Bali is one of, if not the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia, and with very good reason. It really is a ridiculously good looking country and has something for everyone; whether you are an active thrill-seeker, looking for somewhere to ease the stress of the day-to-day, or are living out of a backpack on a strict budget; Bali is idyllic. And the food is delicious too. Here you will find a comprehensive list of the ‘must dos’ and ‘definitely donts’ of any visit to this little Indonesian island, as based on my recent experience.
Do: stay in a homestay at least once and make sure you chat to the owners – even if the language barrier may be a bit tricky they are almost guaranteed to be some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Don’t: use taxi drivers if you can help it, and stay particularly clear of the ones without a meter. Blue Bird is a pretty reliable company but just download Uber if you haven’t already got it as it is far far cheaper (especially from the airport). Most hostels and tourist information companies will also provide shuttles that run between the main spots.
Do: yoga, all of the yoga. Even if you have never tried it before. This is the place to do it. Ditto with surfing.
Don’t: stay put in Kuta for too long, unless you are looking for the Malia of Indonesia or are really craving a McDonalds that is, in which case you have hit the jackpot.
Do: have a bintang or cocktail, or several, and watch the sunset from a beanbag at La Plancha in Seminyak (and get the classic Instagram-worthy snap, obviously).
Don’t: be afraid to barter and haggle. Very few things in Indonesia will actually cost you what the original asking price suggests.
Do: head over to Pura Tanah Lot, a pilgrimage temple which sits on top of an offshore rock formation in Tabanan. Then walk a little further north to watch the sunset behind its neighbour, Pura Batu Bolong. Or just to watch the magnificent dance of waves as they crash dramatically against the rocks surrounding these mythological temples.
Do: have a splurge and go to Potato Head Beach Club in the north of Seminyak. Spend the day lying on the lawn or lounging in the infinity pool which overlooks the ocean. During the day a dj plays chilled out beachy music but the place gets more lively at night, with many famous names frequenting the dj booth (don’t expect to come away with a heavy purse though).
Do: make sure you hop on the short ferry over to the little island Nusa Lemgongan, it is honestly the cutest place and an absolute must for any divers, pro surfers or keen snorkellers out there (getting on and off the ferry is also particularly amusing). Plus, you can apparently see manta rays whilst snorkelling, which brings me to…
Don’t: go on a snorkelling trip on this island without checking the weather first – the waves are HUGE if it is cloudy but the teeny boats will go anyway… turns out apparently the area can get some of the fastest currents in the world, which we absolutely did not know until after our little snorkelling ‘experience’. And no we did not see any manta rays.
Do: lie on a beanbag and watch the sunset turn the sky above the beach into a fantastic rainbow of colour, it will more than make up for any near-death boat experiences.
Do: turn vegan for a few days in the lovely little beach town called Canggu. Unless you don’t enjoy chilled out surfer vibes, hate yoga and wouldn’t step foot in a funky bar, in which case probably give this one a miss. The food there is so delicious though; whether it’s Nalu Bowl for breakfast, Samedi for lunch, or Deus for dinner; you will not be disappointed. (Zulu in Seminyak is also fantastic for vegan, gluten-free, or just super healthy treats from brekkie til late night snacks).
Don’t: forget to make time to visit one of Bali’s fantastic spa’s and get a Balinese massage. They are dreamy and let’s be honest, you definitely deserve it.
Do: Go. To. Ubud. And bathe in the flowery Balinese culture that is in full bloom here. The area is home to some of the most majestic trees and forests I’ve ever seen and the landscape in general is glorious. The local food is delicious and relatively inexpensive too.
Don’t: take a water bottle that you feel in any way attached to into the monkey forest, you will never see that bad boy again. Also don’t take a bag that is easily unzipped… Oh and don’t pull a banana away from a monkey. Definitely do not do that.
Do: go to The Yoga Barn in central Ubud. It’s pretty difficult to find (down a little alley in between two restaurants) but it is well worth it when you get there. If you are there on a Monday then go for their buffet dinner and movie night and lie on yoga mats and cushions, in a barn surrounded by trees whilst nibbling on popcorn. Also definitely do try their Tibetan bowl meditation class, because why wouldn’t you do that?
Do: travel further up north to Bedugul and see Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a sacred water temple which sits on the edge of Bratan Lake, surrounded by mountains. The breathtaking landscape of mountains, rice terraces and forests on the way up is worth the journey in itself.
Don’t: forget to check the whether forecast before you do the 2am trek up Mount Batur for sunrise – if it is cloudy you will see literally nothing but if it isn’t you will not be disappointed.
Do: the Campuhan Ridge Walk – it is beautiful, and really not very taxing so anyone can do it and anyone can love it. The 2km walk takes you up past a river, then along the ridge past truly stunning scenery, before you arrive at Karsa Cafe and then head back along to Ubud town.
And finally, DO: take the short journey over to Lombok, Bali’s unassuming neighbour: you will not regret this.