Best Ways to Enjoy (And What to Avoid) in Bali, Indonesia (With Photo Diary)

Dec 12, 2016

Bali Travel Guide
Bali Travel Guide

Bali was not a place my husband and I choose to travel. Bali chose us.

We had a few days to travel in August and luckily the best place to travel turned out to be Bali. After a month of returning, I decided to pen down all my thoughts about the place, and it took me this long to complete it. Here is what I feel about Bali, Indonesia

Sunrise on a Volcano!
Sunrise on a Volcano! This is how the sky looked. No filters.

Do Enjoy the local food: I had never tried Indonesian food before going to Bali. Well, I had tried Nasi Goreng in India but what I got in Bali was pleasantly different and beyond comparison. I never ate anything that was not Indonesian during my time there (except Pizzas at Warung PePe). In our first two days, we tried the food at the good restaurants as we were majorly around Kuta, Legion, and Seminyak. But, later we moved to the rural side and only with the areas where the locals were eating. In that way, we discovered a great place to eat near Tanah Lot. I also made a point to visit the local stores and get some fruits that are local to the place - found the Dragon fruit that is pink inside, ate my first Mangosteen, tried snake fruit and even saw yellow Watermelon!

Ayam Bakar at Breeze Restaurent at Samaya, Seminyak, Bali
Ayam Bakar at Breeze Restaurent at Samaya, Seminyak, Bali
Best Nasi Campur at Made's Warung. Not to be missed.
Balinese Food: Best Nasi Campur at Made's Warung. Not to be missed
Mangosteen Bali
My life's first Mangosteen
Jakarta Snakefruit
Snakefruit - The outer skin has a snakeskin texture. Peeled to show the inside. They hard like soaked Almonds. A helpful lady at the store suggested that we pick the pointy Jakarta ones. The rounder snake fruit is Balinese, but they are bitter. 

Pink Dragonfruit. I think this is indigenous to Indonesia. The ones from Thailand are white inside
Pink Dragonfruit Smoothie
Thomas (of out Villa) made this smoothie. He just added a small block, and the whole thing changed color. Definitely, has more flavor than the white one.
Pink Dragon Fruit Gelato with Muffle at Gelato Factory Bali
Inspired by the color and flavor, I tried this huge Pink Dragon Fruit Gelato with Muffle at Gelato Factory Bali. Everyone at the store gasped after looking at the size. I could only eat half of this.

Don't Miss Bintang: If you love beer then do try Bintang. If you don't like beer, then there is no harm to try. Bintang is an award winning brew of Indonesia that has been around since 1929. I had one in my hand most of the time.

Bintang, Warung PePe, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Bintang along with the first Dinner at Bali at Warung PePe. The pizza there is to kill for.

Do Book a villa and ditch hotels: Try the beautiful offering at affordable rates by AirBnB. You can read about the place I booked and also about the place, booking process, etc. here - Villa in Bali
Don't Plan a quick trip: My biggest regret of the trip is the fact that it was for just five days. I had to miss a lot of places that I would have loved to visit. Also, the location is great for just relaxing. So, along with the places to see, keep some time off in your itinerary to just relax and soak in the magic of the volcanic island.

Midnight hike with moonlight to Kintamani to watch the Sunrise. I almost gave up on the way up. But, didn't. This reminds me much more than the picture could capture. This is one of my favorite pictures of 2016.  

Do Rent a Bike: If you can ride a scooter, then please rent a scooter – or as they call it – Scoopy. They are far better than booking cars, gives you a lot of flexibility, no time limits, no need to be stuck in traffic during rush hours, and you can make your own plans. For example, we found the Batu Beling Beach and discovered a nice place to eat – 707 Beach Berm, Batu Belig – where you can relax and enjoy the sunset. It is away from the main Seminyak area so, less crowded, less touristy, and more affordable.

I have read about several scams about how the owner of the scooter steals your bike with their backup key, how they showed existing scratches and asked for money. So, when you book your AirBnB villa check if the owner can give you their spare bike. I have seen that in most of the options in AirBnB, the owner had a bike. Also, the rate comes to be cheaper when you get it from the owner. But, do check before making any commitments.

707 Beach Berm, Batu Belig, Bali, Indonesia
View to kill for.  We had massive coconut water, fruits, and Chicken Curry Rice at 707 Beach Berm, Batu Belig, Bali

Don’t Forget to take Sunscreen and Swimwear: If you forget sunscreen, then it is not an issue because you can get the same there. Banana Boat, Bali Boat, and Hawaiian Tropic are easily available. If you want something from French skincare brand then head to Guardian Pharmacy (I liked the one at Kerobokan. You can see what I picked from there here – Bali Haul) But, if you forget swimwear, it can get tricky because the ones from the good brands can be insanely expensive. The average priced ones can look tacky.

Swimming Pool at W Hotel
Lip Kiss Pillow Poolside
Kiss Kiss

Do Keep Local Cash: One thing that was tough for me was dealing with the local currency because I am never good at handling cash. On top of that, the currency amounts are huge. It was tough when even a bottle of water costs 2000 in Indonesian Rupees (~ Rs 10 or 0.15 $)! I still remember the first time I went to a store. I took some cash to buy a bottle of water and sunscreen. She said the total amount and I could not understand. So, I surrendered all my cash, and the cashier smiled at me, “Not enough.” I felt like a big stupid. From then I paid by card every time I could. Local cash is necessary because otherwise, you will lose a lot in fraudulent exchange. Plus, small shops won’t take dollars.

Millionaire in Indonesia
How to be a Millionaire? Well, everyone is in Indonesia
Pura Masceti Ulan Tanjung Bali
Don't get excited with your millionaire status because even parking in the open for Two Wheeler is for 2000

Don’t Get your Currency Exchanged at the Airport: The longest line at the Denpasar Airport can be seen out at the exchange counter. Here is a small tip – only exchange a small amount – something that you will need for a day or two. Then, get your money exchanged at K-Circle or BCA banks. You get the best rates and also, be assured of the notes.

White Coffee at Bali
Circle K - One stop destination for the best details in Forex to coffee to mineral water to snacks.
My husband even got flip flops from here! Crazy Dude, I tell you.

Do Make Circle K your Best Friend: I love the chain, and there was one right around the corner from our Villa. They are small shops which serve coffee and have a host of daily need goods. The best thing about them is that they are open for 24 hours and there is one at every other corner. There are other shops like these with the same concept as AlphaMart and IndoMart, but ForEx is available only at K-Mart (till 10 pm).

Balinese Paintings outside Tanah Lot Temple
Balinese Paintings outside Tanah Lot Temple

Don’t shop your souvenirs from Ubud: While every single person will be singing songs about the artists of Ubud, you can get the exact same thing at other places at half the price. Unless you are looking for a particular artist, buy all your souvenirs and gifts for the family when you visit Tanah Lot temple. We went there first. I brought a bag and tee for my in-laws but later felt that maybe we will get something different in Ubud. It turns out, I was wrong. Things in Ubud can burn holes in your pocket. But, here is another thing that I have to add. Visit Hawaii Bali Oleh-Oleh. Ask your driver to drop you there on your way to the airport. Pick every kind of Balinese souvenirs that you can think of under one roof – tees, magnets, bags, woodwork, silk scarf, paintings (but the quality is better at Tanah Lot area), etc. for your family and friends from here.

Bali Bags outside Tanah Lot Temple
Bali Bags outside Tanah Lot Temple. Picked one for my Siter in Law
Seminyak Village
Nick Nack at Seminyak Village

Do talk to the locals: Every Balinese person you will meet have a calming smile on their face. It is not mean or demeaning. They really mean that. They are always welcoming. Even if you do not understand your language, they will try their best to help. Many times when we asked for the road from a person on the road, they went with us to guide! The best part was when we tried to bargain and buy a leather bag. We could not understand the number, nor they could understand English so, used a calculator to write the numbers! How cute is that?

Also, to make sure we understand what they say, they raised their thumbs up and said, “Okay” and we reciprocated with our eyebrows up and a smile - “Okay.” It had such a strong effect on me that even after months of returning, I am still doing the thumbs up, raise my eyebrows, smile and say “Okay? Yes. Okay”. 

Don’t trust Google Maps: Which explains why we got lost at times. We had the idea that there will be a road all along the beach – Wrong. We thought that Google would help – Wrong. Again. If you are a great driver then, trust your instincts. My husband’s instinct got us to places when we could not get people on our way. Yes, we traveled through pretty empty places - just like that - to enjoy the scenic beauty of Bali.

We were wandering while coming back from Tanah Lot and we discovered this great place to eat. This little restaurant which is beside rice fields and where I ate the best Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish). So, it was a blessing that we got off track. (Yes, booking a two wheeler is a must in Bali)

Loved the grilled food here. Ordered twice. This is a rural area right beside a rice farm.
Loved the grilled food here. Touched our soul. Ordered the same twice. This is in a rural area right beside a rice farm.
Bintang beside Rice Farm
Bintang to wash down the spicy and awesome food. Enjoyed the sunset here beside the Rice Farm

Do Explore What Bali is offering: You get to hike volcano during the night to see the sunrise, ride an elephant, play with monkeys in a temple, walk through terraced rice fields, surf, scuba dive, snorkel, beach bath, enjoy ethnic dance performances and so many more things. Cut out a plan that suits you the best. I wanted to hike Kintamani and not just see it from a restaurant. So, I planned that. But, skipping on the rest which didn’t feel unique to me. Unfortunately, I missed on a lot of things -  the fire dance being of those missed things - because I had to short trip. All in all, I had to prioritize. 

Balinese Dancer at Seminyak Village Mall
Balinese Dancer at Seminyak Village Mall. The closest I came to watch the traditional dance

Don’t Have a Rigid Plan: Give Bali time to show what it has to offer. The only plan we had was to hike the volcano. I had no intentions of visiting the Monkey Forest in Ubud, but we added it to the tour later. Also, we rented a bike and explored the rural side. 

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud, Bali
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary: A jungle with Hindu Temple Complex full of Macaque Monkey
I am brave enough to pose only with the statue  
Traveled a lot to reach Ubud. So, quick recharge at Ibu Rai Restaurant before entering the Monkey Forest.

Do respect their traditions: People in Bali are very traditional. They are Hindu so, the Gods are similar to what we have in India, but the traditions, culture, and customs are different. They have numerous temples and the more you go to the rural side the number of temples increases. At times, you will see a house, then a temple and then a house repeating in a row. At times, there will be so many temples that you will not be able to find houses! They offer the Gods the small offering with goodies in a small basket. You will spot them everywhere. Try not to step on them. Nothing bad will happen even if you do because they feel that the spirits will leave the moment it touches the ground. But, why step on them on purpose? Try to avoid stepping on them.

Balinese offering on the roads
Balinese offering on the roads
Temples in Bali
Temples in Bali
Sister Fields Seminyak, Bali
Last breakfast at Sister Fields, Seminyak. I was hard to say Good Bye.

Sorry for the huge number of pictures. I tried to use a few pictures, but I could not resist. You might have seen some of them on my Instagram. I still missed on a lot of them - especially the great food we had there. 

I hope you liked the post. Feedback welcome 😘


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