be back!