Essential Information when visiting Bali
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
Bali needs no introduction. The gem and paradise of Indonesia known for its rice paddies, glorious beaches and iconic temples. Tourists flock here in their millions annually to experience beautiful Bali for themselves and its easy to see why. Beaches, volcano's hikes, lakes and lush greenery means there is something for everyone to explore.
The island of Bali is one of the many thousands of islands of the Indonesian archipelago in the Indian Ocean and is in the Southern hemisphere.
Best time to visit:
The good news is that when visiting Bali you can expect hot temperatures throughout the year, with temperatures ranging between 26-29°C, and only cooling slightly in the more central regions around Ubud and the mountains.
However Bali has two distinct seasons much like the UK and this is something to keep in mind when deciding when to visit: the wet season, falling between October and March, and the dry season, spanning between April and September.
The dry season means hotter weather and an increase of sunny days, but with peak season coinciding with European summer holidays, it also means an increase in the number of visitors in July and August. A lesson that we learnt the hard way! Ubud was absolutely brimming with people and was just far too busy for us to enjoy or even experience the laid-back chilled atmosphere of the rural Ubud area.
Hiring a driver
There is so much to see and do in Bali and most of it is spaced out in various sections of the island. If, like us, you want to see as much as possible and have one or two bases then hiring a driver may be the easiest and most relaxing way to get around.
We toyed with the idea of hiring a car ourselves, but after reading up on trip advisor forums and various other travel blogs we decided against it. The driving in Bali is slightly erratic to say the least and getting into any form of scrape or accident as a tourist can cause many more issues than you may want to contend with on your annual holiday! Hiring a driver is very cheap and a great way of getting around and gaining local knowledge whilst you get there. We always asked the air b and b hosts if they knew anyone and they usually had a reliable family member who drove for us.
We hired a driver in Ubud through our air b and b host and also in Nusa Penida through the hotel and had good experiences with both of them.
Hiring a Car
A lot of people do this so if you have driven in Bali or a similar country before and you feel confident then this is always an option, but we would recommend you do your research. Also be aware that you need an international drivers’ licence and make sure you get the correct insurances. Steffan was adamant he wanted to drive but even he admitted once there that he was glad we hadn’t gone with this option. Sightseeing was tiring enough without navigating streets you don’t know and rules of the road you don’t understand. We got to chill out on our journeys and save our energy for the highlights!
Hiring a scooter or moped
This is one of the most popular forms of transport in Bali and we were oh so tempted to do this on Nusa Penida but oh so glad we didn’t! Nusa Penida specifically the roads were mental, so bumpy and dangerous and we just would not have felt comfortable. Then again we have zero scooter or motorbike riding experience so for someone that has, you may be less dramatic and more comfortable than we would be!
Ubud was manic and whilst the scooter option meant you could avoid the hour long traffic jams in August (yes really!) … you honestly had to have your wits about you as cars and trucks flew out of nowhere and scooters lined the roads and pavements trying to get through. In some quieter areas or at a different time of year this may be a perfect option but for us, it was far too hectic.
Using a Taxi or Blue bird
We didn’t use taxis until we arrived in Seminyak as we found having a driver was much more convenient for us. Seminyak was more of a chilled end to our trip and so we didn’t plan to do too much, that said when we did, we wanted to be driven. I researched a little on taxi costs and reputations of various companies in the area before we arrived, and it seemed that Blue Bird had an amazing reputation. Blue bird is a taxi company, but they also have an app just like Uber or Grab. So you can book and pay online. We used them to get to Tanah Lot from Seminyak and the driver waited for 4 hours for us for a very reasonable charge and took us back to our villa afterwards. Highly recommend using them if you want to get out and about without, the risk of being over charged or left stranded!
Airport transfer time:
This really depends where you are staying. Flying into Denpasar it will take you around an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Ubud and just 30 minutes to get to Seminyak. Bali is a fairly small island and so you can arrive in most spots within a reasonable amount of time.
The Balinese currency is the Indonesian Rupiah and can be bought before you arrive or exchanged once there very easily at one of the many currency exchange shops. We always carried cash but found that aside from Nusa Penida and some more rural areas pretty much everywhere accepted cards as well so it made is super easy at restaurants and bars.
The power sockets in Portugal are type F and the standard voltage is 230 V. It is the European 2 pin plug adaptor you will need which you can buy here if you are from the UK or buy here if you are from the US. It’s also worth mentioning that the 230 v is compatible with all UK appliances but if you are travelling from America then you may need a transformer to step down the voltage in order for your appliances to work!
Balinese and Indonesian are widely spoken as well as English. We didn’t have any issues communicating with anyone whilst travelling around Bali, even in the lesser visited Nusa Penida. There are so many tourists flocking here every year more and more people speak fluent English on the island.
To read our top five things to do in Nusa Penida click here