The Ultimate Travel Guide Bali
Where do I start, I feel like I’m one of the last people to finally get to Bali. I spent so many years watching friends, influencers, strangers online visit Indonesia and thinking now that looks like my kind of place. I don’t know why it took so long to get there!? I guess It’s the fact it’s a very long journey from Ireland and finding a long period of time to escape work was always the hold back. I’ve travelled a lot of places so when I say this know I say it with full conviction It was everything I thought it would be and more. I rarely say I would go back somewhere not because I don’t like going to the same place but you know, while I can and have the freedom I want to see as many new places as possible. I would go back to Bali in a heartbeat, maybe even live there. I would just have to be lathered in factor Fifty 24/7. I’ve broken this guide up to make it as informative as possible to ensure you have just as good a time on your trip to Bali as I did.
How to get there
There are multiple airlines that fly to Indonesia, unfortunately there are no direct flights from Ireland. We flew from Dublin to Denpasar via Dubai.
Airlines that fly there:
EMIRATES, QATAR, ,ETHIHAD, BRITISH AIRWAYS, GARUDA INDONESIA
Some Travel advice for the long haul flights – Get the Netflix app and save a whole series you’ve been waiting to watch. I managed to watch the whole series of YOU on my flight back, the perfect time to binge watch.
Where to stay
We opted for Villas for our stay, there was a group of 6 of us travelling so hotels just wouldn’t have made any sense. The villas available in Bali are unbelievable and work out far more economical over hotels for a longer stay. My initial concern was the security but the villas come with security day and night and also assistance all day just like a hotel.
But wait until you hear the best part, they all have pools! Of course It’s boiling there and there’s a lot to be said for having your own private pool. You know those people who can sit at a pool all day on holidays reading a book or listening to a podcast, yep I never thought I was one of those but you could hardly shift me from our Bali pool. We booked a Villa in Seminyak and Ubud, see details below with contact information and links to view.
We stayed in Villa Ramadewa for 10 days. I’ll never forget when we arrived it was midnight we were just after doing 17 hours of flying but wide awake with the excitement of finally arriving. We couldn’t get over the villa, when we walked into the main living area that overlooked the pool we all assumed the building on the other side must have been a separate house but no it was part of the same villa. A little overwhelmed and restless we jumped into the pool for a night time dip. I would really recommend this villa to any groups travelling it was really central, the staff were lovely, the food was exceptional and the villa itself very clean and modern. I would warn its located near a club so for any light sleepers do not take the room upstairs.
I didn’t think we could get much better than our villa in Seminyak but Kelusa was out of this world. The villa is split into two separate buildings each donning their own hanging pool with a valley view of rice fields and jungle. When we arrived we all had this instant regret we didn’t plan to stay here longer, it was a complete escape and ended our trip in Bali in the best possible way. The villa also comes with a house dog called Puu, who is blind and deaf but relentless at finding you for a scratch and a cuddle, made the place feel even more homely. I would highly recommend this Villa.
There is a taxi app for Bali called Blue Bird for all your short trips but for any day trips or planned outings it works out a lot cheaper to get a driver especially for two way trips. These are the two drivers we used, yep they’re both called Made (pronounced Maddy). You’ll notice the majority of contact for bookings and reservations for excursions or drivers is made on whatsaap, it seems to be their preferred method of communicating. And if you’re wondering.. NO! I did not get a moped, I’m a bit nervous on bikes as it is and after seeing the road chaos in Seminyak I was glad I had decided to be a nervous nelly, however I do think Ubud would be do-able if you’re thinking about renting one – don’t be an idiot who doesn’t wear a helmet!
Seminyak – MADE +6285792362062
UBUD – MADE +6281353966886
What to pack
Bali has two seasons, wet season and dry. We travelled during December the wet season, and honestly coming from Ireland it’s really not as bad as you might think, in fact the odd showers were the only thing helping us from overheating. There may be odd flash showers or rain overnight but it never seemed to affect our holiday one bit, so don’t let that put you off. When it comes to packing I plan day by day and I only pack what I know I’m actually going to wear aka comfortable clothes for humidity! I try everything on and bring the exact amount of clothes I need, re-wearing and re-styling so my bag isn’t bulging. I lived in light layers, shorts string tops, silk dresses, Birkenstock’s, light gym gear,I brought one jumperfor the flight over and the hike, with good gripped runners for activitiesand then something airy for walking around day to day like Birkenstocks. I did bring and get very good use out of a long sleeve swimsuit(avoid the burnt arms along with light yoga pantsfor the evening to avoid any mozzy bites. Make sure you pack spf and don’t fool yourself if you’re Irish go for the 50, I underestimated the sun in Bali and well… I burnt my bum so bad I couldn’t sit down for 3 days – I warned you.
Other essential:Mozzy bite spray – the ones sold over in Indonesia seem to be a bit stronger & also a European adapter.
I also did a post about my essential travel skin care here if you want to check it out.
Top 5 things you must do
We did lots of the touristy things in Bali all the main ones you’ve probably seen on social media but rather than list them all here are the top ones you must fit into your schedule.
I have given links to the companies and guides we used to check out costings and reviews.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
Ever swim at the foot of a waterfall? Now is your chance! We visited Sekumpul Waterfall about a 2-hours drive from Seminyak. We arrived at a small cabin on the roadside. Greeted by a team of local teens they advised us they were the tour guides for the day. We followed them down a local path to a house that over looked what seemed to be hundreds of miles of overcrowded forest. We walked about 30 minutes along a muddy path, down steep steps until we reached the waterfalls. Trying to ignore the fact we would have to go back up we ran straight to the waterfalls for a swim to cool off. You’ve never experienced anything as awakening as standing under the shower of a waterfall. There is another waterfall close by about a 5 minute walk which is often quieter. For the day make sure you pack snacks, water, a change of clothes, comfortable walking shoes (ones that can get wet) and a towel.
Surf In Uluwatu
Even if you don’t surf just make sure you visit Uluwatu. It’s remote, relaxed and has some of the best beaches you’ll see. We booked in to padang padang surf school, when we arrived at the surf school( it’s also a surf camp you can stay in) we were greeted by what I can only describe as the coolest looking dudes. We each had an instructor appointed to us and we headed off to Nusa Dua Beach, the surf guides bring you to whatever beach suits your abilities and where has the best waves on that day. The instructors take you aside on the beach to give you a lesson before getting into the water and since you have an individual coach there’s no pressure to jump straight in if your group has mixed levels. The instructors guide you to the best spots to wait for waves and coach you all the way until you’re up on the board – literally screaming “stand up-stand up!”. They make it look so easy when they take a wave, never the less it’s amazing to watch the instructors surf and also kind of disheartening for a beginner. I will warn you, ensure you top up your sun scream and avoid getting a bamboo butt like me, the sun is strong especially lying on a board in the sea- be careful and be that tourist with visible white layers of SPF.
Pack sun screen towel, change of clothes – long sleeve top here
Food in Uluwatu
The loft and Nalu Bowls learn more about these places here
Island Visit & Snorkelling
When in Bali you have to visit the surrounding Islands even for a day trip to see the white sand beaches and turquoise clear water. In a short amount of time feel a world away from the norm. We opted to swim with Manta Ray, now the chances of seeing them are 50/50 but through manta ray searching you get to see so much other sea life. We visited the island of Nusa Penida, one of 3 tropical islands only 30 minutes from mainland Bali. A lot of people say you should spend more than a day on the islands so if your trip time allows you I would recommend staying on one of the islands, I know if I go back I will. This Island day was probably my most memorable for numerous reasons, and no we didn’t see mantra but got an adrenaline rush another way. We started with a short speed boat to the island where we met our guide Blacky who took us off on a smaller boat to specific snorkelling spots. We stopped at two spots before we went to our final destination to search for manta ray out in the ocean (not for the faint hearted!). Although we didn’t see any manta ray we did get to see some amazing sea life, with a huge appetite from swimming all day we headed back to the island. Once we got back to the island a storm hit so instead of getting the boat back to our departure they threw us on the back of mopeds. Clawing onto Ismaya ( my young driver) we drove through what I can only say is the worst rain I’ve ever seen, down windy roads and through rural villages, it was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I worked up the bravery to turn my head now and again to look at my two other friends behind us and give a half scared / half laughing face. Poor Ismaya had to peel me off his back and spent the entire bike ride laughing at my instructions to take it easy and use the horn. Arriving at the beach with a racing heart and not a dry patch on me, we all turned to one another and burst out laughing- at least I had my Bali moped experience!
Pack – a towel, SPF, spare clothes, swimwear, sandals or beach shoes, waterproof cases for cameras and phones and snacks (definitely snacks it’s a long day)
Guide Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
See the sunrise from an active volcano
One of my favourite days in Bali was hiking Mt Batur for sunrise. Now don’t worry the volcano hasn’t erupted since 2000 and the hike is done by hundreds each day. The pastel colour sky rising up from behind the distant mountain was worth the sweat. We arranged our sunrise hike through our villa and likewise wherever you are staying will help with all tour bookings. I have attached the company we used below to check out. I would recommend getting a guide as you start the hike in the dark and even though there is only one path finding at the start is the hardest part. The hike will take anything between 1.45-2.30 hours depending on your fitness levels, it’s a steady uphill walk but in the darkness and silence of the night its quite an experience and much cooler – thank god! I would recommend doing this in the first few day that you arrive when you’re still jet lagged and waking up at 1 in the morning, because your pick up time for the hike from Seminyak is 2 am!
Pack– mozzy spray, water, snacks, gripped runners or hiking boots and a jumper for the top.
Don’t make eye contact with the Monkeys
It’s harder than it sounds! Make sure you head to monkey forest in Ubud to get up close and personal with the Balinese long tailed Monkey. The forest is situated in Ubud just ten minutes from the main street, you’ll know you’re nearby once you start seeing them causing some mischief on the street.
Now heading to the Monkey Forest you might hear all these crazy rumours of monkey’s robbing people, snatching belongings and eyeing up open bag’s – believe it all! We thought “yeah right”, however we did enter prepared, jewellery off, bags zipped and possessions hidden away. But these long tailed lads, they’re smart and they know how to operate. When we first walked in we brazenly went close up to the monkeys snapping on portrait mode and hoping they would take a fancy and climb up our shoulder, 20 minutes in it was like being chased by zombies. I flinched at the sound of moving leaves and had created blinkers using my hands to stop me from starring at the larger ones who kept making eye contact. On our way back to our initial entry point all of a sudden out of the bush jumps a medium build monkey and lands on my friends back (the top of her backpack). Being warned not to intimidate the monkey we all stood still watching its next move. Sophisticated enough, he opened the bag and began routing through her possessions, his hand dug deep feeling around with his head held high keeping an eye on us all. He decided the wallet would suffice and launched off. All left in shock, the monkey swung around the nearby fence as if he was taunting us with his win. Other monkey’s came to join the party and then began one by one picking out cards and running off. So it’s true what they say, they do steal your belongings. However, with a little luck and some helpful staff we managed to find the two most important cards. Make sure you tape down the essentials, stay street smart and don’t make eye contact.
Cost per person € 3.50 Paid at entrance.
Pack; as little as possible!
Top places to eat
Breakfast in Seminyak
Dinner in Seminyak