Planning a trip to Bali should be a fun and exciting experience. After all, Bali is one of the worlds top travel destinations and an absolute must-visit on any Southeast Asia travel itinerary. There is so much information out there about ‘the island of gods’ that it can all get a little bit confusing. So, we’ve created our ultimate ‘How to travel Bali for first timers’ guide to inform you of everything you need to know about travelling on this beautiful island.

Our travel guide shares everything to know about travelling Bali for first-timers. However, those who are returning to Bali and want to explore some more of the island will also learn a thing or two as well!

Having spent a lot of time in Bali over the last couple of years, we’ve acquired a lot of great travel tips. These tips include everything from what to eat, where to go, what to do, what to see and how to get around in Bali. We’ve shared all of our knowledge in our guide down below. Go on…get on with planning the trip of a lifetime!

What’s Included In Our ‘Bali for first timers’ travel guide?

Bali For First Timers:
Location Information

Bali travel guide: Pura Ulun Danu Beratan pictured in the middle of the day is one of Bali's best and most beautiful temples. Is Bali still worth visiting?

The fact that Bali is dubbed “Island of the Gods”, should tell you everything you need to know. Bali is amazing. An island worthy of the gods. The island is consistently voted as one of the world’s top travel destinations for a reason!

What makes this one, of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, so special though?

Bali is an island full of adventure. Every corner of the island has its own beauty from the 2 volcanoes in the Northeast to the white sand beaches in the far south. Oh, and all the waterfalls (and rice fields) in between. But that’s not all…

The island is the true definition of a tropical paradise. Visiting Bali, you’ll be able to experience tropical weather, diverse tropical landscapes and see some amazing wildlife. Not to mention the lush green rice terraces that Bali is famous for…

Bali is culturally different from the rest of Indonesia too. Its official religion is Hinduism, in a Muslim dominated country.

The strong sense of religion and spirituality can be felt right throughout Bali with ancient traditions living on today. A trip to Bali can and should be a real cultural and eye-opening experience.

A Hindu ceremony in Bali, showing off many locals wearing their Balinese Batik and carrying offerings overhead to the temple.

Honestly, It doesn’t really matter what type of traveller you are. Because Bali really does have something for everybody. The outdoor adventure types will be happy to explore the many waterfalls or even climb an active volcano.

Beach bums will be content with the stunning beaches of Uluwatu and the surf culture of Canggu. Those looking to get in touch with their spiritual side will enjoy a cultured visit to Ubud.

For photographers, foodies, artists, families, yogis, thrill-seekers, honeymooners…we promise Bali has a treat for all of you.

To try and sum it up, Bali is amazing for:

  • Adventure travel
  • Cultural experiences
  • Waterfalls
  • Beaches
  • Tropical weather
  • Wildlife
  • Culinary adventures
  • Surfing culture
  • Diverse landscapes

Related Reading: It seems that there are some things that ruin Bali for first timers. We understand this, so we tried to answer if ‘Bali is still worth visiting in 2020?’. Check out the post and decide for yourself!

How long should you spend in Bali?

The short answer is: as long as you possibly can. The long answer is: see below.

We believe that 30 days is the absolute minimum you’d wish to spend travelling in Bali. This is especially true if you want to experience many of its beautiful regions.

The truth is, Bali is way bigger than you expect. It’s so diverse that the 30-Day visa exemption still only allows you enough time to scratch the surface of what Bali has to offer.

There’s a large number of travellers who participate in ‘visa runs’. However, they spend a lot of money to do so, in order to come back and explore more of Bali!

We get it though, not everyone has a full month or two to stay here.

Some of you will be visiting for just 2-weeks or even less. If this is the case, we recommend choosing one or two areas that you really want to explore and make the most of those.

What we don’t recommend is steaming through Bali, visiting places for 1 night at a time. Whilst you can do this, it won’t be truly enjoyable. You’ll have a much better time by travelling at a slower pace and really embracing the unique aspects of whatever area you’re visiting!

Key point: We’ve spent over 6-months in Bali in total. We still haven’t visited all the areas that we would have liked and look forward to returning.

Related Reading: Planning a shorter trip to Bali? Check out 10 Day Bali Itinerary – 3 ways to spend an unforgettable 10 days in Bali for first timers

When is the best time of year to visit Bali?

A girl walking along the white sand Melasti beach in the very southern region of Bali, with the turquoise blue ocean behind her.

One of our top pieces of advice about travelling to Bali for first timers is to understand the weather patterns. It’s not sunny ALL YEAR round. Like the rest of Southeast Asia, Bali has two distinct seasons. Those are the dry season and the wet season.

The dry season. If you read just about anywhere online, you’ll find Bali’s proposed dry season runs from early April until late September. This is when you can expect the glorious sunshine and for the most part, zero rain.

The wet season. This season runs from, roughly, October until the end of March. The wet season plays an important part in Bali’s environment as it brings daily showers. Like crazy heavy showers, sometimes for hours on end! The tropical thunderstorms that join the rain can make it sound like the world is ending.

The truth is though, that the weather doesn’t change like the flick of a switch. The end of September isn’t gloriously sunny and neither does October 1st experience sudden downpours of rain.

There’s a gradual transition between the seasons. There will be some rainy days in September and many dry sunny days in October.

The only time we wouldn’t personally suggest travelling is during the very peak of the rainy season. This is between the end of December to early March. There will still be some dry sunny days. But the humidity during this time of the year is an absolute killer and one thing which made our time there less enjoyable!

This is just our experience though. Many people travel to Bali for Christmas every year and have a great time. Though if you can travel to Bali at a different time of year, you will increase your chances of having more favourable weather.

Where are the best places to stay in Bali for first timers?

So, you’re having a hard time choosing where to stay in Bali. Luckily, the next section of our ‘Bali for first timers’ travel guide is going to tell you all of the best places to stay on the island!

When it comes to deciding where to visit in Bali you might find yourself spoilt for choice. On an island as large as Bali, there are many areas with their own unique benefits and vibes.

The truth is, that deciding on where you stay can really make or break your vacation. Especially when it comes down to personal preferences. Let us help you out by telling you some of Bali’s best and most popular areas to visit.

Kuta – Best for partying.

Kuta is the go-to choice for young Australian holidaymakers. It is the area where the crazy nightlife exists and is the closest area to the airport. Kuta might be the furthest thing from ‘authentic Bali’. But, it could be the perfect place to visit if a party is what you’re looking for!

Seminyak – Best for upmarket shopping and dining.

Slightly north of Kuta, Seminyak is where the older Aussies and families tend to congregate. There’s a lot of upmarket dining, restaurants, boutique shops and beaches. As a younger couple, Seminyak isn’t for us. However, it is undoubtedly one of Bali’s most popular locations.

Canggu – Best for surfers, brunching and digital nomads.

Ultimate Bali Travel Guide: Canggu is a village in south Bali which is very lively and an attractive destination for young, international, digital nomads.

Canggu is well known for its strong surfer community and its popularity is rising every year. The surf here is amazing for novices or professionals. Are you a foodie? If so, you’re in luck. There’s a massive food scene there too, with an emphasis on hipster cafes and brunch spots.

Canggu has multiple co-working spaces too, which has made it Bali’s digital nomad hotspot.

More Canggu:

Ubud – Best for cultural experiences, spirituality and being close to nature.

Ubud is the cultural and artistic heart of Bali. It’s here you’ll find many temples and traditional dance performances, as well as local arts and crafts. Ubud is the lush green part of Bali too. You’ll be close to the jungle, monkey forest and awe-inspiring rice terraces.

There’s a strong yoga community here too and many spas’ for you to experience a traditional Balinese massage!

More Ubud:

Uluwatu – Best for white sand beaches and chilling out.

Bali Travel Guide: Balangan beach viewpoint shows the turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches that Uluwatu is famous for.

Uluwatu is among our favourite places to spend time in Bali. The vibe here is very relaxed and the beaches are amazing. The many cliffs that rise high above the Indian ocean offer something different to the rest of the island. And, if we do say so ourselves, the sunsets in Uluwatu are Bali’s best!

Looking for another great surfing destination? Well, surfing is another popular activity in Uluwatu. But, be warned, the waves are more suited to experienced surfers.

More Uluwatu

Jimbaran – Best for seafood lovers.

Jimbaran is located very close to Uluwatu, so many of the same experiences can be enjoyed in both areas. Where Jimbaran differs though is the number of ‘higher end’ hotels and well-known seafood restaurants. As it’s historically a fishing village, you better believe that the seafood is as fresh as it comes.

Nusa Dua – Best for world-class hotels and resorts.

Another area in the Bukit Peninsula, not too far from Uluwatu or Jimbaran. Nusa Dua is home to some of Bali’s most luxurious resorts and hotels. We’re talking about the likes of the Sofitel, Ritz Carlton, Bulgari and St.Regis. Many of which come with their own private beaches!

Amed – Best for volcanic views and wonderful diving opportunities.

Amed in the far east of Bali is a sleepy beach town with perfect volcano views, amazing sunsets and epic snorkelling/diving opportunities.

The sleepy fishing village of Amed is in Bali’s far North-East. It’s growing in popularity but still very much a quiet village. Amed sits at the foot of Mt.Agung, so there are wonderful views of the volcano from everywhere in the area.

The diving here is one of Bali’s best. So, Amed is one of the go-to places for those looking to get their PADI certificate.

Nusa Lembongan & Cenigan – Best for a relaxing beach getaway.

Blue Lagoon in Nusa Cenigan is the the perfect idyllic tropical location that should temp visitors to visit both Nusa Cenigan and Nusa Lembongan.

Lembongan and Cenigan are two islands just of the southeast coast of Bali. They offer a real escape from the crazy mass-tourism of mainland Bali. The islands, joined by a bridge, have many amazing beaches, a relaxed vibe and some unique sights.

Nusa Penida – Best for a true island life experience and Insta-worthy photo ops.

Nusa Penida is the much larger island next to Lembongan and Cenigan. It’s famous these days for its endless beautiful views that make for amazing photographs. The ‘T-rex’ head of Kelingking Beach (see above) is just one example of Nusa Penida’s beauty.

The island remains largely untouched by mass development and tourism. So, it’s the best place to see how local life in Bali might have been in the past.

The Gili Islands – Best for tropical island vibes, snorkelling and partying.

The Gili islands are one of the best places to visit during a trip to Bali, for their tropical vibes and pristine white sand beaches.

The Gili Islands are a group of 3, tiny, paradise-like islands. Each of these islands has their own unique vibe, though all 3 of them have glorious white sand beaches.

Snorkelling the coral reefs and swimming next to turtles is one of the highlights. The largest island, Gili T, has a buzzing party atmosphere and many great bars. Overall, the Gili Islands are just a fantastically unique place to visit.

More Gili Islands

Bali Visa Information

Stock image of a Great British passport on a plain background.

The Indonesian government offers visa-free visits to natives of over 169 countries. So, travelling to Bali couldn’t be any easier for travellers of most nationalities. Below we will discuss the two most popular ways in which travellers enter Indonesia.

30 Day Visa Exemption

Travellers from 169 countries can enter Indonesia visa-free for up to 30 days. This visa exemption is processed when you land in Bali’s Denpasar Airport and pass through immigration.

The visa exemption is non-extendable though. If you wish to stay longer in Bali, you must leave Indonesia and return to be granted visa exemption. At which point, you’ll be allowed to stay for another 30 days.

Related Reading: To find out which 169 countries can enter Indonesia visa-free read “Visa Free For 169 Countries To Travel Indonesia”

Do note: The day you arrive counts as one of your 30 days. So, make sure you calculate your departure date correctly.

Indonesian Visa On Arrival

Another option is to pay for a tourist visa-on-arrival when you land at Denpasar airport. The visa-on-arrival grants you the same 30 days in Bali as the above option. However, you can extend the visa-on-arrival one time, for a fee, for an extra 30 day stay in Indonesia.

We’d only recommend this option if you’re sure you want to stay in Indonesia/Bali for more than 30 days. You do have to pay and visit the immigration office, but it’s much cheaper and quicker than doing a visa-run.

Key Points

There are some key points to consider before you decide to travel to Bali. If you don’t consider these points, you might be declined from entering the country.

  • All passports must be valid for at least a further 6-months from the date you enter Indonesia.
  • You must have blank pages in your passport for the immigration authorities to stamp.
  • Your passport must be in good condition, with no damage or torn out pages.
  • You may be asked to show proof of onward travel out of Indonesia. This has happened to us before. We weren’t allowed to board our flight into the country until we booked a departing flight.
  • Visa rules are subject to change at any time, for travellers of any nationality. It’s always worth double-checking the visa rules relating to your nationality and passport before you travel.

Related Reading: If you do you want to stay in Bali for longer than 30 days, you’re going to need to obtain a paid-for ‘Visa On Arrival’. You’ll also need to know how to extend your visa in Bali. All of this has been covered in BALI VISA EXTENSION – The complete process for a visa extension in Bali!

Bali For First Timers:
Budgeting and Money Information

How much will a trip cost to Bali for first timers?

Accommodation – 200K IDR (£10) per person per day

Bali Travel Guide: A very typical guesthouse room that can be found right across Bali for very cheap.

The accommodation in Bali, on the whole, is very cheap in comparison to the rest of the world. There are, of course, accommodations for all budgets, though every area has a wealth of great guesthouses. It’s easy to find a clean, double room, with breakfast included for as little as 300K (£15).

For our favourite accommodation all around Bali, read: Best places to stay in Bali

Food & Drink – 200K IDR (£10) per person per day

A plate of food including rice, sambal, tempeh and chicken satay, a very typical plate of warung food that can be bought cheaply in Bali.

The local food in Bali is not only very good but exceptionally cheap. Western food is widely available, as are high-end restaurants. Though it’s easy to stay out of these when there’s delicious local food available for as little as 20K (£1) a plate!

The local beer is available in shops and restaurants for between 20K-30K (£1 – £1.50)

Transport – 100K IDR (£5) per person per day

The transport in Bali is, again, exceptionally cheap. Private drivers can be hired for as little as 600K (£30) for an entire day and take you wherever you wish. Alternatively, motorbikes can be found for 50K (£2.50) if you want to navigate yourself around the island.

Entertainment & Experiences – 100K IDR (£5) per person per day

Entertainment is hard to pin a specific value on, as everybody wishes to partake in different activities. Some people capitalise on tourists will to spend money and charge over the odds for some experiences. However, a lot of great things like visiting the rice terraces, sacred monkey forest, snorkelling and surfing lessons can still be experienced at budget-friendly prices.

Daily Budget – 600K (£30) per person per day

We’d recommend a daily budget of around 600K IDR (£30) per person per day, for travelling comfortably in Bali. You should note that this is staying in nice guesthouses rather than fancy hotels. Eating mainly local foods with occasional treats and western meals. The one thing we don’t do much of is partying, as this can quickly blow your travel budget.

Related Reading: Of course, everybody’s travel budget will be different depending on their needs and how long they’re staying in Bali. We tried our best to help you plan your own budget and answer all of your questions in ourHow much money to take to Bali in 2020!? blog post.

Top tips for exchanging cash in Bali for first timers

Bali Travel Guide: A selection of Indonesian Rupiah currency notes ranging from the smaller 2000 IDR note to the larger 100,000 IDR bank note.

This section of our “Bali for first timers” travel guide focuses on everything you need to know about the local currency and managing your money in Bali. We will help you to understand how and when to get your local currency. We’ll also give you tips on safely using your bank card to make purchases or withdraw money.

Which currency is used in Bali?

The currency used in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah, which is abbreviated to IDR.

It may be slightly confusing for travellers at first, as the currency comes in the thousands. For example, £1 usually converts to somewhere around the 20,000 IDR mark. So, you can easily end up paying 30,000 for a beer and a trip to the cash machine will most likely make you a millionaire…

Due to the large numbers involved with the Indonesian Rupiah, the currency is mostly made up of notes. The notes you’ll encounter are 1K, 2K, 5K, 10K, 20K, 50K and 100K notes.

With 100K (roughly £5) being the largest note, you’ll often find yourself carrying a large stack of cash with you. It’s always wise to have a good variety of smaller notes with you. Many shops won’t have enough change if you purchase something with a 100K note.

Coins are used as well. Though these are for tiny amounts and come in Rp.100, Rp.200, Rp.500 and Rp.1000 coins. It’s not often you’ll have a use for these coins and they often end up annoyingly rattling around in your pocket.

Good to know:
  • Some menus list prices in the format “Rp 20,000” and sometimes “Rp 20,…”
  • Other menus will simply use the format “20K” or just “20,…” and state at the bottom “all prices are in 1,000’s of Rupiah. They all mean the same thing.
  • Many shops won’t have change for anything less than 2K. It’s normal to either leave this and forget about it or be offered a small sweet/candy instead of your money.

Should I exchange money in Bali? – When is it best to get your currency?

There are two options you have for exchanging your money into Indonesian Rupiah. You can do it at home before you travel, or once you arrive in Bali.

We know this is a topic that causes a lot of confusion and we’re usually asked questions like “should I change money in Bali or Australia?” or “should I change money in Bali or UK?”. Let us help you with that one…

In most cases (if you’re from a country with a strong currency), we’d advise exchanging when you get to Bali. You’ll find that the rates back home are terrible and those in Bali are much more favourable.

Having said that, changing your money in Bali airport is a bad idea as airport foreign exchanges have notoriously bad rates. So, we’d advise you to get into Bali before looking for somewhere to change your cash.

Our top tip: Change a small amount of money at home so that you arrive in Bali with at least some local currency. This should be just enough that you can get a taxi to your accommodation and cover a meal or two. You know, just enough to last you until you’re able to find a reliable place to change your money in Bali with better exchange rates.

Alternatively, you can use the ATM machines in Denpasar Airports arrival hall to get a small amount of cash out. We’ll talk more about using your bank card in Bali later.

Where to exchange money in Bali?

First things first, just to reiterate, don’t exchange your money at the airport. If you need to get just a small amount of local money, as recommended above, then consider it. But, do only convert what you need, until you can reach another money exchange shop.

Once you’ve arrived at your destination in Bali you’ll find no shortage of places to exchange your cash.

Some of the best places to exchange money in Bali are:
  • Central Kuta Money Exchange
  • BMC Money Exchange
  • Bank Mandiri

Can I use my bank card to withdraw money in Bali?

Bali Travel Guide: Banks like the Mandiri, pictured in Ubud, offer a great, safe option for exchanging money in Bali.

YES! In fact, our most recommended option for getting your local currency is to withdraw it from an ATM. The exchange rate you’ll receive is very close to the mid-market exchange rate. So, you can be sure the money is real, counted correctly and sold to you at the fairest rates.

You can also use your bank card to make smaller purchases in shops or restaurants. However, try your best to be cautious and only use your card at places you think are reliable.

Related Reading: For more tips finding a reliable money exchange and how to safely use your bank card in Bali, read “Changing Money In Bali Guide – Bali money changers, using your card & avoiding scams!

Bali For First Timers:
Transport Information

The next section of our “Bali for first timers travel guide” focuses on all things transportation. We will give you an overview of everything from getting to Bali and how to get around in Bali.

How to get to Bali

We’re sure you’re aware that Bali is an island. That gives you just two options for getting here. You can choose to arrive by flight, both domestic or international. Alternatively, you can arrive by boat from one of the nearby islands.

Flying into Bali

A stock image of an Air Asia flight, one of the best and cheapest options for flying in to Denpasar Airport in Bali.

Bali is a destination that is visited by travellers from all over the globe. So, there is an international airport to cope with this demand.

The Denpasar (Ngurah Rai) international airport has direct links with many surrounding countries like Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. There are even direct flights to much further away cities like London.

The airport sits in the south of Bali. It’s close to the tourist hot spots of Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Canggu, Jimbaran, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua and Sanur. So, it’s easy to get from the airport to wherever you’re staying.

Getting to your destination from Denpasar (Ngurah Rai) Airport

You have three choices for transport when arriving at Denpasar airport.

  • Take a taxi from the airport.
  • Pre-arrange a driver
  • Get picked up by your hotel

Take a taxi from the airport. You could easily rock up at the airport and book a taxi when you arrive. Or choose from the millions of taxis drivers who are overly keen to get your business. We wouldn’t advise this though, as it gets chaotic, it can be intimidating and the prices are highly inflated.

Pre-arrange a driver. It’s easy to use Facebook to find a local driver willing to pick you up and drop you at your hotel. We personally use this option as you have somebody waiting for you in advance and the prices quoted are cheaper.

Related Reading: Hiring a private driver in Bali – Everything you need to know!

Get picked up by your hotel. Using your hotel’s shuttle service is always an option. In fact, it’s arguably the most convenient and comfortable option. Be warned though that they usually charge a premium for their service. Some, but very few hotels offer free airport pick up.

Top tip: If you’re arriving into Bali on a late-night flight, book accommodation very close to the airport. These are the hotels that tend to offer free airport shuttles. You can then rest easy and find a convenient way to travel onwards the following morning.

Arriving in Bali by Boat

Bali Travel Guide: The Banyuwangi to Gillimanuk ferry, docked at the ferry terminal in Gillimanuk, Western Bali.

Most travellers that arrive into Bali via boat will do so by travelling from the nearby islands of Java or Lombok.

Getting to Bali from Java via Boat

If you’re travelling overland from Java you’ll need to take the ferry from Banyuwangi. There are multiple crossings daily and, as the islands are close by, the crossing takes just 30 minutes to 1 hour.

You’ll arrive in Bali at the Gilimanuk ferry terminal. This is in Bali’s far northwest and isn’t nearby any of Bali’s tourist hotspots. So, you’ll have to arrange for transport from Gillimanuk to your intended destination.

Getting to Bali from Lombok via Boat

If you’re travelling from Lombok to Bali by boat then you have two options. You can travel via a fast boat (expensive option) or the public ferry (cheaper option). The fast boat will take around 2 hours depending on the route and company you use. The public ferry is cheaper, but much slower, taking between 4-5 hours.

From Lombok, you’ll arrive in Bali’s Padang Bai harbour. Padang Bai is well-positioned and makes it easy for you to travel onwards to the south of Bali, Ubud or even up to Amed.

We have never directly travelled from Lombok to Bali ourselves. However, we did travel from the Gili Islands, make a stop off at Lombok and travel onwards to Bali, using various fast boat companies. We can recommend both:

How to get around in Bali

Once you’ve landed on the island of the gods you’re going to need to know how to get around. Many of Bali’s best areas are spread out and some travelling will be necessary. You don’t need to worry though, as getting around Bali is easy.

Whether you wish to navigate the island yourself, or with help, you have some great options for getting around Bali.

  • Motorbikes
  • Taxis
  • Private drivers
  • Fast boats

Hire a motorbike – Best for a sense of freedom and flexibility!

Bali Travel Guide: Hiring a motorbike is one of the best and cheapest ways to get around Bali.

The most convenient, fun and cheapest option for getting around Bali is by hiring a motorbike. Exploring the island at your own pace gives you a real sense of freedom. You’ll be able to make unplanned detours and stop-offs whenever you like.

We do advise hiring a motorbike with caution though. The roads in Bali are congested, chaotic and not in great condition. Even though riding a motorbike might be fun, you should only do it if you are an experienced and confident rider.

Motorbikes can be hired for 50K (£2.50) a day. One Litre of fuel regularly sells for just 10K (50p!).

Related Reading: Bali Scooter Rental Tips – Everything to know about renting a scooter in Bali

Taxis – Best for short journeys in your local area!

Taxis are widely available in Bali, almost every man and his dog will offer you a taxi service. Though we advise sticking to licensed online taxis such as Bluebird, Grab and Go-Jek. Taxi fares are quoted on the app, so you won’t find yourself in any sticky situations.

Generally, these taxis are best for making short journeys within your local area. They congregate around populated tourist areas though. So, you’ll find them hard to come by in less busy areas in Bali.

You can hail Bluebird taxis on the road, but there are many ‘imposter’ Bluebird taxis. If you do get in one, insist on them using the taxi meter, don’t take no for an answer.

Hire a private driver – Best for long distances and day trips!

Bali Travel Guide: A typical air-conditioned people carrier that private drivers will use to get you around in Bali.

For travelling long distances then we recommend hiring a private driver. Likewise, if you want to make a day trip with many stop-offs, a private driver is a great choice. In most cases, they’ll turn up in a modern, clean, air-conditioned people carrier.

They are easily found by asking your accommodation, or by joining local Facebook groups. For drop-offs from one destination to another, you’ll generally be quoted a price based on the distance. But if you want a day trip with a custom itinerary, you’ll generally be quoted a price for an entire day.

Private drivers will generally charge around 700K for an entire day or around 10 hours of their time.

Related Reading: Hiring a private driver in Bali – Everything you need to know!

Fast boats – Best for reaching Bali’s smaller, neighbouring islands.

A fastboat arriving in to Gili Trawangan from Bali. Fastboats like this are the go-to way for getting between Bali and it's surrounding islands.

Trips to any of Bali’s nearby islands like Nusa Lembongan, Penida or the Gili Islands will require a fast boat. There are many to choose from and they mostly depart from Sanur or Padang Bai. You can book fast boat tickets in most accommodations and tourist information booths.

Most companies will offer a free hotel pick up and transfer to the harbour too. It’s worth researching the company who you book with though as not all fast boat companies offer the most professional service. And, above all else, you want to make sure they’re reliable and safe.

Note: Tickets for fast boats can usually be negotiated to a cheaper price. We don’t recommend booking online as you’ll pay the ‘official’ rate.

Bali For First Timers:
What to See and Do in Bali

We’ve already told you that Bali has something to do for everyone. We’re not kidding, and no single guide would be able to summarise all of the amazing things to do here.

The next section of our ultimate Bali travel guide will give you some of the absolute best things to see and do in Bali. We’ve listed some of our own Bali highlights down below.

Top Things To See In Bali For First Timers

Below are just some of the best things to see in Bali for first timers. These are historic landmarks, cultural dances and natural landscapes that we think will amaze every kind of traveller and should not be missed!

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

Tegallalang rice terraces, one of the best things to do in Bali, pictured early in the morning before the large groups of tourists arrive.

 Bali is famous for its amazing rice paddies and rice terraces. And on an island with so many, Tegallalang does well to be, arguably, Bali’s most beautiful. You’ll have certainly seen these world-famous rice terraces many times before as they’re probably Bali’s most photographed location.

The terraces are located just a short 20-minute ride away from the centre of Ubud and are easy to find. They’re also super cheap to enter too, costing just 10k per person. Be warned though, it gets hot in the middle of the day so take a lot of water. Walking the rice terraces gets exhausting!

Entrance Fee: Free (technically). Though farmers of individual rice fields ask for small donations. You can give what you like, but 5K to 10K per person is usually well-received.
Parking Fee: 10K Per Vehicle
Location: Jl. Raya Tegallalang, Tegallalang, Kec. Tegallalang, Kabupaten Gianyar

The Kecak Fire Dance at Pura Uluwatu

Many people watching the hot flames of the Kecak fire dance at Uluwatu Temple in Uluwatu, South Bali.

 Arguably the best-known landmark in Uluwatu. Pura (temple), ulu (edge) and watu (high cliff) will tell you all you need to know about this temple. It’s a temple, located on the edge of a very high cliff. It’s a beautiful landmark with a rich cultural history. It has a great view and every night there’s a traditional performance of the Balinese Kecak fire dance. Uluwatu temple is known to have the best Kecak fire dance in all of Bali.

Entrance Fee: 30K Per Person
Parking Fee: Free
Kecak Fire Dance Fee: 100K Per Person (Including entrance fee)
Location: Jalan Raya Uluwatu Pecatu

Pura Lempuyang

 Pura Lempuyang is one of Bali’s oldest, most sacred and beautiful temples. Located on the eastern side of the island, this is one place you can’t miss. The temple sits at a higher altitude than most and has stunning views across Bali and of Mount Agung.

It’s the views of Mount Agung through the temple gates that draws flocks of visitors every single day. Besides the perfect views, the Lempuyang temple complex is home to a total of 7 temples. It’s a significant landmark that you must visit if you’re wanting to learn a little about Balinese culture and history!

Entrance Fee: Donation of 20K
Sarong Rental: 10K
Parking Fee: 5K
Location: Bunutan, Abang, Seraya Bar., Kec. Karangasem, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80852

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan

Bali travel guide: Pura Ulun Danu Beratan pictured in the middle of the day is one of Bali's best and most beautiful temples.

Ulun Danu Beratan temple is another of Bali’s must-see temples. It was built hundreds of years ago and sits on Lake Beratan. At certain times of the day, when the water rises, the temple is surrounded by water. It’s this fact that Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is often called the ‘floating temple’.

The lake, surrounding mountains and temple gardens make this temple truly beautiful. So beautiful in fact that the temple is featured on the Indonesian nations 50K currency note! It’s also used by companies like Skyscanner as their feature image for Bali…go figure.

Entrance Fee: 50K Per Person
Parking Fee: Free
Location: Danau Beratan, Candikuning, Baturiti, Tabanan Regency

Sunset At Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot in Canggu pictured during the middle of the day.

Tanah Lot temple is one of Bali’s best-known landmarks and one of the most famous things to see in Canggu. The temple sits atop a rock off the coast of Bali and at high tide is almost completely surrounded by water.

The temple is most popular at sunset as the golden sun lights up the ocean and temple. Be warned, its super touristy and is often filled with locals and tourists looking for the perfect shot. Don’t be put off though, the popularity of this landmark is well deserved and a trip is 100% worth it!

Entrance Fee: 60K Per Person
Parking Fee: 2K Per Motorbike
Location: Beraban, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali 82121alan Raya Uluwatu Pecatu

Top Things To Do In Bali For First Timers

We know that Bali has a wealth of great sights, but some travellers want to get out and do things. Have unique experiences and all the rest of it. If that’s your style of travel then you’re in luck, because Bali has a ton of amazing things to do as well. We’ve listed some of the highlights below.

Climb An Active Volcano – Mount Batur!

The epic view from the top of Mount Batur at sunrise, with the lake in the foreground and Mt.Agung and Mt.Rinjani in the background.

Climbing a volcano to watch the sunrise is one of Bali’s best experiences. Originally you could climb both Mt.Agung and Mt.Batur, though due to recent activity Mt.Agung is closed for the foreseeable future.

That leaves the Mt.Batur sunrise trek, which to this day is one of our favourite travel experiences. You’ll start the trek around 3 am and will make it to the summit in time for sunrise. For those who like hiking, the trek isn’t all that hard. It is early in the morning, dark and cold though, so it’s still a challenge.

The sunrise is hands down the best we’ve ever seen and the landscape is amazing. In the distance, you’ll be able to see Mt.Agung and on some occasions, even as far as Lombok’s Mt.Rinjani! Waking up at 2 am may not sound that fun, but we can assure you the early wake-up call is worth it.

Cost: 700K Per Person (Minimum of 2 people)
Kadek Bali Trekking Tour Operator

Hunt For Waterfalls

We know they say ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls’, but, if that’s your kind of thing then Bali is the perfect place to do so. There are many amazing waterfalls scattered throughout central and northern Bali.

The waterfalls make for a great day trip and some seriously awe-inspiring Instagram photos. Some of the top waterfalls dotted around Bali are:

  • Tenegungan
  • Git-Git
  • Aling-Aling
  • Sekumpul
  • Tukad Cepung
  • Tibumana
  • Leke Leke
  • Nung Nung

It’s important to note that the waterfalls have varying levels of accessibility. Some have paved steps all the way down, whereas others require moderate hikes down muddy paths through the jungle. In any case, it’s worth the effort and it’s all a part of the adventure!

Learn To Surf

 It’s no secret that Bali is a world-class surf destination. Each year millions of tourists flock to the island to take advantage of its waves. For a long time, the main appeal of visiting Canggu was the cool surfing community and its many beaches.

To this day, surfing remains the most popular things to do in Bali for novices and experienced wave riders alike. So, even if you’ve never surfed before, grab a board, take a lesson and enjoy the waves. Trust us, it’s a blast!

The best places to surf in Bali
  • CangguBali’s most popular surf community. The beaches in Canggu might not be the most beautiful, but the surf is world-class. There are many different breaks too, making Canggu perfect for both learners and pro-surfers!
  • UluwatuThere are many amazing surf spots in Uluwatu and just as many beautiful beaches too. The surf here is for more experienced surfers though and isn’t ideal for learners.

Surf lessons are easily found and can be booked through hostels or even just found on the beach. We paid 400k per person for a 2-hour lesson which included the board rental.

Get Your PADI Dive Certificate

For many of Bali’s visitors, exploring under the water beats riding the waves on the surface. There are many coral reefs and a beautiful variety of sea life to be seen. So without a doubt, diving is another of Bali’s top activities.

Diving in Bali isn’t just for those who have dived before and are experienced. There are many retreats where you can learn the ropes and come out with an internationally recognised PADI dive certificate.

The best places for diving in Bali are:
  • Amed – In Bali’s far northeast.
  • Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida – Just southeast of Bali, known for the opportunity to dive with manta rays.
  • The Gili Islands – Just off the coast of Lombok Island and to the east of Bali.

Play With Monkeys At The Sacred Monkey Forest

Bali Travel Guide: A monkey, hanging over a rail and pulling a funny face in the Sacred Ubud Monkey Forest.

Now this one is a family (and just about everybody else) favourite! The sacred monkey forest is in the heart of Ubud and is home to around 750 Balinese long-tailed monkeys.

The monkeys here are friendly, playful, inquisitive and mischievous. You won’t have any problems getting up close and personal with one if you wish to do so. In fact, feeding the monkeys and taking pictures with them is common practice.

There aren’t many other places where you can become besties with a monkey, which is why, for us, it’s a Bali highlight.

Entrance Fee: 80K Per Person
Parking Fee: Free on the road outside the forest
Location: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud

There are some precautionary measures to be taken to ensure a safe visit. You can find out more safety information at the monkey forest, or on their website.

Bali For First Timers:
What to eat and where to eat in Bali

Travelling is not just about amazing experiences and sights, but also the amazing new foods you can try. For some, this is the main reason to travel!

The following section of our Bali travel guide for first timers tells you everything you need to know about food in Bali.

If you’re a foodie, with curious taste buds then the local food will leave you satisfied. For those fussy eaters out there, you’ll be glad to know there’s a lot of western food available too. There’s even a large amount of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants on the island.

We are certain that no traveller will find it hard to find great food when travelling in Bali. And, you’ll be glad to know that eating out in Bali is generally VERY CHEAP!

What to eat in Bali

We’d always recommend trying out the local cuisine, that goes for anywhere you visit. Indonesia is no different. The local food is delicious and extremely cheap, with plates sometimes available for just 20K (£1).

You’ll notice that rice (Nasi) is a staple in the local diet and is a feature of many local dishes. We’ve listed some of our must-try Indonesian dishes below.

  • Nasi Goreng – The cheap fried rice dish that keeps every budget traveller going.
  • Mi Goreng – Nasi Gorengs noodle-based cousin, a flavoursome fried noodle dish.
  • Nasi Campur – A mound of rice, mixed with a variety of side dishes.
  • Nasi Jinggo – Small, spicy, cheap and filling street food.
  • Chicken Sate – Street food, breakfast, lunch or dinner…a great all-rounder and a local favourite!
  • Betutu – Speciality, slow-cooked poultry dish that is mainly eaten for ceremonies.
  • Baby Guling – A Balinese hog roast delicacy!

Related Reading: You can find out more about these amazing local foods and where to eat them in our ‘7 Delicious BALI cheap eats’ blogpost!

Where To Eat Local Food In Bali

Bali is way too big for us to give you a list of every great place to eat. There’s literally great local food available in every pocket of the island.

Instead, we’ll give you an overview of the kinds of places you can expect to eat at during your trip.


A typical view of a local warung, where locals and tourists alike feast on authentic local Indonesian cuisines.

Warungs are small, usually family-owned, local eateries. It’s almost a mini-restaurant or café. You wouldn’t be wrong in saying that almost every other building in Bali is a warung.

They all sell the staples like Nasi Goreng, Mi Goreng and Chicken Satay. Though some, in touristy areas, also offer some western dishes too. One dish might be the main focus and draw to a specific warung. To find the best Babi Guling, for example, you have to visit Warung Ibu Okah

Whilst most warungs have a menu with prices, some are a self-serve, charged by the item, dining experience. These are the most authentic local eating experience that you can have.

Some of our favourite warungs include:
  • Warung Varuna – Canggu
  • Warung Pondok Madu – Ubud
  • Miras Warung – Uluwatu
  • Warung Celagi – Amed
  • Warung Enak – Amed


Flatlay view of a selection of local Indonesian foods, pictured at Ulekan restaurant in Canggu, Bali.

Bali, of course, also has its fair share of restaurants where you can eat the local cuisine. They are a more upmarket version of eating at a warung. This might not be how the locals eat, but the dishes are usually authentic and made with higher quality ingredients.

Some restaurants that we love for local food are:

Street Vendors

Street food in Bali isn’t as popular as other parts of Southeast Asia, but it’s still available. You’ll often see locals pushing their small stall/kitchen down the road on wheels serving up food to other locals. The typical dishes they sell are Nasi Goreng or Bakso Ayam (chicken meatballs).

Otherwise, you’ll occasionally see a vendor sat with a grill serving up freshly cooked chicken satay. Nasi Jinggo is another local dish that you’ll find served roadside.

Where to eat western food in Bali

We completely understand that not every traveller will be into the local cuisine. Endless amounts of rice can get boring after all.

The good news is that, as an international travel destination, you can find all types of food in Bali. If you’re looking to have a break from rice-based dishes, then there are many great western eateries on the island.

Hipster Style Brunch Cafes

High perspective view taken from the upper seating area of The Loft Cafe in Canggu

You probably won’t expect this, but some parts of Bali are filled with western-inspired brunch cafes. They are mostly found in populated areas like Seminyak, Canggu, Ubud and Uluwatu. But they can also be found in other areas too.

These cafes serve up a variety of amazing breakfast and lunch options. Some are dedicated to health foods, smoothie bowls and juices, others serve up great pancakes and waffles. Great coffee is a common theme among them all.

The bottom line is that you’ll find many of your home comfort foods for cheap prices here in Bali!

Western Restaurants

In many of the tourist populated areas mentioned above, you’ll also find a range of top western restaurants too. Every type of food you can find back at home can be found in Bali. You’ll find steakhouses, burger joints, pizzerias, Italian restaurants and more.

These kinds of restaurants are great for taking a break from the local food, or for treating yourself. Be warned that the prices are typically more expensive though which is why we mainly stick to eating the local good-stuff!!

An important point to consider when eating out in Bali for first timers

You must not forget that Bali is a part of southeast Asia. Food hygiene standards and regulations aren’t as high as in most Western countries.

You would be wise to be wary of where you eat. Especially when it comes to small warungs and street vendors. Don’t be over-cautious but do use your common sense. Do some online research, go where the locals go, eat in the places that look busy. The last thing you want is a food-related illness ruining your holiday.

Looking for great places to eat in Bali? Check out our other blog posts:

Bali For First Timers:
Nightlife Information

Wherever there are large groups of young, international travellers, there will always be a demand for parties. In Bali, particularly in the south of the island, there is a thriving party scene and many great places to grab a drink.

This following section of our Bali travel guide is dedicated to covering the best places to party and drink in Bali. You don’t have to go to crazy big clubs to have a great time though. Bali has a good variety of places to grab a cold beer or cocktail.

Where to drink in Bali?


If you’re looking for an all-out party when you’re in Bali then you can head to one of the nightclubs. There are several large nightclubs that open well into the early hours of the morning and host international DJs. These are found mainly in Kuta though, the party hotspot for many young Aussies.

Day Clubs

Day clubs are another popular place to grab a drink, listen to some music and enjoy the sun. There are a number of these establishments for you to enjoy. They often have a pool, daytime food menu and charge an entry fee. Many of them charge handsomely for you to pre-book their sunbeds, VIP-booths or cabanas. These kinds of day clubs are mainly found in Seminyak, Legian and Canggu.

Beach Bars and lounges

Right along the coastline of southern Bali, you’ll find beach bars and lounges. These can be a great place to get a mid-day cocktail or to watch the sun go down. You’ll often find these bars playing chilled out lounge music for the guests who relax on the beachfront beanbags.

When the sun goes does, some of these chilled-out bars will turn up the music and stay open for a late-night beach party!

Which areas in Bali are the best for partying?

Kuta – Best for large nightclubs, late-night parties and a young crowd.

Seminyak – Best for stylish bars, day clubs and a more upmarket vibe.

Canggu – Best for beach bars, lounges and chilled out summer vibes.

Uluwatu – Best for unique clifftop bars with perfect sunset views.  

Gili Trawangan – Best for partying on a small tropical island with a young crowd and boat parties.

The best places to party in Bali

We can’t list all of the great places to find a party in Bali. However, what we can do is tell you some of the places we think you must visit. The list below is a combination of the most popular and unique places to party in Bali for first timers. We’ve also included some of our personal favourites for good measure.

There’s a mixture in types of bars in our list and a mixture of price points too. Some of these bars are great for a cheap beer, whereas others charge an entry fee and western prices for their drinks.

Pretty Poison – @PrettyPoison__

This lively ‘underground’ bar is a place to party like no other. The party gets wild here on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, attracting an international crowd in the process. It’s well known for the skate bowl that sits in the middle of the club. So, you can have a drink, listen to music and watch some crazy skaters at the same time!

Open: 4pm – 12am Daily
Location: JJl. Subak Canggu, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara

The Lawn – @TheLawnCanggu

One of our favourite places to get a sunset drink in Canggu! The Lawn is a beach lounge that opens directly onto Batu Bolong beach. Watch the sun go down with a beer or cocktail whilst listening to chill music and watching the surfers in the distance. After dark, the atmosphere gets lively when the evening happy hour starts.

Open: 10 – 11pm Daily (open until 1am on Fridays)
Location:Jl. Pura Dalem, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara

Old Mans – @OldMansBali


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This might just be the best place to grab a sunset beer in Canggu! It’s certainly our favourite and apparently everybody else’s too. Old Mans is popular with travellers and locals alike for the extremely cheap beers. At happy hour (5pm – 6pm) you can pick up 2 beers or cocktails for the price of one. The best thing is that happy hour just happens to be at the same time as the sunset!

Later on in the evening, the bar gets super lively, and they even (sometimes) have large beer-pong competitions. Overall, this is our favourite place to hang out and meet other travellers.

Open: 7am – 1am Daily
Location: Pantai Batu Bolong St No.117X, Canggu, North Kuta

La Brisa – @LaBrisaBali

Another, and one of Bali’s best known, beach clubs. La Brisa sits on Echo beach and was built using the wood of 500 old Balinese fishing boats. They pride themselves on the unique ambience that the bar offers and insist it can only be experienced first-hand. There’s an amazing seafood menu for you to enjoy making La Brisa great to visit during the day or night!

Open: 7am – 11pm Daily
Location: Jl. Pantai Batu Mejan, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara

Sunset Point @sunset_point_uluwatu


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The name speaks for itself. A great place to watch the sun go down with a cool drink in hand. Sunset point is also open during the day where you can watch the surfers below and even take a dip in the pool.

Open: 8am – 10pm Daily
Location: Jl. Pantai Suluban, Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency

Finns Beach Club

The outside, beach front, party area of Finns Beach Club in the Berawa area of Canggu, Bali.

Finns is another of Bali’s best-known beach clubs. They dub themselves on their website as the best beach club in the world. The club has 4 pools, 9 bars (including some in-pool bars) and 5 restaurants. Walk-in entry is free, subject to availability. Finn’s gets very busy, you will only be guaranteed entry if you pre-book one of their packages, such as a daybed or cabana.

Open: 10 – 11pm Daily (open until 1 am on Fridays)
Location:Jl. Pura Dalem, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara

Omnia @omniabali


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This international club is relatively new in Uluwatu. An all-day party destination where you can dance, sing, sunbathe, swim and drink to your heart’s content. Although Omnia is expensive for Bali standards, it’s a great place to go if you’re wanting a treat. Did we mention it’s perched atop a 100m cliff!

Open: 11am – 8pm Monday – Thursday (10pm on Friday – Sunday)
Location: Jl. Belimbing Sari, Pecatu, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung

Single Fin @singlefinbali


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The main bar to be at night time in Uluwatu. Visit on a Wednesday or Sunday for a great night out!

Open: 8am – 12am Fridays and Saturdays (varying closing times on other days)
Location:  Pantai Suluban, Jl. Labuan Sait, Pecatu, Uluwatu, Kuta Selatan, Pecatu, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung

SamaSama Bar – @SamaSamaBar

SamaSama bar is by far our favourite place to drink in Gili T. This reggae bar is open every night and has a live band on the main stage between 9 pm-1 am. On Saturdays, the band plays until 3 am and honestly, the atmosphere here is amazing. You can get up and dance or sit back and sing along. It’s an all-around great place where you can have a really fun night and meet other travellers.

Mrs Sippy – @MrsSippyBali


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Mrs sippy is a popular day club with a large saltwater pool in the middle of it. The Mediterranean inspired vibes make Mrs Sippy a unique day club. Pool parties and lively music are common events here and there is a great drinks menu with menu delicious cocktails to choose from as well as a food menu. There are regular events that host world-renowned DJ’s who come to add to the day clubs atmosphere.

Open: 10am – 9pm Daily
Location: Jl. Taman Ganesha, Seminyak

Potato Head Beach Club – @PotatoHeadBali

Potato Head is an international chain with clubs in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bali. Their Seminyak club is among Bali’s most popular places to party. Entrance is free, but to have access to a day bed or cabana you’ll have to shell out some cash. Besides a range of cocktails and beers, there’s also a varied food menu for visitors to enjoy. The daytime vibes include chilled-out house music and some evenings they host international recognised DJ’s.

Open: 10am – 2am Daily
Location: Jl. Petitenget No.51B, Seminyak

Did you find our Ultimate Bali Travel Guide useful?

We’d love to know if you found our ultimate Bali travel guide useful. Was it your first time visiting Bali or have you been before?

We want to know if we helped you have a great trip or if we helped you to find some new places. Have we missed anything you’d like to know? You can always ask us in the comments or directly on Instagram. And please do check out our other Bali related blog posts!

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