- Exchange rates in Bali are better on the weekdays, and good for exchange back to your home country currency on the way back. Be careful with road side shops that suddenly have super fantastic rates. They normally know sleight of hand. Recount the money in front of them and do not let them touch the cash again.
- Go there during the weekdays and come back during the weekend. Fewer people too.
- The sun can be freakishly scalding hot. Get lots of sunblock!
- Buy a data card from Telkomsel SIMpati. Very cheap, and the island from Airport, Jimbaran, Kuta to Kintamani is very nicely wired. At most, the line drops to 3G in Bali. Most of the time I manage to get H+. I got the IDR20,000 package for 7 days with 340mb of data. I didn’t even manage to hit 100MB, despite using Waze, TravelAdvisor and Facebook almost all the time. Yeah, Waze works very well it helped point the directions to the places we wanted to go. Why bother with roaming. Phone card comes in handy to call the driver.
GETTING AROUND (TRANSPORT) IN BALI
- Cab from airport to Kuta (4 km) is around IDR60,000 to IDR80,000. I got it for IDR70,000 to Kuta and IDR55,000 back to the airport. If you are staying further away say Ubud, you may want to book a driver before your flight (taxi to Ubud costs about IDR250,000). You can also get one at the airport exit. Always ask the price first before getting in a cab/ car, unless they have meters.
- Cabs are EVERYWHERE. Blue Bird taxis are quite reliable and metered. Starts at IDR5000. But be warned, the roads are very small, and jams are pretty common, especially in Kuta and Seminyak. Roads are even more freakishly smaller in Seminyak.
- For long distance travel, book a driver and a car; Ours is called Madeh Yong. His mobile: 08174762721. His company charges IDR300K for 12 hours, petrol included. Anywhere in Bali. Way cheaper than taking a cab. So if you call him direct, maybe you can arrange for a cheaper price.
- Seafood dining on the beach at Jimbaran shores. The atmosphere was great, especially the sunset seaside dinner. If I were to do it again, I’d recommend having an early dinner when the light is up, go there about 5 pm; and then enjoy the sunset which starts at 6.15-6.20 pm. Reason is the lighting is pretty bad. Not exactly fun having seafood in the dark with all the shells and bones. Go for recommended restaurants such as Lia Cafe (Reviews), Teba Mega Cafe, Dena’s Cafe (Reviews) for more delicious and value-for-money seafood. For a better deal, take the sets if possible. The meals are subject to 15-21% tax.
|Amazed by the gorgeous sunset and enormous waves. Must go!
|Seafood meal on the beach (barefooted)
- Babi guling (roasted pig). Ibu Oka, Ubud (Reviews) is the most talked about warung (restaurant) for a taste of the Bali porky delight. While it may be popular among tourists, the locals prefer visiting other warungs for their babi guling. We had ours at Warung Candra (Reviews), Denpasar. The pork is very tasty especially the aromatic crispy skin. The soup so rich and yummy. Hubby loves the spicy side dishes to go with the pork and rice. The place is crowded, may have to share a table with other patrons during peak hours. Babi guling special + orange juice + teh botol + extra bowl of soup = IDR60K
|Babi guling special – comes with satay, spicy sambal, vege and fried intestine at IDR30K
|Candra Babi Guling packed with people, mostly Indonesians
|Babi guling special and the soup so rich in taste at Candra
- Crispy Duck (bebek goreng) at Warung Eropah (Reviews) at Jalan Petitinget, Kerobokan. Half a crispy duck with spicy sambal, and fried beans costs IDR85K. The skin is crispy and the flesh soft but not very juicy. It was good but not excellent. Would definitely try other places. Good ambiance to dine in, but not air-conditioned. There’s quite a lot of foreign food in Jalan Petitnget. But we didn’t see the point of having Mexican, Italian, Spanish and western food in Bali. Other restaurants that serve good crispy duck; Bebek Tepi Sawah (Reviews) (the most popular now according to my driver) and Bebek Bengil (Reviews), both in Ubud.
|Deep fried duck so well cooked you could bite the bones
- Sate lilit. The meat is wrapped around a bamboo or lemongrass stick and barbequed. I tried the fish (from a roadside stall) and pork (part of the babi guling dish) ones with a special spicy sauce. Delicious. I think the taste is pretty standard.
- KINTAMANI is in the mountains of Bali, climate is usually 15 degrees cooler than down on the coast. Journey from Kuta to Kintamani in the Bangli Regency takes about 2.5-3 hours (80 km) by car. Ubud – Kintamani (1 hour, 35 km). Kuta to Bangli Town (50km). Things to do:
- Trek up Mount Batur, Kintamani (1,700 metres above sea level and still an active volcano) in about 2 hours to watch the sunrise.
- Lake Batur (Danau Batur), Kintamani
- Ulu Danun Batur Temple (Batur village, Kintamani) receives bad reviews.
- Luwak Civet Coffee Farm (Kintamani) – Reviews
- Kintamani restaurants with beautiful view of Mount and Lake Batur (buffet meals at about IDR70K + 12% or only drinks, can bargain!)
- Hotels in Kintamani
- UBUD. The journey from the airport to Ubud is about 70 min. It is located inland in the mountainous part of Bali. No beaches.
- Monkey Forest. Reviews: Fun/ entertaining to see monkeys up close. Can be aggressive when provoked, be careful curious monkeys will grab your stuff like sunglasses, and especially food. Good shade with lush greenery. Carvings of monkey on the temples. The cost is IDR20,000 (adult).
- Istana Tampak Siring. The legendary pond inside the inner courtyard at Tirta Empul temple is said to have magical healing powers.
Queuing up for the special water believed to have healing powers
- Kecak Dance at Jalan Sriwedari – Reviews: No translation of the story, reading the brochure prior to the show helped, Fire part was very smoky and only lasted 5 min, fire dance was brilliant, interesting costume, chanting, dance, go half hour earlier to get good seat. Duration: 1.5 hrs. IDR75,000.
- Hotels in Ubud.
- KUTA is great if you like walking around shopping district and lots of beach activities. Price is kinda like Sungai Wang in KL. Reviews: Very good for surfing, staying in Kuta will be the right choice if you like night entertainment. Kuta beach is dirty, nothing original about it; its’ malls selling all western brands, clubs playing music too loudly, and drunken tourists. Convenient, shops are within walking distance, more proper walkways compared to Seminyak. Kuta Square is a shopping area in Kuta where branded goods/ fashion from overseas are sold.
|Kuta Square. That’s the Blue Bird Taxi which has meter.
Hotels in Kuta. We stayed at Hard Rock Hotel. The pool and service were great! Very friendly staff. However the room has serious sound proofing issues and there are ants and mosquitoes. The water heater wasn’t working properly for a couple of hours, it was just slightly warm. Very convenient location, shops are within walking distance, beach is across the street.
|Hard Rock, Kuta
- If you wanna buy Balinese stuff, arts, craft, clothing; don’t do it in town; go to Sukawati Art Market at Jalan Raya Sukawati near Ubud. Reviews. You have to bargain, and when you walk away the price suddenly drops 80%. This place is rather dirty and stuffy.
|Sukawati Art Market: not the best environment to shop but things are cheap
- On Shopping (in a shopping mall), make sure you plan your purchase order during offer period (eg: coming towards Raya). Buy the items that are NOT market with “Voucher” first. Apparently, these items are not discounted, but gets a monetary discount after a purchase of previous item. Imagine Kinokuniya Buy a book, get 25% for the next book offer. Just theirs is very badly labelled.
- Keep IDR150K airport departure tax per person on the way out. They only accept cash at the airport.
- Seriously budget at least 2 hours before leaving to the airport even from Kuta. Kuta town can get pretty jammed up. Plus the airport check-in is pretty slow. On top of it, for some strange reason, online checking was not allowed on our way out of Bali (we took MAS).
|Balinese/ Indonesian/ beach outfit on the last day
|Map of Bali: Click to enlarge