Bali is more than just a place – it’s a feeling, an aspiration and a state of mind. The Island of the Gods offers an irresistible mix of rich local culture, stunning natural scenery and world-class restaurants and beach clubs, attracting travellers from all walks of life. No matter how many times you visit Bali, the island never seems to lose its magic.
The world is filled with tropical island destinations – but there is nowhere quite like Bali. The Island of the Gods stands out thanks to its unique mix of rich local culture, sublime natural scenery, world-class surfing, a vibrant dining and beach club scene and an unbelievably wide range of high-quality villas to ensure every traveller’s stay on the island is nothing short of sensational.
Bali truly offers something for everyone – you just have to know where to look. Seminyak is a mecca of high-end shopping and dining, while Canggu attracts a hip clientele looking to surf and soak up the latest trends. Sanur offers family-friendly villas and a calm beach safe for swimming. Uluwatu is famed for its world-class surf breaks and white sand beaches. Travelling inland, Ubud offers rich Balinese culture and lush natural scenery, while heading east, you’ll discover stunning deserted beaches and a feel of the real Bali, away from the crowds. You can settle for one specific region or plan an itinerary around the island – the choice is yours.
History & Culture
Much of Bali’s enduring magic stems from the island’s unique local culture. A majority of the population practice Balinese Hinduism and this beautiful devotion colours all life on the island. Historically, Balinese culture has been influenced by Indian and Javanese traditions, with European influences introduced during the past century. The Dutch invaded Bali in the early 1900s and the island became part of the Dutch East Indies until Indonesia gained independence in 1945.
Travellers discovered Bali in the 1920s, thanks to heavy influence from Western artists. The island’s burgeoning tourism industry was wiped out by World War II, picking up again in the 1970s and 80s when Australian surfers started flocking to the island in search of the perfect wave. Bali now welcomes around six million tourists annually and was named the #1 destination in the world by TripAdvisor in 2017.
Planning Your Trip to Bali
Planning a trip to Bali can feel daunting – there are so many options! Different parts of the island cater to different types of travellers, so it’s important to plan your trip strategically. Our Bali travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Bali, provide more information on locations to visit and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. It’s designed to be the ultimate Bali travel guide.
Bali is pleasant all year round. May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Bali is a year-round destination with something interesting happening every month. The year kicks off with parties and events taking place throughout January. Major Balinese festivals are sprinkled throughout the year, following the local 210-day calendar. Most notable Balinese holidays include Nyepi (also known as the day of silence) and Galungan (celebrating the victory of good over evil). World-famous waves during the surfing season between May – October keep the island busy before ending things with a bang during the Christmas holidays.
New Year’s is party time, with travellers coming from all over the world – it’s very busy for most of January, with things starting to wind down at the end of the month.
It gets quiet between the southern hemisphere school holidays and Chinese New Year, with occasional thunder storms rolling through.
The island dries out after the rainy season and there’s a small but noticeable uptick in visitors over the Easter holidays.
May is a great month for visiting – it’s not high season yet, but the rain has gone and trade winds kick in, which improves surf conditions.
Bali is getting busier, but much of what makes May a good month to visit also applies in June, with even better beach conditions.
July is the second busiest month for visitors to Bali – don’t expect a bargain villa, but do plan to enjoy the energy of crowds on holiday.
The busiest month of the year – book your villa in advance and expect some added buzz around Indonesian Independence Day on 17th August.
September is a sweet spot: August crowds are gone, the weather is fine and the best villas and restaurants aren’t booked months in advance.
It’s raining more often which makes November a quiet month – which means you can find great villas at bargain prices.
Visitors from all over the world head to Bali for Christmas and New Year holidays – most villas and restaurants are booked far in advance.
Things To See & Do in Bali
The best thing about Bali is that is offers something for everyone. The southwest coast offers laidback pubs and bars (Kuta), sophisticated beach clubs and world-class dining (Seminyak) and cool hipster vibes (Canggu). Sanur with its calm waters and family-friendly villas is perfect for family holidays, while the white sand beaches and epic surf breaks of Uluwatu attract wave hunters from far and wide. Ubud is known as the cultural and spiritual heartland of Bali, framed by lush natural scenery… and the list goes on.
Bali is incredibly rich both in its natural beauty and cultural heritage. Most popular sites to visit range from ancient Hindu temples to UNESCO-protected rice fields and from lime cliff framed beaches to world-class surf breaks. The waters surrounding the island also offer world-class snorkelling and diving.
Bali’s vibrant cultural heritage colours all life on the island, enchanting visitors from far and wide. Over 80% of the island’s population practice a unique brand of Balinese Hinduism and you’ll encounter their faith simply walking down the street as you’ll see people laying down daily offerings crafted from flowers, spices and palm leaves. During bigger temple ceremonies, shrines become ladened with countless offerings.
Centuries old dance performances, Balinese music, local art and spiritual legacies are still practiced today. They are an important component of spiritual life on the island and often a highlight of a visitor’s trip to Bali. Melodic Balinese dance performances are characterised by rigid choreography and discipline, while traditional Balinese music focuses on the dramatic clangs of the bronze gamelan and the soft bamboo chimes of the rindik. Intricate and vibrant in its details, Balinese art has rich roots in Javanese and Hindu traditions, with influences from the West visible from the 20th century onward. During the last decades, Ubud has become the vibrant heart of artistic life on the island.
Known as the island of a thousand temples (in fact, there are said to be over 10,000 temples in Bali!), Bali’s beautiful Hindu temples are too many to list. While many temples have become popular tourist attractions, it is important to remember that the temples are holy sites and should be treated with respect. Here are the most photogenic and most visited temples in Bali:
- Pura Besakih: Perched on the slopes of Mt Agung, the Mother Temple is the largest and most important temple in Bali.
- Pura Tanah Lot: This ancient Hindu temple is a photographic icon, built on a rock formation in the sea.
- Pura Luhur Uluwatu: Clifftop temple built 70 metres above the sea, offering amazing views, sunsets – and monkeys!
- Pura Lempuyang: One of the oldest temples in Bali famed for its entryway monikered the “Gates of Heaven.”
- Pura Taman Saraswati: Beautiful water temple surrounded by lotus ponds in central Ubud.
- Pura Tirta Empul: An important temple and holy mountain spring where visitors can take part in a purification ritual.
- Pura Ulun Danu Beratan: Oft-photographed water temple located on the shores of Lake Bratan in North Bali.
Although there is so much to see and do in Bali, the island is also perfect for sheer and utter relaxation. From beautiful beaches to ancient healing traditions and world-class luxury spas, the island is ready to whisk you into pure tropical bliss.
Bali is famed for its beaches offering a full spectrum of white, tan, grey and black sand. Though the beast beaches are often the ones you won’t find listed in a guide book (try asking the locals!), Bali’s most visited beaches include:
- Kuta: Bali’s original tourist beach Kuta is now crowded, dirty and therefore sadly spoiled by overuse.
- Seminyak: This wide stretch of sand boasts patrol flags, surf breaks, restaurants and bars. Don’t miss sunset!
- Canggu: Canggu’s dark sand beaches are favoured by surfers rather than swimmers. The area offers a lively beach club scene.
- Balangan: This picturesque stretch of golden sand and lime cliffs is popular with surfers and pre-wedding photo shoots.
- Padang Padang: One of many white sand beaches favoured by surfers and swimmers alike on the Bukit Peninsula.
- Benoa: Famous for a variety of water sports including jet skiing, parasailing, water skiing and tubing.
- Sanur: Protected by a reef break offshore, Sanur offers a waveless beach suitable for a more relaxed swim with the family.
- Nusa Lembongan: Picturesque white sand beaches with strong tides and great snorkelling off shore.
Bali is well known for its ancient healing traditions and getting at least one Balinese massage while visiting the island should be on every travellers’ bucket list. Balinese spa treatments incorporate age-old local traditions with contemporary trends. You will find massages and spa treatments to suit every budget, ranging from affordable massages on the beach to extravagant healing rituals carried out in exclusive luxury spas. If you’re really looking to be pampered, you can also have massages and other spa treatments arranged in the privacy of your own villa.
Tours & Activities
Bali offers varied terrain and scenery that’s simply waiting to be explored. The beaches are full of activity: people are flying kites, surfing, building sand castles and even riding horses along the shoreline. Heading inland, there are a range of tours and activities ranging from cooking classes and trekking to adrenaline-filled adventures like white water rafting and quad biking. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and driver so you can explore further afield. Don’t limit yourself to just one area – Bali has so much to offer!
Eating & Drinking
In recent decades, Bali has become a real foodie’s destination. Visitors are spoiled for choice with a variety of warungs (simple local cafes) catering to local tastes, trendy cafes offering endless photo-ops and top-end restaurants staffed with world-class chefs. Most high-end restaurants are centred around the more populated southern areas as well as Ubud, while the rest of the island offers more relaxed dining and rich local cuisine, whether that be Balinese or Indonesian.
It would be a crying shame to visit Bali without sampling some of the local cuisine. Nasi (rice) and sambal (chili sauce) are local staples which are usually served with each and every meal. Here are some of the most popular local dishes to try while visiting Bali.
NASI & MIE GORENG
Nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles) are simple staples of Indonesian cuisine which are served throughout the country. The dishes are usually served with vegetables, your choice of chicken or seafood, a fried egg and some shrimp crackers. Nasi and mie goreng offer an easy introduction into Indonesian food but all too often travellers settle for just these two staples – we highly encourage you to sample other local dishes too!
Nasi campur (literally “mixed rice”) offers the perfect introduction into Indonesian cuisine. Many restaurants offer fixed nasi campur platters which consist of rice and an assorted mix of veggies, meat, tofu, tempeh and sambal (don’t worry, vegetarian options are also readily available). This is a great way to try a little bit of everything. In local warungs, you can often pick and choose your own trimmings with a variety of vegetables, meats and condiments presented in a showcase. Each nasi campur dish is different and the flavours will vary based on where the cook is from – Bali, Java or somewhere else altogether.
Gado gado is an Indonesian salad of steamed vegetables, hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, tempeh and tofu served with rich peanut sauce. Interestingly, gado gado is not a Balinese dish and Indonesians hailing from the neighbouring island of Java often comment on how difficult it is to find decent and moderately priced gado gado in Bali. So if you happen upon a great gado gado, you should definitely get second helpings!
A true Balinese classic, babi guling is the famed Balinese suckling pig. The whole pig is stuffed with spices and roasted on an open fire, leaving the meat tender and juicy on the inside and the rind nice and crisp on the outside. Babi guling is very popular in Bali but something of an anomaly in Indonesia where most of the population is Muslim and any dish containing pork is strictly verboten.
Another Balinese favourite, ayam betutu is a dish of roasted chicken served with a flavourful betutu spice mix and rice. A dish of ayam betutu often includes a side of chicken satay, broth and a hard boiled egg, with spicy sambal adding an extra kick.
That beef rendang is a must try is not just our humble opinion – in fact, this dish was once voted the best food in the world by CNN readers! Originating from Sumatra, rendang is now commonly served throughout Indonesia. This flavourful beef curry dish is simmered in coconut milk and assorted spices, creating incredibly rich flavours and a tender consistency.
Drinking & Nightlife
Unlike other parts of Indonesia, Bali revels in both drinking and nightlife. From coffee and fresh juices to the iconic ice-cold Bintang beer and all manner of fruity tropical cocktails, there’s something to quaff for every taste and mood. And where to drink is even more varied, with venues ranging from relaxed seaside cafes to uber-trendy beach clubs and high-concept nightspots. South Bali offers the most varied nightlife scene (most notably in Seminyak, Canggu, Kuta and Uluwatu), while other parts of the island are noticeably more lowkey and relaxed. Bali is also home to amazing local musicians and regularly attracts international talents whether that’s DJs or live bands, so in the more populated areas you’ll usually find live music playing several nights a week.
The island of Bali measures 153 km (95 mi) east to west and spans 112 km (69 mi) north to south, covering some 5,632 km². We have written detailed travel guides for the most beautiful areas of the island, which are highlighted on the map and grouped by region below.
The south western coastline is the most popular stretch, with villas to suit all styles and budgets. The southern peninsula has white sand beaches, big waves for surfing and five-star villas with magnificent clifftop ocean views. The centre of the island is home to the spiritual hub of Ubud along with impressive mountain ranges and lush green rice fields. The eastern coastline is dotted with quiet fishing villages and stunning beachfront villas priced at incredible value. The northern and western parts of the island feature primarily a black sand coastline catering to surfers and divers and those looking to escape the crowds. Lastly, there are three gorgeous islands lying to the immediate south-east of Bali, popping up between Bali and Lombok.
South West Bali
The most frequented and developed part of the island, the south-western region of Bali attracts the majority of visitors due to its long beaches, vibrant entertainment districts and huge range of villas.
The Bukit Peninsula makes up the southern tip of Bali island, located south of the airport. Unlike most of Bali, it features a dry, arid and stony landscape with a limestone cliff perimeter. This area is known from offering world-class surf breaks, white sand beaches and jaw-dropping clifftop villas.
The cultural heart of Bali: the central region is a mountainous area covered with verdant emerald green rice terraces and dotted with rural villages inhabited by the friendly local Balinese people.
The eastern region of Bali consists of expansive exotic natural habitats ranging from lush forests and black sand beaches to other-worldly gravel plains and an active volcano.
North West Bali
The antithesis of southern Bali: the northern region of Bali is a wonderfully laidback stretch of traditional fishing villages lining a black sand coastline alongside Bali’s old administrative capital.
To the south-east are Bali’s islands: perfect for diving, surfing, exploring and relaxing.
Indonesia is an archipelago comprising over 15,000 islands. Can we tempt you into visiting another island or two?
The Gili Islands lie off Lombok – Gili Meno and Gili Air are quiet, while Gili Trawangan is a party island.
Lombok is a two-hour boat ride from Bali, vastly different in many ways from its bustling neighbour and more relaxed.
There are over 600 Ministry Approved villas in Bali. Bali villas range from around USD $175 per night for one-bedroom villa resorts to USD $15,000 per night for a ten-bedroom luxury villa. Most of our villas have dedicated staff including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and many other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport (a.k.a. Denpasar Airport), serves over 20 million passengers a year. Located in Tuban in South Bali, the busy airport is connected to several major cities across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Direct flights to Bali are available from Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Doha, Dubai and more, from carriers including Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air Asia and Jetstar. A new airport is set to be built in North Bali though the plans are still in early stages.
By boat, Bali is connected to the neighbouring islands of Java and Lombok which also have their own international airports. Ferries from Java to Bali arrive in Gilimanuk in northwest Bali and boats from Lombok to Bali arrive in Benoa, Sanur, Serangan, Padang Bai and Amed.
Nationalities from over 160 countries are entitled to visa free entry. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is no public transport to get you from the airport to your accommodation, so the only option is to use a private driver or a taxi. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. This service is included for most villas when booking more than four nights. To avoid queuing at the immigration counter, we can also arrange a VIP airport service for guests. This service includes lounge access, allowing you to relax while waiting for your luggage.
Alternatively, there is a taxi stand located next to the information desk at the international arrival’s hall, after you exit the small duty free shop. This desk offers fixed price and metered fares across the island. The listed fares are updated frequently, making it very challenging to find reliable, up to date pricing before arriving. Besides the official taxi stand, there are countless independent taxi drivers floating around the arrivals hall, offering rides at varying rates. It’s always easier (and more affordable) to have a car arranged beforehand than trying to navigate the taxi jungle at the airport.
There are plenty of options for getting around Bali. Here, we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
Having a car and driver at your disposal takes all the hassle from planning your way around Bali. This is a great option, especially if you’re planning to explore different areas and/or are travelling with kids. You can hire a driver for a full day or for a single trip. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
In areas where available, Bali’s taxis make it easy to get around. In tourist areas, you can flag one down off the street (fares start from IDR 7,000), request a pick-up by phone or mobile app (minimum fare of IDR 30,000) or find one at designated taxi ranks. There are several taxi operators in Bali but the best company by far is called “Blue Bird.” Blue Bird drivers are friendly and fair, whereas other operators are less trustworthy. It’s very important that you ask the driver to agree to using the meter before getting in, otherwise you may find yourself being quoted an inflated fare (with little bargaining power) when you reach your final destination. Once you move away from touristic areas, metered taxis will not be available and you will have to rely on local drivers offering rides at fixed rates. Uber-like ride hailing apps are also available, but as their use is banned in most tourist areas by local communities (banjars), we recommend sticking to regular taxis.
For many people, the best way to move about is on two wheels. Although the traffic can be somewhat chaotic, travelling by scooter or motorbike can be very rewarding as you can zig-zag through traffic and find a place to park just about anywhere. It is certainly the fastest way of getting from A to Z – however, a certain level of experience is required. Most important: you must have an international drivers license on your person at all times otherwise the local police can issue you a ticket with a summons to appear in court. Oh and make sure you always wear a helmet!
Entrepreneurial locals may offer to piggyback you on the back of their motorcycle. If you find yourself with no other option, negotiate the price before getting on and aim to pay the same as a taxi. You can also order a fixed price motorbike taxi using the Go-Jek and Grab mobile apps – the use of ride hailing apps tends to be far less restricted with motorbikes than when trying to order a car.
Renting a car can open up Bali for exploration, however it is not advisable. Driving conditions can be harrowing and parking in populated areas can be a problem – hiring a private car with a driver is much less stressful and equally economical.
Fast boats linking Bali with Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Lombok and the Gili Islands have proliferated, especially as the latter places have become more popular. Ministry of Villas can arrange ferry tickets for your group with a reputable operator.
The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Shopping in Bali is exciting and varied, with trendy boutiques contrasted by lively local markets and humble stalls hawking souvenirs. In touristic areas, you can shop for groceries in well-stocked super markets or for some local colour, you can opt for a traditional market where sellers peddle produce, spices, fish, meat and more.
All established boutiques and shops have fixed prices which makes shopping hassle free. When it comes to markets and and local stalls, bargaining can be an enjoyable part of shopping in Bali… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, the governor of Bali banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Please refrain from public displays of affection as Balinese people are rather bashful. Avoid talking with your hands on your hips as this can be interpreted as being aggressive, and avoid using your left hand to handle money or food as the left hand is considered unclean.
Bali is laissez faire with regard to clothing, however out of respect for the local culture, we do advise you avoid showing a lot of skin, donning swimwear outside the pool or beach and ask that women avoid topless sunbathing on public beaches. More venues are now requiring patrons wear enclosed shoes and most upscale venues, including restaurants and beach clubs, don’t allow sports and beer singlets.
Balinese people are not shy, but it’s polite to ask (or mime) for approval before taking photos of someone. Flying a drone under 150 metres above ground is allowed outside controlled airspace, however it is prudent to read the latest laws first as the fines and punishment for flying a drone illegally are massive – up to 3 years incarceration and IDR 1 billion fine.
While many temples have become popular tourist attractions, they are still holy sites and should be treated accordingly. Please adhere to these dos and don’ts when visiting a Balinese temple or place of worship: do wear a sarong (these are usually available at the entrance at the most frequented temples) and do ensure you cover your upper body (shoulders); don’t enter a temple when bleeding, don’t point your feet toward the shrines and don’t stand higher than a priest.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism. The advice provide here is a general guide only and does not replace the advice of a doctor trained in travel medicine.
Treatment for minor injuries and common traveller’s health problems is easily accessed in local medical clinics. For serious conditions, foreigners are best served in the modern, privately owned BIMC clinic which caters mainly to tourists and expats. BIMC has clinics in Kuta, Nusa Dua and Ubud. Ensure your travel insurance will cover you. In cases where your medical condition is considered serious, you may be evacuated by air ambulance to Singapore or beyond.
Many drugs requiring a prescription in the West are available over the counter in Indonesia, including powerful antibiotics. The Kimia Farma chain is recommended as it has many locations in populated areas, charges fair prices and has helpful staff. The Guardian chain of pharmacies is not recommended for opposite reasons. Ensure all medications you bring into the country are packed in their original, clearly labelled containers and bring a signed and dated letter from your doctor as well as any written prescriptions.
The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in yellow-fever zones in some parts of Africa and South America within the six days prior to entering Indonesia. Your doctor may also recommend vaccines against tetanus, hepatitis A, typhoid and rabies.
RISK OF INFECTION
Bali Belly: traveller’s diarrhoea is the most common ailment affecting travellers, defined as the passage of more than three watery bowel movements within 24 hours, plus at least one other symptom such as fever, cramps, nausea or vomiting. In over 80% of cases, traveller’s diarrhoea is caused by bacteria and therefore responds promptly to treatment with antibiotics.
Dengue Fever: a mosquito-borne disease with no available vaccine. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache and body ache. Dengue fever can only be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. It’s vital to see a doctor to be diagnosed and monitored.
Hepatitis A: a food and waterborne virus which can be prevented by vaccination.
Hepatitis B: a virus spread by body fluids which can be prevented by vaccination.
Malaria: generally malaria is not a concern in Bali or in the main touristed areas of Lombok.
Rabies: a disease spread by the bite or lick of an infected animal which can be prevented by vaccination.
Typhoid: a bacterial infection spread via food and water where vaccinations are 80% effective. Its symptoms are a high and slowly progressive fever, headache and possibly a dry cough and stomach pain. Typhoid is diagnosed by blood tests and treated with antibiotics.
Many of Bali’s beaches are subject to heavy surf and strong currents – always swim between the yellow flags where present. Trained lifeguards are on duty at Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Sanur. Be careful when swimming over coral and never walk on it. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment. Lastly, water pollution is a problem in busy neighbourhoods. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would in any urban area and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Bali is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Need to Know
Local tourist offices in Bali are rarely useful and a lot of online sources are simply forums for the intolerant. Here’s the absolute essentials explained.
Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is the local currency, universally accepted all over Bali. Credit cards are accepted in most establishments, cash machines (ATMs) are prevalent and it’s easy to exchange money – so you do not need to plan too far ahead – although it is advisable to carry some cash on you, especially when travelling to more remote areas where ATMs might not be readily available.
Bahasa Indonesia and Balinese are the native languages spoken by locals but English is widely used in tourist areas. Bahasa Indonesia is the lingua franca of Indonesia, spoken by people from Papua to Sumatra and from Sulawesi to Java, while Balinese is a local language specific to Bali. The words and phrases most travellers learn are Indonesian, not Balinese. It makes sense for visitors to learn Indonesian over Balinese as Indonesian is a markedly easier language to learn. You may also come across locals from other parts of Indonesia who don’t speak Balinese, so learning some Indonesian is your best bet.
Good morning = Selamat pagi
Good afternoon = Selamat siang
Good evening = Selamat sore
Good night = Selamat malam
Thank you = Terima kasih
You’re welcome = Sama sama
How are you? = Apa kabar?
I’m fine = Kabar baik
Yes = Iya
No = Tidak
Excuse me = Permisi
Sorry = Maaf
Open = Buka
Closed = Tutup
Eat = Makan
Drink = Minum
1 = Satu
2 = Dua
3 = Tiga
4 = Empat
5 = Lima
6 = Enam
7 = Tuju
8 = Delapan
9 = Sembilan
10 = Sepuluh
11 = Sebelas
12 = Dua belas
13 = Tiga belas
14 = Empat belas
20 = Dua puluh; 30 = Tiga puluh
100 = Seratus; 200 = Dua ratus
1,000 = Seribu; 10,000 = Sepuluh ribu
1 million = Satu juta
How much is this? = Berapa harganya?
Price = Harga
Expensive = Mahal
Can I bargain? = Bisa tawar sedikit?
Great! = Bagus!
I = Saya (respectful)
I = Aku (familiar)
You = Anda (respectful)
You = Kamu (familiar)
You = Kalian (plural)
He/She = Dia
Us = Kita (including the person spoken to)
Us = Kami (not including the person spoken to)
They = Mereka
Help! = Tolong!
Be careful! = Hati hati!
No worries! = Tidak apa apa!
Have a good trip / Travel safe! = Selamat jalan!
The local population in Bali is approximately 4.2 million, with an additional 6 million tourists visiting annually. The population is concentrated in urban areas, particularly in the south, with small villages sprinkled throughout rural Bali.
Over 80% of locals practice Balinese Hinduism (a mix of Buddhism and Shivaism); with minority Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities in descending order of prevalence.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Bali follows Central Indonesian Standard Time / Waktu Indonesia Tengah (WITA), which is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) / Universal Time. Note that there is a one-hour time difference between Bali and neighbouring Java.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking. Always make sure you check the terms and conditions (including what’s covered and what isn’t) of your policy.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
From Seminyak to Candidasa and from Uluwatu to Lovina, we are always on the lookout for the latest restaurants, activities, tours, villas, kids’ clubs, beaches, attractions… everything that’s new and exciting in Bali! Check out our latest Bali blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.