Whether you're a thrill seeker, outdoor enthusiast, budget-minded excursionist, or luxury traveler, Bali has it all. This tropical island is home to warm-hearted locals, rich culture, dramatic waterfalls, lush green landscapes, and over 20,000 temples. While tourism has boomed immensely in Bali within the last decade, my recent trip here has led me to believe that authentic local culture in many parts of the island is still prevalent.
Let's talk about planning your next trip to Bali. It may seem daunting- after all, there is a seemingly endless amount of sights to see and you may be limited on time. However, I've detailed an extensive guide on everything you need to know to plan a trip to Bali.
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR or Rp)
Notes come in denominations of 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000; 50,000 and 100,000 Rp. Coins come in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 Rp. Don't worry about exchanging currency prior to your trip as there are several money changers, banks, and ATMs in Bali. However, be cautious of illegitimate money changers- you can usually spot them if they're located in small local shops, or if their exchange rates seem too good to be true.
Religion: Balinese Hinduism
Most of the Balinese population are very religious, and uphold many traditions, ceremonies, and rituals. For example, upon arrival in Bali, you'll quickly notice heaps of small basket offerings in front of homes, shops, and restaurants. Known as canang sari, these offerings are typically made of palm leaves, and are filled with items such as flowers and incense. Try familiarizing yourself with some of Bali's common traditions, so you can avoid minor accidents like stepping on or over an offering.
The main language in Bali is Indonesian or Balinese. Since Bali is a popular tourist destination, many of the locals can speak English. However, it’s always good to know basic conversational phrases. Here are a few that may be useful:
• Thank you - terima kasih
• How are you - apa kabar
• How much is this - berapa ini
Weather: There are only 2 seasons in Bali- wet and dry.
Wet season is between October and April. Despite heavy showers or occasional downpours, you might get lucky with some sunny weather throughout the day. We visited Bali in April, and were grateful to have sunny weather throughout most of our trip. Keep in mind that the weather is humid and warm during wet season. Tip: Invest in a poncho if you're planning to visit during wet season- you'll thank me later!
Dry season is between May and September. You can expect warm weather and less humidity, but don't be surprised if you experience an occasional downpour.
Budget in Bali
You're in luck! In terms of costs, Bali is optimal for budget-seekers and luxury travelers. While I can't provide an exact budget for your trip, as personal preferences such as eating habits, drinking habits, and purchasing habits can greatly affect overall costs, here is an estimate of how much my friends and I spent for our 6-day, 5-night trip (all costs listed are in USD):
• Airfare: $690
• Accommodation: $424 / 3 people = $141 per person
• Transportation: $160 / 3 people = $53 per person
• Attractions: $38
• Food, snacks, alcohol: $40
• Souvenirs: $10
• Extra (Nusa Penida Island tour): $55
Total: $1,027 per person
Booking your flight to Bali
International flights are notoriously expensive- especially if you're flying from the U.S. to Bali. Purchasing your plane tickets months in advance can save you a great deal of money. My friends and I booked our flights with EVA Air 11 months in advance, and were able to score reasonably-priced tickets. However, if you aren't able to book your flight far in advance, I recommend using flight search engines like Skiplagged or Google Flights to help you spot some deals.
Keep in mind that high season is between June and August, so airfare will be significantly increased during those months. If you're looking for cheaper flights, April to May and September to October are the best times to visit.
Where to stay in Bali
There is no shortage of accommodations in Bali. You have the option of staying in hostels, hotels, or Airbnbs. We found that staying in an Airbnb provided the best overall value. Airbnbs in Bali are generally inexpensive, and you can even book affordable villas and treehouses. (Yes, treehouses!) These are the homes that we stayed in- I highly recommend them for your trip:
• Ubud: Our Airbnb was located in the heart of Ubud, and offered walking distance to numerous attractions, restaurants, and shops. Our hosts provided delicious complimentary breakfast every morning during our stay as well. Click here for a link to our Airbnb.
• Seminyak: Our second Airbnb was a villa with a pool and a beautifully-designed
interior. Click here for a link to our Airbnb.
Getting around in Bali
There are several modes of transportation in Bali: motorbike, car rental, car hire, taxi, and ride share.
• Motorbike / car rental: Renting a motorbike is appealing to some tourists because it's inexpensive. However, I don't recommend this option unless you are confident in your driving abilities because the traffic and roads are pretty chaotic. If you do decide to rent a motorbike or car, don't forget to obtain your International Driver's Permit.
• Car hire: Bali offers the convenient option of hiring a private car with a driver. You can hire a private driver for an entire day or half a day. This is a great option for tourists as you are able to explore at your own pace, and get helpful information from your local guide. Click here for the contact info to our excellent guide and friend, Adi.
• Taxi: There are heaps of taxis in Bali- you can find them almost anywhere in more popular tourist destinations like Ubud and Seminyak.
• Ride share apps: Grab is one of the most popular ride share apps in Bali, and is surprisingly inexpensive. Locals look down on ride share apps and claim that they're illegal, but don't worry- they aren't.
Our 6-Day Itinerary in Bali
• Denpasar Airport: You'll arrive at Denpasar Airport- the only airport in Bali.
• Airbnb in Ubud: Check into your Airbnb and drop off your luggage. Take some time to relax and settle in after your long flight.
• Ibu Rai Bar & Restaurant: Grab a local dinner at Ibu Rai. Try the mie goreng here!
• Tegalalang Rice Terrace: Tegalalang Rice Terrace is a must-visit if it's your first time in Bali- the view of the rice terraces is incredibly beautiful. You can walk along the rice terraces, and there are plenty of spots for photos. Conquer your fear of heights on one of the swings here! Paid entrance.
• Pura Taman Saraswati Temple: Saraswati Temple is a small Balinese temple that sits behind two large lotus ponds. It's located in the heart of Bali. Free entrance.
• Ubud Art Market: This is a great spot to purchase souvenirs and local goods. You'll find dozens of local vendors here. Don't be afraid to negotiate prices!
• Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary: Ubud's Monkey Forest is a fun spot to enjoy a leisurely walk whilst getting in close encounter with hundreds of monkeys. Beware- some of these mischievous monkeys may try to jump on you and steal your belongings. Paid entrance.
• Ulun Danu Bratan Temple: Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is a picturesque lakeside temple with a dramatic mountain backdrop. I recommend coming early as this spot attracts huge crowds of tourists. Paid entrance.
• Handara Golf & Resort Gate: Handara Gate is one of the most Instagrammed gates in Bali, and with good reason. It's a massive Balinese gate with vibrant green hills in the background, making it a perfect photo op. Paid entrance.
• Sekumpul Waterfalls & Hidden Falls: Sekumpul Falls is incredible. After walking down a steep staircase, you will be rewarded with an epic waterfall falling against a lush green jungle background. Hidden Falls is located near Sekumpul Falls, and is just as amazing. Make sure to bring a bathing suit, and be prepared to trek through water. Paid entrance.
• Bali Botanica Day Spa: Indulge yourself in an affordable morning spa treatment at Bali Botanica Day Spa. If you want a quick, relaxing treatment, I recommend booking the exfoliation and flower bath package.
• Lempuyang Temple: Lempuyang Temple is known for its split gate with Mt. Agung sitting in the background. While the temple is beautiful, be warned that the wait to get the photo is almost 2 hours. Paid entrance.
• Airbnb in Seminyak: Head to your second Airbnb and relax before dinner!
• Nusa Penida Island: Click here to check out my detailed guide on visiting Nusa Penida in one day.
• Potato Head Beach Club: Grab drinks and food at this popular beachside club.
• Kynd Community: Start off your morning with delicious vegan breakfast at this Insta-worthy restaurant. Try their Paradise Pancakes- vanilla infused pancakes with coconut ice cream, maple syrup, berry compote, candied hazelnuts, strawberry cream, and bananas. (So good!)
• Denpasar Airport: Time to head back home!
Other places to visit (that we didn’t, but would love to next time!)
• Uluwatu Temple
• Jatiluwih Rice Terrace
• Tibumana Waterfall
• Gili Islands
• Pack bug spray and mosquito repellent: Bali is a tropical island that attracts tons of mosquitos. Prevent irritating bug bites by packing bug spray.
• Wear comfortable walking shoes/sandals: You will be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes or sandals. I recommend Birkenstocks as walking sandals- especially during summer.
• Dress conservatively at temples: Be mindful when visiting Balinese temples by dressing conservatively. Try wearing clothing that covers your shoulders.
• Wear sunblock: Whether you're visiting during wet season or dry season, protect yourself from getting sunburnt by packing sunblock.