Bali is a beautiful country, with lush mountains, verdant green rice patties, beautiful beaches, and many temples. The largest portion of the population on Bali is Hindu, and consequently you will see many small offerings to the gods of flowers and other things in front of most shops and businesses. A visit to Bali, leaves you with an appreciation for the natural beauty of the island and the warmth of the local people.
To visit Bali you need a visa. You can get a Visa on Arrival (VOA) currently $25 USD per person for a stay of up to 30 days. You will also need an onward ticket.
We found taxis were readily available, and car and scooter rentals were available as well. However, since most locals ride scooters it is not unusual to see several cars and scooters jockeying for position in a single lane, making driving a real challenge. For sightseeing we found the best choice was to hire a car and driver for the day, which runs around $50 USD including fuel and parking.
The southern part of the island sees the largest number of visitors for its beaches. Nusa Dua a beautiful upscale beach, while Kuta is considered a party town. The city of Ubud, in the center of the island, is known for botiques, galleries, and rice patties. The north is more remote and undiscovered. with more snorkeling and diving, and few large resorts. Each destination has a slightly different vibe, and their own appeal.
Our 10 favorite destinations were:
- Besikih Temple, or the mother temple, on Mount Agung, where a James Bond movie was filmed
- Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, or the beautiful temple on the lake.
- Menjangan Island in the national park, has amazing coral at shallow depths, and lots of marine life. Visits here are by a shared boat tour, which all the dive shops sell, and generally includes lunch.
- The Munduk Waterfalls are beautiful, and a short hike off of the road.
- The water palace Titra Gangga near Sanur
- Goa Lawah Temple, known as the bat cave. You can see bats even during the day.
- At the Monkey Farm where you can interact with the monkeys, but be aware they will steal
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- Blue Lagoon Beach, near Pandangbai has a lush, tropical beach with beautiful coral close to shore for great snorkeling. Ferry’s leave Pandangbai for the islands off of Lombok.
- Tanah Lot Temple, on an island, in southern can only be accessed at low tide
- Scuba Dive off Nusa Penida & Nusa Lembongan with the “Mola-Mola” fish, almost 6 foot tall, or dive off Tulamben at the wreck of the US supply ship Liberty
Where to stay:
In the northern part of the island, we found well run, locally owned hotels with rooms for a little $35 USD a night with breakfast. Titra Sari Bungalow in Pemuteran was pleasant, and attractive locally owned hotel. The family owned the hotel, a laundry, the store, and a restaurant. Laundry, by the pound, cost us about $5USD for about a weeks worth of clothes.
In the South beautiful resort hotels abound, some with rooms costing well over $500 a night, as well as locally owned hotels, and many hotel chains. The challenge is to determine your expectations, and choose the best property to meet your needs. We found the Bali Hyatt in Sanur, to be a charming hotel at a good price, with a very welcoming staff.
If you want to get the most for your money, travel during the off-season. We found that vendors & tour operators will negotiate with you. We parasailed in Sanur for $15 USD and had a full day snorkel trip to Menjangen Island for only $30USD. You may to be able to bargain them down almost 50% off high season rates.
The beautiful scenery, and the warm, friendly people will touch your heart, and leave you wanting to plan your return trip.