So I am back from Bali, and very sad about it.
You know that post holiday sadness you get where you come home and feel so out of sorts and all over the place and you just WISH you were back by the pool or beach or getting that 2 hour massage again…
Yep. That is me right now as I sit back in the freezing cold.
But alas – that’s what holiday’s are all about aren’t they? There is always a big lead up of excitement as you plan and prep for your time away, and then before you know it, the holiday has been and gone in a flash and you are back to reality with a bang!
I think it’s safe to say that my time spent in Bali was nothing short of incredible.
Incredible food, incredible weather, and incredible experiences that I will never forget.
This was my first trip to Bali, and certainly will not be my last.
I will admit, I was very anti-Bali for a long time, until a close friend of ours (who travels to Bali almost every year), convinced us that it is THE best place to visit for a short break, and there is so much to see, do and eat.
With Mum turning 50 later in the year, we thought it was the perfect excuse to have a girls trip. Our mission was to relax to the max, shop till we dropped and experience a part of the world that neither of us had been to before.
So, being a newbie to Bali, I thought I would list 10 tips for travelling to Bali, for other Bali newbies out there too!
1. Fly with Virgin Australia (and select a return flight to Australia that leaves Bali during the day, trust me)
Virgin Australia were absolutely fantastic, and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to fly to Bali.
I was particularly fond of them because we were able to bring up to 23kg worth of luggage (perfect as I always overpack), as well as 7kgs of hand luggage, which meant we could carry on all of our more fragile items and have them on board with us. As always, the Virgin Australia crew were excellent to deal with (we even got privately escorted the plane – but that’s another story in itself!).
The flight from Sydney to Denpasar Airport was around 7 hours, which is a long time (there was a strong head wind). The flight itself was reasonably comfortable and there was a range of in-flight entertainment available (hello Kardashians!).
The in-flight service was great, and definitely made the flight a memorable one. We arrived in Denpasar at around 4pm Bali time, and by the time we cleared Customs and Immigration we were on the road to our hotel by 6pm.
Returning back to Australia, was slightly less enjoyable. We departed Denpasar Airport at 9.40pm, and arrived in Sydney at around 6am local time. Well what a flight that was…
Although the flying time was a lot shorter at just 5 hours, both Mum and I had little to no sleep. We both felt extremely tired and run down for at least the first two days of being back – and felt like we had been on a 24 hour trip!
Next time we have decided we’ll be taking a day time flight home.
2. Pre book all your transfers to and from the Airport
Because we were staying in Seminyak which is a 20 minute drive from Denpasar (40 minutes if there is traffic), we booked the complimentary hotel transfer to take us to and from the airport on arrival and departure.
This was honestly one of the best things we could have done, because by the time we cleared Customs and Immigration at the airport after our 7 hour flight, we were delirious, tired, hungry and super hot! I don’t want to think what it would of been like if we hadn’t of already organised our transport!
3. Pick accommodation that suits your needs
When we started planning our trip a few weeks before our departure date, we knew we wanted two things: to stay in the heart of Seminyak, and to stay at a hotel that offered an abundance of amenities and was easy to navigate around. Considering it was our first trip to Bali, we also picked a hotel over a villa.
During our trip we stayed at U Paasha Seminyak – and absolutely loved it!
U Paasha Seminyak is a boutique hotel with a stimulating blend of Seminyak lifestyle and local design accents that pair with modern amenities, services and leisure facilities. U Paasha Seminyak is enviably located in the heart of Seminyak with nightlife and beach life both close by – as well as all the main shopping areas which suited us very well!
Our room was spacious, light and airy, which was great considering the very humid, 30 degree heat. We had our own balcony, and were close to all the resort amenities, restaurants, bars and pools. We chose not to include breakfast in our booking, as we wanted to experience as many of the local cafes and restaurants as we could during our stay.
The resort also had a fitness centre, day spa, rooftop pool which we practically lived at and a restaurant. They also offered free sunrise and sunset yoga classes, which I definitely took advantage of!
We really enjoyed our time staying at U Paasha Seminyak, and highly recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay in the heart of Seminyak.
4. Book a Day Trip with Bali Driver Seminyak to Ubud
Surprisingly enough, we didn’t pre-book any day trips before we arrived in Bali, as we wanted to see what our options were first. Also, our main priorities were to relax and shop – so we covered these off first before booking anything.
Towards the end of our trip we did a bit of googling and Trip Advisor searching, and found Bali Driver Seminyak – Private Day Tours, and booked the Ubud All Day Cultural Tour. We couldn’t recommend this tour and company highly enough!
The Ubud Cultural Tour took us to the Ubud Monkey Forest, Ubud Palace, Ubud market, sightseeing through the Ubud countryside, lunch at Boni Bali, a visit to the Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, Tegalalang Rice Terrace, and finally to a traditional Balinese house.
We booked the tour via Wayan (the owner of the company) a couple of days prior to doing the tour via Wayan’s WhatsApp, and the booking process couldn’t have been smoother. Alit was our driver and he was fantastic. He arrived on time for the tour, spoke great English, and was very knowledgeable and approachable. Alit gave us great background information on each areas of the tour that we would be visiting, and ensured that we were safe throughout the day. It was great having him come with us to the Monkey Forrest too, as we were a little apprehensive with going at first, but he made us feel comfortable.
Overall, the day trip was very affordable, and accommodated to our needs, especially as it was our first trip to Bali. I’m trying to decide on what was my favourite part of the day tour, and simply can’t – it was all amazing. So here’s a little run down on each of the places we visited:
Monkey Forest: We had heard that this was going to be a scary scary place, with monkey’s jumping all over us, but it definitely wasn’t! We thoroughly enjoyed it. We ensured that we weren’t carrying any food or anything that the monkey’s could grab off us, and we were able to peacefully walk about the national park and admire the gorgeous scenery and over 700 monkey’s!
Ubud Market: This is where you’re going to find some amazing treasures and gifts. We spent over 90 minutes wandering around these markets, and could have needed more! Here you’ll find an abundance of handmade things – all so beautiful and unique.
Ubud Palace: This was a very magical and peaceful place, and is actually where the King of Ubud lives too!
Lunch at Boni Bali: This place was absolutely breathtaking – and a massive highlight of the trip. The photos do not do it justice of how incredible the views were, and the traditional Balinese food and fresh mango juice was to die for!
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple: Another magical place where we could wander around and learn about the history of the temple. We also fed the fish here too – which was surprisingly relaxing!
Tegalalang Rice Terrace: This was truly spectacular – and also probably the most touristy place you’ll visit on the tour! You’ll just want to sit and admire the rice terraces for hours.
Traditional Balinese House: This was the last port of call on our tour and one that was really eye opening too. We visited a traditional Balinese house that is typically filled with 7-10 family members. Each of these houses have their own family temple of worship too!
5. Try as many cafes as you can
On the day we returned to Australia, I jumped straight on the blog because I just HAD to share all the places we ate in Bali – as there were heaps.
Instead of ranting on about them again here, jump to my Top Places to Eat in Bali blog post, and see why we loved eating out in Bali so much!
6. Watch a sunset at the beach
While we didn’t spend much time at the beach during our stay (we had an amazing rooftop pool to enjoy), if there is one thing you MUST do when you’re in Bali, it’s head to Ku De Ta for sunset drinks by the beach.
Mum and I went here to watch the sunset and eat dinner on our final night in Bali, and it was seriously the best way to end the trip.
The sunset was glorious, as was the people watching. The cocktails were delicious too!
7. Prepare your body to avoid Bali belly
Before we travelled over to Bali, we did a little research on how best to avoid getting Bali belly, as (without giving too much info away) we can both have quite delicate stomachs. We found that a few people we know had taken Blackmores Digestive Bio Balance which supports digestive health and welbeing and may help promote healthy gastrointestinal function. We took these in the lead up and during their trip.
We also found these amazing Vitamin C Orange drinks, which we drank each morning. I honestly think that the mix of these drinks and the tablet, seriously helped as neither of us were sick at all during our trip.
8. Get more than one massage
In fact, do what we did and get one every day of your trip!
If you follow me closely on Instagram stories, you probably would have seen that we were at day spas for most of our time in Bali. We had treatments at both Bodyworks and Spring Spa, with both extremely positive experiences.
We booked the majority of our treatments either on the morning of the day we wanted them, or the night before and both Spas were extremely accommodating. My favourite treatment would have to be the 2 hour Exfoliation Massage at Bodyworks, which included bathing in a flower filled bath – absolutely breathtaking and a memory I will NEVER forget.
Each of our spa treatments were super affordable (around $40 AUD for a 1 hour massage), which is why we were able to get them so often.
9. Do absolutely nothing at all
We did exactly this for 3 days straight.
Our mantra was literally: eat, sleep, relax by the pool, swim, massage, eat, sleep, relax by the pool swim, massage… you get the idea.
Our rooftop pool at U Paasha was amazing, and we would often perch ourselves here for most of the afternoon (tough life isn’t it…).
Here we got some incredible sun, and delicious fresh juices and food! It was also a great opportunity for me to catch up on a few books too.
10. Don’t pack much as you’ll do loads of shopping!
I over packed waaaaaay too much. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think the shops would be that good in Bali.
Well shit, I was wrong wasn’t I, because I did some of the best shopping I’ve ever done and bought so much!
From a custom made leather skirt, to shoes, to bags and dresses and home-wares – both Mum and I literally shopped till we dropped right up until it was time to catch our flight home. Heck, we even shopped at the airport too!
Moral of the story: don’t pre buy clothes before your trip to Bali, as you can purchase them all there for half the price!
So, can you tell that we loved our stay?!
When heading to Bali, I highly recommend you step out and experience the real Bali, which is something you just wont be able to see inside the walls of your villa or hotel. Experience their culture and way of life, and you’ll come home plentiful! See what really makes the Balinese so happy with life.
On top of the things above that I have listed, other big holiday positives for us included the extreme friendliness of every Balinese person we met, how safe we felt everywhere we went, as well as the glorious, soul filling food.
Have you been to Bali? What did you enjoy most about your visit?
A big thank you to Michelle Williams, who helped Mum and I put our Bali itinerary together. Without her help, we wouldn’t have known about all of these amazing places!