So what is all the buz about anyways, can Bali really be THAT good? Well that depends on what you like! Are you interested in exploring seaside cliffs, endless rice terraces carved into the mountains, all with palm trees and birds as your alarm clock? Then I have a feeling you would like Bali and you should put it on your travel list this year.
Bali is magical, not only for the truly remarkable nature, but also because the Balinese are among some of the kindest people I’ve met. From the moment you step off the plane and into the immigration lines you start to notice the little details (like hand woven banana leaf baskets hanging over your head) that make Bali so special.
I just got another passport stamp added to my book making this my 6th trip to Bali. (You can say I’m more than a little in love with this island!) If you do end up finding yourself traveling to the "Island of the Gods" then there are a few things I would recommend bringing to make your trip a little better.
- Small umbrella.
- Battery pack for charging electronics on the go!
- Deck of cards (for long cafe hangings while a downpour passes.)
- Flip flops that do well in the rain.
- A water bottle (An insulated one helps water stays cold for hours.)
- Rain poncho (or just buy one there.)
- Adapter (to charge your electronics.)
Indonesia as a whole is very different from most western countries and Bali despite being a part of Indonesia, has a totally separate culture from the rest of the islands. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, within which Bali is a little pocket where a unique form of Hinduism is practiced. Hinduism passed through Indonesia long ago, and took firm hold in Bali, where it has blended with native gods and ancient local practices. I find religions to be a very interesting part of traveling, each region marked by its own rituals and customs. Bali is truly a unique island where the nature-based worship style plays a huge role in it’s inviting spirit.
One of my favorite customs in Bali is the beautifully crafted bananas leaf offerings you see everywhere. I do mean everywhere! I never walk more than 20 feet without seeing a frangipani tucked into the groove of a Ganesh statue or a little offering basket placed at the doorway of a compound. These offering baskets usually consist of various gifts like rice, incense, crackers, flower petals etc. At any given time I would see women constructing these tiny 3 x 3 offering baskets out of banana leaves for their family to use. It’s incredible how much time and effort goes into these offerings everyday, which serve the dual purpose of prayers to the Hindu gods and appeasement to Demons that may be floating around. In addition to serving their ceremonial purpose, the offerings also have other benefits. I think Bali smells better than anywhere I’ve ever travelled to because of these little offerings that scatter the streets by the hundreds each day! Rice, incense and flowers, thats the smell of Bali.
There ar a few different ways you can travel on this island and I’ll be talking about about my favorite 2 travel styles in this blog post. If you have any questions or want further information on a subject ask me below in the comments, chances are others are thinking the same question so ask away and maybe they will learn from your questions too!
The first kind of traveling I like to do here is the budget traveler. I don’t do this everywhere I travel but honestly in Bali it can lead you to some pretty interesting discoveries + be great value for your money.
My second favorite way to travel while in Bali is what I call a step up. It’s a few notches above a budget traveler, you’ll pay more for everything but compared to California prices it still feels like great value for your money.
The first few times I came to Bali I had 3+ weeks to leisurely explore the island so booking my accommodation before hand wasn’t as important. I would walk through the streets talking to people and asking if they had a room or house to rent. (You find great deals that way!) Now when I travel to Bali I only have a week or two so I tend to plan out my trip in advance. I almost solely use Airbnb for this. They’re so many different options within different budgets on Airbnb + you can save places that catch your eye on wishlists.
Budget: I’ve found that the **home-stays that range from $30-$45 tend to be the cleanest while still remaining affordable for a 2 person room.
Step up: Get a private villa! There are tons to choose from in more popular areas like Ubud, Seminyak and Canggu. With the expansion of Airbnb in recent years so many are easy to find online. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$200 (or much more) for an awesome place that will accommodate 2+.
Budget: There are so many affordable Warungs** in Bali it feels like every time you turn a corner there’s a new place to try. You can easily eat a delicious meal for well under $10 with a juice or tea included. So with breakfast included in your Homestay you could spend around $20 on the rest of your food for the day. My personal favorite **Warung is in Ubud, stay tuned for a blog post featuring my favorite restaurants in Bali.
Step up: Bali has to be espresso bar / cafe heaven for foodies. The island offers access to so many fresh fruits and veggies so salads juices and smoothie bowls are outstanding here! Besides the huge cafe life there are some world class chefs moving to Bali to open up their own restaurants like chef Chris Salans at Mozaic in Ubud. When it comes to stepping up your food budget, the skies the limit in Bali!
Motorbike: There’s no question in my mind that to fully explore and enjoy Bali you need to get over your fear of driving a motorbike! The first few times I came to Bali I was to nervous to get one and I have to say my adventures were not as spontaneous or fun! One of the best things about renting a motorbike to explore, it costs you close to nothing, we usually rent one for around $5 a day and split between two people it's so cheap! So if you can, walk a little outside of the bustle and get on a motorbike on a quiet road to get comfortable. And for my fellow Americans, don’t forget to stay on the left side of the road!
Drivers: If the motorbike is really not going to happen for you (but I highly suggest you give it a try!) then another great way to see the island is to hire a driver. They can bring you anywhere! Create an itinerary of the spots you want to visit and spend a day or two hitting them all. Drivers can really range in price depending on the time of year you go (Christmas/New Years and May-August are high season), as well as how far you are traveling. I have paid anywhere from $40-$70 for the day.
There are so many things I love about this island, I hope you can see why my collection Salt Water was inspired by my April 2016 trip here. Check out the luminous pearl layers and turquoise blue chokers here.
This is the first of a handful of blogs I'm going to write about my Bali travels, if there are any specific customs, shopping, or exploring guidelines you want to know just ask and I'll be sure to include it in one of my next posts.
**Home-stays are usually run by a family, often in their family compound or just outside. There are usually 1-8 rooms that the family rents to travelers and breakfast made by the family is almost always included.
**Warung - is traditionally a small family owned restaurant or cafe.
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