As you step off the plane be prepared for the wave of instant heat, which is quickly followed by a flock of people begging to be your taxi driver. Do your best to pretend like you are not just another tourist with no idea what is going on. Many taxi drivers will try to take advantage of you if you let them, some even asking for five times as much money as you will actually need to pay. Fortunately for me, I was meeting a friend that knew his way around Bali, and was much more stern than myself. Word of advice: brush up on your negotiating skills before getting off the plane, you will need them!
- Negotiate a price before taking a taxi. Many taxi drivers do not use a meter, which can cause some complications later. Keep in mind that prices in Bali are generally a lot cheaper than what you are used to, but you can probably get it cheaper than the first offer. You won’t have a problem spotting a taxi, but keep your eye out for the Bluebird taxis. We used this service the most and had no complications!
- Make sure you are up to date on passport and visa requirements. Visit Bali’s entry requirements for help. This will also provide plenty of information on weather, activities, accommodation, and amazing places to eat.
- Some countries won’t let you fly if you do not have an onward travel ticket. Have this sorted before you begin your trip to avoid unwanted stress.
- The variety of accommodation is endless, whether you are looking for budget accommodation or something more dream like, you shouldn’t have any problems finding something that suits you. It’s not a bad idea to have this booked before your arrival, but I had no issues finding a hostel when I needed one.
- Be prepared to treat yourself! With hour massages costing less than $10, there is no reason not to get one daily. I promise you won’t be the only one, and it is SO worth it!
NEED FOR SPEED
I love getting to a new city, dropping off my bags, and going for a quick wander. Walking gives you the freedom to truly take in what is around you, and see things you may otherwise miss. Transportation is very affordable in Bali so you must rent a scooter for at least one day while you are there. It can be a bit nerve-racking at first, but when you see a family of 5 (on one scooter…no joke) drive by next to you, you realize that you will be just fine. You may not feel comfortable zooming in and out of traffic, that is okay, just go at your own speed! Make sure you don’t forget your super attractive helmet!
It is also very important to remember where you park, unless you want to play a game of “where in the world is my scooter?” We even took pictures of the shops we parked in front of so we wouldn’t have to search. After you manage to squeeze your scooter into a tiny space, it will be time for a well deserved iced coffee or a refreshing scoop of coconut ice cream. There are plenty of different restaurants and cafes to choose from. You may find one you really like and make it a repeated stop, but make sure you leave your options open and try something different too! Avocado coffee anyone?
Escape the hot sun and enjoy a walk in this beautiful forest! For a small entrance fee of about $3, you can enjoy the shade provided by the massive tree branches above you, while you admire several different temples. If you choose to feed the monkeys make sure you stay on your toes. Don’t let their cuteness distract you from just how clever they are. If they are given the chance they will definitely try to snatch something from you.
They know to be on their best behavior while the men in green are around, but as soon as they turn their back, the monkeys spring back into action. They aren’t lying when they tell you to hold tight to your belongings. One quick monkey stole the sunscreen right out of my bag. I was trying to get it back, but when the teeth came out that was my cue to step away and let the professionals take over. My friend, who is terrified of the monkeys, had to play a game of tug-a-war in order to leave with her bag. They truly are intelligent and fascinating creatures. Have a camera ready to snap a photo of the cute little babies!
GETTING TO KNOW THE LOCALS
The people of Bali are very friendly and we enjoyed some very good conversations with many of them. Don’t be surprised if you feel a hand on your arm trying to pull you into one of their shops. If you need a little help with being able to say, “no thank you”, you have come to the right place. Although, make sure you do wander around some of the shops because there are some really unique items you can purchase. Many people invest in one of Bali’s famous sarongs or choose from a variety of colorful paintings.
Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself with the locals. The point of traveling is to experience and learn new things. Learn how to take something from a different culture and lifestyle so you can apply it to your own. Besides, it’s the locals that can tell you great stories and share the hidden places that are really worth exploring!
RELAXING IN GILI TRAWANGAN – (GILI T)
ENJOYING THE RIDE
If the sea is not your friend, like myself, it would be a smart idea to invest in some seasickness tablets before boarding this nice, 1.5 – 2.5 hour ride (depending on your departure city) over to the beautiful Gillie Islands. If you really hate the thought of boats, you do have the option to fly, but just think about how many massages you could enjoy for the price of that flight!
On the boat, feel free to sit on top with your feet dangling over, soaking up the sun on the way to the island. If you are feeling a little less adventurous, grab an actual seat out of the intense heat. Once you arrive, you will begin to take in the relaxed life that is Gillie. The beachfront is lined with bar after bar, and the sand is filled with lines of bean bags.
Eat, drink, and lay in the sun! That completes the TO DO list while you are on this little island of paradise! If you are feeling motivated, rent a bike, book a snorkel trip, or enjoy a day of shopping and massages. No need to feel guilty if you end up spending your days laying on the beach with a a nice refreshing drink, just don’t forget the sunscreen!
SWIMMING WITH THE FISH
It’s a game of how many people can you cram on a glass bottom boat without it going down? I think we got to about 35 before we set off on our snorkeling adventure. We were able to snorkel at 3 different locations, just off the coast of each of the Gillie Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air). Enjoy the crystal clear water that relieves you from the heat, filled with colorful fish just swimming on by. If you are lucky, you may even see a beautiful turtle. Luckily for us, our guide was feeling daring and he dove right to the bottom and pulled a turtle out from under a rock. Amazing! We also saw a sea snake and were able to feed some of the fish.
Remember to bring a towel, sunscreen, water, and some money for lunch as you stop off at one of the islands. I would highly recommend this wonderful day trip of exploring the beautiful waters and views of the islands.
APPRECIATING THE VIEW AT SUNSET BAR
Gilli T is a pretty small island that is definitely walkable, but it is only about $6 to rent a bike for a day. Depending how often you stop to enjoy the scenery, you can bike around the whole island in under an hour! I recommend stopping at the Sunset Bar to see the beautiful sun set behind the mountains. Show up a bit early in order to save a beanbag and grab a drink before the show!
Once the sun goes down, you can start your search to find where you want to dance the rest of the night away. If you are in more of a chill mood, go a bit farther down the beach and find a quiet bar and relax next to a fire. There are plenty of options to suit any mood that you are in. The sunsets in Bali are truly fascinating no matter where you are!
My trip to Bali was mostly focused on relaxation and simply enjoying this piece of paradise! While we did have many great adventures and met some amazing people, there is plenty left to do for the next time I return to this stunning place. Many tourists love Bali for the surfable beaches, cheap beer, incredible hikes, and the history and culture. Being able to afford daily massages isn’t so bad either. Absolutely incredible! No matter what type of adventure you are looking for, I am sure you will find it in Bali! Go. Explore. Enjoy!