13 tips for travelling to Bali if you are a newbie

* Updated October 30, 2013

Bali has always been on our list of places to visit. So many good friends had been and fell in love.

When we booked and surprised the kids with this end-of-school-holidays trip, we had a pretty good idea we’d fall in love too. I’ve since been back again on a girls’ getaway.

Researching both trips was pretty easy – there’s a stack of info out there in Google land. And the Styling You Facebook community was GOLD in sharing its Bali knowledge.

To keep the sharing going, I thought I’d put together these tips for travelling to Bali if you are a newbie. We ended up with A LOT of spare time at Denpasar Airport waiting for our delayed flight home, so I used the time for good ;)

13 tips for travelling to Bali if you're a newbie

This is by no means an extensive list but it might be a start for you.

And if you are a Bali visitor from way back, then please add in your tips in the comments below.

Weather

The Volcano, Bali

October to April is the rainy season; May to September the dry season. We travelled late January, which is considered off peak and in the wet season. We lucked it with the rain with most of the heavy falls coming at night time or early morning. Kind of cleansing really.

For my October trip, it rained only once in five days – and that was early morning before we’d gotten up.

As for the humidity, if you’re flying in from a Queensland summer – like we did – it’s not such a shock. A little bit more humid than the everyday here but temperatures were near the same as when we had left home. Make sure your accommodation has air-conditioning!

What to pack

Wear light clothes in natural fabrics to keep cool while in Bali

Light clothes in natural, breathable fabrics. I worked on two outfits a day, one throw-over type dress or shorts/light top combination and kaftans for evening if we were heading out to a bar or restaurant. Even in the upmarket restaurants it’s still pretty casual. Mr SY wore dress shorts and a rolled up shirt and Vans if we were getting our fancy on.

At least two swimsuits means you always have a dry one on the go. SPF 30+ or 50+ sunscreen is a must. You are right near the equator Stylers, that sun has bite. Even at 5pm.

Speaking of bites, keep the tropical strength insect repellant handy. Try this natural alternative – it worked for me.

I’m a safety girl and also packed half a pharmacy – travelling with a family of five, I wasn’t taking any chances. We had everything from kids’ Nurofen to antibiotic ointment, ventolin, antihistamines and stuff to help should Bali Belly strike … see below.

Accommodation

Bali Swiss Hotel Villas, Seminyak, Bali

Bali is geared up for tourists in a big way. Accommodation ranges from the very basic thorough to some of the most amazing five-star hotels you’ll find anywhere in the world. The trend over the past five to 10 years is for villa accommodation. This style can offer you the same comforts as a hotel but with more privacy and better options if travelling as a family or group.

For our family trip we stayed at the Bali Swiss Villas, booked through Australian company, Cantik Villas. It was cheaper booking through this site than direct. What I also liked about Cantik was that you could easily search for a villa option based on location, number of guests and your budget. We also availed ourselves of the layby option, paying off our accommodation over three months – pretty handy on the budget when airfares have to be paid for on booking.

We paid about $1700 for the week, which included a three-bedroom villa {two pavilions with king beds; one with two king singles; all with ensuited bathrooms}, airport transfers and breakfast cooked for us each morning – once again, pretty good for a family of five. But. There’s always a but, isn’t there? When I booked I knew that we’d be 10-15 minutes drive {only max $5 each way in a cab} from the action. This is not for you if you like to step outside your accommodation and stroll to a bar or restaurant. It only suited us as we had booked a driver for the week. Otherwise, opt to pay more to stay on the beach side of Sunset Road.

For my October trip, we stayed in the Bali Villa H2O, 11 of us each paying $400 for the five nights.

Also, like real estate images of houses for sale, don’t be surprised if your accommodation doesn’t quite look so shiny and new when you arrive. Our villa was clean but had definitely aged since the website photos were taken. Shower pressure was non-existent – as was hot water in the shower – and the indoor/outdoor nature of the bathroom, meant that sometimes going to the toilet came with a shower from nature on top.

If travelling with small children, the private pool/villa thing may not work for you as pools are not fenced. There is a company that hires out temporary fences though {check out Little Bali Love for a link}. Also the separate pavilion-style rooms within a villa may not work if your kids are used to being able to get to you in the night. We loved it for the space for teenagers and us!

Where to stay

Nusa Dua, Bali

I know from people who have visited Bali before that they are pretty set on the areas in which they like to stay. What you want from a holiday can be very different from the next person.

For us, we love a good bar, good food and shopping, so Seminyak suited us perfectly. It’s got the Bali vibe but with a more upmarket edge to what you’ll find in Kuta.

When we come back {and we will}, we’d like to start our holiday Seminyak and the move to Uluwatu for more of a retreat. I’ve also now got my heart set on staying at Ayana Resort (home of The Rock Bar).

Others swear by heading to the hills for an escape … it was beautiful but we love the water and have a couple of surfers in the family.

Others again love the exclusive five-star enclave of Nusa Dua. It was certainly beautiful but, for our travel tastes, was lacking a bit of the Bali vibe found elsewhere. Want 5-star plus the vibe location? My money would be on The W Retreat & Spa. And when The Potato Head opens its hotel in 2014, that would be worth a look too.

The W, Seminyak, Bali

Transport

Our driver, Dewa, was such a help for us getting around the island of Bali

Public transport is non existent – you have cabs or drivers as options for getting around. Both are cost effective.

Some accommodation houses come with their own shuttle services. And if you’re booking a tour, that company will come and pick you up from your accommodation.

We found our driver, Dewa {pictured above with Mr 7}, via the Little Bali Love website. You can book him via his Facebook page. Dewa was an absolute champion. He was also available from 9am to 9pm for 400,000Rp a day. Some days we didn’t stray far from Seminyak, others we did. Either way, without his seven-seater van, we would have had to take two cabs each time we wanted to venture out.

Food and drink

Dinner poolside at Potato Head, Seminyak, Bali

Food was cheap. Even at the fancy places, you could eat handsomely for less than equivalent standard in Australia.

Menu items included Indonesian staples plus other Asian, Mexican and Western favourites.

We also picked up drinks {Mr SY loved that Bintang is almost cheaper than water} and snacks at little supermarkets. The deli-style supermarket at Seminyak Square is particularly good.

Favourite places we drank and dined at and would recommend include:

  • Sarong: One for the grown ups and up there with some of THE best dining experiences I’ve ever had. Still dreaming about the soft shell crab salad. We paid about $AU200 for three courses, two cocktails, a bottle of Australian wine ($60) and coffee. More here.
  • Ku De Ta: Beachside bar and restaurant, perfect for sunset drinks. Lobster gyoza a must eat. More here.
  • Potato Head: Beachside pool and bar. Perfect for sunset drinks too. Kids can swim in pool up until 4pm. Minimum spend of 500,000 Rp for poolside position. More here. If you can swing dinner as well, do try the chilli crab at Lillian
  • The W: Stunning location for the whole day. Pay $15 per person {kids half price} to lounge by and use pool. Drinks and food served poolside too. More here.
  • The Deck: Family friendly dining where you can play a game of pool too.
  • Grocer & Grind: Deli items, dine in and takeaway. Was craving a salad and this place gave me that fix.
  • Single Fin, Uluwatu: Cheap eats and drinks with one of the best views high up above this famous surf break.
  • Sunset Bar, Ayana Resort: If you can’t get into The Rock Bar – they don’t take bookings – then this is a great place to watch the sun set. Order a signature watermelon or coconut cocktail.
  • Motel Mexicola, Seminyak: Go for $30 jugs of magaritas and $3 tacos. More here.

Uluwatu, Bali

Bali Belly

We ordered and drank bottled water everywhere: here at Ku De Ta, Seminyak, Bali

We lucked it on the January trip with only one of us succumbing to the dreaded Bali Belly. In October, the 11 of us were affected in some way. Not sure if it helped with my recovery and prevention first time round but we took Blackmores Digestive Bio Balance every day. They’re chewable probiotics and don’t need refrigeration.

Big key? Drink and brush teeth with only bottled water.

Places to see

Waterbom Park, Kuta, Bali

  • Waterbom Park: seriously the cleanest and most efficient water park I’ve ever been to. The fact that I could drink cocktails from our poolside cabana while the kids went crazy? Big, big plus.
  • Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest: The kids loved this. Bigs especially. The monkeys were pretty well behaved the day we went. More here.
  • Mount Batur volcano: Stunning contrast to the beaches in both climate and view. Dine at one of the restaurants that line the ridge with a view to the volcano and surrounding lakes.
  • Lembongan Island cruise: a bit crazy, crowded touristy for my liking but the youngest in the family LOVED this. The boat takes you and 200 others across to a pontoon moored off the island of Lembongan. From the pontoon you can snorkel, ride a banana boat, take a village tour on the island or slide down the waterside 50,000 times like Mr 7 did. Expect to pay about $US275 for a family of four {kids under 12}.
  • Uluwatu: Loved travelling down to this part of the island – stunning views and scenery. More here.
  • Nusa Dua: Not staying at one of the resorts in this enclave? There is a public beach plus beach clubs where you can lounge all day as long as you order drinks. More here.
  • Bodyworks: Not so much to see but to do. Beautiful spa treatments in Balinese style at a fraction of Australian costs.

Nusa Lembongan cruise to snorkel on reef, Bali

Shopping

We did most of our shopping on the streets of Seminyak. It’s boutique-y and not trashy. There are also plenty of surf brands on offer at slightly cheaper prices than in Australia.

Mist boutique, Seminyak, Bali

Fave stores:

  • Mist: I was told to hunt down this label when in Bali and I wasn’t disappointed. Beautiful summer frocks in hand printed fabrics of the softest rayon. That’s why you’ll pay more – $AU80-90 – than similar designs in other stores. And I’m told that’s considerably cheaper – about 40%- than buying in Australia.
  • Drifter Surf: Mr SY loved this indie surf store and cafe. Awesome coffee and wi-fi and a refreshing addition to the big name surf brand stores which dominate the island.
  • Samantha Robinson: my favourite porcelain artist has a recently opened store in Seminyak. Prices same as in Australia but seeing the full range in one place was something else. Samantha has also added her prints to cushion covers and sarongs to the store – these are made in Bali so more affordable.
  • Kody & Ko: Modern art and homewares store – think neon Buddhas and floral skulls.
  • Hobo: loved this homewares store and could have bought so much. They ship to Australia so that just might happen.
  • Sari Dewi Silver: our driver took us here on the way to Ubud. It’s a massive store where the prices are in $US but you’re encouraged to bargain down to less than half the marked price.
  • Biasa: Italian-designed floaty cottons in statement cuts that scream quality.

Samantha Robinson, Seminyak, Bali

Money

We used Visa credit and debit pretty much everywhere and only needed actual cash for paying our driver and a few cab fares. There are money changers everywhere. With 1 million rupiah equalling about $100 it’s very easy to feel like a millionaire. Suggest taking a wallet that can fit a lot of notes!

Internet access

The wi-fi at our villa was extremely dodgy in January, in contrast to just about every cafe and restaurant in Seminyak where free wi-fi was yours for the price of a drink or lunch. Just ask for the password. Because we were only staying for a week, I didn’t bother unlocking my phone from its Australian network and inserting a pre-paid sim card in Bali.

For my October trip, the wi-fi at the villa was excellent but there wasn’t any wi-fi at the new airport this time around. Things were still being finished off – restaurants and shops are yet to open with just pop-up outlets filling the void.

Safety

We felt very safe throughout the trip. There are security checks on cars and often bags, as well before entry to any of the major tourist spots and hotels. As we drove past the site of the Sari Club bombing and memorial to those who lost their lives, it seemed to me that this “new” Bali is here to stay.

Other stuff

You will need to take with you $US25 per person for entry visas to be paid on arrival at Denpasar airport. Oh and they’re picky about those US notes too – we had a 1996 US $100 bill knocked back. Apparently they only accept post 1997. For my October trip, we took advantage of the $US50 VIP visa entry “system”. I use the word system loosely. You basically pay a guy the money as you come towards the first customs queue. He takes your passport and gets your visa as well as through customs, allowing you to skip two queues and then just wait for your luggage. I’d definitely do this again.

A exit tax is payable when you leave too – 150,000Rp. We also took advantage of the porter “system” when we arrived at the airport to go home. We paid about $20 for six bags and jumped a long queue yet again.

If you get stuck at Denpasar airport with a lengthy flight delay, it’s very much worth the approx $AU15 per person to pay to go into one of the lounges for a more comfortable waiting spot (no lounges were currently operating at the new airport – if you find that’s changed when you travel there, please let me know).

Over to you … what tips do you have for Styling You readers travelling to Bali?

PS. I’ve since been back to Bali – with my girlfriends. You can read all about my tips for a girls’ getaway to Bali here.

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  • http://www.tripmark.com/travel-guide Travel Guides

    I would like to appreciate your work and would like to tell to my friends.

  • Alex Marco

    Super useful post Nikki! I’m currently contacting Wayan and Dewa about their service when I’m there next month. Can’t wait :)

  • dino

    If you need aTour guide service in bali can send email to fdm80_5@yahoo.com

  • Azri

    Hello, I’m going to Bali in 2 weeks time. I would like to know whether the hotels/bars/restaurants there prefer USD/AUSD/Rupiah? I’m from Malaysia, so I’m worried that if I bring Rupiah notes, they will charge me more than I have to pay when I’m paying using the other 2 currencies which are slightly higher than our MYR.

    P/s: You wrote that visitors are required to pay for entry visa on arrival at the airport. Is it only applicable to Aussie or applicable to all visitors prior entering the island? Thanks SY =)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I would check re the entry visa but I think it applies to all nationalities Azri as for currency on the ground, we used rupiah (withdrew from atms) for smaller cafes/restaurants and our visa debit or credit at hotels and shops.

    • Alex Marco

      Hi Azri, I’m also going to Bali in about a month time and I’m from JB. M’sians are exempted from the visa requirement so we don’t need to pay the USD25 :)

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  • Travis

    Great post, and handy tips…. if only I had found your blog before my first trip to Bali back in July…. but we must have hit the ground running, because we loved it so much we are heading back for 2 weeks in 10 days time. One week in Seminyak and one week in Ubud. Can’t wait.
    This time, I need to learn to pack light, REALLY light, I didn’t need half of what I took last time, (jeans? really? what was I thinking). There are so many beautiful (not to mention awesomely priced) things to buy in Bali I need room to fill my suitcase on the way back. This time we are taking over books and school supplies for a school visit we have planned in a little village outside Ubud, which will leave space to fill with lovely little treasures.
    My only additional tip for Bali goers (that you have touched on), if your villa staff/driver go above and beyond to make your stay even better, give them a tip. The average hospitality wage in Bali is $60-$80 a month, so a little $20-$30AUD thank you goes a long way and is so appreciated.

  • Cristin S

    Hi there! Great post :)
    I’m looking at going there for the first time in August, but I’m not sure where to stay. I really like the idea of staying in Ubud or Seminyak, but I’m not sure which. I really like going to handmade markets and snorkeling and stuff. Can you give me some more tips, etc? First time traveling alone and have no idea what to do lol. Thank you!

    • Ruddy

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  • Allen

    By the way, AWESOME POST!! Thank you so much for many great tips and advices!!

  • Allen

    How much did you have to tip the driver?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      We had pre-organised a daily rate – most days didn’t use the whole time so that was a bonus for him and at the end of the week gave some extra as a thank-you.

      • Allen

        Thank you for this information. I’m planing on hiring Dewa as our driver :)

  • Open mind

    Bali as you know is overwhelmed by foreigners
    investing money, which is good for the economy, BUT many are making mega
    dollars benefiting from the cheap labor and long term rent of the land.
    Through the building of villas and then advertising overseas, often the
    workers have no idea of the cost of the rooms, the transactions are not
    done in Bali, and the money goes elsewhere. Slowly the Balinese owned
    hotels and restaurants are disappearing because of the competition.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to book a hotel knowing the money goes to a
    Balinese family business? Well next time you visit, check as to who owns
    the hotel or restaurant you often visit and make sure your dollar goes
    to help the local people!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      On both my trips to Bali this year we made a difference to at least two families – that I know of. The driver that I’ve mentioned above? He contacted me personally to thank me – he has people contacting him every month to book him thanks to my blog. On my October trip, the villa is managed by a Balinese family (owned by an Australian who lives in Bali) but this family not only received an income via us that week but we also gave them extra at the end of our stay.

  • sian

    Hello, such an informative post, my partner and friends are traveling to seminyak in 2 weeks time for a fortnight and I was just wondering if it is worth packing a jumper in case it rains? I have heard that because it is tropical rain the temperature doesn’t really drop like it does here in Australia… Also if we were planning on going out newyears night is it worth making a reservation this far in advanced or would it be okay to turn up to a venue on the night with no reservation?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Hi Sian, the only time it was cold for us was when we went up to the volcano. The rain is short and sharp and relieves the humidity briefly but that’s it. And yes to making a reservation – on my girls’ trip we booked in advance for all as even in a non-peak season it can be difficult to get into the places you want to get into. If you’re wanting to spend the evening at somewhere like Potato Head – I’d make a dinner reservation. You can’t book the pool beds so you’d just have to get there super early and spend the day.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Hi Sian, the only time it was cold for us was when we went up to the volcano. The rain is short and sharp and relieves the humidity briefly but that’s it. And yes to making a reservation – on my girls’ trip we booked in advance for all as even in a non-peak season it can be difficult to get into the places you want to get into. If you’re wanting to spend the evening at somewhere like Potato Head – I’d make a dinner reservation. You can’t book the pool beds so you’d just have to get there super early and spend the day.

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  • JoelDavid

    Awesome post with plenty of good advice. I would also recommend Cocoon Beach Club, they have a nice pool and great food! I’ve come across this article about Bali in general that gives a great insight with some beautiful pics: http://www.theessentialdestination.com/region/asia/bali/

  • Nyoman Dharmawan

    hey, nice post if you need to find a villa in easy way, try to look in http://www.balilongtermrental.com they have a huge villa collection

  • biravin rajesh

    Hi Nikki,
    The post is very useful. Thanks for it :) I am travelling to Bali for first time in April 14. Can you let me know what will be the average cost of living (in USD) per day for a tourist in Bali.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I don’t have a figure for you as you can go as budget or as extravagant as you want – It’s a lot cheaper at both end of the scale than for me in Australia.

  • Helen

    Hi I just wanted a little bit of info what time should I leave the hotel in seminyak for a return flight to Sydney leaving at 1 am?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It only takes about 20-30 minutes (depending on traffic) to get to the airport from Seminyak. So just time it to arrive three hours before your flight.

  • M

    Great tips, thanks!! Taking the family in January, 1st o/s trip, and getting very excited apart from the negative comments I’m receiving from people around me who have never been to Bali before. (I’m only listening to the positive ones who have been!!) One thing I’m not sure about is the vaccinations. People that have been, say you don’t need them. What do you suggest? Staying in Nusa Dua and will visit Seminyak and Legian often as my sister who is married to a Balinese will be staying in Legian and also travelling 2 hours north to visit my brother in laws family.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      We were advised that staying in the main tourist areas we wouldn’t need M but maybe if visiting your BIL’s family, it’s worth getting advice from your GP about. And yes, funny how the negative comes from those who haven’t visited. We felt safe the entire time. The new airport is great too.

  • Mitch & Mia

    WOW! Bali is really nice! You seem to have a really good time. Great post by the way…

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  • Lauren

    great page :) im traveling back to bali for the 2nd time in march with a group of friends.last time i went was 1 1/2yr ago with family was great but got Bali belly witch was the worst :( i had my 1yr old daughter and she loved it there we loved the Safari & Marine park it was great we got photos with white tiger and the monkey & had a elephant ride.also loved the waterbomb park and potato head. we stayed in Legian at the all seasons hotel and will be staying there again in march thank you for all ur extra tips will be sure to check them out

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh I hope you have a fabulous time Lauren!

  • tracywu

    this website is lovely shan x0x0

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks so much.

  • tracywu

    i love you shan

  • tracywu

    i love you

  • Forest

    Thanks for taking the time to share your info we stay at Villa Ani Ani in Umalas when we are in Bali great old school Bali tropical villa.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks for your recommendations Forest.

  • Naomi Tsvirko

    Looks like you had a lot of fun! I have never been so this post was insightful :)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Glad it was and hope you get to go soon!

  • Jess

    Did you have to do much bartering with your driver?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      No, we paid a pre-arranged daily rate. Was so affordable and Dewa was available in the evenings when others we talked to weren’t.

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  • Jo-Anne

    I love Bali! I went for the first time last year and had a ball. One of the most fun things we did was go white water rafting in Ubud. SO fun. We’re going back again in December and this time, we found an amazing treehouse on Air BnB in Ubud, overlooking rice paddies. Can’t wait!

    https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/792724

    • Elin Miller Abrahamsson

      Hey Jo-Anne, how was it there for you the first time? Me and my hubby
      are going visit Bali for the first time on December 6th, cant wait!! :D
      but first we must survive 17 hours on a plane =/ we are traveling from Sweden.

      Can you tell me more about the water rafting? Sounds awesome :D

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh brilliant Jo-Anne … enjoy!

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  • Septiandara Banyo

    Hi, I’m an 18-year-old indonesian college student and willing to assist anyone who wants to visit Bali, you can message me to my Facebook or email me on septi.andara@gmail.com

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  • ken

    Hi,

    how to book/contact Mr Dewa?
    surf little bali website but unable to find his contact

    thanks

  • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

    thanks Shan

  • shauna cohn

    yes nikki definitely worth the money to sit in one of the airline private lounges and the other one that i always use and have gotten alllll my friends to use is VIP VOA, its a vip service that you can buy sooooo cheap, i think its about $30 (plus your visa on arrival money), the $30 is for a person that greets you not far from when you get into the airport from off the plane, you are whisked away to a lounge where you receive a refreshing drink and you just sit for a little while and then, you are whisked outside through the arrival gate, through customs and out to where your luggage is waiting for you to collect – its a faaabulous service and helps you navigate through the sometimes long and tedious (and sweaty) queues that you can encounter when arriving in bali!!! Im not sure if I post on here the details or what do i do nikki??

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Shauna, yes lots of my friends have used. We took our chances and had a really easy run through customs.

  • Gand’s Doenk
  • http://www.getsgad.com/ Rama Singh

    These tips are beneficial to the people who are visiting Bali first time and it looks like she had an amazing holiday and really helped several tourists.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think it has been a help, Rama, yes!

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  • Regine

    Hi Nikki! I’m visiting Bali in November and this article is really great! Would you know which timings to avoid arriving at the airport? We were told that the queues can range from 30 mins to 3 hours depending on our time of arrival. We are really hoping to avoid the long queues to clear customs..Thank you!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      No, I don’t know sorry – I think we lucked it! If you see long queues, pay for the concierge service on arrival maybe. I’m going back in a month so will be interesting how that is.

    • shauna cohn

      hi regine see my comments above, there is a vip service that you can use, its fabulously easy and efficient!

  • Nik

    Hi Nikki … I’m off to Bali soon so your tips have been really helpful. One question … did you drink any drinks with ice in them … or cocktails?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Hi Nik … yes I did drink many cocktails … in the name of research of course. We mostly went out at places though that all made their ice on filtered water.

  • http://www.mybusinesscentral.com.au/ Mybusinesscentral

    There are no words to say it is a great post.I would like to thank
    you for sharing this post as it has really helped.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      glad it has!

  • Peta

    Hi Nikki, it looks like you had an amazing holiday and thank you for the tips – I have started planning our next holiday based on them! I just wondered where you were in the photo eating burgers (right under your food & drink heading). Looks perfect for my little ones!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh brilliant, Peta… that photo was at Potato Head … kids can swim in the pool up to 4pm … later it comes quite a nightclub scene. We would leave by 7pm.

      • shauna cohn

        did you ever manage to get to the living room?? its simply gorgeous, candleabra’s everywhere which absolutely make the restaurant’s atmosphere amaaazingly romantic! Not sure if the food is still french based, after all i havent been there for four years, but certainly when i lived there, it was wonderful!

  • Kathryn

    No wonder this is such a popular post….you’ve included so much helpful information. I’ve not been to Bali, but am very tempted.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It was my first time, Kathryn, but I’m heading back in October for a girlfriend’s 40th and cannot wait!

      • Saad Abdel-Rahman Taman

        nice

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  • http://www.letopho.blogspot.com letopho

    perfection. I’m literally going in two days. Great tip about the notes!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      You’re welcome – enjoy your trip!

      • http://www.letopho.blogspot.com letopho

        Oops! I updated my comment! Any suggestions? :D

    • shauna cohn

      the drivers will be as involved or un involved as you want, they will walk around with you and very much like to be included as part of the “family”, this would include buying their meals and drinks whilst they are driving for you….at least offer it to them, if they say no thank you (which balinese say a lot, but really they mean thank you) you can ask them again and they will more than likely say yes!!! Funny people and a very very interesting culture!!

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  • Eko

    I try diving in Bali in Menjangan, Tulamben, Amed, Padang Bai and Nusa Penida..All the dive spot are great..Should try : )

  • Suriafur Ken

    great tips…
    don’t forget to try balinese spa as well http://www.spavista.com

  • Genna Zurfluh-Schaefer

    Thank you for that interesting and informative write up! Beautiful family pics!!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Bali Hiking

    Great blogs. Really love to read it.
    Australian normally the love water activities and Elephant Ride at Taro.
    Bali Hiking is pretty popular for young Australian now.

    Cheers

    Bali Hiking

  • Custom_Tan

    Love love love. Thanks Nikki! Looking at getting Custom Tan into Bali and this guide is PERFECT!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Glad to be of help – hope all goes well with you!

      • shauna cohn

        actually my friend started up the first suntan salon in bali, she is right behind bali deli (another FANTASTIC place to eat in bali, an institution as its where alot of your “wealthy” expats tend to do their grocery shopping, GREAT people watching)!!!

      • shauna cohn

        actually my friend started up the first suntan salon in bali, she is right behind bali deli (another FANTASTIC place to eat in bali, an institution as its where alot of your “wealthy” expats tend to do their grocery shopping, GREAT people watching)!!!

  • aroson

    Awesome travel tips Nikki. This is probably the best Bali guide online I have come across…great help… thanks a lot. :):)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Glad they’re of help!

  • Bali Home Paradise

    Have you ever been to Pandawa beach in Bukit ? it’s a new famous white-sand beach in Bali now

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I haven’t but I’m returning to Bali in October so will add to the list!

  • Michelle

    Hi, I was wondering if Cantik Bali Villas was a good and legitimate website to book through for a villa in bali? Thanks for your help!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      For sure, Michelle, I wouldn’t have linked to them if I had had any problems. We booked, paid our deposit then layby-ed the accommodation over three months. It’s an Australian-based company and the prices are more competitive than booking via the villa direct.

  • Liz

    Some great tips there – my best tip is to fly with Garuda and from Sydney airport you can prepay the $25 visa and you won’t have to line up on arrival at Denpasar and go straight thru to customs :)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Definitely great if you’re flying out of Sydney.

  • shauna cohn

    Hey Nikki, I used to live in bai and wanted to give you some tips before you went but luckily you found out about the two greatest places over there Potato Head and Ku De Ta, if you like hanging out with the beautiful people that is (or people watching) both are just as interesting for those things…..another fantastic tip that I ALWAYS make sure i take advantage of is, on arrival at Denpasar airport there is a service called VIP VOA, its run by an indonesian guy, they collect your passport and money off you when you get off the plane and escort you to a room where you are seated and given a fresh juice and you wait maybe 1/2 hr 20 mins, they come back, escort you OUT of the airport to where your driver will be waiting and there you go, you dont have to get your luggage, you dont have to rush to get to the visa on arrival queue, and wait for sometimes aaaages, its all so simple, civilised and CHEAP, I think its $45 max but i cant quote that as i havent been for three years, but, the woman who deals with him all the time, travels all the time and i could find out via her if you would want me to, or anyone else that wants to know…..also my girlfriend is the top seller for garuda orient holidays and boy, does she know some beautiful places to stay, she is a good one to book through as well…..sooooo glad you had a great time, its a beautiful special place and i hope one day to live there again!!!!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      The people watching was amazing! And yes, we were aware of the VIP service but opted out of it and glad we did – when our plane arrived there were no others around and we went straight through and our driver was waiting at the other end.

  • Pia C

    Best massages in Bali – Jari Menari.
    Amazing!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks for the tip.

  • Pia C

    Some great advice! Just to let you know, you can pay for your entry visa with AUD these days. Ends up being $25-27 depending on the exchange rate. Not sure why it’s more especially as our dollar is stronger than the US$.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Yes, we ended up using Australian $ because our $US100 bill was rejected!

    • Tammy

      Really? I always organise USD before heading to bali as I can’t be bothered with the fuss of them rejecting AUD at the counter.

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

        Yes, you can pay with AUD but I’m still going to take US to be safe next week.

  • http://twitter.com/Seana_Smith Seana Smith

    Will re-visit this post when we go for our second Bali trip one day. I think I must be the only person I know who went to Bali and DIDN’T visit a spa – boooo! We stayed at the Padma hotel which I loved, and the fave family trip is a toss up between the elephants and the downhill long bike trip.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Well, I only went one day and I’m a beauty writer! Next time, I’ll go more often, that’s for sure.

  • Bec

    Huge thanks, we are going for 10 days in June/July. I am so excited just reading your post. We will use many of your tips for sure. Bec x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh, I’m excited for you! I can’t wait to go back.x

  • http://www.theannoyedthyroid.com/ sammie@theannoyedthyroid.com

    Awesome post Nikki! Great stuff. All this info will certainly come in useful when we go to Bali in March. I’ll follow in your footsteps!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh, I’m glad! Let me know what other discoveries you make too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/annette.jones.9404 Annette Jones

    Ah Bali, your post brought back lovely memories, now, I wonder if I could squeeze a little trip in between now and the end of the year! Ubud has some great little boutiques too. And a great villa/day spa combo for a great price, I love the serenity and it’s a great way to slide into Bali and shake off our hectic lives. Thanks for the info Nikki, love your work!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I’m wondering how I can squeeze in another trip!!

  • jackson

    I have been to Bali multiple times now over the past 10 years, the most recent was over the new year period. I can honestly say that I will never go back again. The traffic has become a nightmare, 3 hour traffic jams to get from one side of the city to the other. More and more pushy sellers who wont take no for an answer. Scams galore, dirty, over crowded etc etc. Bali has become a victim of its own success.
    I urge anyone who is thinking of a Bali holiday to look at Lombok instead. It is all the best bits of Bali and none of the bad stuff.
    The people are friendly the roads are amazing, the hawkers are not intrusive, people come and talk to you and they don’t want anything from you. The beaches are cleaner, there are less tourists etc etc.
    I am afraid that Bali is no longer the paradise it once was. If you have never been before you obviously wont know how much it has changed so it might not bother you as much, but it really is sad to see that it has almost become the very opposite of the reason you want to visit.
    Lombok on the other hand is truly a tropical paradise.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It’s funny you should say that – we were kind of “prepared” for the traffic (coming from a very busy tourist area ourselves) – but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it’s busy (I’m told that we were off peak so not as busy as when you went) but I was amazed at how patient drivers on the road are over there. And I agree if you’re looking for a “get away from it all” experience, then you would be disappointed. We weren’t after that – I love my creature comforts too much ;)

  • http://twitter.com/celeste_writes Celeste Mitchell

    Great post, Nikki. Sounds like you had an amazing time with the family and you certainly packed in sooo many of the best bits of Seminyak. I am heading back to Bali for my third year in a row in May (fourth time over there) – just can’t get enough! Dreaming of Sarong and Bodyworks now : )

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I can so see why you go back so often Celeste – we will too now!

  • Jane3233

    We love Bali & usually go at least once a year, so quick to get there & cheap from Darwin. We call it our Gold Coast. We also do the probiotic tablets & luckily have never had bali belly, it’s also he only time I ever drink full strength coke also – they reckon that keeps the Bali belly away too!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh, it would be like that for you! I hadn’t heard about coke but had heard that raspberry cordial works?!

  • abeachcottage

    great tips! I would not have wanted to be stuck in that airport for hours! but something very good came of it x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It wasn’t as fun as our floor picnic at Melbourne Airport ;) x

  • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

    Thanks for all your tips!

  • Rachel

    Great tips Nikki. I loved Bali and I think you have hit the nail on the head there.. Some tips I had already forgotten about and will be sure to read this blog post before I go again. x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks so much Rachel … some of these things I would forget too except that it was our first time so the “surprises” were fresh!

  • Kelly

    So pleased you had a great holiday and arrived home eventually and to not too much damage. Nothing worse than being stuck in an airport when the joy is being allowed to get on the plane – only to find you are cooped up for longer! The joys of living in Australia. Thanks so much for the tips and suggestions – I never wanted to go to Bali as it wasn’t really my cup of tea but the places you visited on your holiday have made me reconsider that.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Kelly, we truly loved it so glad I was able to show that!

  • Johanna at Zigazag

    Really helpful tips, Nikki. I love Bali and it’s probably the shortest flight we can take from Perth – closer than any airport in Australia, so we have been a couple of times and I think your wrap is great advice for any Bali newbies. For Nusa Dua, I can recommend the lovely Melia Bali and for very very special occasions, Maya Ubud in the hills near Ubud.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      We met some Perth people over there Johanna … love how easy it is for you to jump on a plane to Bali. Thanks for your recommendations too!

  • Sasha

    Hi nikki, love seminyak shopping, but I found all the clothes to be tiny and I’m only a size 12. Did you find any stores that sold anything other than 6 and 8’s? Thanks

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Mist (link above) was great for loose flowing dresses. I’m a 14-16 but in that store depending on the style, I suited a size S (dress pictured above) or a M.

  • Bev Williams-Krause

    Glad to see you arrived back safe and sound Nikki! Loved the IG daily pics throughout your trip. We had friends here over the weekend and I said to them that after seeing your pic’s and reading your posts I would now love to go to Bali. Thanks so much for the inspirational posts and excellent tips :) Post saved to Evernote for future reference!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Bev – we are already scheming to go back – not this year but maybe next.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Thanks Nikki you sure used your waiting time,very well,No I have never been to Bali I thought it was very touristy and not a place I would like to go,but since you have covered everything I think you have changed my mind,I love all the tips , the shopping and spa’s and Restaurants are right up my alley,thankyou for all the research you did and It does look like a place I would like to visit,I am going to look into it and I would prefer a villa as well,Love all your family pics,beautful, thanks for sharing with us.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It is very touristy Lisa but all levels of touristy – the most touristy we felt was on the island cruise on our last day – other days we were able to keep to ourselves and do our own thing.

      • Lisa Mckenzie

        Yep that is what I was talking about ,but you showed me a different side to Bali,Thank-You

  • Gabrielle

    Thanks Nikki. I’m heading to Seminyak with a group of girlfriends next week and I’ve been following your posts,taking notes and making lists! Glad you and the family had a fabulous holiday.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh have a fabulous time – fun place to go with your girlfriends.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tatum.woodroffe Tatum Woodroffe

    Great post Nikki! We have never been to bali but are considering escaping there over christmas & new year this year. Loved seeing your travels on IG. Tatum xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Tatum. Would be a great escape.

  • C

    So thorough. Thank you again, am going to use all this info for my first trip in July.
    So glad you had such a lovely holiday and kind enough to share it.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks! And you’ll have the lovely dry season.

  • Kirsty

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this information! We are planning to go in April but really had no idea where to start. I love hearing other people’s experiences and recommendations before I book anything. Will be definitely taking all your suggestions on board :)

    Hope you are all keeping safe and dry up there!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      All dry today – we are lucky and have power. And glad this is a great start for your trip planning – enjoy!