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Known as the ‘Land of the Gods’, Bali is undeniably beautiful. For a small tropical island, Bali has an amazing ability to provide something for everyone. Each region is so unique which makes it impossible to describe Bali as one destination. Take the time to visit chilled out Canggu with its beach bars and wholefood cafes. Enjoy shopping in the great selection of boutique shops in stylish Seminyak and dine where the restaurant scene is vibrant and eclectic and there is a contemporary nightlife. Or escape to Sanur, which is considered Bali’s first beach resort area but still retains its Balinese character and old style village ambience. The calmer waters of Sanur offer a lagoon style beach.
Aside from the main attraction of Bali’s beaches, cruise the water to nearby islands or head inland to the fertile grassy plains, terraced rice paddies, striking lakes and vast volcanic mountains. Ubud is a fascinating place to wander around. It’s a town set in spectacular hillside and surrounded by terraced rice paddies, virgin jungles, lush forest and river valleys. Dotted throughout the island are historical, cultural and spiritual monuments with some of the most breath-taking natural scenery. Food is available at every turn to tempt every tastebud, there are a myriad of activities on offer and accommodation to suit any traveller. You will be enthralled with every step.
There is an overwhelming choice of restaurants on all levels, making Bali a real dining destination. Warehouses have been transformed to modern day establishments, local Warungs serve traditional Balinese food and tea houses are great for that in-between. From cheap and cheerful, authentic Indonesian to fine dining and modern fusion, the choices are endless. Culinary diversity is the dish of the day here, so parents needn’t fret about the fussiest of eaters – western favourites are as commonplace as mee goreng.
There are literally thousands of temples across Bali. Small devotional shrines are scattered through rice fields and often in hotel grounds. Some of the larger and more impressive temples, which are well worth visiting include Besakih (the mother temple situated in Eastern Bali), Uluwatu (perched high on a cliff on the southern coastline) and Tanah Lot (the impressive shore temple).
Nothing is better than watching the sun go down with an evening drink in hand. With an array of trendy beach bars in the upmarket Seminyak precinct, KU DE TA, Potato Head Beach Club or Finns Beach Club are great options and the most well-known. Option B is to head to the sand and grab yourself a beanbag at one of the many bars that are part of the evening atmosphere. Feet in the sand, music playing and cold beverage in hand is the best way to finish the day.
What better way to take back memories of Bali, than to learn how to cook some of the exotic dishes that make Bali famous. Many hotels offer a cooking class and there are also a number of respected cooking schools operating regular programmes, teaching a range of Indonesian dishes.
A multitude of activities are on offer involving water. Dive in the warm ocean and see a marine environment quite different to home. Surf the beaches or just paddle in the waves. Enjoy a boat cruise to the islands, and hold on tight on a banana boat ride. Check out the water parks and speed down water slides or just relax in a lazy river and float around. White water rafting is also an option – ride rapids and finish off with a great buffet!
Why Bali? A destination to relax enveloped in warmth, or wander among the myriad of colourful shops & stalls. Enjoy cocktails while watching magnificent sunsets. You’ll leave Bali completely recharged.
Villas in Bali are now a growing trend and ideal option. With private pools and kitchen facilities, standalone villas offer luxury and seclusion. When costs are split between a group, they can work out cheaper than a hotel. Most include fully equipped kitchens and dedicated butler service or personalised concierge services. Some even offer shuttle services or private drivers to take you to a restaurant for dinner, or drop you off at the nearby beach. Villas are furnished with a living area, dining and fantastic open plan environments; not forgetting the outdoor private pool to laze the day away in. Booking your own villa is perfect for that relaxed holiday house atmosphere; great for families and groups of friends travelling together, or to celebrate a special occasion.
Plenty of space, modern conveniences, personalised service and attention to detail are all part and parcel of the private villa experience. Some villa complexes in Bali also have communal facilities in terms of a pool or restaurant onsite or a gym and spa, so it's a little like being in a nice resort but with the privacy of your own villa if you prefer.
Beautiful, first class, stunning, high-end, amazing, breath-taking – just some of the adjectives that come to mind for the number of luxury resorts that are sprinkled around Bali. The beachfront resorts that boast balconies and ocean views to the cliff top properties with infinity edge pools have all been designed to provide the ultimate in luxury. Award-winning spa complexes, attentive yet discreet staff and outstanding restaurants all come together to provide you with an exceptional home away from home. Many resorts in Nusa Dua are within a gated complex, offering 5-star service, ultimate luxury and is considered Bali’s most esteemed resort area. Benoa is still of high status but generally less expensive. The beaches are renowned for calm, clear water, ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
Your luxury accommodation is not often as expensive as you may think either. You’ll be wowed by the design of the hotel, the manicured gardens, the facilities on offer and the atmosphere within the grounds. Deciding on what photos to send to friends that best showcase what you’re experiencing is the hard part!
Bali has a surprising amount of restaurants that will cater for whatever you are needing. You didn’t book a trip to Bali to eat burgers so be sure to try a traditional Warung which is a small family- owned eatery serving traditional Balinese food. Gorge on bowls of Mee Gorings accompanied by a cool drink of choice and you’ve got a delightful and cheap lunch. Sunday Brunches are becoming a common event at some resorts and beach bars. Bookings are essential for a lazy Sunday spent eating good food and being kept hydrated in a relaxed setting.
Warehouses that have been converted to funky restaurants are proving a popular venue for dining as well. Offering individual or shared plates, you’ll definitely want to set aside an evening well in advance for what is likely to be a highlight of your holiday. Dining outdoors is commonplace in an environment where the air is still warm once the sun goes down. Grab a table outdoors when given the chance.
The best part of many of your dining experiences in Bali is the price. Nowhere near what you would be paying in New Zealand!
Bali ticks all the boxes for a perfect holiday for families. Warm weather, sandy beaches, tasty food, great resorts and plenty of exciting activities to keep the kids busy. The tough part can be deciding what to do and where to stay. Family resorts often have pools, slides and kids’ clubs, while villas offer private pools and extra space. Pick locations that are convenient for restaurants, beaches and shopping. Visit a supermarket early on during your stay and stock up on snacks and drinks. If you are in a villa with a private pool, take some pool toys from home, or buy when in Bali.
Bali is not just all resorts and beaches within an hours drive from the airport. There are outer islands that offer quite a different experience. The most well-known are the Gili Islands - 3 small islands (Gili Trawangan, or Gili T for short, Gili Meno and Gili Air) that are located just off the northwest tip of Lombok and accessible by boat or plane. Island hop between the three on public transport, enjoy snorkelling, quiet beaches and no cars!
Nusa Lembongan is closer to the mainland and can be visited as a day trip, but it is best to stay overnight in a traditional Balinese type of building for a different experience in a Lumbung. The unique design of the thatched roofed lumbungs is inspired by a traditional Indonesian rice house. All lumbungs are fitted with ceiling fans, air-conditioning units, en suites and large glass doors which open out onto an intimate verandah perched 2 metres above a relaxing day bed. Absolute beachfront lumbungs enhance the experience, as you look out over the ocean. Glamping is a possibility too! Our favourite is situated 4-5 hours drive from Seminyak in Pejarakan, North Bali, Menjangan Dynasty Resort lies on a white sand peninsula with a safe swimming beach. Snorkelling and diving is easily accessible with the nearby reef or head inland to the surrounding National Park to explore the natural environment. The African-safari inspired tents are crafted with comfort, space and style. Each Beach Camp Tent is air conditioned and has a verandah complete with day bed and sun loungers.
Swimming a few laps around the pool or a morning walk along the beach is enough for some, but there are definitely other ways to get the blood flowing while on holiday. A cycling tour is a great way to get rural and learn a bit about Bali as well. With much of the tour downhill, it’s not strenuous at all and your guide will explain many things along the way. For a cooler activity, white water rafting will tick the box. The action starts when you launch into the river, navigating through 33 rapids set on a backdrop of wild unspoiled rainforest. Professionally trained guides pilot safety-equipped Avon rafts through the best river runs. Surfboards are readily available for hire along many of the beaches and there are surf schools if you are wanting to learn. Head to Ubud and wander through Rice Paddies, with a number of steps on the terraced hills, pause to look around when you need a rest.
There are buggy tours, land cruising adventures and cooking classes to keep you busy too. And when you need some down time, yoga is offer at numerous places and of course there are multiple spa salons in every direction offering cheap massages, rejuvenating reflexology treatments and nail treatments.
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Flights to Bali from NZ generally take around 9 hours from Auckland. Add another few hours if travelling from other parts of NZ…. New Zealand is about 5 hours ahead of Bali.
Once you’ve arrived in Bali, we recommend having an organised transfer waiting for you when you clear customs. Who wants to start their holiday bartering for taxi rides when you’ve spent 9 plus hours on a plane and not sure if you are getting a good deal! At least with a transfer prearranged, your name will be on a board and you will be taken directly to your hotel. Beating the feet for a short walk is a good way to get your bearings, and gives you the opportunity to see what is around you. Don’t exert too much energy in the heat, if venturing further afield, just get your resort to call a taxi for you (they will have a reputable company they use). If hailing a taxi in the street, check that it is metered. Blue Bird is a good company to use. If your holiday entails more than days at the beach and you want to explore more, consider hiring a driver. It starts from as little as $60 per day and is a smart idea. You get driven from door-to-door and can sit back and absorb all the highlights. Your driver will take you to sites you might not have found yourself. You’ll get insider’s knowledge from a genuine local, including your driver’s personal thoughts on just about everything. Roads can be busy depending on what time of day you are travelling and don’t be alarmed by cars, scooters, livestock and people all sharing the road.
Don’t leave home without your sunscreen! You’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors and a happy traveller is one that isn’t bright red! Insect repellent should also be packed as well as a the few essentials to help you feel better should you get ill. Pain killers come in handy if you have a headache, (just remember to keep hydrated so as not to bring on a dehydration headache yourself!) and even some Imodium, plasters, throat lozenges and antiseptic cream are easier to access from your suitcase than a pharmacy. Don’t forget you power adapter & your chargers either!
Leave your expensive jewellery at home and bring enough cash to see you through the first few days. There are numerous ATM’s in the main beach areas so accessing money is not a problem. Tell your bank you’re travelling to Bali too, so they will be aware transactions will be made in Bali during the dates you are away and won’t cancel any transactions for fear of your card being used by someone else! Light clothing is best, moisture-wicker clothing is handy!
Bali is a fairly relaxed place and many locals are used to the number of tourists that visit annually. Remember that bartering is mostly only accepted at markets and street stalls and won’t be well received in malls or boutiques. Tipping is not essential but welcomed. Dress appropriately for your surroundings, and avoid showing too much skin if not poolside. If visiting a place of worship or a temple, you will need to be well covered. Many temples open for tourists do provide clothing to be worn before you enter the temple surrounds, and shoes may also need to be removed at some places.
Bali changes its clothes after sunset and offers many different experiences. With the sun going down relatively early, you’ve still got plenty of time to enjoy many of the happy hours that bars and restaurants offer. But do enjoy the sunset as well! The beach bars are a great place to watch the sun hit the ocean and disappear for another day, all the while resting on a beanbag with your feet in the sand. For something a bit more upmarket, beach clubs have trendy mood lighting to match the fancy cocktails and a perhaps even a DJ and dance floor. With many great restaurants in Bali, reservations will be required. You can make reservations before you arrive in Bali too, which for some places might be worth doing. Some shops will stay open til sunset, but many spa places are open until late so you can even have a quick treatment after dinner! Not all streets have streetlights, so be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Current time in Bali
New Zealand is 5 hours ahead of Bali
Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Current is 240V, 50 Hz. Plug is round, type C.
English, Bahasa Indonesian and Balinese
Bank notes start at 2000 and go up to 100,000.
No visa required for NZ passport holders.
Emirates and Air New Zealand fly direct from Auckland to Denpasar in approx. 9 hours and 30 minutes.
The optimum time to go is April to October. Temperatures average 30 degrees+ and there’s less humidity.
Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Virgin Australia
Are you planning your next trip to Bali? Want to learn more about this destination? Or looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday? Here is where you can find our featured articles on Bali.
This is just a taste of the information and advice we have available through our House of Travel consultants.
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