A Beginner’s Guide to Their First Bali Holiday

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You’ve booked your tickets for your first holiday to Bali, and you’re excited. What next? Work out what to pack, an itinerary for eating and sight-seeing and master a few basic phrases so that you feel prepared once you land.

For When You Land

The national language is Bahasa Indonesia, but there’s many people living in Bali from varying regions of Indonesia. The local language is Balinese, and there’s many guidebooks that have a list of helpful phrases. There’s also some handy YouTube videos with a guide to pronunciation. While it’s not mandatory or even necessary to know any phrases at all, the people of Bali are so friendly, it is delightful to at least appreciate them by greeting or thanking them in their own language.

Salamet Pagi (‘good morning’) will get you through to 11am. Use Salamet Siang from 11am until 2pm, and then Salamet malam (‘good evening’) onward.

Introduce yourself with Nama Saya, which means ‘my name is.’

As much as Bali is a wonderful place for visitors, there’s endless invitations for “taxi, taxi!” so if you prefer to just be left in peace, either thank them and keep walking, ignore them, or say “Jalan jalan!“, which means ‘just walking’.

If you opt to use a taxi or a scooter, negotiate the price before you set off. Know approximately what you should pay for a trip so that you can confidently negotiate. There are online sites that give lists of what the taxi and Uber is likely to charge you.

Where In Bali Should I Go?

While it’s a generalisation, and there are exceptions to the rules, for the most part the following locations in Bali are ideally suited to particular goals of travel and types of traveller. Considering that it’s easy and affordable to travel between towns, it’s worth planning to get to a couple if you have longer than a few days. For example, a day trip to Canggu from Ubud, or Seminyak to Sanur is easy to do and many travellers are glad to experience the diversity of each place within one trip.

Kuta is the favourite of surfers and those seeking nightlife, partying and cheap food, drinks and entertainment. It does have a number of family-friendly accommodation and entertainment options so for families, it can be an appealing and more affordable choice relative to the other locations.

Seminyak tends to attract those who want to check out more refined restaurants, bars, clubs and shops. It is the Bondi Beach of Bali, if you like. It’s a nice in-between atmosphere between Kuta and the more spiritual and creative areas of Ubud and Canggu.

Canggu is expatriate central. Many Australians, Brits and Americans have made their home in Canggu where there’s access to schools and business services. It’s similar to Ubud in its wealth of plant-based eating, yoga studios, bohemian flavoured shops, locals and tourists but with the added bonus of fantastic surf beaches.

Uluwatu offers beautiful, clifftop resorts and clubs, bars and dining venues overlooking the beach.

Ubud, amongst the rice fields and nearby the volcanoes, is lushly green and vibrant with a very arty, creative and serene vibe. It is considered the home of yoga and wellness in Bali.

Where to Eat in Bali

Half the joy of travel is discovering your favourite spots so that you can indulge in them and share your own experiences with friends and family. It’s also entirely worthwhile to ask locals and fellow travellers where they like to dine and why. That said, for a couple of starter ideas, the following places are tried, tested and loved.

Cafe Organic is gorgeously tropical in a kitschy, joyful way. Pineapples sit on every table. It’s a bright, open space with white walls and indoor palm trees (great for your Instagram). Healthy and nutritious, the meals are all available in-house and takeaway and there’s plenty of smoothies, juices, coffee and kombucha to choose from.

In Ubud, Kafe has long been a favourite of visitors. With dependable WiFi, a great menu of mostly vegetarian meals and a full menu of juices, this stalwart venue is still one of the best in Bali.

For plant-based pizza, try the sundried tomato and also the wild mushroom and spinach pizza at Alchemy.

Check out The Shady Shack in Canggu for a post-surf lunch or brunch. Sit indoors or soak up the sunshine and beach breeze outdoors with your smoothie and burger.

What to Pack for Bali

Check online for a guide to the weather in the particular region of Bali you’re travelling to. While the general guide to seasons is largely accurate, online weather guides provide the most up to date guidance as to how to pack. A set of staples, with sandals or thongs, tank tops, shorts and also a long sleeved top and loose long pants or skirt so as to be able to enter temples or sacred places while maintaining adequate cover, will get your through your first holiday to Bali. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are all advised, also. You can buy an adaptor for the power points from any of the local supermarkets and it’s much cheaper than at the airport or in Australia.

Now that you’re armed with some Bali travel tips, book cheap flights to Bali with Webjet and be on your way to falling in love with this Indonesian island. You can also book Bali hotels,or holiday packages to Bali if you want to take care of your accommodation and flights in the one click.

Hero image: Kuta. Credit: Jumilla | CC BY 2.0

Cat Woods is a Melbourne-based journalist and also a yoga, barre and Pilates instructor. She writes on destinations and travel, both local and international.

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