Let's go! The all you need-to-know Bali checklist.
Posted on August 25 2020
Even tho COVID-19 is postponing your Bali travel plans, we created the ultimate all you need-to-know Bali checklist.
(Research even shows that planning future travels can contribute to your overall mental health. We couldn't agree more, looking positive towards the future and making plans for beautiful places to visit makes us smile.)
So here we go: this is 20 x tips on how you plan the perfect vacation to Bali!
1. Best travel time
Dry season is April to October. Our favorite months are April, May, September and October. July and August are usually the busiest high season months.
But don't underestimate rainy season! It's less crowded, places to stay are usually offering lower rates because of low season and it usually doesn't rain the whole day - or even not at all. Read this blogpost here why you should visit Bali in rainy season.
2. The weather in Bali
Bali has an average temperature of 30 degrees Celcius. July and August are slightly cooler thanks to a lovely ocean breeze and Winter in Australia. The hottest months (think: sweaty all day) are November and March. During rainy season it usually doesn't rain all day, so it's still a good time to travel - but how much it rains can be different each year.
3. How long should you go to Bali?
Go for at least 2 weeks to Bali. You will probably need a few days to get used to the hot weather and rest from the flight (especially if you'll go into jetlag mode because of the time difference). It would even be better to go 3 or 4 weeks. There is so much to explore on the island and there are a few islands outside of Bali that are so worth it to visit as well. Such as the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan or island-hopping in Flores.
Are you planning an even longer break? Bali is the perfect place to escape to for a few months or even years. If you're not having the luxury of an endless bank saldo, you can consider becoming a 'digital nomad' and work online from Bali for clients outside of Indonesia. Always research the latest rules around working in Bali, as the regulations are very strict.
4. What is the perfect travel route?
We made some suggestions for the perfect travel routes here based on your travel style! Go check them out.
5. Do you need to book your Bali accommodations upfront?
If you have a specific travel route in mind, we suggest booking your island stays before you're flying to Bali. You can sleep for any type of budget: from cheap 'homestay' to a luxury villa with a pool. The most popular places can be booked out quickly, so it saves you a lot of time and hassle during your Bali vacation if you have your accommodations booked.
Do you rather travel without a strict plan? You can easily find available island stays on booking.com and Airbnb. There is always something close. Or even easier: walk or cruise around in the neighborhood and guaranteed you will stumble upon the cutest places to stay.
6. The best flight tickets
The airport in Bali is called Ngurah Rai International Airport and is located in Denpasar. If you're looking for tickets online, fill in 'Denpasar' and you're good to go. Check Skyscanner.com (or for our Dutch readers, use cheaptickets.nl) for the best options. Tip: scan for the lowest prices by selecting a whole month instead of fixed dates.
Make sure your passports are at least valid for another 6 months from the moment you depart. Otherwise you won't be allowed to enter the country.
To enjoy your vacation in Bali you need a tourist visa. It's free if you stay shorter than 30 days. Once you're off the plane you can follow the 'visa on arrival' signs and collect your baggage.
If you're planning to stay longer than 30 days, you can buy an extra visa at the cashier desk for 35 euros (you can also pay in Indonesian Rupiah, USD or by credit card). This doesn't mean you're all set for 60 days, because halfway your vacation you will have to visit the immigration office for the official extension by giving your fingerprints.
Do you want to stay longer than 60 days? Then you will need to arrange this with a local visa agency, who will arrange a visa run for you (for instance to Kuala Lumpur, or even make a nice trip outside of Bali) - in order to return to Bali on a new 60 days tourist visa.
Rules may change so always be informed well by a local visa agency. You'll find many in Bali or ask at your stay for recommendations.
9. Money, day budget and negotiating
On Bali you pay with Indonesian Rupiah. You can withdraw cash on the airport when you arrive, or take cash at one of the many ATM's in each area in Bali. To calculate the currency we use the XE Currency converter-app, it's always up to date!
We often get asked how much a day in Bali costs. This is totally up to you and your travel style. You can travel on a small budget and sleep in homestays for a about 15 euros a night or go for more luxury stays and spend more than 200 euros per night. To give you an idea: a 2 or 3 bedroom villa with a pool will cost around 150-200 euros a night. And regarding food: you can have a full plate of nasi campur at the local warung for less than 5 euros or have dinner at a beautifully designed restaurant for 20 euros per person. Food in Bali is generally a lot cheaper compared to other travel destinations.
Also: how much you spend depends on your 'nego skills'. At many local shops and markets you can negotiate on the price. Make it fun, use your smile and even though you might not be used to this: here in Bali it's the most normal thing. Never accept the first price, but start with a lower offer - about less than half of it. Usually, you will end up meeting somewhere in the middle. If this is too hard for you just think about what it would be worth for you to pay and keep that in mind. Did you overpay? Don't worry, we always think: it's still cheap and you probably are supporting a local Balinese family.
11. Travel insurance
Make sure to have a good travel insurance. Note: during COVID-19 rules may change with your travel insurance. So make sure to sort this our carefully before departure.
12. Taxi from the airport
One of the first things, after you land in Bali, is arranging that you'll be arriving at your hotel or island stay safely and hassle-free. So our tip would be to arrange a private pick-up upfront with your accommodation. We wrote an article about how to get a taxi from the airport in Bali here. Go check it out!
13. How to get around in Bali
Traffic rules are pretty different than you might be used to. In Bali we drive left and expect a lot of honking. It's meant to say, "Watch out here I come or I'm overtaking!"
The best way to explore the island is by motorbike. You can rent them anywhere on the island and costs around 5 euros a day. Always wear a helmet, because traffic can get quite crazy and even if you're driving just a quiet street it's important to use it. For instance, a Bali dog can suddenly cross the street! If you're not confident enough to drive yourself you can order a motorbike-taxi. You can order this through the 'Gojek' app, They always bring an extra helmet so you can just hop on the back.
If you love to bicycle (like us, Dutchies!), you can do this in the heart of Canggu or around Ubud. Also on the Gili Islands you get around by foot or by bycicle, as there are no cars allowed there. We don't recommend you to bicycle around busy neighborhoods like Seminyak, because the busy traffic can be dangerous.
You'll notice there are plenty of taxis in Bali. Je can always wait for a Blue Bird taxi or order one via the Gojek app as well. You will have a fixed price or a running meter so no need to worry about the price, it's always fair. If you're more remote you can always ask your accommodation to arrange your taxi - or even a local store on the corner of the street. Within no time you'll find someone to drive you. That's Bali life! Taxis are cheap, so if you're happy with your ride, don't forget to tip your taxi driver. He can really use the little extras as they don't make a lot of money.
It's always easy and nice to explore the neighborhood by walking, especially if you're up for a little shopping spree. It's usually a very sweaty activity haha so we suggest not to do this mid-day, or just make sure to take a lot of breaks in between for a yummy iced cappuccino.
From Bali to surrounding islands like Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Island you travel by boat from Sanur, Serangan or Padang Bai. We recommend you to book your boat tickets upfront (payment can be done online or at the local office before departure). Most boat companies offer free pick-up service from your hotel or accommodation.
14. Internet & Wifi
Each hotel and restaurant has wifi. If you'd rather be online 24/7, you can buy a local sim card and use this in your phone. You can get this at the small shops along the road with the big red Telkomsell signs on it. Ask for a new sim card with for instance 8GB and buy some phone credit (pulsa) to be able to make local phone calls (for instance if you want to call the hotel or make a reservation at a restaurant). In total it shouldn't cost more than 20 euros and when you need more you can always top it up at these shops.
15. Doctors & Hospitals
We sincerely hope you don't need this information but if you do need it: in Bali we can recommend Siloam, BIMC and Kasih Ibu. Also each town has it's own emergency clinic, where you can go to for small injuries or if you have any questions. Check with your accommodation for the closest one.
Check your general practitioner for the vaccinations needed.
17. Bali Belly
Unfortunately a well-known thing in Bali. This stomach flue is common, because it's a tropical area. You get it from bacteria found in food and water. You can get quite sick of this, but fortunately, it can be treated well. To avoid this, wash your hands a lot, use antibacterial soap and disinfectant hand gel. Bring some Dettol wipes with you. Also another tip: don't use the tapwater to brush your teeth, but use filtered water. Somehow got the Bali Belly after all? Use ORS against dehydration, drink lots of water or fresh coconut water and you can also get 'silver colloidal water' at most health food cafes - which is natural antibiotic. If you have more than a few days of fever, contact your nearest doctor, because unfortunately in some cases it can also be a parasite. Which needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Just like in any tourist place in the world, you need to be aware of your safety. We don't want to scare you of course, but please be very careful and use your common sense. Not only in traffic (wear that helmet!) but also when you drive or walk on quiet streets after sunset. On the motorbike, always use a backpack or put your bag under the seat of the motorbike. As most crimes involve robbery - and thieves aim to snatch bags while driving on the motorbike. We also strongly recommend not to drink a local alcoholic drink with 'arak' (rice wine). As in some cases, it can be wrongly produced - and be very toxic.
19. Bali with baby and kids
Bali is an incredible destination to travel to with kids as well. We knew that already and now can also share this from our own experience with baby Manua. Besides the many fun things to do and explore with kids, Balinese people love kids and that makes a Bali Holiday with the little ones so special. If you're planning a trip with a baby, it's also very convenient that you don't have to bring much - as you can hire everything in Bali. From car seats to strollers to pool fences. You can even arrange a babysitter for date night. Check out this article here for more tips if you're traveling to Bali with a baby!
20. Travel with love
Last but not least, we hope that you will travel with love and think about sustainable ways to travel. Here are a few tips:
- Be kind, respectful and humble at all times. We're all guests on this beautiful island and the people work very hard for everyone to enjoy their holidays to the fullest.
- Don't touch the heads to people, especially not from kids (no matter how cute they are). Because this is seen as the sacred part of the body, that you can't touch as a stranger.
- Be generous. With a small tip, you can make someone's day. So give some extra cash money to your waiter at the restaurant, taxi driver, the cleaning ladies at the hotel, your massage therapist, and so on.
- Bring a reusable water bottle, to avoid buying single-use plastic bottles.
- Bring a tote bag for groceries - the island has a ban on giving out plastic bags at all stores but at some stores and cafes, they might still want to give you one.
- Be very mindful about using all other types of plastic such as straws, coffee to-go cups with plastic lits, etc. As Bali is an island, most plastic ends up in the ocean.
That was it for now! Did you miss any tips, or do you have any more questions? Drop them in the comments below. Safe travels sweet sunshine friends!