Bali Travel Guide
Bali Indonesia is travel heaven for luxury seekers and budget backpackers alike. There’s something for everyone here.
Adventure lovers in Bali will have easy access to waterfalls, jungles, cliffs, volcanoes, and more. Or, if you’re the more laid back type, Bali has beaches, temples, and rice terraces for you, along with an endless supply of good restaurants and massages.
If any of that sounds nice, then you will fall in love with Bali and its people. Read through this complete Bali travel guide for more info on what to expect!
Where Is Bali?
First things first — where is Bali island on the world map?
Bali is a small island located in the country of Indonesia (in Southeast Asia). Indonesia is made up of more than 17,000 islands, and it’s surrounded by Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.
Bali is a fairly small island, located just to the right of Java, the 5th largest island in Indonesia. These two islands—Bali and Java—were connected by land in centuries past.
Bali is a tropical island, so the weather is hot and humid year round.
It has a rainy season that runs from November to April, and a dry season that runs from April to November. It’s still very possible to visit Bali in the rainy season, but give yourself some buffer days in case of bad weather.
The best time to visit Bali depends on what you’re looking for. The nicest weather is during the dry season, when it’s generally sunny and windy.
However, Bali is less crowded during the wet season, and the rain is mostly in the evenings or at night, so it’s usually not too disruptive anyway.
Bali is a very safe place to travel. Violent crime is rare, and murders are almost unheard of. Drive-by phone snatchings do happen from time to time, so just remember to put away your phone when you’re by a busy road with passing motorbikes.
The biggest safety risks in Bali and Indonesia are probably motorbike accidents and natural threats. I’d stay away from motorbikes here unless you’re an experienced driver in Southeast Asia.
There are several types of venomous snakes in Bali, but they’re not common to see in the tourist areas, even if you go hiking.
Bali was visited by more than 6 million people in 2019, making it the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia by a long shot (although there are lots of other great islands and places to visit in Indonesia).
The Balinese locals are known for their warmth, and they’re very friendly and welcoming to foreigners.
It’s really easy to travel Bali on a budget, with hostels available from $5 and private hotels from $10. Meals are also cheap, costing as little as $1 to $3 in some ‘warungs’ (family owned restaurants).
Transportation in Bali is generally by motorbike or car, and these can be rented, but hiring a driver is cheap and often preferable.
The locals in Bali speak mainly Indonesian and Balinese, although many of them are also fluent in English.
You don’t need to learn Indonesian to visit Bali, although it’s polite and fun to learn at least a little bit of Bahasa.
Things To Do In Bali
There’s something in Bali for every kind of traveler.
Adventure lovers will have access to all kinds of hikes and scenery, with waterfalls, jungles, cliffs, volcanoes, and more. You can do rafting, ATVs, jet skiing, hot air balloons, and scenic helicopter flights.
Or, if you’re the more laid back type, Bali has beaches, clubs, markets, temples, and rice terraces for you, along with an endless supply of good restaurants and massages. The local food is amazing, and you can also find lots of western food as well.
Wildlife can be seen at places like the Ubud Monkey Forest, the Mason Elephant Park, Bali Zoo, Bali Bird Park, Bali Butterfly Park, Bali Sea Turtle Society, and West Bali National Park. You can also go snorkeling or scuba diving and see all kinds of colorful fish and coral.
You can find a wide variety of nice handmade crafts in Bali like wood carvings, paintings, and rattan bags, and Bali is also known for coffee beans, spices, oils, lace, ceramics, and silverworks.
See the sections below for more ideas of what to do in Bali.
Bali has dozens of nice waterfalls to see in every corner of the island, and many of them are easy to reach from popular areas like Ubud.
Some of the best waterfall hikes in Bali are well known tourist spots, while others are hidden gems with no people. North Bali has many of the biggest waterfalls on the island.
Read More: Bali Waterfalls Guide
In spite of what some people might say, Bali does have great beaches, but the very best beaches in Bali aren’t exactly obvious to the tourist crowds.
The really amazing ones are waiting in remote corners of the island, or hiding at the bottom of rocky cliffs, so you have to track them down and find them with some effort, but that’s all part of the fun.
The majority of Bali’s most spectacular beaches are in the Uluwatu area (far south coast) or on Nusa Penida, a small island that’s considered part of Bali and can be reached pretty easily on your own or even on a day trip.
Read More: Bali Beach Guide
In contrast to most of Indonesia, which is generally Muslim, Bali is a Hindu-majority island.
There are dozens of old Hindu temples to explore in Bali, and most of them are open to tourists as long as you’re respectful.
The architecture and history behind some of these is pretty neat, so it’s a good idea to see at least a couple of them on your trip to Bali.
In my opinion, the most interesting temples are in Ubud and the surrounding area.
Read More: Bali Temple Guide
Nusa Penida Island
The beautiful, exotic island of Nusa Penida lies just 25 kilometers from Bali.
This is a much smaller island than Bali, but it has some of the most amazing scenery in the entire Bali province (which it’s part of).
The island can be visited on a day trip from Bali (same day return), but I think it’s better to stay and spend at least a few days sightseeing. There are so many good photo spots, hikes, and other things to do in Nusa Penida!
Read More: Nusa Penida Island
Areas Of Bali
Tourism in Bali is divided into a handful of main areas, each with their own vibe and personality:
- Kuta. The center of noisy mass tourism and overdevelopment. You won’t find peace and quiet here, but it’s a popular place for shopping and nightlife.
- Canggu. The popular new hangout for young people and digital nomads. Canggu is known for surfing and all kinds of hip cafes and beach bars.
- Seminyak. One of the most expensive areas of Bali. It’s a west-facing beach area with nice sunsets, luxury hotels, villas, and spas, as well as high-end shopping and restaurants.
- Ubud. The main cultural center and heart of the island. Ubud is full of interesting markets, palaces, jungles, and temples to see, and of course lots of great cafes, restaurants and comfy luxury hotels.
- Sanur. A more laidback beachside town, which is known for being one of the most quiet and family friendly areas of Bali. Great sunrises.
- Uluwatu. A scenic, hilly area in the southwest corner of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. It’s named for a famous temple perched on the cliffs. This area is known for its blue waves, white sand beaches, impressive sea cliffs, quality surfing, and fancy beach clubs.
- Nusa Dua. A family friendly resort area in the far southeast corner of Bali. This area is known for fancy hotels and nice white sand beaches.
Pick an area of Bali and start exploring!
Bali By Drone
See Bali from a totally new perspective.
Where To Stay
Some top hotel picks in Bali Indonesia!
Bali is known for its hotel industry, with lots of comfy accommodation to fit every budget, from backpackers to luxury travelers.
Most tourists stay in the Kuta area for nightlife and shopping, Ubud for cultural sights and rice terraces, Canggu for hip cafes, and Uluwatu for beaches and surfing, while the Sanur area is known for being quiet and family friendly.
Here are some hotel recommendations for your first trip to Bali:
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Nusa Penida Guide
Read my complete travel guide for Bali’s blue paradise island!
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