Bali Travel Tips from an Insider
A trip to Bali promises not only sun, beach, sights and delicious food. You travel to Bali to find a unique attitude to life: Sunshine in your heart.
As soon as you meet the first Balinese, you feel directly what makes Bali the dream spot for emigrants from all over the world – the incredible friendliness, hearty laughter, great love and gratitude, coupled with the wonderful nature and power, which has also given this island the name: Island of the Gods.
Bali is pure magic. And if you’re looking to add it to your list of destinations to visit, keep reading for our top Bali travel tips.
See also: Packing List for Bali, Indonesia
Arrival in Bali
Lush green, the island already looks good from the air. Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport is Bali’s main airport and built so close to the sea that you almost have the feeling of landing on the water.
Who would like to start fast and without long queuing times to its discovery journey, can book a VIP transfer and gets so at the side of a native, lightning fast by the VISA control, instead of waiting in the queue for hours in high times. The service costs around $35. There is also a package for $45 with your own driver to take you to your booked location. Super convenient and therefore highly recommended.
Traffic in Bali
Bali is big. The north is much more untouched than the south in the region around Canggu, where there are countless stylish cafes, yoga studios, modern villas and hip stores.
Whoever imagines Bali to be only quiet and idyllic will quickly learn that it’s not true while on the streets. Motorcycles and cars perform a wild street dance and sometimes only move forward at walking speed.
One is definitely faster with a motorcycle than with cars, but this is especially during rush hour. Traveling in Bali is not for the faint of heart. Imagine five scooters parallel on the roadway, entering the intersections from all sides. Daredevil overtaking maneuvers or driving on sidewalks are standard here.
For tourists and expats, there is the Gojek app, which can be used to order a Gojek car or a Gojek motorcycle within 5 minutes, especially in the busier areas. So you just swing on the back of the Gojek driver and trust that you will arrive in one piece.
Some love it, some don’t 😉
Faith, tradition and culture in Bali
In Bali, every house has a temple, the so-called “pura.”
It’s a temple of the family, which is why the houses in the small traditional villages are also passed within the family as far as possible. The size of the house temples depends on the size of the land one owns.
Most Balinese are Hindus and believe in Brahma who created the world, Vishnu who sustains the world and Shiva who dissolves the world at the end of time. Wonderful offerings made of coconut leaves and flowers are brought to the temple 1-2 times a day. It’s worthwhile to experience such a temple ritual.
I experienced it at the Anantara Hotel in Uluwatu, having made the gift baskets there myself. Incense sticks also have a fixed place in this ritual, as do water, flowers and the rice grains, as an expression of prosperity and fertility, which are then stuck to the forehead and throat chakra.
Language in Bali
To go from tourist to traveler, it works wonderfully through the language. I advise everyone who travels to Bali to learn the most important words in Indonesian, like:
“Selamat pagi/…siang/…malam” – “Good morning/…afternoon/…evening“.
“Apacabar” is Balinese and means “How`s it going”
with the answer “baik” – “good“.
“Suksuma” means “thank you”
And with “Sampai jumpa” you say goodbye.
It immediately opens the hearts of the locals if you are interested in the language of their country, and for me it is also a sign of respect. The Balinese are such a warm people, so friendly and loving. They alone are worth traveling so far.
Typical for the country
A typical Indonesian food and also very popular in Bali is “Nasi Goreng“, which is fried rice with peas and carrots.
Magibung is less known but fantastic. Different deliciousness of rice, coconut flakes, vegetables and sauce are served on a big banana leaf. You can eat it with your hand and I have rarely eaten anything so delicious.
Another specialty I tried at the Indonesian restaurant Casatua is vegetables cooked in a piece of bamboo on the grill. Also extremely delicious!
See also: Local Food in Bali: Top Dishes You Have to Try
The favorite drink in Bali are coconuts, they are available almost on every corner and they are more delicious than anywhere else in the world.
And because there are so many coconut palms on this green island, many decorations on streets, temples and houses in Bali are also made from coconut leaves. Paku Pipit is the name of these beautiful handicrafts. One cuts it for the sheet and weaves the strips into each other. This creates beautiful works of art that decorate the houses for various festivities.
Rice terraces and more treasures
Driving towards Tegalalang, one can see wonderful rice terraces. Some are more level, others built into the hills in infinitely virtuoso swings.
Tourists love the Bali Swing near Ubud, which are huge swings over the rice fields. But even more magical is walking through the rice fields with people who live there. I spent a week at an Ayurveda retreat near Tegalalang (check out these retreats) and had the wonderful chance to walk through all the rice fields in the area. It was magical.
And did you know that rice paddies not only look wonderful, they sound wonderful too? To keep the individual plains from overflowing, the rice farmers channel the water into a small stream and you can always hear the soothing sound of the rippling water as you enter the rice fields.
If you want to learn more about the Balinese way of life, you should visit Penglipuran Village. It is a village preserved in traditional style with no traffic at all.
Visitors are allowed to go into the backyards and houses to see how people really live there. One is even allowed to slip into typical Balinese clothes. Above the village there is a small bamboo forest with huge bamboo and a temple.
Related tour: Penglipuran Village, Temples and More Full Day Tour
My favorite waterfall in Bali is Takud Cepung, a waterfall in a cave. The sun illuminates it and conjures up great light shows.
But the most powerful thing is that when you approach the waterfall, you feel an incredible force of rising air. You want to directly raise your arms and fly off, that’s how strong it feels. However, you have to work for this waterfall, you walk down many steps and then up them again.
Although there are always small warungs (restaurants) with food and drink, but for parents with small kids and strollers or for people who are no longer good on foot, it is not so recommended. But everyone else will be rewarded, because it is not overcrowded and still feels very pristine.
A sunrise tour on Mount Batur is a dream for many Bali travelers. However, you should be aware that you share this with very many other tourists and by no means alone on the mountain looks into the distance. You can book a full day trip starting with an early more guided hike up Mount Batur.
See also: The Most Spectacular Bali Volcano Hikes
Bali is a magical place mainly because of the special people. Nowhere else can you find so many healers who have special abilities.
For people who have problems with their back, I can recommend Pak Sirkus in Berawa. You just go there and wait to be taken. It’s best to go after 2pm.
Sound healing is another powerful way to get the body going again. Fina, the healer at the spa at the Anantara Hotel in Uluwatu has me endlessly fascinated. She sees which chakras are blocked and unblocks it via the vibration of the singing bowl and her healing skills. In addition, after the treatment she gives wonderful recommendations on the way, which should help to stay healthy and happy.
Yoga, Kirtan & Ayurveda
If you want to combine your trip with yoga, I definitely recommend staying at Udara Bali Yoga Detox and Spa in Canggu near Seseh beach. The Aerial Yoga there is located on the top floor and is a magical sight just because of the colorful cloths blowing in the wind in front of the blue sky and foaming sea.
All the yoga locations there are built open, covered, and always face the water. Downstairs there is also a pool, a restaurant and accommodation on all levels. Besides aerial or hatha yoga, tea or cacao ceremonies with kirtan are offered here.
It is magical to chant mantras together there amid the decorated flowers and lights, accompanied by live music.
“The practice” also offers courses in different yoga styles and workshops on various topics. At Udara, you simply arrive, sign up for the respective course, pay, and experience powerful minutes in the huge yoga hall, which is open on the right side to an idyllic, green courtyard.
The yoga instructors are incredibly dedicated and lead through the class with a great deal of professionalism and love.
Ayurveda retreats in Bali are highly recommended. I have met people there who have done such retreats in India and Germany and various places around the world and favor Bali because of the loving nature of the Balinese women.
Beach time in Bali
If you are drawn to the beach, you will find various beach clubs in the area.
On Sundays, I recommend the La Brisa beach club. On the premises is a beautiful market where special handmade and typical Balinese clothes, bags, spices, cosmetics and jewelry are offered. Under tall trees you stroll along relaxed in the shade and be inspired by the many wonderful details.
And after the stroll, you deserve a coconut at the beach club or a delicious meal at La Brisa restaurant. The beach club has beyond the restaurant a pool and various seating areas, baskets, sofas, seat cushions and you look at the powerful sea and dark sand.
Yes, in Bali the sand is black on some beaches and on the beach, unlike in other destinations, there are not countless people lying on their towels.
The most crowded thing on the beach are the waves where surfers cavort. Young and old try their skills on the board in Bali, so there are various rental stations for surfboards on the beaches.
Another really relaxing beach club is Times Beach. Here you can watch the sunset wonderfully in nice weather. You sit on sandbags and drink relaxed the delicious cocktails that are on the menu.
See also: Water Activities in Bali and Surfing in Bali: The Best Surf Spots in Bali
Hip locations around Canggu
Balinese can be found in all the restaurants, unfortunately, hardly among the guests, rather among the staff, because the prices are almost at European level and do not fit the relatively low earnings of many Balinese. I think that is a pity.
Who loves international food, I can recommend around Canggu a few “places to be”, which are not typical Balinese but really very cool and cosmopolitan.
The Mostly is a real oasis with delicious Asian food and if you are lucky live music. Here are the beautiful and hip people. The Yuki very close to the beach also offers Asian delicacies and a relaxed atmosphere.
For a delicious vegan breakfast I recommend the “I am vegan babe“. Here you sit on 2 floors on a quiet street. Besides pastries and smoothie bowls, there are also delicious rice bowls and burgers.
The Santanera is a South American restaurant that also offers live music from time to time. Here you sit in a brick and glass building and especially in the evening it is a real chillout place. Those with food intolerances are in good hands here. The first thing they do here is ask about allergies and if needed, the chef will even come to the table.
Bali Buddha is an organic market with an adjacent restaurant, as is Bokashi in Berawa. Other really hip spots are Shelter, an Australian restaurant, and Roots, which has its second branch in Frankfurt (Germany) and whose owners are simply magical. It’s worth stopping by here all day. The menu offers a wide range of bowls that you can put together individually according to your wishes, other lunch specialties, and various breakfast options.
This city is definitely worth a visit. Especially the Monkey Forest is a real “must” – here you should be quite early, then you get to see how the monkeys slowly crawl out of their feathers before the crowds of tourists arrive.
Especially cute are the many baby monkeys in the arms of their parents, who go on an exploration tour. You can stand here for a long time, grin and just watch how they catch each other or use the tail of their parents to climb.
Book a trip to the Monkey Forest, Rice Terrace and Tanah Lot from Ubud.
In Ubud, I love the Clear Cafe. At the entrance you take off your shoes and put them in a bag, that mancht it mega cozy. A small water basin with fish decorates the cafe, water bubbles out of dragon heads, there are flat tables where you sit only on cushions and others at normal height to eat or work.
That’s another thing, by the way. There are so many people out with their laptops that some restaurants have set up work-free areas. Otherwise, cafés and restaurants would go from being places of communication to being places of busy silence, which is certainly not in anyone’s interest.
A stop at the palace of Ubud is also worthwhile, as well as a stroll at the Ubud market nearby. Ubud is an artistic town and therefore you can see various galleries along the streets, such as the Purpa Gallery.
See also: Places to Visit While on Honeymoon in Bali
If you want to discover white beaches in Bali, you should pack your surfboard and dash towards Uluwatu, because there are great beaches like Padang Padang or Thomas Beach.
For an overnight stay we recommend La Cabane. It is not directly on the beach, on foot 10 and by motorcycle 2 minutes away from Balangan Beach but really very snug.
As a real hot spot I would recommend the restaurant Ours. I have rarely seen so many cool people in one spot.
And of course the temple at the waterfront including the Kecak & Fire Dance, which belongs to the program in Uluwatu. For families with children, the performance with the different masks and intense breathing sounds of the Kecak dancers is recommended at the earliest from school age. If you can’t get enough of the sea, you should stop by the rock bar of the Ayana Hotel and enjoy a cool drink.
If you want to experience pure nature on Bali, you should take a look at the Green Village near Ubud. The houses here can be rented from 1 day to years via Airbnb.
Especially for expats who have their kids at the nearby international Green School, it’s a super combo package and a nature feeling high ten. Because all houses are built completely sustainable from bamboo and depending on the house completely open or with closed sleeping areas.
Also in Ubud is The Kayon Jungle Resort with beautiful suites and villas in the middle of the greenery.
A little less luxurious but colorful and special is the restaurant Bali Bohemia with adjacent accommodation huts at a super reasonable price – monkey visit included.
For young people and surfers traveling to Canggu I recommend the Hotel Kima Beach near the beach. There is a surf school here and various rental stations for surfboards on the beach nearby. The atmosphere around the hotel pool is extremely chill.
For more places to stay check out: Where to Stay in Bali: Our Bali Accommodation Guide
There are so many wonderful animals in Bali. The turtles receive special protection at the TCEC in Serangan. Here injured turtles are nursed back to health or special species rescued from the black market are nursed and released. Between March and September small babies hatch from the eggs found on the beach and whoever comes by in June or September can help to bring the little turtles into the sea or take over a sponsorship.
Now that was a lot of Bali travel tips. But the good thing – it’s still far from everything that there is to discover on Bali.
And therefore we should go there again as soon as possible, right? 😉
Check out these Bali experiences available on Get Your Guide: