Planning a Trip to Bali, Indonesia: Things to Do, See & Eat (2020)
Indonesia—specifically Bali—is hands down one of my favorite places. The people in Bali are some of the nicest, all welcoming people that I’ve ever encountered. It’s impossible not to feel calm while in Bali. There’s a fragrance of flowers & incense all over. There’s a strong focus on staying tranquil and present in the culture. The landscapes—from its jungle terrain to its beaches are jaw-dropping. There’s also a thriving expat community & surf scene in Bali, so if you’re interested in relocating and working remotely for a bit…then Bali is the place to do it.
This guide gives an overview of what you need to know to plan a trip to Bali, while highlighting some facts about its mother country, Indonesia.
There are Bali Monkeys located all over Bali, Indonesia. They are quite adorable but can also be very mischievous. This guide details where to go to find them and how to handle to avoid aggressive confrontation.
The official language of Indonesia is Indonesian. Many Indonesian’s speak a secondary language in addition to Indonesian. Javanese and Sundanese are the most common secondary languages spoken. Many locals can speak at least basic English in the touristy areas (such as Bali); which makes it easy to get around.
When to Visit
The best months to visit Indonesia are May, June, and September as the climate during this time is dry and clear. Peak tourism season for Indonesia is July & August but it is fewer desirable to visit during this time as it’s more crowded with tourists and often very hot. Monsoon season in Indonesia is October – March. There are often less tourists during Monsoon season because it’s a bit cooler and rains quite a bit. Side-note: I visited in October and it did rain for at least an hour a day but I found the climate to be fine. If you’re cool with a little rain, then the wet season isn’t terrible. .
Currency & Payment
The currency in Indonesia is The Indonesian Rupiah. Many established stores & restaurants accept credit cards. Small vendors usually only accept cash. ATM’s can be found throughout the major tourist areas. Skimming does occur at times at the ATM’s. In order to reduce the chances of having your debit card skimmed, always go to ATM’s that are located inside banks for more security.
Religion is very prominent in Indonesia. Several religions are practiced in the country of Indonesia, inclusive of Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist & Confucian. In Bali, an overwhelming percentage of its population practices Hinduism—which you’ll see represented in religious statues, offerings, and religious celebrations that take place often.
Tipping in Indonesia is not required. Locals always appreciate it when you leave an extra tip but it’s not expected of you. At times, a service fee will already be included in your final bill for hotels, restaurants & spa services…so be mindful of that when you pay.
Don't Step on the Offerings!
When visiting Bali—you’ll notice offerings for the Gods scattered throughout—oftentimes on sidewalks. These will consist of things such as: flowers and food items with incense. They smell wonderful and are beautiful. Be sure to be mindful of them and don’t step on them, as it’s considered to be disrespectful.
Haggle, Haggle, Haggle
Don’t be afraid to haggle when shopping at local markets, etc. The vendors expect this, as it’s a part of their culture to bargain for a better price prior to paying. Sometimes they’ll even laugh with you while you’re trying to negotiate.
Embrace the Moped
Mopeds are the preferred method of transportation in Bali as the streets are extremely narrow and can often be very crowded. Either rent a moped if you feel comfortable with driving one on your own or pay a local with a moped to drive you around. Local moped drivers can be found all over Bali – when you approach them, always negotiate a cost before you begin driving – this will help you avoid having them jack the cost up when you arrive. There are also apps like Uber that work for locating Moped drivers that can take you around town – though I found it to be easier to ask a local in person as the apps can sometimes be glitchy and slow.
Here’s a list of what to pack for a trip to Bali, Indonesia. This list only details items that you might not think of on your own and does not include any standard items that you’d want to bring (such as clothes, money, identification, camera, shoes etc).
→ Sarong: You’ll need to wear a long bottom that falls to your feet when visiting sacred areas, such as the temples. A sarong is a great item to bring as it’s portable and can be thrown over any bottom that you already have on. It can also be used as a great beach blanket.
→ Comfortable Shoes: You’re going to be walking a lot, so be sure to pack comfortable shoes.
→ Mosquito Repellent: Mosquitos are unavoidable in Bali, so be sure to bring some repellant with you. If you forget to pack this then, no fear — it’s available for purchase all over.
→ Sunscreen: This may be a given but felt necessary to remind – bring sunscreen. The sun is strong. It ain’t no joke. Protect yourself. This is also available for purchase throughout Bali.
→ Water Bottle: It’s unsafe to drink the tap water in Bali but there are a few water refilling stations scattered throughout. Bring a refillable water bottle to save a buck & the environment.
→ Power adaptor: The standard used in Bali is a two-pin plug (round): V: 230. Frequency: 50 Hz.
Here’s a list of suggested things to do when visiting Bali. More specific experiences for Canggu & Ubud listed in the sections further down on this page. I also recommend upon this blog post on flystayluxe.com that outlines a suggested 2-weeks in Bali itinerary if you need advice on how to structure your trip.
Eat at a warung: The restaurant scene in Bali was surprisingly great—you can find almost any cuisine. The most delicious food that can be found in Bali, though, is the local food. Do yourself a favor and find a local warung—you won’t be disappointed! I found one near my hostel and went every single day for two weeks straight because it was that good. My favorite local dishes were Nasi Campur and Nasi/Mie Goreng but there are so many more options to choose from.
Get a massage: The best massages that I’ve ever received were in Bali. They’re affordable and incredible. If you want, you can even bath in flower pedals afterwards in some places—just in case you don’t already feel lavish enough.
Enjoy the sunset: The Bali sunset is like no other. When the sun sets, the sky fills with an array of pinks and purples. For lack of a better analogy, it’s magical.
Visit the temples: The temples are the heartbeat of Bali. There are so many beautiful temples to check-out; such as Uluwatu Temple, Tirta Empul, Pura Luhur Lempuyang and Goa Gajah to name a few.
Take a Surf Lesson: I’ve heard Bali is a challenging place to surf as a beginner, but if you’re up for the challenge, then definitely check out a surf lesson while you’re there.
Go to a rice field: There are so many beautiful rice fields in Bali. Your trip won’t be complete without visiting at least one.
View the sunrise over a volcano: Go on the Mount Agun Hike – which leaves at 3am, to get to the top of a volcano just before the sun rises.
Visit the surrounding Islands!: There are many easily accessible islands that are worth checking out. The best islands, in my opinion, are Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. It’s possible to check all three islands out during a long weekend as they’re next to one another.
Here are a few fast facts to give you a base knowledge before your trip:
Indonesia consists of approx. 17,508 islands. Yes, you read that right.
The largest lizard in the world lives in Indonesia; the Komodo dragon!
There are 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia; some of which you can climb.
More than 700 languages & dialects are spoken in Indonesia.
Bali produces the most expensive coffee in the world & it’s called Kopi Luwak and is a bit unique – it’s a product of the digestion of an animal called the Civet Cat.
Tourism is huge in Bali; around 80% of its economy comes from it.
The Bailnese calendar only has 210 days per year.
Bali is home to the highest density of spas in the world.
What you spend on a trip to Indonesia may vary depending on what region you go to and what season you choose to visit. This estimate is based on what it would cost to go on a trip to Bali.
With COVID-19 and the change that the travel landscape has recently seen, I decided to make some virtual resources available for those who want to satisfy their wanderlust and explore Bali, Indonesia from home. If you have a trip to Bali, Indonesia planned; then these can serve as great tools for getting amped for your trip!
Note: the links on this curated list will navigate you off of this page & take you to an external website.
Canggu is an awesome beach town in Bali. The vibe of the town is super tranquil and cool. There are a lot of cute shops and restaurants to check out. Canggu is a huge expat / digital nomad community so you’ll meet a lot of expats primarily from Australia, Europe and the USA during your trip. There’s also a big surf scene in Canggu and the surfers are fun to watch from the shore.
Here are some things that I recommend doing in Canggu:
Things to do in Canggu
→ Watch sunset from Echo Beach
→ Visit Tanah Lot Temple Complex
→ Take a Yoga class at The Practice Bali
→ Day drink in a pool, in front of the beach at The Lawn
→ Get a spa treatment at Spring Spa —it’s an affordable and relaxing oasis
→ Get a 24K Gold Facial at Goldust Beauty Lounge
→ Eat at a traditional local Warung
→ Check out a skateboard show and have some drinks at Pretty Poison
→ Rent a scooter and explore the local area
→ Go surfing or take a surfing lesson if you’re a newbie
Restaurants in Canggu
→ Luigi’s Pizza: Good pizza. Always a party!
→ Crate: Insanely good breakfast.
→ Old Man’s Restaurant: Local hotspot.
→ Poke Poke: Excellent poke!
→ Cabina: Enjoy brunch while floating in a pool.
Accommodation in Canggu
Temuku Guest House: This is a great and affordable place to stay in the heart of Canggu. They had reasonable wi-fi, a pool and really nice individual rooms. There was a great sense of community & the owners will make you feel at home.
Ubud is the tourism hub of the island. Ubud is the most famous for its rice terraces but there’s so much more to it than that. There are tons of beautiful temples, great restaurants and good shopping to experience here. The locals are super nice here—they seem to live with a mantra that everyone is equal, which is beautiful and I really felt that when interacting with people here.
Here are some things that I recommend doing in Ubud:
Things to do in Ubud
→ Visit the Tegallalang Rice Terrace
→ Take a walk on the Campuhan Ridge Walk (made famous in Eat. Pray. Love!)
→ Check out the Lotus Pond at Saraswati Temple
→ Watch a local Kecak Dance Performance
→ Practice Yoga at The Yoga Barn
→ Brave The Monkey Forest
→ Check out the many temples, including the Tirta Empul Water Temple
→ Visit the Tegenungan Waterfall
→ Get a massage and then bath in flower petals at Sedona Spa
Restaurants in Ubud
→ Famous Restaurant: Has some really great pizza
→ Laduma Ubud: Great yogurt bowls
→ The Pengkalon Warung: Excellent local food
→ Ashoka Restaurant: Dine with a view of a rice terrace