To many, Bali is known as the Bogan Capital, or a cheap getaway for Australians. And yes, maybe this is true for some, but Indonesia has many hidden gems that are definitely worth exploring. Hidden around corners of this country are truly beautiful destinations worth seeing.
There is a wrong and a right way to do Bali. Here are my top tips on how to do it right:
Do get a Bluebird Taxi from the airport. All other transportation is unreliable and very dangerous.
Do hire scooters. Caution: Be safe while driving, there are no road rules, so it can be dangerous and does take getting used to. Though this is the quickest and cheapest mode of transportation to get around and allows you to make the most of day trips to different parts of Bali.
Rice fields in Ubud. Photograph: Maddie Mathot
Do go to Ubud. It’s located in the forest and is by far the most beautiful part of Bali. While there, you must go to the Monkey Forest and rice fields.
Do take advantage of how cheap everything is. There, you can go scuba diving, sea walking, water rafting, volcano cycling, jet skiing, ATV riding through the forests of Ubud, and more. It will cost you a fraction of the price that it would in Australia.
Do take some time to relax. Seek out beach clubs such as Potato Head and Old Man’s, located in Seminyak and Canggu. Cocktails are obviously cheaper, but are probably one of the most similarly priced items to Australia.
Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak. Photograph: Maddie Mathot
Do try traditional food. Local noodle dishes, nasi goreng and mi goreng are a must while over there. If you feel like eating somewhere a little nicer though, they have plenty of healthy cafés that serve excellent food. Try Shelter Café, Sea Circus, Revolver and more located in the main streets of Seminyak.
Do visit the temples and absorb the culture. The locals are more than happy to tell you about their faith, jobs and lives so be sure to interact and observe.
Do take a boat to Gilli. While there, hire bikes and ride around the Island. It’s the quickest and best way to see it.
Bike riding around Gilli Island. Photograph: Maddie Mathot
Do download GoJek. It’s Indonesia’s version of Uber. It will save you money if you intend on catching taxis.
Do stay in the nicer areas. Do your research. Prices really aren’t that different and the quality of your stay is much better. For instance, generally Seminyak is a nicer place to stay than Kuta.
Pool area of Villa Kresna Boutique and Suites in Seminyak. Photograph: Maddie Mathot
Don’t spend over 200, 000 Rupiah ($20 AUD) on a taxi from the airport. Agree on a price before you leave, otherwise they’ll overcharge, sometimes costing $50 AUD for a 15-minute drive.
Don’t spend all your time in Seminyak. This is the tourist capital and obviously where all the hustle and bustle takes place. Be sure to explore. Go to places like Ubud, the Gili Islands and more. Ubud and Gili are a totally different experience, one is surrounded by trees, the other surrounded by sea. They’re great places for a quieter and more cultural experience.
One of the many famous swings in the water around the Gili Islands. Photograph: Maddie Mathot
Don’t spend all your time walking the streets. If you do, your holiday won’t be very enjoyable. The streets aren’t very aesthetically pleasing. You encounter many beggars, cracked side walks, foul smells, dangerous traffic conditions and many locals yelling out for you to buy things from them. Instead, explore the area by scooter, take to the beaches for a number of activities, relax at a beach club or enjoy Waterbom Bali, the number one waterpark in Asia as voted by TripAdvisor.
Don’t waste your money at the markets. The knock offs, look like knock offs and the locals are not very good at bartering when you want a lower price. There are many wonderful boutiques around town as well as shopping complexes in Bali. Spend your time here instead. Spoil yourself.
Seminyak Beach at sunset. Photograph: Maddie Mathot
Don’t purchase anything on the beach. Everyone else trying to sell items will swarm around you like a flock of seagulls until you buy from them too. If you wish to enjoy the beach, politely reject their sale or alternatively, go to one of the many beach clubs along the shore.
Don’t leave your valuables unattended in your villa or hotel room. Keep it locked inside your luggage or in the room safe.
Don’t drink tap water or ice. According to TripAdvisor, you may become ill. The sanitation and waste disposal standards aren’t up to the same standards as ours. Buy bottled water instead and use it even to clean your teeth.