Bali is not your ordinary destination – it’s more than the beaches, the temples, the food and its people. Bali for me is a living museum! Bali may not have the character similar to UNESCO Cities such as Vigan, Melaka, George Town, Hoi An and Luang Prabang but none the less, Bali has the charm that can entice both the body and soul. And I think this is one of the several reasons why people come to visit Bali.
How to Get to Bali from Manila
Both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly non stop from Manila to Denpasar Airport, Bali.
Suggested Bali Itinerary for First Time Filipino Travelers
I have been to Bali twice and here is my 4D3N suggested Bali itinerary for first time travelers.
Day 1 – Beaches of South Bali
Since Bali’s Denpasar Airport is located in the southern part of the island, it is just but practical to start touring around South Bali first. If you are traveling solo as I always do, you may opt to hire a car or a motorbike to tour around. Southern Bali includes the areas of Denpasar, Jimbaran, Kuta, Legian, Semiyak, Uluwatu, Canggu, Sanur, Tanah Lot and Nusa Dua. However, I have only been to Kuta, Legian, Semiyak, Nusa Dua and Tanah Lot.
Kuta (beach) is Bali’s most touristy beach because it offers the best surfing site in the island. Expect to have lots of people, hotels, restaurants, bars and anything very touristy to extremely touristy in Kuta.
Legian (beach) is located north of Kuta and offers a less touristy environment. Expect prices of goods to be little cheaper than in Kuta.
Semiyak (beach) is located north of Legian and offers more exclusive atmosphere since some of the best hotels and resorts in Bali are in Semiyak area.
Actually, Kuta Beach, Legian Beach and Semiyak Beach are on the same stretch. It’s like in Boracay where we have Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. The main difference is that Kuta, Legian and Semiyak’s beach is far more longer than Boracay. However, Boracay’s sand and water are far more superior.
Day 2 – High End Beaches of South Bali
For a Pinoy traveler like me who lives literary in a paradise blessed with some of the world’s best beaches and coves, Day 1 itinerary might be a little disappointing. I have been to El Nido, Boracay, Cebu, Camiguin and Caramoan and I don’t even consider those places as ‘very beautiful beaches.’ But if you try to compare, it appears that the ones we have in the Philippines are better and more beautiful beaches. However, the beaches of Bali has its character and a charm worthy to be visited.
For Day 2, I explored the more high-end beaches in Bali – Jimbaran, Dreamland and Nusa Dua before I ended the day in Uluwatu Temple.
Jimbaran (beach) is one of the best beaches in Bali that offers some of the island’s most luxurious hotels and resorts. Jimbaran is located few minutes from Denpasar. Most tourists would go here for sunset dinner.
Dreamland is located in Pecatu Tourist Complex. What is unique with Dreamland beach among all other beaches in Bali are the cliffs around the area. Apart from its fine white sand, Dreamland beach is also a famous surfing site.
Nusa Dua is undeniably the best area in Bali for a fine holiday getaway. Nusa Dua has the best sandy beaches in Bali. Nusa Dusa is the center of what fine Bali luxury is.
Uluwatu Temple is Bali’s most must see temple during sunset. The sunset in Uluwatu Temple is one of the best sunsets I have ever seen in my life.
Day 3 – Cultural Town of Ubud
Ubud is the heart of cultural Bali that is away from the noise and craziness of Kuta. Interestingly, Central Ubud can be explored by foot without the need of any map, motorbike or a tour guide. A simple walk along Ubud’s streets would make one appreciate the culture of the locals. However, should one intends to see beyond Central Ubud, renting a car or motorbike helps.
Day 4 – Bali’s Most Famous Temples
No visit to Bali is complete without visiting Ulun Danu Beratan Temple and Tana Lot.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple also known as Bedugul Lake Temple is a Hindu Temple built in Beratan Lake with four mountains serving as its backdrop. In papyrus chronicle of the Mengwi, this temple is referred to as the name of Parhyangan ri pinggiring danu Beratan (sanctum located in lakeside of Beratan Lake ). Ulun is from Hulu word meaning ‘head’ or ‘power’ and in this case, it is intended to Ulun Danu Beratan – the power of Beratan Lake – the Danu Goddess. I visited Ulun Danu Temple early in the morning before tourists would rush-in.
Tanah Lot (literally “land in the sea”) is a large offshore rock where a temple has been built on top of it. Originally built in the 15th century, Tanah Lot remains to be one of the holiest Hindu temples in Bali. The present rock has been restored in 1980 and about 1/3 of the original rock has been replaced with artificial one. There is a cave of ‘holy snakes’ beside it. I visited Tanah Lot in the middle of the day and at this time, the temple complex is full of tourists.
Transportation in Bali
I still believe that the best way to go around Bali is to rent a car or motorbike. Cost of vehicle rental is relatively inexpensive and the road conditions are relatively good. Should one gets lost, the lovely locals will always find their way to extend help.
What to Eat in Bali
If there is one thing unique and must taste in Bali, it must be Babi Guling. To Pinoys, Babi Guling is ‘lechon baboy’ or roasted pig. Pork as a delicacy in Indonesia is rare. Note that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. However, the island of Bali is predominantly Hindu with more than 90% of its population.
Since Bali is a major tourist destination, expect a lot of accommodation that offers great deals all year round. Interestingly, despite the fact that Bali is a touristy island, prices of accommodation and food is relatively cheap. As a matter of fact, rates of hotels in Bali are even cheaper compared to those in Boracay, Cebu or Palawan and yet one gets a better service and facility.
In Kuta Beach, Ibis Bali Kuta offers rooms for as low as 25USD per night. That’s roughly 1,100.00 per room per night. Ibis Bali Kuta is located 10 minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
Another great option in Kuta is Kuta Beach Heritage Hotel. This 5 star hotel is Kuta’s first hotel built in 1930s. Rooms start at 88USD per night or 3,800.00 per night.
In Denpasar City, All Seasons Bali Hotel offers room for as low as 27USD/night which is roughly 1,200.00 per room per night.
In Legian Beach, All Seasons Bali Legian offers rooms for as low as 38USD/night. That’s roughly 1,700.00 per room per night.
In Nusa Dua, Mercure Bali Nusa Dua is a great choice for only 43USD/night. That’s roughly 1,900.00 for a 4 star hotel!
Interestingly, Accor Group of Hotels is having an Accor Destination Campaign in Asia and the Pacific. Hence, the best guaranteed hotel rates can also be availed if one is visiting Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea or even just chilling around Manila. What is amazing with the Accor Destination Campaign is the fact that one gets the best guaranteed room rates through Accor’s online booking system. Accor has designed their online promotions in such a way that the best rates are guaranteed online. Of course, staying in any Accor Hotel – Sofitel, Pullman, Grand Mercure, The Sebel, Novotel, Ibis, Ibis Styles, Ibis Budget or Orbis Hotels will spell the difference between a ‘great vacation’ from a ‘just a vacation!’
How Much It Cost for a 4D3N Bali Trip
Consider this: promo fare from Cebu Pacific costs roughly 6,500.00 for a return ticket; hotel accommodation in Ibis Bali Kuta costs roughly 1,100.00 per room per night booked through Accor Destination Campaign; food costs roughly 200.00 per meal and daily motorbike rental with gasoline costs roughly 500.00 per day. Now, do the Math.
Things to Remember when in Bali
1. Bali is predominantly Hindu hence, expect fine Hindu temples in classical Bali architecture.
2. Despite being predominantly Hindu, Bali has several nude beaches.
3. Be careful when exchanging money with local Foreign Currency Exchange Shops. Count your money 100x slowly and carefully before leaving the counter. I got almost scammed here.
4. Prices of goods (and services) are normally jacked up. Ask for discount 50% of whatever amount they offer. If a shirt costs 10usd, ask it for 5USD or less. They will give it.
5. Avoid illegal drugs. You will surely end in jail
6. Bali is never tiring. Don’t rush the experience.
Map of Bali