If there’s one country that I have yet to fully appreciate, it’s Indonesia.
Prior to joining the Trip of Wonders campaigns by the Ministry of Tourism, I’d only been to Yogyakarta. Thanks to Wonderful Indonesia, I got a chance to see Bandung too, as well as climb the Ijen Crater, swim in the islands of Makkasar, and bask in the beauty of Gili Trawangan.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Bali yet. Yep, I have yet to appreciate this most famous tourist destination, this Island of the Gods. If you’re going there solo — and I will go there soon, too — here are some Bali solo travel tips written by fellow travel blogger Joshua Berida of The Wandering Juan.
Bali is one of the most popular islands in the region (if not the most popular) with plenty to offer different kinds of travelers.
There is a thriving party scene there, mixed with a unique culture and the typical backdrop of pristine beaches and natural wonders. This is indeed the place to go if you’re looking for a little bit of everything in a tropical island.
Bali Solo Travel Tips: Arriving in Denpasar
Ngurah Rai International Airport will likely be your point of entry into Bali, but some travel by sea and land from Central Java to get to this island.
For those who are flying in, you will likely have to take a taxicab to get to your destination. The cost of the cab will depend on how far your destination is. Here are some examples:
- Denpasar city center — approximately IDR 70,000 to 90,000 (~US$5-7)
- Kuta center / Legian — IDR 50,000 (~US$4)
- Seminyak — IDR 60,000 (~US$5)
- Sanur — IDR 95,000 (~US$7)
- Ubud — IDR 195,000 (~US$15)
If your accommodation is far from the airport, it may be more cost-effective for you to book a hotel with free airport transfers. Ask them when booking.
Where to Stay in Bali
Bali is a huge island, but most accommodations are concentrated in certain areas which include Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Ubud, and Sanur. These places have the most variety of accommodations for budget up to luxurious solo travelers.
Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak are probably the most commercialized and developed areas of Bali. There are several good restaurants in Bali that serve all kinds of food, from local fare to fusion dishes, as well as vegan Ubud restaurants to choose from. These areas also have international fast food chains, as well as several bars and clubs to party the night away in.
Prices will vary a lot, from cheap warung style costing around US$2-3 a meal to “fancy” dining that can cost you more than US$10 a meal.
Sanur is more laid back and the ideal place to get away from the crowds in Kuta, Seminyak, and Legian. Ubud, on the other hand, has a more artistic vibe and closer to nature; you can find shops that sell unique souvenirs and artworks here, as well as a number of spas and meditation facilities for the health conscious.
Seminyak’s dorms cost roughly IDR 130,000 a night (~$10), with M Boutique Hostel and Karisa Pods as some places to consider. Ubud, too, has a number of affordable hostels and homestays to spend a night or two in; accommodation costs approximately IDR 100,000 (~$8) on average. Check out what things cost in Ubud.
Things to Do in Bali for Solo Travelers
Bali has plenty in store for those who want to enjoy nature, ride the waves, dive, bum on the beach and get a glimpse of Balinese culture. The island is unique to the rest of the country because it has a large population of Hindus compared to a predominantly Muslim Indonesia. This trait made the tropical paradise cultivate its own history and traditions.
There are a handful of beaches of note just in Jimbaran, Sanur, Kuta, and Seminyak. Other than beach bumming and getting a tan, there are surf shops and spots where you can ride the waves no matter what your skill level is. There are also dive shops around, if you want to get a license or explore the underwater wonders of the region, if you already have one.
Bali has several temples, too, that make it a unique destination in Indonesia. Here are some of the more popular ones to consider visiting:
- Tanah Lot — this temple has been around for decades and is an important part of Balinese mythology. It is one of the seven sea temples along the coast of Bali. You have to pay an IDR 32,500 (~$2) entrance fee.
- Besakih — also known as the “Mother Temple,” it is centuries old and sits 1,000 meters high on the slopes of Mt. Agung. This complex has approximately 86 temples in it, which includes the Pura Penataran, the holiest and biggest of the temples on the island. There is an IDR 20,000 (~$1) fee to enter Besakih. There will be a lot of people pushing for guide services, but it’s not necessary.
- Tirta Empul — a Hindu Balinese water temple, it has its own petirtaan or bathing area. Balinese and visitors alike can bathe in the holy spring as a form of ritual purification. There is an IDR 15,000 (~$1) entrance fee.
- Pura Ulun Danu Bratan — this is an important water temple and is on the shores of Lake Bratan. Locals go there to give their offerings to the river goddess Dewi Danu. There is an IDR 30,000 (~$2) entrance fee.
- Taman Ayun — this literally means “beautiful garden” and is recognized as one of the most attractive temples on the island. The complex is ideal for getting away from the chaos of Kuta and other busy places in Bali. This temple has an IDR 15,000 (~$1) entrance fee.
- Uluwatu Temple — this is believed to be one of the island’s spiritual pillars and is famous for its spectacular location on a steep cliff. This is one of the best places to watch the sunset. There is an IDR 20,000 (~$1) admission fee.
While in Uluwatu Temple, watch the Kecak Dance performed by performers chanting “cak” while moving their hands and arms. It depicts a battle found in the Ramayana wherein Vanara, a monkey-like being, helped Prince Rama fight Ravana, an evil king. You have to pay an additional fee of IDR 70,000 (~$5) to watch the dance on top of the entrance fee.
One of the main attractions in Ubud is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which is a nature reserve and has its own Hindu temple complex. There are several monkeys roaming freely in the sanctuary so be mindful of your things as some climb onto people. There is an IDR 20,000 (~$1) entrance fee for this attraction.
Bali has many other attractions, beaches, temples, galleries, and other things to do that you can’t fit in a short trip. The above-mentioned places are only a few suggestions that you can consider when you visit this beautiful island.
If you have more time, I’d recommend as well to go out of Bali and go to neighboring island Nusa Penida. The beaches are gorgeous and the views to die for! You can rent a motorbike for $6 and go around on your own.
Bali Solo Travel Tips and Considerations
Bali is a huge island with plenty of things to do. One of the biggest problems you’ll encounter as a solo traveler on this island is transportation. There are hardly any public transportation options to move from place to place.
Most budget travelers rent a scooter or motorcycle to travel to the places they want to visit. The daily rate for scooter rental is approximately IDR 50,000 (~$4), excluding gas. Some will charge higher, but the price should be around the mentioned amount.
There are many shops that rent scooters in Kuta and Seminyak, so you won’t have a problem finding one.
For solo travelers who don’t know how to ride a scooter or just too afraid to ride one in another country, you have the option to rent a car with driver for around IDR 400,000 to 600,000 (~$30-45) per day, depending on the itinerary. This is an expensive option, which only makes it a good alternative if you find a group that shares a similar itinerary.
Another option is to rent a motorcycle with driver for approximately IDR 125,000 to 150,000 (~$9-11) per day.
Touts can be really pushy in popular attractions on the island; politely say no and they will stop. It’s safe to walk at night but always be mindful of your belongings. Leave valuables such as passports, ATM and credit cards, and money in a safe place, preferably the locker of your accommodation if they have one or in a safe place in your private room.
Certain areas in Bali are highly touristy. You will find a lot of fellow solo travelers there to share tour costs with. At the same time, it has its quiet and laidback areas, too, if you just want some reflection and relaxation time. No matter what kind of solo traveler you are, you will find what you want in Bali.
Have you been to Indonesia? What other Bali solo travel tips can you add?