Indonesia – Bali – 5 days
One of our RoadTripWorms dudes had a very interesting experience in Bali, Indonesia in 2011. He has a very fun style of writing that it needs to be reposted in its entirety for your enjoyment. He also offered some very practical and “essential” tips for your trips to Bali. Enjoy!
Most of the photos here are taken by the author himself, unless otherwise credited.
Since I just came back from Bali, and it’s still hot, I’d like to note it down. In case someone may find the information useful for their future trips 😉
Disclaimer: the information and opinions below are entirely my personal experience. I am not in association with any travel agents, nor do I represent any official tour organization 😛
In case you are a lazy reader, I’ve summarized things in a couple of lines. If you are not, jump over and continue reading.
————– Beginning of spoiler ———————–
0. READ THIS CAREFULLY, it saves you money, a lot 😀
1. Stay in Kuta, for the best experience of entertainment, food, tourist information, shopping, and many others. Trust me, the place where you stay does not matter, so forget about Sanur, Dusa Nua, Ubud, etc.
2. Prepare at least IDR1,000,000 (Indonesia Rupiah) a day, if you want to go for a tour, otherwise, stay at the hotel and enjoy the swimming pool. Half-day private car (they call it taxi) costs 280k – 320k rupiahs for about 6 hours, from 1pm to 7pm. Full day service costs 350k – 400k rupiahs. Don’t pay more.
3. Wherever you go, ignore all the ‘friendly’ tour guides and their questions when they approach you. You will end up paying for all these questions and answers. If you got to pay, 20k rupiahs is good enough.
4. There’s a 150k rupiah ‘passenger service charge’ at the airport, when you check out. So be prepared, cash only. It is worth noting that exchange rate in Singapore is 6780 rupiah for 1 SGD, and it’s 6600 rupiah for 1 SGD at the airport. Taxi voucher from the airport to your hotel can be purchased in a small kiosk outside the arrival hall, ignore the taxi drivers trying to ask you to go with you, and don’t give your luggages to anyone, you won’t lose it, but you’ll need to pay for ‘luggage handling service’.
————– End of spoiler ———————–
Ok, let’s start.
I’ve read a lot about hotels and places to stay in Kuta. They said that Nusa Dua and Sanur are very peaceful, and that Kuta and Legian are only for surfers, you cannot swim there, and that the north coast is beautiful. That may be true, but it does not matter. The peacefulness is boring, and you cannot find a proper restaurant to eat, and they cut your neck for taxi. North coast is as far as heaven, and it’s difficult to visit other places. Last but not least, I’ve been to a few beaches there, and all of them are not swimmable (or you can swim at any of these).
I stayed in Sanur for 2 days, and later at Ubud for 2 days. I ended up spending all the 4 days on the taxi from one attraction to another. I actually enjoyed Kuta beach more than Sanur. I realized that a majority of guests in my hotel enjoy swimming in the hotel’s pool, and the beach is mainly for sunbathing. (For guys only: if you are looking for naked sunbathing ladies, Kuta has much better chance :D)
There are many attractions to visit in Bali, temples, mountains, caves, etc. so you may end up spending just one day or less at the beach. Therefore it’s very important to stay somewhere that gives you easy access to car rentals or taxi services. I tried to get it in Kuta in the 1st day, Sanur the 2nd day, Ubud the 3rd and 4th days. I think you get the best and cheapest services in Kuta.
Let’s go to some of the details. I will start using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, as I did not go there alone 😀 The first day, my wife and I reached Bali airport at around 7pm, got a bit messed up with the ‘visa on arrival’ and ‘no visa needed’ queue. Got out around 8+pm, and enjoyed the taxi queue for 1 hour. That was crazy, a damn long line for a very small taxi kiosk, and taxi drivers arround kept asking you to go with them for 1.5 times the price.
Bali roads are pretty good. We arrived at the hotel at 9+. The hotel, Sanur Beach Hotel, was rated at 4* or 5* on Agoda, Hoteltravel, etc. but there was no bathtub. The room was large though, and the view from the balcony was not bad. We realized that there were no tooth paste nor toothbrushes. “We don’t provide that, but you can buy it here”, said the manager. Ok, 30k for 2 Oral-B.
Morning breakfast was amazing, with great food, and great view too. We took a walk along the beach (Sanur), before taking shuttle bus to Kuta. We spent about 2 hours on the beach (Kuta), and on the road. The beach was great, and shopping experience was good too, way more exciting than Sanur 😦 Internet cafes are all around, a mango smoothie cost 42k rupiah and it was too sweet :”>
By noon, we stopped by a tourist information table (they are everywhere) at the gate of the Kuta Square and got a private car for the afternoon tour at 280k rupiah. We walked around a little bit more while waiting for the car to come at 2pm.
Our first stop was GWK, the giant statue, quite amazing! It cost 50k (to enter, of course, not that the statute is for sales)
The 2nd destination was Dreamland, a new resort and beach, totally not worth visiting, they are new, and not quite ready for tourist I think (but it was so crowded).
After that, we went all the way to Uluwatu to enjoy the sunset.
Not bad at all, but be careful of the monkeys, they may take your cap, or your sunglasses. If you want, you can check out the fire dance, costing 70k per person.
We ended our day in Jimbaran with grilled seafood dinner with candles and live music on the beach. Romantic view, awesome food which cost a fortune *actually value is available upon request*. We reached home at 8pm and my wife went for a face massage while I enjoyed internet at the hotel lobby.
Breakfast was good, as usual. After a long painful negotiation process, we got a car for 320k, throw our luggage on the car, and started the trip, without lunch.
We first visited the batik factory (well, very small though), and the silver and gold factory where many handmade jewelries are available at reasonable cost. Then we went to Mengwi, the royal temple. It was empty, but worth visiting anyway. We bought some snacks, and continue to Tanah Lot. It was beautiful. Friends, buy your souvenirs, sarong, and whatever things you want to buy here. Things are the same all around Bali, but here you have the largest collection, variety of choices, and very good price (negotiable :P).
It took about 90 mins or so, to reach our next hotel in Ubud, the Champlung Sari Hotel. Fun fact: the roads there are so dark that we even thought it was earth hour. The hotel was next to monkey forest, very cosy, and very dark also. Great welcome drink, huge room with rice field view. There was bathtub, thanks god (though I only used it once). But as soon as I jumped in to the bathtub, I found that there were shampoo, conditioner, but no shower gel (then bathtub for what?).
We went out for the dinner, cross the very dark monkey forest road and reached some brighter road. We stopped by a tourist information table and get a car for our next day’s full day tour, 350k. Finally, we arrived at a nice restaurant, Pundi Pundi, by the lotus pond. Very good food, at 220k (cheapest meal since the day we arrived, except for the no-food meals). Back to the hotel, internet was available at the lobby, and there are mosquitoes as complement, fortunately no monkeys. TV show ‘MasterChef Australia” wrapped up the day.
We woke up early the next day, breakfast was so so, the chef was lazy, so he made the omelettes in advance, hence it was cold when we arrived. We managed to see monkeys running cross the breakfast hall 😀 9am, we started the trip which very soon became the worst experience of our Bali time.
Our first stop was the Elephant Cave, 15k/person. Not so bad.
We went down, and a guy came and said: “may I check your tickets?” and then “that’s ok, please start from here, this is “so and so” made in 8th century, blah blah blah” and at the end of the tour “for me, can I get some tips, normally they give us 10-15 USD (~100k – 150k)”. I felt like getting robbed and it completely destroyed our mood. Very soon after that, our driver let us know we should give at most 20k, and he said sorry for not telling us earlier.
We next stopped by the coffee plantation along the way. The beautiful, green and cool coffee forest calmed us down. We had a chance to try ginger tea, lemon leave tea, kakao, bali coffee and ginseng tea, for free. They taste great and we ended up buying a box of organic handmade lemon tea for 100k. We next climbed up the mountain (by car, of course) to view the Kintamani volcano, I hardly can find a word to describe how beautiful the scene was :”>.
We stopped to have lunch at a restaurant on the mountain, where you can view the valley, rice fields, and other mountains. The buffet lunch cost only 80k/person which was amazingly cheap. After lunch, we arrived at the Besakih temple, one of the most famous temples in Bali.
We were stopped at about 1km away and the guy told us that we need to walk in. 15k for the tickets, and you have to rent sarongs before you can go up (wth, all the other temples we visited, they lent us sarong for free x(). The lady told us 50k for 2 but we managed to get these at 20k and started moving up. Very soon someone asked to check the tickets (damn) and told us that we need to get a tour guide as that day was the full moon day (Vesak day) and they are having a ceremony!?!?!? We angrily escaped from all the crazy things, and started climbing up the hill (the temple is at the top of the hill). As soon as we reached the gate, a gang of guys stopped us, and said we must have a local guardian to move up, or we will have to stop and go back. That was totally ridiculous, and many other tourists are being stopped like us. They asked us for 10-15 USD again and we almost came down to go home. In the end after a lot of “ding dong”, we paid another 20k and were ‘allowed’ to go in. The temple was beautiful, but apparently it took too much to see the beauty of it. The ‘guardian’ took us to somewhere in the middle where he left us and told us to continue ourselves!?!?!?!
After all these, we left for our hotel, had the shower, enjoyed a good dinner, checked mail with mosquitoes and watched the MasterChef.
Our last day started with the same so so breakfast, we soon went out to get a car to visit Bedugul, a mountain-lake-temple attraction in Bali. We told the guys there we wanted to visit Bedugul, and after that go straight to the airport. They all told us that it would be very far, and asked for 550k or even 700k. Fortunately, we saw the driver who took us the previous day (he also stayed near the monkey forest) and we agreed at 400k (crazy, right?).
Bedugul was worth the time and money. It was not that far, only 80 mins from monkey forest.
We next had another mountain side buffet lunch at 80k, before buying some stuffs at a local market and went directly to the airport where we arrived some 3 hours before the flight (so again, it’s not far at all, and seemed like all the tourist information guys were bluffing). The procedures were pretty fast, but as soon as we reached the custom, we were asked for 150k/person for the service charge!@#$^? Since we did not have enough cash left, we had to do some exchange in the airport. Fortunately, that was the last bad experience we had there.
After 2 hours surfing internet at Coffee Bean cafe. We jumped on the plane and went back to Singapore safely. My wife said she never wanted to return to Singapore that badly 🙂