Bali Travel Guide – transportation, hotels, tips + itineraries for 8, 10 and 14 days

  • 05.06.2024 10:45
  • Bruno Arcos

A complete Bali travel guide with all the information you need regarding hotels, restaurants, transportation, safety and the best travel tips for those visiting the Indonesian island. We’ve also included three different itineraries with everything you should see and do in Bali in 8, 10 or 14 days.

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Possibly one of the world’s most famous and romanticized tourist destinations, due to the likes of “Eat, Pray, Love”, Bali has become a true haven for the fake sense of escapism that has engulfed Western tourism. Still, destinations become massified for good reason, and it’s certainly not hard to see why Indonesia’s most famous island has gained such popularity. After all, once you see past the yoga retreats, the spirulina smoothies at brunch cafes, the self-help spiritual gurus and the bleached-hair surfers, one can’t help but be amazed by the island’s lush greenery, historic Hindu temples and stunning natural landscapes. Bali is touristy, overcrowded and (at times) chaotic, but it remains incredibly and inexplicably beautiful – perhaps that’s why it’s known as the “Island of the Gods”!

So, if you’re planning a trip to this stunning destination, our ultimate Bali travel guide is here to help. In addition to practical information about hotels, restaurants, transportation and local experiences, we’ve also put together three comprehensive itineraries, including all the places you must see and visit in Bali in 8, 10 or 14 days.

Bali Travel Guide, Indonesia

How to get to Bali – Flights from the UK

Despite the island’s small size, over 20 million people use the local air hub every single year: the Ngurah Rai International Airport, located in Denpasar.

Unfortunately, there are no direct flights between the UK and Bali, so the only way to fly to Indonesia is by having a layover in one of several European and/or Asian cities. Saudia, Lufthansa, SWISS and China Eastern Airlines usually have the best deals for flights departing from London, offering deals to Bali starting from £450,00 (return), with one or two layovers in either Jeddah/Riyadh, Frankfurt, Zurich, Singapore or Shanghai.

How many days do I need to visit Bali?

Bali may be a small island, but the naggingly slow roads and heavy traffic will have you spending hours commuting between places that aren’t even 100 km apart. Sadly, it always takes longer than one would assume to get anywhere in Bali! That said, you better account for a couple extra days to make up for that wasted time.

However, for those with limited time and/or budget, a full week would be the bare minimum to experience the essentials in Ubud, Canggu and Uluwatu (+ day trips). Nonetheless, we highly recommend extending your stay for as long as possible, ideally setting aside enough time and money for a two-week vacation in the “Island of the Gods “.

Bali Travel Guide – Best time to visit the island

Similar to other destinations across Southeast Asia, Bali has both a dry season and a rainy season. Given that temperatures are consistently high throughout the year, the key factor in deciding when to visit is the weather. That’s where the “Island of the Gods” differs from other popular places in the region, as Bali’s dry season takes place during the summer months in Europe (which also explains the annual influx of European and American tourists). That said, if you’d like to avoid the rain at all costs, you’ll want to plan your visit between April and October, all while keeping in the mind that July and August are peak season when it comes to tourist arrivals, leading to more crowds, more traffic and higher prices. Therefore, the ideal months to visit Bali are May, June and September, as you can avoid the peak summer crowds and the risk of the rainy season lingering into April or starting early in October.

Bali Travel Guide – Documents needed for your trip

In order to enter Indonesia, British and Irish travelers need to show their passport. The document should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the country.

Please note that a visa is required. This visa costs 500.000 Rps and can be obtained upon arrival or online (applications can be made between 14 days to 48 hours before departure). The document is valid for 30 days. In addition to the visa fee, visitors should also pay the Bali Tourist Tax. Implemented in February 2024 by local authorities, this tax costs 150.000 Rps per person and can be paid upon arrival at the airport or online, where a QR code will be generated for you to show at the border control.

Bali Travel Guide – Internet and SIM Cards

Since there is no special agreement in place between the UK and Indonesia regarding international communications and roaming fees, using your regular phone plan is a big no-no!

Therefore, our recommendation is that you get a SIM Card when traveling to Bali. However, and this is important – don’t buy your SIM card at the Denpasar Airport, as all the options are absurdly overpriced. Just wait until you’re in town and pay a visit to a local kiosk or to one of the many official stores. Just so you understand how different the pricing is, a standard tourist SIM card with 18 GB of mobile data from XL, Telkomsel, Smartfren or Indosat – the main companies on the island – costs 250.000 Rps at the airport. On the other hand, if you visit a street kiosk, you can buy a similar product for just 60.000 Rps.

Bali Travel Guide – Withdrawals, banking fees and travel budget

With the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR – Rps) as the country’s official currency, any withdrawal using a UK bank card might incur in the payment of several different fees. Besides the percentual fee referring to the currency conversion, some UK banks may also charge a flat commission for withdrawals made outside the UK. In some instances, you may well end up paying 5%-6% of your original withdrawal in banking fees.

On the other hand, exchanging money before your trip is not a viable solution either. Besides not being any cheaper, it’s also not safe or wise to carry so much money on you during your trip. As such, we recommend using the services of online banking fintech companies such as Revolut, N26 or Monzo.

Although each have their own limitations and fees, they allow you to withdraw a certain amount in foreign currency without any fees involved. And even after that threshold is reached, costs are much smaller when compared to traditional banks. Keep in mind, though, this does not apply to fees issued by local banks for withdrawals made with foreign cards. Be that as it may, a message will always pop up every time there is a fee per withdrawal, so you will never be caught unaware. Sign up for Revolut for free >> to get 3 months of Premium.

Regarding payments, more and more businesses have started taking card over the last few years, especially around the main tourist areas. However, outside those clusters, Bali is still very much a cash-based society, so always make sure to have some Rupiahs on you. Here are a few banks that currently do not charge any fees for withdrawals using foreign credit/debit cards (as per the day this post was published):

  • BNI
  • BCA
  • CIMB
  • Maybank

On the other hand, if you prefer to take cash and exchange your money in Bali, here are three exchange offices we can recommend:

Bali Travel Guide – Safety and travel scams

Unsurprisingly, considering its status one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Bali is an extremely safe place with low crime rates and a relaxed atmosphere. However, and much like you would do in any other city, using your common-sense is key. That means no taxis whose drivers refuse to start the meter, no accepting help from strangers when you’re using an ATM and always keeping an eye out for your stuff when you’re walking through busy areas. To sum up: don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing anywhere else! Also regarding money, if you plan to exchange currency when you get there, compare rates from several offices to ensure you’re getting a fair deal (and don’t even think about exchanging money from strangers on the streets). Besides, only use ATMs certified by local banks, as there are a few reports online of tourists who had their cards cloned after using dodgy ATM’s in Bali.

That being said, the biggest risk tourists often encounter in Bali comes from renting scooters. Unfortunately, many visitors lack the experience (or responsibility) needed to navigate the island’s terrain and traffic safely, leading to frequent accidents. In fact, things have gotten so out of hand that local authorities have decided tourists should be banned from renting motorcycles, though this rule is not yet enforced. Additionally, it’s quite common for local police officers to purposely look out for reasons to fine tourists, not to mention the less-than-honest rental agencies often trying to charge vsitors for pre-existing damages. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rent a scooter, but if you’re not used to riding one, hiring a driver might be a safer, better option.

While not a direct danger, Southeast Asia’s famous street food can also pose health risks. Once again, you just have to use common sense. If meat or fish is left out in the open, dishes were already prepared when you got there or a specific stall isn’t particularly popular with locals… well, you better skip it, even if the food smells and looks good. Also, avoid eating raw/uncooked foods (except for fruit, preferably unpeeled) and never drink tap water or ice made from it.

Additionally, since Bali is located in an area with high seismic and volcanic activity, adhere to authorities’ instructions in the event of a natural disaster – after all, they’re the experts! And speaking of authorities, and though it should go unsaid, drug possession and use in Indonesia carry extremely severe penalties, including the death penalty for trafficking. Not really worth the risk, is it?

Where to sleep in Bali – Hotels and Accommodation

If you’re looking out for a place to stay on our Bali travel guide, then we got you covered!

Despite the island’s reputation as a low-budget destination, things are actually a bit different now. It’s not an expensive place by any means, but costs can easily get out of hand if you’re not careful, especially when it comes to restaurants, transportation and tours. Bali is still affordable… but it’s no longer the dirt-cheap haven it once was! The same goes for accommodation. While you can still find hotel rooms and local villas at good rates, if you want something a bit more luxurious you can easily come across Western prices.

That being said, here are some options based on the cities we recommend you to stay at:

Bali travel guide – Hotels in Canggu

Bali travel guide – Hotels in Ubud

Bali travel guide – Hotels in Munduk

Bali travel guide – Hotels in Amed

Bali travel guide – Hotels in Gili Air

Bali Travel Guide – Transportation from/to Denpasar Airport

Located on the south of the island, just 5 km away from Kuta and 18 km from Canggu, the best way to travel between the Denpasar Airport and any Balinese town is by either taxi or private shuttle. However, we strongly recommend going with the latter, since most taxi drivers will try to squeeze every single rupiah out of your pocket, turning the prospect of finding a cab in Bali quite the headache. Nonetheless, if you prefer to take a taxi, expect to pay between 250.000 and 300.000 Rps to Canggu, and around 300.000 to 400.000 Rps to Ubud. Technically, there is a digital kiosk somewhere in the arrivals’ terminal where you can order a taxi at official prices. Still, plenty of passengers have reported severe malfunctions with the system, and that most drivers will still try to ask for more money than what was initially agreed upon. As such, it’s just easier to book a shuttle. You can quickly find companies providing this service online, such as Viator, Welcome Pickups or Klook (among many others). The cheapest service – Klook – charges €13,00 per car to Canggu and €17,00 to Ubud. Lastly, when it comes to private transportation, you may also use a ride-sharing app, such as Grab or Gojek (Uber does not operate in Bali), where fares are about 10%-15% lower when compared to conventional taxis.

On the other hand, if you want to “go local”, you may simply hop on a public bus leaving from the arrivals’ terminal. Tickets are a lot cheaper (between 3500 and 7000 Rps), but they can only take you to the towns of Denpasar, Kuta, Legian, Batubulan, Jambaran, Tabanan and Nusa Dua.

Bali Travel Guide – Transportation and how to move around between towns

Unsurprisingly, the transportation system in Bali is still quite primitive. However, it’s not just a matter of money or infrastructure, as developing a reliable network across the island would seriously affect the income of many local families. Cab drivers, scooter rental agencies, tour companies – most of these would go out of business! Hence why making Bali logistically easier for visitors isn’t really a priority for local authorities (which is understandable).

Be that as it may, and if you’re visiting Bali any time soon, here’s a little overview of how to move around the island.

Renting a scooter in Bali

Considered the main way of traveling across the island, scooters are highly popular among locals and tourists alike. The fact that you barely have any other alternatives, coupled with the freedom and autonomy to go wherever whenever, probably helps explain why it caught up so well with visitors. Plus, it’s cheap… like, very cheap! Renting a basic 125cc scooter costs between 80.000 and 100.000 Rps/day, while fuel is also very affordable (10.000 Rps/liter). You don’t really need to worry about finding rental places in advance, as these are plentiful all around the island, especially in the most touristy areas. However, if you want to make sure you’re dealing with a serious and certified company, with insurance coverage and properly maintained scooters, you can look for rental companies like Pakeego or Bikago. Just keep in mind that, besides needing an International Driving Permit (Category B is good enough), wearing a helmet is a must. Not only for the obvious safety seasons, but also because getting caught not wearing them is the number one reason tourists get fined in Bali.

However, just because scooters are popular, useful and cheap, doesn’t mean everyone should rent one. Aside from the alarmingly high numbers of accidents involving foreign tourists, unfamiliar with the island’s constant traffic and difficult terrain, local authorities are also actively looking out for reasons to fine foreigners or prevent them from driving. Regarding the latter, if you happen to get fined by the police, be aware that it is illegal for officers to accept/charge money directly from drivers. The proper procedure is to issue a paper ticket, which you will then take to a station to pay the fine. Nonetheless, this may all become irrelevant very soon, as recent news suggests the government plans to ban scooter rentals for tourists, making them more reliant on other transportation options.

Long story short, if you have the experience (and the responsibility) of riding motorcycles/scooters in your home country, renting one can be an excellent way to explore Bali independently. However, if that’s not the case, it’s better to spend a few extra thousand rupiahs and hire a local driver who actually knows what he’s doing.

Taxis in Bali

As mentioned above in the section about transportation to/from Denpasar Airport, dealing with taxi drivers in Bali can be quite frustrating. No matter how hard you try to negotiate, they’ll rarely hold their end of the bargain once they drop you off at your destination, and will often demand more money from you. Unfortunately, though, if you’re not comfortable riding a scooter, you’ll likely need to rely on taxis throughout your trip.

That being said, you’ll be better off using one of the island’s most popular ride-sharing apps: Grab and Gojek. You’ll probably be familiar with how both apps work anyway. Just enter your destination, choose the type of service and you’ll be immediately shown the fare. Plus, you can link your card to the app so that all payments are cashless. To use any of these services, you’ll need a local phone number, which you can get by purchasing a SIM card at one of the island’s many kiosks or official stores.

Still, these services do have their limitations. While you can easily use them to travel between the main towns of Bali, it becomes more challenging if you’re trying to reach remote locations or natural attractions. Since drivers are unlikely to find other passengers to make up for the return trip to their base, most will downright refuse your request through the platform. In other cases, the apps may not even allow you to book rides to certain isolate areas.

Hiring a private driver in Bali

If taxis aren’t a viable solution and renting a scooter is entirely out of the equation, then you’ll need to spend a bit more and hire a private driver to get you from point A to point B. In this category we can include private transfers, shuttles or organized tours.

Unsurprisingly, this is also the most expensive option, though it can still be quite affordable if you’re traveling in a group (as the total cost can be split among all passengers). Actually, there are several ways you can hire a driver for the day. First, you can start by asking at your place of accommodation, as hotels and villas often have agreements with trusted local drivers. Alternatively, just walk around any tourist area and you’ll be instantly approached by drivers and/or come across agencies offering these services. On the other hand, if you use a ride-sharing app and you really like the driver, you may ask for their private number and ask if they’d like to guide you around the island, negotiating a fair price for both parties. Finally, if you prefer to have everything organized in advance, you can easily hire a private driver online. These services are usually paid by the day (depending on whether you need the driver for 6, 10 or 12 hours), and you can 100% customize your plans, choosing where to go and when. Expect to pay between €30,00 per €40,00 per day.

Bali Travel Guide – Local food and traditional dishes

Justifiably so, Southeast Asian cuisine enjoys a very positive reputation among travelers. Drawn by the perfect mix of sweet, savory, spicy and umami, many visitors make a point of exploring the legendary street markets that pop up all over the place in the region. However, it’s important to note every nation has its very own flair, as Indonesian cuisine (and particularly the Balinese) is quite different from what you’ll find in Thailand, Cambodia or Malaysia. First of all, Nasi Goreng stands out as the national and most prominent dish, made up of fried rice cooked with a mix of spices and Sambal (the Indonesian sauce they love to pour over almost everything) and served with a fried egg on top. If you prefer noodles over rice but want the same flavors, then you can order Mie Goreng. As for other street food classics, you won’t find a night market without Satay (or Sate), skewers of chicken or pork with peanut sauce and other spices.

Now that we’ve covered the “classics”, it’s time to mention other dishes you may not have heard about. Recipes such as Babi Guling, spit-roasted suckling pig; Lawar, shredded meat served with vegetables and grated coconut; Urab, a salad of raw vegetables topped with a sweet and spicy coconut, lime and chili dressing; or Be Pasih, a fish curry. Speaking of fish, and since Bali is obviously an island, seafood is a staple of the local diet, with visitors easily finding fresh fish and seafood, usually cooked in banana leaves and served with the quintessential Sambal. When it comes to desserts, Indonesian cuisine isn’t particularly known for its sweets. Still, tropical fruits are a safe bet! After all, trying local fruits like Mangosteen, Salak, Rambutan or Durian (if you can get past the smell) is always an adventure. Nonetheless, if you want to try actual sugary desserts, you can go for Bubur, a coconut rice pudding; Pisang Goreng, caramelized fried banana; or Dadar Gulung, Balinese pancakes made with rice flour and pandan leaves (hence their green color), typically filled with coconut and palm sugar. Finally, for a unique experience, Bali is where you can try the famous Kopi Luwak, a local coffee made from coffee cherries that were eaten, digested and excreted by civets, a type of Balinese lemur. These cherries are then cleaned, dried and roasted, producing one of the best and most expensive coffees in the world.

Best Beaches in Bali

Uluwatu Beach: Known as the ultimate surfer’s paradise, this beach is one of the most popular spots on the island for those keen on renting a board and catching some waves. Nearby, Padang Padang Beach is another great option, as both are worth a visit when hitting the famous Uluwatu Temple.

Nusa Dua Beach: Somewhat of a hidden gem compared to the bustling areas of Canggu, Kuta or Ubud, the town of Nusa Dua boasts some of Bali’s finest beaches, with this one being its crown jewel. On this side of the coast, Tanjung Benoa and Geger beaches are also worth a visit.

Pemuteran Beach: Completely off the tourist radar on Bali’s lesser-known (and considerably less crowded) northern coast, this beach is perfect for those seeking a more local experience. Furthermore, it’s also a fantastic spot for snorkeling.

Seminyak Beach: Back in the hustle & bustle of the island’s top tourist spots, Seminyak’s glorious stretch of sand is the place to see and be seen, as the area is absolutely packed with visitors, bars, restaurants and beach clubs. Yes, it’s quite touristy… but it’s also lively and beautiful – hence the popularity.

Kuta Beach: One of Bali’s most famous and easy-to-access beaches, located just 3 km away from the airport, ending up here is sort of inevitable when you’re visiting the Island of the Gods. When visiting, make sure to catch the sunset, one of Kuta’s main highlights.

Lovina Beach: Known for its unique black stretch of sand, this hidden paradise in the north of the island is one of the best spots to watch and swim with dolphins. Plus, it’s way less crowded than its counterparts down south.

Kelingking Beach: Although not technically located in Bali, but rather on the neighboring island of Nusa Penida, this beach’s iconic dinosaur-shaped cliffside has become one of Indonesia’s most recognizable postcard pictures. However, the currents are very strong and the path down to the beach pretty demanding and (quite honestly) a bit dangerous. That said, you better stick to the amazing views and head to Diamond Beach and Crystal Bay to swim.

Ibus Beach: Located in Amed, one of the places where visitors can catch a ferry to the Gili Islands, this beach is a great prelude to paradise. Surrounded by volcanoes and rolling green hills, it’s a fantastic spot for diving and snorkeling. Also in Amed, don’t miss out on Lipah Beach.

Virgin Beach: While Bali boasts a pretty extraordinary collection of beaches, many of them actually have pretty strong currents, which is the reason the island became a sort of “Mecca” for surfers in the first place. However, this tiny hidden beach, just an hour south of Amed, is one of the best for swimming, as it’s nestled on a bay with hardly any waves.

Bali Travel Guide – Full itineraries for 8, 12 and 16 days

So that this blog post doesn’t turn into an encyclopedia, we’ve decided to create separate articles for each itinerary.

You can check them through the following links:

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