Bali is one of the most featured holiday destinations on Instagram. Luxury holiday seekers go to experience top hotels and unique experiences, while backpackers flock to Ubud and Canggu for an authentic and cheap South-East Asian travel tale.
We’ve wanted to visit Bali and the surrounding islands for a long time and finally booked 2 weeks on the island, exploring as much as we could in a short but action packed holiday. Read on to find out exactly why you should visit this intriguing place for yourself!
Here are some highlights from our trip:
1. The stunning sunsets
One thing we took away from our time in Bali was the breath taking sunsets. Being close to the equator, the sun will set around 6pm year-round, meaning somewhat short days but beautiful scenery to transition you into early evening.
You can enjoy the sunset whilst drinking cocktails on the beach, and admire the silhouette of impressive temples and the panoramic views as the sun descends behind the rice fields. The vast differences between Bali’s terrains throughout gives you the chance to capture impressive images every day and are the main reason you’ll find your Instagram feed populated by Bali skylines. Check it out for yourself!
2. World-class luxury accommodation
Although Bali is a cheap country to visit and you’ll find plenty of budget friendly hostels, guesthouses and hotels, there’s high demand for luxury accommodation. Although these places might seem expensive for Bali, they’re still much cheaper than similar accommodation elsewhere in the world! Check out some of our favourite places to stay below:
- The Kayon Resort – A world-famous resort that overlooks the jungle, complete with tiered infinity pools
- Viceroy Bali – A super expensive but super luxurious Ubud resort with amazing rooms and views of the rice terraces.
- Alila Villas Uluwatu – Suave, designer villas perched on top of cliffs and positioned to overlook the bay. Excellent for families and large groups.
- Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay – A brand that’s no stranger to luxury travel and one of the best hotels we’ve ever seen.
The above hotels are simply amazing but they do cost an exorbitant amount of money. If you want a luxury hotel without paying these prices, Bali still has plenty of options for £60 – 100 per night.
3. The eclectic mix people you’ll meet during your trip
In addition to the travellers and tourists you’ll meet from around the world, the locals are what make Bali a very friendly and welcoming place to visit. In both tourist hotspots and on rural trails, the Balinese people are happy to tell you about their culture and give recommendations on things to do and places to visit. Dine with them in one of the many Warung Indonesian restaurants, join young musicians for a sing-along outside a bar or learn about the temples, history and tradition of the island from a knowledgeable guide.
4. Amazing natural sites and views
One of the most alluring things about Bali was the awesome land formations and natural sites. The coastline has a number of beautiful beaches (Padang Padang, Nusa Dua and Gegar Beach are amongst our favourites) and towering cliffs that have great views of the bays and surrounding islands. Inland, you’ll find luscious forests, plantations, rice fields and exotic jungle terrain.
Arguably the most impressive natural wonder of Bali is the towering Mount Batung volcano that dominates the island’s skyline. You can explore the mountain on an early morning sunrise hike, which is well worth doing (more on that later). Another must-see for us was the offshore island of Nusa Penida, distinguished by its clear waters, towering cliffs and hidden coves.
Here are some of our favourites:
- Nusa Penida / Lembongan Islands
- The rice paddies of Ubud
- The north-east temples of Tirta Ganga and Pura Lempuyang
- The towering cliff-faces of Uluwatu and the mountain-top temple
- Mount Agung trekking experience
5. Unique travel experiences
Whether you’re a returning visitor or a first timer who wants to do something unusual whilst on holiday, Bali has a number of cool experiences to check out. Here are some of the weird and wonderful things we experienced during our visit:
- Spend some time in a treehouse
- Buy some quirky clothes, homeware or art
- Visit a floating bar (Puri Santrian)
- Get up close with over 800 monkeys
- Listen to a world-famous DJ on top of a cliffside hotel
- Explore abandoned aeroplanes
For more unique experiences, check out Trip Canvas Indonesia’s excellent article here.
6. A romantic place for couples
There’s a good reason why Bali is a popular honeymoon destination – it’s exotic and full of romantic views, activities and hotels. See below for a sample of some romantic things you can do on the island with your loved one:
- Dine together privately…on a mountain top, or on a private beach
- Have breakfast in an infinity pool overlooking the rice fields
- Enjoy a couples spa treatment with a view
- Live the luxury with a 5 star couples hotel
- Have an adventure together and take some amazing pictures
7. Mount Agung sunrise trek
An early morning (we’re talking 2am!) trek alongside Mount Agung was both the highlight and most challenging moment of our trip. Although it may be tedious to wake up so early on your holiday, taking the effort to climb the mountain at sunrise is rewarding and produces breath-taking views of the mountain.
Join a tour group for the trek and experience Bali’s natural beauty first hand without the tourist bustle of the daytime. The actual trek only takes 2 hours so it’s not as strenuous as you’d think!
8. The lively nightlife
South-East Asia is notorious for its nightlife scene. Bali’s southern beaches of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Canggu are very much the same, with added party influence from Australian’s on holiday in the area, providing a mixed vibe of ‘backpacker beach party’ and ‘Australian party resort’. The best thing about Bali’s nightlife is the variety of bars, which cater to different audiences.
If you like all-night parties, cheap bars and a young crowd, Kuta is the place to go, whilst Seminyak offers a more sophisticated ‘cocktail lounge’ vibe and the mixed atmosphere of Canggu makes it the destination of choice for many backpackers.
9. A rich local culture – temples and art
As soon as you arrive into Bali’s Denpasar Airport, you’ll get a taste of the island’s unique culture and artistic flair. The airport building is surrounded by intricate Balinese temple walls and the roundabout outside features a large Balinese warrior statue.
From residential houses to grand temples in the jungle, Bali is full of rich, cultural practices, buildings and religious ceremonies. The culture is peaceful and welcoming to all, and unlike anything we’ve seen elsewhere in South-East Asia, it’s truly unique!
Spend your time exploring the amazing temples of Ubud and the far north or take part in a cultural festival on the western beaches. Tourism is very much integrated into the traditional core of the island and this is evident throughout. Did we mention the cool art shops in every village? Bali has a strong heart that has to be experienced in person.
10. Varied and flavoursome local cuisine
Balinese cuisine consists of a number of key flavours, including coconut, garlic and chilli. It draws inspiration from India, China and nearby Malaysia and boasts a number of national dishes which you can find almost anywhere. Being a big fan of Malaysian food, we found Balinese had very similar flavours and they share a lot of the same national dishes. Popular dishes include Nasi Goreng (fried egg and rice with a choice of meat and vegetables), Babi Guling (pork stuffed with turmeric and spicy paste) and Gado-Gado (a cold vegetable salad with, long beans, tofu, potato, egg and assorted veggies).
If you’re not a fan of spicy food or just want some home favourites, Bali has restaurants to suit all tastes. There are a number of international restaurants throughout the main island resorts and you can find all of the same food you’d eat at home. We actually had some of the best tacos we’ve ever had at a place called Taco Casa in Ubud! Whatever cuisine you pick, restaurants and street stalls are very cheap, which leads us on to our next point…
11. Very cheap prices
Having visited many countries in South-East Asia, we knew that prices would be quite cheap but anticipated Bali to be a little more expensive due to the popularity of the island. What we did find was one of the cheapest places we’ve ever visited! Eating out, drinking and transport are super cheap and although luxury accommodation is plentiful and on the pricier side, you can find a great place to stay for every budget.
Being able to holiday in Bali and spend very little is a bonus and although the flights from Europe may be costly, you more than make up for saving money whilst you’re there. Live like a king for two weeks and enjoy the island to its fullest!
12. A yoga lover’s dream
Whether you’re a veteran Yogi or just want to experience the activity in an amazing environment, Bali has adopted Yoga throughout and is one of the most popular places in the world for Yoga retreats. Although you’ll find certain Yoga hotspots such as Ubud and Canggu, the acvitity is apparent throughout the island and you can enjoy a range of classes, from Bikram and AntiGravity Yoga to Ashtanga Vinyasa flow.
Wake up in the morning for a spot of stretching by the pool, gaze into the distance at amazing shoreline views with beach yoga or join the professionals at the famous Yoga Barn in Ubud for top rated classes in the wilderness. Yoga classes are available indoors and outdoors throughout the island and are fine for all levels of experience.
13. There’s something to suit everyone
As previously mentioned, the mix of people you’ll see in Bali is astounding. Everyone from families and older couples to adventurous couples and young backpackers are apparent throughout Bali and is has a little bit of allure for all tastes.
Families may prefer the comfort of a nice hotel, kid’s activities and beaches of the south, whilst some travellers come looking for unique experiences and endless adventure. Inland temples and local culture attract those looking to learn, whilst others prefer to chill on quiet beach all day and party on an evening. Bali is a massively varied destination and suits those who want to do everything or just a small part. Do lots of research before arrival to pick an area/s that suit your interests. What we would say is don’t plan to visit too many places on your holiday. It takes time to travel around the island and each place has enough going on to keep you entertained for at least a week.
14. A surfer’s paradise
The final reason why you should visit Bali is the beaches and water sports on offer, particularly surfing. Having never surfed before, we found the activity to be super fun and a great way to spend the afternoon. Most of Bali’s shores attract good waves, with varying levels of surfing difficulty as you move around the island. Beginners can start at Legian Beach with inexpensive lessons from a local instructor (~£5) or you can challenge yourself to more advanced waves at the Uluwatu beaches if you’re no stranger to strong tides. Kick back and enjoy the rest of your afternoon on the beach with a Bintang lemon beer.
We hope we’ve inspired you to book your own holiday to Bali and have given a good idea on the great things you can do on the island. It’s an action-packed destination with a lot to do so it would be impossible to see everything in a short 2-week holiday. We’d recommend researching each place and choosing an itinerary based on what you want from your holiday. Read more about our trip to Bali here, including tips, itineraries and fun holiday content.
For help planning your holiday, don’t hesitate to get in touch!