Saturday, 9 March 2013

Bali: Quick Guide and Tips

Here's some hopefully-useful notes (especially for time and budget constrained) when visiting Bali, Indonesia.

How to Get to Your Hotel from Airport
There are several taxi services just outside the arrival area of Ngurah Rai Airport offering fixed rates depending on location/area. You my visit this link - Bali Aiport Service. If your hotel is located nearby like Kuta, just walk towards the parking area and get a public taxi instead, rate should be lower than the airport cabs. 

Where To Stay
a peek of Kuta Square
Definitely, Kuta area is recommended. It's 5 minutes from the airport and walking distance to the beach (2-10 minutes), to shops, restaurants and convenient stores. To save on accommodation, there are homestays in the area keeping good competition with the hotels in terms of quality and service but assured cheaper. 

We stayed at Bakung Beach Club (BBC), a little pricey but not a good value for money. We met Ketut, our driver/tour guide for 2 days and mentioned his brother's newly opened Samudra Homestay located in Kartika Plaza in Kuta with reasonable rates, free breakfast, free airport transfer and free wifi. Had we not fully paid BBC, we could've transferred and Samudra is few steps away.

If undecided or you wanted to make sure the place suits you and your travelling party/ies (there are quite some misrepresentations online), just drop off Kuta square maybe and scout around.

Although, Ubud is more countryside for a more relaxing ambiance.

How to Go Around
By Car
The sites are reachable faster and easier by car and unless you have someone friend/acquaintance in Bali to drive you around, renting a car is better than taking a taxi. 
Plenty of car rental around usually with these (standard) rates per car:
5 hours = USD35 or 350,000 rupiah
8 hours = USD45 or 450,000 rupiah
10 hours = USD50 or 500,000 rupiah
12 hours = USD55 or 550,000 rupiah
USD5 or 50,000 rupiah for every extra hour thereof
Your transport is either an APV or SUV.

Again, I would like to suggest you get Ketut's service (he drives his new Innova, i misplaced his callcard though). You can get thru him at the Samudra homestay as well. Please mention about us (3 Filipina) who got his service last November 2012 so you can ask for a good price. ;)

By Bike or Motorbike
This is pretty much getting its spot when touring Bali. The rental is almost the same as the cars/vans so, you may think twice about this especially if not familiar with the driving directions yet on a positive note you'll definitely get your tan lines effortlessly. A leisurely bike-around maybe alright.

Farther up Ubud area, there are tours offering mountain cycling for about 400k-600k rupiah or USD45-65. Check on Bali Sunrise Adventure Tours.

By Foot
When staying in Kuta, you can walk around to explore the area - the beach, malls, restaurants, souvenir shops, the Waterbom, bars, etc.

Where to Go and What to Do 
The most famous area are Kuta, Ubud, Kintamani, Uluwatu and Jimbaran. Depending on what do you want to do and experience, the island of Bali has a lot to offer.

Dry Activities (Sight-seeing, trekking, cycling, shopping, bar-hopping, bbq, shows, etc)

we invaded a farm enroute tanah lot from kintamani
cinnamon & vanilla bean are grown there
and of course coffee
  • Visit the temples - Uluwatu temple, Taman Ayun, Tanah Lot and Besakih
  • Try the countryside - Kintamani (Mt & Lake Batur), Rice Terrace at Tegallalang, Ubud Monkey Forest and Puri Saren Palace, Elephant Ride
  • Drop by Ketut Liyer's house at Ubud, the Eat,Pray,Love guru (visit and photo are allowed for free but his palm-reading business costs 250k rupiah)
  • Witness a Balinese dance/performance called Kecak. There's one in Uluwatu at sunset. Barong & Kris dance at Batubulan Village.
  • Shopping at Ubud for wood carvings and other art pieces at Mas Village, hand-woven Batik at Tohpati, gold and silver items in Celuk, or any stuff at Kuta Square & Discovery Mall 
  • Night bars shower Kuta like Hard Rock.
Ketut, his Julia and his abode
Wet Activities (we didn't do any. these are items usually included in tours)
  • Tegunungan waterfall, Gitgit, Banjar Hot Spring
  • Snorkel, hop on glass-bottom boat or jetski, parasail and see Turtle island on the beach of Tanjung Benoa
  • Dolphin watching at Lovina beach
  • White-water rafting on Ayung river (10km, 2hrs)
  • Swim or surf at Dreamland beach

Food, Essentials, Forex  & Souvenirs

Babi Guling Special- Pork meat and innards
cooked various ways and a piece of lechon skin
Babi Guling is a must-try. You can find local point-point eateries around Legian area. The buffet food at Grand Puncak Sari in Kintamani was also worth every penny - 100k rupiah per person + 21% tax while enjoying the cool breeze (it's like Tagaytay) and the view of Mt Batur, a 3-cratered active volcano.

For essentials and other goodies, there are convenient stores at almost every corner (Kuta) running 24-7.

Forex. Good rates at the airport also those at local exchange centers. Avoid changing money inside tourist spots, it'll hurt a bit.

Circle K & Coco Mart, just 2 of the many
Souvenirs. Aside from art items as mentioned above, shirts, caps, magnets, keychains, etc can be bought in shops/stalls inside attractions/sites and in shopping malls or along streets in Kuta. A big store inside the complex going Tanah Lot has amazing range of shirt designs, colors and types. I also love the items being sold at Baliku store in Kuta Square. Shirt price in Bali can go as low as 15k rupiah up to an incredible 350k rupiah (Hard rock shirts that is). Coffee, tea, chocolates and spices are great buys too. You can even buy those from the farms mostly found in Kintamani or nearby.
In Bali, there's plenty of tours being offered (free brochures available at the airport), it's for you to choose. Choose all you can. But given a limited time and resources, prioritizing is the best way to go. Most of all, get those sunblocks ready, lots of it.

<--- Us and Ketut, our cool guide/driver.

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About Dee

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I was born and raised attune with nature, grew up from the countryside and a strong believer in endless possibilities. I am drawn to adrenaline rush and was never a girly kind but I dig chick flix and plays some music. I started this site during a 6-month distressing/long sojourning away from the corporate world. I gathered all the travels I went and translated them into words. I am not fond of sharing details of my trip and thought looking at the photos I've effort-fully taken was enough. Yet to my amazement reading through it flashes back more wonderful memories like a gush of throwback Thursdays. This is also a good venue to practice writing and to connect. So, thank you for stumbling upon my corner. Sorry I can't update regularly but I hope you'd visit again as my journey continues, find some useful information here and most of all be inspired to go on adventures your own. See you on the road!