I’m going to be straight with you guys from the start with this blog post, this will be a brutally honest post about MY views of Bali and travelling Bali. All of what I write is from my own experience so of course everyone is different but I just wanted to write a post about some realities of what it is like to travel Bali. This post will include travel, photo spots, Instagram cafes and cost.
Bali is an ever-growing tourist destination, with the help of Instagram its tourism industry is booming and all of Bali is tapping into this and making the best use of it. Bali is both rich in culture with its stunning temples and statues but it also is full of places to let go with a Bintang in a super bougie beach club. There is so much there you would never be able to do it all in one visit.
Let’s start first with my views on Seminyak, so I stayed in Seminyak for one week whilst in Bali. Seminyak is where you will find all of those cafes you have been envying on Instagram such as Kynd Community, Motel Mexicola and Sea Circus. It is also the home of beach clubs such as Potato head and W Bali.
So my opinions of Seminyak, it has the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen in my life. But saying this I would bare in mind that it gets super dark at around 6-6:30 in the evening so if you are out and about just be aware of how quickly it gets dark. With it getting so dark so early we both found it so hard to stay awake in the evenings because it looked like the middle of the night outside.
I went to Kynd Community on my first full day in Bali, we arrived at 10:30ish and managed to get a table under the iconic pink wall so we were over the moon (well I was not sure Sam really cared). Our whole meal cost £15 for that we had two drinks, a smoothe bowl and pancakes. It was actually fairly cheap in Kynd considering it’s famous for Instagram pictures. I will say we went at the right time because as we sat there it got really busy with people waiting to get in, and many being gutted as they got a seat, not near any iconic Instagram backdrop. So if you are thinking of going for a visit I would advise getting there early to avoid any ques and unwanted backgrounds.
We went to Motel Mexicola on our last full day in Seminyak, unbeknown to me this was the first day I began to show signs of my sunstroke so we didn’t get to spend that long in there as I felt really sick but we did manage to have a drink and a little look around. We went in the morning when it was dead, I would definitely only go here in the evening as its not really a day time place. The drinks there were expensive so we only had the one although because it was early they let us look around and take photos in there which was really nice of them! If I was not feeling so ill I think we would have explored more in there and taken more photos. Would I recommend here, yes but only really for an evening thing unless you want to take photos then defo go in the morning as its dead so you have all the iconic spaces free.
We booked a table for tea one night at Sea Circus not knowing whether it would be really busy or not. It was not and we were there at 6! It had a more Western menu which was great as we were just feeling a bit of normal food. It was about the average price as what it would be in the UK so about £10-£15 for a burger and £3ish for drinks. Inside is not that special and the food was okay, I think the iconic bit literally is just the outside and people don’t really go in.
So you may know that in Bali you will be a millionaire, we changed up just over £1000 which made us 22.5 million richer. But beware, this crazy exchange rate catches you out! You may think everything in Bali is really cheap but somethings can end up being very expensive and the same prices as the UK. One thing that catches you out is the Tax and Service Charge added to bills, so the prices you read in restaurants is not the final price the final bill comes with around 25% added onto it for Tax and Service Charge! When things cost 100k that 25% makes a huge difference because it then becomes 125k instead of just 100k. So this is something to keep an eye on when you are visiting Bali as many times we forgot and got caught out at the end.
In Seminyak we hired a private driver from Bali Customised Tours on Instagram after a recommendation from Lost LeBlanc. I can’t recommend them enough they were well organized and kept us updated. We organized two full days with them which included hire of the car, driver and petrol all we had to pay was entrance fees. Our first day we headed to Lenpuyang Temple, Tirta Gangga, Tukad Waterfall and the jungle swing.
The car picked us up at 6 am and it took 2.5 hours to get to our first location Lempuyang Temple. When we got there it was very cloudy and we couldn’t even see the view. We had to rent sarongs in order to enter the Temple which we rented for 10k each and then paid a donation to enter the temple. The reality of the iconic Instagram photo is a 4-hour wait for 3 photos taken by a man who sits there all day sat watching you jump around and put your hands in the air for a photo that you can post on your Instagram. Did we wait? Hell no, what a waste of time there is not even anything to see when you are waiting other than the incredibly awkward staged poses that people are creating for their shots. So we decided we would rather just head straight to the next location.
Now this place did not disappoint, about 30 minutes away from Lepuyang Temple it is a must see. Before you go in make sure to grab some fish food from the stalls which cost 20k (£1ish) for 3 small bags but trust me you need it! The entrance was 20k each to get into Tirta Gangga. As soon as you walk in you are faced with the iconic stepping stones where many have knelt before to feed the fish! This is why you need the fish food we were the only people who had bought some which meant that all the gigantic fish came to where we were which was great for the photos. The place was honestly magical walking along the stepping stones (praying you don’t slip and embarrass yourself!) I would recommend going even if you don’t want that Instagram picture it is just such a pretty place to immerse yourself in.
This took about 2 hours to get to from Tirta Gangga. When you arrive your driver will park up and then tell you to follow the path down to the waterfall. It cost around 10k (0.50p ish) per person to go to the waterfall. The walk itself compared to other waterfalls was really easy there weren’t many steps down and the path was really sturdy so if you are not up for a lot of walking this waterfall should be added to your list as others in Bali you are looking at about 400 steps down. At the bottom you have the cave waterfall to your left, people all stand in a line and wait their turn to take their picture, the lines not that long and only takes about 15 minutes. I would recommend flip flops for this bit or shoes you don’t mind getting wet as its really rocky and hurts your feet, take it from someone who had to walk barefoot and complained on every step! If you turn right at the bottom of the path there is a very small waterfall, nothing exciting really but it’s there if you wanted to look at it. Although it was cool and I wouldn’t have said this was a very good waterfall place if you are looking for something to take your breath away then this is just not it! It’s pretty yeah and it’s cool because it’s in a slight cave but it is not breathtaking as it’s not really that big which is why I think it was not that busy.
Aloha Jungle Swing,
I am so glad we did this, it was raining all day and having been up for many hours driving around to different locations it was about 3:30 when we arrived at the jungle swing. Soaked wet through and knackered we were debating the 700k (£42 for both of us) entrance fee and if we could be bothered to do it. I am so glad we did decide to do it, after a quick outfit change in the car we were ready to get our insta shots. The swings were busy considering the weather so it was a lot of standing and waiting for your turn but it is so worth it. Your time on each swing is about 1 minute so not a lot of time to get that perfect shot. Whilst sat on the swings all I could think about was “is my arms level” ” is this dress flowing right?” ” will the shot look good” looking back I wish I just sat there and enjoyed the view because it was amazing. Which has been the story of most of my trip to Bali, but more of that later. Aloha is not the biggest in Bali but is one of the cheaper ones which lets you have a go on all swings and bird nests which is great as you get multiple chances to get the shot you want. I am so happy with how the pictures turned out which made the entrance fee worth it.
After this, we headed back to our hotel which took around 3 hours. If you are travelling to all these temples the travel time is something worth considering. I really did not expect to have spent that much time in the car. Trying to fit all this is as well means that you literally get to the places get the picture and go there is not enough time to really take it all in which is a massive shame. If you are wanting to visit all these temples I would say it is better to stay further up such as Ubud because it will take at least an hour off of the initial travel time and the time to get back. It almost feels like a wasted day because a good 6-7 hours of it is spent in the car and you are only really at these places for 30 minutes maybe an hour. This is something that no Youtube video really shows you!
Our next day we did the 7 waterfall excursion which cost around £130 for both of us with Bali Customised Tours. This is where if you follow my Instagram you will have seen my stunning waterfall pic, this tour was one of my favourites from the whole trip. It included hotel pick up, a private tour of the waterfalls, natural waterslide and food. The whole day was around 12 hours. The waterfalls were called Sekumpul waterfall and Fiji waterfall and the definitely ticked the box for breathtaking. Even if you don’t do this tour you need to check out these waterfalls just be aware that it’s about 400 steep steps down and they feel even steeper when walking back up!!
After a week in Seminyak we got a flight to Lombok, if you do this be sure to tell your driver to take you to domestic terminal else they will be dropping you off thinking you’re going home and you will be in the completely wrong place, so just keep reminding them along the way. Now my experience of this airport was really bad but this is because this is where my sunstroke started, I was really sick and honestly did not know if I was going to be able to make it on the flight. Please, guys if you are going abroad wear a hat! Thankfully the flight was only 30 minutes but I slept the whole way so don’t have much info on it but Sam said they gave out bottled water and a chocolate muffin to every passenger. He just ate mine so I dipped out. From the airport, it was about 2 hours to Sengiggi our next location which was right on the beach. We stayed in the Sheraton Resort which was absolutely stunning. The rooms were really modern and they gave you fresh bottled water every day. I haven’t got much to say about Lombok because I was ill so we didn’t really do that much other than chill by the pool, however, we did get a couples massage for £85 for both of us for two hours which is a great price for a hotel! We also did a snorkelling trip to the Gili Islands where we got to see 6 turtles amongst many of the other cast from Finding Nemo. So if you are heading to Gili Islands or Lombok I would say you need to check out the snorkelling as it’s stunning the water is clear and you just see so much marine life, they also, guarantee that you will spot turtles.
After Lombok we got the fast boat back to Bali to spend our final few days in Ubud. The fast boat took around 2.5 hours to get back to Bali. As someone who normally suffers from sea sickness, I will say that I didn’t feel a thing the whole way and the sea was choppy. From the port, it took 3 nearly 4 hours to get to Ubud because of the traffic which meant we lost a whole day to travelling! By the time we got to our hotel, Alila Ubud, we were both shattered and starving. The hotel was so welcoming they gave us a welcoming drink whilst they finalised our room and then booked us in for our complimentary dinner that evening which was a really nice touch. This was by far my favourite hotel room, we had an outside shower and bath which had the flower bath all set up ready for me to jump in and take photos with. The hotel was in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by rice paddies and monkeys it was breathtaking! We only spent two days here which is why we didn’t do that much we took the free shuttle to Ubud centre to go to the markets and also did an elephant excursion.
Located in the centre of the town they are pretty hard to miss. My recommendation is to go deep into the market in order to get the best price as the stalls near the outside were charging over double the price. For haggling, we were halfing whatever they quoted and working to a price. I have never haggled in my life but found that the people were so nice that is was really easy to agree on a good price. My wooden bag I haggled from 500k (£28) down to 150k (£9ish) you need to be quick with your maths to work out the exchange rate to make sure you aren’t being seen off. But it’s all a game and you got to just give it a go, if its too expensive walk away if they run after you, you know they will go lower if they don’t then you know that was as low as they would have gone.
Okay so my overall opinion of Bali, as much as I really enjoyed it and loved what we did I do think that Instagram has killed it. When you get to all these amazing places the awe is kind of gone because you’ve seen it so much over Instagram and Youtube, you know exactly what it is going to look like and you know exactly what photos to take which in my opinion is kind of killing the ability to be amazed by it all. Now I am not sure if my next point is something that just I felt or what a lot feel, but even when you are in these stunning places you find yourself so consumed by capturing the best shot that you do not even stop to take in the experience. Near the end of the holiday I stopped with the Instagram pictures because I wanted to enjoy the moment not take a photo to try and fabricate a moment, because let’s face it no one takes holiday photos like what they do in Bali on your normal holiday so why was I so worked up about getting that shot there?
I think Bali can be split into two holidays and where you go depends on what you want from it. If you want the Instagram cafes and beach bars then just stay in Seminyak. Don’t bother with the temples as well as you just won’t have enough time to do all of it. We wish we chose either temple’s or cafes because everything felt so rushed and we were so tired of all the travelling. If you are going for relaxation then I recommend Lombok, it’s less busy than Bali and more tranquil so perfect for just laying by the pool. If you after temples, stay in Ubud it’s less travelling it is still about 1.5 hours away from temples but it is not as far as Seminyak!
Money, Bali is much more expensive then you think! Although 50k is around £3 those 50k’s added up very quickly. When you have a meal or food it’s actually pretty much the same cost as the UK. The clothing is not that much cheaper either really when you look at the quality and whether or not you would actually ever wear it again. In the two weeks, we spent £1300, that doesn’t include transfer costs as that was included in our holiday. The £1300 was on food, drink, excursions (6 all day excursions) and souvenirs, I will leave it up to you whether you think that’s a good price or not.
Would I go again, of course, but would not cram as much in as we did because it was just so much travelling and it doesn’t feel like I have had a holiday. It’s nearly a week on and I’ve only just got over the jet lag! If you go don’t freak if you don’t get that Instagram shot or if that place your Instagram influencer went to doesn’t look the same, just enjoy the moment! Don’t let social media and capturing the shot take you away from what’s in front of you, live your life, not through the camera lens.
If there is anything more you want to know about my trip to Bali that you feel would be good for me to write about DM me on Instagram.