Category Archives: Places to Visit in Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia: The Island of the Gods

Bali, Indonesia: The Island of the Gods

Of all the 17,508 islands in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is – without a doubt – the most popular. In fact, 80% of all international visitors to Indonesia visit Bali and Bali alone.

Bali, Indonesia

It’s no wonder why – the famed Island of the Gods’ beautiful landscape rich with lush rice terraces, volcanic hillsides, and spectacular beaches combined with its friendly, hospitable people and a magnificently visual culture infused with spirituality makes the little island a special kind of paradise on earth.

The best thing about Bali is that it offers something for everyone – from world-class surfing and diving spots for water sport enthusiasts to picturesque beaches where beach bums can spend countless hours lounging on. Culture junkies and health nuts are taken care of as well, with Bali’s numerous cultural, historical and archaeological attractions and wealth of health, wellness and spirituality retreats.

yoga in bali

Bali also offers an enormous range of accommodations and dining options with something for everyone from young backpackers to the super-rich. Although heavily traveled, it’s still as easy to find peace and quiet on the beautiful island as it is to mingle in crowded bars and parties.

Bali Information & Fast Facts

Situated just 2 kilometers from the eastern tip of the island of Java, Bali is Indonesia’s most popular destination. This world-famous island is home to around 4 million inhabitants who are overwhelmingly Hindu in a largely Muslim Indonesia.

Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion and you’ll see evidence of this almost as soon as you step off the plane – tiny offerings called canang sari are ubiquitous. These leaf trays hold everything from flowers to cookies to cigarettes and coffee and are set with burning incense sticks and present in homes, restaurants, and even on the streets of Bali. Be careful not to step on one on purpose – the Balinese believe it’ll give you bad luck!

canang Bali

Although pretty much everyone in Bali speaks Indonesia lingua franca, Bahasa Indonesia, the primary language in Bali is Balinese. Balinese is a difficult language, but learn to say a few words and you’ll be warmly received by the locals for your effort. But without Balinese or Bahasa Indonesia skills, foreigners will be able to get around Bali quite easily. English is widely spoken by the hospitality workers and hawkers especially in southern Bali and in other tourist-y areas of the island.

Best Time to Visit Bali

Bali – like all of Indonesia – has just two distinct seasons: the wet season and the rainy season. But in Bali the difference between the two seasons is minimal, with the dry season (April to September) being just a tad hotter and a tad drier than the wet season (October to March).

Monsoon season in Bali starts around October and continues to March but the rains come fast and leave just as quickly so you can expect clear blue skies and plenty of sun during this time. Daytime temperatures are pleasant, varying between 20-33⁰ C (68-93⁰ F) year-round. Keep in mind that Bali can get quite cool during nights, especially at higher elevations, so bring a sweater or jacket for the evenings.

rain in Bali

A big consideration when choosing the best time to visit Bali is the tourist season. Bali can get pretty crowded during its peak tourist months of August and September and again at Christmas and New Year. Outside these peak seasons, Bali can be surprisingly quiet and you can find great discounts on accommodations.

How to Get to Bali

Bali is very easy to get to. Simply catch a flight to Bali’s Denpasar International Airport which is Indonesia’s 3rd busiest international airport with frequent flights to and from major Indonesian destinations like Jakarta and Surabaya, as well as international destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore Hong Kong, Australia and more.

How to Get Around Bali

Bali is a pretty large island with less-than-ideal sidewalks which means you’ll need more than your feet to access much of the island.

The most popular option for travelers in southern Bali are the metered taxis which are very common in southern Bali. The fare starts at 5,000 IDR ($0.50) and goes up 5,000/km after the first two kilometers. Trips to outside of southern Bali will incur an extra change of 30% since the driver often has to make the trip back to south Bali with an empty cab.

If you want to travel outside of southern Bali and don’t want to figure out the public bus schedules, your best option is to rent a motorbike or car. The motorbike should really only be an option if you plan to drive it outside of southern Bali – the traffic in southern Bali combined with the lack of formal traffic rules, there’s an increased risk of accidents here. On the other hand, a motorbike is a wonderful way to see Bali outside of the tourist enclaves of south Bali.

You can rent a motorbike for between 40,000 – 100,000 IDR ($4 – $10 USD) per day.

Another option is to rent a car – either self-drive or with a driver. To rent just the car, you should expect to pay between 90,000 to 250,000 IDR ($9 to $25 USD) per day, depending on the condition and model of the car.

For a car with a driver, expect to pay between 300,000 to 600,000 ($30 – $60 USD) per day (around 10 hours). Whereas this is the priciest option of getting around Bali, it is a great choice, especially for first-time visitors, since the drivers usually speak English and can act as informal tour guides, recommending good destinations and restaurants.  Also, it’ll end up costing less than a taxi if you’re planning on getting to the further reaches of the island. When you negotiate prices for a car and driver, make sure the price includes petrol and the driver!

Keep in mind that driving in Bali is on the left-hand side!

Things to See and Do in Bali

There is simply too much to see and do in Bali to do it justice in this tiny section. Check out our Best of Bali guide for the top things to see and do in Bali!

What to Eat in Bali

Expect the same range of dining options as most world-class cities in Bali. The island is brimming with cozy cafes and swanky restaurants offering everything from local delicacies to international flavors from all over the world.

Bali Travel Tips

First and foremost, traveling in Bali is considered safe but it’s always recommended to travel with travel insurance. We highly recommend World Nomads. They cover travelers from over 150 countries around the world, offer great rates, and cover a range of travel-related costs from the more commonplace – lost baggage and cancellation costs – to the more severe – emergency medical and evacuation assistance as well as coverage for a wide range of adventure sports and activities. Click here for rates!

Bali’s popularity is not without its flip sides – many places in southern Bali, especially Kuta, can be very congested with party-goers and touts. The street hawkers will usually leave you alone when you ask them to, but some are persistent and can follow and pester you in the hopes of eventually bothering you enough so that you buy something to get them to go away. Do NOT do this – buying something will just encourage other, equally persistent touts to keep pestering you.

The monkey forest at Ubud is worth visiting, but keep in mind that the monkeys there are rather fierce. There will be people selling bananas at the entry and you’re free to buy the bananas, but you may become the target of some aggressive, banana-hungry monkeys as soon as you wander in.

bali-monkey-attack-cropped

Locally made spirits have caused casualties and even some fatalities in recent years, mostly due to methanol being used by locals as a cheap way of topping up their stock. Be very careful with locally-produced alcohol, especially Arak, and stick to alcohol brands that you know when ordering at bars or purchasing at minimarts or the like. If your drink tastes off, send it back.

Also, drink spiking has been reported several times for both sexes. Never leave your drinks unattended.

Indonesia Travel Musts: Flores, Nusa Tenggara

Indonesia Travel Musts: Flores, Nusa Tenggara

The beautiful Flores Island gets its name from the Portuguese word for ‘flower’ and the island more than lives up to its name. Just an hour’s flight from the internationally-acclaimed Bali, Flores is an island still shrouded in relative obscurity. It’s a wonder why – this beautiful island is a truly fascinating destination with aContinue Reading

Destination Paradise: Gili Islands, Indonesia

Destination Paradise: Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands are a cluster of three small islands located just off the northwest tip of Lombok, Indonesia. This archipelago of islands only recently came to the attention of the wider world in the 1980s and 1990s but is now officially Lombok’s most popular tourist destination and a firm fixture on the Banana PancakeContinue Reading

Makassar, Indonesia: Your Gateway to Southern Sulawesi

Makassar, Indonesia: Your Gateway to Southern Sulawesi

Makassar, also known as Ujung Pandang, is the capital of South Sulawesi and the largest city on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Home to over 1 million inhabitants, Makassar is a bustling city thick with traffic, the strong scent of street food, and the chaos characteristic of most major cities. The metropolis of Makassar hasContinue Reading

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Yogyakarta – also known as Jogjakarta – is a thriving town home to 500,000 inhabitants and the most popular tourist destination on Java island, Indonesia. The city is named after the Indian city of Ayodha from the Ramayana epic and translates to ‘A city that is fit to prosper,’ with Yogya meaning ‘suitable, fit, proper’Continue Reading

Sulawesi Travel Musts: Witness the Burial Rites and Sites of Tana Toraja

Sulawesi Travel Musts: Witness the Burial Rites and Sites of Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja literally translates to ‘Toraja land’ and is nicknamed the ‘Land of the Heavenly Kings.’ It is located in a highland region in the southern region of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. A trip to Tana Toraja is like being transported to a magical land of beauty and culture. You’ll meet with sweeping, elaborately-paintedContinue Reading

Java Travel Musts: Hike the Majestic Mount Bromo

Java Travel Musts: Hike the Majestic Mount Bromo

With over 120 active volcanoes and daily earthquakes, Indonesia is one of the most geologically diverse and fascinating places on the planet. While not the tallest of Indonesia’s many volcanoes, Mount Bromo has become one of the most iconic mountains in Indonesia for its picturesque, other-worldly beauty. Mount Bromo stands at 2,329 and is easilyContinue Reading

Bandung, Indonesia: Visit the Paris of Java

Bandung, Indonesia: Visit the Paris of Java

Often referred to as the City of Flowers, Bandung is the provincial capital of West Java and Indonesia’s third largest city. Its nickname comes as much from the beautiful flowers found around the city as from the fact that colonial Bandung ‘blossomed’ into a hub of economic and social activity in the 1920s. During colonialContinue Reading

Indonesia Must See: The Colored Lakes of Mount Kelimutu, Flores

Indonesia Must See: The Colored Lakes of Mount Kelimutu, Flores

On the uniquely beautiful island of Flores is the Kelimutu National Park, where the famous Mount Kelimutu volcano resides with its striking tri-colored lakes resting in its caldera. These stunning colored lakes are the most famous attraction in Flores and an absolute must visit. They are without a doubt one of the most amazing naturalContinue Reading

Visit the Abode of the Gods at Dieng Plateau, Java

Visit the Abode of the Gods at Dieng Plateau, Java

It’s no wonder this plateau is called the ‘Abode of the Gods’ – it’s absolutely stunning here. Up above this 2,000 meter-high plateau, you’ll see rolling hills stretching as far as the eye can see, spot boiling pits of mud, delight in the beauty of colored lakes, and have the chance to visit some ofContinue Reading