Bali is a once-in-a-lifetime journey, however budget-friendly when you get there. JJ Clarke shares his ideas…

I felt a mixture of pleasure and the unknown. This was my first journey to Bali, and the Southeast Asian island would show completely different from any vacation spot I’ve ever visited, from tradition to price.

Listed here are my prime tricks to get probably the most out of your journey.

Getting round

The visitors scenario is an exquisite chaos. Drivers don’t react to signage or crimson lights, however one way or the other, all of it appears to work. Plenty of scooters transfer like a murmuration of birds at intersections - fluidly, unbothered by the helter-skelter scenario.

You’ll quickly get used to the ‘Bali beep’, too.

“In Bali, nobody beeps in anger,” was one thing I heard usually. It’s a brief, sharp sound - the rider lets their finger slip over the button, so a millisecond of a noise is emitted. It means: “I’m arising in your inside”; or: “Be careful, I’m about to overhaul”.

Scooters in Canggu, Bali. Photograph: Agunng Parameswara / Getty

Most hostels and accommodations supply scooters that you could lease - most cost 100,000 Indonesian Rupiah (€5.70) per day. There are various ‘unofficial’ petrol stations the place petrol is doled out in glass bottles; a full bottle will price 20,000 (€1.14). Two bottles will final you two days in discovery mode.

Word that you just want a global driver’s license to drive on the island, and this isn’t non-obligatory. As for taxis, a trip in a automobile is affordable however the again of a scooter is far cheaper. You’ll be able to hail these on the Seize app, or Gojek and Maxim (the latter is the most affordable choice, extensively utilized by the Balinese).

Helmets are obligatory in Bali, even should you mightn’t consider it while you see a household of 5 crammed onto a tiny scooter. Most taxi drivers will supply a helmet (you possibly can simply choose one other driver in the event that they don’t). A phrase of warning: vacationers usually tend to get stopped by police for not sporting helmets than their Balinese counterparts. Even in case you are the slowest and most secure driver on this planet, it pays to play it secure.

 It may be each thrilling and terrifying to take a seat on the again of a scooter in full flight. This begs the query: “Do you maintain on to the motive force, or do you seize the little bar behind your bum?” I held on to the driver’s shoulders for pricey life till halfway via the journey once I felt assured sufficient to carry the bar behind me. 

JJ browsing in Bali

Surf’s up

Quickly after travelling to Bali, I met a buddy and headed straight to Dreamland seaside. Surfboard rental is standardised in Bali, so don’t be suckered by value. It’s sometimes 50,000 Indonesian Rupiah (€2.88 for 2 hours). 

If you’re a newbie like us, Dreamland is a bit sketchy – the waves are huge. The next day we made our strategy to Kuta seaside, which is a seaside break (sand slightly than reef underfoot). The great point about Bali is that you could get classes for subsequent to nothing – for €14, a surf teacher will do a one-on-one lesson with you for 2 hours, supplying you with recommendation on when to paddle, when to decelerate, which strategy to flip and so forth. An necessary word is to search out an teacher with good English. 

If browsing is your factor, Bali Again in Black surf college in Kuta is the place to go (Insta: @balibackinblack, however get your bookings in early as they’re fashionable. Early one morning we took off at 6.30am sharp in a Balinese Jukung (a sort of boat used for ferrying surfers). It dropped us about 200m out to sea off the airport runway with crystalline waves rolling in.

My teacher Wayan Tama had good English and was capable of give glorious suggestions - a really distinctive expertise. Nevertheless, word that this is a reef break – one of many waves rolled me up fairly good and I ended up kicking the serrated corral. The opposite surfers knowledgeable me that my cuts had been often called “Bali Tattoos”. Lime juice and antiseptic had been the treatment. 

For browsing data, checkout This web site provides you complete breakdowns of all Bali’s seashores; from wave dimension to climate situations and even the very best instances to keep away from vacationers. It’s a necessary useful resource for a surfer.

Uluwatu Temple in Bali. Photograph: Andrey Danilovich / Getty

A sundown dance

I’m a little bit of a philistine in relation to cultural appreciation. My desire is to meet folks, concentrate on actions and not over-schedule.

Nevertheless, the Kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple (about an hour south of Denpasar Metropolis) was price it for me. Right here, round 70 dancers reenact the Hindu non secular story of Rama and Sita in a stone amphitheatre on the sting of a huge cliff. The dancers sing ”ke-cak-ke-cak” in numerous tones and harmonise with super impact. The time to see that is at sundown with a mesmeriing backdrop. 

E-book on – the entire expertise will set you again round €11. My two cents? Prebook a precedence ticket because the queueing system leaves quite a bit to be desired. Standing within the stultifying warmth ready for the earlier present’s spectators to clear is avoidable.

Talking of tradition, it will be remiss of me to not point out the Balinese folks – ever well mannered, smiling and chill. Sentences are sometimes punctuated by laughter as if to ask you into their world, the place your hectic European sense of time doesn’t matter. It’s refreshing to go to a spot the place English isn’t a given and the locals usually thought I used to be from Iceland slightly than Eire.

Standard journey locations usually give off a ‘hate the vacationers vibe’, however I didn’t really feel this in Bali.  

What to eat

Delicacies is the place you’ll have plenty of enjoyable in Bali. My suggestion? Nasi goreng.  This can be a delectable hodgepodge of rice, greens and a few meat or prawns. An in depth second is Ayam Betutu - roast duck or rooster in a wealthy spicy sauce.

Then there’s Bali espresso. A warning – that is unfiltered espresso with the bits left in. I didn’t prefer it, so look out for these business barista espresso machines in cafes if you need a ‘fancy’ espresso. 

Rice paddies in Ubud

Yoga and waterfalls in Ubud

The ultimate cease on my tour was the city of Ubud, a picturesque location recognized for its terraced rice patties, yoga and slower tempo. I splashed on my final three nights and went for the most lavish resort room. By this time, I had acclimatised to the low costs and was shocked to see its €28-per-night price ticket. I then re-read the e-mail receipt and realised it was €28 for the three nights. 

All was effectively. Subsequent, I visited the spectacular Tegenungan waterfall, the place you possibly can swim underneath it and seize a drink within the resort beside. 

Ubud is yoga central, and I went for a drop-in class at Intuitive Movement ( The 90-minute class was €8.59 and was in a temple-like constructing with a view of a terraced valley.

Bartering and buying

All supple after the yoga, I headed to the evening market in Ubud the place handmade furnishings and masonry are the specialty. I used to be capable of load up on presents for the household right here,  and I met a woman from Sydney who was filling a container with furnishings and getting it shipped again house.

“I’m saving a bloody fortune,” she enthused. 

A phrase on bartering within the markets: take the worth first supplied and divide it by 4. This isn’t a tough and quick rule, but it surely labored effectively for me. The sellers purchase at price and are joyful to have interaction on this verbal dance. 

The place to remain

Hostels could be hit or miss in Bali, however they’re low-cost (there have been days when the bathe didn’t work, however certain that’s what the ocean is for). 

I used whereas on the bottom in Bali, altering when a hostel wasn’t as much as scratch, and it labored seamlessly. You’ll be able to go direct to the resort/hostel – however the costs are so low that the margin that you’ll save is minimal. If you’re going the hostel route and just like the veneer of consolation, go for a single room; the distinction in value may be €5 for dorm rooms and €10 for a single room per evening.

Indonesia was a Dutch colony up till 1949 however there are only a few remnants of the previous on this regard – or Dutch vacationers for that matter. I met plenty of Russians, Germans and Australians on my travels. 

Doni Home and villas close to Ubud could be discovered on and was sheer bliss. I extremely suggest. It’s constructed right into a tiered valley and your rest room appears to be like out onto a steep ravine lined in forest. The homes are picket – virtually treehouse-like – however have all the fashionable creature comforts of air-con, fridge, TV and Netflix.

Bali climate and finest time to journey

I like scorching locations and the climate was my model, however Bali’s local weather is probably not for everybody. The temperature was over 30 levels day-after-day I used to be there in Might and, with excessive humidity, every day was a sticky one. Might to October is Bali’s dry season and that is the very best time to go to since you miss the monsoons from November to April.

The island is hilly too, so in case you are occupied with aged mother and father visiting, for instance, you would possibly prefer to warn them concerning the taxing warmth. Bali’s dry season lasts from Might to October and is the very best time to benefit from the island’s magnificence.

Uluwatu Temple. Photograph: JJ Clarke

Get there & visas

Earlier than you transit customs, all vacationers staying for up to 30 days in Bali should buy a visa on arrival (VOA), which works out at €28. You pay this as quickly as your ft hit the bottom, even earlier than you get your bag from the carousel. This may be paid by card or in money. You’ll be able to pay for VOA on-line at, however there are plenty of rip-off web sites on the market so I believe it’s higher to not danger it and pay in individual.

My recommendation for flights is to fly as immediately as potential and keep away from the spaghetti-junction-cheap methods of getting there. They might prevent upfront however can price you when it comes to time and vitality within the long-term.

The quickest routes from Eire to Dublin might be through Doha with Qatar Airways. You can even go through London, with a straight shot from there to Bali with Singapore Airways.

Earlier than you go, take a look at for data on transport, accommodations and vacationer points of interest.

If you’re a surfer and wish to get into the weeds about completely different breaks and the place to go, take a look at this text from

Utilizing the web

For web entry, I used Vodafone’s roaming for €5 additional a day for 500MB of information however this obtained dear, and I used to be landed with an enormous invoice once I returned house – as some days, I exceeded my restrict (you employ maps in your telephone for basically every little thing). My buddy was there for six weeks and purchased an e-Sim for €20; this lasted him all the time. He selected Telkomsel with 24GB. 

Staring out the window of the airplane house, I used to be left with a way that there was extra to be performed – two weeks wasn’t sufficient to expertise what this little island has to supply.

Bali’s brilliance requires time. I’ll give it extra when I return subsequent 12 months.

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