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A Complete Travel Guide to Bali

by Drew on March 30, 2016 50 comments

*I’ve been to Bali twice and spent a total of 3 weeks on the island.  I absolutely love it!  Inside of this Bali Travel Guide, I am going to give you an overview of the island, and provide travel tips and recommendations for things like culture, attractions, food, nightlife and more. Everything you read is based off my own experiences.

Please see my other related blog posts on Bali:
10 Things to do in Bali
Top 7 Indonesian Foods

General Thoughts on Bali

Despite the negative reputation that Bali has received over recent years, I am here to tell you that Bali is absolutely incredible, and always exceeds my expectations. 

As an island and province in south central Indonesia, Bali is about as tropical as an island can get.  The climate is hot (sometimes unbearably hot), the ocean is crystal clear and the landscape is filled with greenery. There are literally rice fields everywhere. The fresh fruit and coconuts that grow on the trees are outstanding.  Especially the corn and bananas — they are both sweeter in Bali than anywhere else I’ve tried them!  

Aside from the natural beauty of Bali, their culture is fascinating.  There are several thousand temples in Bali, based off Hindu beliefs.  Believe it or not, Bali has the highest Hindu population in Indonesia (although Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country).

Each temple in Bali is just as impressive as the next one. They all have similar architectural style and design.  You really have to come here for yourself to see what it’s like!

Alright, now a word about the tourists on the island (which has given Bali a bad rep):

Yes, there are tourists everywhere, with a huge portion of them being Australian.  The same way that Americans vacation to The Caribbean islands, Australians escape to Bali.  The beaches (especially Kuta Beach) are flooded with young Aussies who take just a 5-6 hour flight to get to Bali.  There are also a handful of Americans and Europeans that are wandering around the island. 

That being said, Bali is so big (there are 3 million people) that you can easily get away from the tourist traps and explore untouched local areas and see the countryside. There are many perfectly maintained rice fields, back alley neighborhoods and natural wonders (think volcanos) around Bali that are worth seeing. 

Transportation around Bali island is efficient (although quite hectic)  — you can rent a motorbike for just $5 USD/day and drive around wherever you like.  However, be warned that the streets are super narrow, busy, and there is ALWAYS traffic.   On any given road, expect to see cars, trucks, taxis and a LOT of mopeds weaving in and out of every direction.  But somehow, all drivers flow together smoothly to make it a relatively safe environment (please remember to wear your helmet). 

Bali is Cheap! Everything from taxis to accommodations to food is very cheap. As long as you avoid the touristy restaurants (around Kuta Beach & Seminyak), you can get a delicious local Balinese meal for $2-3USD.  Additionally, my friends and I hired a private driver to take us around for 8 hours and it was only $30 total. Not too shabby.

Side note — The currency in Indonesia (called Rupiah) is REALLY inflated.  Just to give you an example, one USD = 13,500 Rupiahs.  When you go to the ATM machine, you will be taking out millions of Rupiahs — haha!

Alright, let’s dive into some quick facts:

Quick Facts

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 1.16.13 PMCurrency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Language: Balinese and Indonesian
Population: 4.2 million people on Bali island
– The religion breakdown in Bali is 84% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 1% Christian, and 1% Buddhist (although Indonesia is a Muslim country.) 
– Bali is known as “The Island of the Gods”
– There are over 10,000 temples on Bali island
– Bali was first inhabited around 2,000 BC
– The Balinese calendar has only 210 days
– The capital city is Denpasar, which is also where the main airport is located
– Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, which is the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species
– Bali is world renowned for it’s various art forms, such as sculpture, painting, woodcarving, handcrafts and performing arts

Culture and People of Bali

Balinese culture is world famous for its sophisticated art forms, such as woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. 

Balinese dance shows are also common art, which often display stories from Hindu beliefs.  It is worth it to see a live Balinese dance show which happen every night around the island (I’ve been twice)! 

The overall lifestyle in Indonesia is similar to rest of the countries in Southeast Asia (especially The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam).  Even though living conditions aren’t the highest for most people, almost everyone has a smile on their face and seem to be very happy.  

Which brings me to my next point:  Balinese people are some of the friendliest, most down to earth, and happiest people that I have ever met.  And I am not just saying that to say it — it’s 100% true!  

Here’s a quick story about Balinese people —  On my very first day in Bali, I arrived a few hours early at our guesthouse before my friends arrived.  It was about 10PM as I was waiting, and I instantly made a connection with the local guy working at the guesthouse and his friend.  They were about my age.  After chatting for about an hour, they invited me on a journey, so I hopped on the back of their motorbike and they drove me to a local grocery store to buy a local liquor called “arak.”  We played drinking games all night and had a great time together!  One of the guys monkey climbed up a tree to get me a fresh coconut, and it was awesome. 

Just like those two guys, everyone else I met around Bali were extremely kind and welcoming. I mean, just look at the smile on this guys face!

However, you do have to watch out for scams — like street vendors, taxi drivers and anyone else that deals with tourists.  Be aware of these greedy people, and just use your common sense (as I’d advice you to do all around Southeast Asia).

What to Do in Bali?

You can never run out of things to do in Bali!

Almost everywhere in Bali has something to offer. You will find many street markets selling cheap hand made goods, shirts, souvenirs, bags and all other gifts in different parts of the island. Make sure to bargain a lot at markets, because they will try to over charge you!

My favorite place in Bali was Ubud, and I highly recommend going there.  Ubud is the cultural center of Bali and it’s located just an hour drive north east of Kuta.  Many people go here to shop, eat, explore nature, experience the arts and crafts, do yoga, and enjoy life. The atmosphere is very laid back and you will get a real sense for Balinese culture in Ubud.  When I was there, I hiked an active volcano for sunrise (Mt. Batur Volcano), went to the rice fields, saw some famous temples, wandered thru a monkey forest, drank fresh coffee at a Balinese plantation and explored the old town.   

Here’s a look at the view from the top of Mt. Batur volcano during sunrise:

When you’re feeling lazy, head over to a spa and get a $4 Balinese massage for an hour.  Or pay $10 to get all the wax cleaned out of your ears! Apparently, it’s a famous thing to do in Bali (though I never tried it). 

And the beaches? They are outstanding! Like, straight out of a movie gorgeous. If you’re a sucker for beaches, then you might just never leave Bali.  Golden sand, warm ocean water, nice weather and amazing sunsets … You can never go wrong with that. 

For a complete list of things to do in Bali, check out my post “10 Things to do in Bali

The Food in Bali

I find Indonesian Food to be amazing, and in my Top 5 Asian cuisines (along with Korean, Thai, Singaporean and Taiwanese).

Indonesia has a large variety of food due to its abundance of supplies (fresh fruits, vegetables and rice). Also, the country is well-known for its fresh spices (such as cinnamon and cloves), which have been of interest to many other countries for centuries. Almost everything you’ll eat is a combination of fried noodles (mie goreng), fried rice (nasi goreng), meat on a stick (satay), some kind of curry and fresh vegetables.  

The local booze is called Arak, and as I told you before, I drank it with those locals that I met on my first night. It’s really strong and tastes like shit.. But it gets you drunk!  The local beer is called Bintang and it’s good and cheap.  You will probably drink a lot of it and buy the classic “Bintang” tank top shirt that everyone sells on the streets. 

Fresh fruit is everywhere, and it’s so cheap!  My favorites in Bali are bananas, watermelon and coconuts!

Rice is an important staple in Indonesia culture, and this country is known to have some of the greatest rice growers in the world. The location of Indonesia near the equator gives it fertile soil that is perfect for growing rice. 

All around the island, you can find open-air food markets which are must-gos for a unique Indonesian food experience.  Most street vendors cook their own produce like meat on a stick (satay).  They are also the cheapest option for eating! 

For a complete list of the best foods in Indonesia, check out my post called Top 7 Indonesian Foods

The Nightlife in Bali

Here we go!  Bali is one of the best party islands in the world, and it has as a long and rich history of crazy nightlife and positive vibes.

About 50 years ago, the island was a popular place for hippies and surfers to gather, and its relaxed culture has allowed a thriving party scene to grow over the decades.

Bali is geographically located in the center of Australia, Korea, Singapore, Japan and many other thriving Asian countries, which makes it an ideal place for people to party together in paradise.

Most of the fun in Bali is located around the southern part of the island in Kuta and Seminyak. Here, you’ll find hundreds of bars, pubs and clubs all around the beach.

That being said, keep in mind that most clubs and bars will be packed with foreigners…  If you are like me, then you’d prefer to party and socialize with the locals, but unfortunately that’s not the case in Bali.  However, that’s not to say that it isn’t fun!  I have spent several nights raging all night long and had a wonderful time. I am sure you will do the same 🙂

On any given day of the week, there is something fun going on in Kuta or Seminyak.  But nothing really happens until midnight and goes all night/morning.

The top nightclubs to check out in Bali are: Sky Garden, The Bounty, Jenja, District and Mint Bali. 

Where to Stay in Bali?

From cheap hostels to luxury condos and hotels, Bali has a large variety of places to stay that will satisfy your budget needs.  Below is a list of some of my favorites places to stay around the island.

For a more comprehensive list of accommodations in Bali, check out this page on and book your stay today!

Best Places to Stay in Kuta/Seminyak Area:

For Budget Travelers — The Agung Residence (Book Online Now)
*rates: $12/night for a private cozy room

The Agung Residence is a very low cost hotel, but it’s clean with nice staff and centrally located.  If you are just looking for a place to crash, then this is your place.  It’s has everything you need, and it’s a comfortable to stay for people on a tight budget.

–> Book your stay at The Agung Residence right here.

For Mid-Price — TS Suites & Bali Villa (Book Online Now)
*rates: $104/night for a superior room with breakfast included

You will be impressed by the friendliness of the staff at TS Suites & Bali Villa.  The customer service is fantastic (the staff will even remember your name) and the facilities are clean and nice.  There is a 24 hour pool and they even offer airport transportation service.  This place is the best bang for your buck.

–> Book your stay at TS Suites Bali and Villas right here.

For Luxury — The Santai (Book Online Now)
*rates: $322/night for a huge bedroom villa (with private pool + breakfast)

The Santai is nothing short of Spectacular.  I had the privilege to stay here for 2 nights, and I had a really relaxing time.  Our villa was massive, with a private pool, huge living room & bedroom, and an amazing outdoor bathroom (with 2 showers and a bathtub).  It was spotless clean, and the staff is very kind and helpful.  Highly recommended for a luxury stay in Bali!

–> Book your stay at The Santai right here.

For Luxury — Four Seasons Bali (Book Online Now)
*rates: $670/night for a 1 bedroom villa with private pool + breakfast)

Not only is this the best hotel in Bali, but it’s one of the most beautiful and desirable properties on the planet!  I stayed in a full-renovated and redesigned Premier Ocean Villa for a night and I was blown away by the 5-star service, the incredible views and the delicious restaurant.  We had our own infinity pool overlooking Jimbaran bay — can you believe it?  Highly, highly recommend staying at FS Bali at Jimbaran Bay during your trip for an unforgettable experience.

–> Book your stay at the Four Seasons Bali right here.

Best Places to Stay in Ubud:

For Budget Travelers — The Unique Homestay (Book Online Now)
*rates: $11/night for a standard room with breakfast

All budget travelers should check out the “Unique Homestay” for exactly what you’d expect — a unique homestay! The rooms are comfortable with hot water and A/C, and the made-to-order breakfast is delicious.  The owner and staff of this hotel will make sure that you have a nice stay, and they will give you some nice recommendations around town.

–> Book your stay at Unique Homestay right here.

For Mid-Price — Anumana Ubud Hotel (Book Online Now)
*rates: $104/night for a big suite with lagoon view (breakfast included)

This hotel is perfect, and a great value for the money. The staff is very accommodating, delivering flawless service. The hotel infrastructure and location are both excellent, as our the clean rooms.  It also has a rating high 9.1 on Agoda!

–> Book your stay at Anumana Ubud Hotel right here.

For Luxury — Hanging Garden of Bali (Book Online Now)
*rates: $554/night for a duplex family pool villa (with breakfast)

Look no further if you want luxury in Ubud, as this is the best place in the city.  Relaxing ambiance, great atmosphere, nice people and tasty eats. It’s located in the middle of a lush, tropical forest, but not too far away from all the tourist attractions of Ubud (rice fields, monkey forest, etc).  Wait until you see this place with your own eyes!

–> Book your stay at The Hanging Garden of Bali right here.

Thank you for reading my post, and I hope you enjoy Bali! Please write all of your questions in the comments below, and I’ll answer them 🙂

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Hello! Since 2012, I've been traveling and partying my way around 74+ Countries. Shortly after I graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took a job as an English Teacher in South Korea for 18 months. Now, I'm traveling and blogging full-time on a never-ending voyage around the world. Please comment with any questions you have, and feel free to join me on Snapchat & Instagram @drewbinsky :)

DrewA Complete Travel Guide to Bali


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  • Adya - January 3, 2017 reply

    Hi Drew, your blog is really informative. I am planning to have a budget trip to Bali, in the month of Mar for a week. I will be seeking your guidance in that matter. I am more interested in the local culture, temples, trekking, silent beaches than the very touristy places. It will be really helpful if you can suggest a good plan. Oh! by the way, I wish you a happy new year!

  • Made Ardiana - December 20, 2016 reply

    Hello Drew, you have visit most favorite destination in Bali and that was a great tips for travelers.
    But do you have to explore this beautiful place ??

  • Hidden Valley - November 25, 2016 reply

    Hello Drew Thanks for sharing your experience in Bali. This post is really useful , i want to ask you some thing did you stay in S- Resorts hidden valley resorts. ?

  • Joyce Gabriel - November 18, 2016 reply

    I have wanted to visit Bali for as long as I can remember. This is the one place in the world that I would love to visit. Currently choosing package Your post make me feel even more impatient!

  • Philippines' Boracay Island is voted the ‘world’s best island’, but is it worthy of the hype? - Travel Wire Asia - October 27, 2016 reply

    […] a reason — because Boracay is as close to paradise as you can find.   The same thing applies to Bali — one of my other favorite places on […]

  • 5 Reasons to Visit Indonesia - The Hungry Partier - September 25, 2016 reply

    […] to explore.  In addition to the beautiful beaches, there are a variety of nice resorts around Bali. A good option is Conrad Bali (click here to book), or you can check out The Santai or The Four […]

  • Christine - April 15, 2016 reply

    Hey drew did you go to the Gili islands? I have Bali booked for 8 nights in June and booked all out accommodation in Bali itself. But I have now heard Gili T is amazing.. I thought it might be too much to cover with only 8 nights?

    Drew - April 15, 2016 reply

    Hey Christine — yes I sure did! You should go! It’s a huge party island but really a great time. 8 days in plenty of time to do both!

    jack - April 29, 2016 reply

    Hey Christine even I am planning to visit Bali in June and that too alone . We will catch up .

  • Eli - April 14, 2016 reply

    Can’t wait to head over there in less than two weeks! This is super helpful Drew!

    Drew - April 15, 2016 reply

    You’re gonna love it!!

  • Paulo@Travel Bugs - April 5, 2016 reply

    I Love Bali!!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Drew - April 15, 2016 reply

    My pleasure!

  • Marcus - April 3, 2016 reply

    Great Blog! You’ve inspired me to visit Bali! I was thinking of going to Bali for my birthday April 19 for 8 days solo. I really love swimming in the sea. Are there areas in Bali which are good for swimming free from the dangers of pollution or dangerous tides etc. ?

    Drew - April 15, 2016 reply

    Thanks!! Yes Kuta beach is good for swimming!

  • Megan Dobson-Wright - March 31, 2016 reply

    Hi Drew,
    I follow you snapchat story too, and I really enjoyed this post as I am travelling around Indonesia this summer. This has been really helpful.

    I have recently done a post on travelling through South East Asia.

    Check it out:

    Drew - April 15, 2016 reply


  • Beth - March 21, 2016 reply

    I’m trying to plan a trip to Bali this year! Do you have any suggestions on places to stay? I’ve been following your snapchat stories and you seem to know all the good spots!

    Drew - March 22, 2016 reply

    Yeah I have lots of good suggestions! It all depends on your price range!

  • Alina - December 13, 2015 reply

    Hi. I am planning to go to bali in this February. Is it raining season? Is it good time to travel around February?
    Thank you

    Drew - December 22, 2015 reply

    That is perfect season to go!

    Narendra - January 25, 2016 reply

    Hi Alina, I’m from Indonesia, actually its raining now in here on February and maybe will keep be like this till May or June

    Drew - January 30, 2016 reply

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Andy - December 3, 2015 reply

    Hi Drew, glad you reviewed Balinese cuisine. Btw, I think you should put Bali in the Asia category, not Australia and Oceania 🙂 Also, please visit our new website about Indonesian cuisine (including Balinese) here: Thank you!

    Drew - December 9, 2015 reply

    Thanks for the clarification 🙂

  • Annisa - October 13, 2015 reply

    Hi, great post about Bali. Indonesia has a lot more to explore i can’t recommend you enough to pay a visit to another great places in Indonesia!
    Sadly, i found a mistake in your post about Bali. it’s about the religion in Indonesia. It’s true that in Bali most people are Hindus, but the main religion in Indonesia is Islam. Check out this link

    I would really appreciate if you consider to fix it, before people misunderstand.
    Thank you 🙂 and enjoy Indonesia!

    Drew - October 25, 2015 reply

    Hi Annisa, thanks for the correction! I will fix it. Cheers!

  • Shannon Ullman - September 28, 2015 reply

    I am so pumped to visit Bali!!! I am moving there at the end of this month (most likely to Ubud) and I can’t wait!! I heard there is a small digital nomad scene so I am excited to check it out! Thanks for these tips! T

    Drew - October 2, 2015 reply

    That’s so great!! You are going to have a blast – I hope you enjoy 🙂

  • Jasmine - September 10, 2015 reply

    I’m going to Bali next month for the first time with my friend and after reading your blog post I am so excited.

    Drew - September 11, 2015 reply

    Awesome I hope you have a good time!

  • Kate - September 8, 2015 reply

    its so interesting that you compare going Australians going to Bali to Americans going to the Caribbean; I’m an American headed to Bali solo next month! I enjoyed your blog and suggestions – I’m busy gathering info and getting excited to go, thanks for helping 🙂

    Drew - September 9, 2015 reply

    My pleasure Kate! HAve fun!

  • Top FAQs - The Hungry Partier - May 16, 2015 reply

    […] Seoul, Prague, Barcelona, Stockholm and Bali. […]

  • JavaYesee - May 6, 2015 reply

    I enjoy your travel stories especially about Bali 🙂 namaste

    Drew - May 7, 2015 reply

    Thanks! Namaste!

  • JavaYesee - May 6, 2015 reply

    I enjoy your travel stories especially about Bali, Namaste 🙂

    Drew - May 7, 2015 reply


  • Natalie - January 11, 2015 reply

    Where do you recommend staying in Kuta? Looking for a nice room (not dorm) but a great place to party

    Drew - January 12, 2015 reply

    Anywhere near the beach in Kuta is nice! Try to find a place near Mr. Potato Head. Anything in the Seminyak area is also good as well for nightlife 🙂

  • Yanet - November 26, 2014 reply

    Hai Drew, Lombok is fascinating too. Hope you will get a chance to visit Lombok and exploring this island. Visit my blog,

    Drew - November 26, 2014 reply

    Yanet- Yes, next time I need to go to Lombok. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nura Eny - October 12, 2014 reply

    Bali is the complete tropical island; lush, culturally unique and exotic, yet with all forms of creature comforts. I Really Like It

    There is an island in the northwest of Lombok Island (east of bali ) very exotic
    that is Gili Trawangan Island.

    Drew - October 13, 2014 reply

    Thanks for your comment, Nura! I’ve heard of Lombok and Gili, but I never had the chance to go. Maybe next time. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • sepatuholig - September 30, 2014 reply

    Great write up about Bali!

    Drew - September 30, 2014 reply

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Astrid - September 18, 2014 reply

    Love to hear that you love one of our favorite city from our Country… Bali especially… You have to try to go to Raja Ampat, Yogyakarta, Bunaken Manado and Ambon. Those are beautiful city in Indonesia. Enjoy!

    Drew - September 18, 2014 reply

    Thanks for the recommendations! Next time I am in Indonesia, I will go to those places 🙂 Have a nice day!

  • HotMamaTravel - August 27, 2014 reply

    Looks like a very interesting place. I hope to go there someday myself. I doubt you watch the Real Housewives of Orange Country, but they just went to Bali! Ha. It might make you cringe.

    Drew - August 28, 2014 reply

    Haha I definitely don’t watch the Real Housewives, but that’s cool that you got to see Bali in the show! You’ve gotta check it out 🙂

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