Written by Alya Maisarah
Co-written by Beverley Lennon
Do you often cyber-stalk destinations instead of people? Scrolling through #Bali for hours, tagging your travel partners to give them a hint of where to go next? Does this sound familiar? Welcome to the club!
Oh Bali, we don’t quite know how you do it but you surely do get all of us dreaming! If you dream of having that ‘Ngurah Rai Airport’ stamp in your passport and tick off this island paradise from your bucket list; you’ll need to get prepared prior to that first trip!
Let’s start short – two things you’re guaranteed to have in Bali: Good food and good fun! Regardless of whether you are vegan, gluten-free or fancy seafood with a side of good views or even if you have an impeccable need for an adventurous and cultural scene, Bali is known to suit all tastes and ages!
So for this maiden trip, we have narrowed down the best things to do, places to eat and stay in the main areas!
P.S. This won’t be your last time; you’ll come back for more!
A. Getting to Bali
Direct flight (total cost from SGD 219)
Take AirAsia, Garuda Indonesia, Scoot, SilkAir or Singapore Airlines from Singapore Changi Airport to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. (Flight time: ~2h 40 min)
Direct flight (total cost from RM 540)
Take Malindo Air, AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. (Flight time: ~3h)
B. Main areas of Bali (South and Central Bali)
Don’t miss on hanging out at these areas while on your first trip to Bali:
C. South Bali
For the shopaholics, partygoers, foodies and young-at-heart! (Plus, hot surfers alert!)
Top attractions1. Iconic Cultural Attractions
Bali has a wealth of enriching cultural experiences on offer and you can find some of them on the South coast. Whether you prefer exploring giant statues and strolling through an expansive cultural park on your own or relishing a traditional Balinese dance at sunset, these cultural experiences are bound to let you immerse in the local traditions and customs!
a. GWK Cultural Park: Visit the world’s tallest Vishnu statue (Coordinates here)
b. Tanah Lot Temple: Dive into the history of Tanah Lot Temple while catching the panoramic sunset (Coordinates here)
c. Uluwatu Temple and Kecak Dance: Watch a dramatic Balinese dance at a mystical sea temple (Coordinates here)
2. Best Hidden Beaches
There’s no shortage of gorgeous and unspoiled beaches in South Bali. From the popular ones with groovy beach clubs and fun activities, to the quiet, serene beaches that are almost empty, and one featuring a secret cave — you will be spoilt for choice. Pack your sun lotion, swimsuit and get beach-ready!
Read more about Bali’s best hidden beaches and what you can do in Uluwatu, Jimbaran and Bukit Peninsula.
a. Soka Beach: Witness a stretch of beautiful, crystal black sand during sunset (Coordinates here)
b. Green Bowl Beach: Take a dip in the azure clear waters of this little oasis (Coordinates here)
c. Suluban Beach: Explore the secret cave at this beach (Coordinates here)
d. Pemutih Beach: Take a journey to this quiet and serene beach (Coordinates here)
3. Best Groovy Beach Clubs (Free Entrance!)
If you are looking for something a little more exclusive for your day by the sea, you might want to escape the sand to rent a lounge with waiter service, and enjoy a delicious lunch, and perhaps a dip in a pool at one of Bali’s best beach clubs.
While some provide pure relaxation, others have more of a party vibe, and some change from one to the other as the sun sinks over the horizon. We’ve even tested a few!
a. La Brisa: Here’s where you get to be a hipster pirate by the sea (Website | Coordinates here)
b. Locca Sea House: Wind down at the pool bar with a 180 view of the beach (Website | Coordinates here)
c. Cafe Del Mar: Party like you’re in Ibiza while in Bali (Website | Coordinates here)
d. Mari Beach Club: Super-cool atmosphere for the super-chill people only (Website | Coordinates here)
4. Exciting Water Activities
Besides unique restaurants, beautiful beaches and cultural attractions, there are also fun activities to be enjoyed and the best ones are in the water!
a. Flyboarding in Nusa Dua (Bali Apollo Dive and Water Sport): Get propulsed from sea to sky (Website | Coordinates here)
b. Surf Lesson at Kamafari Surf Camp: Stand on your board and catch waves (Website | Other surf schools over here)
c. Waterbom: Dare to slide down the top waterpark in Asia! (Website | Read our review on Waterbom Bali)
Where to eat
1. Oceanview Beachfront Restaurants
There are plenty of great restaurants in South Bali, catering for those who want a taste of luxury and culture with a backdrop of the glittering waters of the Indian Ocean. Here’s where to settle for a beachfront dining experience; whether it is atop a cliff or set right on the sand!
Here are more beachfront restaurants with stunning views. But if you are looking for a more romantic experience, click here instead!
a. One Eighty: Soak in a cliff top infinity pool 500 feet high (Website | Coordinates here)
b. Soul on the Beach: Healthy eating with toes in the sand (Website | Coordinates here)
c. Rock Bar, AYANA Resort and Spa, BALI: Go for an epic sunset cocktail evening (Website | Coordinates here)
d. Soleil, Mulia Bali: Indulge in their signature Sunday brunch (Website | Coordinates here)
2. Most Authentic Local Food
Ever wondered where locals go for the most authentic Balinese and Indonesian food in Bali? We know the spots locals swear by (with some of them being super low-key)! Get ready and loosen your belt to explore these neighbourhoods in South Bali for a fabulous local foodie experience!
Find out more about Bali’s best local food, best pork dishes or seafood platters!
a. Waroeng Wahaha: Delicious signature pork ribs (Website)
b. Pork Star Bali: Bali’s pork expert that serves pork-everything! (Website)
c. Babi Guling Sari Kembar: No. 1 Babi Guling (roasted pork) in town (Website)
d. Warung Pantai: Seafood feast by the sea, on bean bags and to groovy vibes. (More info)
3. Unique Cafes and Restaurants
You must have heard that “anything is possible in Bali”, so you can find the craziest and most unique places here. Yes, restaurants included!
a. Keramas Aeropark: Dine in an aeroplane! (Website)
b. Este leisure: Have a pink picnic in Marrakesh, anyone? (Website)
c. The Cave: Treat yourself to fine dining in a cave! (Website)
d. Panama Kitchen and Pool: Santorini dreaming like in the ‘90s! (Website)
Where to stay
1. Favourite Family Beach Resorts
Visiting Bali with children and want to stay by the beach? These beach resorts come with lots of family and kids-friendly facilities that will keep everyone entertained!
a. Padma Resort Legian: This resort is a family-friendly destination in itself! (Check rate on Agoda | Read more about Padma Resort Legian)
b. Bali Mandira Beach Resort: Laze in the infinity pool, or swoosh down super fun slides! (Check rate on Agoda)
c. Grand Mirage Resort & Thalasso Bali: Come in for an all inclusive royal treatment! (Check rate on Agoda)
d. Holiday Inn Bali Benoa: Where kids sleep with dolphins and fishes (Check rate on Agoda)
2. Romantic One-Bedroom Private Pool Villas under $100
When it comes to Bali, a few things stand out – great food and cute cafes but also amaaaazing villas (and parties like nowhere else!). These villas with private pools will host your bright pink flamingo floaties while you sip on cocktails… #vacationgoals right here for under $90 per night!
a. Villa Beji Ayu: Get pampered with serenity in the midst of the busy town (Check rate on Booking.com)
b. Belle Asana Villa: A sweet spot near the beach and cafes! (Check rate on Agoda)
c. Uma Kakul Villa: Unwind while being surrounded by paddy fields (Check rate on Agoda)
d. New Pondok Sara Villas: Unlock the door to this secret little oasis (Check rate on Agoda)
3. Impressive Budget Stays (beachfront and more!)
When you’re on a strict budget, it can be difficult to find comfortable places to stay. These affordable budget stays are not only value-for-money but they are also comfortable enough to rest your head after a heavy day exploring! Also, some are even beachfront! Say whaaaat?!
a. Mamaka by Ovolo: Beachfront stay with an exclusive rooftop infinity pool under $80! (Check rate on Agoda)
b. The Kuta Beach Heritage Hotel: Stay a few steps away from Bali’s best nightclubs! (Check rate on Booking.com)
c. Seminyak Lagoon All Suites Hotel: It’s convenient, private and truly value-for-money (Check rate on Agoda)
d. EDEN Hotel Kuta Bali: A modern budget stay with all necessary comforts under $50 (Check rate on Agoda)
D. Central Bali (areas in and around Ubud)
For the ones looking for an “Eat, Pray, Love” vacation with healthy eating, yoga and meditation amidst untouched nature!
1. Must-go Attractions
Central Bali, especially Ubud, is paradise for people who love nature and adventure. Be it waterfalls or rice terraces, these attractions are a must-go while visiting Bali for the first time!
a. Tegallalang Rice Terrace: Take a relaxing stroll along Ubud’s most famous attraction (Coordinates here)
b. Campuhan Ridge Walk: Take an early morning sunrise walk amidst nature (Coordinates here)
c. Tukad Cepung Waterfall: A secret cave hides this untouched waterfall (Coordinates here)
2. Fun One-day Workshops
Skip the beaches, temples and waterfalls to connect deeper with the local Balinese culture. Central Bali is home to several workshops and studios where you can get an up-close look at Bali’s traditional artworks, meet master craftsmen, and even learn how to craft some yourself. These are our favourites!
Wanna learn something fun while on holiday in Bali? Here are more one-day workshops you can choose from!
a. Batik class at I Nyoman Warta: Create your own batik masterpiece with local experts! (Website)
b. Silversmithing at Ganeca Silver: Your silver jewellery will be uniquely designed by YOU! (Website)
c. Cooking class at Green Kitchen Bali: Learn to whip up traditional Balinese cuisine with organic vegetables! (Website)
d. Make organic spa products at Cantika Zest: Mix natural ingredients to make your own spa products (Website)
3. Thrilling Outdoor Activities
Seeking to reconnect with nature, or craving for some adrenaline rush? Central Bali’s varied terrain and diverse attractions make it one of the best places to plan fun activities amidst Mother Nature’s greatest gifts!
a. Bali Safari & Marine Park: Go on a real-life Lion King experience at the safari! (Website | Read more on Bali Safari & Marine Park)
b. River Rafting at Bali Adventure Rafting: Raft through the river and tour a village (Website)
c. Green Village: Take a green tour through an eco-village (Website)
4. Unique Affordable Luxury Spas
Bali is no stranger to spa therapy (psst.. Balinese massage!!). It’s where you’ll find various traditional treatments to heal your tired body. How about treating yourself to a massage at these heavenly spas?
a. Tjampuhan Spa: Awake all your senses at this riverside spa (Website)
b. Jaens Spa Ubud: One of our favourite affordable luxury pampering (Website)
c. Beji Ayu Spa Ubud: Massage in zen gardens and rice paddy fields (Website)
Where to eat
1. Jungle View Restaurants
Feast your eyes on some of the most incredible views that Bali has to offer at these restaurants with stunning jungle vistas. Who knew your dining destination could be your next vantage point?
a. Layana warung: Dine by a waterfall! (Website)
b. The Sayan House: Dine overlooking the river while surrounded by forest and paddy fields (Website)
c. Taman Dedari: Check out these impressive sculptures! (Website)
2. Unique Hangout Cafes
In Bali, cafes have evolved beyond simply places to eat and enjoy coffee. It has become everyone’s hangout spot — where friends meet, couples date, and much more. We’ve found Ubud’s most innovative cafés with a new level of chic with a pool, spectacular views and even super creative decorations!
a. Folk Pool & Gardens: Your all-day hangout spot with pool, cabanas and beautiful gardens (Website)
b. Pomegranate: A restaurant glamping experience in the middle of rice paddy fields (Website)
c. Bali Bohemia: A creative hub where gypsies and artists celebrate (Website)
3. Rare local food experiences
Food is the best way to experience Bali’s local culture. After all, isn’t food known as the universal language? While we love sightseeing and wandering around jungles and beaches, nothing compares to the sight, smell and taste of authentic local food. Here are the best spots to grab a bite like the locals!
a. Laka Leke: Immerse in an authentic Balinese dinner and dance (Website)
b. Warung Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Bu Mangku: This chicken rice is an explosion of flavours (Website)
c. Warung Janggar Ulam: Dine by the lotus pond. (Website)
d. Bebek Tepi Sawah: Enjoy Bali’s signature crispy duck with beautiful scenery (Website)
Where to stay
1. Unusual stays with a view
If there’s something to love more about hotel beds, it has to be the view from some of them. Sleeping in dreamy Ubud to wake up to beautiful vistas has to be on everyone’s bucket list while you get to be Tarzan and Jane! Top tip: Always request for the room with the best view!
a. Black Penny Villas Ubud: Private pool villa in a magnificent valley (Check rate on Agoda)
b. Royal Pita Maha: For royal treatments during your Bali vacation (Check rate on Agoda)
c. Santi Mandala: A stay with your very own waterfall view! (Check rate on Agoda)
d. Camaya Bamboo House: Have a hot and luxurious flower bath overlooking nature (Check rate on Booking.com)
2. Budget stays with a view under $50
We know it’s hard to choose between good hotel views and money cutbacks to spend on shopping but guess what, you don’t need to make that choice in Ubud! Treat yourself to spectacular views at these affordable stays!
a. Wadari Retreat Villa: Enjoy endless paddy fields views while getting Balinese massage (Check rate on Agoda)
b. Be Bali Hut Farm Stay: A perfect, quiet get-away in the jungles of Bali with all the modern amenities (Check rate on Agoda)
c. The Kalyana: Relax and unwind comfortably amongst greenery (Check rate on Agoda)
d. The Gantari: A great balance of a hotel and a boutique resort all in one (Check rate on Agoda)
E. Best time to travel
Bali has a reliable, warm and tropical climate all year round.
Temperatures generally linger between 26°C and 28°C, except for places located on higher grounds like Ubud and Bedugul (where it would be more chilly!).
The dry season is generally from May to September, and the wet season from October to April.
In May, June, September (non-peak period), you will find that prices of accommodation are 30% to 50% cheaper than peak season rates. Plus, you still get great dry season weather most of the time.
April and October are great if you enjoy watersports, such as surfing, as the waves are good at this time of year. You might have some refreshing rain showers, but you will also see plenty of sunshine. These are also great months to travel with children as most theme parks and attractions are quieter, and getting around would be less crowded and stressful.
Peak season in Bali is July and August, as well as Easter holidays, Christmas and New Year.