A first-timers guide to Bali
If you’ve never been to Bali before, but are planning your first ever trip, there are definitely a few things you need to know before you go. It is a truly unique place to visit, one filled with incredible sites, built on a rich history, supported by beautiful people. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Bali many times and I just keep coming back because it’s a beautiful, fun and adventurous place that’s very easy to fall in love with.
To help you prepare for your first trip to Bali, here are my top tips on things you absolutely must know before you go.
Insider tips for first-timers
- The Indonesian Government has introduced a visa-free program for Australians who intend to stay for less than 30 days.
- If possible, have your hotel organise a transfer for you from the airport. Outside the airport you’ll find a throng of very vocal taxi drivers vying for your business and if it’s your first time, it can be a tad overwhelming.
- Bartering is customary and, if you plan to purchase any cheap items from local shops, you’ll need to know how. I have a great guide on how to haggle like a professional, here.
- The Balinese are incredible hosts, so expect to be greeted with warm, welcoming smiles and fantastic customer service. If you get lost at any point, don’t be too shy to ask someone for directions.
- It goes a long way if you learn a few Indonesian words, like how to say thank you (Terima Kasih), you’re welcome (Sama Sama) and, most importantly, ask for one more round of drinks (Satu Lagi!)! Find more things to know before you go, here
The best places to stay
When it comes to luxury beachfront digs, the best spot to base yourself is at Seminyak, one of my favourite spots to stay. You’ll find this area home to many beach front resorts, luxury hotels, villas and spas as well as shops, restaurants and classy bars and clubs. For a more low-key beachside stay, try Canggu, which offers up a laid-back, surfers feel for less.
For a more earthy experience, head an hour inland to Ubud. This area is famous for its lush green rainforest, rice patties and ancient temples. Ubud offers up plenty of things to do. It’s a tranquil retreat, where you can nurture your mind, body and soul with great food, yoga, spas, arts and crafts.
If you really want to get away from it all try an escape out to Uluwatu, set along the stunning, jagged coastline of the Bukit Peninsula. This spot is home to private villas, luxe resorts, infinity pools and fantastic bars. You’ll also be treated to some of the most beautiful views of the Indian Ocean.
If you’re on a tight budget, a stay in Kuta might be just the ticket. You’ll find plenty of great homestay’s run by locals, offering up cosy accommodation in the heart of Kuta’s party playground. Think bars and clubs, cheap local eats, an abundance of shopping and a short stroll to the beach.
Things you must do while you’re there
- The sunsets in Bali are absolutely amazing, throwing beautiful shades of orange and pink onto the water. Make sure you catch at least one sunset from a beach-front bar, like Single Fin, Potato Head, Ku De Ta or Old Mans.
- For an unforgettable experience, I recommend waking up at ridiculous-o’clock to hike Mt Batur, an active volcano, and watch one of the most magical sunrises of your life. So worthwhile!
- Take a day trip out to one of the islands, like Nusa Lembongan, and spend your day snorkelling, parasailing, feasting on fresh seafood and exploring the beautiful blue water.
- Bali offers up an abundance of amazing food, be sure to have at least one sunset seafood feast at Jimbaran Bay. I also highly recommend a dinner at Bumbu Bali for the very best, authentic Balinese food.
- Be sure to spend some time being pampered at a Balinese spa. Treat yourself to regular massages and beauty treatments, because Bali is all about relaxing and unwinding!
- It’s all about down-time in Bali, so pack your swimwear, sunscreen and a good book. Spend your days lazing by the pool, sipping cocktails and enjoying your well-deserved break.