Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Some info on Bali

Last visited June 2018

Kuta sunsets attract the locals and travellers alike (image acrossindonesia.com)

Junr 2015 - I finally got a KUTA SUNSET without cloud interfering

It's not unattractive late in the day in the mountains either - Sideman 2010

Sunsets at Mushroom Bay on Nusa Lembongan can be okay too

Same time of day at Munduk in the highlands. You are right - I got a thing about sunsets.



Some places mentioned on this page - labels will be clearer if you click-expand. Medewi is on the west coast approx under the "b" for Kebun Villas.

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. Some of the better resorts tend to be along the beach strip both north and south of the Art Market near the Matahari dept store.

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, May2014. FURTHER UPDATE 2018 - only a few dollars more latest trip. This hotel has become our first destination off the aircraft - what's the sense in staying in an expensiive flash hotel after arriving 2230 when all you are going to see is the inside of a room. You want a quiet, comfy bed with aircon within 20 minutes of the airport with a big supermarket (MATAHARI) for your fly spray and similar and good money-changers nearby.

2018 - a nice change the past 2 years has been a small buffet at breakfast - I enjoy those unlimited cups of coffee/juice and pastries.

 A good value Kuta place we have used recently (2014 thru 2018) is La Walon in Poppies Lane One. Comfy, inexpensive, good restaurant matching prices with Poppie's popular budget restaurants and abt 4 minutes walk inland from the beach. A good place pre-flight. We still use Bakinsari (one shot up) immediately off the aircraft but La Walon would work.

A fairly recent addition in the Kuta area (um- well it was recent when I first wrote this page in 2007) is this foreshore footpath which runs all the way from the beach at Kuta central to about 200m 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.

June 2017/18 has also seen this 1600 release of baby turtles at South Kuta beach near the ART MARKET/MATAHARI.

The top-deck rim pool at the Mercure is also good late in the day (actually anytime).

Part of the daytime outlook from the pool deck. Click-expand to better see Kuta reef surf break mid-background, airport far background and the Bukit plateau far far background.

The approaching sunset draws the crowd to the beach.


The growth of Kuta sees a continuous connurbation from Tuban near the airport to Seminyak in the north. (UPDATE 2018 - it now extends to CANGGU several km further north). 
The beaches tend to be small and groyne-separated in the Tuban area. The wider longer beach starts at Kuta central, is much the same but a bit quieter moving into Legian. From Seminyak on it tends to narrow in parts, has more dark sand sections and is quieter again. You can walk the beach way north to Canggu (I hire a rental bicycle and fang up there at low tide - don't try this is low (wet) season when several streams empty onto the beach with some force), and the way the countryside is filling in with villa developments, resorts and local housing/businesses, this semi-rural location and a few similar areas between it and Seminyak will soon be part of the conurbation (2018 - yep).

Click-expand for clarity. From the airport, central areas of: Kuta 4km, Legian 8km, Seminyak 12km

Tuban is the suburban area between Kuta and the airport. I'm not sure where it starts south of Kuta - maybe at the big DISCOVERY SHOPPING MALL which is abt 300m south of the ART MARKET/MATAHARI precinct.

I've stayed at Tuban twice - in 2017 at BAKUNG'S BEACH RESORT which is a sister property to BAKUNSARI and of equal good value - and in 2018 at FEBRIS HOTEL AND SPA, a midrange property usually north of our budget but discounting on account of recent Bali Volcanic eruptions and Java bombings.

FEBRIS was everything a Bali midrange hotel should be. Gets raves on social media. One criticism - this is not an area particularly close to the beach - and you are not going to write home to mum about the beach


This is a rapidly developing fishing/rice growing area just north of the Tuban/Kuta/Seminyak tourist strip - about 20km (40-60min) from the airport. 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.

Surfers grab a snack and check the waves at Canggu's beach's warung area. There is more info and a lot of pix and maps etc on this page.

This temple area is a few km further up the west coast than Canggu and not far from Kuta, but the west coast road is so congested you are looking at an hour plus by car. Small entrance and car-parking charges. Nice enough area with several bays, sacred temple, nice cliff walk with garden areas, plenty of locals' touristy food/clothing/trinkets stores back near the car park. I was a bit underwhelmed - I would not visit this place as an only destination - but as part of a multi-destination coach or car tour, a hike up when staying at nearby Canggu, or a call-in while travelling further north (all of which I've done) it is okay for an hour or two.

Located appox. half way up the west coast of Bali (80km 2hr20min give or take from the airport), this is a surfing area which attracts not only tube-shooters but mid-range travelers looking for a laid back location off the beaten track.

Beaches grey-tan here - plenty of local culture to check out.

Locals fish while the visiting surfers outside rip. More pix and info on the Medewi page HERE

This area is towards the far western end of the north coast. 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.

Pemuteran is 125km from the Kuta - 3.5 hours give or take

Snorkellers/divers take lunch off Menjangan island. 
I have a page with more info and pix on Menjangan and Pemuteran here.

Like Amed to the east 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 capital of Singaraja on the central north coast and extending for 10km or so along the shore. It is about 90km (2.45hr) from the airport (85/2.5 from Kuta)

This area used to have a bad rep for hassle in the past, but my visits just after the second Kuta 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 first visit in the central village of Kalibukbuk which seemed to have the most lively atmosphere although way relaxed compared to the Kuta area.
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.

I have more Lovina info and pix on THIS PAGE

The Amed area is a series of fishing/tourist villages which stretches along the northern coast close to Bali’s NE corner, The area is abt 95/90km from the airport/Kuta (2.45/2.5hrs)

Amed is the first village off the highway, but the others are equally attractive, some more so. 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 )

One of the eastern beaches 2013 - no shortage of fishing praus.

I have more info and pix on the Amed page HERE

This  is a nice relaxing mid 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.

No shortage of seaside midrange places at Candidasa. Pool is a must - Candi has lost its beach bar for a few small patches of sand at lowest tide.

Candidasa is abt 62km and 1.45hrs  give or take from Kuta (add 4km/0.3hrs for the airport)

This is a busy little place about 15 minutes south of Candidasa (see map above) about 54km/1.5hrs from Kuta. Despite the busy dock, where ferries leave for Lombok approx every 2 hours 24/7, Padangbai is a neat little town on a neat little bay on the central east coast 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 anoe 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.

Sanur is towards the south end of the east coast, directly east of Kuta and Denpassar. It stretches several km along the coast but Sanur central is abt 13km/35mins from Kuta and 14km/30mins from the airport. 

Sanur is my favourite midrange location. I've stayed there more than a half dozen times over the years. Certainly if I had a package deal which gave me the choice between Kuta-Legian-Seminyak or Jimbaran or Nusa Dua or Sanur, Sanur would be the one. BTW, if you want to shop/party in Kuta it is only a 105000 rp (abt $us9) (2015) 30/40 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 indeed.

Starting to look a bit worse for wear by June 2013. 
UPDATE - gone in May 2014 - I'm surprised it took the usually voracious Asian salvage operators so long. Must have been a legal thing.

OOPS!! 2

Those Indo tug masters don't seem to have much luck. This dude towing a barge full of buidling materials missed the pass thru the Sanur Reef into the small harbour near the Bali Hyatt (under reconstruction) in early 2015 and got stuck on the reef. He missed by a fairly big margin - the pass thru the reef is at far left of top image. Locals told us the vessels had been there several months by May 2015.

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 SINDHU BEACH from 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.


This beach strip is located in the far south east of Bali - far right of above image - Nusa Dua is abt. 13km and a bit over 20 mins from the airport; Tanjung Beno 17km and 25+mins. Add 4km and 15/20mins for Kuta

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.

Uncrowded streets, nice parkland inside the Nusa Dua compound.

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.

Holiday makers stroll Geger beach (claimed by some to be mainland Bali's best) - in background is the super flash Nikko resort on the lower slopes of the Bukit. Another 3 resorts under construction above the separate beach here in June 2013.

This image makes more sense if click-expanded - Nusa Dua proper (some claim Geger Beach is not a Nusa Dua beach but one of the Bukit plateau beaches) has two fine longish beaches backed by very fine hotels. Shown here is Nusa Dua north. From here north is a series of groynes as in shot which bookend smaller beaches. The first few are definitely Nusa Dua, but futher north.....

.....the beaches are really in Tanjung Benoa, although a lot of the swish resorts behind them claim the more prestigious Nusa Dua location. The final 1200m far north beach here is not a groyne beach - largely concentrates on water sports, restaurants, bars and beach clubs for day-trippers from all around south Bali.

Specifix page via THE INDEX

The Bukit is a tilted limestone platea in the far south west of Bali - see above map. The tilt has created some soaring cliffs in its west and south-west and sea erosion has resulted in some of Bali's nicest beaches.

Note that Jimbarin is NOT on the Bukit plateau.

At the north-west end of the Bukit plateau is the classic Uluwatu of temple and surfing fame.  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 reef-break 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.

 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***.

This is a pre-development shot of Dreamland - you can see the roofs of the old surfer warungs and losmen in the foreground. Background are the cliffs and beaches of the Bukit Peninsula stretching south -west. Uluwatu of big-wave fame is at the far end (image Panoramio-poliakow)

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.

BALANGANI 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.

Well maybe not all experts - Balangan has a surf school and the local coach (closest) had his charges out in the area between the reef and the beach - around the location of the small broken wave in shot. He put the litte chicken front of board at right on one broken wave which she rode for a good 100m. I could see the grin from my spot in the beachside warungs which are excellent places for budget meals and drinks.

In June 2009 I spent quite a few days staying on the Bukit. I done written a specific page with lots of pix etc here. I've added more stuff from my August 2010 stay at Dreamland plus an August 2012 stay at Balangan. In May 2015 I again stayed at Balangan, this time right behind the beach at Brother's Bungalows.

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.

Just south of the airport (see the above map), this completes the clockwise coastal tour. Jimbaran these days is a location of mainly mid-range and better resorts and is visited by thousands of people staying elsewhere to dine in the beachside seafood restaurants around sunset. As such, the quality of the sand is pretty good these days - gone is the occasional fishing junk and wind/current deposited flotsam I've noticed in the past.

Seafood restaurants not too busy at lunch-time, but.....

...plenty going on as sunset approaches.

Jimbaran page via THE INDEX


Most of Bali was created by volcanic action and so there is no shortage of spectacular mountain scenery once you move away from the coast. This is a different, quieter Bali of rice padi, swift mountain streams, volcanic cones and calderas, tiny mountain villages - some specialising in specific crafts like silverware or wood carving, and bustling bigger towns. To some visitors, it is the best region of the island.

On the lower central slopes, Ubud is 37/33km from the airport/Kuta but the horrendous traffic which affects all south Bali away from much of the Bukit makes travel time 1.3/1.25hrs give or take.

Ubud is part of most travelerr's visit lists, but over the years has had a relaxed atmosphere all the same. This had changed a bit in town-central my latest 2011/2015 visits - 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.


Tegalalang is a rice growing area about 10km north of Ubud and 44/48km from Kuta/the airport. To me it is inferior to Sideman and some other rice terrace areas but it is one of the easiest to access both from the southern tourist areas and to actual walk the terraces.

The terraces area is a popular call-in for day trippers on the way to Kintamani volcano and to people who have come up from the south to check nearby Ubud and the host of wood carving places and other craftsmen along roads in the area. This is a good shot to click-expand.

The surrounding region has several places to stay - we chose Pondok Sebatu Villas in May 2015.

I have more info and pix on Tegallalang HERE

Jatiluwih is about 60km from the airport - a few less from Kuta. By car should take around 2.25h.

Much Bali publicity suggests Jatiluwih is the premier rice growing area for visitors, so I made a point in staying a few days in 2016. I won't agree it is better than some other sites but it sure is a nice location.

Jatiluwhih is a small town just south of the central volcanoes surrounded by nice rice growing countryside.

One of several paths which leave from the small village into the rice terraces.

I have done a separate JATILUWIH page with lots of info, pix and maps HERE

Lake Bratan
 The Lake Bratan area starts a little over 60km from the airport and takes 2.5hrs+. Subtract 4km and 15-20 mins from Kuta.

The drive to Lovina on the north coast from the south is a slow but in parts scenic trip - the highway climbs slowly, then cuts thru a volcano crater with 3 lakes, after which it descends steeply to the north coast via a series of hairpin turns.

The 3-lake crater rgion is often referred to as the Lake Bratan/Bedugul area or the Bedegul caldera. Bratan is the main lake, Bedugul the biggest town. This is a very scenic area and has 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 restaurnt high on the southern rim. The Bratan area has a number of places to stay - many of them are upmarket but there is a handful of less expensive joints.

Bedegul botanic garden visitor whoops it up in the flying-fox area.

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 from Lake Bratan to the north coast.

I have more info/pix on the Lake Bratan/Bedugul page HERE

Munduk is a bustling little mountain town just west of the Lake Bratan caldera with a whole bunch of homestays and other accommodation to suit a wide range of budgets.

The surrounding countryside has mountain views/walks, rice terraces as above, waterfalls etc...

...while the view from town includes this westward outlook over the sea and north-west Bali to the mountains of north-east Java background-right (maybe click-expand for clarity of detail).

I have more info and pix HERE

Munduk is abt 85km/2.75hr (give or take) from the airport. Subtract 15-20min and 4km from Kuta.
Sideman (see immediately below) is 57km/1.75hr from the airport. ignore Sideman.

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 west coast highway at Antosari to the main north coast highway west of Lovina.

In July 2012 I spent some time at Kebun Villas near Belimbing in the western rice areas. There is a page with a bunch of info and pix here.

Belimbing is abt 60km/2,25hrs from the airport - less 15-20mins if starting in Kuta. Ignore Tirtagannga.

SIDEMAN - is one of the better rice terrace areas in eastern Bali. Some travelers 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.

Sideman in eastern Bali. Ignore Munduk.

Mount Agung, Bali's highest volcano, is a nice backdrop to Sideman rice fields.

Nice country across the road from Lihat Sawah Homestay about 1km south of Sideman village. Great area for walks along winding rural roads or for sitting back on your patio drinking in the views. Sideman is also a bit of a fabric and weaving area.

I have more info and pix on the Sideman page HERE

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.

Tirtagannga in eastern Bali is abt 80km/2hrs 30min from the airport, a few less from Kuta.
 Ignore Belimbing.

More info and pix via THE INDEX

The crater-rim village of Kintamani gives its name to the whole Lake Batur caldera area in central north east Bali. It's probably most visited as a daytrip out of south Bali and Ubud - I've done this a couple of times way back and thought it spectacular but a bit of a tourist trap with expensive restaurants and the most desperate hawkers at the rim parking area. However I've since learned there are now some okay places to stay down on the lake's edge - a must for my 2015 visit. Image from GUSARI TOUR AND TRAVEL http://www.gusaritour.com/tour-packages/kintamani-jimbaran-tour

Kintanani is 75km/2hr30min from the airport - maybe 15-20mins less if starting in Kuta.
Besakih Temple (see below) is abt 70km give or take from the airport.

Besakih Temple
The biggest, holiest and most important Hindu temple in Bali - the "mother temple".
This is another daytrip favourite, often teamed with Kintamani and nearby rice fields. That's the way I have done it in the 80s, although there is bound to be nearby accommodation these days. As a matter of fact I wasn't too far from this place on the southern slopes of Mt Agung in north east Bali when staying at Sideman. Image from BaliBestTrip.com  http://balibesttrip.com/besakih-temple/



NUSA LEMBONGAN - my Bali favourite (well it was at the time most of this section was written - I have since visited fabulous NUSA PENIDA) - a little island abt 15 km off eastern Bali mainland. Discovered by surfers but now firmly on travellers’ and package lists. Developing quickly but still nice.

Bigger island immediately right of Lembongan is Nusa Penida. Small Nusa Ceningan is jammed between Lembongan and Penida

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.

The lower midrange resort at Dream Beach has a very nice restaurant with a good outlook. That's the southern tip of adjacent Nusa Ceningan in background.

A budget snorkelling trip from Jungubatu to the bays of nearby Nusa Penida is a must. There is also okay snorkelling around the daytrip boat pontoons at the southern end of Jungbatu Bay and not bad off Mushroom Beach.

Sightseeing is good - 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.

For surfers, Lembongan has several spots, all reef-breaks, some 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 many flash 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.

More info/pix on the Lembongan page HERE

After 4 quick tours from Lembongan (3 on bicycles, 1 walking) I finally got to stay on this rather nice little island in JUNE 2017. I have yet to do a separate page - when I do I'll link it here and finish this section.

.......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.

Background is Nusa Penida from the south west end of Nusa Ceningan. Check the cute resort atop the headland in mid shot - this is an August 2012 shot: the resort didn't exist when I called by this place in 2010.

NUSA PENIDA visited (finally) JUNE 2017

Near cliff bottom, MATA AIR GUYANGAN

It's taken me over 20 BALI visits since 1975 to check PENIDA out, but I finally got there in JUNE 2017. Should have gone earlier - it is terrific with some outstanding coastal and other scenery, top diving and snorkeling and despite being way more laid back and sparsely settled than mainland BALI and close neighbours NUSAS CENINGAN and LEMBONGAN, there is a good range of places to stay and general tourist facilities. Check the popular booking sites like AGODA, TIPADVISOR reports and general tourist info via GOOGLE - you will be surprised.

ATUH BEACH - the best I've seen in BALI

I have more info and pix on PENIDA on this page

Snorkeling/dive boat off Menjangan island north west 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 areas 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 a 1990's snorkelling trip offered bungalow places and boat guys on neighbouring Nusa Lembongan. Penida is supposed to have a number of good snorkeling sites, but on my latest visit I didn't check them - too lazy and I assumed that they were no better than the one mentioned above - it was okay but far from world class. And having seen world class many times on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, I've become a bit jaded.

On the mainland snorkelling was just 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 just 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.

Being a beach nerd, I consider this important enough to do a SEPARATE PAGE.
There is info/pix on the following - ATUH BEACH, DREAM BEACH, BALANGAN, SANUR, MUSHROOM BAY, BOTH PADANG PADANGS, JIMBARIN, CANGGU, MEDEWI, NUSA DUA, TANGJUNG BENOA,  GEGER BEACH, PADANGBAI, AMED, LOVINA, BINGIN, ULUWATU, and of course the famous TUBAN-KUTA-LEGIAN-SEMINYAK strip. Note too there is info and some pix on most of these on other Bali pages.


2015: Travel by road is becoming a bit of a joke in Bali - urban growth has been so rapid that the whole south of the island away from the Bukit peninsula has just about reached grid-lock. If it wasn't for the fantastic amount of give and take by drivers the whole place would jam up. In May 2015 it took us over 30 minutes to travel 13 km from Sanur to Kuta (starting 1145) , about the same for the 6km from Legian to the airport (1930) and nearly an hour for the 22km from Balangan to Legian at 1115. Even in the lower highlands around Ubud things are becoming difficult - the 14km from Ubud central to Sebatu 14km north took over half an hour mid-afternoon

Car Hire - in mid 2014 you are looking at paying low $US 20s into the $60 range for a day's hire, depending on size, discounted for multi day hire - this site will give some idea of current prices but let Google find the competition. 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 Asian holiday areas. Be careful, you will also see heaps of accidents in your travels.

The thing is, hiring a car and a driver is inexpensive, and takes all the hassle away. Once again prices will vary according to size of vehicle but we got a 5 seat Toyota Avenza at $usmid30s - idr360k for a full day (10 hours) in 2014 - http://www.bestbalicarrental.com/cars.php
UPDATE JUNE 2017 - according to several online forums, a car and driver averages 500k now.

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

In May 2014
Full day from Kuta north to Medewi with detours, stops - 360k
Medewi to Munduk - 400k*
Medewi to Pacung - 280k
Bedugul to Sanur - 300k

* not a particularly great deal

Motorcycle - hire is 50k-60k per day around Kuta - less for multiday hire. Many places can supply a bike with outrigger board-racks for surfers. 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 machine 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 (make sure they have Blue Bird Group printed on them somewhere - Bali Group taxis have started to paint some of their cars light blue, even have a blue bird stenciled on the roof totem) - Blue Bird Group taxis always use meters, aircon 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 (only Bali Group taxis allowed), but still reasonable by western standards.

This is a copy of the airport taxi board shot by MY BALI GUIDE in August 2013. Hopefully the website will keep it up to date as prices increase.

The airport taxi counter is just left of the ARRIVALS exit doors in the refurbished terminal.

The Madang-jago was a gang of Balinese colonial era travel facilitators who specialised in jumping out from behind roadside rocks to bail up passing travellers - only allowing onward passage for a handsome sum. No cash? The alternative cost was an arm and a leg. Literally.
 Dutch administrators considered this a challenge to their authority and introduced a re-education program, horticultural in nature: namely testing the tensile strength of tree branches by way of bodyweight suspended by rope. Around the neck.
This succeeded in driving our friends underground. But it seems they may have reappeared today – as Bali airport’s taxi mafia. Once again it is costing an arm and a leg for travellers to pass on by.
The scene: I arrive at the taxi counter with Lady Tezza. The price board states central Kuta is 70000 rupia. This is a bit expensive – a Bluebird meter cab from a more distant part of Kuta to the airport cost 46000 last year. But okay, 70k is a monopoly price – one brand of taxi only  is allowed to take passengers from the airport. Our favourite Bluebird service can deliver but not pick up.
So 70k it is. EXCEPT the guy at the counter demands 150k! Looks like construction costs of the cartel boss’s new cliff-side villa near Uluwatu has blown out big time.
I flash the counter guy a cheery cheesy and walk outside. The usual bedlam rages, but I know half the locals are drivers touting for a fare. I have a 50k note in my hand and wave it around, calling the name of my hotel which is actually on the airport side of central Kuta - 4km away. At first I’m quoted figures almost as usurious as inside but after a few minutes a guy accepts. He hands us over to one of two waiting drivers who takes us across to his late model air-conditioned vehicle in the nearby car-park (scarcely further from where the taxis are parked – they don’t wait curb-side near the taxi counter) and within 15 minutes we are at our hotel (15 minutes for 4km! – airport and Kuta traffic is horrendous, even at 2230).

Moral of the story – if the taxi counter wants an arm and a leg, leg it outside.

UPDATE JUNE 2017 - to avoid the chaos outside at the ARRIVALS level I went upstairs to DEPARTURES and went outside: got a car to central KUTA for 60k.

"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 really 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.

Travellers’ Shuttlebuses - there are a half dozen operators running small buses 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.

This shuttle bus price guide was outside a Poppie's Lane travel agent in May 2014. Details clearer if image is click-expanded.

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 20 odd 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. For other travelers there is so much 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.

In recent years I've become keen on May visits - dry season has kicked in but the crowds haven't; shoulder season often sees better deals on accommodation etc. Note that Kuta always seems busy.


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 not far from Kuta is NUSA DUA/TANJUNG BENOA - 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.

Locals enjoy Sunday morning swim just west of the Inna Grand Bali Beach hotel, Sanur.

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.
Taxi Drivers
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)
Time Share
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."


If you are visiting Bali you will probably interested in the pages on:
....and several other regional pages accessed via the INDEX

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.


Peter said...

Whole lot of useful info - never been to Bali but going out there in a couple of months.



kris said...

very usuful site, thx a lot. were in Bali 25yr ago and soon returning to this paradise

wilklasu said...

Hi, thanks for some great info. Me and my fiancee are going to Sanur for Christmas/New Year and are looking for a hotel, just as you described, around the Sinduh area (since our parents will be in the Inna Grand Bali). Can you recommend any cheap/midrange hotel around 1km from their hotel - pricerange 20-25 to 30US$/double room? I've found a few (Gazebo, La Taverna, Irama Beach) but they were all too expensice. Any other you can recommend, preferably by/on beach:) Thanks for any info about this.

tezza said...

wik, sorry I have not replied, have been travelling in Thailand and I avoid computers when travelling.
The only place I can think of which may be cheaper is Alits, very close to the Bali Grand and in the busy little street leading down to the harbour. Lots of atmosphere and good eats places in this street, but not noisy at night. Black sand beach here but 400m walk will get you to the beach at the Grand and 800m to the area around Gazebo.

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Tony said...

hey tezza!

what a blog man, some really really decent advice which im going to take.

i have a trip to indonesia next week lined up and have noticed youve just gone... i had in mind doing the islands east of bali too but dont really know much about it. could you perhaps send me your itinerary or just talk about it? your experience and knowledge seems to good to miss out on. my email is beresfordtony@gmail.com so please drop me a line or two soon.

thanks man, keep up the amazing work!

regards, tony

tezza said...

Tony,my trip east was pretty rushed because I didn't have much time:
1 - Perama boat from Padangbai in Bali to Gili Trawangan - couple of days on Trawangan and then Air. No time to revisit Gili Meno.
2 - combined ticket ferries/buses from Gili Air to Labuanbajo in East Flores. Got a pretty detailed account of this on the INDONESIA page of TRAVELFISH travel site forum.
3 - couple of days each Labuanbajo, Seraya Island and Kanawa Island.
4 - 2 night/2day Perama trip Labuanbajo to Komodo NP to Lombok
5 - overnight in Senggigi, then Perama boat back to Padangbai.

I also hoped to revist Kuta Lombok and to check out the Huu area of Sumbawa south of Dompu near Bima which is a surfer-beach hangout. But didn't have time.

For my experience and knowledge - well that's on the blog.

Have a good trip.

loodec said...

Karangasem regency is a district located in the province of Bali, Indonesia the Capital is in the Amlapura.

Richard said...

really useful post....try writing some thing on the resorts in bali.

Angelina said...

I love terraced rice fields in Bali. I think they are beautiful and make me feel fresh. I normally pick Bali hotels that close to rice fields or beach. Eat, Pray, Love movie helps Bali boost up number of tourists.

Aboo said...

Hi Tezza you are great:)
Thank you so much for whole veryvery useful Info that you have left in your blog.
I read all about Indonesian beachs,Bali,Lombok,west Flores to Lombok and...But I'm confused!
actually I'm trying to settle on an itinerary to visit best area in Indo for 10days.(end OCT till early Nov)
my time is so limited therefor i decided to visit just Bali and Lombok but can't set an itinerary for my self:( (I think about Ubud,sideman,Balangan,kuta Lombok,Air Gili and...)
You have a lot of experience and knowledge about that area,please help me.what's your suggestion?
Bear in mind: I want to have a combination of fun,beautiful scenery,calm and green beach,green mountain and some places for snorkeling.(I read that you have mentioned the best Asian coral at Kanawa Island,nut i don't have enough time to visit this area)

zeg81 said...

Enjoyed reading your blog, lots of helpful tips and advice in here.

GenkiKids said...

Hi, I enjoyed your blog and was looking for some advice from a veteran of Bali. I am planning on going to bali with GF from August 5th-21st. I was wondering what is feasible to do, where to go and how long to stay in each area. I arrive in Balie Internaion airport and not sure where to start. Someone told me bumbangku and lovina etc were nice. Just not sure how to put them in a feasible order. I guess I would start out in Kuta then maybe Sanur, then Lovina, the Gili Air, then bumbangku? Not sure. If you have any good ideas etc I would be very happy to hear them. The most important thing for me are nice beaches (preferably white sand and blue water) AND snorkeling :)

Jaslyn Lim said...

Well done Tezza! I learned a lot about the best beaches to go to in Bali in this post. You've covered up a lot of details and I am extremely thankful for this post :) Hope you have more meaningful journeys to come...

Admin said...

this amazing site,, i love your article,,, :)
do u ever come to another island of indonesia?? :)

Angel said...

i've never been to bali but i think i should start saving up for a trip there.

finding a cheap flight to Bali should be my priority! :)

thanks for the post!

Marilinne said...

Tezza, you rock! You have such valuable info on so many of the countries I am visiting on a world tour this winter - since my choices seem to be your choices, I totally trust your intuition. I hope you never stop traveling and never stop posting!

Jason Villegaz said...

Aside from acquiring the best travel insurance Bali has to offer, bringing along with you your loved ones will surely make the trip worth it. =)

didit aditia said...

yes i form bali indonesia , yuk kita berwisata kebali

Paket foto prewedding di bali

Nikki Luthra said...

It’s good to be here and read some interesting posts , I got very useful information over here thanks for sharing it .
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