You’ve google, ‘First time in Bali?’ or ‘Best things to do in Bali’.

So I’m guessing you’re looking for that tropical island getaway on the cheap? Turquoise waters, amazing scuba diving, cheap drinks, and more adventure sports to chose from than you could dream of.

Bali can be all of this! If you get it right..

The flip side to Bali can be dirty streets, scammers on the sidewalk, spiked drinks, and a nasty little stomach bug called ‘Bali belly’.

What’s that you say? It’s my first time in Bali, how do I get the good side? Please tell me the GOOD SIDE!

Well, keep reading and I’ll share my insights gained from the times this Australian has called Bali his weekend playground.

Keep out of the party zone 

I know it’s so tempting to book a hotel in Kuta or Legian. It’s generally cheaper, its closer to the airport and party scene. 

Trust me, life is so much better a short drive further away. In Ubud, Sanur, Canggu or Jimbaran, you can still squeeze in the tropical island feel, or at least make the most of the peace and quiet away from the hustle.

If that’s what you’re traveling to Bali for.

If not, then disregard everything I’ve just said and make your way swiftly to the Bounty Hotel for endless nights of sweaty singlet and thong-laden, cage-dancing with all the Smirnoff pre-mixed drinks you can handle.

Try find a deal on a villa 

Bali is best enjoyed with your friends. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, I’d advise you look towards one of the Thai islands for that touch of luxury and seclusion. 

Sift through HotelsCombined.com for a great deal, or try your hand with a Groupon deal.

Because of this, pooling your cash and hiring a villa together is a much more luxurious and fun way to relax in Bali. You could even afford your own butler and cooks!

I recommend this accommodation choice every day of the week over a hotel room.

Get out of town 

Bali isn’t just about the beachfront and cheap shops. The island is so much more than that. 

You’ve missed out on so much if you haven’t taken a tour through the rice fields of Ubud, or climbed the dormant volcano Mt Batur for a sunrise ascent.

For the best and cheapest way to get around Bali, don’t miss this post on What You Must Know Before Riding A Scooter In Bali!

Buy all of your questionably cheap underwear here

It may not be legit, but my drawers are packed full of $5 Calvin Klein boylegs. They last just as long. Stock up on these and you’ve nearly paid off your airfare. Nearly..

Never buy a drink from a bar not sealed in a bottle 

Bali has unfortunately earned itself a very bad reputation over the last few years for topping up patrons mixed drinks with chemicals like Methanol. 

Tragically, quite a few tourists have died in recent years from methanol poisoning. 

Always keep your thumb on your bottle top, and never take a drink offered to you.

An exception to this is drinks served at your villa or hotel. These are fine.

Also, the ice in your cocktail could very possibly just be a frozen version of the same water that put you over a toilet for a week with Bali belly. Try and stay away from ice too!

Walk the quiet and secluded alleyways by day 

Mum always said, ‘never walk down a secluded alleyway’. Well, sometimes we shouldn’t listen to mum.

In Bali, I’ve always found this to be the home of the best little back-of-the-house diners serving the really authentic and flavoursome dishes. $3 a meal, can’t go wrong.

First time in Bali? Have 100 massages 

If it’s your first time in Bali, you’ll definitely be astounded at the fact $5-$7 will buy you a very relaxing 1hour massage. They are offered on every street by little Balinese ladies in matching polo shirts

Just try and turn down the ‘happy ending’. They will often offer it to you – man or woman.

Be super careful how you exchange your money

Trust me, on my first time in Bali I thought the same thing, ‘I’ll be fiiiiiine, no one can fool me”.

Well, I was suckered in, and it was only the kind nature of my hotel manager that got my money back.

Street moneychangers will offer you ‘better than possible’ rates. The thing is, if you don’t happen to get scammed by the swift sleight of hand, you’ll make a few dollars. 

They don’t mind. Because too often they are that good that they will take advantage of a slight lack of concentration and BANG, you’ve just walked away with half the money he just counted out for you.

Bali is one of the only places in the world where the street-changers can beat the ATM conversion rates.

So I recommend exchanging your money in Bali.

But just be super careful and always use a teller that is out in the open, not in a laneway.

Get active 

Bali has so much to offer by way of activity

Go snorkelling, diving, learn to surf, jet ski, hike up mountains, or take one of the many new yoga experiences they have to offer.

Bali is a great place for all of this stuff. Don’t go without ticking a few of these off the list.

Stay clean 

If you are caught anywhere near drugs, you could be facing the death penalty. Don’t risk it, stay out of it, and never trust a local who asks about it.

On the lighter side, always keep anti-bacterial lotion handy. The Bali belly bug sits on everything from the water you drink to the cash you handle. 

In Bali, its better to be OCD about this one.

Make your Way to the Rock Bar at Ayana Resort

I know you’ve probably come to Bali because of it’s reputation as a tropical paradise getaway, and a cheap one at that!

But unless you want to pay next to Western prices, you may end up feeling just a little lacking on the paradise side, what with all the hustle and bustle, and stray dogs.

That’s where Ayana comes in.

This place was first a Ritz-Carlton. It is the most expansive hotel complex I think I’ve ever seen, with 2km of luscious driveway before the front door. Then it’s infinity pool after infinity pool , bar after bar, view after view forever until you reach the west-facing cliffs of Balangan.

You may think this is where it stops. But you are sadly mistaken.

Just a short elevator or staircase down will take you to a sprawling bar built into the cliff-face, offering the best views in Asia of the beautiful red sunset.

To sit at a table will cost your group a minimum of USD$50 each in drinks and food, which won’t get you nearly as far as the beach restaurants of Jimbaran.

But is it worth it? Undeniably, YES.

I recommend everyone finished their Bali trip with an afternoon at Rock Bar, even if they can’t afford to stay overnight.

Take a scooter down to the Uluwatu Surfer’s Beach

Do you remember that movie, The Beach, starring Leo Di Caprio?

He ended up finding his way to this secret, secluded community that just surfed, chilled, and existed in South-East Asian paradise on this beach.

Well, that’s the sort of utopia you feel when you make your way down the endless steps to this hidden beach community, which opens up into the most picturesque surfers cove I’ve ever seen.

Don’t miss it!

So that’s my take on making the most of Bali.

Bonus Material: If you’re looking for more and more info before your first trip to Bali, then I suggest also reading similar articles from Styling You, Lonely Planet, and Traveller.com.au

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