Backpacking Bali – Epic Travel Planner

ChadAsia, Destination Guides, Indonesia1 Comment

Bali Indonesia Travel Guide things to do

Bali, Indonesia – Island of the Gods.

This island with its ancient history has grown to be one of the most heavily visited islands in the world! But don’t let the crowds put you off, there is a reason why so many people choose Bali time and time again. And, with an island of this size, there will be plenty of opportunities to slip away from the crowds and get lost in the magic of Bali.

Bali is a world-renowned getaway for a number of reasons ranging from excellent year-round weather to pristine beaches to mouth-watering Balinese cuisine. Another reason to check out Bali is for its dive scene. The island can be a great place for divers of all skill levels – in fact, many first-time divers head to Bali to get their PADI certification from one of the many excellent dive schools in Bali! Check out this great resource on scuba diving in Indonesia before planning your next trip.

Whether you are a seasoned vet or about to take your first trip, I hope this guide to Bali will be of use when planning your next trip!

Currency

The Indonesian Rupiah is the official currency of Indonesia.

Banknotes:

  • 2,000 IDR
  • 5,000 IDR
  • 10,000 IDR
  • 20,000 IDR
  • 50,000 IDR
  • 100,000 IDR

Coins:

  • 50 IDR
  • 100 IDR
  • 200 IDR
  • 500 IDR
  • 1,000 IDR

The current exchange rate is 13,755 IDR to $1.

Currency exchange in Bali can be done at banks, upscale hotels, or at one of the numerous money changers scattered around the downtown area.

If possible, try to exchange your money at a bank. Not only will you get a better rate, you will also avoid losing out to the scams which are often carried out by unscrupulous money changers.

Budget

Bali is not only supremely beautiful, it’s very budget-friendly as well!

Shoestring Backpacking Budget = $15-20 

  • Hotel $3 to $5 – This is all it takes to get you a bed in a dorm room for the night. The cheapest prices, aka $3 beds, will usually be found in Ubud. Closer to the parties, North Kuta and Canggu are hotspots for affordable accommodation.
  • Food $6 – expect to budget around $2 per meal if you eat cheap local food.
  • Drink(s) Out $2 – $1.50 to $2 is enough to get you a Bintang Beer at a bar. Also, Bali has an abundant supply of fresh fruit juice if you’re not into beer.
  • Transport $5 – If you’re on a SUPER tight budget you might opt for walking to the beaches near your hostel and spending $0 on transportation. $5 is the daily cost to rent a moped in Bali. It’s an affordable way to see more of this beautiful island – but make sure you have a license!

Moderate Budget = $40

  • Hotel $20 – Bali has a TON of great hotels in this price range! The quality of the hotel ramps up quickly and $20 – $30 is a sweet spot as far as value is concerned. I mean, check out this 4-star resort in downtown Kuta for $30 per night. I stayed here for a couple weeks during my first trip to Bali – way back in 2010! It’s safe to say that I’ve never received that level of quality for such a low price anywhere else in the world.
  • Food $10 – ‘Splurging‘ on a $5 dinner will up our daily food budget to $10 a day. Food in Bali is reasonably priced, yet delicious!
  • Drink(s) Out $5 –  With this budget, we could afford 3 bottles of Bintang Beer at a bar.
  • Transport $5 – Renting your own scooter in Bali is still the best way to go in my humble opinion.
  • Massage $5 – The typical price for a cheap massage in Bali is $5 to $10. We can afford a super cheap massage if we take a pass on date night with our threesome of Bintang Beer.

Weather

The weather in Bali is divided into two distinct seasons – the dry season and the wet season.

May to August is generally accepted as the best time to visit. These months will experience the lowest average rainfall and offer tourists a more pleasant trip.

September to April is still a great time to visit Bali! But do note that rain occurs more frequently during these months.

Note that the temperature is incredibly stable throughout the year. The only difference in months is the amount of rain that hits the island.

 JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
High Temp.84°F86°F86°F88°F88°F86°F86°F88°F88°F88°F88°F86°F
Low Temp.73°F73°F73°F73°F73°F72°F72°F72°F72°F73°F73°F73°F
Rainy Days16161088543481313

Visa

Visa Free Countries

Citizens of these countries can enter Bali visa-free for 30-days!

BruneiCambodiaChileEcuadorHong Kong
LaosMacauMalaysiaMoroccoMyanmar
PeruPhilippinesSingaporeThailandVietnam

Check here for a full up-to-date list!

Visa On Arrival Countries ($35 USD)

Citizens of the following countries are eligible for a Visa on Arrival. The visa can be obtained from Bali Denpasar International Airport. The cost has been raised to $35 and allow 20-days of travel in Indonesia.

ArgentinaAustraliaAustriaAlgeriaBahrain
BelgiumBrazilBulgariaCzech RepublicCambodia
CanadaCyprusChinaDenmarkEstonia
EgyptFijiFinlandFranceGermany
GreeceHungaryIndiaIcelandIran
IrelandItalyJapanKuwaitLaos
LatviaLibyaLithuaniaLiechtensteinLuxembourg
MaldivesMaltaMexicoMonacoNew Zealand
NetherlandsNorwayOmanPanamaPoland
PortugalQatarRomaniaRussiaSaudi Arabia
SlovakiaSloveniaSpainSouth AfricaSouth Korea
SurinameSwedenSwitzerlandTaiwanTunisia
Timor LesteUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited States of America

Other Types of Visas

Airport and Transportation

Bali Airport: Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar).

Airport Code: DPS

If you’re coming to Bali, the most likely way is by air. The airport is fairly close to the city/downtown area. This makes airport transfers quick and affordable.

Visitors have a few options for getting to the city.

Taxi: There are many taxi services running in Bali. Bluebird Taxi has always been the most reputable in my experience. But, as always, make sure the meter is working before accepting a ride.

  • Bluebird Taxi – (0361) 701111 Note that there is a 40,000IDR minimum fare for phoned pickup requests.

Taxi Airport Transfer Fare: Below are estimated taxi fares from Bali DPS, note that these fares can vary with traffic.

  • Bukit/Uluwatu 155,000 IDR
  • Canggu 160,000 IDR
  • Denpasar 70,000-90,000 IDR
  • Kuta Center 50,000 IDR
  • Legian 55,000 IDR
  • Nusa Dua 95,000 IDR
  • Padang Bai 315,000 IDR
  • Sanur 95,000 IDR
  • Seminyak 80,000 IDR
  • Tanah Lot 2400,000 IDR
  • Ubud 240,000 IDR

UBER: Uber now operates in Bali – great news for Uber lovers! Prices for Uber rides in Bali seem to be significantly less than standard taxi fares. It’s best to input your destination into the app and check the estimated price in-app. The fares will fluctuate based on ride availability, but so far have been a great money-saver! For example, a ride from DPS to Kuta will often come out to a paltry 20,000 IDR!

For those staying in Ubud: a trip from Bali airport to Ubud is also relatively affordable. The cost should be around $15 – $20 if taking an Uber or taxi from the airport.

Private Driver: Hiring a private driver is always an option in Bali. The cost to hire a small minivan is typically in the $40 – $60 range. The price covers 10-hours and most agencies include the driver, gas, and parking fees at this price. I usually give a small tip and invite my driver to have lunch with us – a small thank you to someone who makes the holiday immensely better. Check out this site for an estimate of prices for driver hire in Bali.

Regions

  • Kuta – The most popular and most developed city in Bali. Kuta is a popular spot for surfers and backpackers due to its cheap accommodation and beautiful beaches. Home to Waterbom Bali, and Sky Garden – Bali’s top nightclub.
  • Legian – Located just north of Kuta. It is nearly indistinguishable from Kuta, at least for me. Expect lots of backpackers, bars, and beaches. Kuta and Legian are where most of Bali’s nightlife is located.
  • Seminyak – Situated north of Legian. Seminyak bit quieter, and more upscale. You will find many resorts and villas here, as well as a good number of beach clubs and lounges like Potato Head Bali.
  • Nusa Dua – A high-end enclave of resorts and hotels located in the southern part of Bali. The beaches here are world class, with beautiful, clean sand. It is more pricey here, so many travelers opt to visit this area just for the beaches. Many of the beaches are private, unfortunately. One beach that is open to the public is Geger Beach which has great sand and matching calm water.
  • Sanur – You will find a more relaxed vibe here. There are plenty of nice resorts and beaches here. Sanur is personally one of my favorite areas in Bali.
  • Ubud – The center of art and culture in Bali. This is a great place to stay if you plan on exploring the interior of Bali for more than a day or two. Nearby highlights include the Monkey Temple and Tegalalang Rice Fields.
  • North Bali – Out of the way, but great for those looking for a relaxing getaway. Lovina is the best city to visit in North Bali. There are many great hotels to choose from, and the spectacular black-sand beach is a must see!

Must-See Attractions

Bali is a SPECTACULAR island with unbelievable natural beauty, a fascinating culture, and loads of delicious food.

There are tons of things to see in Bali – actually more than you could ever see in one trip, or two! The best bet is to pick the top attractions that you want to see and then plan your schedule around that. Hiring a local driver for a day is a great way to pack more sights into your itinerary. Many drivers are even willing to help you plan out a schedule. This helps out a lot since they are more accustomed to driving routes and know how long it will take to get to the popular sights!

Here is a short list of some must-see places in Bali and the surrounding area!

Tanah Lot – My favorite site in Bali is one of the most stunning on the island. An instagramable temple from every angle!

Uluwatu – This temple on the southern tip of Bali is a great place to catch the sunsets. The Kecak fire dance is also a must-see while you’re here.

Waterbom Bali – A great waterpark to visit if you have kids, or if you’re a kid at heart! Head here for a day if you want more than a hotel pool can offer.

Goa Gajah – This ‘fountain of youth’ is a popular tourist attraction in Bali. The entrance of 50,000IDR ($4) is well worth it for the experience.

Ubud Monkey Forest – Walking around the protected monkey forest is a great way to spend an afternoon. You can see hordes of monkeys running around and playing happily, but be careful not to bring anything flashy with you. The monkeys will gladly take any glittering objects off your hands!

Rice Terraces – The Tegallalang rice terraces are the most popular in Bali, although there are plenty of others in the area. Visiting the rice terraces is a great way to escape the business of downtown Bali. Spend some time here soaking in the fresh air and relaxing amongst nature.

Top Beaches

This list of the top 10 beaches in Bali is by no means a comprehensive list. There are countless beaches in Bali, and each has its own unique charm. These 10 beaches are the ones that I would recommend to first-time visitors to Bali as they encapsulate a bit of what makes this island a ‘bucket-list destination’ for so many travelers.

  • Kuta – The long sandy beach at Kuta is one of the main stops for tourists in Bali. The beach is conveniently located and makes a perfect spot for sunbathing.
  • Legian – You will reach Legian beach if you walk North from Kuta Beach. These two beaches are essentially the same but separated by name. Bars abound in Legian, so you can easily combine a day at the beach and a night out with friends.
  • Seminyak – Walking still farther North will bring you to Seminyak beach. Although Seminyak is connected to Legian and Kuta, the sand here is slightly darker. You will find many upscale hotels and swanky beach clubs here. Note that the ocean can be more dangerous here – areas with riptides will be marked with no-swim flags.
  • Jimbaran Beach – This LENGTHY stretch of sand is located a short drive south of the airport. Visitors will appreciate the clean sand and calm waters of the Jimbaran Bay. You will find plenty of cafes and seafood eateries which make it a great spot to enjoy dinner.
  • Sanur – Sanur is the first beach on this list which is located on the Eastern side of the island. The beach provides good views of the sunrise – provided you can get there early enough! Sanur’s tranquility was what made this part of Bali a destination for couples and families looking to get away from the business of Kuta.
  • Canggu – It’s black sand make Canggu one of the more exotic beaches on this list. Getting here takes around 30-40 minutes from Kuta – but it’s definitely worth it! Canggu is a great place to get some sun or enjoy some world-class surfing.
  • Nusa Dua – Home to numerous all-inclusive resorts, Nusa Dua paradise on earth for those with the cash to afford this high-priced neighborhood. However, there is good news for those not looking to drop serious $$$ on a hotel with a private beach. Geger Beach, located near the St. Regis, offers spectacular views – and Instagram worthy photo opportunities free of charge!
  • Padang Padang – This beach, although small, holds a special place in my heart. It is one of the most visually striking beaches in Bali and is surrounded by limestone cliffs. Getting down to the beach will require hiking down a series of steps leading through the rock! The water here is fairly shallow which allows you to wade or snorkel out a good distance through the calm, clear water.
  • Suluban – This beach is not as popular as the other beaches on this list – but we’re certainly not complaining! Suluban Beach is located near the famous Uluwatu Temple and is worth checking out when you’re in the area. Getting down to the beach requires a journey through the middle of the surrounding rocks, and is not accessible during high tide! Quite a memorable experience!
  • Gunung Payung – This is the most remote beach on the list. And that fact is evident by the lack of tourists at this beach. That means that you will have the entire beach nearly to yourself. Not only will you have privacy, Gunung Payung offers spectacular views of both the water and land.

Hotels

There are more hotels in Bali than I would ever care to count. The availability of quality accommodation at low prices is astounding – but makes it tough to actually decide on which hotel to book. Paralysis by analysis is a real thing here!

We have chosen to feature a selected group of hotels that fall into the following categories. This is by no means a complete list – but should help you narrow down your search.

Budget Hostels $5 or less per night

M Boutique Hostel – Located in the Legian, with convenient access to everything in the heart of Bali. The hostel is a new listing and has great, clean rooms. An added bonus is the rooftop seating area where you can hang out. Best of all, the rooms come with AC units! It’s something that makes life in Bali much more pleasant but it’s surprising to find at such a cheap price! Check booking.com for the best rate at the M Boutique Hostel.

Celebbest Kuta Hostel – This is a great place to stay if you don’t want the hassle of taking a taxi to the beach every day. It’s walking distance from all the sights in Kuta and Legian. For $5 expect basic rooms and amenities with an added bonus of AC. The one thing that sets the Celebbest apart from the rest is its great pool! Check booking.com for the best rate at the Celebbest Kuta Hostel.

Best Hotels in Bali for $15/night

Rabasta Angkul Beach Inn- this hotel provides an amazing value for the money. It clocks in right at $15 per night for a double room. Enjoy the swimming pool while at the hotel, or take a short walk to the sand of Kuta Beach. Check booking.com for the best rate at the Rabasta Angkul Beach Inn.

Hotel Sorga Cottages – The architecture alone is enough to make one want to stay at the Sorga cottages. If the beautiful architecture and gardens aren’t enough, the hotel also has a pool as well as other bonuses. Check booking.com for the best rate at the Sorga Cottages. I have a stay here booked for next month!

Hotels with an Amazing Pool $30/night

Palm Beach Hotel – A resort lifestyle on a budget. This hotel is a great place to kick back and relax. It’s located a short distance south of Kuta beach which adds a more relaxing atmosphere to the place. The location is fine though – because let’s face it, you’ll be in the pool all day anyway! Check booking.com for the best rate at the Palm Beach Hotel.

Bali Sandy Resort – Right in the heart of Kuta! This amazing resort has a pool that you won’t want to leave – even though Kuta beach is just STEPS away! Be sure to check out the swim-up bar while you’re here, it’s always a good place to relax and get drinks. Check booking.com for the best rate at the Bali Sandy Resort.

Relaxing Hotels in Ubud

Angga Homestay – This is one of the highest rated homestays I’ve ever seen! The Angga Homestay is located in the center of Ubud yet manages to maintain a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. It’s a great place to enjoy traditional Balinese culture in Ubud. Check booking.com for the best rates at the Angga Homestay.

Rahayu Suites – These awesome suites are located in Ubud close to the Monkey Temple, and a short walk from the famous duck eatery Bebek Bengil. The hotel has a swimming pool and a balcony to sit and relax on. At $30 per night, it’s not the cheapest on the list – but it’s certainly worth every penny! Check booking.com for the best rate at the Rahayu Suites.

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Surf Spots

Bali is a surfer’s paradise with great surfing year-round. The combination of warm water temperatures, abundant beaches, beautiful landscapes, and great waves make Bali a great place for surfers. If you are new to surfing be sure to check out one of the numerous surf camps and instructors located on the island.

This is a short list of the BEST surfing spots for beginners in Bali.

surfing for newbies in Bali indonesia

Popular Food

One of the great things about backpacking is living on a tight budget and getting to try all the local food.

Are you really backpacking if you’re eating western food at $20 a plate?

Thankfully, Balinese food is both cheap and delicious! Be sure to check out these delicacies while you’re here!

Babi Guling – Suckling Pig

The star of this dish is tender pork which is seasoned with a variety of local herbs and spices. The meat is served with rice and a variety of herbs and spices. A delicious hearty meal which only costs around $4.

Bebek Goreng – Fried Duck

No one does duck quite like Bali! Bebek Goreng is made with seasoned duck meat which is then fried to create this deliciously tasty, crispy dish. Traditionally served with rice and local vegetables, it’s a can’t miss!

Satay – BBQ Meat

Satay is a great snack when you’re on the go. These bites of BBQ meat come on wooden or bamboo

Nasi Ayam – Chicken Rice

Nasi Ayam is something you’ve probably seen, or tried, at some point in your life. Essentially a dish combining the classic elements of chicken and rice. It’s worth trying again in Bali as the Balinese add a bit of local flair and spice to the dish – making it a cheap and delicious meal worth ordering.

 

What do you think about this guide to Bali?

There is really too much to cover in one short guide -> Let us know if there is anything we missed!

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