To travel to Bali you’ll need an outward ticket. I was refused board at the Air Asia desk in Phnom Penh until I bought an exit ticket. Visas can be bought on entry but pay in US dollars as they over charge in Sterling. Alcohol is very expensive so bring Duty Free. Bring cash and exchange at any of the numerous money exchange places but check the daily rate first. Apparently cloning of debit/credit cards is common so choose carefully where you use them.
Avoid the southern resorts, Kuta, Legion, Seminyake etc. They are the Costa de Sol of Indonesia. The beaches aren’t that great either. If you’re expecting golden sands you’ll be hard pushed to find them. Though if you want to cross the world for a beach holiday in the tropics and go to bars, restaurants and clubs then maybe this is the place for you. Who am I to say? Even the shopping isn’t that great. Though if your idea of shopping is Billabong, Quiksilver or Roxy and these types of shops you’ll love it!
Traffic is slow as the roads really weren’t built for the volume now using them. Roads in the south are ok but as soon as you leave this area then hold on you are likely to have a bumpy ride. Pavements are hit and miss, uneven and where they exist they are raised high off the road due to flooding in the rainy season.
Transport around the Island is easy, either by air conditioned TAKSI, shuttle buses or Kura Kura Buses (also go to Ubud) which run every 2 hours with several stops in the south. These can all be booked easily either on the roadside stalls or via your accommodation. Take care though if you book a tour or a taxi through your hotel you will pay a higher price.
It’s hot and humid but there is relief in the evenings so little use for AC and there’s usually a breeze. It rained daily in May even though the rainy season had ended. You have a warning. A wind builds up, the sky goes a grey black, there are a few drops of rain, then a torrential down pour. This is when suddenly the roads are empty and everyone is indoors.
Get engaged with the people. The Balinese are peaceful, kind, smiley people, eager to please and nothing is too much for them. Everywhere you go they greet you and if you want to engage in conversation they will be thrilled.
They practise a form of Hinduism called Agama Hindu Dharma which mixes aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and animism, the belief that souls and spirits can be found in all things. They make daily offerings to the gods. Everywhere you go you’ll see little ‘gifts’ on the ground outside houses, temples, shops, restaurants, your hotel room, even on motorbikes.They’re made of flowers, cigarettes, cookies, rice and even sometimes money sitting in a banana leaf basket with burning incense . These offerings are given to the good spirits in hope of continued prosperity as well as to the evil spirits as an appeasement. Nothing goes to waste the monkeys steal to cookies and the beach bums take to cigarettes!
Wear light clothes and cover up with sun block even on a cloudy day. Bring an umbrella for sun protection and rain!
Buy mosquito repellent and use it day and night. Dengue fever is serious in Bali, and a new virulent strain has just been discovered. So protect yourself at all times.
Try a Balinese massage. They are gentle with long flowing strokes.
Food: breakfasts tend to be the same everywhere. You decide from American, Continental or Indonesian but the choices are exactly the same. Eat at the local Warangs (restaurants) and ask what they recommend. You’ll be amazed at the flavours. Western style food is available in the tourist resorts. Everything is freshly made so don’t expect quick service. Try the coffee and juices. I recommend the Avocado Juice with chocolate. My two greatest yummies together!!
Sunsets and sunrises beautiful, atmospheric, colourful and moody if the clouds are low. Thunder storms are amazing and loud.
Go inland and visit rice terraces which look like layered carpets. This is how most people visualise Bali.
Spend time in Ubud.
Buy organic shampoo, body wash etc. Citronella soap. Buy KISS sachets in supermarket and use to spray on clothes when ironing.
Buy charcoal tablets for diarrhea.
Spiders everywhere but small and unoffensive. Ants all sizes are everywhere. Avoid red ones…ouch… they have a painful nip.
Crisps are horrible. But do try the Balinese crackers.
Bali looks and feels a little like Goa with the greenery, jungle, rice fields and terraces, the sound of water running through the fields.
Some UK mobile service providers allow you to use your minutes and data in Indonesia at no extra charge – worth checking.