Bali is not for the faint of heart. Let it be known that while there are heart-achingly beautiful locations in Bali, these places also qualify as treacherous. But if you’re up for an adventure, Bali is the place to go.
I recently traveled to Bali with a couple of my friends. We were there for about a week. Here are all the details on booking, flying, swinging (you’ll see what I mean) and everything in between. A little note about this post – I will be as honest as possible concerning our experience in Bali, including the not-so-fun and scary stuff. This is because as my friends and I were researching Bali before and during our travel, every internet article or blog post only mildly described the situations we were going through. I hope you’ll find the extra details helpful!
For those of you who do not know, (myself included before I booked this trip), Bali, Indonesia is far as f*#$! It takes two days by plane to get there. Maybe one and a half, but it still feels like an eternity to arrive. With that in mind, make sure you’re traveling for a good amount of days so the traveling part is worth it. Take into consideration that if you’re going to be there for three days, it’s going to take four days of just getting there and back.
We booked our trip through the Hopper app, and because we aren’t rich, we booked a cheaper flight that included long layovers and multiple stops. In my experience, booking the flight was the most expensive part of the entire trip. We each paid about $1,500 for our round trip tickets.
The flights themselves were pretty brutal. The longest one was a thirteen hour flight from California to China. We had flights before and after, as well as layovers in different airports in different countries. So now I can say I’ve been to China because I spent like 6 hours chillin’ at their Guangzhou airport, and none of you can contradict me.
Again, because I’m not rich, our seats were normal airplane seats – not those awesome sleeping pods you see in the movies. So yes, we were sitting down for what felt like forever. The planes with the longer flights did have a personal screen where you could watch free movies, play games, or listen to music. However, be aware that no amount of free movies will prevent your feet from swelling up like balloons because you’re sitting down for so long. I’m not going to humiliate myself by posting a picture of my swollen ankles on this post, but I recommend compression socks (even though they did not work for me). My friends were a little puffy as well, but neither got it as bad as I did.
Where We Stayed
We found and booked the three places we stayed at through Booking.Com. It was so easy and convenient! Most of the places are villas or resorts, although there are a ton of home-stays as well. I’ve also heard AirBnb is a great option.
What We Did
Because the journey to Bali is long and exhausting, we wanted to strive for a few days of rest and relaxation along with our planned adventures. We found a pretty good balance of hanging out by the pool, reading, eating, and resting at our villas one day and doing ALL OF THE THINGS the next day. Seriously, we woke up at 4 a.m. because our tour started at 5 a.m.
Here’s the breakdown:
Day 1: When we arrived at the airport, we called a driver to take us from Densapar (the city in Bali where the airport is) to Ubud where our Villa was located. Ubud is about an hour and a half from the airport, and it is one of the most popular places to visit. There are a ton of places to stay at, eat, shop, drink, and everything in between. Also, it’s pretty common to have a personal driver to take you around Bali. We had a few options from friends who had been to Bali before and kept their driver’s cards for us to use.
We arrived at our extremely spacious villa that day and spent the rest of the day hanging out at the pool. I knocked out by 4:30 p.m. This is probably the best decision I made the entire trip because I would not have survived the rest of the week with jet lag.
Day 2: My very dear friend lives in Bali, so on the second day we were there, we spent the day exploring with her. The driver who had picked us up from the airport drove us around the second day as well. He recommended places to eat and pick up coffee, which we did. He also took us to Bakas Levi Rafting & Elephant Tour. But This is where we were able to ride the elephants.
Riding elephants is an absolutely insane, unsafe idea. There are no safety belts or safety ANYTHING. You are quite literally just jumping onto an elephant’s back and there is nothing to hold on to. It’s a lot of fun, but you know, you could also fall off and die. So beware.
When we rode the elephants, one of the employees sat on the elephant behind us. So, technically, we could fall back onto this person or this person could hold onto us if we so happened to be slipping off. However, there is still nothing to hold on to and it’s a scary once-in-a-lifetime experience.
At the same place, we met Joni the Orangutan. He was the cutest! We were each able to take pictures with him, as well as group pictures. It was ridiculously fun.
Day 3: We booked a tour through Booking.com and did all of the following in one day. We began at five in the morning (yes, five!) and ended around 7:30 p.m. Through the booking, a tour guide/driver is sent to your hotel and ready to take you out for the day!
Lempuyang Temple: This is also known as The Gates of Heaven. There is a temple here and men and women are required to wear sarongs and cover their shoulders. Through the tour we booked, we were provided with sarongs. The line to take a picture at the Gates can last anywhere from one to three hours. We arrived around 7 a.m. and waited in line until 9:30 a.m. to get our coveted picture. The picture they take is absolutely gorgeous, but it’s up to you whether a picture is worth the wait!
Tirta Gangga the Water Palace, Karangasem: This place is absolutely gorgeous. There’s a koi pond with gigantic koi fish. You can feed them and jump around their pond. This place almost seems unreal because everything is insanely beautiful.
Tegenungan Waterfall: For this place, I would recommend wearing a bathing suit under your clothing, or bring a bathing suit with you since there are dressing rooms to change in. There’s about a mile hike down to the waterfall, but it is worth it! The walk back up is a little hard, but nothing too complicated. Just make sure to hydrate!
Luwak Coffee Plantation: This was one of my favorite experiences in Bali. We got a tour of the plantation before we sat down for a coffee, tea, and chocolate tasting. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it was a dream. Plus, the view was gorgeous! Fun fact: If you don’t know what a luwak is, I have a little story for you. A luwak is a small rodent-like animal that eats coffee beans. The coffee beans then ferment in their stomachs and, well, nature takes its course. Those pooped out coffee beans are then cleaned up and luwak coffee is created! It is the most expensive coffee in the world, but since luwaks roam free on the plantation, it’s only three American dollars per cup. Yes, I tried it and I totally recommend it. Live a little!
Bali Swing and Rice Terrace: OH. MY. GOSH. Have you ever seen videos of the Bali swing? You essentially just swing out onto the open rice terraces. It’s the scariest and the most fun thing imaginable. And the rice terraces are breathtaking!
Day 4: On day four, we headed out to Nusa Penida. Nusa Penida is another island, and it takes about an hour and a half by speedboat to get there. Getting up into the boat was quite an experience. There is no dock to get onto the boat, so you basically have to climb over giant rocks with your suitcase down into the water… with your suitcase. If you’re lucky, the waves won’t be strong and the crew will take your luggage onto the boat so you don’t have to carry it into the water yourself. If you’re unlucky (like us), the waves are going to be crazy and it’s going to be hard to get onto the boat. You will also get soaked. You will also ride the hour and a half trip into the island soaking wet. Wear clothes that dry quickly!
Day 5: Through the resort we stayed at, we booked an all day tour to the following:
Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida: THIS. PLACE. DEAR. LORD. This is honestly the most beautiful view, the most beautiful water, and the most beautiful sky in all of Indonesia (at least in my opinion). But, BEWARE! If you plan on climbing down to the beach, it is dangerous. The walk down starts okay enough, with stairs and rails guiding your way down. About three quarters of the way through, the stairs disappear and all that’s left is rocky mountain climbing. The rails disappear and reappear only sporadically. There are even ropes to help you climb up or down. If you do decide to climb down, you will be covered in dirt. You will need to be hydrated, and you will be exhausted by the time you climb both down and then back up. It’s scary and there are no signs or people standing by to help. The beach and the water is absolutely gorgeous, but the current and the waves are crazy strong so we didn’t get into the water. We climbed down and admired from the edge.
Angel Billabong: Another beautiful view, but no swimming allowed. This place is a great photo op and there are several small restaurants to dine at.
Crystal Bay Nusa Penida: And finally, a beach you get to swim in and chill at. This is the place where tourists hang out. You can rent beach towels there if you don’t have one with you. There’s also beer, coconuts, and snack foods for sale. The water isn’t as beautiful as Kelingking Beach, but it also means the current isn’t as strong and you can actually swim in this water.
Day 6: And that’s it, folks! We hung out at our resort pool, had some drinks, read some books and then traveled back home. It was exhausting, but so worth it.