Bali: what to expect and where to stay
What to expect
Houses that look like temples, infinite rice fields, strangers that smile you with the heart, ceremonies that involve you in the local culture, unique crafts with a tropical touch, dance and music that fill your soul and flavours that challenge our palate. Bali is one of the most famous islands in Indonesia, the most talked about in the past years and all this (and more) can justify it easily.
We are currently writing to you from Bali and, since we arrived, the most asked question is: "is it still worth going to Bali?". The answer is easy but tricky: Yes!
But (there is always a but right?) You need to know where to go, what to do and especially where to stay. Let's face it, a place with beach, sun, surf and good food (at very friendly prices) attracts many different types of people. Lots of tourists, lots of souvenirs, lots of shopping and lots of trendy restaurants by the coast. Doesn’t sound like paradise, right? Not to us. That's why we are not big fans of areas like Canggu or Kuta. If we don’t start to pay attention to the places we visit and do an effort to travel and explore in a sustainable way (avoid crowded places and prefer local ones), this paradise will soon be a series of beautiful villas and houses built for those who come here and not for the ones living here.
Fortunately, there are less crowded areas, turquoise waves where you can surf and local family houses surrounded by rice fields where you can relax.
Where to stay
In our personal experience, that may not be suitable for everyone (remember that not everyone likes pineapple on pizza) the best areas to stay, in order to get to know the true essence of Bali, are:
Ubud and surroundings - Approximately one hour from the airport, you will find a place of enchanted temples and endless green known as the Bali cultural centre.
We won’t lie, in the centre of Ubud there are also tourists, traffic and a few establishments that clearly were not built for locals. But, and given that we visit Bali during the low season, people kinda flow through the village.
You can easily stay in a place within a 20 minute walk from the center (Jalan Raya Ubud and Monkey Road) super quiet and easy to get to. We stayed at Teba House Bisma Ubud for a few days and we loved it, a good price (from 8 € for 2 with breakfast), super clean, surrounded by green and 20 minutes walk from the centre. Another suggestion with identical features but with pool: Kopisusu Guesthouse Ubud.
☞ Ubud (and its surroundings) is one of the best areas to stay in Bali in order to explore the villages around. Due to its location, it’s a great starting point to discover the incredible North of Bali and all the waterfalls on the way. It is one of the few areas in Bali where you don't need to rent a motorbike to see temples, rice fields and forests (regarding Ubud center).
We recommend staying in Ubud for 3 to 5 days (depending on how much time you have and the type of trip you want to do) where you can explore nearby places like waterfalls, rice fields, a volcano, temples and royal palace that will send you to an movie scene. To get an idea of what we've seen, you can check our Instagram.
An alternative for those who prefer peace and quiet and be immersed by local culture and less crowd is Gianyar. The easiest tip is to use the map search tool in pages like Booking or Agoda (even if you end up not using them) and see which areas offer more accommodation, then stay in one that is distant from that.
Suggestion: surrounded by nature, with bicycles included in the price (€ 9 for 2 with breakfast) and typical decoration: Umah Nik Homestay or with pool: Barn N Bunk. But the easiest tip, is to search for accommodation on Booking or Agoda and, through the map tool, see which areas offer more accommodation in Bali and stay in the one that is more distant.
Soon, we'll share a post with more details on what to see, do and visit in Bali. So don’t miss the tips of the best places and tricks to live more Bali and the local culture, join the Flearound family here 👇
For those who want to try surfing or just swimming in a paradise with white sand but don’t really appreciate a full beach with tourists and bars, the blue waters of the area Uluwatu have to be on your list. The truth is that the beaches with more sand and easy access will always be the ones where the large chains of hotels, restaurants and endless bars are installed but we do not want that, right? Apart from the white sand, this area has many cliffs which gives you a panoramic view from the very top and a special way of make you sweat a litre of water to go down to paradise (drama queen here) but we promise that it WILL BE WORTH it! There you find balance, even if it is quiet there are enough accommodation options for different budgets and surf bars, yoga and options for all tastes.
We advise staying around Uluwatu for 3 days at the beginning or end of the trip as it’s in the southern part of the island and you have to pass by the airport to get there.
If you want to explore the wild and natural side of Bali and visit less crowded waterfalls, giant lakes in the middle of mountains and forests with trees that touch the sky, a few days in northern Bali can be your dream trip.
If you have time enough, we advise you to stay at least three days in the region (or more if you don’t have interest in the southern part of Bali). If you don’t want to miss North but don’t have the time enough, you can wake up with the chickens and go on a tour day to the most unbelievable spots or rent a motorcycle, wake up with the chickens anyway, and embrace the freedom by yourself. Soon we will suggest a Bali itinerary, make sure you don’t miss any bit, click here.
If you prefer local restaurants and areas with less bars but still want to have a surf experience around Canggu area (known for the paradise of digital nomads) you can easily find accommodation away from the usual areas. Don’t get us wrong, we love food and most of the places around Canggu, for example, look delicious and super tasty. Who doesn't like avocado toast or a pumpkin burger? But if things are not built, created or tough considering the safety and preservation of the local culture, in a few years you will travel to other countries to eat, see and do the exactly same things you can do everywhere. Our advice, is to eat as local as possible, (if needed) buy goods from local shops, stay in local guesthouses and support local restaurants, stalls or markets. Cause it was the tropical feeling that brought us here in the first place right?
Dalung, for example, is just 20 minutes from the beach and offers enough accommodation in places surrounded by farms and rice fields. The trick is to stay away from the beach for more quiet and local life, or closer to connect with other travellers and have surf at your doorstep.
Suggestion: Local, typical and cheap (double room from € 5), The Reinhold Guesthouse Bali, with optional breakfast for € 1 extra.
How to go
One of the things we don’t like so much about Bali, is having to depend on the motorbike to explore even small distances in the island. Of course it’s practical and gives you freedom but imagine the chaos that it would be if everyone did, right? We usually prefer public transport which is more sustainable for the places we visit (pollution, traffic, etc.) and the cheapest but in Bali it is almost non-existent. There are 3 options to move around in Bali: rent a motorbike for 50,000 a day (≅ 3 €); Grab, a Uber-style app, and the cheapest option if you don’t want to ride or feel comfortable with a motorbike, this is the one to use when you are leaving the airport (hint: you can use the airport's Wi-Fi); and finally hire a local guide, to drive you around and take you to places during the day. If you need, you can talk to Gedee by Facebook or Whatsapp +6287861044244, the price is good and nothing better than the tips of a person that knows the house corners.
We hope this post will help you decide the best area to stay in Bali and what to expect from your trip. Soon, we will share with more detail where to go and what to see in Bali, join the family and don’t miss a thing. If you ever been or are planning to go to Bali leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments that is what these pages exist for.
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