Sangeeta Kocharekar

Beautiful beaches, blissful yoga classes, and a seemingly endless supply of Bintang beer… It’s no wonder Kiwis have been flocking to Bali for years.

Thankfully, this Indonesian island is aware of our love affair with its shores, and today there are new hotels, new restaurants and new day clubs everywhere.

So, whether you’re a long-time Bali visitor who hasn’t been back in while and you want to experience everything that’s new, or whether you’re a first-timer who’s eager to hit the ground running, this travel guide to Bali is your new go-to.

Read on to find out where you should stay, where you should be eating and drinking, and what tourist attractions are a must-visit when you’re next in Bali.

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Bali Beach Cliff

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5 Bali travel tips you need to know 

#1. Best places to stay

From dirt-cheap homestays and treehouse Airbnbs in the jungle to five-star hotels with private butlers and mansion-sized villas, Bali is definitely not short on accommodation options. So, first order of business is deciding which area to based yourself in.

If you want to shop at boutiques, visit day clubs like Miss Sippy and Potato Head Beach Club and nightclubs like Motel Mexicola, stay in a ritzy hotel or swanky-yet-affordable villa in Seminyak.

Keen on more of a younger, surfer vibe? Stay in the trendy Canggu. Want stunning white sandy beaches you won’t find in Seminyak or Canggu as well are awesome waves? Head down south to Uluwatu.

Want a restful, nature-filled trip to Bali? Ubud is the place for you. Based in the centre of the islane in a jungle, it’s known for its yoga classes and retreats and healthy food eateries, as well as being on the doorstep of impressive waterfalls.

Pro tip: if you have a week or so to spend travelling around Bali, pick two different areas to stay in and take day trips from each base. Having a regular base will allow you to get to know each area better and allow you spend your time exploring – not moving accommodation!

#2. Best attractions to visit

Instagram has likely already inspired your itinerary planning, but if you’re not across Bali’s top tourist attractions, here are the highlights worth squeezing in…

Get out into nature and appreciate Bali’s beauty at the Gitgit, Tegenungan, Sekumpul and Kanto Lampo waterfalls. Not only do they look – and sound! – incredible, but they also make for the perfect Instagram backdrops.

Head south to Jimbaran Bay and delight your tastebuds with its delicious seafood restaurants on the sand and enchant your eyes with the Uluwatu Temple, an ancient Hindu temple on a cliffside. Be sure to hold onto your belongings when you’re at the temple, though – the monkeys there are vicious and love to steal shiny objects.

If you’re a morning bird (or can be for one day), set your alarm for 3am and embark on the sunrise hike of Mount Batur. The walk will be dark for most of the journey – not to mention steep – but the sight of the sun rising above the clouds once you reach the top of the mountain will be an experience you’ll never forget.

Need a caffeine hit after the early wake-up? Pop on over to Seminyak’s crowded streets – they’re filled with cute cafés pouring endless coffee. This bustling town is also home to hip designer boutiques on almost every corner for those who need a shopping fix, as well as a number of impressive day clubs to help you relax in the sunshine.

Bali Temple Island

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#3. Best places to eat and drink

Part of Bali’s unique charm is the craftsmanship used to design the inside and outsides of its quirky restaurants, cafés and bars. The result? You can’t help but share snap them for the ‘Gram. Savvy owners know the Instagram platform is a great way for their businesses to be discovered by travellers heading to Bali, so you can expect striking interiors and creatively styled food dishes wherever you go.

In Seminyak, the classic choices you shouldn’t skip are Motel Mexicola, Sea Circus, and Ku De Ta. Newer spots that have made some noise on the foodie scene are Da Maria, AYA, and Tropicola.

In Canggu, make sure you head to The Shady Shack, Panama Kitchen and Pool, and The Loft for lunch, as well as La Brisa, The Lawn or Finns Beach Club for drinks.

In Uluwatu, you won’t go wrong treating yourself to an afternoon beverage at Single Fins, Sundays Beach Club or Ulu Cliffhouse. Want a fantastic dinner option? Head to El Kabron for a tasty feast.

In Ubud – home to some of the island’s healthiest restaurants – drop by Lacasita Fonda Mexicana, The Elephant, and Dumbo.

It's always good to be careful when eating and drinking at local establishments, as no one wants to get the dreaded Bali belly! Be sure to check out our tips for avoiding Bali belly.

#4. How to get around safely and easily

Uber isn’t available in Bali, but ride-share apps Go-Jek and Grab are. Download them before you travel to Indonesia, and you’ll be able to order a ride from the airport after you land.

Once at your accommodation, you can then use Go-Jek or Grab to reach the island’s best tourist spots, or hire a scooter if you’re after an authentic Bali experience. To protect the taxi industry and its drivers’ income, some areas have banned Go-Jeks or Grab pick-ups, so be aware of this as it may cause problems.

For day trips, it’s worth hiring a private driver if you’re travelling with a group and want to visit a number of places throughout the day. You can find them through Bali tourist Facebook groups or on balicab.com.

Be warned, though: Bali has some of the worst traffic – and drivers – in the world. In many areas, the roads are broken or one-way but are used by cars travelling in both directions. Suffice to say, it can be a madhouse on the streets.

Travel to Bali

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#5. Extra handy-to-know tips

Be sure to have a return flight home booked before you travel to bali, as you’ll need to show your departure ticket at the airport upon arrival to prove you’re not staying in the country longer than you’re allowed.

Fortunately, most locals – especially those in the tourist areas – speak almost fluent English so you shouldn’t have any problems communicating at your hotel, while eating out, or while exploring Bali’s hotspots.

Bali has enough to keep even the most active tourists busy all day every day for a number of weeks, but if you’re keen to explore Indonesia beyond the island of Bali, add islands Nusa Lembongan, Penida, and Ceningan, the Gili islands, or Komodo National Park in the Lesser Sunda Islands to your list. They’re all easily accessible for tourists and are home to a number of jaw-dropping natural sights.

 

Sangeeta Kocharekar is a freelance writer specialising in travel and life. When she’s not hunched over her laptop, she spends her days browsing plant stores and taking photos of beaches and brunches for Instagram. You can view them here.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.