Bali, Indonesia: overview of budget, weather, best places to stay, and Indonesian visas

Why Bali?


Bali is a very popular tourist destination for Australians, so many people suggested vacationing here when we were living in South Australia.

Bali has beaches, mountains, jungles, active volcanoes you can climb, lots of yoga classes, surf lessons, great scuba diving and snorkeling, monkeys to feed, delicious food, cheap living, and extremely lovely people with a beautiful culture. In the tourist areas, English is fairly well-spoken, I think due to the popularity of the location with Australian tourists.

In short, it's a pretty cheap place to visit with a whole lot to do and see!

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Bali is so much more than beaches!

Considerations before you go

Bali is an island in Indonesia, which is a Muslim country. However, the religion of Bali itself is predominantly Hindu, with most people practicing Balinese Hinduism.

Therefore, think of it this way:
  • The national government is mostly Muslim, and laws reflect as much.
  • The Balinese culture is mostly Hindu, and customs reflect as much.

Lots of Australians come to Bali to party, because beer and cigarettes are so cheap in comparison to Australia. However, they get themselves into trouble when they treat it like Australia. Basically, if you want to go on a week-long bender, go to Amsterdam, or accept the (often very harsh) consequences.

OK, so you've agreed not to make an ass out of yourself. The next step is respecting the culture. Ladies, this means dressing appropriately and covering your shoulders, midriff, and thighs as much as possible. Long shorts, at the very least! If you enter a temple then consider it like a church or any other place of worship: cover your shoulders, arms, and legs.

Gents, keep your shirts on. This seems like an obvious request, but I have seen many men hiking or jogging shirtless around Ubud. Pull it together guys... just keep your clothes on.

There are debates about the appropriateness of disallowing menstruating women into temples. I'm not getting into it. My opinion is, you came here, so respect the rules. From the sexism angle, let me just clear up that there aren't only rules for menstruating women, but for anyone bleeding: temple etiquette is discussed at length here.

Getting to Bali

We chose Eva Air and were extremely happy. Not only was it one of the cheapest options from the US, but it was clean, comfortable, and the food in Bali was great. I recommend you fly out of LAX due to price, event though LAX is a disaster of an airport.

FWIW they also have Sanrio jets. image from Eva Air.

Our flights were all on time and uneventful (whew) and we arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport around 3:30pm. We stood in line for approximately 2 hours, making friends with our neighbors and people watching in peace. This is the right thing to do if you are staying for under 30 days and do not need a visa.

At the front of the line we realized we had waited for no reason, walked to a different desk, and got our visa in about five minutes.

If you are buying a visa, go to the Visa On Arrival desk. It may look unoccupied but someone will help you. We foolishly skipped the desk because no one was there... wrong call! We could have skipped the line!

We purchased our $35 per person visas (so we can extend our stay to 60 days) and were on our way.

After converting some cash USD to IDR, we met our driver. If you need a taxi, the airport has a guide on reasonable prices. Don't get ripped off!

Cities

We split our time among Ubud (2 weeks), Lovina (4 weeks), and Canggu (2 week). As you can see from our City Ratings, Lovina wins out!



 

To better understand our city ratings, check out our criteria or individual summaries for Ubud, Lovina, and Canggu.

Where to stay

We loved our accommodations in Ubud and Lovina, check em out (remember to use my code if you want to AirBnB!):

AirBnB homestay in Ubud
 
 
Riktiga Bali, an entire house in Lovina that we booked on AirBnB.

Alternatively, if you're in the mood for an actual hotel, ultra-social hostel, or fancy resort, check Agoda.com:

 

Opinions and Tips

Bali is beautiful and we are loving it. The weather is lovely and the people are nice. Everyone drives scooters, although it's terrifying that tourists do, and we don't recommend it if you are American.

The tiny bananas are delicious and way better than big American bananas. The fruit that looks like a snake is a snakefruit, and tastes a bit like pineapple. Give it a try.

Try the tofu and tempeh, even if you aren't normally into it. It's so good! So is the fried chicken!

Be respectful and you should have a blast :)

Curious about how much it costs to live here? Head over to my Bali budget pages:


  


  



 


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