Bali: A beginners guide
Why I love Bali
In the simplest words possible, Bali is an island with many destinations. There are few places I’ve visited on this planet that has had so much to offer. Rich culture, friendly locals, stunning food, gorgeous beaches and unbelievable jungles filled with a never ending supply of waterfalls to discover and enjoy. Basically, Bali is the tits! 💪
I mean, seriously, look how cool this is… 👇
Where to stay?
Before you make your way to the beautiful island of Bali, you need to book somewhere to stay. And with so many different areas of Bali to explore - all with their unique spin on the island; you’re spoilt for choice.
In my opinion, there are two areas worth staying in, and both provide you with great opportunities to explore very different areas of the island.
When I first came to Bali, I stayed in Ubud; this choice was made easy because it’s simply the most central hood on the island. It has everything you could desire, right down to amazing food and if you have to, a Starbucks ☕️!
I stayed there for a month and took my scooter everywhere. It worked beautifully!
From Ubud, your nearest and best explorations are the waterfalls, temples and jungles of Bali. It is also the location of the famous Monkey Forest. Where you can watch monkeys climb on you, steal people’s shit 💩 and then attempt to steal yours (but seeing as you read this article that won’t happen to you!).
Ubud is also well known for its Yoga and health foods. If you’re a Yogi, this is the place for you.
Canggu is very similar to Ubud, developed and amazing in pretty much every way. However, the big difference here is the vibe. Here you will find the surfer dude community. You’ll still have those epic smoothie bowls, and a lot of health food but this area is more suited to those of you that want to be near the beach.
Canggu also makes the journey down to Uluwatu - the real surf capital of Bali (with amazing cliff and beach clubs), a lot easier. So if you’re into the surf and like saying dude, this is the place to be.
So which area do I recommend?
No matter how long you’re in Bali, I would split your stay between the two. Canggu for the beach vibes and the quick drive down to Uluwatu followed by Ubud, that way, you can channel your inner Yogi and drive north for the stunning waterfalls!
How to get around Bali
Now you’ve booked your flight, your pimp villas in Canggu and Ubud, you need to get around the island. There are two ways to do this:
Renting allows you all the flexibility you need to get around the island when you want and saves you some money in the long run. You can pick up a cheap local scooter that will have it’s quirks (at least one thing will be broken on the scooter, guaranteed) or you can do what I did and rent a reliable motorbike to tour the island. You can also rent cars, but that’s just boring!
If you’ve never driven a scooter or motorbike or simply don’t have a license for one — don’t worry. Just rent it anyway, they don’t care, and enjoy your first adventure on, as Vin Diesel calls it — a crotch rocket.
A driver is great, but gets expensive fast, especially if you’ve not perfected your haggling skills. Sometimes this can cost more than your entire day’s food - depending on demand and cheekiness of the local driver you’re haggling with.
If you’re going short distances your best bet is to get a driver to zip you around on the back of a scooter. Saving yourself a dollar and giving you a true Bali experience.
For long distances, you’ll end up in an air-conditioned car that I’m pretty sure is the average temperature they think us westerners are used to — sub zero!
I used drivers when I took day/weekend trips to the other islands around Bali. I didn’t want to leave my bike parked unattended. For me, the real fun of Bali is taking the road less traveled, just like the locals, on two wheels.
What to do and see in Bali?
The waterfalls that cover the island of Bali have to be their most famous attraction. After all, Bali isn’t a beach location (seriously, it’s not), and these magnificent natural “insta spots” are the perfect adventure you can’t get anywhere else.
Almost, if not more readily available than waterfalls — are the temples. Crazy beautiful architecture and a fantastic experience. Every popular temple has a bunch of locals hoping to score some dollar for a personal guided tour, and they are well worth the price.
Bali is hands down one of my favourite surf spots in the world. You have areas like Kuta and Canggu providing some decent surf in walking distance of the town, and the local surf shacks will ring up local surfers to give you a 2-hour crash course if you’re new to surfing.
Uluwatu offers the best waves; it also offers cliffs and coral around every wave. So this one is for the more seasoned surfer, but it also makes for a fantastic spectators sport.
I won’t go into this much, other than to say there is a LOT of yoga in Bali, especially in Ubud. Well worth trying in what has to be one of the most chilled locations on the globe.
Bali is beautiful, but it’s also surrounded by equally beautiful islands that are a must visit. Getting there takes a few hours by boat and even that is an experience in itself.
The gili islands are a group of 3 tiny islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Each island has it’s own slightly different vibe and experiences to have. Diving is a big draw here.
Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida islands are the closest to Bali and offer quite possibly the most amount of “insta spots” for your photographic porn in-or-around Bali. These are some truly beautiful islands and offer a little more peace than the Bali. Manta rays and the underwater buddha are a must see here.
A weird one but a fun one. Bali is littered with swings, some are private at resorts/certain Airbnb’s, and some are experiences you can book. You’ll end up swinging at speed through the jungle, and it is a genuinely fun experience filled with photo ops.
Need some time to chill? Want a day off from Yoga? The sheer number of stunning beach and cliff clubs in Bali is impressive to start with. Coupled with the fact that most of these clubs have amazing drinks, food and usually snorkelling/paddle boarding on offer. This makes them an ideal weekend relaxation treat; my favourite was Sunday’s Beach Club in Uluwatu!
Best time to go
Bali is one of those paradises that does suffer from a rainy season. However, based on my experience these rainy periods are not as consistent as the internet may have you believe and the rain does not ruin a Bali experience. Some of my favorite waterfall adventures started with torrential rain as I took my motorbike north. Sometimes the rain can improve an adventure as you get a place to yourself.
I’ll be back
Bali is so good it has top spot on my destinations to return to and I’m sure once you’ve visited you’ll be back for more too!
My overall rating for Bali: 10/10 😱 ❤️ 🎉 🌴 ☀️