Filled with ritual, ruins, and an island rhythm that will make any traveler to Bali elated on this Island of Gods. A romanticized island for many on honeymoons, anniversaries or working through their bucket list, Bali is a magical place with something to offer to everyone and of any age.
There is so much to see and do on Bali, from lounging on the sandy beaches of Seminyak, to watching the surfers battle the Indian Ocean strength at Uluwatu, to cultural experiences, rain forest treks, dips in waterfall ponds and hot springs, plus spiritual yoga practices in Ubud, to even a jaunt to Lovina for snorkeling and dolphins with a break at Pura Tanah Lot. There are many more great towns to explore too, like Kuta for a good party.
Your time in Bali depends on you and how you plan for this once in a lifetime trip. Think about the activities that you love to do and begin to narrow down the areas of the island to visit. Over-planning your trip can be a real disaster because transport from town to town and activity to activity has to be weighed against the time wasted in traffic. And when we talk traffic, we mean chaos traveling at the speed of a turtle. The traffic is not to be under-estimated, especially in high-season months of June through September. There are even helicopter tours whose main goal is to get you from the south of Bali to Ubud to beat the traffic.
Our first trip to Bali, we went in the low season and visited four cities over 9 days. There are no highways. We found ourselves switch-backing through the mountains, dodging remnants of massive mud slides on a road that in most countries is wide enough for a single car. It was a mistake to be so ambitious in our travel itinerary to visit all four cities. If it’s your first time to Bali, limit your time to three cities max!
If we knew the roads were so under-developed, we would have cut Lovina from our itinerary – which was about 6 hours of driving roundtrip.
We were fortunate to have the fore-sight to hire a driver for our entire trip. If we attempted such an adventure renting a car, our once-in-a-lifetime vacation would have turned quickly into a big headache and a big waste of money. Hiring a driver may sound ‘for the rich’, but the cost is equivalent to renting a car, so why not have a local expert get you around! We had a great experience using Bali Bliss Drivers. Their mini-van / small SUV was spotless, new and had the space to accommodate all of our luggage, plus all the shopping bags we accumulated.
We experienced two of their drivers, Kadek and Alit, spending most of our 9 days with Alit (pictured above). Both drivers were safe, kind, funny, flexible and gave us good tips around the island for an insider’s view. They were invaluable in making our trip to Bali extraordinary! They come highly recommended on TripAdvisor too — check out for yourself!
Having good accommodations can make or break a trip and like airfare, hotels eat up a big chunk of your travel budget. For a luxury experience at a price cheaper than Hawaiian hotels, think about visiting Bali in the off-season when rates are a bit lower. The off-season (excluding the monsoon months) is from late-February through mid-May. You will get great weather, with less crowds and save a few bucks splurge on shopping or a massage everyday!
We had really great experiences at these three hotels. The service was above anything else in the world! And the quality of the resort comfort and amenities were spectacular.
Bali has everything you could want, okay – maybe not a skiing resort — but for a tropical vacation you have options to veg’ out, hike, explore gastronomy, work on your tan, surf lessons, maybe?, sunset parties, animal adventures and more!
When I planned our trip, deciding what to do was overwhelming. But, the trick I found was that while researching “Drivers” and sharing my itinerary, they offered many suggestions of places to see and things to do. After corresponding with three drivers via email, I narrowed in on the list of activities to plan.
We learned from all our travels that pre-planning the activities saves a lot of headaches and time as you weigh options with concierges and probably pay too-much for the activities selected!!!
Here are some of the things we saw. I’ll be honest, we missed a few top attractions as we wanted some downtime in our trip. 9 days just isn’t enough time to cram all of Bali into a single trip. We will be back again to see more!
Uluwatu – see Pura Uluwatu
From Uluwatu to Ubud visit Tegenungan Water Fall and the Balinese House Compound
While in Ubud, visit the Monkey Forest, Tegalang Rice Terraces, Elephant Park at Taro Village, Spice and Coffee Plantation and when shopping in Central Ubud, relax your feet in a pool of fish for a sensational exfoliation!
While in Lovina, the dolphins are the big show!
PACKING FOR BALI
Pack light to Bali! There are so many unique Bali shopping treasures that you will want some extra room in your bag to bring home these delightful souvenirs. Check out my Packing Do’s and Don’ts for Bali.
Invest in a few hours of research and build-up your itinerary and activities. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it should include a few free days for shopping and pool/beach/spa time. We chilled out in Seminyak, dining at great restaurants and lounging around the pool! And during your journey, if you are feeling tired then tweak your plans – maybe drop an activity or add one. It’s your vacation so make it an extraordinary one!!