Summer in Indonesia: What to Expect When Visiting Bali for a Vacation
I grew up on the island of Mindoro, and our home is just less than ten minutes away from the beach. Although I have never learned how to swim, I’ve had my fair share of beach visits, especially during the summer. And for some reason, I always find myself in beaches after an international trip even if it's offseason. Last year, I went to Australia during the winter and headed straight to Boracay after for some vitamin sea. But when I went to Bali with my friend this April, it was a little different. It was summer in Indonesia, so the heat was almost unbearable. Visiting Bali for a vacation should top your to-do list in Southeast Asia. But you also have to know what to expect when you’re doing it during the summer.
Transportation in Bali
My friend and I went to Bali for a weeklong vacation. It was a hassle-free trip because we hired a driver to help us get around Bali from the airport to all our other destinations. It was pretty expensive, yes. But we didn’t want to bother ourselves with having to haggle with cab drivers. Uber isn’t exactly legal in Bali, and we both don’t know how to operate a motorcycle, So, hiring a car was a non-negotiable for us.
KKDayPH provides airport transfer for guests and even a private vehicle that you can hire for your Bali adventure. Although hiring a car is economical for those who are coming as a larger group, it’s pretty comfortable for at least two travelers like my friend and me as well. We plotted an itinerary which included places that were pretty far from each other. So, at least, we were able to rest while on the way. Bali heat was very draining. I couldn’t have imagined renting a motorcycle even if I knew how to operate one! We spent 3,350,000 IDR (12,500 PHP) for transportation during our trip from April 8, 2018, until the morning of the 14th. It already included our one-day Nusa Penida tour for two which was easily 1/3 of our transportation expenses, so I guess it's a reasonable price overall.
When you wander in Bali, you'll see a lot of tourists on motorcycles. It's the best way to get around because there are a lot of places like cafes in the middle of rice fields that can't be reached by car. So, it's either you walk or ride a motorcycle. It's also cheap. But for those who can't do that, hiring a cab driver in Bali is easy as well. Just don't forget to haggle because most of them are not fans of taxi meters and would always give tourists a fixed price. But of course, there are still metered taxis that you may be able to hire.
Villas in Bali
Private pools in villas are a thing in Bali maybe because it’s one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world. But even if my friend and I weren’t on a honeymoon, we also experienced our villa nights in Bali. Ubud Heaven Penastanan was an oasis. It’s in a very isolated spot. We even had to be fetched by a golf cart at one point because regular cars can't get in anymore. At night, all we could hear were the birds chirping. We also had to take flashlights with us if we’d leave the villa at night or during the wee hours of the morning. The size of the pool was no joke, too. Compared to other resort villas, the one in Ubud Heaven was bigger. And with the price that we had to pay, I can say that it’s pretty worth it.
My friend was crushing over this elegant villa in Seminyak weeks before our trip, but it was ridiculously expensive especially for two persons alone. Although we initially booked it at more than 8,000 PHP per night before tax, I realized how high our hotel expenses would have been, so I backed out and booked another hotel as a temporary replacement. But my friend, the genius one, suddenly messaged me saying that Maya Sayang Seminyak was on sale in Agoda. We got to book it with more than 50% off only to find out that there had been a glitch in Agoda's system! Instead of paying for more than 20,000 PHP for two nights, we just had to pay about 7,000 PHP.
Before the trip, I also made contact with the team of Maya Sayang for a couple of requests. Since there’s free breakfast that we wouldn’t be able to eat in the morning of our check out on April 14, I requested for our supposed breakfast to be served as dinner instead. Tipid tips, right? But to my surprise, instead of asking our orders from the breakfast menu, they gave us the dinner menu instead. The dinner menu was significantly more expensive than the breakfast set. We even had to order desserts and drinks apart from the complimentary cocktail drink they give to all their guests.
I'm telling you. We tried to compute what we consumed during our stay, and it seemed like we didn't even pay for the villa! It's so worth it, and the crew members were all so lovely! I was thrilled because both Agoda and the property were very professional in handling the issue. We still received the best service from the employees up to the manager who even had dinner with us during the last night. If only all hotels are like Maya Sayang Seminyak, I’d probably go on vacation forever.
Villas in Bali are much more expensive than staying in hotels. But if you've found the right property at the right location, you might want to try staying in one at least for a night or two. It's fun when you can play around and take hundreds of photos by the pool without judging you after all!
Beaches and Clubs in Bali
Staying in Bali isn’t just about going on an Eat, Pray, Love adventure. Of course, you’ll find yourself chilling by the beach as well. It's summer after all! We were able to visit a few beaches in Nusa Penida like the Crystal Bay and Atuh Beach. And I must say that Atuh Beach would have been much more enjoyable if we didn’t have to hike so much! I’m blaming the hike for my knee injury comeback, by the way. But in fairness, it’s worth it. The current of the water may be too much for me to swim. But the white sand, the view and the serenity of the place was incomparable. If only we didn’t have to leave early for our next destination, I would have stayed there all day.
Seminyak beach wasn’t very spectacular for me. But we walked so far already that walking back in the hopes of getting some lunch at Motel Mexicola needed at least one stop for an emergency drink. So instead, we entered the Potato Head Beach Club. We only wanted some drinks to quench our thirst but found ourselves sitting on one of the cabanas and spending the rest of the day at the beach club. Staying in the poolside cabana required us a minimum spend of 500,000 IDR (1,860 PHP) before tax. And it’s just the two of us! So, we had to take around four drinks each aside from snacks the whole day. So much for our last full day in Seminyak!
If you're visiting beaches, chances are you're going to have to rent day beds for at least 40,000 IDR (150 PHP) each. We were able to haggle from 50,000 IDR (190 PHP) to 40,000 IDR (150 PHP) in Atuh Beach, but we never used daybeds after that. It can be pretty expensive. But sometimes, especially when the sun is up, you can't help but rent one for some shade. Both Crystal Bay and Atuh Beach also require payment from tourists and/or parking space, but Seminyak beach was open to the public. It's just a good thing that our Nusa Penida tour from Nusa Lembongan worth 1,000,000 IDR (3,720.00 PHP) for two was already all-inclusive. So, we didn't have to bother paying for anything else during the trip aside from food.
Temples in Bali
There are a lot of temples to visit in Bali. From Ubud to Seminyak, you won’t run out of places to visit. Some temples are also worth the long ride, mind you. For example, is Pura Lempuyang. We had to wake up at 2:30 AM so that we could leave very early in Ubud and catch the sunrise at the temple. Unfortunately, our driver got lost and couldn't get us at the right place in time. But we were still able to catch the pink skies gracing Mt. Agung so beautifully along the way. We were able to reach the Heaven's Gate a little before seven with a few other tourists.
Searching via google tipped me that women, during their period, are not supposed to enter the temples in Bali. But while talking to our driver, I learned that it's the case because women aren't pure during their period. People mourning are also sad and not considered pure, so they shouldn't be entering the temples as well. Most temples in Bali have monkeys and stray dogs so if you're afraid of them; you better do your research. We didn't go straight to the top of Pura Lempuyang because my friend hates monkeys! Also, remember to keep your knees and shoulders covered at all times inside the temples as a sign of respect for their culture. And unless you want to make an unnecessary expense for a sarong, you better plan your outfit accordingly as well.
Selfie Spots in Bali
One of the things that I’ve noticed when I visited Bali is how bright they are for coming up with creative ways to monetize the natural wonders of Indonesia. There’s a ton of Bali swings tourists are dying to visit even if it may or may not be completely safe. But people are doing it for the gram — myself included. There’s also the Handara Gate. It used to be free, but now, people have to pay 30,000 IDR (110 PHP) for the entrance ticket before entering and doing a shoot. It's crazy, but you know to yourself that you would give it a try when you visit this island as well. It's just too pretty to ignore!
Food in Bali
I can’t say that Indonesian food is similar to Filipino food, but we share the same love for rice. I loved Nasi Goreng and Chicken Satay the most so the combo was basically what I ordered almost the whole time I was there. But since we also visited popular restaurants like Cafe Pomegranate and Sari Organik, we also got to try other dishes like pizza and vegetarian dishes. What I like about Bali, though, is that even though Western and other Asian dishes are available nearby, you’re still able to order basic Indonesian food.
People of Bali
The people of Bali are generally happy and accommodating individuals. They are used to tourists roaming everywhere, so it’s not hard to mingle with them. Our driver, Mr. Dewa, and his other drivers who accompanied us weren't mere drivers to us. They also helped out in planning our trip and recommended dishes to try and places to visit.
Just like in the Philippines, you'll also see kids in tourist spots like the Tegallalang Rice Terraces selling postcards and whatnots to travelers. Some of them still get to study, but others can't afford to go to school anymore. You'd be surprised, though, that they know basic English enough to communicate with foreigners even if they don't know how to read or write.
Essentials for Bali
When visiting a tropical country like Indonesia, especially during the summer, it’s a must to take care of your skin. I remember not putting sunblock because the sun was coming down already and we're at the villa anyway (just my excuse though). But I wasn’t even five minutes in the water, and my skin turned angry red already. To cut the story short, I'm publishing this post in July, and my tan from our April Bali trip is still apparent whenever I wear shorts!
Bali, Indonesia is one of the places that I wouldn't mind visiting again. The people are great to be with even as tourists. There are still a lot of spots that we have missed. The overall feel of chilling by the poolside sounds so relaxing to me, too. And I haven't experienced an authentic Balinese massage yet, so there's 90% chance that I will be coming back again. For now, you guys have to watch out for a more detailed guide from our Bali trip in my next post!