My Bali tips are simple, I think? Based on my own experience, I hope they help. My biggest Bali tip is to read, reader and read – there is so much great info online that really helped me out. OK, let’s start with food. Where to begin? First off, I am not a picky eater. The food in Indonesia is OK, by that I mean all the good food is really there for tourists (not traditional Indonesian fare). Nalu bowls are amazing, fresh fruit on the island cannot be beat. The vegan food scene is super tasty. However, authentic Indonesian food isn’t as memorable. It isn’t bad, it just lacks variety. It’s kind of a blend of Chinese, Thai and Indian. Duck is a specialty in Bali, and it’s the only Indonesian word I learned – Bebek. I ate some, it was delicious. Suckling pig is another common dish, it was good too.
Maybe it’s the spices used for most Indonesian dishes – a mix of garlic, red chili peppers, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric and cumin seem to take every dish over. Not bad, I just got tired of it on day three. Andrea (a foodie like me) was over it day one and we ate at this little Italian place several times in our little village in Ubud our first week. It was funny. They also had lots of lizards on the walls, so screaming occurred (Andrea, not me). One of our best meals was at KuDeTa in Seminyak, just a five-minute walk from our villa. It was right on the beach, amazing chill ambiance and the food was more mainstream with a slight Indonesian flare. So yes, one of my first Bali tips is to eat, eat it all!
Have I mentioned the money in Indonesia is CRAZY cool? The denominations are really high, so $100 USD is about $1.5 million rupia. Yes, million! I was finally a millionaire! The only problem was we had all these $2,000 and $3,000 bills that basically were less than a penny and we would give these out as tips and even the kind people of Bali would give us a look like, really? We adjusted and finally got the hang of it, towards the end of our trip. So one of my Bali tips is to study the currency a bit before you go.
Don’t Sweat the small stuff
What kind of vacation would it be without some postcard drama? Andrea and I spent a nice chunk of time writing postcards to all our friends and family back in America, about 15 each. The plan was to mail them on our last day and our driver, confused as to why we wanted to mail anything, agreed to stop by a Post on the way to the airport. Mail just isn’t the same in Bali as it is for us in the good ‘ol USA. They don’t use the mail much. We went by one Post and it was closed, for no reason.
The sign said open, but the door was locked. Driving to another Post. it looked pretty legit. People were going in and out of the building and there was a big red box that read POST. Feeling good, I dropped our postcards in and we were on our way. Needless to say, nobody has gotten one postcard. They may be in the Monkey Forest, who knows. It’s the thought that counts. Hey, if lost postcards are the “worst” thing to happen in my Bali tips – that’s a darn good trip!
Final Thoughts & Tips
Bali has a special energy, no doubt. Sure, part of me wanted to come back feeling completely different – more Zen if you will. To be a new man. What I got was much more. I don’t need to be a new man, I’m happy with who I am and I appreciate my life. What I came home with was incredible memories of a fun vacation, a nice tan, a few new friends and plenty of unique Christmas gifts for friends and family. My photos and little wooden masks hanging in my house remind me of this trip every day.
- Relax – if you’re a planner like me, schedule time to do nothing. Be open – try some healing, visit art galleries, wander around a temple, try new things. Get a (legit) massage (or 2, 3, 4) – they are really inexpensive and usually include acupressure. Try the vegan food – it’s healthy and tastes great. Nalu Bowls are AMAZING – wish I could have for breakfast every single day (basically a smoothie bowl with fresh fruit on top)
- Take good bug repellant – I think this is why we had little issues with mosquitos. Beware of Bali Belly (don’t drink tap water, wash your hands often) but don’t let it hinder you.
- Only take Blue Bird taxis with the words BLUE BIRD written on the car (not just an image of a blue bird – lots of copy cats out there, we got into one and the guy tried to charge us way too much and then wouldn’t let us out – but we hopped out at the next stop light).
- Negotiate while shopping – it’s the culture. Never take the first price, they expect you to go down in price at least 3-4 times (this doesn’t apply in restaurants and Western style shops).
- Use AirBnB for accommodations – get the feeling of really living there. You can spend a day at a luxury hotel (day pass is usually super cheap).
- Flights – Man oh man, fly business or first class if you can swing it – the flight is too long for any human to fly coach. Yes, I’m spoiled, I know. I flew coach there and thought I would lose my mind. I splurged and used all my miles to fly first class home on Cathay Pacific and felt like royalty. If you fly from the US, try to stop in Tokyo – it’s a shorter flight from America and breaks up the flight more evenly
- Respect the culture – do your homework, it is’t too daunting. Be safe – we had no issues with crime (besides the one wayward taxi driver) – its a popular tourist destination so there will be some trying to take advantage. Locals will try to (quite blatantly) sell you pharmaceutical pills like valium and xanax on the busy streets at night – just ignore them Indonesia has a ZERO drug policy (and recently executed some Australians for drug trafficking)
Have you been on a dream trip? Do you have a dream trip planned? Tell us about it!
THE END (for now)…where should I go next?