Kuta sunsets attract the locals and travellers alike (image acrossindonesia.com)
It's not unattractive late in the day in the mountains either - Sideman 2010
THIS PAGE WAS FIRST CONSTRUCTED IN MID 2007. HOWEVER A LOT OF INFO AND PIX HAVE BEEN ADDED AFTER VISITS IN May 2009 , August 2010, August/Sept 2011 AND July/August 2012 - SO I DECIDED TO DO A FAIRLY FULL REWRIE TO GET SOME ORDER INTO IT. I'VE SINCE ADDED SOME NEW INFO FROM JUNE 2013.
GOOGLE EARTH MAP
Some places mentioned on this page - labels will be clearer if you click-expand.
I came across this map on a wall beside the Sanur beach pathway - shows highlands nicely. May be worth clicking to expand.
GOOGLE EARTH MAP
Some places mentioned on this page - labels will be clearer if you click-expand.
I came across this map on a wall beside the Sanur beach pathway - shows highlands nicely. May be worth clicking to expand.
KUTA - okay, it’s crowded, dirty, noisy, has hawkers/touts in your face everywhere, the beach is not great, the traffic a joke etc - but anyone visiting for the first time should spend maybe 2 days here. Easy access right off the aircraft, good shopping, heaps of cheap accomm (actually heaps of accomm of all standards) and great night-life, best place to organise onward travel. But unless you are a party animal, 2 days is pretty much enough. Head for Poppies Lane 1 and 2 for plenty of cheap and lower-midrange accomm in a central position.
Poppie's Ganga One - unusually uncrowded. Expect plenty of pedestrians and motorcycles along here and believe it or not, the occasional car. Very good value eating and accommodation. Shopping's not bad too.
Indo expert Mister Steve has some good advice on Kuta budget accommodation - prices are mid 2010:
"A typical and decent low budget room in Kuta will be about 80,000 Rupiah for a Single, perhaps slightly more for a Double, including a room with bed, desk, clothes cabinet (that may or may not lock), sink, shower, toilet (no toilet paper), a big overhead fan above bed, and the typical small breakfast with unlimited coffee and tea. Some places like this may even have a nice garden, but nothing very elaborate.
There are literally thousands of rooms in Kuta just like I have described above and at similar prices.
POPPIES GANGA 2 is the place to look, as well as the 2 narrow side streets which run off Poppies Ganga 2. There are literally hundreds of low budget rooms within 200 yards of the Arthawan Inn. There are also lots of good budget cafes within 100 yards of Arthawan Inn.
I have stayed at the Arthawan Inn as well as at Dua Dara just down the street. I prefer Dua Dara, although it does not have a garden, but may try another place next time.
Best to start looking for a room by about 11 a.m or Noon. Oftentimes, and in high season the budget places are full by early or late afternoon. Night arrival may require a greater search, or you may have to pay more for that first night -- you can always move the next morning."
Kuta abounds with small lower-midrange Bali-style hotels similar to Ida Hotel behind Matahari dept store here - quiet oases behind walls off laneways and busy shopping streets. These lower midrange places used to run fairly recently around $us30-35 in high season but I noticed prices were $60 plus on my August 2010 visit - a bit more in 2011. Bali sure is becoming popular.
There are still some good deals - we paid $27 thru a booking website in late July 2012 (high season) for a basic comfy aircon room at Bakunsari Hotel which is in a good central position about 10 minutes walk from the beach and close to shops and restaurants. Inclusive breakfast okay and prices in the restaurant for other meals as low as the budget tourist places outside. UPDATE - still inexpensive June 2013.
A fairly recent addition in the Kuta area is this foreshore footpath which runs all the way from the beach at Kuta central to about 200m coastal from the airport terminal. Some nice high-end, midrange and flashpacker accommodation along here - with less expensive stuff just inland. Path does not end in background - hangs a hard left and then continues towards the airstrip.
Along the above mentioned path you will see surfers hitching a ride out to Kuta Reef. At 900m from shore it's a bit of a paddle. This is no place for the inexperienced - a friend of mine, a good surfer, was cleaned up by an out of control board - his injuries eventually resulted in medical retirement from the work force.
Back at Kuta beach there are 4 or more okay beach breaks over a 2-3km stretch when conditions are better than poor - that is the place for less talented surfers although the skilled can have fun. Learners will find several surf schools and plenty of surf-board hire.
If you click image to expand you will see that all these surfers have the same boards, rash-vests etc - must be several surf school lessons going on here in June 2013
Kuta beach later in the day is still an okay place to be.
UBUD - is on everyone’s visit list, but over the years has had a relaxed atmosphere all the same. This had changed a bit in town-central my latest 2011 visit - heavy traffic and pedestrian crowds any time between 1000 and 1700 as day trippers from the south added to the people staying in town. However it is dead easy to escape to idyllic rice terraces or mountain stream gorges a few minutes from the main streets. This is soon after the start of the rice fields walk which begins off a side lane to the left as you enter downtown from the Campuhan Gorge on the main east-west Jalan Raya Ubud 500m west of its intersection with the main north-south Monkey Forest road. Quite a few accommodation places from flashpacker up are being built in this region and there are couple of nice restaurants.
Two minutes from the opposite (southern) side of Jalan Raya in the same area Lady T and I got this rice fields view from the upstairs balcony of our flashpacker In Da Lodge room.
Ubud is an artistic/cultural town in the lower highlands. Some good hiking, rafting and nice scenery in the surrounding countryside. Nearby villages tend to specialise in an artistic area - painting, jewellery, wood carving. I rode through a village where the 3 wood carving places were specialising in full size replica Harleys. Volcanic crater lakes reasonably close for much shorter daytrips than Kuta ( I once rode a bicycle up there - hard slog up, warp speed back) Lots of accomm of all standards in just abt every street - try Monkey Forest Road for starters.
Monkey Forest Road runs about one km south of its intersection with Jalan Raya to, believe it or not, the Monkey Forest. Apart from heaps of restaurants and tour agents there is a vast amount of accommodation along here, ranging from 100k homestays to $100 midrangers/better. It's kinda like Kuta - step off the bustling street into a calm oasis with a pool etc.
Bike groups seemed to be the rage in 2011. Pick an outfit that takes you out of town in a van, bicycles the countryside and then brings you back to town in the van if you think riding in heavy traffic is a bit dodgy.
Entrance to the Monkey Forest. I regard this as a bit of a tourist trap. The monkeys are nasty little buggers and are known to grab sun-glasses, cameras, bags and any untended property. Last time I went thru it was only to short-cut from the end of a river gorge walk south of town - and I had a big stick to sort out any stroppy simians.
Ubud has a big produce and general products market at the intersection of Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raya which tended to attract several guided tour groups when we visited. Travel forums have mentioned prices are not as good as previously. Lady T had no cause to complain of fruit prices we negotiated. But I am not an expert at other markets' prices in Bali.
Ubud is not short of traditional architecture - this is Pura Taman Kemuda Saraswati temple from the footpath of Jalan Raya near the centre of town. This is the backdrop for the well regarded Cafe Lotus Garden.
DREAMLAND - I first wrote in 2002: “secret” beach spot. Well, not secret - been in surfer magazines for years but not many travellers were onto it yet, except for the usual Swedish Bikini Team who seem to find the most obscure places. Surfers don’t complain - as usual we are actually talking Swedish Monokini Team***.
How things change - UPDATE OCT O8 - The Sydney Morning Herald published an article on how development is eating traditional Bali. They mentioned Dreamland quite a bit and featured this shot:
Apparently this unsubtle construction is to be a combined hotel/shopping precinct. From what I can see most of the cheap surfer/traveller losmen and the restaurants/bars lining the low slope behind the beach are gone. The article said 500 luxury villas are planned for the greater area behind this structure, and that a lot more development is going in elsewhere on the Bukit. Progress folk - looks like we head to Lombok for the old-style Bali holiday pleasures in future. Image Sydney Morning Herald.
Changes 2 - August 2010 shot of finished construction at Dreamland Beach (google "Klapa Bali"). It is not a hotel - but a kinda beach club with roof top rim-pool, cafe, high-end restaurant and shopping etc. Sure is ugly which that trendy glass pyramid/dome does not a thing to save. Those umbrellas on the patio down behind the beach are part of a beach warung with surprisingly cheap beer and eats. The umbrellas bottom right belong to small stores selling clothing, surfboard hire etc.
The new hotel, the rather good value (at the time of writing) Condotel New Kuta Beach (see Agoda booking site) is about 5 minutes walk behind the beach surrounded by the swanky golf course.
Beach is very popular with daytrippers from Kuta and Nusa Dua - entry is free although there is a parking charge for motorcycles and cars. Note that these days there is plenty of transport hanging around to take you back to Kuta etc so that your don't have to keep your hired driver hanging around for hours.Good surf also attracts waxheads.
This is a high tide shot with sand a bit limited - at low tide there is easy access to a fairly large less crowded section of beach behind far headland.
Bingin is a 10 minute walk along country tracks behind camera.
I notice many websites are referring to Dreamland lately as NEW KUTA BEACH. Hell, marketing is strange - to me DREAMLAND sounds much more idyllic.
For a similar atmosphere to pre-construction Dreamland - cheap accomm and warungs clinging to a steep cliff just a little north at BINGIN, although the beach is not near as good. Further north PADANG PADANG does have a nice beach but no accommodation right on it. Plenty in the area. Just south of Dreamland is BALANGAN which is so similar to Dreamland before development.
I consider Balangan Beach the best on mainland Bali now Dreamland has been developed although Lady Tezza demurs: IF YOU WANT A NICE BALI BEACH, GO TO THAILAND.
Note that rock becomes exposed as the tide drops (in this shot the tide is about 2/3rd down). No worries - some nice pools appear in the near-camera area. Very good left-hand reef break here for experienced surfers. Dreamland had both lefts and (often as the tide drops) rights - and most of the beach does not suffer rock-exposure as the tide drops.
2012 shot of Balangan from the north-east headland - typical excellent left hand reef break, experts only.
Even further north is the classic Uluwatu - no beach here except for a neat little area where surfers enter the water - but great view from high cliffside warungs sipping a beer or five and watching kamikaze locals and tourists rip the reefbreak apart. Walk down thru the cave where the surfers actually enter the water and have a splash about. Be careful off the little beach, the coral can be tough underfoot.
Even hire a board and catch a broken wave or two between the reef and cliffs. I have seen beginners’ surfing classes in this most unlikely place. But unless you are experienced, don’t go out near the take-off zone. This is the sort of place where guys come out at low tide and jackhammer you out of the reef after you misjudge things.
UPDATE JUNE 09 - I've just returned from Indo where I spent quite a few days staying on the Bukit. I done written a specific page with lots of pix etc here.And I added more stuff from my August 2010 stay at Dreamland itself plus August 2012 stay at Balangan.
MIDRANGE TRAVELLERS NOTE - there seems to be a growing number of higher end rooms going in around the Bukit, particularly on the higher slopes looking down over the beaches and ocean.
NUSA DUA - for many this is not the real Bali but a collection of international midrange and better resorts within a gated compound in southern most Bali. However for those wanting quiet streets, good beaches and top facilities this is a pretty nice location.
Growth has seen Nusa Dua expand beyond its compound - there are similar resorts plus some more affordable options in the Tanjung Benoa area immediately east and a range of new places in the Geger Beach area and on the lower Bukit plateau slopes to the west. A lot of these places claim to be Nusa Dua joints. Some are very nice.
NUSA LEMBONGAN - my Bali favourite - little island abt 15 km off eastern Bali mainland. Discovered by surfers but now firmly on travellers’ and package lists. Developing quickly but still unspoiled..
For budget, head for surfer/travellers’ enclave at north end of the lagoon at Jungubatu. Try Ketut’s for starters, although it had gone upmarket some since I stayed with a nice pool - definitely flashpacker standard now. The beach at Jungubatu isn't great.
The island’s 2nd best beach is at Mushroom Bay, 20 minutes nice cliffside and beaches walk to the south or by a longer road route thru Lembongan village. High-end and mid range places are at Mushroom, although there are plenty of newly developed ones elsewhere.
The best beach is reached by going one km up the Lembongan town road from Mushroom, turning right and following the signs another km to DREAM BEACH, perfect small white sand beach with high headlands each end - with one very nice lower midrange place to stay. Be careful of dangerous surf and rip currents here.
Budget snorkelling trip from Jungubatu to the bays of nearby Nusa Penida is a must. There is also pretty good snorkelling around the daytrip boat pontoons at the southern end of Jungbatu Bay and not bad off Mushroom Beach. Also hire a motorcycle/bicycle and tour Lembongan (say 2 hours min for the whole island on bicycle - is v flat for northern two thirds, hilly the rest) and cross the suspension bridge to Nusa Ceningan and check it out. Some killer hills here, but views from the top worth it - high Penida close to the east and volcanic Bali to the west past Lembongan.
For surfers, Lembongan has several spots, all reefbreaks, mostly right hand which is a nice change from the Bukit, and like Uluwatu, they can get pretty exciting when the swell builds on a falling tide. “Shipwrecks” is right out the front of the cheap lodgings at Jungubatu. You can down a banana shake and watch crazy Brazilian bodyboarders die.
Lembongan also has good diving and you can organise a prau and rods if deep sea fishing is your thing.
Cheap public boats go to Lembongan from Sanur near Kuta; Perama can pick you up from your hotel in Kuta and take you in their boat for not much more, and there are also some big flash daytrip operators who will shuttle you across on their fast boats. I’ve also hitched a cheap lift on one of the seaweed boats back from Lembongan to Kusamba in-central eastern Bali, which is close to Padang Bai, the port for the big Lombok bound vehicle-passenger ferries. The warung next to Ketut’s will put on a direct prau to Padang Bai if there are enough takers.
Check the index for the separate newspaper article I wrote - Offhsore Bali Paradise.
UPDATE MAY 09 - the same page has fresh information and pix from my latest trip.
PADANG BAI - Despite the busy dock, where ferries leave for Lombok approx every 2 hours 24/7, this is a neat little town on a neat little bay in central east Bali and has become very popular with travellers. Nice laid back atmosphere, cheap good seafood in bayside warungs, fairly good snorkelling by Asian standards at Blue Lagoon, 10 minutes walk over the northern headland, nice unspoiled surf beach (but not good for board surfing) 10 minutes over the southern headland (ask locals to show you the path), several good dive outfits and a range of cheap (and one midrange) accom places on the bayside beach road just north of town central. You can also get fast ferries out to Nusa Penida here, and fishermen are willing to take you across to Lembongan for around 120K+ depending on your bargaining power and the size of the swell. This can get huge mid-crossing for such small boats. Update - there are now several direct speedboats to the Gilis and a fast boat to Lembar in south-west Lombok. Perama is also running a less expensive direct boat to the Gilis and Senggigi.
The main bay at Padangbai is pretty nice although the sand could be clearer. Structure far background-left is the main pier where big vehicle ferries for Lombok dock almost hourly. Gilis speedboats and fast/slow boats to Nusa Penida move from a structure mid-bay. Many of the boats close to camera are dive boats. Water in far north of bay left of camera fairly clean but not as nice as at Bias Tugal at foot of far hill-left or Blue Lagoon over steep headland behind camera. To right of shot are pretty sweet bayside hotels and restaurants both budget and lower-midrange.
Main bayside road north of the pier at Padnangbai. A lot of good budget/flashpacker accommodation and restaurants along here.
Popular surf beach Bias Tugal one headland south of Padangbai harbour - some warungs are the only development although the cliff behind the beach has an abandoned luxury hotel development (image Panoramio-Andy Zet)
Descending into Blue Lagoon 10 minutes over the northern headland. Two nice warungs back of beach to kick back at here.
UPDATE MAY O9 - I just revisited Padangbai and also stayed at nearby Candidasa for the first time in 10 years. I wrote a specific page which has quite a few pix here.
CANDI DASA - about 15 minutes north of Padangbai, Candi is a nice relaxing east coast town with a very good range of accommodation and a pretty competitive restaurant scene. It is a good base for excursions into the backing mountains, nearby rice fields and the Amed area of north east Bali.
AMED - Actually a series of fishing/tourist villages which stretches along the northern coast close to Bali’s NE corner. Amed is first off the highway. Completely laid back little bays separated by high divides and backed by mountains and hills. Diving, snorkelling, prau rides out to the reef, fishing, hiking, biking the coast road are all good but this place is best for just relaxing. Note the beaches are black sand.
Each village has half a dozen places to stay (UPDATE JUNE 2013 - more these days but this hasn't detracted from the laid back atmosphere), some budget but many lower
midrange/midrange or even better. Note away from peak season they discount like crazy which makes this area good value. Each village also has a good range of budget restaurants and warungs.
One of the Amed area beaches. Black sand gets hot, but otherwise very pleasant (image Panoramio-Christophe Van Hulle )
LOVINA - this too is an area rather than a town, made up of a string of more or less continuous villages starting a short distance west of the old north coast capital of Singaraja and extending for 10km or so along the coast.
This area had a bad rep for hassle in the past, but my visits just after the second bombing and again in August 2011 found it very laid back compared to the scene in Kuta. The hawkers were not in your face and the dolphin-watching/snorkelling boat guys had been regulated and were charging a set fare.
The place seemed to have been hit fairly hard by the bombings with ridiculously low prices for accommodation and very competitive restaurant tariffs. I stayed in the central village of Kalibukbuk which seemed to have the most lively atmosphere.
On my return in 2011 I stayed about 3km east at Anturan Beach, which was even more relaxed.
The beach is black sand right along the strip but is a nice place to spend time, particularly late afternoon where pretty good sunsets could be seen plus when the air is clear the rugged volcanoes of distant west Java.
Nice sunsets at Anturan beach, Lovina shot from the restaurant at Bali Grand Sunset Resort.
Beach outside Bali Grand Sunset resort at Anturan. I never expect the water to be amazingly clear at black sand beaches - it is here (and at distant Amed).
Swimming is sheltered inside the reef and snorkelling okay in spots.
The surrounding area has some hot springs and waterfalls when you tire of the beach.
The Banjar hot springs about 8km west of Kalibukbuk. 3 pools here, none scalding. Very popular with locals. Nice budget restaurant upper background. Pleasant spot to spend a few hours. A budget/flashpacker resort near entrance to carpark.
The drive to Lovina from the south is a scenic highlight - the highway cuts thru a volcano crater with 3 lakes and then descends steeply to the north coast thru a series of hairping turns.
The 3-lake crater is often referred to as the Lake Bratan/Bedugul area. Bratan is the main lake, Bedugul the biggest town. This is a very scenic area and has some very intensive cultivation of vegetables, fruit, coffee and tea. There are markets, a botanic garden, water sports on Bratan and several scenic warungs to stop for a meal and view - this shot is of the most isolated lake, Tambligan, from a warung high on the southern rim. The area has a number of places to stay - many of them are upmarket but there is a handful of less expensive joints.
This is the lower of the two Git Git falls. About a 10 minute not too strenuous walk from the carpark on the main north-south road as it descends to the north coast.
I have done a separate page with more info, pix and maps on Lovina HERE.
SANUR - is my favourite midrange place. I've stayed there at least a half dozen times over the years. Certainly if I had a package deal which gave me the choice between Kuta-Legian-Seminyak/Jimbaran/Nusa Dua/Sanur, Sanur would be the one. BTW, if you want to shop/party in Kuta it is only a 90k (2011) 20 minute taxi ride away.
My favourite area is around Gazebo Hotel - there is a whole bunch of mid-range (in Bali prices - damned good deals by western) beachfront hotels in this area, the beach is nice (they have recently spend big rupiahs on some groyne work which has built the sand up nicely), the hotels have low priced beachfront restaurants, there is a great beachbar set up abt 300m south, and on the beach road just inland there is a whole bunch of restaurants and bars competing like crazy, so prices are competitive.
The beach is even nicer abt 3 km south around the Sanur Beach Hotel, but this area seems to have pushed upmarket in recent years.
The beachfront walkway now extends the full 5 km or so from the harbour/markets area up around Alit's Hotel to south of Sanur Beach Hotel, and makes a great walk or bicycle ride.
I spotted these kids practising traditional dance thru a resort wall doorway along the beach path in August 2011. Appreciative guest audience in background.
The lagoon inside the reef all along here is very sheltered. The snorkelling in some spots is okay without being great. But for surfers, outside Sanur Reef is another of those sphincter-tightening breaks when the swell gets up. It is mostly a right hander, and being on the opposite side of the island to the Bukit and Kuta, tends to work well when they are windblown and messy, mainly in the wet season when the westerlies blow.
New to me in 2011. Looks like this ocean-going tug got into trouble and tried to run the reef when the tide was higher - near the Sanur Beach Hotel. Tide not high enough. Oops.
The beach at Sanur near Gazebo - my last few visits had more sand here following extensive reclamation work (image Panoramio senna 3)
August 2010 shot of the beach in front of the Inna Grand Bali Beach hotel - the Gazebo precinct is at the "headland" in far background. Actually this is not a headland - the beach simply curves right here and continues another 3km or so south. If you expand shot you will see the offshore reef which makes this a pretty sheltered lagoon when the seas are big. Some areas get a bit shallow at lowest tide although there is always water.
Less expensive Sanur digs - In doing some research for a 2008 trip and found this info on budget places (under $US15) in Sanur. I was real slack and forgot to record the info givers' names:
- The followng place fits into your budget. The rooms have hot water and air conditioning.www.baliseniahotel.com/
Try Little Pond on Jl Danau Tamblingan. 90,000 a night, pool, wifi access - lovely place.
- One of my favourites is the Ardana Homestay on Jl. Pantai Sindu No.9, ph: +62 361 284395 on the left hand side as you are walking towards the beach, past the Orange Bar. I stayed there for a week in June 08. The room had aircon, full size fridge, TV (local chanels only), hot water shower, with breakfast. I was on my own and paid Rp90.000 per night. They only have 5 rooms, it's a family compound and everyone is very friendly. They also have a little toko selling bits and pieces, like aqua, bintang, phone cards etc
For a real nice budget/flahpacker place in North Sanur on the busy little street that leads down to the small harbour for Nusa Lembongan public boats and the Perama boat, try Watering Hole. This has a big streetfront restaurant about 60m closer to the harbour than the Perama office and cool, super clean rooms upstairs in an old-style stone block building with wide verandas. I stayed here on return from Lembongan a few years ago and had a few meals in the restaurant in August 2011. Good value.
SIDEMAN - is one of the better rice terrace areas in eastern Bali. Some travellers say this is the true Bali. Very popular as a daytrip location, but even better if you can stay a few days or more as I did in August 2010.
Mount Agung, Bali's highest volcano, is a nice backdrop to Sideman rice fields.
THE WESTERN RICE TERRACES
If you are heading out of the southern tourist areas to the north coast you can get much the same landscape as Sideman along the main rice fields road which connects the main west coast highway at Antosari to the main north coast highway west of Lovina.
TIRTA GANGGA RICE TERRACES AND WATER PALACE
These are in north-east Bali - most visitors will see them in transit between Candi Dasa and Amed although the area is not a bad spot to stay at night or two. I thought the rice terraces were less spectacular than at Sideman or Belimbing (at least those accessed by walking from the water palace area), but the water palace is a more popular tourist destination and makes this place well worth checking.
This is a rapidly developing fishing/rice growing area just north of the Tuban/Kuta/Seminyak tourist strip. It has the best surf break in the area and has also become the latest focus for expats and frequent visitors to buy or lease villas.
PEMUTERAN AND MENJANGAN
Menjanangan island has the best coral and fish in Bali. Nearby Pemuteran is the base for divers, snorkellers and other tourists attracted to this more distant part of Bali.
*** Okay, my blog is an equal opportunity site so I must throw in some eye candy for lady readers. Sweethearts, you can’t go past a typical Aussie surfer in the hunkmeister stakes. Trouble is, personality wise these guys may be a bit dodgy - once summed up by Kathy Lette: “An Australian surfer is a life-support systems for a wetsuit.” Yeah, well you’ll get yours one day, Kathy.
So if you want some handsome, attentive and charming male company, maybe you will best find with the Kuta Cowboys - the locals who hang around the bars and clubs of Kuta. And if you are prepared to throw in food, booze, lodging, the occasional gift etc., they will accompany you on your trip around Bali. Wow, talk about nice guys.
It isn’t just the 35+ desperate and dateless divorcee who is on to this - I have seen quite a few fetching young things with their Indo guys in tow. And it is a big industry in Bali/Lombok/Sumatra and some other Indo locations, in contrast to say Thailand where tourist girls with local guys are not nearly as common. Conversely, you don’t see many tourist guys travelling with Indo girls, unlike Thailand. Theories re why this is so could be a good topic for a separate thread.
SNORKELING AT BALI
I haven’t done an exhaustive sample of snorkeling at Bali but I have checked the main areas. Only Menjangan island and Pemuteran Bay can match the best I've seen in Indo (right off the beach at Kanawa Island West Flores). Note I haven’t been further east where I understand Banda and the general Maluku area are great.
Away from north west Bali the best coral and fish I’ve seen is in the little bays of the south coast of Nusa Penida on one of the snorkelling trips offered by plenty of bungalow places and boat guys on neighbouring Nusa Lembongan.
On the mainland snorkelling was okay at Blue Lagoon Padangbai, the small islands off Candidasa and at Amed - although I didn’t exhaustively snorkel Amed and maybe could have found better stuff.
Many posters say Tulamben jusr west the Amed region is one of the better places
For a detailed account of other Bali places plus those I’ve mentioned, check this site
The site also has an excellent cover of most other Indonesian snorkeling, including the world class places.
A GUIDE TO BALI'S BEACHES
Being a beach nerd, I consider this important enough to do a SEPARATE PAGE.
There is info/pix on the following - DREAM BEACH, BALANGAN, SANUR, MUSHROOM BEACH, PADANG PADANG, JIMBARIN, NUSA DUA, PADANGBAI, AMED, LOVINA, BINGIN, ULUWATU, ULU-PADANG and of course the famous TUBAN-KUTA-LEGIAN-SEMINYAK strip.Note too there is info and some pix on most of these on the 3 other Bali pages.
TRANSPORT AROUND BALI
Car Hire - in late 2011 you are looking at paying low 20k into the 50k range depending on size, maybe 20% less if you haggle well - this site will give some idea of current prices. Driving in Bali is the typical SE Asia kamikaze situation, and roads are very crowded except in some mountain and north coast areas, but you see more tourists driving here than in most other holiday areas. Be careful, you will also see heaps of accidents in your travels.
The thing is, hiring a car and a driver does not cost too much more, and takes all the hassle away. Once again prices will vary according to size of vehicle but 350 to 450 for a full day was representative in late 2011.
Here are some prices I negotiated with drivers in August 2010.
Kuta to Dreamland - 150k
Dreamland to Padangbai - 320k
Padanganbai to Sideman - 125k
Sideman to Sanur - 220k
In August/Sept 2011
Padangbai to Sanur 220k
Kuta to Lovina 500k - but this was a net-booked full day charter as we also wanted to do a tour around the Lake Bratan area and visit Git Git falls along the way.
Lovina to Ubud (but including transfers the previous day to/from the Banjar hot springs) - 400k.
In July August 2012
Seminyak to Belimbing a short distance up the western rice terraces road - 350k*
Belimbing to Permuteran on the north west coast - 300k
Pemeteran to Canggu just north of the Tuban-Kuta-Seminyak strip 480k*
Canggu to Balangan on the Bukit peninsula south of the airport 250k
* not a particularly great deal
Motorcycle - hire here is 30k-50k per day around Kuta - less for multiday hire. Many places can supply a bike with outrigger board-racks for surfers. Always check the bike carefully for damage. They always say collision insurance is included. Ask anyway, although I don’t know how you can be certain. You tend to pay more for bikes in places away from the southern tourist strip.
Make sure you have an international drivers’ licence endorsed for motorcycles - cops set up roadblocks in heavily touristed places to check this. Some travelers say the fine is less than the cost of a licence, but anytime you put yourself at the mercy of sometimes dodgy cops, this can be variable. And you can be stopped multiple times.
Traffic rules don’t really exist, but the cops love to fine drivers and bike riders for having any part of their vehicle over the front line painted across the road at traffic lights.
Taxis - very cheap but often dodgy in that drivers don't like to use meters, and some taxis are heaps. Always agree on a price beforehand if the driver says the meter is “broken”. Around Kuta and the other southern tourist areas try to get the common light-blue Blue Bird taxis - these always use meters, aircon always works etc. The orange taxis are okay too.
The airport has a fixed price taxi counter for arrivals - prices are higher than out on the street, but still very reasonable.
This is a copy of the airport taxi board shot by MY BALI GUIDE in Jan 2010 - I found it unchanged in August. Hopefully the website will keep it up to date as prices increase.
UPDATE - it was unchanged in August 2011 too. But when I wanted a ticket to Poppies Lane 1 which is definitely Kuta central the ticket guy wanted 55k and would not budge. However progress up the Poppies lanes is painfully slow and equal to a trip to Legian time wise.
UPDATE 2 - still unchanged in July 2012. I think my thoughts about a Poppies Lane surcharge might be right because I was charged a flat 50k to Bakunsari Hotel which is in Kuta but closer the airport (um. maybe not: closer scrutiny shows the Bakinsari area at 45. Still only 55cents inflation over the years aint bad at all).
"Transport" guys - Note that there are thousands of guys hanging around hotels, restaurants, bars and main street areas offering “Transport” in their own vehicles. They tend to be as cheap as taxis over short distances if you can bargain well and cheaper over the long distances, as outlined in “car and driver” above. Many of these guys don’t own a permit to carry tourists and the cops wave them down and “fine” them. This may be built into your fare, but I give a bit extra if my driver gets stopped. Over really long distances, buying the driver a coffee or cold drink at a rest stop costs next to nothing and is appreciated.
Buses - there are some big coaches flying along the road, but these are mainly package-tourist shuttles or inter-island buses. The locals use minibuses called bemos in busy areas and small buses in some central and northern areas.
Bemos are extremely cheap, but often inconvenient in that a 40km trip may involve changing bemos 3 or 4 times. Good for moving around a smaller area like Sanur, Amed etc. The bemo set-up around Kuta town is not convenient for tourists.
2007 prices are 500rp fixed regardless of length of journey - but they always overcharge non-locals.
Travellers’ Shuttlebuses - there are a half dozen operators running mid size and minibuses for tourists between the main destinations. They are very cheap and a pretty good way to travel, although usually taking considerably longer than a taxi or “transport”, and not as comfortable.
Many hotels, restaurants and small shops in towns plus the usual travel agents sell tickets.
Perama is probably the biggest and best known - latest prices and timetable here
For an extra 5k (this is less than $1) they will pick you up from your hotel instead of you having to lug your stuff to the depot.
I always try to get the seat next to the driver - there are some fantastic views in mountain and coastal areas, and passing thru any small village is good value. The chaos of Kuta is not bad too. There are two passenger seats up front, and most travellers dive into the back. Try to avoid the first seat in the main passenger area if the bus looks like it is going to be crowded - the floor in front tends to get stacked with luggage and you may end up with zero leg room and limited vision forward.
Perama also runs minibus-ferry services to Nusa-Lembongan, mainland Lombok and the Gilis and does a fabulous Komodo Spotting Tour between Lombok and Flores.
WHEN TO GO
Best time is in dry season which runs roughly from the end of March into October. Peak season tends to coincide with the northern hemisphere summer holidays - so if you want to avoid crowds, July and August may not be best. There is a second peak around Christmas-New Year which suggests wet season isn't too bad here - the Thai Andaman cannot swing a high season during its wet season (and I personally think the Andaman's wet season ain't too bad).
I've only done one of my dozen+ Bali trips in wet season - January - and got heaps of sunshine, little rain. But I think that was a very dry year. I have had a couple of visits which went into October - wet season was cranking in with a few showers, some pretty torrential. But still lots of sun.
It may pay to Google Australian School Holiday times - key states Western Australia, NSW and Victoria. Apart from Christmas-January you are looking at roughly April, June-July and Sept into Oct. But Aussie families tend to stick to south Bali and Ubud and are mainly packagers - so budget travellers should have no problems. And there is so much package accommodation in the above areas, prior booking of midrange or better should there see few worries.
You may notice more "hedonistic" Aussie teenagers in South Bali during November than you'd expect - Bali has become a sort of Cancun for Aussie high-schoolers after their final exams. Once again most are packagers. Google Australian schoolies times.
MIDRANGE TRAVELLERS AND UP.
I've already mentioned my favourite midrange place - SANUR.
The other popular areas are:
The original KUTA BEACH area whicy now extends both south to the airport and north past Legian and Seminyak. There are hundreds of hotels in this 10km or so strip, some of them quite upmarket.
A lot of midrange travellers like LEGIAN - the beach is nicer, it is quieter than Kuta but still has a great range of restaurants and shops up on the main road.
SEMINYAK to the north is a bit quieter again and the hotels tend to be newer and more upmarket.
Heading the opposite way, south of Kuta central towards the airport, you come to TUBAN which is similar in character to Legian.
South of the airport is JIMBARAN - a mixture of midrange and upper hotels on a nicer beach than Kuta. Jimbaran is noted for its seafood restaurants which attract travellers from other areas.
On the south coast maybe 20-25 minutes by car from Kuta is NUSA DUA - this is an area of mainly international standard hotels, very resorty in style. Not my idea of Bali, but pretty comfortable places to spend time.
West of Nusa Dua and south of Jimbaran is the BUKIT PENINSULA. Once the preserve of ultra-cheap surfers' rooms and huts, these days it has a growing array of midrange places.
On the central east coast north of Pandang Bai is CANDIDASA which has some nice midrange and upper places both on the beach and the lower slopes of the scenic hills backing the town. Actually most of the beach has been lost to erosion so there is not much sand here away from low tide. However this is a nice town to spend time in, with some lovely surrounding countryside to check out.
On the central north coast is LOVINA - actually this is really a string interlocking beach villages stretching along the main road for 10+km. There is the full range of accommodation from basic backpacker to pretty flash. Note the beach is black sand.
OTHERS - These days you will find midrange and upmarket accommodation just about anywhere. I haven't mentioned the RICE TERRACE AREAS, PEMUTERAN, PADANGBAI, areas around LAKE BRATAN, other coastal areas such as MEDEWI or all those new places on NUSA LEMBONGAN. Thing is, pick your area and hit the web booking sites like AGODA, ASIA ROOMS etc and there will almost certainl be some non budget accommodation available.
SOME USEFUL LINKS * Nice mid-range hotel in Amed area -
* A good forum with lots of helpful long time return visitors and locals - balitravelforum
* A good website for travel around Indonesia - http://www.acrossindonesia.com/
SIAP SANKUR has given some excellent info on Bali:
With the time you have I'd spend a few days in the south (Kuta or Sanur), head up to Ubud and sights north and then spend some time in the east (PadangBai and CandiDasa). Ummmm....if your going with your Girlfriend you might want to give #8 on the list a miss.
1. Day tour to Monkey Forest in Ubud; Goa Gajah (11th Century); Pejeng; Gunung Kawi (11th century tombs) and the bathing pools at Tirta Empul. This will give you a glimpse of the early history of Bali. In Pejeng visit Pura Penataran Sasih to see the ancient bronze gong “Moon of Pejeng” (3rd Century) and then go to the nearby Archeological Museum. According to the security guard, during the night the lids to the sarcophagi open and close on their own. At Goa Gajah make sure that you take the path down into the forest to see the little Buddha stupas. Unfortunately some naughty people have run off with the poor Buddha’s heads.
2. Nusa Lembongan – wonderful, small Island off of the east coast of Bali. It takes around two hours to reach the Island via the public boat that departs every morning from north Sanur (Jl. Hang Tuah). When you get on the boat in Sanur don’t let the porters carry your bags unless you agree to a price first. Nusa Lembongan is a great place to relax, visit some mangrove forests, do some swimming and/or surfing. Rent a push bike and tour the Island in a couple of hours. You can also cross over to the adjacent Island of Nusa Ceningan via the wee causeway. In the evening there are great sunsets over Bali and at night you can look up at a zillion stars. For a few years now there has been talk of large scale development on the Island……it’s only a matter of time unfortunately.
3. Sanur beach walkway between the Grand Bali Beach Hotel and Jl. Matahari Terbit. This section of beach is always busy, especially on Sundays when the Balinese all head to the beach for their Sunday afternoon mandi. This section of beach is also very popular with domestic tour groups from Java and everyone seems to be in a good mood. Very few non-Indonesians seem to make it to this part of Sanur. Lots of little beachside Cafes where you can have a beer and cheap snack. This is an especially nice place to have a beer in the evening while you look out at the heat lightning and chat with the Javanese tourists until the wee hours. There always seems to be something going on at the Bale pavilion at the end of Jl. Matahari Terbit. Lots of little warungs here as well.
4. Pantai Kusamba – almost always something going on here, especially on a Sunday afternoon. Go to Pura Goa Lawah first and then hit the beach for a drink. There is usually a real carnival feel to the beach. Back in 1849 the Dutch and Balinese had a bloody battle here.
5. Nusa Penida – one of my favourite places in all of Bali. Friendly people, stark karst landscape, tradition and lots of black magic (don’t leave any hair or fingernail clippings around). Visit the eerie Pura Dalam Ped, the fantastic beach at the village of Penida, take a motorbike ride up the limestone hills to Bukit Mundi…..from here you can look to the west and see Gunung Agung on Bali and then to the east to see Gunung Rinjani on Lombok. The coastal road on the east side of the Island is especially beautiful but not good for swimming due to the seaweed farms. Boats to the main town of Sampalan depart every morning from Sanur (2.5 hrs) and PadangBai (40 min). There are a couple of basic but clean places to stay in Sampalan. Zero English will be spoken here so bring a phrase book in you don’t speak the lingo. A car ferry is expected to start running in a year or so…..this may have a significant impact on this wonderful Island.
6. Taman Nasional Bali Barat (West Bali National Park) – check in at the Park Headquaters in Cekik to see if their simple guesthouses are available. The beach here isn’t good for swimming but you will see the occasional sea turtle and you can look across the Bali Straight to Banyuwangi in Java. During the day you can go on a hike into the Park or head over to Pulau Menjangan for diving and in the evening head into Gillimanuk (Bird Island) for some yummy and inexpensive Javanese food. This part of Bali has a cool mix of Balinese, Javanese and Madurese. Stop at one of the Madurese run warungs along the north coast highway for a cup of coffee and a chat with the cute little vendor girls.
7. Hire a driver/car and tour the east scenic east coast. Have the driver stop at Pantai Lebih, Pantai Kusamba then drive via Candidasa, BugBug, Ujung, Seraya and Amed. Return via the Sidemen road……fantastic, scenic drive through wonderful villages. If you overnight then I recommend either Amed or Tirtra Gangga. Nice day hikes in Tirta Gangga and nearby Pura Lempuyang Luhur is well worth a visit. The area around Sidemen would also be a good choice. If you have the time and energy you can also climb up Gunung Agung.
8. Saturday night (malam minggu) on Jl. Matahari Terbit in north Sanur. Anyone who says Sanur is dull has never been here. There are around a dozen local Balinese bars along this short stretch of beach road which are very popular with local Sanur/Denpasar lads. No Bob Marley here……..just Balinese/Javanese pop music. These places open at around 8 pm and stay open until at least 2 am. Some will stay open until the last tamu leaves. The staff will probably have kittens when they see a tourist walk in however. This is where the staff from your hotel, your waiter and your tour driver go for a drink when the working day is done. Don’t let the bevy of Indonesian gals hanging out in front of each bar give you the wrong idea. These places aren’t exactly politically correct; but nothing naughty goes on. A quintessential Balinese experience is to kick back here with a few Bir Bintang mixed with Kraetandang; the smell of kretek and the sounds of Widi Widiana whirling through your head. On two occasions I’ve found myself drinking Bintang with Balinese temple priests (Pemangku’s)…….this isn’t the sort of thing that happens in Ex-pat bars in Seminyak. Sometimes they have live music. But as Joseph Conrad once said, “this place too has seen darkness”. Back in the year of living dangerously in 1965 an entire village was butchered along this stretch of beach.
9. Kuta – I’m not a big fan of the place but it sure can be fun in small measures. An early morning or late afternoon walk along the beach from Kuta to Seminyak is a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours.
10. Bedugul/Botantical Gardens – worth it for the drive up alone. The gardens are a relaxing place to walk around and most of the trees are labeled. There is also a well-maintained path that takes you on a circular walk through the forest. The market in Candi Kuning is worth a visit. When you’ve finished your walk head down to Danau Bratan and treat yourself to some jagung baker or bakso.
11. Old Denpasar – in the old part of Denpasar there are a few interesting sights. The Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali (Bali Provincial Museum) has lots of information on Balinese history and culture. Lots of interesting artifacts. Right next door is Pura Jagatnata which is an important Balinese temple which is pretty impressive…..usually pretty busy here. Both the Museum and the temple are right beside Puputan Square. On this open field on September 15, 1906, an estimated 1,000 Balinese men, women and children where machine gunned down by Dutch soldiers. In total, 4,000 Balinese were killed on that day. Lots of ghosts here. Nearby is Pura Maospahit which is a 14th century “Javanese Majapahit” temple. When you’re done head over to Jl. Teuku Umar for some excellent Balinese/Lombok food. And, if anyone is in Bali from Mid-June to mid-July then I highly recommend the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar.
UPDATE SEPT 08 - michael t gave this useful info:
"Just back from 4 weeks in Bali. I hope this is useful.-Exchange rates on the street...Rate is now about 8800 rupiah to the AUD.If a money changer starts to count out 20 000 rupiah notes, walk away he will either rip you off or renege on the transaction.If a money changer touches the cash after you touch it recount - they are often amazing magicians..
Massage 30 000 - 50 000 rupiah - In sanur/ubud/kuta/candi dasa. Resorts charge up to 150 000.
For metered taxis the bluebird are good - others use the meter if asked.A car and driver for one day costs 250 000 - 400 000. (30-50 AUD)
you will be offered free WaterBom tickets or accommodation to attend a TS presentation - remember don't ever make an unconsidered decision. There is never a "today only" deal in reality.
"Billabong" T-shirts cost 35 000 ... NO MORE!!! even good quality
Never pay more than $3 for sunglasses
Sarongs cost 30 000 to 50 000 rupiah for all but the very best Bali Batik (yes a small amount of good batik is made in Bali - but most comes from Java)
Safari park is well worth USD25. You get entrance, 1 photo op with baby tiger/lion/orangutan (extra photo ops onlt 20k rupiah). You also get a safari ride through the animal enclosures, Elephant show, other animal show, water park mostly focussed on kids and free entry to half of the rides in the amusement park. Of course as with the rest of Bali you get rude tourists and locals smoking near your kids - even in restaurants! :o( You go to jail for that here :o)
15% Waterbom discount vouchers from the travel guys ouside the main entrance of Matahari in Kuta square (and other places too). Note at the same place you'll get time share guys offering frre Waterbom for attending preesentation. You have to ask for the vouchers. With discount, entrance is a bit under USD20. A great day - and good exercise if you've been eating well."
mrsteve, a longtime Bali expert gave this warning -
"If you decide to get a massage on the beach NEVER LET MORE THAN ONE MASSAGE LADY TOUCH YOU. If you do then at the end of the massage EACH OF THEM will be DEMANDING that you pay them I will say it again: They will not merely be asking to be paid, but they will be DEMANDING that you pay. I have seen some ugly incidents where the masagee female tourist is surrounded by massage ladies who are all demanding payment at the end because they rubbed her for a few minutes. Outrageous."
GIANNA HAS SENT IN A TRIP REPORT OF HER FEB 2013 VISIT TO SANUR, UBUD AND SEMINYAK.
YOU TOO CAN KEEP US UP TO DATE. YOUR REPORT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE AS DETAILED AS GIANNA'S - JUST A FEW PIX WITH CAPTIONS WILL DO THE JOB. SEND TO firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are visiting Bali you will probably interested in the pages on:
BALI'S BEST BEACHES
SIDEMAN RICE TERRACES
....and several other regional pages accessed via the INDEX
And maybe nearby: KUTA-LOMOK GILIS ISLANDS KANAWA AND SERAYA ISLANDS EAST FLORES and PERAMA'S BUDGET KOMODO ISLAND CRUISE
Sunset fisherman, Anturan Beach Lovina.
BaliTravelHound - your one-stop travel guide for everything you need for your Bali holiday.
If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.