I went to Bali in October and November for weddings. Here are my suggestions for things to do as a first timer to Bali.
This is a local style restaurant that is very Balinese themed and has authentic Indonesian cuisine. They also have a cultural show and performances which you can enjoy while you eat. This is a very clean and traditional establishment.
This is a modern multi-level restaurant in a nice setting. The food is a mixture of Southeast Asian. Mostly Thai and Vietnamese, they only have two Indonesian items on the menu. Nonetheless, the atmosphere is hip and happening.
If you’re really looking for a local traditional flavor with some local prices to match this is the place to go. Nice little local restaurant in the middle of the block with an authentic flavor and ingredients.
Address: Jalan Pura Bagus Taruna, Indonesia (middle of the block, map here.)
Awesome beach club with swimming pool to boot. There’s a few different restaurants there and areas to grab a drink. My choice would be to get a group of friends together and find one of the “beds” to lounge on closer to the beach.
A Bali staple that’s been around for awhile. It’s a restaurant/bar. I suggest hanging up on the rooftop area to grab a drink. It has a nice view of the beach and ocean during the daytime.
This place isn’t air conditioned and a bit dusty. I think I saw a rat when I was there too, but it is huge and has literally a million Balinese handicrafts you can buy. Prices are really cheap and reasonable, no need to bargain. You could spend hours here if you walk up and down each aisle and floor.
This where all of the tour groups go now. It’s a newer air conditioned sovenier shop. The down side is that the selection is not nearly as good as Geneva for knick knacks. Half of the store is handicrafts, half is clothing. Prices are about the same as Geneva, maybe a few rupiah more but still very cheap without the bargaining.
The temple in the sea. Go during high-tide when you’ll actually see this temple appear like it’s floating in the ocean. I went during low-tide so it wasn’t as pretty. There also a little park there when you can walk around the cliff and get views of the sunset if you go in the late afternoon.
Duh. The beaches north of the airport generally aren’t that nice but I found some better than others. Kuta is known as the party area but I found the sand and beach in front of The Stones Hotel pleasant and wide. The Seminyak neighborhood is a bit more up-market but I found the beach less appealing than in Kuta. On the plus side there are a lot less people in Seminyak vs Kuta.
There’s hundreds of massage places to go in Bali, from 5 star to no star. I can recommend the Ambiente Spa at the Amadea Seminyak Bali Hotel. I just walked into the lobby and saw the spa was running some specials so I booked one. I got a two hour massage and body scrub for about 350,000 IDR. It was a nice private room and bathroom, very clean and professional.
Taxis are super cheap in Bali. These are the cheapest taxi’s I’ve taken anywhere, starting at 6,000 IDR or about $0.50 USD. The price really isn’t the issue, just trying finding one during the peak times. Also, try not to get ripped off and be firm on using the meter if you can. Sometimes they may just quote you a flat fee so they can get a bit more money. The taxi’s with the little Blue Bird on top are the most reliable.
Rent a motorbike
You can get around town easier via motorbike than taxi since you can zip in and out of traffic. Keep in mind this isn’t for the faint hearted. Rates are very cheap, around $5 USD per day plus petrol which is very cheap and they sell on the streets in Absolut bottles. I got stopped by a police officer looking for bribes, and was told you can get away for about $5 USD. Just make sure not to keep much cash on your while biking, or hide it well in case you get stopped.
As a side note, the new airport finally opened in October for the APEC summit. It’s a huge improvement over the previous dinky airport. Taxi’s are available from the booths and there are fixed rates posted. The rates are expensive for Bali but you don’t have much choice unless your hotel has a shuttle pickup. Besides the high fares, I found them to be honest and got me to my destination without issue.