Bali is one of Cherry’s all-time favourite destinations. And most of Australia agrees. While Aussies from all walks keep going back for more year after year, it somehow manages to keep reinventing itself. You could say it’s the Madonna of Asia. Just like the Material Girl, Bali loves a good party. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or a special birthday, Bali is the perfect place to party, relax, indulge, or do all three! Cherry also loves the world-class dining, unbeatable shopping, luxurious villas and all of the sporting and adventure activities available for those more active types. And no Bali holiday would be complete without being pampered at some of the most amazing day spas and health retreats in Asia. Bali offers something for everyone, and is great for a family holiday, romantic getaway or a get-together with family and friends.
Best Time To Go
Cherry loves Bali any time between April and early October, when the weather’s dry and glorious – perfect for cocktails on the beach. Tourists from around the world flock here for the idyllic weather, so it gets very busy in August and September. By mid-October, it starts to get cooler and sees the beginning of the wet season. Generally, it only rains once a day and you can get several overcast days in a row. Make the most of the dry weather, as the wet season lasts until March.
Bali is a shopaholic’s dream. You’ll find virtually everything and anything. And best of all, it’s usually at a great price. Seminyak has a wonderful collection of designer stores and unique one-off retailers, while the morning markets in Ubud offer every type of knock-off at cheap prices. Furniture is also bargain in Bali and there are plenty of freight services available to get your booty home. Ubud is great for picking up an original piece of artwork, and local artists are more than happy to paint something especially for you. You’ll also find beautiful homewares in Ubud, and there’s a ceramics outlet in Jimbaran that always has modern, interesting pieces.
You really are spoilt for choice in Bali. From the delicious local delights and rustic seafood on the beach to modern Italian and Spanish tapas, indulging in Bali’s gastronomic pleasures is all part of the fun.
A trip up to the cool mountains of Ubud for a wander through the Monkey Forest will leave you amazed. While they’re extremely cute, the cheeky monkeys will try to steal anything not pinned down, so be alert. Mossie repellent is also a must.
About an hour’s drive from Seminyak, Ubud is a cool mountain retreat full of great restaurants, intriguing art galleries and homeware stores. While some feel it’s lost its charm over the years, Cherry thinks it’s still worth a visit. But pick a day the traffic isn’t too bad as it can be difficult to get around on busy days.
Party, Party, Party
Bali loves to party, particularly around August, when colourful kaftans and sparkly slip-ons are mandatory. There are plenty of pumping bars and clubs to get you in the mood, while visits to Ku De Ta and Potato Head are a must.
Nothing beats coming home massaged and manicured after a trip to Bali. Cheap and good quality, a spa treatment is a daily essential.
The dry season is the best time to surf, which is usually May to September. Best beaches at this time of year are Uluwatu, Impossibles, Padang Padang, Canggu and Kuta Reef. Wet season waves are best at Sanur, Nusa Dua, Serangan, Green Balls and Keramas.
Elephant Safari Park
If you’ve got kids, or are a kid at heart, this Park is a must. This is a very hands-on experience with elephants you can feed, pat, wash or take for a ride. A great day out, located in Taro Park, near Ubud.
Tanah Lot Temple
This Temple is set in a stunning location perched on the edge of the sea. It is located near Canggu and is very touristy, but if you haven’t been to Bali before, it’s a must see.
This beach is famous for its seafood BBQs. Again, touristy and busy, but a bit of fun. Hundreds of candlelit tables make this an unforgettable sight. Head there at sunset.
This is a beautiful white sand beach on the East Coast of Bali. Many of the beaches in the more popular tourist areas aren’t particularly appealing, however this is a lovely area. It is less developed than the main tourist spots, and there is good snorkeling and diving. Depending on the time of year, there have been reports that there can be a bit of rubbish around this beach. A good place for a day trip away from the crowds.
Bali Safari & Marine Park
Another one for the kids with Indonesian animals, water park and theatrical show. Located in Gianyar.
Tips & Tricks
Taxis are as cheap as chips, and most importantly air conditioned, so don’t break a sweat unnecessarily.
Always look for metered taxis. Otherwise you’ll need to negotiate a price, which generally works in the taxi drivers’ favour. Be prepared for a strange phenomenon in Bali, particularly at peak times. Taxi drivers would rather eat dinner or chat to their mates than take you anywhere. They will ask for a ridiculous amount of money, and when you refuse, they walk away. Don’t worry about it though, just move onto the next driver. There are lots of them and one of them will be keen for the fare.
Private drivers are also easily available. They tend to tout themselves outside popular shops and restaurants. Your hotel or villa can also organise one for you. They will cost a little more, but you can negotiate a ½ day or full day fee and it’s quite reasonable.
CHERRY TIP: Give your driver a small float (around AUD$5 equivalent) to slip to parking attendants during the day. And if you’re happy with the service, give them a tip of around $5 as well.
The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah, available in 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 notes. As you can imagine you will be walking around with a thick wad of cash. Have plenty of small notes for taxi drivers and the like.
There are plenty of ATMs and you’ll need cash for the small cafes and shops. Larger retailers will take credit card, but generally charge a 3% fee.
If you’re looking for great surf, head to Kuta and Canggu beaches during the dry season or Sanur and Nusa Dua during the wet season.
If you want a relaxing day on the beach, Jimbaran has plenty of waves, white sand and Indonesian-style beach cafes that serve deliciously grilled fresh seafood. Head there at dusk for a BBQ feast. Nusa Dua has nice sand, calm water and is great for taking the kids.
Most Bali shops now have fixed prices, so there’s not so much negotiating these days. However, if you head to the markets, it’s game on! Start by offering a 1/3 of the asking price and go from there. Generally, you’ll end up paying about 60% of the original asking price. Don’t be afraid to try it in the fixed price shops if you’re buying multiple items. Just ask if they can do a special price given the number of goodies you’re buying.
Unless you’re partial to the local Bintang beer (try it, but it’s not to everyone’s taste), stock up at the duty free store before leaving Australia. Be warned, wine is particularly expensive in Bali and the selection can be a little dubious at times.
How do you have a holiday when the kids are hanging off your leg and demanding attention? Easy, hire a local nanny for the duration of your stay. Most of the nannies are experienced looking after Western children and are very attentive. Use a reputable nanny service and you won’t have any problems. It is extremely inexpensive and allows you to have a break too. Try Bali Krisna Service, which have nannies used to Western children and have first aid certificates. A live-in nanny costs around $60 per day or you can pay by the hour for up to 12 hours a day (around $6 or $7 an hour). You usually have to pay their transport costs, which are minimal, plus a tip at the end of the stay if you are happy with the nanny.
Bali doesn’t have pool fencing laws and every villa you can walk straight into the pool from the living areas and bedrooms. Some villas offer a pool fence at additional charge, but most don’t. Don’t spend your whole holiday worrying about the little one heading for the water, get yourself a temporary pool fence installed. They install before you arrive and take down on the last day of your stay.
Bali is not stroller friendly. If they are small enough pack a sling or baby carrier. If bigger, you’ll be carrying them or making them walk. Don’t lug all you gear over there. Most villas and hotels have highchairs and cots, if not, they are easy to rent. Most baby items can be rented through Bali Baby.
On the Way to Your Villa
A tip for those of you visiting Bali for the first time. When you head to your villa from the airport, a moment of panic goes through your head as you approach your villa. You’re being driven down a dusty, potholed track. There are cows on the side of the road. It looks like you are being taken to a shanty town, not the beautiful villa you saw on the website. Fear not – this is perfectly normal in Bali, and you will end up at that beautiful villa!
If you don’t want a family of ‘Bali Belly’ don’t drink the water under any circumstances. The problem we’ve found is at bath time with the kids. How to stop them taking a slurp? A dummy for the bubs works a treat, or a treat for the older ones will keep them chewing and not drinking.
Pack light as you can buy plenty of clothes in Bali, and the cost of laundry is so cheap, our Cherry team usually get their clothes washed every few days. We wouldn’t give them your best cocktail dress, but your general holiday casual clothes will be well looked after.
Yes, they are a cheap and easy way to get around, but the crazy traffic and crazy drivers can be a little hair-raising. Make sure you have an International Drivers Licence, and that your travel insurance will cover you if you have an accident.