The Ultimate Guide to Bali for First-Time Visitors

The Ultimate Guide to Bali for First-Time Visitors
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Bali is a popular island destination located in Indonesia, known for its beautiful beaches, rich culture, and warm hospitality. Bali offers a unique experience to travelers with its blend of traditional and modern features. It is a perfect destination for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion.

This guide is essential for first-time visitors to Bali because it covers all the essential information needed to plan a successful trip. It provides a comprehensive overview of Bali, including visa requirements, best time to visit, transportation options, accommodation choices, top attractions, food and drink, shopping, and practical tips for traveling in Bali. This guide will help first-time visitors make the most of their trip to Bali and create unforgettable memories.

Before You Go

Swing in the jungle
Photo by Artem Beliaikin / Unsplash

A. Visa Requirements

Overview of visa types and eligibility criteria

Bali requires most visitors to have a visa for entry. There are different types of visas, including tourist visas, business visas, and social visas. The eligibility criteria and duration of stay vary depending on the type of visa.

Visa-on-arrival and visa-free entry for certain countries

Visitors from select countries can get a visa-free entry or a visa-on-arrival at Bali's airport. The visa-free entry allows for a maximum stay of 30 days, while the visa-on-arrival can be extended for an additional 30 days.

Steps for obtaining a visa for Bali, including required documents and fees

Visitors can obtain a visa for Bali by applying at an Indonesian embassy or consulate or on arrival at the airport. Required documents include a passport valid for at least six months, return flight tickets, and proof of accommodation. Fees vary depending on the type of visa.

Online application process for e-visas and pre-approved visas

Travelers can also apply for e-visas and pre-approved visas online before arriving in Bali. E-visas allow for a stay of up to 60 days and require an online application and fee payment. Pre-approved visas are obtained through a visa agent and require a sponsor in Bali.

Tips for avoiding visa scams and ensuring a hassle-free arrival in Bali

To avoid visa scams, travelers should obtain their visas from reputable sources and ensure they have the necessary documentation before departing. Visitors should also be aware of immigration scams and avoid paying bribes to officials. It's essential to have all documents and fees prepared in advance to ensure a smooth arrival in Bali.

B. Vaccinations and Health Considerations

Recommended vaccinations for traveling to Bali, including hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and tetanus:

It is recommended that visitors to Bali receive vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and tetanus. Additional vaccinations, such as for rabies and Japanese encephalitis, may be recommended for certain travelers depending on their itinerary and activities.

Information on malaria and dengue fever and how to prevent them

Bali is a low-risk area for malaria, but travelers should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and minimize the risk of dengue fever. Precautions include wearing long-sleeved clothing and using insect repellent.

Tips for staying healthy and safe in Bali, such as drinking bottled water and avoiding street food

Travelers should take precautions to avoid getting sick in Bali, such as drinking bottled water, avoiding ice in drinks, and eating at reputable restaurants. Street food should be avoided, and fruits and vegetables should be washed with bottled water before eating.

List of hospitals and medical facilities in Bali for emergency situations

In the event of a medical emergency, visitors can seek treatment at one of Bali's hospitals or clinics. It's important to ensure that medical facilities have adequate equipment and trained staff, and visitors should consider obtaining travel health insurance in case of unexpected medical costs.

Travel insurance considerations for Bali

Travelers to Bali should consider obtaining travel health insurance to cover unexpected medical costs, such as emergency hospitalization or medical evacuation. Travel insurance can also provide coverage for trip cancellations or interruptions, lost or stolen luggage, and other travel-related issues.

C. Best Time to Visit Bali

Overview of Bali's climate and weather patterns throughout the year

Bali has a tropical climate with two main seasons: dry season (April to October) and wet season (November to March). The dry season is characterized by sunny days and lower humidity, while the wet season brings rainfall and higher humidity.

High and low seasons in Bali and their impact on prices and crowds

The high season in Bali is from July to August and during the Christmas and New Year holidays, while the low season is from January to March and November to mid-December. Prices for accommodation, transportation, and activities are generally higher during the high season, and crowds can be significant.

Ideal months for surfing, diving, and other outdoor activities

Bali is known for its world-class surfing and diving. The best time for surfing is from May to September, while the best time for diving is from April to November. Other outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling, are best enjoyed during the dry season.

Major festivals and events in Bali and their dates

Bali is known for its vibrant culture and numerous festivals and events throughout the year. Major festivals include the Nyepi Day (Day of Silence), Galungan and Kuningan festivals, and the Bali Arts Festival. Dates for these events vary from year to year.

Tips for planning a trip during peak season and avoiding the crowds

To avoid the crowds during peak season, visitors can consider traveling during the shoulder season, which is typically from April to June and September to October. Alternatively, visitors can plan their itinerary to avoid popular tourist attractions during peak hours and consider visiting less crowded areas of Bali. It's important to book accommodation and activities well in advance to ensure availability during peak season.

D. Packing Tips and Essentials

Checklist of essential items to pack for a trip to Bali, such as sunscreen, insect repellent, and comfortable clothing

Essential items to pack for a trip to Bali include sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable clothing suitable for the warm weather, and appropriate footwear for activities such as hiking or water sports. Other items to consider include a hat, sunglasses, a reusable water bottle, and a waterproof bag.

Suggestions for appropriate clothing for different activities and locations in Bali

For beach activities, visitors should pack swimsuits, cover-ups, and flip-flops. For visiting temples and other religious sites, clothing that covers the shoulders and knees is recommended. Light, breathable clothing is suitable for most activities in Bali.

Information on electrical outlets and voltage in Bali

Bali uses a Type C electrical outlet with a voltage of 230V. Visitors from countries that use a different type of outlet will need a power adapter to charge their electronics.

Packing tips for travelers with specific needs, such as families with children or surfers:

Families with children should pack appropriate items such as baby food, diapers, and sunscreen for children. Surfing enthusiasts should pack appropriate gear such as a surfboard, wax, and rash guard.

Recommendations for packing light and avoiding overpacking

To avoid overpacking, visitors should pack clothing that can be mixed and matched, such as neutral colors and versatile pieces. Packing cubes and compression bags can help maximize space in luggage. It's also important to consider the baggage allowance for flights and pack accordingly.

Getting to Bali

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A. International flights to Bali

Bali's main airport is Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) located in the southern part of the island. Many international airlines have direct flights to Bali from major cities around the world, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Tokyo.

B. Domestic flights within Indonesia

There are several domestic airlines that operate flights within Indonesia, including Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and Citilink. These airlines provide regular flights to Bali from major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, and Lombok.

C. Ferries and boats to Bali

Visitors can also reach Bali by ferry or boat. The most popular routes are from Java and Lombok. Ferries operate regularly from Banyuwangi and Gilimanuk, and fast boats run from Lombok and the Gili Islands.

D. Getting around Bali

Visitors can get around Bali by taxi, hire car, motorbike, or public transportation. Taxis are widely available, and ride-hailing apps such as Grab are popular. Car and motorbike rentals are also available, but visitors should ensure they have a valid international driver's license. Public transportation options include buses, bemos (minibusses), and shuttle services. Visitors should also consider walking or cycling for short distances or to explore local areas. It's important to note that traffic can be heavy in Bali, particularly in tourist areas, and visitors should plan accordingly.

Accommodation Options

Deck chairs in the mountains
Photo by Manuel Moreno / Unsplash

There are several popular areas to stay in Bali, including

Kuta and Legian: These areas are popular with budget travelers and are known for their nightlife and surfing beaches.

Seminyak: Seminyak is a trendy area that is popular with luxury travelers. It has many high-end restaurants, bars, and boutique shops.

Ubud: Ubud is located in the interior of the island and is known for its arts and culture. It is popular with travelers who want to explore Bali's traditional side.

Nusa Dua: Nusa Dua is a high-end resort area located on the southern tip of the island. It is known for its luxury hotels and golf courses.

B. Types of accommodation available

There are several types of accommodation available in Bali, including

Hotels and resorts: Bali has a wide range of hotels and resorts, from budget-friendly to luxury. Many hotels and resorts have pools, restaurants, and spa facilities.

Villas: Bali has a large selection of private villas, which are popular with families and groups. Villas often come with private pools and staff.

Guesthouses and homestays: Guesthouses and homestays are budget-friendly options and are popular with backpackers and budget travelers. These types of accommodation often provide a more authentic experience of Bali.

C. Best places to stay for different budgets

Bali has accommodation options for all budgets. Some popular choices include

Budget: Kuta and Legian are good options for budget travelers, with many affordable guesthouses and hotels.

Mid-range: Ubud is a good option for mid-range travelers, with a wide range of hotels, villas, and guesthouses.

Luxury: Seminyak and Nusa Dua are good options for luxury travelers, with many high-end resorts and villas.

Top Attractions in Bali

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A. Beaches and Water Sports

Bali is known for its beautiful beaches and water sports. Some of the top beaches and water sports activities in Bali include

Kuta Beach: Kuta Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Bali and is known for its surfing.

Nusa Dua Beach: Nusa Dua Beach is a popular beach for swimming and snorkeling.

Tanjung Benoa: Tanjung Benoa is a popular spot for water sports, including jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides.

Uluwatu: Uluwatu is a popular surfing spot, known for its big waves.

B. Temples and Cultural Sites

Bali has a rich culture and many beautiful temples and cultural sites. Some of the top temples and cultural sites in Bali include

Besakih Temple: Besakih Temple is the largest and most important temple in Bali and is known as the "Mother Temple."

Tanah Lot Temple: Tanah Lot Temple is a beautiful temple located on a rock formation in the sea.

Ubud Monkey Forest: The Ubud Monkey Forest is a nature reserve and temple complex that is home to hundreds of macaque monkeys.

Tirta Empul: Tirta Empul is a beautiful temple that is famous for its holy spring water.

C. Nature and Outdoor Activities

Bali has many beautiful natural attractions and outdoor activities. Some of the top nature and outdoor activities in Bali include

Mount Batur: Mount Batur is an active volcano that can be hiked for beautiful sunrise views.

Bali Swing: The Bali Swing is a popular attraction that allows visitors to swing over the beautiful Balinese jungle.

Bali Treetop Adventure Park: The Bali Treetop Adventure Park is a fun outdoor activity that allows visitors to zip line and climb through the treetops.

Tegalalang Rice Terraces: The Tegalalang Rice Terraces are a beautiful example of Bali's stunning rice terraces.

D. Nightlife and Entertainment

Bali has a vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene. Some of the top nightlife and entertainment options in Bali include

Potato Head Beach Club: Potato Head Beach Club is a popular beach club that is known for its stunning sunset views.

Sky Garden: Sky Garden is a popular nightclub that offers multiple levels of dance floors and bars.

Kuta Theater: The Kuta Theater is a popular venue for live performances, including magic shows and traditional dance performances.

Beach Parties: Bali is known for its beach parties, including Full Moon Parties and New Year's Eve celebrations.

Top 10 Must-See Destinations in Bali

Food and Drink in Bali

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Photo by Artem Beliaikin / Unsplash

A. Traditional Balinese Cuisine

Balinese cuisine is a unique blend of Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, and European influences. Some of the key characteristics of Balinese cuisine include the use of local ingredients, such as coconut, chili, and lemongrass, and the emphasis on balancing flavors, such as sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.

Some of the most popular local dishes to try in Bali include

Nasi Goreng: Nasi Goreng is a traditional Indonesian fried rice dish that is often served with chicken or shrimp.

Satay: Satay is a popular Indonesian street food that consists of skewered and grilled meat, usually chicken or beef, served with a peanut sauce.

Gado Gado: Gado Gado is a traditional Indonesian salad made with steamed vegetables, tofu, and peanut sauce.

Babi Guling: Babi Guling is a traditional Balinese roasted pork dish that is often served with rice and vegetables.

C. Best Places to Eat in Bali

Bali has a thriving food scene, with many restaurants and cafes offering both local and international cuisine. Some of the best places to eat in Bali include

Locavore: Locavore is a fine dining restaurant in Ubud that focuses on using local, organic ingredients.

Warung Ibu Oka: Warung Ibu Oka is a popular restaurant in Ubud that specializes in Babi Guling.

Made's Warung: Made's Warung is a popular restaurant in Seminyak that offers a mix of local and international cuisine.

La Plancha: La Plancha is a popular beachfront restaurant in Seminyak that is known for its colorful beanbag chairs and sunset views.

D. Drinking Culture in Bali

Bali has a vibrant drinking culture, with many bars and clubs offering a variety of drinks and nightlife experiences. Some popular drinks to try in Bali include Bintang beer, Arak (a local rice wine), and fresh coconut water. It's important to note that the legal drinking age in Bali is 21 years old, and alcohol consumption is prohibited in some areas, such as religious sites.

Shopping in Bali

A. Traditional Markets and Bazaars

Bali is home to many traditional markets and bazaars where visitors can find a wide range of goods, including fresh produce, clothing, and souvenirs. Some popular markets in Bali include Ubud Market, Kuta Art Market, and Sukawati Art Market.

B. Artisanal Crafts and Souvenirs

Bali is known for its artisanal crafts, such as woodcarvings, textiles, and silver jewelry. Visitors can find these crafts and other souvenirs at markets, art galleries, and shops throughout the island.

Some popular shopping areas in Bali include

Seminyak: Seminyak is known for its high-end boutiques and designer stores.

Ubud: Ubud is a hub for artisanal crafts and art galleries.

Kuta: Kuta is home to a variety of shops and markets, including Kuta Art Market and Beachwalk Shopping Center.

Canggu: Canggu is a popular area for surfing and is home to a variety of surf shops and boutiques.

D. Bargaining and Haggling Tips

Bargaining is a common practice in Bali, particularly at markets and bazaars. Some tips for bargaining and haggling in Bali include

Start with a low offer: It's common to start bargaining at around 50% of the asking price and work your way up from there.

Be polite and friendly: Bargaining is often seen as a social interaction in Bali, so it's important to be respectful and friendly when negotiating.

Don't be afraid to walk away: If you're not happy with the price, it's okay to walk away and try another shop or market.

Know when to stop: It's important to know when to stop bargaining and accept a fair price for the item.

Practical Tips for Visiting Bali

Lazy days by the pool in Bali. This photo was taken at the Potato Head Beach Club as the sun was setting. 

Shot on iPhone 11 Pro ultra wide lens and processed using Darkroom.
Photo by Ern Gan / Unsplash

A. Money and Currency Exchange

The official currency of Bali is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR). Visitors can exchange their currency at banks, money changers, and hotels throughout the island. It's important to check the exchange rate and avoid exchanging money with unlicensed money changers.

B. Communication and Language Barriers

The official language of Bali is Indonesian, but many locals also speak Balinese and English. Visitors may experience language barriers in more remote areas, so it's helpful to learn some basic phrases in Indonesian.

C. Safety and Security Considerations

Bali is generally a safe place for visitors, but it's important to take precautions to protect your belongings and personal safety. Some tips for staying safe in Bali include

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables in public.

Be aware of your surroundings and avoid unlit or deserted areas.

Use reputable transportation services and avoid unlicensed taxis or motorbike rentals.

Take precautions against petty theft, such as locking hotel room doors and using a money belt.

D. Etiquette and Cultural Norms in Bali

Bali is a predominantly Hindu island, and visitors should be respectful of local customs and cultural norms. Some tips for cultural etiquette in Bali include

Dress modestly when visiting temples or other religious sites.

Remove shoes before entering a temple or someone's home.

Avoid pointing your feet at people or objects, as this is considered impolite.

Don't touch people's heads, as this is considered sacred in Balinese culture.

Use your right hand for eating and passing objects, as the left hand is considered unclean.


In this ultimate guide to Bali for first-time visitors, we've covered everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable trip to this beautiful island. We've discussed visa requirements, vaccinations, the best time to visit Bali, packing tips, accommodation options, top attractions, food and drink, shopping, and practical tips for visiting Bali.

Bali is a stunning island with so much to offer visitors, from beautiful beaches and cultural sites to delicious food and exciting outdoor activities. We encourage readers to plan a trip to Bali and experience all that this amazing destination has to offer.

If you've visited Bali before, we'd love to hear about your experiences and any tips you have for first-time visitors. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below and help others plan their perfect trip to Bali.