The Bali Guide – Where to Stay, Things to Do, Cost of Living, Nightlife, Food, Cafes, Tips & What to Know
BALI TRAVEL GUIDE
Welcome to the Bali travel Guide!
So I’ve been in Bali for a while now…. And, if you were to ask me,“So Riley, what’s good with Bali?" (my friends are asking me this already) ... What are the vibes? Cheap as Chiang Mai? Where’s the best area to stay? Coffeeshop scene? I answer all in this post!
First half of the Bali Guide 2018 video:
What to Know
First of all some general info about Bali, what is Bali?
It’s an island part the country of Indonesia, but it kind of has it’s own history and culture because its a majority Hindu population, compared the the rest of Indonesia which is mostly Muslim.
The native language of Indonesia is Bahasa, and they even have their own Balinese dialect, but Everyone speaks English. Even more so than Thailand I’d say. It’s very universal - i haven’t interacted with anyone who hasn’t spoken English.
That being said - Bali is FAMOUS for it’s tourism. It’s one of the most visited islands in the world, and was named “Island of the Year by TripAdvisor last year”.
It brings over 4 million tourists a year, most being from Australia, because it’s so close to Australia - that’s why I call it “The Hawaii of Australia”…
… everyone in the States goes to Hawaii for their 2-week vaycay, and many Aussies to the same to Bali…
.. For size comparison, it’s about 3x the size of Maui and about half the size of the Big Island.
And like Hawaii, obviously most people are concentrated in the beach areas, but it also has inland life as well – so like any place, Bali is what you make it – there are more touristy areas, and less touristy areas - it’s what you make it.
2 of the most popular digital nomad areas are Canggu, which is on the beach, and Ubud which is about an hour to 1.5 hours inland depending on traffic. Which isn’t that far. And you can even drive to the north coast from Canggu in only 2-3 hours, so you can definitely do day trips anywhere around the island. On Motorbike, or Van.
I stayed in Changgu, so for this video it’ll be mainly focusing on Canggu and Ubud for 2 days. And also some general about what to expect in the MAIN Bali areas of Seminyak Beach and Kuta Beach – the main tourist areas, which are great.
So! When you first get into Bali Airport:
You will be greeted by tons of taxi drivers. As always, First get your SIM card. And get money - at the ATM or exchange.
Many villas, hotels, resorts will pick you up at the airport (usually for fair a fee). Or just take one of the taxis. Use Grab, Uber, or GoJek to compare fares to your place and use that to get a fair price.
*ProTip - the guys who brought my bags to the van were asking for a tip - as I didn’t know the bill value right away, they each insisted on 100k ($7) so thats what they got - each of the three guys lol. Tip them $1 which is 20k, each. That’s a good tip for 5 mins of work.
BTW GoJek is the biggest app in Indonesia - you may wanna download it before coming - it’s like the Indonesian Uber, UberEats, and more in one app. Order taxis, motorbike taxis, food, groceries, and even massage, yes massage.
Getting around in Bali - most go by motorbike. Or you can hail taxis or motorbike taxis from GoJek because they’re local cabs. Uber and Grab are frowned upon because they’re not local.
Which Area to Stay?
Okay so first of all - which area to stay?
Here’s the breakdown of the main areas of Bali.
We have Canggu, Seminyak Beach, Kuta Beach – in order of addending touristy-ness. What’s the difference and what’s the best?
In a nutshell, Canggu is the more quiet, chilled hip area. Seminyak is in the middle, still very hip with cool beach clubs – and Kuta is closer to ‘Cabo’ area - or the heart of tourist area, including the strip with the main biggest nightclub SkyGarden, which i’ll get into later.
All 3 are good options, depending what you’re looking for. And it’s only 45-mins to an hour depending on traffic from the heart of Kuta up to Canggu.
Now in Canggu area there are TONS of villa options, as all over Bali.
And of course there’s a wide range of price options for entire villa homes villa homes -
If you look on Airbnb, [Airbnb Screenshare] tons of entire homes for $100 a night … all the way up to huge epic Villa Mansions for $300, $400, $500, $600 a night… But if you get a 4 bedroom huge crib and split that 4 ways, or even 8 ways, boom thats $50 a person or $100 a night a couple.
Or for a monthly thing, i know some ecommerce guys did this - if you wanna get a huge crib for a month with 4 guys, you can pay $400each or $1600 month total for an average villa
– or if ur all crushing it, throw down $1000 each and rent a huge dope ass mansion for $4000 a month in Canggu. That’s Canggu livin for ya!
The first villa we stayed at was Tamantis Villas - cool cuz it’s an open air setup which I kinda like – there’s not one main building – Main Kitchen and Living Room area area Open air – with the
This was kind of an open style, with a pool in the middle with 3 bedrooms surrounding, and big open air kitchen living room, huge TV, and even a pool table. This is for $350 a night. – 3 bedrooms 4 beds, up to 6 people so divide that by 6 people for $60/night or 4 ppl for like $90 a night.
Comes with full staff always available etc. They’ll cook breakfast for you, actually any meal if you let them know – even order food for you - anything. Super helpful. The rooms were super nice, even with outdoor bathroom and shower which was cool. Oh and only 2 mins walk from the beach. Good location kind of halfway from Canggu to Seminyak.
Basically, this was the first place we stayed in Bali, and it was amazing! I recommend it
Another villa we stayed at in Canggu was PaddyView villa - this was $250 a night – about 15 mins in from the beach and Dojo coworking space. Big kitchen living room where you can hookup youtube, pool, 2 bedrooms 3 beds upstairs, plus auxiliary room by the pool where I literally jumped FROM my bed into the pool each morning – which is something you can’t say every day! 😜 And of course, an amazing 360 view of the greenest rice paddies you have seen! Amazingly quiet area - was peaceful to spend silent day aka Balinese New Year there.
So the next day we got a Surf lesson in Kuta beach, which is one of the most popular things to do. We went to MySurf school and got a 2 hour lesson from Jacky. We all got up and it was great. He helped us out there in the water, gives you that extra push and everything. Plus you can chill there afterwards for drinks as it’s also a bar.
After your surf lesson if you are feeling some crazy night life – SkyGarden is the super club. Like multiple clubs stacked on top of each other, 4 Floors, 8 DJ’s – open late. You can even go before 9pm theres an all you can eat and drink buffet - but get there before 7 or the lines for the unlimited drinks are 30 mins.
Ok the next day we checked into Dasa Villa, which is at the heart of Seminyak area – on a side street right next to the W Hotel so you know its a great location. At 4 bedrooms and pool, huge kitchen living room and huge TV, it was $270 a night.
Includes free breakfast each day - and staff of 1 there from 7-5pm. Super clean place, Best part being the location though - close to the cool beach clubs and all the happenings of Seminyak. Tons of nice restaurants of course.
Later that day we checked our Dojo Coworking space, the main one in the area.
GYMS IN CANGGU
- Body Factory
- New April 2019. Nicest gym. Premium equipment, outdoor CrossFit-like area too with 2 boxing bags, push sled, tire slams. PLUS: Pool, sauna, ice bath, cafe!
- Crossfit Wanderlust
- Biggest one I've seen ever
- Crossfit S20
- Crossfit Wanderlust
- Nirvana Strength
- Gymnastics, strength & flexibility classes
- Bali MMA
- Muaythai & BJJ classes, it's next to Wanderlust
- Canggu Nest
- Cross Training / HIIT Classes, new boutique gym, nice equipment, 2 kick bags, barbells, couple boxing classes a week, open gym hours
- Cheap, local, but mostly expats, smaller, free weights & machines, 1 punching bag, no powerlifting
- Canggu Studio
- Muay Thai, Boxing, Pilates, Yoga classes
Must eat Food in Canggu
Indonesian Food / Warungs
- Warung Varuna
- Give Cafe Warung
- Cabe Cabean (Seminyak)
- Warung Heboh
- Warung Jawa Banyuwangi Echo
Wifi & Working in Cafes in Canggu:
In general, all WiFi speeds are good! Double-digit download AND upload is not uncommon! So don't worry about it.
- Canggu is a GREAT cafe work scene. More of an Organic Cafe scene rather than a 'coffee shop' scene
- Many air-conditioned cafes to work at – tons of digital nomads can be seen working in cafes daily
- Pretty much EVERY place serves healthy food, fresh green juice & coffee.
- It's a great place to get coffee, eat lunch if you want, and work for a few hours.
My Cafe work routine: I typically order coffee first, sip til I get hungry, then order food. On average I'm work at a cafe in the day for 3-4 hrs sessions, then hit the gym.
Best Cafes / Restaurants in Canggu:
This goes without saying with cafes in Bali, pretty much ALL of these places have great food menus – so I'll just mention things I've had that are super special. Salads bowls on salads bowls.
Pretty much EVERY place serves fresh green juice & coffee.
Air Conditioned Cafes:
- Alter Ego
- My #1 fav air conditioned cafe! It's the largest one.
- The best fresh coffee, best meaty breakie (tied w/ Vida), and some of the best salad bowls.
- Give Cafe
- The best Indonesian food! Also a western healthy menu. (*only 1 outlet plug).
Batu Bolong Beach (Old Man's)
- Organic Cafe
- medium size
- Machinery Cafe
- medium size
- large size, fire pulled pork eggs benny
- Amo Spa Cafe
- large space, fire roast pumpkin salad, but wifi was spotty, let me know if they've fixed it
- #2 fav, pretty big, salad bowls
- Peloton Supershop
- 40/10mbps, big, ridiculous salad bowls
- Medium space, veggie bowl is
- Le Petit Gourmet
- Big space, the make your own salad bowl is fire
- Hungry Bird
- Medium space, good coffee, food pretty basic.
- Medium space. Some of the best salads bowls! You can choose 3 salads in a bowl
- Gowes Coffee
- Small & cozy.
- Japanese spot. Crazy menu.
- Starbucks Canggu
- Large space upstairs! Wifi fast at 20/20.
Open-air / non-airconditioned Cafes in Canggu:
There are sooo many:) .. these are some I've been to.
Berawa Beach (Finns)
- Best roast chicken dish ever - with pumpkin puree. And everything else fire.
- District Canggu
- The Greenhouse
- Spicy Chicken Nourish Bowl 🔥(one of best salad bowls), the pizzas are fire, and everything else.
- Cinta Cafe
- Milk & Madu
- The Savage Kitchen
- MILU by Nook 🔥
- One of the best vibes. One of the best Ribeyes, great roast chicken, curries, whole fish, gnocchi.
Batu Bolong Beach (Old Man's)
- ZIN Cafe (formerly Coffee & Coconuts)
- Super cool big space, 2 floors, fancy menu.
- Cafe Vida
- "Best Restaurant I've Ever Been To" to quote Danny. The best Big Breakfast (bacon eggs, avo, veggies, banana toast, *get extra halloumi), one of the best salad bowls ever: The Vida Healthy Bowl. And the most insane health drink menu in the world.
- Crate Cafe
- Must hit very poppin spot for brunch/lunch, crazy french toast, fire halloumi chicken salad bowl, and breakfast burrito.
- Oka's Bakery
- Best Green & Red Curries, best phad thai, chicken sate w/ peanut sauce over french fries omggg.
- Deus Ex Machina
- Great food
- The barber shop there called Dorseys is good. 250k ($17) for a fresh fade.
- Metta Cafe
Echo Beach (La Brisa)
- Green Spot
- Fire salad bowls, and they have hookah.
- At 59
- Fire dragonfruit/banana/mango smoothie
- Padi Padi
- Basic food spot.
- Born Bright
- Great roast chicken.
- Worked here several times. Usually quiet, on a quiet street, great green paddy views, good food & fresh coffee.
- Starbucks Tanah Lot
- Smaller, but often empty.
Any other favs? Comment below?
Street Food in Canggu
- Grilled Sate - at the intersection next to Deus
- There are several noodle soup carts around but honestly I haven't tried yet!
Best Luxury 5-Star Resort Experience:
- Hanging Gardens of Bali - starting at $600 a night - 5 Star
The Coworking Space: Hubud
- 30hr/mo for $60
- 100hr/mo for $195/mo
- $275 for Unlimited
- Community based - tons of events - just as much about networking and social life, as it is about productivity
The Gym: Titi Batu Club
Bali General Tips
- Rainy season & Low Season
- Busy Season
Things to do
- Bali has it all
- scuba diving, horseback riding, cooking classes, waterfall jungle treks, ATV riding, dirt biking, Bungee Jump, Coffee tasting, city tours, food tours’ etc.
- Surf lessons
- Gili Islands
- mushroom shakes beach party
- Nusa Penida - closest Bali auxiliary island
- trekking and crazy views for pics at Kelingking Beach
- Drive to Sanur beach for ferry - on Google Maps
- go early
- Balinese New Year
- Was the week of March 16th 2018
Cost of Living
Overall, I wouldn't want to live in Canggu for less than $2,000 a month, because I like to eat all the bomb western food and experience the nightlife. For the past few months I've been spending around $2,500-$3,000. You can see my daily life on Instagram. Below is a ballpark estimate of what I spend.
$900/mo: Food, coffee & drink: $30 a day (2 western 1 local)
- Western Food 2 meals a day w/ coffee or smoothie or green juice : $7-10 x 2 = $20
- 1 Local meal per day: $3
- 1 Coffee: $3
- / $26, rounded up to $30 per day.
$75/mo: Motorbike + 2 fills
$600/mo: Avg Rent: Solid room in good location Canggu
$120/mo: Coworking space part-time 100hr membership.
at Dojo and/or Tropical Nomads. You can do 50hrs each, which is what I’ll do next month.
- Example: 4 hrs a day 5 days a week for a month.
- or $80 for 50 hrs
- or $50 for 25 hrs
$400: A healthy Nightlife (1-2 nights a week)
- at popular bars & clubs, a beer is 50k, cocktail 100k, Like at La Favela, Mexicola, La Brisa, The Lawn, places like this. 5-10 drinks can be $30-$70. Let’s just say in the middle, you spend $50 for a night out. You do this 2 nights a week for $100 a week.
$120/mo: Crossfit unlimited, or $17 for a drop-in
- Bali MMA unlimited: $240, or $125 for a 10 pack or $18 for a drop-in
- Cheaper option: Victory Gym, $2/day or ~$30/mo.
/ ~ $2300 so far
$200: Random & regular life stuff: touristy stuff, shopping, taxis, laundry, massages, desserts, snacks, toiletries,
/ $2500 Average Monthly Living
+/- $500 or so based on your room, gym, coworking, nightlife, if you
You don't need to do anything beforehand to go to Bali, other than show a return ticket. If you don't have one, you can check out onward.flights. For most countries, its free 30 days on arrival.
IF you want to stay for 31 to 60 days, go to the Visa On Arrival counter in the airport BEFORE entering immigration. At the VOA counter, you simply pay 500k IDR ($35) for the actual visa sticker.
They take any currency equivalent in cash, and give you rupiah change - but there is an ATM behind it if you need (but I recommend bringing cash in case the ATM doesn't work for you -- it didn't for me once -- and make sure you set your travel notice on your credit/debit cards).
THEN, once inside the country, you can extend that visa sticker to 60 days total by paying a VISA Extension Agent.
1) Drop off your passport and pay at the Visa Extension Agent office in Canggu (or nearest one to you - just search Gmap). I recommend doing to the Visa Extension Agent within 14 days of arrival, so there is plenty of time. I used this place, and they charge about 1M IDR ($70) for 7-day service.
2) A week or so later they will text you via WhatsApp that you can go to the Denpasar Immigration Office for fingerprint & photos. You have to do this. It's about 45-mins from Canggu. Text them back which day you will go - and you will meet a rep from the agency there.
*Tip: Ask them to take your queue number in the morning, then text you when you should arrive, based on the size & speed of the queue. It can range from a 1-5 hr wait depending on the season, day, and if there's a holiday coming up or something. It's hit or miss.
If you have a 1+hr wait, there's a coffee shop by 3-min walk called Kopi Made, and there's a good Warung (Indonesian food) within 15 mins called Kedaton - I even vlogged it.
3) A week or so later, the agency will text you to pick up your passport at their office. Done!
After 60 days, you must fly to another country and come back if you wish to extend. A popular quick/cheap way is to fly to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur for a short trip/layover - even fly back the same day.
That's the current situation! As of early 2019. Pls, update us in the comments if things change.