Hiring a private driver is the way to get around in Bali as you'll get a personal pick-up and drop-off service whenever you need it. Most drivers offering this service will speak good English and will offer local insight as you go. Buses are available to most destinations, which run at set times at a set price. Or you can hire a motorbike.
Bali traffic is notoriously bad, as are the roads. From the airport, it will take 15 to 30 minutes by car to Kuta, Legian, Sanur and Nusa Dua, depending on traffic. If you're going to Ubud, it will usually take just under an hour. Hiring a motorbike might get you where you need to go faster as you'll be able to beat the queues but this is risky business. Bali Police will pull you over at random so be prepared to line their pockets.
Shuttle buses in Bali tend to run 5 or 6 times a day between the more popular destinations, for example, from Kuta/Seminyak to Ubud, Candidasa, Amed, Padangbai and Denpasar. Most journeys on the public shuttle buses will cost between 50,000 to 150,000 rupiahs and most will be small, air-conditioned vehicles, holding between 8 - 12 people. For a private car with a driver expect to pay around 400,000 Rupiah a day.
Car rental in Bali is best arranged before you arrive so you can pick up your car at the airport. Alternatively some car hire companies will provide a pick up service at the airport and will deliver you to your hotel, where they'll introduce you to your car, give you maps and tell you some interesting places to visit. Shop around for the best prices.
As Bali is predominantly Hindu, it's considered respectful to cover up as much as possible, especially when you're visiting local villages or other non-touristy areas. Swimwear on the beach is not a problem, but if you're visiting temples covering your shoulders and wearing a sarong is a general requirement. You can buy sarongs cheaply everywhere in Bali.
The local language in Bali is Bahasa Indonesia though in the main tourist areas most people will happily talk to you in English. Even so, knowing a few basics, such as terima kasih (thank you) and salamat pagi/malam (good morning/night will go a long way towards earning you one of those winning Balinese smiles.
Australians are eligible for a 30-day tourist visa when they land at Ngurah Rai Airport. This visa costs US$25 and it's advisable to have this money in cash, ready to hand over on arrival. Most hotels will want to take a copy of your passport when you check in, so having a few photocopies will save time.
The local currency in Bali is the rupiah and there are both coins and notes in circuit. Notes range from 1000 to 100,000 rupiah and both are red in colour, so be careful not to mix them up. A DVD will cost you 10,000 rupiah, as will a basic meal in a small, local warung, which is the equivalent of AUS$1.
Located in Bali's capital, Denpasar (DPS). Lots of airlines offer direct flights.
If you feel like a stopover en route to Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are both under 3 hours from Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, located in Bali's capital, Denpasar (DPS). Both destinations offer great shopping opportunities and things to do, before winding down at your final destination, Bali.
From Darwin: Get there in 2 hours, 35 minutes direct, with JetStar/Qantas.
From Perth: Get there in 3 hours, 35 minutes direct with JetStar/Qantas, Virgin Australia and Garuda Indonesia.
From Brisbane: Get there in 6 hours, 30 minutes direct with Virgin Australia.
From Melbourne: Get there in 6 hours with Garuda Indonesia JetStar/Qantas or Virgin Australia.
From Sydney: Get there in between 6 and 10 hours with JetStar/Qantas, Virgin Australia and Garuda Indonesia.
There are a host of friendly drivers at the airport waiting to give you a ride, but the official taxi stand offers fixed rates to various destinations, so make a sharp right from the airport exit and look for the signs. Alternatively, metered taxis will cost considerably less, although there are not many of these at the airport. Grab them while you can.
It shouldn't cost you more than 300,000 rupiahs to get anywhere in Bali from the airport in a private car. Most local drivers are very friendly and will be happy to give you an insight into the local way of life and tips on tourist attractions as they drive you. This is because they want your business for the rest of your trip, so help them out where you can if you like them!
Bali Eco Cycling will get you out and about on two wheels to explore the real, authentic Bali in an eco/educational cycling tour. Ride through stunning emerald rice paddies, visit the locals in their villages, hold a giant tree spider and visit the coffee plantation. Will you dare drink luwak coffee, made from the poop of an animal?
Just 2 hours from the harbor in Bali's Padangbai by speedboat lies the Gilis: 3 islands off Lombok's mainland. Gili Trawangan is a renowned party destination where diving, snorkeling and all night boozing are prime attractions. But for peace and quiet, plus white sands and great food, Gili Meno and Gili Air are less touristy options for an extension to your Bali beach holiday.
Dive enthusiasts will get a kick out of the shore dives in Amed, a half-moon shaped haven offering panoramic ocean vistas. Explore the Japanese shipwreck just 10 metres from the shore, and the USS Liberty wreck at Tulamben. Snorkelers are also welcome and you'll find beautiful coral reefs in both places, not far from the beach.
If you're looking for a one-on-one with nature, you should swing on over to the Ubud Monkey Forest. Buy some fruit from the fruit sellers outside for the funniest photo opportunities, as your fuzzy friends will go ape for it. Kids will love this attraction, but watch your cameras and sunglasses unless you want to have to rescue them from the treetops.
Featuring natural Raw, vegan and seafood cuisine, the huge portions here are always fresh and served with a typical beaming Balinese smile. Try the Sunshine Tuna and the Goat's Cheese Salad. With fast, free WIFI this is a popular place to hang out, eat and catch up on your Facebook admin.
Set back in the rice fields you'd miss this one if you blinked, but fresh seafood and glamorous cocktails are the name of the game at this hidden gem. This is a treat that will set you back more than the average price of a meal in Bali, but for a romantic night out and a change of pace from the regular Seminyak mayhem, Sardine is a catch.
This pretty blend of sophisticated and cute is slap bang in the middle of Seminyak's bustling Jalan Laksmana. Sit near the back for a water feature view and a calmer feel. Settle in for a glass of wine (from a pricy 80,000 rps per glass) and watch the world go by with some delicious comfort food, free WIFI and smiley staff.
With great food and a good family vibe, plus 2 for 1 cocktails, Mozzarella is always a good option for dinner in Kuta. Situated right on the ocean it's perfect for watching the sun go down and then tucking into some decent western dishes. Watch out for the band 'Fab Four' performing their Beatles classics - always worth a sing-along and maybe a dance?
As popular with families in the day as it is with clubbers by night, the place to watch the sun go down over Bali is undoubtedly Potato Head. Set on the grass in front of that glistening ocean, it's the perfect spot to tuck into some international food and relax your way into the night with the DJ's choice of top tunes.
As the first live Jazz venue on the island, Ubud's Jazz Cafe is still going strong and is one of the few places in Ubud to get a decent glass of imported wine (at a high price, mind you). This lively and popular spot offers jazz, funk, Latin, Blues, Soul and world music every night of the week.
Probably the most famous ocean-front bar/restaurant in Bali, Ku De Ta offers top notch cocktails, mediocre food and some excellent opportunities for socialising. Try the pina coladas. The VIP lounge is something special. Head there in the day for a more chilled vibe and free WIFI by the sea.
As Bali's Premier Dining and Nightclub Super Complex, this hotspot offers an all-night party in spite of its somber location opposite the Bali bomb memorial. For the best time, best-looking crowd and most fun, get there after midnight as the party at the multi-levelled hotspot rarely starts till then. The good thing is, it goes on all night.
Tirta Empul is one of the most sacred places on the island of the gods. Hire a driver to get there via a pretty mountain drive. If you're a romantic couple, purify yourselves by taking a dip in these sacred fountains, waist deep in holy water. The price for not wearing a sarong at Tirta Empul is the sacrifice of a chicken, so dress respectfully.
In Ubud, hop in a cab and ask the driver to take you to Ketut Liyer. This medicine man, made famous by the movie Eat, Pray, Love will boost your ego before you head out to the Elephant Safari Resort. Julia Roberts spent a lot of time here during filming. Get up close and personal with the elephants and even go for a ride. You'll feel like a Hollywood star.
En route to the black sand beaches of Candidasa take a couple of hours to stop at Tirta Gangga, another sacred spot hidden away in Bali's lush greenery. Here you'll have great fun take photos on the stepping stones that wind their way over the sacred ponds, filled with giant koi. Once in Candidasa, settle in for sunset with a nice cold beer.
For the brave, hire a motorbike/scooter in Ubud. This should only cost you 50,000 rupiah for the day. Fill up with petrol for just 15,000 rupiah, buy a Bali Pathfinder map from any Circle K store and follow which ever road you like out of town until the scenery turns luscious and green. Find a small warung and eat a Nasi Campur and prepare for a day of nature, waddling ducks and smiley locals. Welcome to the real Bali.
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