Ultimate Bali Travel Guide for First Timers

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Bali is a treasure trove for travel fanatics.

It’s one of those unique destinations that you plan to visit for a week and well, you end up wishing it was a one-way trip.

This beautiful island features long stretches of idyllic coastline, entrancing spiritual enthusiasm, endless rice terraces, and captivating sunsets.

There’s just so much to see and experience in this exotic paradise.

Read on if you’re looking for the ultimate Bali travel guide for first timers.

Best Time to Visit Bali

BALINESE GATE AT HANDARA GOLF COURSE

Bali is situated close to the equator so temperatures stay fairly constant throughout the year. However, Bali does have two distinct seasons; dry and rainy season.

Even though Bali enjoys a temperate climate all year round, it helps to understand the weather patterns so you can plan accordingly.

The last thing you want is to pack your bags and arrive when Bali is experiencing monsoon downpours. Say goodbye to sunbathing.

The best time to visit Bali is during the dry season which runs from April to October.   This is when the days are sunny and the weather is dry, making it the busiest time of the year and the island is often overcrowded with tourists.

The hottest month in Bali is May (averaging 28°C/82°F) and the coldest month with the most rain is January (averaging 26°C/79°F).

If you don’t mind the occasional rainstorm, visiting Bali during the rainy season — you’ll find the best deals during this time! It’s still a great time to visit as the heavy rainfall usually only lasts a couple of hours (although Bali does get pretty hot and humid during this season).

No matter when you choose to go, Bali is an alluring destination and there will always be something for you to do there.

Why Should You Visit Bali?

No matter who you’re talking to, it’s hard to get through a conversation about travel without mentioning Bali these days.

This iconic destination is one of the most visited places in all of Southeast Asia and is at the top of all beach-lover bucket lists.

There must be a reason behind all the madness, right?

Bali has a little bit of everything and this makes it appealing to all types of travelers. This island is best known for its warm hospitality, rich Balinese culture, and unique geological landscapes that will awaken the wanderlust in you.

Whether you’re a foodie, adventure seeker, beach bum (or all of the above!), it’s impossible to run out of things to do in Bali, as each town offers a different vibe and you can easily spend weeks exploring the island.

 

How Long to Spend in Bali?

Despite being a pretty small island, Bali is so diverse with lots of awesome things to do and see.

A seven-day itinerary is ideal but you definitely won’t be running out of things to do if you stayed a bit longer.

A 14-day vacation would be perfect if you want to relax, unwind and tick all (or most) of the boxes on your wish list!

Cost of Traveling in Bali

VILLA IN BALI, INDONESIA

One of the incredible things about Bali is the cost of living is much more affordable compared to North America so money goes a lot further here.

Bali offers remarkable value for the money but the cost of your trip highly depends on how your traveling style is.

Let’s take a look.

Cost of Accommodation in Bali

If you’re traveling on a smaller budget then homestays, guesthouses, and small hotels might be your best bet. Most of these rooms cost between $10 and $20 USD per night.

They’re ideal if you want a decent room with comfortable beds and affordable breakfast options. These small hotels aren’t always centrally located but you can hire a scooter to get around for about $5 per day.

Now comes the best part. We highly suggest renting a villa.

We know, it sounds expensive…but it’s not.

Most people are surprised to learn that this option doesn’t always come with a high price tag.

If you look online, you can find these luxurious villas at around $50 per night.

If you’re traveling with a group, even better!

You can easily find a villa for $200 per night that accommodates six people, and this works out to only $30 a night.

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Cost of Food in Bali

CHICKEN SATAY, POPULAR DISH IN INDONESIA

Prices for food and drinks will vary significantly depending on which area of the island you settle for plus the type of experience you want.

Seminyak and Uluwatu tend to have expensive restaurants if you’re in the mood to try some world-class Indonesian food.

Other areas such as North Bali, Ubud, and Canggu offer cheaper options.

If you’re budget conscious then you can consider warungs (small local restaurants) where you can have a decent meal as low as $1-$3 per serving.

Mid-range restaurants have meals for $5-$10 per person and high-end dining restaurants or beach clubs will cost you between $14-$50 per person.

Wine and beer prices can be a little bit expensive (due to local taxation) so don’t be surprised to see alcohol marked up 300% percent.

Remember to stay hydrated! Bali gets quite hot so remember to pack your bottled water.

You can also buy bottled water in most areas if you’re prepared to pay the tourist tax. 

Average Costs in Bali

We wouldn’t really consider ourselves lavish spenders but we like to travel comfortably. The costs in the chart below are based on the mid-range category:

How to Get Around Bali

Balinese couple on scooter

With so many places to visit, one of the most expensive parts of your trip to Bali will most likely be transportation.

There are a couple of ways to get around the island but you’ll need to weigh each option and see which one fits you best.

No matter how you get around, it’s always a good idea to have Google Maps downloaded on your device (iOS | Android).

Let’s take a look at the most common ways to get around Bali:

 

Rent a Scooter in Bali

Traffic on the island is terrible and can be outright unbearable at times.

Motorbikes are the most popular way to get around for local travelers because it’s easier to weave through congested traffic.

Renting a scooter allows you to travel freely around the region — it’s a super affordable and economical option.

A scooter will run you about 50,000 IDR ($4 USD) per day and about 20,000 IDR ($2 USD) to fill up the tank.

If you plan to stick around for a while, a scooter rental for an entire month is only $60 USD.

There is a downside to renting a scooter in Bali though.

Bali’s roads are notoriously bad (winding and extremely bumpy in areas) so get ready for a heart-pounding experience if you’ve never done it before.

You’ll need an international driving license and brush up on all the local driving laws.

Pack loads of patience because there’s a lot of honking and shouting on the roads 😉

 

Hire a Private Driver in Bali

You can also rent a car or hire a private driver (about $90 USD per day up to 4 people), which is highly recommended since the drivers are familiar with the local roads and traffic laws.

 

Flag Down a Taxi in Bali

Go with reputable companies such as Blue Bird Taksi (not to be confused with Blue Biro).

What to Wear in Bali

packing for a trip

Thoughts of taking a dip in the beautiful turquoise waters in Bali might conjure images of short, revealing and sexy attire.

However, the locals dress quite conservatively and it’ll be wise if you do the same especially when you’re away from the beach.

Be sure to wear knee-length clothes and cover your shoulders when visiting sacred places (such as temples).

Consider packing hemp clothing — it’s an amazing travel textile that regulates temperature.

It’s safe to say that you’ll probably be wearing sandals 99.99% of the time you’re in Bali so you should invest in a quality pair of flip flops.

If you’re spending a day out in the wild, you’ll want to pack an extra pair of hiking shoes with good grip.

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Where to Go in Bali

RICE FIELD, UBUD

Ubud

Ubud is the spiritual and cultural heart of Bali.

It’s one of the best places to have a meditation or yoga class, and also a great stop for Balinese culinary sampling.

Plus, it’s home to a couple of amazing museums!

Chasing waterfalls? No problem.

Travel south and you’ll reach Tegenungan Waterfall.

The best time to enjoy this beautiful waterfall is in the morning when it’s less busy. 

Kuta

SUNSET AT KUTA BEACH, BALI

This is perhaps the most famous part of Bali.

Not only because of the iconic Kuta Beach but also thanks to its fun nightlife that serves party animals till the wee hours.

If you’re looking for a combination of beach moments, swinging nightlife and shopping experience, Kuta will serve you right.

Seminyak

SEMINYAK BEACH, BALI

Seminyak is one of the top places to visit in Bali.

This beach town is located north of Kuta-Legian and it boasts swanky private villas and beautiful hotels, boutique shops and a wide range of gourmet dining options.

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Ultimate Travel Guide to Seminyak

Canggu

SURFING IN CANGGU

If you’re an avid surfer, you’ll love the challenging waves in Canggu.

This town is also an awesome place to visit if you want to dodge crowds of tourists.

Grab a bite at one of the amazing restaurants at Finn’s Beach Club and have a drink at one of the many bars. 

Check out Tanah Lot Temple, one of Bali’s most iconic landmarks.

It’s also a popular Instagram spot and looks absolutely breathtaking combined with the sunset.

It goes without saying that Tanah Lot is always busy so get there early if you want to avoid the crowds!

READ NEXT
Canggu or Seminyak: Which One is Perfect for Your Bali Vacation?

Uluwatu

ULUWATU TEMPLE, BALI

Situated in the south part of Bali, Uluwatu is a stunning destination famed for gorgeous beaches and astounding clifftop views.

Make sure you stop by Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s most famous and impressive temples sitting atop a cliff that’s over 200 feet high.

This beautiful temple is a great Instagrammable spot with stunning gardens, resident monkeys, and chiseled cliffs.

Visit Uluwatu Temple early in the day to avoid large crowds.

Nusa Dua

NUSA DUA BEACH, BALI

If you fancy a relaxing vacation in Bali, Nusa Dua should top your list of destinations.

The town is calm and secluded plus the beaches are less crowded.

This makes Nusa Dua the perfect place for someone yearning for a laid back vibe vacation.

Denpasar

DENPASAR, BALI

Denpasar is the bustling capital city of Bali and although it’s overlooked by most tourists, it offers some awesome off the beaten track attractions including temples and museums.

It’s the perfect opportunity to interact with the friendly locals as well!

Jimbaran

JIMBARAN SUNSET, BALI

The fishing village of Jimbaran is famed for beautiful beaches and mesmerizing sunsets.

The ambiance is cool and relaxed, creating a great setting for people who want to relax and watch the world of Bali go by.

Nusa Islands

NUSA LEMBONGAN, BALI

The Nusa Islands are made up of three breathtaking islands and you should definitely put aside a day or two to explore the beautiful beaches.

These islands are known for the unbeatable snorkeling and diving opportunities!

Nusa Penida – The most popular island with breathtaking sights such as the famous Kelingking Beach, Crystal Bay, Angels Billabong, Broken Beach, and Peguyangan Waterfall.

Plan a few days to fully explore Nusa Penida.

Nusa Lembongan – A beautiful island perfect for snorkeling and beach hopping.

Nusa Lembongan also has many more hotel choices than Nusa Penida.

Nusa Ceningan – Nusa Ceningan is a tiny island that sits between the other two and is connected to Nusa Lembongan by the famous yellow bridge.

It’s an amazing place to rent a bike and leisurely pedal around the entire island.

There are several coves and small beaches on the island for you to lay down a beach towel and just relax.

Final Thoughts

Planning a trip to Bali is not easy and can be super time-consuming.

Hopefully, this guide offers you some insight to help you prepare for your upcoming trip to Bali!

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