Bali Beginner Guide | Traveler Notes

Bali is, no doubt, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. Trust me, I'm not even exaggerating one bit! Most areas in the island are provincial, but it's safe to say that Bali in general is very tourist-oriented. The Balinese are very proud of their attractions, their food, and their things, yet they also boast their culture and religious beliefs. But even for somewhere as exposed and beautiful as Bali, there are still some factors that some people may or may not be troubled with.

As a first time visitor of Bali I felt the need to share my first-hand experiences with you, answer a few beginner doubts, and provide you a travel guide I wish I had read before I went. I may help you get through some questions like "how much should my budget be?", "should I hire a driver?", or "which area should I stay at?". Or you might have some other uncertainties you didn't even realized you had. Keep scrolling to get into my Bali Beginner Guide, and don't forget to show some love on my Bali vlogs!

I vlogged the whole Bali Trip, check it out to see what other fun stop we did during our trip. 
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It's inevitable not to worry about budget and spendings when it comes to traveling (not unless you're filthy rich and capable. In that case, I envy you!). Going to a new place with very little knowledge about how money goes around, or how much would necessities cost in that certain destination can really stress you out pre and during travel. Well don't sweat it fellow traveler! For this guide, I would be including a rough estimation on how much we spent and all would be compared to Macau Patacas (take note that MOP $100 = around USD $13).

1. BALINESE CURRENCY
You can easily be a millionaire in Bali. It was actually kinda funny how we had 2Mil plus on our 1st night. But because of how little their currency is, it can often be confusing. Especially when you want to do a quick comparison with your local currency. Here are a few tips upon your arrival:

  • The currency in Bali is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
  • Base exchange I kept in mind - MOP $100 = IDR $170,000; just a rough estimate I used the whole trip.
  • I suggest you to pre-exchange and have atleast IDR $500,000 with you before arriving Bali
  • Have a rough estimate how much it would take from the airport to your hotel/1st destination. I based mine off of TripAdvisor Q&A and other blog sites. You can also refer here for a base price rate per location.
  • There are only 2 (that I know off) Foreign Exchange counters at the "arrival hall" of the Ngurah Rai Intl. Airport.
  • There are more Foreign Exchange counters around cities and touristy streets, make sure to scout 1st since a lot of them charges REALLY high. We got a better deal on our 2nd time exchanging money, and it took us a while to search for the right place.


2. COMMUTING AROUND BALI
No, there are no taxis, Grabs, Ubers, or any of those sorts in Bali. Commuting around Bali is definitely my least favorite part about the whole trip. Some sights referred to Uber in Bali, but apparently it was discontinued a few years ago. Personally, I think that this factor is such a hassle given the fact that everywhere around Bali is far from each other. The following may be useful tips to get you ready on what to expect:

  • They have motorcycles and cars for rent, and are said to be cheap. Downside to this is that we don't have a license and roads in Bali are quite scary to drive on (lots of steep slopes, narrow roads, and insane drivers).  
  • There are car rentals as well that includes a driver but may cost a bit higher depending on your itinerary.
  • They do have their so-called "taxi services", it's basically unmetered taxis. At this point, know how much it may cost to go from this place to the other, and don't be afraid to bargain. Trust me, 90% of them will charge you a very high price.
  • Most hotels will provide car services, I suggest you to book those instead since they are more reliable and rates are fixed and printed for you.
I paid IDR $300,000 from the airport, Denpasar to our hotel at Ubud which is my estimated price from the start. From Canggu to Kuta should only cost IDR $100,000 or less, but we were charged IDR $150,000. From Kuta beach to the airport should only cost IDR $80,000, but then again, we were charged IDR $150,000. 

3. FOOD IS MOSTLY CHEAP AND REALLY DELICIOUS
Just like Thailand, food in Bali is insanely cheap. Yes, there are lots of high-end restaurants, but do you really need to eat there? If I were you, I'd give local food a try and maybe a few street foods and snacks. Here's some food tips for you:

  • Bali is known for their hipster, vegan eateries that focuses on serving those people in search for organic and gluten-free dishes. Most of them are found around Canggu and Seminyak. Some of my recommendations are:
  1. Cafe Organic (read my blogger review here: COMING SOON)
  2. Strawberry Fields
  3. Matcha Cafe
  4. Sea Circus
  5. Moana Fish Eatery
  • As mentioned above, try going local. We had nasi and mie goreng, chicken satay, and sambal everywhere. Most of them we ate at our hotel since it was complimentary, but I've checked other local eateries and most of them won't even reach up to IDR $100,000.
  • Just like mostly everything in Bali, every cafe or eatery I've went to is definitely "Instagram-worthy". Trust me, I just had to snap a pic of everything we ate.



4. HOTELS OR VILLAS IN BALI
Searching for the right hotel was difficult but for all good reasons! Every hotel or villa we saw was BEAUTIFUL, and most importantly: affordable! You could book the most prestige hotels or resorts such as Kamandalu or Ayana, but I swear there are a lot more cheaper ones and nearer to city centers.

Wanna know where we stayed at? Basically the main features I look for in my hotel picks are: beach front, has a lovely pool, clean toilets, cozy room, and nearby groceries or easy to find commute.
  1. UBUD GARDEN VILLA
  • Address: Jalan Raya Penestanan Kelod, Sayan, Ubud, Sayan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali
  • Contact: +62 361 976737
  • Reservations: https://ubudgardenvilla.com/
  • The room we booked was of course their "Deluxe Pool View Villa" which costed around IDR $959,998 for total of 2 nights (weekends).
  • Complimentary breakfast was served daily.
  • 15mins walk to Ubud Center or Ubud Art Market.

     2. KUTABEX BEACH FRONT HOTEL
  • Address: Jalan Pantai Kuta, Banjar Pande Mas, Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali 
  • Contact: +62 361 3007077
  • Reservations: http://www.kutabexhotel.com/
  • The room we booked was their "Deluxe King Size Bed" which costed around IDR $631,470 for a total of 1 night (weekend).
  • Complimentary welcome drink is given around the rooftop pool
  • Just opposite of Kuta beach, around 5mins away from Beach Walk Mall, and 15mins away from Ngurah Rai Intl. Airport.




5. SHOPPING FOR SOUVENIRS
This is the part where we f*cked up! Like I said, we had no idea how things were supposed to cost, especially not with souvenir shopping. Just like most island destinations, Bali has lots of night markets for you to buy a few gifts to bring back home. The market that we went to was the "Ubud Art Market" which is only open until 5pm daily. My main goal was to find a circle woven bag for myself. 
It's sad because I never would've imagined my biggest spending to be on souvenirs...EVER. Their price mark-ups are just crazy high. So just like in commuting, make sure you learn to bargain.

  • I got my woven bag for around IDR $225,000 which I could've gotten for at least just IDR $100,000
  • We bought 4 t-shirts for total IDR $200,000 when we could've just gotten it for about IDR $12,000 each.
  • There was a lot more that we bought which seemed pretty expensive for their type and quality. We knew the actual base prices from our hotel driver, he was the one who told us how much we could've bought everything for.
Again, it was probably the shittiest part. Thank goodness I was prepared money-wise for situations like that. But I guess I should just take it as a learning process. At least, the next time I do visit Bali, I'd already have an idea how much I need to bargain with both shopping and commuting.

Well that is it for me! Probably one of the longest articles I've ever wrote here in #KateeOTD. Let me know, did my Traveler Guide help you even just a little bit? Hopefully it did! Despite all the negative happenings, Bali is still one of my favorite places ever. Tune in for my upcoming blog posts about Ubud, Canggu and Kuta. Till then, Ciao! Or should I say "Titiang lungsur mapamit dumun".


Photo Credits to: Adrian Coronado (@dash_ad)

3 comments

  1. THIS IS SOOO HELPFUL KATEEE!! I love that everything is soo detailed especially with prices!! It helps a lot for first timers like me��

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    1. Ahhhh!!! Gershwin! Thank you so much girl! Hopefully you can use some tips for your Thailand trip as well! Much love <3

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  2. Nakakainggit talaga eh! Thanks for the tips, Kateee! Pero I don't think I'll be needing these anytime sooner kasi no plans pa talaga of international travel eh. No budget. Haha. But this is a great reference talaga! Love how you really made effort to give details. Good job!!! <3

    Pero grabe, na distract ako sa Ubud Market! I WANNA GO THERE! Magshopping lang ako nung bags HAHAHAHAHA

    xx, Wandering Ela

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