Bali is really an island with many mixed opinions. For those who love this island, they will often PR for Bali very strongly. But on the contrary, there are those who expect too much of it, because they have never visited any time but always hear about a slogan “Bali is truly an island paradise”, so expectation is inevitable. They even compared Bali with the Maldives, then they got a bit disappointed when it was not as beautiful as in their dreams. So, are you planning a budget trip to Bali and don’t know how to start? This Bali travel guide blog (Bali guide blog, Bali blog, Bali travel blog) will help you from A to Z. Now, let’s check out our Bali trip blog with the fullest Bali travel guide (Bali guide, Bali island travel guide) from how to get there, where to stay, best places to visit, must-eat food… to find out the answer!
- Bali travel blog — The fullest Bali travel guide for first-timers
- Bali travel blog — The paradise island of Indonesia
- Bali travel tips and advice — 14 best things to know before going to Bali & travel to Bali warnings you should know
- My trip to Bali blog — My first real vacation in Bali
- 8 best & top things to do in Ubud, Bali
But for those who have ever been to Bali, once felt the culture and beauty of this island, they will probably remember the experiences here and want to come back for many times. Compare with the Maldives?! The beauty of the Maldives is the beauty of paradise, a pure beauty without spot. While the beauty of Bali is the beauty of a distinctive culture, of something very mundane, and even dreamy beaches. It is difficult to compare Bali and the Maldives, because I come to the Maldives for relaxation, and in Bali, I come to learn about nature, people and its spiritual culture.
Bali travel guide blog: What do you know about Bali?
Before coming to Bali, I recommend that you preview Julia Roberts’s “Eat, Pray & Love” movie, so so you don’t have to regret saying “God, I’ve missed so much in Bali”. I went to Bali like many other tourist destinations, but when I saw this movie, I understood that Bali is not just a famous tourist island of Indonesia, but also an intersection of happiness, enjoyment, religion and culture. There was an extremely developed arts scene including sculpture, painting, leather goods, metallurgy and music. Indonesian people are Muslim, but in Bali, 93% of the population is Hindu. Balinese people have always considered Bali as the center of the universe, so when you come to Bali, find a place that you think it as the center of Bali, which means you are already at the center of this infinite universe.
Going to Bali is looking for happiness that I have not yet found, a happiness very different compared with the other places I have been experienced. Balinese believe that to have happiness, you need to always know where you are. It is a place with perfect balance, right at the intersection of heaven and earth, without too much selfishness. If not, life would be crazy. Meditate like an Indian every morning, and after that, enjoy Bali on your own way.
Bali trip blog: Some tips and experiences for preparing before going to Bali
How many days should I spend in Bali?
The answer depends on the time and budget of each person. However, with a really large island and so many things to explore like Bali, just going to famous attractions and check-in, you must spend at least 4-5 days (not including the flying time). To enjoy, feel and live with Bali culture, you should stay at least 1-3 months. I think to have a good itinerary, you should spend 1 week to fully explore Bali.
Currency in Bali
In Bali, people use Indonesian Rupiah currency (abbreviated as IDR). If you buy IDR at exchange currency shops in Vietnam in Ha Trung or Bui Vien street, the exchange rate will be very high, for example, I asked to buy IDR at a shop in Ha Trung their rate: 1IDR = 1VND, which is too high. So I think you should exchange for USD first, then bring to Bali to exchange for IDR later, or buying IDR from your friends who have gone to Indonesia before. In Bali, you will not have to worry about where to find money exchange shops, because at any place with tourists will has a place to exchange money, or even right at the airport also has exchange counters although the rate is slightly higher.
The exchange rate from USD to IDR at exchange shops in Bali ranging from 12.600-13.000 IDR for one dollar. I exchanged a little at the airport to take a taxi to the city at the rate of 12.600, the rate in the city center was quite chaotic. In remote areas, the exchange rates are the least attractive, while in Ubud, many shops have very good rates, all around 12.900-13.000. If you still have excess money when you return, you should not exchange it at the airport (this bank association is so profitable) but take it home and bring it to Ha Trung to exchange, I exchanged with the rate at 1IDR = 1.8 VND. Oh, get a little profit also.
Another experience when exchanging money in Bali is that it is very easy to get a scam if you exchange in unreliable places. I used to almost lose money if I wasn’t awake. They offer a little attractive rate to attract you, when exchanging they will give you a full face value of 50.000 IDR, which means if you exchange $300, you will have to carry a very thick papers of money in your wallet. Initially they will count each file 1 million IDR, then they give you to count again, when you finished counting, then they get it back and pretend to count again. This is the time when they will swap or withdraw some money that you will not know, if you do not re-count the money and not giving it to them, the money you bring back will probably be lost without knowing the reason. I struggled for a long time, I kept counting and they got the money back from my hands and pretended to count it again, but I was so nervous, shouting “Please don’t touch my money!”. So in the end they had to give in and give me full the money. They looked so bad because they couldn’t catch the “chicken” as me, haha.
Temple dress code
Like some other religious countries such as Myanmar or Thailand, in Bali they respect their beliefs very seriously, which is reflected in the dress code when visiting the sacred temples. Remember to always have a Sarong – a rectangular cloth to wrap around the body from the waist down – when you enter a certain temple in Bali, avoid having to rent or buy at the temple will be very expensive.
If you need to call an Uber or Grab from the airport, you can buy a Sim here, otherwise you can buy it at shops in the city center. 4G Sims are sold at most grocery stores or small Sim shops on the island that you can easily find while on the way. If you intend to stay a short time you can buy a White Prepaid SIM Card and top-up for the 420MB data package, the total cost is about 42.000 IDR. Stay for a week, you can top-up a data package of 1.3GB for 60.000 IDR. In general, the price is quite cheap compared to other countries like Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan.. It’s the best if you buy a Sim in advance via Klook and receive it at the airport.
Always to bargaining before you buy anything
Always remember to bargain before you buy anything, my way when I go to shopping is to bargain down to 1/3 the price they said. With polite-looking shops, still bargain but “lighter” than a bit, but in the mind always inscribed with one word “bargain, bargain and bargain” !!!
Bali trip blog: When to visit?
Like many other tropical islands, the Bali’s climate is divided into two separate seasons: dry season and rainy season. The rainy season runs from December to April and the dry season from May to November. I chose the end of October for my trip and found that it was a great choice, the island didn’t welcome crowded with tourists flocked in as around July and August and the weather was super nice.
Why I titled this article “The chasing with the Sun God” is because here the moment of sunrise and sunset on the island is so ecstatic, it’s beautiful day after day, and every day there is a different beauty . However, one drawback is that the island is too large, so every time you want to see the sunrise or sunset, you often have to go a not short distance to get to a new spot. So I always have to walk while praying for the sun to stay a little longer so that I can come and enjoy it longer …
Budget trip to Bali: How to get to Bali?
Currently, there are direct flights of VietJet and Vietnam Airlines (VNA) from Saigon and Hanoi to Bali. Or you can transit at one of the airports in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Singapore. Of the three airports above, it seems that the option to fly over to Malaysia is the most reasonable. The cheap airfares ranging from $130-$215. The airlines often have a number of cheap ticket promotions, so you will have to plan early and book in advance if you want to hunt the cheap tickets to Bali.
In addition to familiar airlines such as Jetstar, VNA, Vietjet or AirAsia, to flying to Bali you can refer to Malindo, which seems to have only one way from Bali to Hanoi but not the other return way. The ticket price is sometimes quite good at $86/one-way for a good airline that is not a low-cost carrier. However, the online payment is quite annoying because of many difficulties, sometimes ok, sometimes not. If you cannot pay, you can go directly to the company’s office to book and pay in cash.
If you choose to fly with low-cost airlines, you will probably have to come to Bali late at night, the good news is that sleeping at Denpasar airport (Bali) is quite convenient. There are few people on the 2nd floor of the airport and so you can strip the towels out here for sleeping, no problem. Finding a chair that can lying on to sleep is almost impossible.
Getting from the airport to the city center
Taxi is almost the only option to get from the airport into the city. If you go to nearby areas like Nusa Dua or Kuta, it’s quite OK, but go to Ubud, you will quickly run out of money because the island of Bali is very large. Even, go to some places around Kuta if you ask for a taxi at the airport, the price is about 300.000-500.000 IDR. Many visitors also suggested some good meter taxi companies such as Blue Bird, but in general the price is still expensive.
There is a small tip to save money is that you should not take a taxi right at the outside of the arrival hall of the airport, but walk out a little, there will be some cheaper taxi companies that not allow to stop at the airport or there are a number of taxis that take visitors to the airport without passengers returning. I tried this way and it was reduced by half the price compare with taxi at the airport, only me in a taxi, really wide and comfortable.
Another way is to call Uber or Grab, even though the two companies are very stigmatized in Bali. To call this service you need to buy a pre-installed sim card to have a number in Indonesia and make a call with the driver. Usually, the driver won’t be able to get deeper inside the airport, they will meet you at a certain point outside the airport, if you travel with any Indonesian friend, it’s best, they will assist you more easily.
Bali travel guide: Getting around Bali
For someone who often travels with 1-2 people and rarely follows large groups like me, motorbikes are always the optimal choice for traveling on the island. Before going to Bali, I often see some groups rent a car for a whole day of riding (costing around 500.000-800.000 IDR) but my condition does not allow. But actually, I always like self-drive and go freely. Actually, riding a motorbike on the island, you will feel how happy and fun when both enjoy the island’s fresh air and watching the surroundings, moreover you also will see many Western backpackers also ride motorbikes, so interesting. Especially at night, it is fun to take the motorbike and run to the bars, so cool and exciting.
Renting a motorbike in Bali costs from IDR 100.000-150.000 IDR/day differs in each area. Usually renting in a central area like Ubud will be a bit more expensive than in remote areas like Kuta or Nusa Dua. The rental condition is still a deposit or passport. For me, due to stay at 808 Residence, they lend motorbikes for free, helmets are good too. Just refuel and go to explore Bali (gasoline price is about 7.500 IDR/liter). Also you can use a taxi or bus to travel on the island. Although the bus is cheap, it will be quite inconvenient in terms of time, you can refer to the map of the bus routes and bus schedules here.
Bali blog: Where to stay in Bali?
Bali is a very large island (covering an area of about 5,780 km²), the distance from the closest point to the farthest point on the island can up to 100km apart, the same as going from the city to the countryside. Therefore, you will need to consider the place you plan to stay in when traveling to Bali. There are 3 main areas for hotels and resorts in Bali:
- Ubud (Agoda.com or Booking.com): The cultural center of the island, the convergence of many sacred temples and old streets, eateries or central market.
- Nusa Dua (Agoda.com or Booking.com): The place where gather the most luxurious resorts in Bali, the beach is also very beautiful.
- Kuta – Seminyak (Agoda.com or Booking.com): This area is located between Ubud and Nusa Dua, concentrating on dining venues, bars and beautiful beaches.
In general, if you have 7-day itinerary in Bali and plan to visit almost all of the island’s tourist attractions, you can consider stay in 3 areas above, each area for 2-3 nights. Such a selection will help you have a focused sightseeing itinerary, convenient traveling, not too far between locations but experience local life in many parts of the island. Regarding booking, I always choose 3 important websites, namely Booking.com, Agoda.com and Airbnb.com (specializing in finding beautiful apartment rooms).
I recommend 808 Residence hotel, the room rate is quite good for a cool, fresh campus with standard apartments, features outdoor swimming pool, very good service quality. Plus, they also borrow motorbikes for free during your stay at the hotel, I was surprised by this. This hotel is divided into many zones with different prices, the cheapest room is about $45/night. In the afternoon, only a few steps walk to the beach. Some pictures of 808 Residence:
Below are some best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
–> Airbnb link discount up to $35 for the first booking here: https://www.airbnb.com/c/anht5185