- Yoga – can’t go wrong. pick a studio and call it home.
- Ubud – great but don’t stay a week. You can knock it out in 3 or 4 days.
- Seniman Coffee and the plantations – this wasn’t necessarily the best shop in town but was our favorite. Also, go to a plantation to really appreciate the work that goes into coffee.
- Drive – definitely rent a scooter and always check your helmet for bugs
- Day tour – get a driver for a day and take a full tour of the island, highly recommend. Get your culture on and appreciate the Balinese.
- Gili T – get a little weird with no plans. Take the early ferry to the Gili’s with whatever gear you need to eat or sleep then just figure it out. Probably my favorite part of bali.
- Kuta – nope, don’t even bother.
- Candidasa – unless you want to sleep and do nothing else, just don’t. there are better places to dive and stay around bali.
- chain hotels – find your own way. It’ll be cheaper and a richer experience.
- chain restaurants – if it looks like a chain than it probably is. don’t overpay for food that isn’t half as good as the mom and pop neighbor at half the cost. does that make half sense?
- wine – it’s not up to snuff
- water & ice
the longer version…
everyone has a connect. all hotels will try to overcharge so leave the grounds to get stuff – massages, scooter, tours, booze, etc.
bali belly is real s#it, word play, and you should seriously be careful with water and ice. it can be a little unavoidable at times but go to lengths such as not brushing your teeth under the faucet.
if you want a crazy party experience then go to Kuta but be very careful. we didn’t go but heard nothing but trouble – bogans looking to fight and police traps. if you want some harmless PG-13 hippie fun, go to the Gili’s.
in terms of driving, you’re only responsible for what’s in front of you. we would both recommend getting a scooter for exploring whichever part you stay in and the island as a whole, but keep your head on a swivel. people will pull out in front of you with almost no disregard for life. don’t worry, you’ll get used to it and do the same.
always check your helmet for bugs. caroline had a cockroach in her helmet and didn’t know it until we got to the store and it crawled across her head…it was awesome.
if you are on the beach (and most likely you will be) go for a dive. we didn’t and regret it.
stay local and cheap. to take the stress out of it we’d recommend booking a place to stay in for 2 days on arrival but no more. use your first few days to find a place that meets your wants/need, and more importantly your budget, then just use your best judgement and pick a nice and cheap place to stay.
drink the coffee. drinks lots of the coffee.
bali is a very big-little island. don’t settle on one area. hire a private car for the day if you need to, $50, and go see the entire island. not only will you get a rich cultural experience, but you’ll find new places to maybe spend a night or two.
don’t be put off by all strangers starting conversation. in short time you’ll be able to tell the difference between someone being friendly and someone selling something.
bali can be a very cheap place to live or a very expensive place. we found that the inexpensive route has just as high quality offerings in the food and service as the expensive route, just less makeup. don’t be afraid to step in somewhere that looks shady, if you get a bad feeling just leave, no one’s feelings are going to get hurt.
in our experience and given where we spent our time, the Balinese are genuine and sincere people. outside the markets, and inside, to call them friendly is an understatement.