The Ultimate Guide to Bali
Backpacking Bali is something I cannot recommend enough! From hiking up mountains to surfing and relaxing on the beach. Watching dolphins play at sunrise to biking through miles of rice fields. Relaxing in a yoga class to jumping off waterfalls. Bali is beautiful, full of culture and has something for everyone.
For information on currency, budget, haggling, food, vaccinations, and more visit our page Traveling Indonesia.
Best Time to Travel
May to July is an ideal time for backpacking Bali because prices and crowds are lower and rain is minimal. The average temperature during this time is 27-28°C (80-82°F). July to September is the next best time to visit offering similar weather with an increased number of tourists.
Motorbike: This was by far the easiest mode of transportation while backpacking Bali. It costs $50,000 IDR ($3.75USD) per day to rent a motorbike and about $1,500 IDR ($1.15 USD) to fill up with gas. Here are some tips on what you can do to make sure you have a good experience: Renting a Motorbike in Bali.
Hire a private driver: 40,000-50,000 IDR ($30-$37 USD) per day. Do this when you have a lot planned for a day and/or the places you want to go are far away from each other. For example; We were picked up at the airport at 7:30 am. From there we drove 2 hours to a temple, then to a viewpoint 1.5 hours from there, and finally back to our homestay that evening. We didn’t have to man the crazy airport taxi mob, we could leave our packs in the car while we were exploring, and we ended up getting a steal of a deal for all the driving.
Take advantage of transportation included in tours: Most tours will pick you up or drop you off anywhere on the island. We booked a Bike Tour through a company in Ubud and they picked us up in Uluwatu for no extra cost. They stored our bags during the tour and dropped us off afterwards at our hotel in Ubud. This can save you a substantial amount in taxi fare while backpacking Bali.
Walk: We walked A LOT in Bali. I never felt unsafe walking around and the local people are very helpful if you need directions.
Taxi: Make sure to haggle with your taxi driver beforehand. You can typically offer about half the asking price. Taxi meters are becoming more popular in which case it is more difficult to haggle. Be cautious they aren’t driving you in circles or the long way to up the meter.
What to Wear
Bali is a Hindu island in a Muslim country. The local women are not required to be completely covered up here but it is important to dress respectfully in sacred places. I felt very comfortable wearing shorts and sundresses most places in Bali. You must have your knees and shoulders covered to enter temples but most provide sarongs free of charge. A very lightweight rain jacket is good to have if you are going on the shoulder season. For more packing tips check out our Southeast Asia Packing List.
- Get a homestay with breakfast included.
- Book tours on travel days to take you from city to city.
- Rent a motorbike for transportation.
- Eat in smaller restaurants off the tourist streets.
- Go to temples and attractions on your own instead of with a tour.
- The airlines will charge you up to $35 USD per checked bag so bring a carry on sized backpack if you plan to catch any flights.
If you are looking to relax, surf, party, and shop then this is the place for you. Make sure to spend a few days in the south part of Bali soaking up the beautiful beaches and surfing. Keep in mind that this is the most touristy area of Bali; so if you`re looking for a more authentic experience you`ll have to head north!
Jalan Bypass Nusa Dua is a road on the south tip of Bali that will take you to all of the best surf spots. These spots run along a limestone peninsula called the Bukit. Padang-Padang beach was welcoming for beginners and full of surfers with varying levels of experience. Uluwatu surf break is famous for its huge waves. You can spend an evening at the Single Fin Bar watching some very experienced surfers here. The other surf spots along this road are Bingin Beach, Balangan Beach, Dreamland Beach, Impossibles, and Suluban Beach. Kuta and Legian beach are farther north and great for beginners. It costs 50,000-10,000 IDR/hour ($3.75-$7.50 USD) to rent a surfboard from one of the many shacks on any beach you go to.
Help Out With The Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Project
The Kuta Beach Sea Turtle Project is an organization that protects turtles from threats they face on the beaches (predators, tourists, pollution, etc.). The eggs are relocated to a sanctuary until they hatch. From April to October you can help them release the baby turtles back into the ocean once they are born!
Visit Uluwatu Temple
A beautiful temple on the south tip of Bali. Go early in the morning or later in the afternoon to beat the crowds and the heat. Entrance is $40,000 IDR ($3 USD) and sarongs are provided.The traditional Kecak & Fire Dance is an awesome experience if you have the time and money; it starts daily at 6 pm and costs an extra 100,000 IDR ($7.50 USD).
- Kelly`s Warung: Offering great view of Bingin Beach right off the balcony and amazing fresh food! The menu consists of smoothies, wraps, salads, and much more.
- Single Fin: A must visit while backpacking Bali because of the atmosphere and amazing view of the beach. You can watch surfers while enjoying the sunset and a great meal. Pizza, burgers, Indonesian food, and drinks are the highlights of the menu.
- Rock Bar: The Rock Bar is somewhat pricey but worth it for the aamazing views and atmosphere. They serve a mix of Mediterranean and International cuisine with a creative drink menu.
- Willy Homestay: 215,000 IDR ($16 USD/night) including A/C and breakfast. We really enjoyed being off the beaten path at this wonderful little homestay. You can rent a moped here for 50,000 IDR ($3.75 USD) per day to go surfing, go to the beaches or go exploring.
Ubud is so rich with culture and there is yoga, organic food and shopping everywhere you go! Plan to stay here for at least a couple days; it is sure to be a highlight while backpacking Bali.
Whether you are hiking up volcanoes, exploring waterfalls, or enjoying the Balinese food; there is no shortage of things to do in Ubud. Some highlights include the Campuhan Ridge Walk, The Tegallalang rice terraces, and Tukad Cepung Waterfall. For more information visit our post The 10 Best Things to Do in Ubud!
- Melting Wok Warung: This place was absolutely delicious! They have a new feature board every day with traditional Balinese food and a great atmosphere.
- Biah Biah Balinese Restaurant: This tapas style restaurant is the best way to try all different types of Indonesian food. Its great for sharing and you cant beat the prices.
- Mama`s Warung: The menu tells you all about Mama and her story. The great food and value for you money make this hidden jem worth trying!
- Soma Restaurant: Delicious oven fired pizza, big salads, wraps, and vegan options. Try the smoothies and deserts!
- Umah Dajane Guesthouse: 215,000 IDR ($16 USD) /night. A beautiful private room and bathroom with a patio that you eat breakfast on in the morning. It`s a 10-15 minute walk to the Main Street but the rooms are beautiful, the breakfast is delicious and the family is amazing! They were so helpful and genuinely caring; we felt like we were staying with family.
Bulan Bali: 187,000 IDR ($14 USD) per night. Another excellent choice for a guesthouse not far from Umah Dajane. We felt completely safe walking around the neighborhood and the rooms are adorable with balconies and breakfast included.
From Ubud, we took off on a 5 day motorcycle trip around the northern half of Bali. Our homestay in Ubud allowed us to store most of our luggage with them so we only had to bring 1 backpack on the motorbike. We drove north to Lovina which takes about 2 hours, but along the road there are many fun places to stop.
Try a Smoothie at The Strawberry Farm
Stop at the Strawberry Farm to stretch your legs and get a delicious strawberry smoothie! There`s a great view and when the farm is open in the summer you can pick your own berries.
Have Some Fun at The Treetop Outdoor Park
The Treetop Outdoor Park allows you to explore multiple circuits with suspended bridges, Spider Nets, Tarzan Jumps, a Flying-Fox, and Flying Swings! It costs 290,000 IDR ($22 USD) if you book ahead of time and you can stay for the entire day or just a few hours.
Explore Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
This gorgeous temple is a must visit destination in Bali. The view of the structure over the water is beautiful and the gardens are very unique. Entrance is only a few dollars and try to go on a clear day for some stunning photos!
Munduk Moding Plantation
This infinity pool is in so many blogs we had to check it out while backpacking Bali! The Munduk Moding Plantation is unreal with private yurts, great views, and if you book in advance you won`t spend a fortune (around $150 USD/night). If you wait too long to book or don’t have the budget to stay; you can stop in for lunch to enjoy the view and some fantastic food.
After stopping into the Munduk Moding Plantation we continued north. The road between here and Lovina is absolutely stunning; so make sure you have a little extra time to enjoy it!
Lovina is a small town on Bali`s northern coast offering a few amazing experiences. The drive over the mountain and into Lovina gives you spectacular views and all the beaches here have dark volcanic sand. I would recommend 1-2 days to explore Lovina.
Wake Up Before The Sun To Go Dolphin Watching
A truly incredible thing to do while backpacking Bali! Numerous hotels and companies in Lovina offer this excursion. You get up around 5:00 am and head down to the water for sunrise. The dolphins will jump, do flips, and play around the boat. You can easily get this tour for $80,000-100,000 IDR ($6-$7.50 USD) per person.
Jump 45 Feet into Aling-Aling Waterfall
From Lovina it`s a 20 minute motorcycle ride to Aling-Aling Waterfall through a few villages and beautiful rice fields. The booth at the top of the road will tell you that if you pay the entrance fee of $25,000 IDR ($1.90 USD) you can view the waterfalls but you must not go in the water. Then they will recommend you pay a much higher price to have guides take you in the water – this is a scam.
Pay the small entrance fee and tell them you will not go in the water. At the falls the local guides will ask for $80,000 IDR ($6 USD) which is about ⅓ of the price at the top. First you go down a ‘waterfall slide’ where the water has smoothed out the rock. Then you can jump from waterfalls 5, 10, and 15 meters high. It`s beautiful and exhilarating and the guides made us feel very comfortable.
- The Secret Garden: An outdoor courtyard serving Italian, Indonesian, Seafood, and vegetarian options. Check this place out for great food and an awesome atmosphere.
- Warung Lina: A hole in the wall local restaurant serving cheap and tasty local food.
- The Hamsa Resort: $400,000 IDR ($29 USD) per night for a private hut with A/C. A great view and awesome pool only 5 minutes up the hill from Lovina. They have a restaurant at the pool area as well as a yoga deck with a view.
From Lovina we drove a few hours east to Amed. The stretch along the northern coastline offers some great views and the road is well maintained.
A small town on the east coast of Bali which is famous for diving and snorkeling. There are many shops and restaurants that back onto the beach along the main road.
Stand in the “Gateway to Heaven” at Pura Lempuyang Temple
The “Gateway to Heaven” is absolutely breathtaking! It was not only my favorite temple while backpacking Bali; but in all of SE Asia. On a clear day you can see Mount Agung in the background and on a cloudy day you seam to be standing right into the clouds.
Entrance to this temple is by donation and the guides will give you a map and tell you a bit about the history. There are 7 temples along a path to the top which includes over 2000 stairs. If you plan to climb them; make sure to go early in the morning so you’re not hiking in the heat. The bottom two temples are the biggest and most impressive; so even if you don’t want to do all the stairs it’s worth a visit!
Tour Tirta Gangga (The Water Garden)
A great place to stop for a few hours while backpacking Bali. Enjoy a water garden with fountains, temples, bridges and beautiful flowers. The price to get in is 30,000 IDR ($2 USD).
Try Scuba Diving
Amed is known for diving with an emphasis on its macro life. Most beaches have dark volcanic sand which gives great contrast to the bright reefs and sea life. There are so many dive and snorkel shops; 1 dive is around 600,000 IDR ($45 USD) and 2 is around 900,000 IDR ($70 USD). It is also a great place to learn how to free dive if that interests you.
- Galanga Restaurant: My favorite restaurant in Amed! You sit in individual huts in a garden with lights strung up all around. They have a lot of options including traditional Indonesian, burgers, wraps and some creative vegan food. The milkshakes and deserts are amazing.
- Amed Harmony Cafe : Really good food at very reasonable prices. Most of the veggies are grown at the cafe and the seafood is local and fresh.
- Amed Harmony Cafe and Bungalows: 267,000 IDR ($20 USD)/night including breakfast. You get your own private yurt with an outdoor shower and A/C. They have a herb and vegetable garden throughout the property, an awesome restaurant and a pool!
From Amed you can take a boat over to the Gili Islands and Lombok. The price is about 250,000 IDR and it takes 1.5-2 hours. We hope you enjoy yourself while backpacking Bali; plan your trip to Gili Trawangan here!