Updated: Aug 7, 2019
While thinking of a vacation to explore that is fun, diverse and thrifty, Bali seemed to tick the boxes instantly with my best friend and I. The island destination of Indonesia caters to an extensive market of visitors from backpackers right through to the Privileged. Your budgets depend on how self-indulgent you want to be. We opted for the in-between.
Bali has a reasonably even climate year round, and the average temperature stands at around 30°C. We traveled during April, and it was sunny and slightly humid. By far, the South of Bali is the most visited part of the island with it’s Kuta beach and Chic Seminyak.
We both came up with a list of activities that we wanted to experience. Considering we were traveling for nine days, some of the experiences didn't make it to the final Itinerary.
Exploring the itinerary meant that we would be staying at two different locations, Seminyak and Ubud. Seminyak is at the southern end of Bali with umpteen villas and luxury hotels to choose from while Ubud located in the uplands of central Bali is the heart of the cultural integration and mountain range.
The hotel prices are reasonable in Seminyak and dirt cheap at Ubud. We found plenty of hotel options to book from, and didn't even have to pay to reserve the rooms. After booking the hotels, I wrote to the help desk asking to arrange for an Airport pick up, and I received an email stating that it could be organized with an additional cost of IDR 2000000. I remember staring at the screen and going berserk after reading twenty lakhs for an Airport transfer.I educated myself on their currency, and thankfully, the conversion of that transfer meant about INR 900.
If you are an Indian, you don’t need a visa to visit Indonesia, provided your stay doesn’t exceed 30 days, and the purpose of your visit is Tourism. As for other nationalities, I believe you are welcome a stay of 30 days in most cases. We traveled from Bangalore, and there isn’t a hint of direct flights yet. The average travel time ranges from 8 - 12 hours each way, including the transition time depending on the airlines chosen.
We landed at Ngurah Rai international airport located to the south of Denpasar. The travel time from Denpasar to Seminyak is about 40 minutes. Throughout the journey from Denpasar, witnessed a bustling cityscape until we hit the quieter upscale Seminyak. As we progressed towards our hotel, I sprung like a jumping jack, and in my excitement, I barely noticed any shortcomings of the stay. Only when I was faced with a flat reaction of my friend did I pay heed.
The stay didn't meet our expectations. Although we were not far from the city center, the positioning of the resort was not the ideal stay for two girls on their own. The rooms were lousy, and the washrooms were no-good. We did switch the rooms thrice, and it didn’t make much of a difference. The evening that followed by wasn’t spectacular either. The bars we went to, and the food served were not on par with what I had heard of other traveler friends. We began to wonder if we had chosen the right destination to travel. It would be fair to say that we were off to a disastrous start.
Walking back to our resort feeling dejected and helpless, of all the hype that was in our head meant two things. One, we could succumb to the situation and go with the flow or two, take charge of the incident and turn it around in our favor. Staying at the same resort meant giving in. It was around 1 am, and that very moment, we decided to check-out from the abject resort and check-in to what we call, “The start of a magical holiday.”
A stay that was comforting is all it took to shrug off the painful start. The journey from there was seamless and fell into pieces. We had each other's Itinerary to delve in.
Finding and funding for transportation in Bali is just effortless. By effortless, I mean its as simple as walking into a Bike renting store, paying the money and riding off. No documentation required.
We explored both the options of Renting a Bike versus Renting a Four Wheeler. The benefits of having a bike are that you can pull over frequently and navigate your ways through the busiest traffic jams. Make sure you’re prepped to beat the heat and always wear a helmet even if it means ruining your hairdo. Riding the bikes while being in charge of the direction and witnessing the lush landscape of rice fields and paddy terraces brought about a sense of freeing.
On the other hand, the days that required us to sustain the energy to hike or cover more than one place, while still looking fabulous for our social media, were the days we chose to rent a car along with a driver. Either way, you will be fine. Of course, renting a bike is a bargain compared to the drive.
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t find the food low-priced if you are from India. Yes, there are local hangouts which are inexpensive, but if you are on holiday, I wouldn’t recommend eating there, not for the entire trip at least. Nonetheless, the local cuisine is a mosaic of flavors served on banana leaves resulting in a vibrant and succulent feast. Our personal favorite throughout the trip remained Nasi Campur, Betutu, and Jimbaran Seafood. Don't worry, they favor vegans too!
Also, there’s the fresh produce markets and supermarkets which can be an own adventure. My friend had a list of things that she wanted to purchase for her colleagues, and that led to an escapade. I agree some of the purchasing can be an exploit and can be done without it. But, less exposure to local cuisine means missing out on one of the best parts of traveling.
Balinese people are warm and welcoming to everybody. There were times when locals would ask us where we were from and when mentioned ‘India,’ they would sing the most random Hindi (Bollywood) song and break into some dance moves while having their eyebrows raised for an equally enthusiastic response. Oh lord, that is just Priceless.
Apart from the graciousness of the Balinese people what sets them apart, for me at least, is that they put service before pricing. In a couple of inconvenienced situations, they were instantly regretful of the situation and strived to make it up to us.
Incidentally, we meet a bunch of cool locals, and they suggested that we ditch the touristic spots and head on a canyon scouting and that turned out to be the highlight of the trip. We were off to this place on our bikes using the maps. Upon reaching there, we had to pay IDR 1000000 entry fee to enter the Hidden Gem, and the cost covered the charges of an expert’s accompaniment. Traversing the chasm, we were awed by its sheer natural beauty. Craggy walls of rock, pitted and worn over utopias, tower 20 to 30 meters high.
I didn't think it would be demanding to climb. Boy, how wrong was I? My overconfidence got me into trouble. While the expert was helping my friend, he explicitly instructed that he would support one person at a time and the other had to wait their turn. Wait? Oh, I don’t need his help. I reached out from one stone to the other, stretching my limb to land on the other. I indeed had overestimated my reach, and in one fast motion I slipped and dropped down into the water which was around 14 feet deep. Oh, and one more thing, I can’t swim. Luckily, for me, the expert immediately dived into the water and pulled me out of there before my friend had a chance to panic. We all laughed our hearts out.
We tossed the idea of visiting the packed beaches with touring the secluded beaches of the Nusa Dua district. Green bowl beach is one such beach. It’s beautiful, hidden and a surfer’s secret spot. Reaching to this beach helped us discover how unfit the two of us had become in comparison to the surfers. To get to this secluded beach, we had to descend a lot of stairs which seemed somewhat natural. It was the climb back that had us tire to death.
We were most thrilled about our finding of the Water blow in Nusa Dua where we enjoyed the sweeping 240 degrees of dramatic seascape view. Is it dangerous? Yes, if you decide to cross the blockades as the rocks are fierce and the strong currents are savage. Rest assured you will be tempted to cross the barricade and let's say we did it because we wanted to bring you some fantastic shots.
The latest trend over the past half a decade in Bali is chilling on the rooftop bars that combine gorgeous settings and innovative drinks. Hopping from one bar to the other seems to be the order here. We had plenty of trendy and exquisite bars to walk in and out of. Don’t get worked up about what to wear as clothing, in general, is casual here.
Surprisingly the thing that we enjoyed the most apart from clubbing were the live performances of the local bands which remained close to our hearts. Attractive menu and beachfront settings add to the flourishing nightlife.
If clubbing isn’t your thing, you can hit some of the insightful night markets and alternatively choose from plenty of shows of theatre, traditional dance, and cabaret.
If you are anything like us that take pleasure in indulging in Spa and massages, then Bali is an idyllic spot. Not only is it great but it’s cheap and yes cheaper than Thailand in case you were wondering. At our stay in Ubud is when we reveled in the Spa, and there is a certain sense of calm and peace in the town of Ubud that adds to this joy.
The most common activity that the tour packages or people from other countries suggest would be that of the rice fields. No doubt, they are well maintained and are a UNESCO world heritage site, but if you’ve experienced the villages of India, this shall not blow you away.
Whether You want to spend your honeymoon snuggling on secluded beaches or an adventurous seek of Hiking on the foothills of an active volcano or the gratifying water sports or do nothing but wake up to a great view and food, Bali has it all covered.
If you are afraid of reptiles like lizard then skip Bali, it’s not for you. Unless of course, you are willing to fight your fear as my bestie did. Apart from that, I can’t think of a reason that should stop you from traveling to Bali.
Travel Related information
Visa for Indians : Not required
Duration : For less than 30 days
Purpose : Tourism
Travel : By Air
Currency : Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Picture Credits : @flohwithme