No BS Travel Guide to Bali

Tegalalang Rice Field swing in Ubud, Bali

Bali is tourist heaven because not only does it offer amazing food, activities, and attractions, but all of this is easily accessible to first time travellers. For details about some of the amazing activities you can do on the island, read this post. For a laid back traveller or a more detail oriented one, planning a trip to Bali is easy and cheap. First thing first though, here are some quick recommendations and things to consider before heading to Indonesia. 

Mount Batur Sunrise Tour Bali
Uluwatu temple Kecak and Fire Dance Bali
Buyan Lake Instagram swing in Ubud
Ulun Danu temple foggy sunrise
Tukad Cepung Waterfall in Ubud Bali

When to Travel

Bali’s peak season is during the winter holidays and summer holidays. Despite these dates falling on opposite seasons, Bali remains a good destination during these times because the island has fairly steady weather and temperatures all year round. 

Bali’s dry season is from May to September and their wet season is from October to April. We were told by locals that even during their monsoon season, the rains come early in the morning and recede in time for plenty of sunshine during the day. Though I can’t attest to this, I can confirm that July and August is one of the driest and sunniest times to visit. Unlike many other East Asian countries during August, the heat in Bali is also very manageable, and both early morning and evening temperatures tend to be cool.

Campuhan Ridge Walk​
Campuhan Ridge Walk​
No BS Travel Guide to Bali - A Hassan.- travel guide to bali
aling aling waterfall in Ubud, Bali

Where to Go

Ubud – Most travelers opt for Ubud because it offers a large range of activities and tourist locations. Ubud is home to most of the Instafamous spots of Bali, though they’re spread throughout the region and require at least a few days to visit. The Ubud Monkey Forest, Tagallalang Rice Fields, and Campuhan Ridge Walk were some of my favourites. 

Sanur – For the second half of my trip, I stayed in Sanur. I used the final Ubud tour to Mount Batur to bridge the two parts of the trip together. To learn about how I did that, you can read this post. Sanur was the best location from which to do the Sea Walker tour, visit Uluwatu Temple, and island hop to Nusa Penida. Sanur was also close enough to Kuta beach for us to make the trip there easily. I chose the Sanur area over Kuta to avoid the street congestion and the higher prices for food and accommodation

Where to Stay

Ubud – Champlung Sari Hotel was the perfect location from which to enjoy Ubud. Located at the edge of Ubud Monkey Forest, along with enjoying amazing food and service, we also enjoyed regular visits from the forest inhabitants. Despite the amazing location (just a few minutes walk from the Ubud Market and restaurant area), the rooms were really affordable. 

Sanur – We stayed at Taksu Sanur because it was walking distance from the port area that served as the jump off spot for day trips to islands like Nusa Penida. It was also a good location from which to do the Sea Walker tour and visit Uluwatu Temple. The rooms were spacious, clean, and affordable. They also had a great pool and on site restaurant. The food was pricey by Bali standards but absolutely amazing. The staff were very approachable and we ended up befriending a few during our stay. 

Campuhan Ridge Walk​
Tegalalang Rice Fields in Ubud, Bali
Campuhan Ridge Walk​

How to Get Around

Private Drivers They can cost anywhere from IDR400,000-600,000 a day depending on your itinerary. Pros: Drivers are flexible, knowledgeable and good for jam packed custom itineraries. Local drivers are also a great source of history, culture, and local recommendations. Cons: Private cars are the most expensive way to travel in Bali.

Blue Bird Taxi They’re metered taxis which start at IDR7000 + additional 6500/km. Pros: They are highly rated for their excellent and honest service. Taxis can also be arranged easily through the app or your hotel. Cons: Some taxi providers have restricted access to certain areas in Bali but Blue Bird is widely accepted, just check with your accomodation. 

Motorcycle Rental – These can cost as little as IDR7000 a day and many places accept a driver’s license only. Pros: Cheapest option. Cons: It can be dangerous and accidents usually aren’t insured. Curbside rentals can be especially risky because they’re unregulated and tourist accidents on these are common. Renting directly from your accommodation or a well reviewed company can be a few bucks more but can make all the difference. 

Mount Batur Sunrise Tour Bali
Pura Tirta Empul fish pond in Ubud, Bali

Visa Requirements

After entering Bali, visitors from 160 countries can choose to stick to the Free Visa option which allows for entry and stay in Bali for 30 days with no option for extension. For those who want to stay longer, there is the option of paying for a 30 day Visa on Arrival (VoA). This allows visitors to extend their stay by an additional 30 days (for a total of 60 days), without having to leave the country. This visa isn’t automatically a 60 day visa though, and needs to be extended after the first few weeks in Bali. Furthermore, eligibility for this visa is more limited than it is for the Free Visa. Be sure to check if your country qualifies.

Portable Wifi/Data SIM

It’s a good idea to have wifi or data access in any country you travel in because you need it for everything from directions to arranging tours. So far, I’ve always gotten portable wifi devices at airports in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand through Klook. The devices have great signal and battery life so I opted for the same thing in Indonesia. Thankfully, data SIM cards are super accessible in Bali. If you can hold off, it’s best to purchase them from street vendors because prices tend to be cheaper and negotiable. Pro Tip: If you’re travelling in a group of two or more, get different providers to reduce the chances of losing service together.

drone view of Kelingking Beach T-Rex in Nusa Penida West
person posing in front of Broken Beach photo spot
Angel's Billabong at high tide in Nusa Penida West

What to Eat

Babiguling ($5) – You can find this dish anywhere in Bali. I had it in a local warung; Babiguling Warung Mekelosa, to experience the most authentic version of it. The main feature is the suckling pig which is always roasted for four hours to produce the famous crispy skin. 

Babi Genyol ($3) – Babi Genyol is the opposite of its more famous twin, Babi Guling. It is a tender pork and rice dish, accompanied by some killer chicken soup. It is hands down my favorite meal in the world now. I highly recommend trying it at Babi Genyol Men Darta, a local restaurant that serves this dish. 

Nasi Goreng – This dish usually features rice and a combination of other vegetables and items such as egg and tofu. The star of the dish is the chicken satay which is marinated in a special tangy sauce.

Tofu Salad – The dish, called tahu tipat in Balinese, is simply made of fried tofu, crispy wafers, some chili, and topped off with sauce. I can’t even pinpoint what I loved so much about the dish but I was blown away by how simple and delicious it was.

Coffee Tasting – You can’t go anywhere in Bali without coming across tours promoting the world’s most expensive coffee: Luwak coffee. Though the coffee itself can be bought easily in Bali, the best way to enjoy it is by doing a tour of a coffee plantation. It usually includes a tasting of all the teas and coffees the plantation offers. Note: Many providers in Bali offer coffee tasting tours but make sure to research the plantation you are visiting. Some of them keep the famous luwaks caged for visitors to see. This is problematic since the animals are nocturnal and kept awake during visiting hours.

The best way to enjoy a variety of cheap and local food is to do a Food Tour. I recommend With Locals because the tours are run by local Balinese people. I did majority of my tours with them and found them to be really professional and knowledgeable. For an extended list of authentic and delicious foods you should try in Bali, check out this post

Babiguling pork dish in Ubud Bali food tour
Babi Genyol Dish in Ubud Bali food tour
Nasi Goreng at Kopi Bali in Ubud
tofu salad tahu tipat in Ubud, Bali food tour
Luwak coffee tasting in Ubud Bali food tour


I found Bali to be one of the safest places I’ve ever visited and felt as safe as when I am in Japan. I didn’t have any instance of theft or scams. Sure, street vendors tried to rip me off many times but this is just their regular conduct and bargaining is a way of life in Bali.


I skipped travel insurance as I usually tend to do. Every time I make this choice though, I am aware that I’d be in serious trouble if any of the many risky activities I do went south. Traveller’s insurance is insanely cheap, easy to find online, and should definitely be considered by first time travellers. 

Currency Exchange

Currency exchange is widely available in hotels and tourist areas so it’s best to convert just enough at the airport to get to where you’re staying. The hotels are better than the airports but the currency exchange found in tourist hubs offered the best rates by far. 

Ubud market shopping in Bali
Ubud Market in Bali showcasing round woven bags

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