Bali is an Indonesian island that attracts close to 600,000 tourists each year, most famous for its beaches, art scene and temples. Enthralled by the beauty of Bali, I find myself returning to the island time after time (going thrice in just last year alone).
I’ll be mainly covering 2 areas in Bali:
- Kuta – A popular tourist destination in Southern Bali known for its beaches, surfing, restaurant bars and is a 15-minute drive from Denpasar Airport
- Seminyak – A more upmarket, snazzy beach resort area located on the West Coast on Bali. Mostly known for its cool cafes and boutique shopping.
With a handful of experience, I would like to share my top picks on what to do at this paradise getaway.
1.Stay in a Villa or Near the Beach
Villas are a great type of accommodation in Bali that is affordable and cosy
If you are going with a big group of people, I highly recommend you rent a villa! Villas in Bali are relatively cheap and look slightly luxurious (with a personal pool and well-designed interior).
Always remember to check online reviews on how well the place is maintained and its accessibility to food. My friends and I made a small mistake of renting a villa that was out of nowhere, which meant that we had to take a cab down every night to get food (sigh). The bright side was that Bali cabs (Grab) are relatively cheaper, costing as low as $2- $3 to get around places.
Friends having fun in the villa
For those who are going in small groups or prefer hotel style accommodation, you can also try staying in a hotel by the beach.
Hotels in Kuta that I recommend are:
- Grand Inna Kuta – https://www.grandinnakuta.com/en/
- Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort & Spa – http://kutaseaviewhotel.com/
These hotels are centred right in the heart of the bustling streets of Kuta. Finding food is never a problem and you are just steps away from the beaches.
If you are staying in Seminyak, I recommend Amadea Resort & Villas – https://www.agoda.com/en-sg/amadea-resort-villas-seminyak-bali/hotel/bali-id.html?cid=-218
Amadea Resort in Seminyak, Bali
2.Visit Hipster Cafes & Eat Good Food
Seminyak is one of the best places to go cafe hopping in Bali!
Spoilt for choice at the wide variety of unique cafes and delicious food
Stay along Seminyak Square as food and shops are easily accessible and there’s a myriad of cafés to explore. I most recently tried the Revolver Café. The place was known to have great coffee, but I felt that the taste was overrated. Food was at best mediocre brunch food, served in small portions and worked out to be close to $10 per person.
Revolver café’s salmon poke bowl that did not manage to fill my friend’s belly
There are many hidden gems around Seminyak and you might stumble upon a really good café! One example was Garden Bistro, which is a personal favourite dessert place due to its enchanting “secret garden” inspired décor and set up.
Gardin Bistro, located at Jalan Petitenget No.106, Seminyak, Kuta, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Besides hipster cafes, there are also tons of food places worth the visit. These are some of my favourites:
- Ultimo – great atmosphere, affordable western food (below $10) – https://ultimo-bali.business.site/
- Naughty Nuri’s – Best ribs I’ve eaten, price is only slightly lower than what you’d expect from restaurants in Singapore ($20) but it was WELL worth the money – http://www.naughtynurisseminyak.com/
Ultimo’s Pan Seared Fillet Butter Fish served with Rissoto Saffron and Tomato Gravy Sauce ($7.50
3.Chill by the Beach with Gorgeous Sunsets & Live Music
After trying all the delicious food, you might want to take a walk down the Kuta beach or listen to amazing live music by the beach. Double 6 beach is famous for their live bands and iconic coloured bean bags. We got there by cab (about 15 min from Kuta), where they dropped us off at the end of Legian beach and had to walk another 5 min till we reach Double 6. Be prepared for local vendors approaching you to sell items – just turn them down nicely if you are not interested. The musicians sing well and there are cocktails and beers available while you chase the sunset too.
Watching the sunset by the beach on Double 6 beach
4.Get in Touch with Nature (Waterfalls, Monkey forest, Cycling, Rice Terrace hills)
From visiting waterfalls (Tegenungan Waterfall) and the monkey forest in Ubud to cycling through the picturesque scenery and hiking the rice terrace hills, these activities really help you get in touch with the more rural side of Bali.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Roadside view while cycling through the rural areas
If you are short on time, I suggest just going for the waterfall. Try visiting the terrace hills as well since it is an attraction unique to Bali. Most of these activities are done in Ubud, a town in the more central part of the island surrounded by rain forest and rice paddies.
Rainbow forming at the bottom of Tegenungan Waterfalls
5.For the Adrenaline Junkies: Waterbom Park, River Rafting, Parasailing and More!
As a person who enjoys extreme activities, I was thrilled by the variety of outdoor activities that I could never do in Singapore.
Credit: Bali Holiday Tours
This park is a tourist spot so expect to pay tourist prices (Klook’s price is $43). I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I visited but felt that Singapore’s Wild Wild Wet has successfully managed to replicate many of the rides originally from Waterbom Park. Wild Wild Wet is also almost half the price. Although it is a fun waterpark, I personally feel that it is not worth the money you are paying.
River rafting in the Telaga Waja River
River rafting is a great bonding activity and in Bali, where 2 main rivers used – Telaga Waja River and Ayung River. After going to both rivers, I prefer the Telaga Waja river as it covers a longer rafting route, is more thrilling and has an easy access starting point.
The long flight of stairs to the river rafting starting point in Ayung River
Parasailing is an activity you would want to tick off your bucket list. However, the process of getting buckled and strapped onto the harness was very rushed. As soon as the previous person touches the sand, you will be strapped on and lifted off the ground within seconds. In hindsight, I realised how unsafe and improper they were in handling their customers. Although I would encourage everyone to try the sport at least once in their lifetime, I caution people to pick more trustable companies that prioritise your safety.
6.For the Instagrammers: Try the Bali Swing
Lastly, the Bali Swing is a tourist spot catered to those who are dying for that perfect Instagram shot. This place was designed for people to take nice pictures and even has a large swing overlooking the rice terrace. They offer 2 packages – $35 (entitles you to take pictures at all spots) and $10 (only 3 photoshoot spots). Both packages come with a free lunch buffet and drinks.
Largest swing at the attraction, which requires you to wear a safety harness
Birdnest shaped photo spots at the attraction
The forest provides such a beautiful sight for us to enjoy. However, do you know that in the past, Indonesian businesses had a few issues to produce teak?
This was due to:
- potential unsustainability caused by environmental impacts
- legal restrictions, where there were limited wood buyers which forced individual farmers to sell teak at low prices
These problems led 46 villagers organising themselves to form Cooperative Koperasi Hutan Jaya Lestari (KHJL) which produces certified sustainable teak for the international furniture market. With the help of The Forest Trust (TFT) and Jaringan Untuk Hutan (JAUH, Network for Forests), the co-operative worked their way into becoming Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, gaining recognition from one of the biggest international forest certification programs. This eventually allowed the co-op to sell at sustainable prices to European and American buyers. The success of this stemmed from forming the co-op, as a group formation was the only way they could afford FSC certification and obtaining the necessary legal permits to sell internationally.
Hope these tips came in handy to you as you plan your trip to Bali!
This article was written by Ee Kaye Lin Tanya, a first-year Business student from the National University of Singapore. Tanya is currently a Campus & Youth intern at SNCF, passionate about creating new ideas and innovation. She enjoys adventures and spending time with her dogs.