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“Bali - the land of a thousand temples and a million smiles - a must visit”
Review of Bali

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mumbai
Level 6 Contributor
86 reviews
745 helpful votes
“Bali - the land of a thousand temples and a million smiles - a must visit”
Reviewed February 18, 2009

it just felt great to be in bali... people smiled at you, my indian currency was respected (finally!! 100000rph = inr 420), the weather was good, the sea-food amazing, tons of things to shop, loads of places to see, mind-blowing architecture, pretty faces, amazing dances, great arak, easy to commute, crystal-clear waters, great dive/snorkelling sites, a reptile park, komodo dragon, submarine trips for the non-swimmers, temples that amaze you, sunsets that enthrall you, active volcanoes that thankfully stay quiet, handicrafts, always open for some great bargaining, nice local bintang beer, rocking local cuisine (babi guling!!!)... ok so you get the picture... it's one of the places where one must visit... be a tourist in bali... we are meant to be that way...

My first surprise in Bali: Indian currency rocks!!! locals always greet you courteously and smile... and if you are Indian, then expect bigger smiles... reason: Bali's majority population is Hindu... yes, same gods, same religious backgrounds - The Ramayana & The Mahabharata... heck, in Goa, as an indian (in my own country), we dont get smiles from locals!!! and here in Bali it always began with -"u from India?" "hindu?" affirmative answer and the smiles widened, the prices got cheaper with endless tales of how they all love worship shahrukh khan... so i always ensured that the bollywood superstar contributed to me getting some great discounts - "the special shshrukh khan price" is what i asked for.


things to do in bali - temples
i was on a time-share holiday so was staying at The Royal Bali Beach Resort at Jimbaran Bay... great location as i was half hours drive away from Nusa Dua (the southern Bali beach = water sports), and Kuta (the bustling tourist haven = Baga if you are familiar with goa). I was travelling with my wife and 4 yr old son. And i had a week. Some of the temples we went to were gorgeous to say the least. Balinese architecture just blew me away. The temple on the cliff at Uluwattu is a great place to visit to watch the kechak dance and soak in a gorgeous sunset. the tanah lot temple is a delight with it becoming inaccessible during high tides, and the route getting revealed during low tides. every house had gorgeous sculpted gates, and many small temples in their compounds in memory of their loved ones. Its a must for visitors to the temples to cover their legs with sarongs (available at most temples for wearing & returning). most places are accessible if you ride bikes... you can hire scooters/bikes, or just hire cars with/without drivers... avg rate is around US$30-35 (for 6 hours), us$40 for 8 hours... so you are free then to decide your itinirary and not do package tours. but i did find that the rates were pretty reasonable in these package daily trips. there are hundreds of agencies that offer diving trips, sight-seeing trips, water-sports packages... and most daily packages on offer range from a half-day tour to full day and more

TIP: as soon as you land at the Bali airport, pick up the literature available on all the goods on offer... it really helped me to do comparative study before deciding what to see and how to see...

ok so here is a list of temples you can visit...

uluwatu: sunset+kechak dance+notorious monkeys (one snatched a pair of oakleys from a tourist and chewed the lenses off)... great view...

holy spring temple: the pools here are said to have miraclous powers

tanah lot: great architecture+great sunset+accessible in low tides

besakih temple: the biggest temple in bali

goa gajah temple: the elephant cave temple

the monkey forest temple

taman ayun: the 17th century royal temple

activities other than snorkelling / diving

ok so i dont know how to swim... loser=me!!! and i was in bali!!! yes it was frustrating. the dive sites at nusa penida & manta point are said to be the best. other places where one can dive are at Nusa Dua, Padang Bay, Tulamben... most companies offer dive packages that range from $55 to $100 & this includes hotel transfers, lunch, equipment, instructors, insurance. so its a great deal. snorkelling comes in at $15/hr...

Nusa Dua which is located on the southern part of the island is a great place for water/adventure sports... snorkelling, parasailing, banana-boats, jet-skis, flying fish (this one was brilliant... you literally fly 50-60ft up as you get pulled by a boat), fishing tours, turtle islands to visit.

you can do biking tours, you can do treks, white water rafting (ayung/telaga waja river), elephant safari ride/tour.

there is a great reptile & bird park where you can see snakes, touch iguanas, turtles, and come to face to face with the Komodo dragon (the one in the reptile park is bigger)

in the tips section i will put up some website urls, tel nos to make your search easier.

my kid just loved the reptile park, the turtle islands off nusa dua (kind of sad the conditions the turtles are kept in) but at least someone is conserving them...

you can trek up to either batur/kintamani or mt agung to get closer to the 2 active volcanoes of Bali.

you can also go off for cruises, dolphin sightings north of the island (lovina beach) where they come during sunrise... so travel time starts at 3:00 am to reach the place.

Helpful?
18 Thank anirbanb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pune, India
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
29 helpful votes
“The most beautiful place in South East Asia”
Reviewed February 12, 2009

We travelled to Bali (two couples with a small child each) on Chinese New Year weekend, 2009. After a rather stressful few months at work, what with the recession and all, we were looking forward to a good break. And boy, did we choose the right place for it!

Bali is in one word- fabulous! It is pretty, it is green, it is quiet without being desolate, it is easy to get around in. The food is good and the people are lovely. The beaches are clean and the watersport is cheap.

Some tips from our first-hand experience:
- BOOK EARLY. We flew Lion Air from Singapore, which calls itself Indonesia's largest budget airline. We booked in November, 3 months before our trip and got a ridiculously low rate of less than 300 Sing dollars per seat (that's 200 USD each).
- CHOOSE A DECENT HOTEL. There is an excellent site called Balihotels.com that lists the hotels by price and location and offers fairly balanced reviews and user comments. We chose the Hotel Vira Bali, which completely lived up to what it promised: affordable (USD 62 a room a night); excellent location (5 minute drive from airport and equally close to Kuta, the touristy destination in Bali); free transfers to and from the airport and to downtown Kuta; warm, friendly service (the staff were amazing) and to top it all off, we got the pool-adjoining rooms we had requested as well! We chose the Vira because it suited our budget and needs (family friendly being on top of the list). Ideally, we'd have stayed in a villa but we found the ones listed online ridiculously overpriced. Maybe next time!
- AVOID KINTAMANI. It's a dormant volcano deep in the hinterland, about 3-4 hours one way. Apparently the view is great, but it rains practically daily so all we got to see was a clump of fog. Luckily we combined this visit with a trip to Baisakhi, the oldest (Hindu) temple in Bali, which was completely worth it.
- DON'T GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO "SHOP RIGHT"- Our travelling companions had some "inside dope" on where to get the cheapest and best of Balinese shopping- Ubud for handicrafts and Sukawati for clothes. We did a day trip covering these locations- sure it was cheap and there was plenty on offer but nothing that you wouldn't get in Kuta anyway. When you consider how cheap Bali is (in dollar terms), it really doesn't matter- spend another day on the beach instead!
- THE BEACH!!! Nusa Dua is something awesome. We only spent one day there and most of it we were watersporting away (Apollo at Nusa Dua is highly recommended, especially for the diving- hire the photographer as well: he follows you around and ensures he captures all the Kodak moments on both film and video). Wish I could have spent more time soaking up the sun and building castles on the sand with my 2-year old. Sigh!
- FOOD AHOY! We found an excellent Indian restaurant called Queen's Tandoor where we had a couple of long lesurely dinners. But even the room service fare at the hotel was pretty good. Order Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) if you're unsure what to try. Be warned that lunch at the distant locations (Baisakhi for example) may be little more than cold rice and half-fried chicken. May be better to stick to the cup-o-noodles like we did! And do try the Bintang beer, it rocks.
- MAN FRIDAY ALERT. In Bali the best way to get around is drive, indeed it seems like the only way around. You can rent a car for 225K a day (about 20 USD), fill it up with as much gas as you want to burn (gas stations are ubiquitous in Indonesia) and whizz around at your own convenience. If you're not in the mood to self-drive, a driver will set you back about 225K more (that's 40USD for the day for car+driver, not too shabby eh?). The advantage is that you get a local who can show you the sights, take you to the right places to eat (important when travelling with kids!) and generally save a lot of time and effort (Bali is surprisingly big and proper route planning is essential).
- BARGAIN BARGAIN BARGAIN! In Indonesia, it is no crime to haggle shamelessly- start at a third of the quoted price and work your way up to half. Ignore the complaints of "Bankroop, bankroop"- it's all part of the game. But be fair- ask for the price only if you're serious about buying. Once you hold something in your hand, it's as good as sold. And be nice- the Balinese are mild-natured, so a smile or two may get you a much better rate. Bahasa is surprisingly easy to pick up so learn a few stock phrases and use them liberally.
Hope you have fun in Bali- we certainly did! The places to go to are Nusa Dua (beach and watersport), Bedukul (lake and temple-garden with a fabulous buffet restaurant close by), Kuta (for shopping, food and nightlife), Baisakhi (for a spiritual cleansing experience). Places to avoid (already covered): Ubud, Kintamani. And yes- do get a massage. A one-hour full-body massage will set you back about 100K (9 USD). There are specific massage types for every need (yes- even the ones with happy endings, so be very specific when asking!). Lemon Tree on the Tuban-Kuta road is highly recommended.
And while I'm at it, might as well plug our super-cool driver AGUNG [--]. His Suzuki APV 7-seater is impeccably maintained and spotlessly clean, he knows the roads and can double up as a neat guide as well!

Helpful?
4 Thank Anoop B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
1 helpful vote
“My Bali planning guide.”
Reviewed January 24, 2009

I was in Bali for a week from Christmas 08. My advise, time your trip as the December festive season is a bad time to go. There's a hugh influx of tourist during this time. Best time to go, March, April, September and October.

My advise of the things to do in Bali;

The Temple visits. Be advise that you don't need to buy any 'Sarong', once you get past all the shops, you can get a sash to wear for free. All the temple are owned by the government and therefore you don't need to get a temple tour guide to bring you around. The locals there will insist that you need one, but they're just trying to make easy money out of you. The entrance fee for most temples are about $6000Rp.

Besakih - The Mother Temple. The so called tour guides a very aggressive and will stop you from going into the temple if you don't hire them. Just don't be bothered by them and just carry on.
Tirta Empul - Scared spring water of Tampaksiring
Gunung Kawi - 11th Century temple
Tanah Lot Temple - Temple in the Ocean. Go there to watch the sunset
Uluwatu Temple - Temple on the cliff just metres away from the sea

Mount Batur Climb and breakfast @ Kintamani. The whole thing will cost you anything from $300000Rp - $450000Rp including transport. For a fit person it'll take around 1hr to reach the top, for average person will be around 1hr 30min and for the elderly it takes around 2hr plus. Reach the the top around 5.30am and wait for the sunrise.

The Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) - The site is a mix of Hindu- and Buddhist symbols, among them the cave with the entrance in an artistically carved cliff, a bathing pool with fountains, a statue of the Buddhist goddess Hariti, as well as several other Buddha figures

Watch the traditional Dance - Barong Dance, Legong Dance, Kecak Dance. Tickets will costs around $50000Rp - $80000Rp.

Shopping in Bali. The things are not cheap if you don't bargain. The shop owners will mark up the price ridiculously, so always slash the price by 4/5 and work your way up. Buy your item for not more than 1/3 of the starting price. If they don't agree to your price just walk away. There's always another shop that sells the same item. Don't shop in Kuta as most of the thing are over priced. Just walk down a bit further from Jln Legian to Seminyak. You can get the same stuff as in Kuta. Another place you can try is Ubud market.

The best thing to do is get a map and hire a motorbike. Its cheaper than taking a taxi. Motorbike rental is about $70000Rp for 24hrs. If not get tour guide to bring you around, but these guys will bring to places where they get a bit of commission. The drivers come with a cooler box with drinks and their meals are on their own. The cost of a tour guide is anything from $350000Rp - $450000Rp for 8-10hrs. Plan your itinerary and insist that they bring you there.

Finally 80% of Balinese are Hindu, respect their culture, especially in temples. They also belief in Karma, so if anyone try to cheat you, talk to him about Karma.

Helpful?
1 Thank Davidvd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
australia
1 review
3 helpful votes
“My worst travel experience ever!!”
Reviewed January 17, 2009

After a disasterous start when the original flight was cancelled we decided to still go to Bali. After a good start, it all went down hill from there.........rubbish every where, poor hygiene, poor service, poor customer relations, overly expensive hotel (govt tax and service tax adding up to 21% on top of total price) and poor language skills on both counts a poor place to visit. After booking a number of tours and trying to see the best in the place both of us were hit with "Bali Belly" for the remainder of the trip. Tried to get an ealier flight home and told all full even our original flight, only to find it 70% full!! Will not be going back as cheap beer, shopping (or is it so sheap?) and clothes is not worth the sickness that may last for how long? AND YES WE TOOK EVERY PRECAUTION, the doctor said it was in the air and had no chance of avoiding it!!

Helpful?
3 Thank ashes09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
8 helpful votes
“Diving in Amed and Permaturan”
Reviewed December 30, 2008

September 2008. North east Bali, in Amed, my husband and I stayed at the Diver's Cafe, cheap accommodation, where we were upstairs in a comfortable bed with a wonderful view so won't complain about the rest which was a bit like a boy scout camp. Two very worthwhile dives organised by the owner of Diver's Cafe, a Balinese gentleman who took us to the sites in his clapped out truck. First dive was the shipwreck, The Liberty, which is a shore dive and spectacular. The Japanese wreck, another shore dive, is a little boat with good coral.
Moved onto Permuteran, north west Bali and stayed at Adi Assri Beach Cottages. Recommend one stays in the deluxe chalets, facing the sea as the standard is exactly that, with no view. Nice hotel. The dive centre and school is run in a friendly but efficient way by Paul, an Englishman, and his crew. Two best dives were at Merjangan Island where we were taken by boat.(40 mins) Lots of coral and fish. It was all very relaxed with time afterwards to talk over the experiences of the day. Lovely memories.

Helpful?
1 Thank Craighall56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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