Bali – A small island guide

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Bali is both the name of an island and a province. The province of Bali includes a total of 85 islands, but many of them do not have their own names. Bali is located in the Indian Ocean between Java and Lombok and is considered the westernmost and largest of the Lesser Sunda Islands.

The main town of the island is Denpasar.

Bali belongs politically to Indonesia. From the Indonesian mainland on the island of Java separate the island also only 2.5 kilometers.  Accordingly, one pays on Bali with the currency Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).

Here goes es to our compact Indonesia guide

Bali is located in the time zone UTC / GTM +8. The time difference is to Germany in winter 7h in summer 6h. If one eats noon in Germany, one sits down in Bali already to the dinner.

Bali is a rather young island with strong volcanic activity. The highest volcano is Gunung Agung, 3142 meters high. The largest crater is the Batur Massif, with over 10 km in diameter.  The Batur Massif was formed when over 20,000 years ago the Original Mount Batur exploded. At the edge of the Batur Massif lies the new mountain Gunung Batur with 1717 m, which like its predecessor is a volcano. Opposite it is Gunung Abang (2153 m) as another remnant of the old Gunung Batur. He is a popular photo motif at sunrise.

The flora and Fauna on Bali are tropical Asian. On the neighboring island of Lombok, however already begins the Australian flora and fauna.

In contrast to the Muslim rest of Indonesia, the island of Bali is Hindu.Each household usually has its own temple. In addition, there are still numerous public temples. The name island of the gods carries Bali so not in vain.

You can find a map of Bali further down in the article

Hindu pageant in Seminyak

Travel in general

Best time to travel to Bali

From May to October is the dry season in Bali. The sun shines almost continuously with 7 – 8 hours of sunshine per day and it gets with daytime temperatures around 31-32 ° C properly warm. But even the rainy season in Bali is suitable for travel. If it rains, then really, but usually the rain comes rather in one piece torrentially from the sky. Even in the rainy season you usually still have 5 hours of sunshine per day. Dthe wettest month is January with an average of 15 rainy days per month. Colder than in the dry season, however, it is not noticeable even in the rainy season – you are also just 935km away from the equator. Thus, it is in the rainy season significantly more humid than in the dry season. The sultry heat is even for trained sun worshippers from Europe often initially a shock to the circulation. Therefore, one should not undertake too much in the first days after arrival.

As the best time to travel in Bali is officially considered the dry season. The drier air many travelers feel more comfortable. At the same time is then also just in Australia winter, so that many tourists come to Bali to escape the cold. In addition, in Germany then just summer vacations.So it can be crowded, many good quarters are fully booked and prices rise.

Especially divers, snorkelers and mountain hikers should prefer the dry season. The visibility under water is in the rainy season namely significantly worse. Also in the mountains you can do well without monsoon rains.

However, if you just want to explore the island or spend a few days lying on the beach, you don’t have to focus too much on the dry season. From the end of December, the rain is already somewhat annoying and January we would also rather avoid in principle, but from the end of March, the weather in Bali is usually already so useful that he is unlikely that a whole stay falls into the water.

How long to Bali?

Bali is an island that makes it easy to forget about time. It is ideal for getting lost and being a bit lazy. We would recommend a stay of two weeks. If you also want to explore the north of Bali also a little longer. If you are coming from Europe we also recommend to stay at least two weeks or better longer to cope with thejetlag and the climate change better. Of course you can fly to Bali for a week of intensive beach and party. However, it’s just stupid for the climate and you are more holiday-ready than before – only beach and party there is closer also and even cheaper 🙂 !

Activities & Sights

The main activity of many vacationers in Bali seems to bestrolling along the beach in Kuta, chilling by the pool in their hotel or visiting the countless beautiful bars and restaurants. For this, Bali is but also really excellent.

Who wants to be a bit more active or see more of the island, has the possibility various tours to organize themselves or to book through a tour provider. In addition, Bali is an absolute paradise for surfers (if the waves are not even already somewhat crowded).

What we can personally highly recommend is the hike up Mount Batur before sunrise. The view from there is really great.

Furthermore, there are many beautiful waterfalls and temples, that you can visit in Bali. We have once compiled a list of possible destinations for you

Zoom into the map or click on the icons for more info

Safety in Bali

Bali has a high risk of petty crime. In particular, pickpocketing, credit card theft and credit card fraud are common. Therefore, always carry handbags away from the street and also do not hold your cell phones in your hand on the street.Always be careful at ATMs that no one can swipe your card. It’s best to withdraw money only from ATMs that are in a room with a door, or in a group that shields you from passersby. Always put handbags in the overhead compartment when riding a scooter.

The favorite scam is to pass people on scooters while snatching their purse or cell phone while driving.

In clubs, thefts are also common, with cell phones or purses being snatched from pockets or bags in the crowds. Unfortunately, there are also in Bali again and again cases of K.O. drops in clubs and bars – also with male victims. In addition, there are probably quite frequent cases of zoned gambling.

Also, the number of burglaries and thefts in hotels and vacation accommodationsn has probably increased in recent years. Therefore, you should rather pack important documents and valuables in a safe – if it is sufficiently secured and can not be easily stolen as a whole.

Tips for more security abroad

The police in Bali is miserably equipped. Really helpful it is usually not. However, it can even become a problem for tourists. We are aware of cases in which after traffic accidents passports were confiscated. Even for minor offenses, tourists sometimes end up in investigative detention – sometimes under very poor hygienic conditions. In addition, the accusation of bribery in the room. If you are involved in an accident, we advise you to record the statement of your opponent and the accident scene on video before the police arrives.

Another danger is that of accidents in traffic. On the one hand, the roads and sidewalks are in poor condition, on the other hand, it is really chaotic on the roads. Always watch out for holes in the sidewalk when you are on foot. Sometimes there are scooters on the sidewalks. Always expect that traffic lights and traffic rules are completely ignored and vehicles are also on the road against the direction of travel.

There is a some risk of terrorist attacks in Bali. The Foreign Office advises avoiding political events and crowds on public holidays in particular.

Because of its location in a seismically active region, Bali experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. After earthquakes, there is a risk of tsunamis.

→ Tips on what to do during earthquakes

We ourselves had a cell phone snatched from a moving scooter in Bali in 2016. A hotel right next to the scene had cameras, but they were obstructed by a lantern. The hotel called the police. 10 police officers appeared on scooters, none of whom had a gun and only one of whom had handcuffs. Everyone was disappointed that the stolen cell phone was not an IPhone. We had to have our passport copied at our hotel because the police office did not have a scanner. Our damage report was noted on a PC about 20 years old and then again in a very thick book. Our report did not bring more than a certificate for the insurance. At the station we met a couple who had just had their credit card stolen at the ATM. During our visit to Bali in 2019, an acquaintance had her handbag snatched by a scooter driver while she was riding her scooter. To this extent, we have actually not yet come into contact with petty crime in any other place on our trip. We do not want to make you afraid of Bali, because it is certainly not more dangerous to life and limb than many other regions of the world just keep bitter your belongings always well in mind.

Arrival to Bali

To Bali by ferry or ship:

Ships of all kinds land in Bali mostly at the largest port, the Benoa Marina. Ferries also mostly depart from here. The port is located in a bay at the tip of Denpasar, not far from the airport.

There are numerous ferry services to or from Bali. Both the Gili Islands, Lombok and Lembongan can be easily reached by ferry. Other ferry terminals in Bali are in Amed, Padangbai, Sanur and Serangan. On the Ketapang-Gilimanuk route, a ferry service connects Bali with the rest of Indonesia on the island of Java.

Flying to Bali:

Bali has its own airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport. Even a second airport in the north of the island is currently rumored. Bali’s airport is located in the heart of Denpasar near Kuta. On the roads around the airport is often traffic jam. Therefore, plan enough time for trips.

For a trip to Bali, one covers about 12,000km from Germany. Accordingly, the travel time even with a fast connection is almost 16h .As a total travel time, you should therefore plan at least a full day (including travel to the airport, check in, etc, before the flight and entry into Indonesia, retrieve luggage, drive to accommodation, etc. after landing). Flights without stopovers are usually not found. So with outbound and return flights to Germany, two complete travel days are already planned.

To Bali by bus and train:

Naturally, in the absence of a land connection or bridge, there is no direct train or bus to Bali. However, there is a train terminal near the ferry port of Ketapang, the Banyuwangi Baru Station (also often referred to as Ketapang Station in timetables). This is connected to the Indonesian rail network with which the whole of Java can be easily traveled.  

Also long-distance buses drive in completely Java around. With them you can also easily get from one Island to the next.

transport

The traffic in Bali is adventurous. There are a lot of scooters driving around and most people drive freely. Driving licenses are not considered a must by locals, traffic rules are almost non-existent. Often you can see children alone or whole groups of people on a scooter. Occasionally scooters also drive on the sidewalks, if they do not have holes in which you can fall as a pedestrian at any time. Whether on foot or motorized, be in Bali and Indonesia in itself, in traffic please always attentive and careful. Going and thereby in shop windows look ends gladly times two meters deeper in a sewer manhole, because once again a manhole cover is missing.

In Bali prevails left-hand traffic. As a foreigner you need an international driver’s license. This is only valid in combination with the national driver’s license. Since driving license checks are a popular source of income for the Balinese police, you should always have both licenses with you when you drive a vehicle yourself.

Even though some tourists also scooters in rental cars in Bali swear, we would of it rather advise against it. Too chaotic with too much jostling it goes on the streets of the island. In addition, many roads are not in good condition.

For those who, like us, don’t dare to drive themselves, however, it’s just as easy and inexpensive to get from A to B using the Apps Grab and Go Jack. You can also have food delivered via both apps.

For longer trips, it can also be worth hiring a driver. A driver costs from about 50$ for a full day (jinkl. car and fuel. Prices vary widely). Often your accommodation can help you to find a suitable driver. Partly, however, you will also be approached directly by the Grab drivers or on the road.

Two important factors to transport in Bali should always be considered: Ftrips overland from north to south are easier than trips from east to west. A look at the road network quickly reveals that even places that are close together as the crow flies can be hours away from each other by car. You should also keep that in mind when planning tours.

Furthermore, a drive through the entire island does not necessarily take longer than a drive through Denpasar and Seminyak. Gjust at rush hour, the complete conurbation in the south of Bali is a single traffic jam in which you often do not even advance at walking pace. Therefore, always plan very very generous time for transit – especially if you have to go to the airport.

hotel

The tourist Center of Bali is Kuta. However, Seminyak is also very central. In Denpasar there are more and less touristic places. Before you book a hotel or other accommodation, look at a map (e.g. Google Maps) to see how many and which and which restaurants are nearby and how they are rated. The should give you a good indication of how touristy an area is.

We personally found the value for money of Airbnb accommodations in Bali to be mostly better than typical hotels. Especially the villas, for which Bali is famous, are great and also often already comparatively cheap to get. Here too, however, you should always check the ratings, as there are also some black sheep among the landlords.

For all accommodations in Bali it is important to book early, because the most beautiful accommodations are often booked out long in advance – there is no shortage of tourists.

Accommodation in Bali you can find already from about 10€.

Bars & Restaurants

Bali is known for its hip restaurants, bars, cafes and discos. Balinese restaurateurs are masters of interior design. In many stores it is a real pleasure I just look around. In addition to many natural materials and a rather minimalist design, also often slightly industrial-looking metal structures and plants are used in the interior design.

The cuisine in Bali is a mix of traditional Indonesian cuisine with nasi campur, gado gado and bakso. But also the western cuisine has now found its way and you can find just as burgers and pizza in most restaurants. In addition, there is much fish. With a short research, you can also find German restaurants in Bali or restaurants that carry any other international cuisine.

The quality of the Food is good in Bali, however, sometimes more emphasis is placed on the appearance, than the actual taste put.

We ordered a typical smoothie bowl once for breakfast. The bowl was also very pretty arranged. However, underneath a layer only a few millimeters thick was a layer of granola, coconut shavings and fruit – of course neatly arranged in colorful strips – was half a liter of plain fruit yogurt. I don’t know not how you eat, but we could not possibly eat a half liter of Yogurt for breakfast!

Bali is a paradise for vegetarians and vegans and most followers of other alternative diets should also get their money’s worth in Bali.

The prices for a meal in Bali are about 4 – 8€ per person.

Of course it goes also cheaper if you leave the tourist areas and visit the restaurants of the Locals visited. However, these are very rustic. If you do not speak Bahasa, it might be a bit difficult to order there. Vegetarian food is often not available there. Sometimes you can get away with one or the other small restaurant with plastic chairs you can be lucky and really good and cheap food. A look or inquiries is always worthwhile.

Also the nightlife in Bali is very versatile – However, especially in Kuta. Outside of Kuta, most bars close already at 23:00. In Kuta there is a big party mile for it, in which countless clubs line up.

Naturally, we could not test all the Restaurants in Bali test. Some of the but we tested and found to be good Have found, you will find below.

Restaurants we would recommend to others would:

Kuta

  • Mama’s: German restaurant with good German food
  • The Coffee Library: cute little restaurant and Café
  • Gloria Jean’s Coffees: if you need a pint of iced coffee, this is the place to go. Not stylish inside, but quiet and cool and the coffee is strong.
  • Flapjaks: Huge waffles with ice cream

Seminyak

  • Samik Eating House & Bar: Nice. Garden, good “hip” food
  • Cafe Moka: International pastries and also good and healthy main dishes
  • Wild Habit Pizza: Very tasty pizza, cozy atmosphere.
  • Earth Cafe: Vegan restaurant. Good food good Smoothies
  • Made’s Warung: daily from 19:00. Demonstrations with Balinese dance and explanations of the cultural Background. Food was better in the past.

Kuta Utara

  • Nook: Located a bit outside with very beautiful location by the rice paddy. Good food with large portions. Good drinks.
  • Luigi’s Hot Pizza: Delicious pizza -. Caution partly VERY noisy here (v.a. Mondays)

Ubud

  • Ganesha Ek Sanskrit: Authentic. Indian food with large portions but upscale prices.
  • Elixir Cafe Ubud: Vegan cafe with very delicious rich smoothies
  • Waroeng Adji: Inexpensive good local food but not “chick”
  • Mocba Cafe: Russian restaurant. Very “chick”, fancy and delicious. Large alcohol selection also to take away (Delicatessen attached).

Other

  • Waroeng D’Yoni: Nice excursion restaurant with great garden, frog pond and view into the jungle
  • Warung Dedari: Excursion restaurant with huge fish pond and good food

Bars we would recommend in Bali:

  • Rock Bar: Noble bar in the rock cliffs at the Ayana. Resort. Very expensive but an interesting location to watch the sunset. see the sunset
  • Kudeta: Bar-restaurant with upscale Atmosphere at Kuta Beach.
  • Potato Head: Beach club in Kuta directly on the Beach (upscale price range)

Our conclusion to Bali

Bali is still a beautiful vacation island. We have already been here for a long time in 2016 and now again in 2019. From our point of view, Bali has developed in the last three years, unfortunately, rather to the negative.Everything became a bit more mass tourism, more expensive and more trimmed to the optics.  

On the positive side, we see that Bali has become somewhat cleaner, as Indonesia is now taking the first steps to confront the country’s massive plastic pollution.

The north of the island continues to be clearly less touristy, however, one sees also here that slowly an Appropriate infrastructure is created.

Our honest conclusion after the time is therefore that the time for backpackers in Bali is actually over . Although we found Bali not bad, we will probably not come back so quickly. For this, there are simply more rewarding destinations in the region.

Because of the really long and exhausting journey, we would also not recommend Bali to anyone for a short vacation. The jatlag and hot humid climate are so exhausting that you won’t want to do much in the first few days. And just sitting on the beach and sipping cocktails can be much cheaper, much less exhausting, much closer to Germany. But if you are already in the region longer on the road, then it is worth the island of the gods times to pay a visit.

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