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Bali is a tropical island and a very popular holiday destination for tourists from all over the world. This island is one of the most liberal regions of Indonesia which makes it attractive especially for young travellers and nomads.
Where is Bali?
Bali is situated in Southeast Asia. Its northern side is bordered by the Java Sea, while the Indian Ocean lies to the south. This island is surrounded by other Indonesian islands, and the nearest foreign countries are Malaysia and Australia. It takes a few hours to fly to Australia, and a little less to reach the north part of Borneo, which belongs to Malaysia. As Bali is an island, flying is the most practical mode of transportation to reach it.
Bali is located in the tropics, which means that the weather is typically hot, humid, and occasionally rainy. The temperature usually ranges from 20 to 32 degrees Celsius. The rainy season lasts from November to April and it rains almost every day. Despite this, there are still plenty of sunny hours, so visiting Bali during the rainy season is not a bad idea. You just need to plan your daily activities carefully to avoid getting caught in heavy rain showers.
Bali is easily accessible from major cities in Asia such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but if you are coming from Europe, you will most likely need to connect flights somewhere in Asia. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from the US to Bali. To find the best routes and fares for your trip to Bali, check out flights on Skyscanner.
How Many Days is Enough in Bali?
We suggest that visitors to Bali allocate a minimum of 7 days to fully explore the island. Despite its size, Bali offers a plethora of sights and experiences to enjoy, and the traffic can be congested. Due to this, it is recommended to limit the number of places to visit each day.
If you are travelling to Bali from far-off countries, we recommend a stay of at least 2 weeks. The connecting flights can be lengthy, and jet lag may also be a factor. The cost of living in Bali is reasonable, and a longer stay is usually not limited by financial constraints. However, the length of your holiday may be determined by other factors such as the number of vacation days you have from work.
Our 4-week Trip to Bali
We had a 29-day trip to Bali from Helsinki. Our trip both ways were 3-leg flights with Cathay Pacific which means we had to seat in the plane for long hours but luckily the airline offered superb quality which kept us happy on each of those flights. As we had ample connection time, we also had the chance to visit Plaza Premium Lounge in Frankfurt during our inbound flight and we visited Chase Sapphire Lounge in Hong Kong on our outbound flight.
We made a practical choice to stay the whole holiday in the same hotel: Swiss-Belhotel Rainforest Kuta. This decision eliminated the need to pack and unpack luggage during the holiday if we should have chosen to transfer to a different accommodation.
Rainforest Kuta was practically located in the north Kuta so it was always easy and affordable to hire a taxi whenever we needed one. Transportation costs were surprisingly low even though we used taxis every day multiple times.
How to Find Inexpensive Flights?
Follow our simple checklist to find a good deal:
- Compare flight prices on Skyscanner on different dates.
- Choose the most suitable schedule and price.
- Decide whether to book directly from the airline or via an Online Travel Agency (OTA)
- Let Skyscanner to forward you to the chosen booking site.
- Go through the booking process and avoid buying unnecessary extras.
- Double check all the details CAREFULLY before the payment.
We list the best attractions of Bali based on our own experiences.
Uluwatu is a region in the southern part of Bali. It has stunning beaches suitable for surfing and snorkelling but Uluwatu Temple is perhaps the most well-known tourist attraction in this area.
The temple is also called Pura Luhur Uluwatu. The Hindu temple is on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. Its big size and location make the temple one of the busiest Hindu temples in Bali. Uluwatu Temple offers amazing views over the ocean and the temple is also home to a group of monkeys.
We think there are three good reasons to visit the temple: It has a long rich history, the views from the cliff are fascinating and you can watch live the famous Balinese dance, Kecak in the evenings in the temple area. We recommend pre-booking a ticket to the Kecak show as there are usually hundreds of spectators and so to ensure you'll be admitted. Otherwise, you will miss it. You still have a chance to buy tickets on the spot but be noticed that only cash payments are accepted.
You can easily spend the whole day in the Uluwatu area. In the daytime, you can try one of the beaches nearby or enjoy delicious Balinese cuisine. Since the distances are long, you need a taxi to move from one place to another. A taxi from Kuta to Uluwatu temple takes 90 minutes and the price is about 10 US dollars one way.
- Location: Uluwatu, South Bali
- Opening hours: 07.00 - 19.00
- Entrance fee: 50,000 IDR (Kecak dance show ticket excluded)
- Best time to visit: before sunset
- Book a Tour!
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are known for their picturesque landscapes which are characterized by the traditional subak irrigation system. The stunning beauty of the fields and their cultural significance have made the terraces a popular attraction for travellers every day. Moreover, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012. The terraces represent a living cultural landscape that has been shaped by the Balinese people for centuries.
Visitors to Jatiluwih can hike or cycle around the rice fields, enjoy delicious Balinese cuisine or hire a guide to listen to detailed information about the fields.
We visited Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in the late afternoon but morning could be a better choice since the sky is usually clearer. We got surprised that there was an entrance fee for entering the area and we had also to pay the parking costs for our taxi. Our advice is to reserve enough time so you can stroll without feeling rushed and enjoy the views. After exploring the area, you still have time to go to another destination - for example, a hot spring.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are in Tabanan Regency in the middle of Bali. A taxi ride from Kuta to the Terraces takes more than 2 hours and it costs about 18 US dollars one way.
- Location: Tabanan Regency, middle of Bali
- Opening hours: 08.00 - 18.00
- Entrance fee: 40,000 IDR + 5,000 IDR parking fee
- Best time to visit: Early morning
- Book a Tour!
Ubud Monkey Forest
Ubud Monkey Forest is a sanctuary located at Padangtegal Ubud. The area covers approximately 0.1 square kilometres and contains at least 115 different species of trees. About 1,260 Balinese long-tailed macaque monkeys live in this sanctuary.
The monkey forest is a famous tourist attraction where people come to see the monkeys. Visitors can observe monkeys' daily activities like mating, fighting and grooming. The monkeys have lost the fear of humans so they continuously contact the visitors. They are not aggressive but if they suspect that a visitor has food, they may try to steal it or in the worst case, bite the visitor. That is why you should avoid eye contact with the monkeys. It is also best to keep a distance from the monkeys and in case they jump over you, don't panic but remain calm not to provoke the monkey. However, if you want to have a selfie with a monkey, it is possible to have it for a small fee and only the authorized staff can handle it to ensure the safety of the visitors .
The park is forested and it has many hills and stairs. Trails let visitors access the different parts of the park easily but disabled people need to choose routes more carefully.
We visited Ubud Monkey Forest on a private Ubud tour. It was relaxing to walk around the park and watch monkeys doing their daily activities. Unfortunately, our guide had made a too-tight schedule. We could have spent much more time in the monkey forest but then we would not have seen other attractions anymore. If you intend to visit the monkey forest with a tour guide, it could be wise to ask the guide to give you a few hours and maybe you can skip a few shops on the way.
Tour guides love to take you to expensive touristy shops on the way to get their commissions.
Ubud Monkey Forest is about 1-hour drive from Kuta. A ride costs 15 US dollars one way. It is common to combine many Ubud attractions into a single tour.
- Location: Ubud
- Opening hours: 09.00 - 17.00
- Entrance fee: 80,000 IDR
- Best time to visit: morning
- Book a Tour!
Sekumpul Waterfall stands tall at 80 meters and is considered to be the highest waterfall in Bali. The waterfall ends in a valley covered with lush greenery, and the constant flow of water keeps the air around it humid. If it has rained recently, it feels like being in a steam sauna. It is advisable to carry dry clothes to be changed on after the visit, irrespective of the weather conditions.
When you arrive at the ticketing booth, you will be asked which of the two options you will take: 1) Medium Trekking which will allow you to see the Twin and Hidden waterfalls or 2) Long Trekking Package will get you to the Twin, and Fiji waterfalls. The price of both packages includes a donation to the village, swimming in the waterfalls, and a local guide. With the Long Trekking package, each visitor will get a bottle of mineral water.
This scenic place is a combination of three different waterfalls. The two waterfalls are located at the corners of the valley, and the Grand Sekumpul is the tallest one situated in the centre.
To access the waterfalls legally, it is mandatory to hire a local guide from the stalls at the official parking area. The guide will help you navigate through the valley and answer any questions you may have. A good guide will also assist you in moving safely and looking after your belongings. It is most likely that it will suddenly become rainy while visiting there late in the afternoon as we had.
We hired a taxi to take us from Kuta to Sekumpul Waterfall, which took over 3 hours. The 'official' parking area was difficult to find and there were fake checkpoints selling "tickets" along the way to the waterfalls. Fortunately, our driver ignored them. Once we arrived, we got a guide who unfortunately did not provide much value for the money. He simply followed us without giving any information about the attraction, rather he was just walking hurriedly ahead of us. We still recommend hiring a guide since it is mandatory by the local regulations.
Sekumpul Waterfall is situated in the northern part of Bali, which is quite distant from Kuta. You should anticipate a journey of more than three hours to get there. Furthermore, your return trip may take even longer in the evening due to increased traffic, and the weather conditions may worsen. A round-trip transfer to the waterfall will be around 50 US dollars if your point of origin is Kuta.
- Location: Sekumpul, North Bali
- Opening hours: 08.00 - 17.00
- Entrance fee (tour guide): 250,000 IDR / person
- Best time to visit: morning
Every Bali visitor knows Kuta. It is a busy tourist region which is divided into smaller villages: Legian, Kuta, Seminyak and Tuban. The villages are similar but they have also differences. The best nightclubs are in Legian, Kuta is more hectic, and Seminyak has perhaps the best beach. While the Kuta area is not the most beautiful region in Bali, it is the home of many commercial services. There are big shopping malls, restaurants serving local and international cuisine, nightclubs and museums.
Many travellers, like us, stay in Kuta. The availability of commercial services is the best thing that Kuta can offer. Kuta has also a long beach with restaurants and bars. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find peaceful nature spots in the Kuta area.
If you stay somewhere else in Bali, we recommend spending at least one full day in Kuta exploring its villages. Aside from spending the day on the beach, allow some time to visit Vihara Dharmayana Buddha temple and Beachfront shopping mall. Kuta is full of tourist restaurants but why not try inexpensive street food which costs only a few dollars?
Kuta is near Denpasar Airport so the location is perfect for people arriving by air. For example, we stayed our whole holiday in Swiss-Belhotel Rainforest Kuta .
- Location: Kuta, South Bali
- Best time to visit: day and night
Bali is a small island but its neighbour, Nusa Penida, is even smaller. Nusa Penida is about 30 kilometres east of Bali. The travelling industry in Nusa Penida is still developing so the commercial services are not of the same quality as in Bali. However, nature in Nusa Penida is lush and beautiful and the locals are friendly. As a small isolated island, the price level is more expensive than in Bali as everything must be transported to the island. Many beautiful Bali-related Instagram photos you have seen were taken in Nusa Penida.
We hired a driver for 6 hours in Nusa Penida. He fetched us from the port and returned us to the same location after the tour. Six hours was enough to see only a few major attractions on the island because it was slow to move around as the roads are not in good condition. To see all parts, you need to stay for 3 days on the island. Our driver paid all parking fees but we had to pay an entrance fee to the island. The driver also took us to an expensive restaurant where a waitress practically "forced" us to buy lunch for the driver, too. Even though we liked the island a lot, we feel they are overcharging visitors there.
Nusa Penida can be reached by a fast boat. From Kuta, you need to take a taxi to Sanur and then continue by fast boat to Nusa Penida. The taxi ride takes an hour and the boat ride a little more. Remember to reserve enough cash because cards are not accepted in Nusa Penida and it is difficult to find an ATM.
- Location: Nusa Penida, an island near Bali
- Entrance fee: 25,000 IDR
- Best time to Visit: 3 full days
- Book a Tour!
Angseri Hot Spring
As a volcanic island, Bali has numerous natural hot springs scattered throughout its landscape. These hot springs offer a unique and relaxing way to experience the island's geothermal features and unwind amid Bali's lush forests, mountainous terrain and rice paddies.
One of the most popular hot springs is the Angseri Hot Spring. Angseri Hot Spring is a natural mineral hot spring that originates from the nearby Batukaru volcano. The water contains high levels of minerals, which are believed to have healing properties for various ailments.
There are several pools, as well as private soaking tubs, and massage services. Restaurants serve Indonesian cuisine even though the menus are simple and English is not widely spoken. The hot spring is located near several hiking trails that offer scenic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
We visited Angseri Hot Spring in the afternoon. We decided to book a private pool but after bathing privately, we also tried the public pools. The water in the pools was warm but not uncomfortably hot. It was also possible to cool under small waterfalls whose water was refreshingly cold. After bathing, we enjoyed lunch in a local restaurant. The selection was simple but the price level was also low.
It takes about 90 minutes to drive from Kuta to Ansgeri Hot Spring costing 10 US dollars one way. We recommend combining a visit to Jatiluwih Rice Terraces on the same day.
- Location: Tabanan, Central Bali
- Opening hours: 09.00 - 18.00
- Entrance fee: 50,000 IDR
- Best time to visit: afternoon
- Book a Tour!
Luwak Coffee Plantation Ubud
Luwak Coffee (kopi luwak) is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by civets and then passed through their digestive tract. People, like us, describe the taste as smooth, and not bitter with a complex aroma. Because the manufacturing process is slow, kopi luwak is the world's most expensive coffee.
In Ubud, there is a luwak coffee plantation where you can meet civets, see how the coffee is produced and taste different coffee flavours. In addition, you can try a Bali swing in the middle of the lush jungle.
We visited Luwak Coffee Plantation on our Ubud tour. We had perfect timing: the sky was cloudy but it was not rainy yet. First, we meet civets and saw how coffee was produced. After that, we tried a Bali Swing in the jungle. After the exciting swing rides, it was time for complimentary coffee and tea tasting. We paid a little extra to try also luwak coffee. It had started already raining then so it was the perfect time to do some coffee shopping in the plantation's store.
The visit and a guide to Luwak Coffee Plantation were free. Trying Bali Swing, tasting luwak coffee and shopping were the paid services.
It takes 90 minutes to reach Ubud Coffee Plantation from Kuta. We recommend buying an Ubud tour which combines attractions in the Ubud area. The total price of a tour is about 40 US dollars for the whole group excluding entry fees and add-on services.
- Location: Ubud
- Entrance fee: free
Nusa Dua Beaches
Nusa Dua is a luxury area in Bali. It is the home of premium hotels and the environment is clean and well-maintained. If you are looking for the best quality hotels and nice beaches, Nusa Dua is the place for you. Also, travellers who are not staying in Nusa Dua can visit the beaches.
We visited Nusa Dua Beach in the afternoon. It was a hot day even though it was raining in Kuta when we left. Immediately, when arriving at Nusa Dua, we were surprised at how clean the area was and how well it was maintained. We could easily see that it's the premium area of Bali with the best hotels there. The beach was a nice white sand beach with moderate waves. The sea was suitable for swimming, but the waves made snorkelling impossible. Sea currents in Bali are strong so only people with good swimming skills should enter the sea.
A taxi from Kuta to Nusa Dua takes about 45 minutes and costs 8 US dollars. If you wish to save 20 minutes, you can ask the driver to use a shortcut, Bali Mandara Road, which is built on the sea. This road is fast but it has a toll fee of a few dollars.
- Location: Nuda Dua, South Bali
- Entrance fee: free
- Best time to visit: daytime
Where to Stay in Bali?
The first decision to be made is if you wish to stay in a single location or move from one location to another during your vacation. Staying in a single location for the whole holiday, as we did, is practical because you do not need to pack and unpack your belongings multiple times and the total price becomes also cheaper. However, you need to use a lot of taxi services but they are cheap in Bali. By booking accommodation in a few different places, you save on time spent in taxis but the overall budget may become a little higher. It is up to your preferences which arrangement you like more.
Kuta is a simple choice in Bali because it has all the services tourists need and a wide selection of hotels. As a drawback, the area is crowded and noisy.
Ubud is another popular location for travellers but it has one major con: There are no beaches. However, Ubud has its natural beauty and one can easily experience Balinese culture there. Also, Ubud has a wide selection of accommodation options: from budget hotels to luxury apartments.
Nusa Dua is the choice for people who want to stay in luxury hotels in a safe and clean area. You will surely get good value for your money but you may also miss the real Bali. We recommend Nusa Dua only for people who are looking for relaxation without plans to explore Bali's nature destinations and cultural attractions.
How to Book a Hotel Room?
For succesful hotel bookings, follow our simple checklist:
- Compare hotels and their room prices on Booking.com.
- Think about the hotel's location. A good location costs more but you will save time and public transportation costs.
- Check the basic things about the room: size, bedding configuration, amenities and photos.
- Calculate the value of included meals. A complimentary breakfast is a good way to start a new day.
- Read previous customers' reviews. If the hotel has many bad reviews, skip it and choose a hotel with a better rating.
- Double check all the details CAREFULLY before paying the room.
- Pay the booking with a credit card to get extra protection.
Bali is an excellent destination for a short or longer getaway. You can easily spend weeks in Bali and still find new and interesting things to see every day. Even though the island is small, transportation is slow and you can easily be over-optimistic with your schedules. To save some time, we recommend combining visits to a few different attractions on the same day but they must be near to each other. Use local taxi apps, like Grab, to prevent you from being overcharged.
Nature attractions are perhaps the best that Bali can offer. For example, you can see how Luwak coffee is produced and taste it yourself, try a Bali Swing or cool down under a waterfall. One thing is common: There is a lush jungle around you and the air is humid. And when you get hungry, you can always find a restaurant with friendly staff and delicious food.
Are you a frequent Bali visitor? What is your favourite attraction? Share your best tips below!
We have been following the travel industry for years, while travelling in Finland, in various regions of Europe and Asia. Our multicultural background with the extensive travel experience gives us a diverse perspective. We encourage individuals embark on high-quality yet sustainable journeys. Furthermore, we are thrilled to introduce the captivating beauty of our homeland, Finland.