I admit, I'm a living cliche.
I say "It's not you, it's me" when rejecting someone’s romantic advances, wish for world peace, and tell people that my goal in life is "to be happy".
Paris is still one of my top holiday destinations, and I booked a ticket to Bali right after watching 'Eat, Pray Love
Honestly, it was an impulse buy, and with return tickets priced at RM350, who could resist such a steal? The catch was, I was going to go to Bali alone.
Everyone around me was puzzled: "Why would you go there alone?", "What are you going to do all by yourself?", "Isn't it dangerous?", "Aren't you scared?", and the worst one of all -- "That's so sad, going alone."
Today, I’ll attempt to answer all your questions and give you a little glimpse of what Bali has to offer.
Located a mere 2.5 hours away from the +60, it's a surprise that this happened to be my virgin trip. It was definitely long overdue, and I couldn't have picked a more perfect destination to go solo to in terms of entertainment, price, currency exchange rate and the people.
When's the best time to visit Bali?
After religiously doing my research (I don't even bother this much for my academic papers), I concluded that the best time to visit Bali is between May and June
Come June-August, throngs of Aussies will be heading over due to their winter break, and any given period towards the end of the year would be Asia's holiday season and Bali's rainy season. With this knowledge, I booked to go in mid-May.
Is it dangerous?
From my experience, absolutely not.
In Malaysia, I'd feel a little apprehensive walking down small alleys alone, what more in the middle of the night. In Bali, after Ubering home post La-Favela nights, I would have to walk down small, dark alleyways (also known as ‘gangs’) to get to my hostel and I had zero fears doing that.
Whereas, unfortunately, even in broad daylight in Malaysia I'd get harassed by bums catcalling and shouting out "amoi
". On the contrary, in Bali, you’d just hear ‘Ojek
?’ every five metres, which is basically them just asking you if you need a motorcycle rider to take you around.
Where did you stay?
Bali has many different scenic regions to stay at according to what tickles your fancy.
Most tourists would opt to stay at the Kuta/Seminyak/Legian area. Kuta is where’d you want to be if you’re looking for a party experience – the crowd and atmosphere there is more lively, energetic albeit younger. There are endless options for F&B, shops and accommodation so you’ll always be spoilt for choice.
I would consider Seminyak more upscale and posh, and prices there are definitely steeper too. Most of the more premium beach clubs and restaurants like W, Potato Head, Ku De Ta and Mrs Sippy are located in Seminyak.
Legian would be a good mid-point between Kuta and Seminyak. Canggu is a quieter, less developed and hipster area that’s really popular with the surfer and digital nomad community, yet close enough to Seminyak so that you’d be able to find something to do.
Jimbaran, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua are really underrated places to stay at, I managed to visit them during day trips but it does give off a more exclusive and luxurious vibe. These spots are famous for their cliffs, temples, surf breaks, picturesque sunsets and BBQ seafood dinners on the beach.
Ubud sprung to fame following the famous ‘Eat, Pray, Love
’ movie and its known for being Bali’s cultural and spiritual central. Think lush greenery, yoga classes, paddy fields, jungles, cooking classes and spas, and is definitely somewhere you’d want to look at for a very peaceful and wholesome experience.
I stayed in three places throughout the six days that I was in Bali. The first two nights were spent in The Island Hotel
hostel in Legian, a mere 30 second walk from the main street, Jalan Legian, where there are endless sights and sounds to experience.
The third night was spent in my friends' villa in Canggu, named Brawa Groove
, and it’s available on Airbnb here
a night for a whole villa, it’s definitely worth the dough if you split between a group of friends. It had a stunning pool in the middle of the villa and the amenities were top notch. You can't have the whole Bali experience if you don't have a dope swimming pool.
The last two nights I travelled to the centre of Bali, zen central Ubud, and stayed at Puji Bungalow
, where they have the most hospitable staff ever who helped me pass my glasses that I’d left behind to a fellow Malaysian I met while travelling, more on that later.
How much did you spend there?
Being a solo traveller means that unfortunately, you have to bear the costs all by yourself; unless you're able to find people with the same itineraries who want to go along with you, and then you could split the costs evenly from there.
In my case however, the friends I made at the hostel had already visited the locations I wanted to head to. Since I was by myself and I'm not picky about other things like having a private room, eating expensive food and luxuries, I obviously spent much less.
If you're looking for something posher then this budget wouldn't be relevant to you, so do take it with a grain of salt. Here’s a rough idea of how much I would budget:
Upwards of RM150 a night for a private room (The prices differ from location to location, so check it out on Booking.com, Airbnb, Expedia or Agoda)
The Island Hotel, Legian. +/-RM110 for 3 nights (but I forfeited the last night to stay at my friends')
Puji Bungalow, Ubud. +/-RM70 for 2 nights.
Total spent on accomodation: +/- RM180
How did I get around?
I definitely used the most money on transportation. They have this super amazing feature in Bali... Grab Bike!! It's seriously so useful as the roads are small and hard to get around in cars, so bikes are the cheapest and most convenient way to navigate.
I'm not too sure how much I spent in total on Uber/Grab bikes but they were so cheap that I felt bad paying close to nothing, so I tipped them extra as well.
I also chartered a driver for a full day (12 hours) to bring me to all the tourist spots out of town. He stayed with me the whole way, and was helpful in answering my questions about the history of the places.
He helped me take tons of Instagram worthy shots as well. I think I've trained him to be an Instagram husband now!
Do keep in mind that I bore all the costs myself and it's definitely going to be cheaper if you're sharing with a bunch of friends as the MPVs that these drivers use can fit up to 6 people.
In Ubud, I used this app called Go-jek. It's similar to Uber & Grab except that it's Indonesia-based, and you can get them to deliver food and send beauty services to you as well.
I hired a bike rider through Go-Jek and made a deal with him separately to bring me to the tourist spots in Ubud and accompany me throughout. I offered him more than I should have paid if I were to use the app, but I'm also counting in the fact that he was escorting me and explaining things to me the whole way.
Estimated cost on Uber/Grab Bikes in total = RM30
Estimated cost on Uber/Grab Cars = IDR 90,100 (RM50)
Total spent on driver: IDR600,000 (RM160)
Total spent on Go-Jek rider: IDR120,000 (RM40)
Total spent on transportation: RM280
How much did I spend on food?
To be frank, food in Bali isn't as cheap as in Malaysia. In Malaysia, you could get a plate of fried rice for RM6/7 (KL prices). In Bali, it's upwards of 30,000 IDR (RM10), so it's slightly more expensive for sure.
These are warung
prices, so if you're eating at more high-end restaurants I'd say definitely budget more.
Total spent on food, drinks, alcohol and snacks: RM280
Shopping & Miscellaneous
My advice for going to Bali: pack nothing and buy everything there.
Ladies, the clothes there are cheap, stylish, and in this 2018 world, ‘beach Instagram worthy’. There are little shops on every corner selling maxi dresses, rompers, pom-pom shorts, T-shirts, singlets and crochet bikinis. Bargain to your heart’s content!
These are tourist prices and if they have the capability to sell their items to you at a lower price, that means they're still making a reasonable amount of profit. I bought a maxi slit skirt, a really cute halter-neck romper and a couple of items for my parents.
I visited Karsa Spa
when I was in Ubud and paid only 100,000 IDR (RM30) for the flower bath which was to die for. It was a whole new experience as I've never done anything quite like it. Wanted to go for their massage as well but time was of the essence.
For the tourist spots, some of them would require you to pay an entrance fee (which isn't much), usually just a couple of ringgit at most. If you're heading to the Uluwatu Temple
, a must-see is the iconic Kecak dance, which is a traditional dance based off Balinese mythology, and it would cost you IDR100,000. (RM30).
You'll definitely need a local SIM card if you're not on roaming, and I'd say the best telco provider in Indonesia has to be Telkomsel. I got my SIM, some credit and a 4GB data plan at around 200,000 IDR (RM60).
Total spent on shopping and miscellaneous: RM240
Total spent so far: RM980
Places to visit in Bali
#1 Legian, Seminyak and Kuta
They’re located right beside each other and it’s walkable between these three places (if you don’t mind the heat, of course). Kuta is party central, gets super lively and crowded, and maybe a little rowdy.
Seminyak is where the crème de la crème stay, and as we Malaysians would say, super atas
. You can tell from the shops; as most of them are high street, curated boutiques.
Legian, I would say, is a nice blend of the two. Not as densely populated as Kuta, yet not as expensive as Seminyak. If you’re looking for middle ground, Legian’s your best pick.
Everything in Bali looks better. The weather is cooler, the sky is bluer, the shops are prettier. They have a whole bunch of O’Neill, Quiksilver/Roxy and Hurley shops to cater to the wave of surfers (punny, get it?), and they’re all done up beach style with wooden signboards and greenery everywhere.
There are tons and tons of shops that would definitely meet all your needs. If you have the extra cash to splurge, I say go for a massage or a mani/pedi. Where else can you have your nails done for only IDR50,000? That’s less than RM20!
I’ve grown very fond of Canggu, and for good reason too. Being a surfer town, it exudes this relaxing, calming, chill vibe, and is filled with adorable cafes serving up both the best local fare as well as healthy food choices.
Everything’s more quaint over in Canggu.
#3 Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot hosts a series of shrines and temples and is located on top of rock formations. The temple isn’t open to tourists, however you can observe and visit it from the outside.
When you’re there, you’ll probably notice people wearing white traditional Balinese garb. I was told by my driver/tour guide that the white is mainly worn by holy people/ priest/ priestesses. I heard that during high tide, tourists aren’t allowed to cross over to the main temple area.
Fortunately, when we were there, it was low tide and we could cross over no problem! You probably would want to wear slippers and walk barefoot as the water would seep through your covered shoes.
My next stop for the day was the iconic Uluwatu Temple. After seeing so many blog and Pinterest posts, I just HAD to see this place for myself.
Located in the South of Bali, this temple is perched on top of a cliff, which, according to Google, is 70m above sea level! As per custom and with any other Balinese temple, one must rent a sarong and a sash to be tied around your waist at the entrance before entering.
One of the must-dos here at Uluwatu is to watch the Kecak dance. It’s based on Balinese mythology and is performed to the beautiful backdrop of the setting sun. Tickets are priced at 100,000 IDR (RM30).
Make sure to reach early, as the dance starts at 6pm and it’s almost impossible to find a good seat. The view of the sunset from Uluwatu is a sight to behold and something you definitely don’t want to miss.
My friends snickered when I told them I was going to Ubud. “Your 'Eat, Pray, Love' journey, is it?”
True enough, the famous movie was indeed filmed in Ubud, and everything was depicted as so peaceful and serene, I had to go experience it myself too. Besides a swimming pool, you can’t really have the full cultural Bali experience if you don’t step foot in Ubud.
Everything’s just so wholesome and zen there, I went to bed at around 10pm for the two nights I was there because there’s close to zero nightlife. Ubud is a place you’d go to to capture the true essence of Bali and indulge in cultural activities.
If you wanna party it up, Ubud’s not the spot for you.
I had the best spa experience of my life in a beautiful spa resort overlooking paddy fields and lush greenery, dined at quaint Balinese restaurants and warungs, and visited more tourist spots which I will talk about in a bit.
I stayed off the main road of Ubud, Jalan Raya Ubud, and there was just a lot to see throughout that whole stretch of road, the Ubud Art Market being one of the famed tourist spots.
#6 Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Hire a rider or a driver to bring you to the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Along the way you can catch glimpses of the beautiful Balinese architecture that’s everywhere. I met the sweetest group of children in the terraces.
They charge IDR5,000 (RM1) to take a photo at this photo spot, and if you want to support these adorable children do donate a little.
#7 Pura Tirta Empul/Tampaksiring
The Tirta Empul temple is one of the most famous temples in Ubud. It’s also known as the Holy Water Temple and throngs of people flood here to bathe in the mystical holy water.
The temple grounds are huge, encompassing many shrines, gardens, the holy spring and even a little market outside. Again, you would have to rent a sarong and sash outside as it’s customary to do so before entering Balinese temples.
Maybe it’s because I never really get to travel very often in my life, or maybe it’s because I was there alone and had a whole different experience, or maybe it’s just the beauty of Bali, this beautiful island stole my heart right from the start.
Bali, I’ll be back!