Planning a holiday can be a great time – sifting through hotel listings, amping yourself up about all the exciting tours and attractions you are going to visit, mentally browsing all your potential holiday snaps. For my trip to Bali, I didn’t follow this path so much.. I had some free time, no plans and a backpack, and the only thing I could find that would mix well with this combination was a last minute, one way ticket for a week.. or two.. or a day.. really however long I felt like being there.
I ended up staying almost two weeks, and I would have stayed longer if I hadn’t a job I needed to return for. Bali is so diverse, catering to everyone from the extreme holiday planners to the spontaneous last minute arrivals.
Bali is a beautiful Island in Indonesia, surrounded by idyllic beaches and filled with much of the buzz you would find in Asia – Kuta beach and it’s surrounding areas are known for their bustling markets, sizzling late night street food, all night pumping night clubs and a real holiday atmosphere. Backpackers partying it up on the main streets of Kuta beach feel just as at home here as the upmarket holiday seekers who want a private villa and ridiculously low priced daily massages.
I began my journey at Kuta beach, known for epic sunsets and frequented by a large amount of Australian tourists who are seeking sun, sand and culture that isn’t too far from home. It is a never-ending hive of activity, and maybe not the ideal destination if you are looking for peace and tranquility (Bali caters exceptionally well to these things, just head over to Seminyak or Ubud). The beach is dotted with vendors peddling everything from a Bintang (the popular local beer) to a Surf board hire, and there is no shortage of entertainment – well into the night.
Street market shopping is something Bali does well – with scooters rushing past you and endless street vendors fighting it out for business, it is not for the faint hearted, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. Down Poppies lanes (both Poppies 1 and poppies 2) you will find a selection of storefronts, selling sarongs, watches, stickers, knock offs and local Balinese trinkets, mixed with local warongs offering a variety of western meals, free wifi, super cheap beers and amazing (and very cheap!) local Nasi Goreng.
If you head outside of Kuta, there are some really special locations to be found. Take a day trip out to Dreamland beach – a multi level bar/restaurant/pool/lounging spot where you can often spot pro surfers down at the breaks, or just grab a cocktail and admire the stunning view from one of the infinity pools.
There are a number of tours that operate outside of Kuta, but will happily come and pick you up from your hotel for the day – so many adventures await you, whether it is a mountain bike tour of the rice paddies, trekking up the local volcano for sunrise, or taking a tasting exploration of the local coffee and cocoa plantations, there really is something for everyone here.
Taxis in Kuta: Getting a taxi in Bali can be a challenge – some (but of course,not all) are known for ripping tourists of, taking long routes and not using meters. If you are not familiar with Bali, or do not have a local travelling with you, it is generally recommended to use Bluebird Taxis – they are light blue with a bird in a diamond as the logo. Taxis in Bali tend to be categorized as ‘bluebird’ and ‘everyone else’, so if you are unsure, or wanting a reliable taxi who always uses the meter, try to stick with the bluebird taxis.
Culture in Kuta: Balinese culture and traditions can be quite different from anything you might be used to – keep this in mind when visiting temples and other important sites, there are quite often rules that are very important to the local culture that you follow, such as keeping your arms or legs covered.
Safety: Safety is much the same anywhere foreign that you visit – use money belts to prevent pick pocketing, make sure that your hotel room has a secured to the floor/ground/wall safe for you to use, and don’t leave your drink unattended when you are out and about having fun. Your local government website will have travel advisories for any places they consider a threat, so make sure to have a look at that before you leave, and speak to your doctor about any immunizations you might need.