Bali,  Beaches,  Indonesia

The Ultimate Bali Travel Guide For First Timers

Bali is now on the top of my list of favourite places in the world. It’s a place that will make you wishing to go back thousand of times to make different itineraries, to explore other areas, to enjoy even more this magic island has to offer.

I know that sounds a bit cliche, but I can’t leave this post without saying that: Bali it’s really an incredible place, its energy is surreal and it has a unique spirituality that makes us reflect on our own lifes. My first trip to Bali was profound and very transformative in every way, but most spiritual and I really hope to go back many times…

I will share in this first post about Bali, my 10-day itinerary with my experience and some lessons learned, so you can do your own guide. And fore sure, more posts are coming soon because is impossible to write everything in one unique post. So, in the next I will talk about where to stay, where to eat, also my perceptions, and feelings about the places I’ve been in Bali. 

So, Let’s get started! In Bali for the first time

Starting this post, I’ll tell you a bit about the time I visited, I went for the first time in December and stayed there until the beginning of January, so I spent Christmas and New Year on the magic island. It was an excellent experience. I thought it would be too crowded, but it was a nice period there.

Best time to visit Bali

In general, I think it’s a touristy and popular destination, but I expected a lot more than it really was. Bali is a place to visit during all year, it depends on your preference, but for your information July and August are high season months, as well as holiday months like New Year. March to June is low season and you may get great discounts (woohoo). End of year is a rainy season in Bali, but in my visit we get an excellent weather, with some rains in the late afternoon, nut anyway, the weather is pretty warm there!

How to get there

I’ve travelled on a direct Jetstar flight from Sydney to Denpasar Airport (Bali) and it was a good one. We had a delay due to bad weather and a thunderstorm, but it was safe and sound. We’ve arrived at night time and we’ve headed to the hotel with a driver arranged by the hotel who was waiting for us at the Denpasar airport. I really recommend you to do the same and arrange your driver with your hotel if possible as there are hundred of people offering the service at the airport and can be a bit stressful. Tip: Always try to negotiate the values ​​with Balinese people. They’re always making different prices for services, but don’t forget that they’re very simple and need the tourism money!

Note: Traffic in Bali is chaotic! It is normal to often see motorbikes with several people (3, 4, 5 on the same motorcycle), babies, dogs, etc looks like they have to create their own rules and it becomes a mess that somehow works, but watch out for times and regions so you do not get stuck for more than 2 or 3 hours. Exactly like that!

10 days Itinerary

Padang Padang Beach

We’ve spent the first night at Padang Padang and just in that beginning time was possible to feel the tropical and relaxing vibes of the region, even at night. We stayed at the Padang Padang Inn which was recently renovated and the place met our expectations. It’s a 3 star hotel and well rated by its customers on booking.com and TripAdvisor. The room we stayed in was spacious, organized, the breakfast was really yummy, it has pool on site, close stores and restaurants, well located and their staff are very friendly. They helped us with all transfers, car rentals, tours and with our luggages, surf boards when we had to travel to the other islands … I will talk more about Bali hotels in my next post because I’m focusing more on the Itinerary here. But you can have a look here on the Padang Padang Inn.

Beach of the film Eat Pray and Love

Padang Padang Beach is gorgeous! It has a beautiful portal, a balinese temple style right at the entrance and it is possible to see several monkeys right in the entrance. You can take pictures and play with them (I’m afraid but you can try for sure). Watch out for glasses and accessories, because they can steal from you with no return lol.

To access the beach, you need to go down some stairs. It’s a true paradise! A beautiful bay of crystal clear water! It was on this beach that Julia Roberts showed up in the movie Eat, Pray and Love! Well, you can also surf on this beach with this awesome sight.

We went several days on this beach very early, just after sunrise and enjoyed Padang Padang just for us. It is possible to do spiritual rituals on the beach and also do offerings there.

So, as I said there are lots of monkeys everywhere and we saw a lot in Padang Padang beach, including a monkey’s fight just in front of this paradise
(very scary lol). But anyway, Bali is like this, a unique place, chaos mixed with the greatest wonders of the world.

Uluwatu

Surf is up! This area has one of the most beautiful sights of Bali. High cliffs and the beach with the most amazing views of Bali surfing. It has several bars, restaurants, hotels and infinity pools to get that cold Bitang (local beer) and enjoy a post surf or go to watch the perfect waves series. You also can watch the most incredible and unforgettable sunset. Impossible not to fall in love. I recommend staying for several days in Uluwatu and enjoy the surf vibes on that region. Oh, be sure to visit the Uluwatu Temple, many people visit the place at sunset time.

Single Finn

This is an awesome place and very popular bar / restaurant in Uluwatu, located on the famous cliff and it is great for any time of the day. The view is amazing, they’ve cold beer and delicious food.

Infinity pools Uluwatu

There are many infinity pools in Bali, but some with the best views are in Uluwatu. So don’t  forget to spend a day in one of them, you will need to pay a fee and you will be allowed to spend a day or a few hours enjoying the pool and the hotel shared area. 

Bingin beach and beaches around Uluwatu

Around Uluwatu there are some other beautiful beaches! And one of them is Bingin beach. Great spot for surfing or a stop for coffee or açaí bowl. The place is beautiful and also has some amazing accommodations. As it was my first time, I took a day trip to see the beaches around Uluwatu. Definitely recommend!

Gili Islands

We’ve travelled from Bali to the Gili Islands. We’ve stayed 3 days on the island of Gili Trawagan, most known as Gili T, the busiest of the 3 Gili Islands: Gili T, Gili Meno and Gili Air.

It’s always difficult to say, but the number of days to stay will depends on how many in total do you have and what is your itinerary in Indonesia or Asia, but I reckon 3 days in my experience was enough. The Gili Islands are located on the coast of the island of Lombok (many people think it is located in Bali), so if you visit Lombok maybe is easier to go from there. I just stayed in Bali this time so I‘ve done the tour to Gili from there. You can easily organize with your hotel, but my advise is to do not take the day tour, but instead of it stay at least 2 days in the island. Gili T is a beautiful island, calm and with crystal clear waters, a perfect paradise. A place to relax,walk on the sand, you can go around the island by bicycle in less than 30 minutes and make incredible dives in the surroundings. There are several of those famous swings all over the island and it is possible to enjoy the most beautiful sunset with a view of the volcano of Lombok island.

We chose a day trip to dive and get to know the islands Gili Meno and Gili Air. In Gili Meno you can see the sculptures in the sea bottom and dive with the turtles. Gili Air is a smaller and more romantic island and, the most relaxing of all Gili, I recommend it for couples. Gili T is a very busy island, the parties go until late and as a small island, you can hear the music of the parties all night long from some hotels. So my top tip is to see hotels that are not part of the buzz. Unfortunately it was not our case and one night we did not sleep because of the noise. As we visited the island in December / 2018, months earlier in the same year, unfortunately to Indonesia and nearby Lombok, they had suffered with a strong earthquake and some places were with several pieces of concrete by the island, I believe they were recovering from that, but it is very sad to see a paradise with garbage and destruction. Plastic is a real problem for the islands in Indonesia. Anyway, I will write a separate post about the Gili Islands.

Do not drink tap water in any case, just accept bottle-closed on the island! And pay attention to the places you will dine. It is very easy to pick up belly bali, food intoxication or bacteria on the spot. If you are travelling with children (it has to be very adventurous) doubled attention.

Anyway, it is worth to know the Gili Islands. They teach us that it is possible to live a full life in simplicity.

Nusa Penida

This place is one of those breathtaking, a wild island, full of adventures. One of the most beautiful places in the world and worth visiting with 100% sure. Highly recommend staying at least 2 days on the island (3 would be great). There are day trips out of Bali (which I did) but it is very crowded and it is necessary to do everything rushing, which is not cool. The ideal is to stay on the island for a few days.

The island is a destination known worldwide for diving. You can swim with the giant mantas ray, turtles etc. There is plenty to enjoy on the island, but I will leave the most famous ones here. I will also prepare a special post from Nusa Penida, leaving here my recommendations in a summarized way.

Kelingking ‘T-Rex’

This place is a must in Nusa Penida. It is a famous spot on the Instagram, it is beautiful and breathtaking. We rented a scooter to do the tour and get to the places (not recommend for security reasons, especially if you are not familiar to motorbike). The entire way is bumpy and very dangerous. In my opinion Rent a car is better for safety reasons, it also has a bit of traffic to get there. Anyway, the arrival at T-Rex (really looks like the dinosaur) is on the top of the mountain, so you won’t need to hike. If you have time, there is a stairs (very long) that gives access to the beach and you can go down. As I said do not miss this amazing place.

Broken Beach

Another must to do! Beautiful place but the access is also super bumpy and difficult and with instagram photos the place is also crowded! It’s a spot to enjoy the sight and take wonderful pictures! But you can’t go down to the beach!

I recommend taking some snacks and water (never tap water, always a bought bottle and closed).

Crystal bay

Beautiful crystal clear beach! It has some restaurants and stores, so it is also crowded. I have been there in the late afternoon and I would recommend if you have more time in Nusa.

Places I did not visit because of lack of time (as I said I did the day tour and had to choose), however I highly recommend it!

  • Diamond Beach (a must see, I want to go back to this place!)
  • Manta point
  • Angel’s Billabong
  • Atuh’s beach

Rumah Pohon Tree House

This amazing tree house is in Nusa Penida and has become a must see for photo! It is possible to rent through Airbnb and stay at Rumah Pohon Tree House. Click here to see availability.

Ubud

My favorite place in Bali, the one I really dreamed of experiencing when I thought about places in Bali. I really wanted to get to know the beaches, but I was waiting for the opportunity to know more about the culture and this really is the ideal place. Definitely you can not miss to know Ubud if it’s your first time in Bali. It is a stunning region in the central area of ​​Bali, with many stores, clothing, accessories, decoration, cafes, hotels with an incredible energy, spas and places for rituals and massages, among other things like cooking classes or consultations with gurus. So for those who like the cultural part can do several days of their trip to Ubud. I want to go back!

Do not forget to walk to the market to bargain and take your souvenirs of the place. I bought wonderful items in the region.

Tegallalang Rice Fields

This is the most famous fields of rice plantations in Bali. So my top tip is to arrive early! If possible after sunrise, around 7:30 in the morning. It’s early, but you’ll avoid the crowded place. Even for parking. It is also wonderful and exciting to look at the beauty of this place totally empty. It is unforgettable. An experience you can’t miss out if it’s your first time in Bali. There are other places, but this is the most famous and as a first-time tourist you must go!

There you have several spots to enjoy the beauty and take beautiful photos, including swings (has a $ 10 fee for swinging). Always help the Balinese people, who teaches us with their simplicity, but feel free to negotiate prices. Think that this people needs and depends on tourism in most cases. There you will also be able to check out the most expensive coffee in the world: grains that come from the feces of the Kopi Luwap animal and are used to brew coffee. The kilo costs on average $ 500 and is produced in Indonesia.

Bali Swing

One of the most famous photos on the Instagram nowadays! The famous giant swings with the tropical landscape of Bali in the background! A wonderful look from the swings: rice plantation, coconut trees, river etc. There are swings in various places in Bali, as well as in Tegallalang Rice Fields. We went to see the Swing Bali (click here to see on the site) which is kind of a park full of swings and those birds nests. It is basically a place to take pictures and enjoy the views, but I do not consider it as a tour that can not be missed, as I said there’re swings elsewhere, however if you have free time and want to know it’s worth it.

You pay an entrance fee and if you want to include photos taken by a photographer you also have to pay a little extra. During my travels I’m always trying to support locals recognizing by its service, a way of helping the Balinese. They are very kind, friendly and in this place, they spend the day pushing the tourists on the swing. The park is beautiful and the sights too, however it is more to take good photos. 

http://www.baliswing.com

Legian, Seminyak and Canggu

We’ve been near to Seminyak, in Legian, but my recommendation is to stay in Seminyak or Canggu, the best place to stay in the area. Several hotels with pools are around, shops, quality stores, massages in Bali. I do not recommend to stay in Kuta, it is a super crowded place,  with strong traffic and frequented by locals. A little close to Kuta is Seminyak and Canggu.

The time to stay in Seminyak or Canggu will depend, but for a 10 day itinerary, you would spend 2 or 3 days in the region. I’m planning to return and stay longer in Canggu and also visit the other Nusa Islands.

Leave your comments and suggestions. I would love to know more about your travel plans!

Follow me on Instagram @HeyCassiTravel for more photos and travel inspirations!

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