Best Places To Visit in Bali

Best Places To Visit in Bali

Our first vacation in Bali, and we were so thrilled! We heard so much about this beautiful Island of the Gods, and wanted to experience it all. For sure, we would be going to all the Best Places to Visit in Bali.

I heard of some of these places from my students. My friend heard some from his friends. Then we went surfing on the Internet to get a list of all the places we would like to visit.

It was a very long list. I did not know Bali has so much to offer!’

We would visit all of these fun and exciting attractions in due time. For our first visit, we only had a few days. And we wanted a slow and easy paced holiday. So, we narrowed down to just the sights along the coast of Bali.

We reserved Ubud, and the rest of Bali for future visits. Meantime, please continue reading to see the places we discovered.


What You Need To Know About Bali, Indonesia?

Before continuing to see the Best Places to Visit in Bali, you may want to find out more about this lovely island.

Where it is located? Who are the people? What is the culture and religion? What is the dress code? What are the Best Places to Visit in Bali? What are the Best Places to Eat in Bali? And so much more.

To learn all that, and more, click on the image below.

Bali - The Ultimate Guide
Bali – The Ultimate Guide

Ready to find out more about the Best Places to Visit in Bali? Continue reading.


Are There Many Places To Visit in Bali, Indonesia?

Before we reached Bali, we found out that there were so many temples to see, so many waterfalls to enjoy, so many beaches to swim in, and so many fun and exciting activities to do in Bali.

As we planned our itinerary with our tour guide, we learned that there are different regions in Bali. Each has lots of interesting places and activities. But, unless you are staying Bali for a long time, a vacation usually has only a few days for the experience.

So, for now, we feature the sights along the coastal areas. When we visit Ubud, we will share about that, too.


What To See in Bali, Indonesia?

Along the coast of Bali, there are many beautiful beaches. Each is unique and different. Below is the Petitenget Beach. It was the first beach we explored on our first day in Bali.

It was so memorable. Click on the image below to read more about our experience here. There are photos and a video to show you what the place looks like.

Best Places To Visit In Bali - Best Beaches in Bali - Petitenget Beach
Best Places To Visit In Bali – Best Beaches in Bali – Petitenget Beach

I was so awed by the view at The Uluwatu Temple. This is a popular Instagrammable spot. Just look at the image below. Is it not magnificent?

The deep blue sea that is wide and vast. The soft bubbles as the waves crash on the shores. The tall and steep cliff that affords a bird’s eye view of the entire landscape.

Click on the image below to read the story of this place as well as the many lovely photos and a video to bring you there.

Best Places To Visit In Bali - The Uluwatu Temple
Best Places To Visit In Bali – The Uluwatu Temple

When in Bali, you must experience their culture. And one of the ways is to be a captive audience at a kecak dance. Specifically, the famous and popular kecak dance at The Uluwatu Temple.

You must not miss watching the video. Click on the image below now to see.

Best Places To Visit In Bali - The Uluwatu Temple Kecak Dance
Best Places To Visit In Bali – The Uluwatu Temple Kecak Dance

I am sure you must have seen many photos of this place. And yet, they are not enough. Aside from personally being there to experience this once-in-a-lifetime place, you must read about our time there.

It was truly magical. Click the image below now.

Best Places To Visit In Bali - Tanah Lot Temple
Best Places To Visit In Bali – Tanah Lot Temple

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I will be sharing more Best Places to Visit in Bali. Please do join my I Love Travel community to receive updates.


If you have ANY questions about Best Places to Visit in Bali, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Best Places To Eat in Bali

Best Places To Eat in Bali

Even before we arrived at Bali, Indonesia, we searched the Internet for all the Best Places to Eat in Bali. To us, part of experiencing a foreign place is to sample their food. To taste what the locals enjoy eating. Also to savor the cuisine that visitors rave about.

There was a long list of cafes, restaurants and warungs (local restaurants) in Bali. We narrowed down to a few for our vacation in October 2019. And vow to try as many as possible in future visits to Bali.

For now, we chose places that had good reviews. Better still if they have something unique to go along with the dining experience.

Good food with fine or interesting ambience is important to us. We feel that it gives that little extra touch to our vacations. Don’t you agree?


What You Need To Know About Bali, Indonesia?

Besides where to eat and what good food to try, you might like to find out more about Bali, Indonesia.

Where it is located? Who are the people? What is the culture and religion? What is the dress code? What are the Best Places to Visit in Bali? What are the Best Places to Eat in Bali? And so much more.

To learn all that, and more, click on the image below.

Bali - The Ultimate Guide
Bali – The Ultimate Guide

For this article, we will discuss about the Best Places to Eat in Bali. Please continue reading.


How is The Food in Bali, Indonesia?

When we were in Bali, there were a lot of type of food to consider. This is because there were many restaurants and cafes that offered food from outside of this country.

Bali Food List - Special Babi Guling (Balinese Roasted Suckling Pig) and Potato Fries
Bali Food List – Special Babi Guling (Balinese Roasted Suckling Pig) and Potato Fries

Of course, there are the local warungs that offered local food such as nasi padang, nasi campur, sate, and more. You must not miss any of these. Check out Nook and Warung Nia mentioned below.

Then there are many eating places offering food from Italy, France, Australia, Japanese and even fusion style where local and western food are combined to give a unique Bali taste.


Are There Many Places to Eat in Bali, Indonesia?

We visited a few of the towns in Bali, and we can tell you that everywhere you go, there is food. For example, just outside of our villa, La Villais Kamojang Seminyak, there was a stretch of road, called Jl. Pangkung Sari, lined with cafes and restaurants offering all kinds of food; Italian, local, Japanese, etc.

And perpendicular to that road, there was a famous stretch called Jl. Kayu Aya where every few feet there was a cafe or restaurant. Each offered food and drinks from a different culture or country. You will be spoiled for choice.


Where Are The Best Places to Eat in Bali, Indonesia?

We have been to Bali. We spent days along the coast and beaches of Bali. And we have tried many of the food establishments there.

We did it so that we can try the food, and report to you how bad or good tasting it was. Also, to share with you the dining experience.

For a start, here is a lovely place where you can dine next to a paddy field. Click on the image to read about Nook, see the photos of Nook, and watch a video to show you how the place looks like. And what is it like having a meal next to a paddy field.

Best Places To Eat in Bali - NOOK
Best Places To Eat in Bali – NOOK

Here is another local warung we tried. As you can tell from the picture below, they have the best pork ribs in Bali. Click on the image below to read more. The article includes an interesting greeting the staff did every time a guest arrives, the food, and how the place looks like. Again, with lots of photos and a video.

Best Places To Eat in Bali - Warung Nia - Best Pork Ribs in Bali
Best Places To Eat in Bali – Warung Nia – Best Pork Ribs in Bali

We tried more food at more eating places; cafes, restaurants, warungs, and more. To get updates when I publish these reviews, please join my I Love Travel community.


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If you have ANY questions about Best Places to Eat in Bali, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Bali – The Ultimate Guide

Bali - The Ultimate Guide

Last October, we visited Bali for the very first time. We had a wonderful time and we plan to go again. We did find out some things before that first visit. Now that we intend to go again, I have found out more about Bali, and would like to share in this article – Bali – The Ultimate Guide.

In this ultimate guide to Bali, I will do my best to cover as much about this beautiful island as I can. There was so much to see, so and eat in Bali. For our first adventure, we decided to focus on the coastal areas. Our next time there, we will explore Ubud.

Bali is known as the Island of the Gods. When we were there, we could understand why.

The beaches were truly beautiful. The holy temples were enchanting. The hills and mountains were magnificent. The rice terraces were lush. The food was delicious. And everywhere we went, the people were warm and friendly.

We stayed at a villa, and it was heavenly. Having an entire place to ourselves surely gave us the feeling that we were specially pampered guests.

Continue reading as I share all the above including fun activities and shopping, of course, in this article.


Where is Bali, Indonesia?

There are more than 17,000 islands in Indonesia. And Bali is one of them.

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It is about 2 kilometers (that is almost 1.5 miles) east from Java.

I live in Singapore, and that makes Bali south east of Singapore. We flew across the Java Sea to reach Bali.


What are the Regions and Cities of Bali, Indonesia?

When we were in Bali, we engaged a private driver and tour guide. During one of the days there, I was curious and asked the tour guide about the different areas in Bali. He was very knowledgeable, and gave me a rundown of the regions as well as the foreigners living in some of them.

I found out from him that there are six regions in Bali. There are North Bali, East Bali, South Bali, and West Bali plus Central Bali and Southeastern Islands

South Bali consists of Kuta, Bukit Peninsula, Canggu, Denpasar, Jimbaran, Legian, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak, and Tanah Lot. According to our private tour guide, the foreigners at Kuta and Legian are mostly Australians. Guests from China love to stay at Nusa Dua. Brazilians prefer to stay at the Canggu area. At chic Seminyak, the foreign visitors are mixed from different countries. The locals live mostly in Denpasar.

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Ubud, Bedugul and Tabanan are in Central Bali, which is considered as the cultural hub. There are plenty of terraced rice fields in the mountains here. According to our private tour guide, most Europeans visit, and some even settled, here.

In North Bali, popular for their black sand beaches, there are Lovina, Munduk, and Singaraja. East Bali includes Amed, Besakih, Candidasa, Kintamani, Klungkung, Mount Agung, Padang Bai, Tirta Gangga. West Bali has Negara, Gilimanuk, Medewi Beach, Pemuteran, and West Bali National Park.

Added to the above, Bali also has the southeastern islands that are Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan. These gorgeous paradises are popular for scuba diving.


Who are the People in Bali, Indonesia?

Before we visited Bali, I read up about this place. And I was intrigued by the fact that the Balinese people are an Austronesian ethnic group.

Don’t be mistaken by that term. The slightly over 4 million people are still native to Bali, Indonesia. Apparently, a long time ago, their ancestors migrated by sea from Taiwan. This was known as the Austronesian expansion.

I know. Mind blowing right?


What is the Culture in Bali, Indonesia?

When I was in Bali, I was fascinated with their culture. Immediately, I could see how rich a culture they have. This could be due to an exotic mix of Balinese Hindu-Buddhist religion and Balinese customs.

The Balinese dance is popular, and you can watch it at many venues. They have the Barong or lion dance, Calonarang, Kecak, and Legong Keraton. We watched the Uluwatu Kecak Dance, and noticed that it was Indian influenced.

Another cultural delight is the wayang kulit also known as shadow play theatre. In the music and drama arena, they have skilllful gamelan players and talented actors.

One thing we noticed is that the lifestyle in Bali is slow paced. The people are warm, friendly, very tolerant, and welcoming to visitors. They are also modest and polite, which is evident in the way they dress and behave.

Kindly note that I mentioned about modesty. One of the things they do frown upon is any public display of affection. So please be mindful and respect their culture.

As such, partners kissing is actually not acceptable. And please do not display any nudity, even on the beaches. They do not like that.

Travel Tip: Please respect their culture.


What are the Religions in Bali, Indonesia?

If you have been to Indonesia, you would know that most of the population are Muslims. But not Bali. Everywhere we went in Bali, we could see the influence of the Indian culture, and the Hindu religion.

A quick history lesson on Google helped me learn that around 100 BC, the first Hindus arrived in Bali. This is why most of the Balinese are Hindus. And almost every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with this religion. For example, when we were in Bali, almost everywhere we would see canang sari.

Canang sari are tiny leaf tray offerings that contain flowers, glutinous rice, cookies, salt and incense. These are placed at every aspect of the Balinese lives; for example at the house, work, restaurant, shops, etc

Canang Sari - Balinese Offering
Canang Sari – Balinese Offering

Balinese believe it is bad luck to step on a canang sari. So, please be careful!

Travel Tip: Do Not Step on a Canang Sari!

When we were in Bali, we were fortunate to visit a few beautiful temples such as Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temple. These temples, and many more in Bali, have rich cultural and historical values.


What is the Common Language Spoken  in Bali, Indonesia?

It was easy to communicate with our private driver and tour guide as well as the locals. Every Balinese speak Indonesian, Balinese and English. This makes it easy for tourists, like you and me, to get around, order food, shop, etc.


What are the Festivals and Public Holidays in Bali, Indonesia?

Most of the public holidays and festivals held in Bali are the same as the rest of Indonesia. But there are some that are unique to this Island of the Gods.

Note: For rest of public holidays such as New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, kindly refer to the information at Indonesia – Ultimate Guide.


Nyepi – Saka New Year

This is Bali’s lunar new year. It is based on their Saka calendar. Held in the month of March, there are Melasti processions three days before Nyepi.

It would be interesting to watch the pilgrims walk from the temples to the coastline for purification rituals, join in the fun at the ogoh-ogoh parade, and be awed by the thousands of monster-like statues. But after that, on the actual day of Nyepi, the entire island goes silent. It is part of their holy practice to observe absolute non activity. So, I think I will skip this.

To learn more about Nyepi, see how the lovely purification rituals, the colorful costumes, what the ogoh-ogoh parade looks like, and the monster statues, Watch the Video below.


Galungan and Kuningan

This is one of the most celebrated holidays in Bali. It is held twice a year. Families get together to commemorate the victory of Dharma over Adharma, which is good over evil.

At the entrance of every home and along the streets, you will see the tall and well adorned penjor poles. These are beautiful and long poles decorated with young coconut leaves, fruits and flowers. It is curved and at the end hangs something that looks like a tassle.

Hmmm. This looks so enchanting. I hope to see this one day.

To learn more about Galungan and Kuningan, see how the penjor is made, what it looks like, and its symbolism, Watch the Video below.


Bali Arts Festival

This event happens some time between mid June to mid July. It showcases artists’ works on platforms such as exhibitions and performances.

Venues such as Niti Mandala Renon Square and Denpasar Arts Centre are hosts to these shows. There is also the lavish opening of the event that are the street parades.

See what the Bali Arts Festival looks like, Watch the Video below.


Bali Kite Festival

When I was a young boy, I loved playing with kites. Of course, the ones I played with were small little ones that flew really high and then disappeared into the skies forever.

In Bali, I am excited to find out that there is an annual celebration of kite flying. People send huge kites in all shapes while an orchestra plays traditional music. So charming.

Be enthralled by large and beautiful kites flown by teams at the Bali Kite Festival, Watch the Video below.


Makepung Buffalo Races

Strong bulls with men on carts race to the finishing line. The beauty and the drama is enough to entice me to see this at least once. What about you?

Words are not enough to describe this exciting race. Better you Watch the Video below.


Sanur Village Festival

When we visited Sanur Beach, it was very quiet. Almost like a peaceful fishing village if you ignore the tall hotels and bars by the seaside.

It is nice to know that there is this annual Sanur Village Festival that brings life to this lovely place. The festival features food, beverage, health and wellness, sports and environmental-awareness events.

Take a look at the parade at this festival. Watch the Video below.


Lovina Festival

Around September or October, the village of Kalibukbuk Beach hosts the Lovina Festival. The event opens with a parade with a Balinese marching band called balengajur. And the exhibitions and night markets showcases handicrafts and delicious local food.

Check out this festival, Watch the Video below.


Nusa Dua Fiesta

If you are looking for more arts, culture, sports, music and exhibitions, head on to the Nusa Dua Fiesta. It is held in October at, where else, Nusa Dua peninsula. Don’t miss the culinary side events such as the cooking and mixology competitions. I know I won’t.

How happening is this festival? To find out, Watch the Video below.


What is the Dress Code in Bali, Indonesia?

When we were in Bali, we could literally feel how relaxed the atmosphere was. For clothing, you can wear shorts or bermudas with t shirt. Just be mindful and not wear clothing that is not too sexy.

When you visit temples and religious sites, take note of the strict dress codes. For example, most of these holy sites would advise wearing a shirt that covers your arms and shoulders. And you would be required to wear a kain or sarong. This is a cloth that is wrapped around your waist.

Sarong and Sash Dress Code at The Uluwatu Temple
Sarong and Sash Dress Code at The Uluwatu Temple

What is the National Dress in Bali, Indonesia?

This is the same as the national costume of Indonesia. Kindly refer to my article – Indonesia – The Ultimate Guide.


What is the Popular Sport in Bali, Indonesia?

There are many who may argue, but to me, I find the most popular sport in Bali is Kite Flying. Of course, there are many other sports that Balinese enjoy. These are described in my Indonesia – The Ultimate Guide post.


What Currency Can I Use in Bali, Indonesia?

This would be the Indonesian rupiah (Rp or IDR). You can find out more in my article – Indonesia – The Ultimate Guide.

Tip: When changing money in Bali, find the legitimate money changers to avoid being cheated.


How is the Weather in Bali, Indonesia?

Again, the weather is the same as in Indonesia. Sorry to do this, but I really do not wish to repeat the info that you can find at my Indonesia – The Ultimate Guide post.


How is the Haze Situation in Bali, Indonesia?

I asked our private driver and tour guide about this. And it was amazing to find out that there is little or no haze situation in Bali, Indonesia.


Are There Any Earthquakes in Bali, Indonesia?

Before we traveled to Bali in October 2019, there were reports of earthquakes and volcano eruptions. This was because Indonesia is prone to earthquakes. Bali is no exception. Around that time, Lombok saw many volcano eruptions and earthquakes.

We were wondering if we should postpone our vacation. After a short discussion, we believed all would be all right. And we were glad we visited this beautiful island.


Which are the Hotels to Stay in Bali, Indonesia?

When it was time to choose a hotel to stay in Bali, it was quite a monumental task. There were so many great hotels, resorts and villas to choose from. After much thought, we decided to stay in a villa.

Bali Hotels - La Villais Kamojang Seminyak Review
Bali Hotels – La Villais Kamojang Seminyak Review

It was a heavenly experience. An entire villa to ourselves. Click on the button above to read more about our stay. Includes a video of the villa, huge bedroom and bathroom plus private pool with kitchen and living room.

You too can have many choices. You can stay at a hotel or a resort with plenty of facilities. Or you can stay at a private villa just like us. Book your choice below and get the best rates.


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What are the Things to Do in Bali, Indonesia?

Oh, there is so much to see and do in Bali! So many Best Places To Visit in Bali! Where to begin?

There are beaches, lots of lovely beaches. We visited quite a few during our vacation. And while every beach had the same things – sand, sea, and sun – each felt different. There was something unique about each of the beaches; Petitenget, Echo, Jimbaran Bay, Sanur, Padang Padang, and many more.

Best Places To Visit In Bali - Best Beaches in Bali - Petitenget Beach
Best Places To Visit In Bali – Best Beaches in Bali – Petitenget Beach

One of the favorite activities we saw at the beaches was surfing. It was fun watching the people riding the waves. But I don’t think we are that adventurous. So, we stuck to walking by the beach, and watching people sail and surf.

Temples are plenty in Bali. So many that it would be quite impossible to see them all. So, we picked a few awesome ones such as Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temple.

Best Places To Visit In Bali - The Uluwatu Temple
Best Places To Visit In Bali – The Uluwatu Temple

Best Places To Visit In Bali - Tanah Lot Temple
Best Places To Visit In Bali – Tanah Lot Temple

We gave Ubud a miss this time round. Only because we only had a few days, and we did not like to rush around. So, we chose coastal activities for this vacation.

On our next visit to Bali, we intend to focus on Ubud. We have found out that in this area there are more beautiful temples, and beaches. In addition, there is a lot of nature to appreciate; such as terraced rice fields, rainforests, and waterfalls.

In Ubud, there are also fun activities such as playing at the water parks, and outdoor adventures. Definitely something for every one in the family.


What Food to Eat in Bali, Indonesia?

I enjoy eating good food. My friends enjoy eating good food, too. So, when we are on a vacation, eating good food is a must. What about you?

Thankfully, Bali has a really wide variety of food. They are offered in a huge range of cafes and restaurants. The local restaurants called warungs serve both local Indonesian and international food. Sometimes, there can be dishes that are mixed. There are also international brands of cafes and restaurants serving their usual fare.

We tried a few of these local warungs. And the food was really yummy. Here is one where you can dine by paddy fields. Very charming.

Best Places To Eat in Bali - NOOK
Best Places To Eat in Bali – NOOK

Here is a warung that serves the best pork ribs in Bali. And I really have not enjoyed such soft and succulent pork ribs for a while. They were really awesome!

Best Places To Eat in Bali - Warung Nia - Best Pork Ribs in Bali
Best Places To Eat in Bali – Warung Nia – Best Pork Ribs in Bali

We also sampled food at smaller local restaurants that not many tourists know of. All thanks to our private tour guide who showed us this awesome eating places. They serve really yummy local nasi campur; rice with local dishes. They were also much cheaper than the food served at the warungs. One of them was even frequented by the president of Indonesia!


Where To Go Shopping in Bali, Indonesia?

There are lots of shopping malls, shops and markets in Bali. We passed by markets and shops on the way to seeing the sights. The only time we stopped to buy anything was to get hats to shade our heads because it was so hot and sunny.

Every zone or region in Bali has a big shopping mall. We did not visit them. The only time we stopped to shop was at this mall called Krisna. It was near the airport, and we dropped by just before we flew back to Singapore.

Krisna was amazing! Many floors with so many stuff at really good prices. We realized we did not need to shop at any time during our vacation. We could have stopped by Krisna when we first arrived, bought all we need – t shirts, juices, hats, etc, and then continued for our vacation.

Now that we know, we will do that the next time we visit Bali. I will be sharing more about this awesome shopping place. So do join my I Love Travel community to get updates when I publish this article.

In the meantime, here is a video about the malls in Bali.


How To Get To Bali, Indonesia?

Once we decided to have our vacation in Bali, the next thing we needed to know was How to Get to Bali? And here is what we found out.

By Airplane

To our delight, Bali has an international airport called Ngurah Rai International Airport. This meant there would be flights from Singapore to Bali.

We checked online, and there were many airlines that flew from our small island to the Island of the Gods.

Indonesia has a national carrier that is Garuda Indonesia. Here is a video about this airline.

There are many other airlines to choose from. For example Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Jetstar, KLM, Malaysia Airlines, Scoot, and many more.

We chose Jetstar because we found out it was the safest budget airlines. According to airlineratings .com, Jetstar has a safety rating of 7/7. But its product rating is 3/5.

To us, that is ok. After all, it is a budget airline. We do not expect too much from the product. Safety at highest score is more important.

By Train

There are no trains to Bali.

By Bus

There are no direct buses to Bali.

By Road

Bali is an island. So, no roads to drive to Bali.

By Boat / Ferry

There are boats and ferries to Bali. But it would take a long time to travel this way. Do not do this unless you have a lot of time on your hands.

To find out which ferry or boat to take from your location, it would be best to Google and search for these services. I would rather not mention all of them here.

One reason is because there are too many to mention. Another reason is the systems keep changing. What I write today may be outdated later.


Caution – This is not a safe choice. Many operators do not maintain their vessels. As such, it is dangerous. And there have been accidents and deaths.

On foot

Not possible.

Visas

There is Visa On Arrival where nationals of certain countries can get a visa upon arrival. Some countries cannot. Please check with the Bali Immigration website for details

Many visitors from many countries can visit Bali visa free. They can visit Indonesia without a visa, and for a period up to 30 days. Again, please check the immigration website to find out if your country has that privilege.


How To Get Around Bali, Indonesia?

My friends and I have discovered Bali to be a large island. And it is not easy to navigate and get around on our own. Especially if we are new to the place.

Traffic in Bali can get chaotic. More so at major tourist areas. There are daily jams. The best is to get a private driver and tour guide who knows when, where and how to get around Bali.

By Train

There are no trains in Bali.

By MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)

This is no MRT in Bali.

By Bus

There are buses in Bali. If you are on a budget, this is a good choice. Check out the local advertisements for a bus company. Do book one day in advance.

By Taxi

Before getting into a cab, please negotiate for the price. Better still, convince your driver to go by meter. Even then, it is quite risky to travel by taxi as some can be unscrupulous. So, please be careful.

By Grab

Private Hire Vehicles like Grab and Uber are available in Bali. And you will be surprised to know that even after the price is confirmed on your app, the driver will still haggle and get you to pay more.

I usually recommend using Grab in other countries. For Bali, I don’t recommend this choice.

By Bemo (Minivans)

This may look like a good option. A whole van for your whole family or a group of friends. Be careful. Find out the price before you agree to engage this service. Sometimes, the cost of these minivans may be even more than a taxi.

By Self-Drive Car or Motorbike

It looks tempting. And you may feel you get the freedom to go where you would like to go without the hassle of being tied to a driver.

But from what I learned, there have been many accidents with both locals and foreigners. So please be careful if you decide to take this method of getting around Bali.

Wear a helmet. Actually, this is compulsory by law. And often, police in Bali catches people who break this law. The fine and inconvenience is not fun at all.

Also, you will need to have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Private Driver and Tour Guide

To me and my friends, this was the best choice.

When we were on a holiday, we really liked to relax. Preferably, we would like to not worry or think about where to go, how to go there, what to eat, etc.

We loved that with our private driver, we were driven everywhere, and anywhere we requested. The driver was also our tour guide. So, he planned our itinerary. We approved. And he handled the rest.

We highly recommend this choice for getting around Bali.


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If you have ANY questions about Bali – The Ultimate Guide, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Indonesia – The Ultimate Guide

Indonesia - The Ultimate Guide

I am so excited! I’m going to Bali next week! That’s right! Bali in Indonesia!

Curious to know more about the country I’ll be visiting soon, I decided to research and find out more. And today, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned here with you!


About Indonesia

Indonesia is not new to me actually. I’ve been to Jakarta, Batam and Bintan before. All three cities, and Bali are part of this world’s largest island country. Batam, Bintan and Bali are three of the seventeen thousand islands that are part of Indonesia.

During June this year, I was in Kuching. An interesting titbit is that Kuching is part of East Malaysia, and they share land border with Indonesia on the large island known as Borneo. Imagine that! I was so close to Indonesia back then. Also, sharing land borders with Indonesia are Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

Birds of Petulu, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Birds of Petulu, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

I have also found out that Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that supports a high level of biodiversity. If you are into nature vacations, this will appeal to you. There is a section further down this article with more information about this.

To my surprise, Indonesia has abundant natural resources like oil, natural gas, coal, tin, copper, gold and nickel. Imagine that! Oil and gold! Surely this must be a rich country? They also have agriculture that  produces rice, palm oil, tea, coffee, cacao, medicinal plants, spices and rubber.

Now that I read about coffee and cacao, I do remember coffee from Sumatra being served at some coffee places in Singapore. I went to one at Frankel Avenue. The coffee was a little too sour for my taste.


Where is Indonesia?

As a Singaporean, I am very well aware that Indonesia are on the East, West, and South of my country. To the north is Malaysia. Here is a map showing the location of Indonesia.

Just like Singapore, Indonesia is situated near and along the equator. It is not only the largest island country in the world. It also boasts around 17,504 islands that are scattered on the equator as well as above and below it.

The largest islands are largest are Java, Sumatra, Borneo (shared with Brunei and Malaysia), Sulawesi, and New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea). These islands are spread out in the Indian and Pacific oceans.


What are the Races, Culture & Religion in Indonesia?

What are the Races in Indonesia?

When I last visited Batam, I met some local people. All are Muslims. So it was no surprise to me when I found out in my research that the over 261 million people in Indonesia are mostly Muslims.

I also found out that 58% of the population lives in Java. No wonder at least 2 of the 3 people I met in Batam told me they are Javanese. This makes Java the most populous island in the world.

Still, Indonesia is ethnically diverse. There are around 300 distinct native ethnic groups.

What is Indonesian Culture?

The history of Indonesia is so fascinating. Last year, there was an exhibition about Indonesia in one of the museums in Singapore. When I visited the show, I learned that the country has more than two millennium of influence from the Indian subcontinent, mainland China, the Middle East, and Europe.

This is so interesting. And makes the Indonesia culture so fascinating. Now, I understand better how the culture came about due to influences from so many sources. It must also be noted that the Austronesian people have historically contributed to shaping the culture, too.

Today, the modern day Indonesia has multicultural, multilingual and multi-ethnic society.

Interesting Fun Fact – Indonesia has won the UNESCO’s intangible Cultural Heritage for wayang puppet theatre, batik, angklung, and three genres of traditional Balinese dance.

What are the Religions in Indonesia?

In the past, I did hear and read articles about religious activities in Indonesia. And I noticed that most of them are about Islam, and the Muslims. But this is not to say that the country does not have religious freedom.

The government recognizes Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The religions of the indigenous people are partly acknowledged.


What is the Common Language Spoken in Indonesia?

Having met a few Indonesians and even making friends with them, I have observed that when Indonesians meet, they would converse in Indonesian. This is a variant of the Malay language. I love listening to foreign languages. And when my friends converse in Indonesian, and when I happen to be present, I love listening to how they talk.

Another thing I learned from my friends is that there are many local languages. For example, Javanese. And there are more than 700 local languages.

For instance, I have a Javanese friend who would speak Indonesian when he encounters another Indonesian. And when they discover they are both Javanese, they would continue their conversation in Javanese. Or so he told me. haha


What are the Festivals and Public Holidays in Indonesia?

When visiting a country, it is always good to know when are the public holidays and festivals for that country. In a large country, it is better to also know the holidays and festivals for individual region, province or state.

For my upcoming Bali holiday, I was very mindful of this. The reason is we do not want to visit during a holiday or festival that is celebrated by the people and as such many of the places like attractions, shops and even cafes or restaurants may be closed.

What are the Public Holidays in Indonesia?

1 Jan 2020 – New Year’s Day

25 Jan 2020 – Chinese New Year

The Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year. It is a time to visit friends and families and enjoy good food, too.

25 Mar 2020 – Bali Hindu New Year

Also known as Hari Raya Nyepi. The Hindus celebrate in a unique way by keeping silent and doing self reflection.

22 Mar 2020 – Isra Miraj

This is a very important holiday for the Indonesians. It marks the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad.

10 Apr 2020- Good Friday

Christians observe this holiday, and continue the celebrations through the weekend as Easter weekend.

May 1 2020 – Labour Day

This holiday celebrates the contributions of the workers to the nation’s economy.

7 May 2020 – Waisak Day

Waisak Day is the day that Buddhists celebrate the birth, life, death and enlightenment of Buddha.

21 May 2020 – Ascension Day

The Ascension of Jesus Christ. This day always falls on a Thursday, and is celebrated by Christians.

24 May to 25 May 2020 – Hari Raya Idul Fitri

After a month of fasting, the Muslims celebrate with this holiday. It is a time for Indonesians to spend time with friends and family.

1 Jun 2020 – Pancasila Day

In 2016, President Joko Widodo announced that Pancasila Day is officially a public holiday in Indonesia.

31 Jul 2020 – Idul Adha

This is also known as the Day of Sacrifice. It is celebrated by Muslims.

17 Aug 2020 – Independence Day

Parades, flags, performances and many more activities celebrate the anniversary of the country’s independence.

20 Aug 2020 – Islam New Year

A very important time for Muslims to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

29 Oct 2020 – Maulid Nabi

A holiday to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.

Dec 25 2020 – Christmas

While this has Christian origins, it has evolved to be a worldwide celebration, mostly for the fun and festivities.

What are the Festivals in Indonesia?

Festivals in Indonesia
Festivals in Indonesia

Chap Go Meh in West Kalimantan

A Chinese festival that is held regularly every hear on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. A parade of spiritual exorcists perform ceremonies and rituals to drive away evil spirits so that the new year can have a good start.

Rambu Solo in South Sulawesi

A tradition where the Toraja people send off the dead to the afterlife. Many fascinating funeral rites has caught the attention of tourists. And today, this has become a major festival and attraction.

Warning – The following video has images that may not be suitable for children. Also, if you are averse to animal sacrifices, please do not watch.

Bau Nyale Fishing Festival in Lombok

Large numbers of people from all over the country gather in Lombok to have the first look at the first nyale. Nyale is a worm like fish. The first fish caught is immediately roasted in banana leaves and consumed. Yum!

Penyengat Festival in Riau Islands

This is a competition filled festival where people in Riau Islands participate in many competitions. It is a relatively new event that was created in 2016 in conjunction with the Tanjungpinang City Superior Destinations.

International Jazz Festival of Jakarta

Three days of Jazz bliss. This 3 day music event attracts music lovers and quality musicians from all over the world.

Tomini Bay Festival in Central Sulawesi

The cultural wisdom of the past hundreds of years is repackaged and shared with performing arts shows.

Gebyar Pesona Budaya Garut in West Java

A festival to strengthen the relationship between artists in West Java. It showcases traditional arts as well as modern music.

Yadnya Kasada Bromo in East Java

A colorful event that you must see if you are ever in this region. Features tribal ceremonies every tenth month of the traditional calendar. Held on the slopes and craters of Mount Bromo.

Tomohon International Flower Festival in North Sulawesi

Love flowers? Then this is a sight to see. A Flower parade of vehicles decorated with flowers of the Tomohon City, and other regions.

Gandrung Sewu in East Java

The biggest and baddest dance event in the world! Thousands of Gandrung dancers perform at the Marina Boom Beach, Bangyuwangi.

Travel Tip – The dates of some of the above public holidays and festivals may change on the solar calendar dates. This is because they follow either the lunar calendar or local calendar. Please do check the actual dates for the year you intend to visit and attend any of the above


What are the Dress Codes & National Dress in Indonesia?

The Indonesian Kebaya is really pretty. And the art on Batik is truly beautiful. At least, to me they are. And I find it no wonder that the Kebaya and Batik are the most recognized national costumes.

Indonesia National Costume - Kebaya
Indonesia National Costume – Kebaya

Aside from the two, there are various styles of clothing. Just like the Indonesian culture, this is because of the long and rich cultural history.

Aside from the national dress, each province has their own traditional costume. For example, the Ulos of Batak from North Sumatra, the Songket of Malay and the Minangkabau from Sumatra.

The national and regional costumes are a source of pride for the Indonesian people. And they wear them during weddings, formal events as well as government and official occasions.

Interesting Fun Fact – In 2009, Batik was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity


What is the National Sport of Indonesia?

Badminton and football are very popular sports in Indonesian. Every one of my Indonesian friends would share with me that they either like badminton or football. And on weekends, they love participating in either sport with their friends.

Badminton - One of the Popular Sports in Indonesia
Badminton – One of the Popular Sports in Indonesia

Not surprisingly, Indonesia has won the Thomas and Uber Cup in the past.

Another sport that has been seeing some rise in popularity recently is the traditional sport called Sepak Takraw. To me, this sport is almost like volley ball. But instead of a bouncy ball, a ball made of hard bamboo is used. I never played this sport but can imagine the toughness needed to engage with such a hard object. Ouch!


What Currency Can I Use in Indonesia?

Everywhere you go in Indonesia, the currency used is the Indonesia rupiah (Rp or IDR). In the past, when I visit Jakarta, Bintan or Batam, I would go to a money exchange service in Singapore, and make sure I get some rupiah. Without it, you cannot get a ride, pay for food or shop.

Of course, you can exchange your currency for Indonesia rupiah at money exchange services in the Indonesian city you visit. But be wary of money exchange scams. Here is a pin (from Pinterest) that I found with information on what to look out for when you visit Bali. Useful for all cities, too.


How is the Weather in Indonesia?

As I prepare for my holiday in Bali, I notice the weather here in Singapore. And I wonder if the weather is the same in Bali or anywhere in Indonesia.

Basically, Indonesia is also along the equator. As such, just like Singapore, there are 2 seasons – the wet season and the dry season.

The dry season is from April to October. During the dry season, there is very little rainfall. The weather is hot and sunny. Sometimes, the heat can be a bit unbearable. So, wear light clothing but not too revealing because it is frowned upon in Indonesia. Drink lots of water or take a break at cafes for a refreshing drink.

The wet season is from November to March. There is a lot of rain during this season. Sometimes, it can be days of thunderstorms. The nice part is that this is cooling. Very pleasant in the evenings and at night. I had nights when I did not even need to turn on the air conditioning because the breezes are so cool.

Monsoon Season in Indonesia
Monsoon Season in Indonesia

Travel Tip: If you like water sports, year-end monsoon is not a good time to visit Indonesia. Also, the frequent rain can dampen your plans to tour the city.

How is the Haze Situation in Indonesia?

For years, the palm oil plantations in Indonesia has been burning the trees. This is usually around the period any time from June to September. This has created the problem of haze. Not only for Indonesia but also for neighboring countries like Singapore and Malaysia.

In Singapore, the haze can get quite bad. Schools can be closed for the day when the haze goes into the hazardous levels. Thankfully, so far, I do not get affected so much by the haze. But this does not mean I like it. To me, it is awful to see, or rather not see beyond a few hundred meters, and know it is caused by the haze. Also, the smell can be quite bad.

Haze in Indonesia
Haze in Indonesia

Warning: If you have chronic heart of lung conditions, or simply do not want to suffer unhealthy pollution situation, then avoid this period – June to September.


Are there any Earthquakes in Indonesia?

One of the reasons I have not visited Bali is because of the many reports of frequent earthquakes in Indonesia. It is quite scary to read the news and watch videos of the people reacting to earthquakes and running from tsunamis.

The reason for the frequent earthquakes is that parts of Indonesia is tectonically unstable. There are also many volcanoes in the region that rumbles often and erupts quite often. In addition, Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

There are around 400 volcanoes, and 130 of them are still active. Famous eruptions and earthquakes happened in 1815, Mount Tambora and 1883, Krakatoa. The latter was the largest recorded in history. Till today, even people in Singapore and Malaysia remember this catastrophe.

Even more recent, in 2004, the Indian Ocean earthquake with the epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra was devastating. It was the 3rd largest earthquake ever recorded. And cost the lives of more than 200,000 people.

All this does not make me feel more at ease. But I am still ok to go to Bali. I believe my friend and I will be safe.


What are the Things to Do in Indonesia?

Tourism is a big industry in Indonesia. I have many friends in the hospitality industry, and they tell me many of the businesses in Indonesia rely on tourism. No surprise that tourism contributed around US$28.2 billion to GDP in 2017 for Indonesia, and saw 14.04 million visitors to their country.

So what is it about Indonesia that people want to see and do?

There are many as Indonesia has much to offer. When I was in Batam, I saw quite a few cool places. From my research, I expect more when I go to Bali next week.

From what I have learned, Indonesia is a wondrous place to visit. She is filled with beautiful scenic natural landscapes, unique temples with fascinating history, white sandy beaches, magnificent mountains, tranquil lakes and many many more things to see and do.

You can find it all in various regions such as Java, Maluka & Papua, Bali & Tenggara, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and Sumatra. I am so looking forward to Bali next week!

As mentioned above, if you are into nature and adventure vacations, Indonesia has a lot to offer you. Enjoy exploring the biodiversity in the many rainforests. See species such as the Sumatran tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, asian elephant, and (sadly soon to be extinct) leopard. In fact, she has won 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Borobudur Temple Compounds, and the Komodo National Park.

In addition, she has 19 heritage sites on the wait list. They are the much beloved Jakarta Old Town, the Bunaken National Park, the Raja Ampat Islands, and many more.


Which are the Hotels to Stay at in Indonesia?

There are many hotels to stay at in Indonesia. And as such, you are never short of a place to rest and get a good night’s sleep.

Best of all, because of the competition, you can get really good deals and room rates at any city you stay at in Indonesia. There are chain hotels, luxury hotels, luxury chain hotels, mid priced hotels, budget hotels, hostels, and even private apartments that are like AirBnB types. Simply pick and choose what suits you.

Here is a great site for comparing prices and getting the best deals and room rates:

Booking.com

What Food to Eat in Indonesia?

Even when I was younger, I enjoyed Indonesian cuisine. I remember patronizing an Indonesian restaurant with my parents, and sampling the nasi goreng, tahu goreng and the many delicious desserts for the first time. Since then, I was hooked. I would have Indonesian food ever so often.

The Indonesian food is very diverse. It is vibrant, colorful, and has intense flavor. In my opinion, intense but so tasteful and tantalizing.

Interestingly, many of their dishes are not simply local. Some are based on indigenous cultures but includes foreign influences such as Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, and Indian. Rice is the staple dish and often served with side dishes. Much like most other Southeast Asian food.

Spices used are oftentimes chilli, coconut milk, fish and chicken are fundamental ingredients.

The popular dishes are the ones I mentioned above – nasi goreng, tahu goreng – and also sate, soto, rendang, dengdeng and gulai. Oddly enough, the Ministry of Tourism chose tumpeng as official national dish in 2014. But the CNN Travel readers had their final say when in 2017, they named rendang as the World’s Most Delicious Food.

Another dish has risen in popularity, especially in Singapore. It is the Ayam Penyet. I have tried this in Batam, and will definitely try it in Bali. I wonder what is the difference in taste between these two places? I will give my review when I return from Bali.

Ayam Penyet has also invaded the Singapore food courts, with many stalls offering various versions of this dish as well as the original. To be honest, for some reason, I prefer the Ayam Penyet in Batam. The version in Singapore is weak in taste and flavor.


Where To Go Shopping in Indonesia?

From small retail shops to markets to mega shopping malls, Indonesia has them all. I should know. When I visited Batam, I have been to all of these. And to be honest, some malls are quite similar to other malls, and even to malls in Singapore.

It is the unique store in a mall, the stalls in the markets or the small retail shop that sells unique local stuff that stands out. I mean, after all, we are tourists. We would like to get some local souvenir, right?

So, do shop around and look out for these shops that offer you local stuff such as textile, handicrafts, souvenirs, antiques, silver goods, ceramics, and furniture. These are produced by highly-skilled artisans, and can be excellent home decorations or gifts for loved ones. There can even be fashion and local costume wear for you to buy and wear.

Of course, if you are still interested to shop for the usual international brand goods, the mega shopping mall is the place to go to.


How to get to Indonesia?

By Airplane

There are many airports in Indonesia. The major airport is the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. It is in Tangerang, just outside of Jakarta. Most airlines arrive here.

But if you are not going to Jakarta, you may consider the other airports like Ngurah Rai International Airport and Juanda International Airport. Or any airport near where you plan to visit. For example, I will be going to Bali, and I would arrive at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport.

By train

There are no trains to Indonesia. Not even from Borneo. Maybe better to travel by air?

By bus

There is a crossing over land by road between Kuching, East Malaysia, and Pontianak, West Kalimantan. I have done research, and not much said about this route. Maybe better to travel by air?

By car

Same info for By bus – see above.

By boat / ferry

If you are traveling from Singapore, Malaysia or Philippines, there is the option to sail by ferry or boat to Indonesia. When I traveled from Singapore to Batam, I would take the ferry from Harbourfront in Singapore, and a short ferry ride brought me to the shores of Batam. The same for Bintan, but from another port in Singapore.

Ferry to Batam Indonesia
Ferry to Batam Indonesia

From Malaysia, the ferry service is from the Sabah state and East Kalimantan. From Philippines, you can get to Bitung, North Sulawesi from their ports at Genral Santos and Davao.

On foot

This is only possible at borders where Indonesia share land with other countries. The major and busiest border crossing is at Entikong, Indonesia and Tebedu, Malaysia. I wouldn’t recommend it though.

Visas

Every country has different visa requirements. Please check with Indonesia’s Visa and Immigration Policies for entry policies and other related information.


How to Get Around in Indonesia?

By Train

The railway tracks span across the entire country. So, getting around from city to city is easy. These trains are freight and passenger. The local commuter rail services also complement the inter-city rail network in several cities.

All trains have classes – Economy, Business, Executive, Priority and Luxury. Depending on your budget and preference, choose the class best suited for your travel.

Some airports have airport trains. Check if there is any at the airport you will be arriving at. For sure, the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has one.

By Ferry

There are hundreds of ports in Indonesia. So, getting around by ferry from city to city is possible. Look for the port nearest where you are at in Indonesia. You can buy the ferry tickets at these ports.

Just a side track, there are also luxury cruises that you can choose to enjoy the seas around the country.

To be honest, I am a little scared to take the ferry. There had been too many accidents.

By MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)

Jakarta has its first MRT service running. This is definitely a convenient way to move from place to place in this city. Here’s hoping more MRT routes will be added to Jakarta as well as the other cities.

By Bus

There is a free city-tour double decker bus in some cities. Do find out if the city you are in has this service. If not, there are public buses in most cities. But, I highly recommend you travel more by the next few options. It is safer and more comfortable.

By Taxi

Lots of taxis to get your from one point to another in Indonesian cities. But beware of illegal taxis. Look for reputable cab services. And request to go by meter rather than a fare demanded by the driver. If you can afford it, you can rent a reliable cab for the day, which can also come with a guided tour service.

By Grab

This is one private hire vehicles available in Indonesia. It is a great alternative to taxis. They are reliable and the price is affordable, even sometimes cheaper than taxis. I use Grab when I travel in Singapore and overseas.

By Go-jek

This is a motorcycle taxi service where you get to ride pillion. It is great for short trips and traveling during rush hours in busy cities like Jakarta. Do bargain for the price before you hop on. With online Go-jek, the price is fixed, and there is no need to bargain. You then pay via the phone app.

Travel Tip – Follow the law. Wear a helmet when you ride on Ojek or any motorcycle. Or else you will risk getting fined.

Go-jek has expanded to Go-Ride that offers you to hire private cars as your ride, and Go-BlueBird that enables you to hire the reliable Blue Bird taxis.

By Rickshaws

In Indonesia, rickshaws are called Becak. It is a two-wheeled passenger cart with a seat at the front, powered by a driver paddling on a bicycle at the back. In all, there are 3 wheels that offer you a slower and more laid back ride through the city. It can be more enjoyable as you get to see more of the city. But do bargain before you get on board.

There is another rickshaw option called Bentor. This is quite similar to the Becak except it is powered by a motorcycle. Again, bargain before taking a ride.

By Bajaj

This is like a really small minivan. The driver sits in front, and you and your friend (at most two please!) sit at the passenger seat behind. It is powered by motor, and a little more safer and stable than the rickshaws mentioned above. It is great alternative to taxis or Grab as it can be much cheaper, and yet able to transport you from one point to another.

By Scooter

Some cities, it makes sense to travel about in scooters. In the movie, Eat Love Pray, I am sure you have seen Julia Roberts moving about in Ubud on one. It is rather easy and convenient.

But you have to make sure you follow the laws carefully or you may end up getting fined by the police. Also, do know this is a high risk mode of transportation. There has been many reported deaths every year to scooter accidents. For both locals and tourists.

By Foot

You can actually get around on foot. But not for long distances. And only in some of the cities.

Like for example, if you are in Jakarta, then it is best to choose one of the modes of transport above. Preferably Grab or Gojek. Unless you are just going to the convenience store or the market near your hotel. And at most 20 minutes walk.

In Bali, from my research, I will be walking quite a bit to nearby cafes, restaurants, temples, shops and the beach. And all within 20 minutes walking time, at most. Any further, I would definitely book a cab and a guide.


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Booking.com

We have come to the end of this article – Indonesia – The Ultimate Guide. If you have ANY questions about Indonesia, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus