Bali in March?

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Sep 14th, 2004, 04:53 AM
  #1
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Bali in March?

We decided to burn the Delta SkyMiles balance and have decided on Singapore and Bali for a total of about 2 weeks in the last week of February or into March (depending on when we can get award seats).

I know Singapore well, but haven't even bought the book yet for Bali, so would appreciate a bit of G2: How is this time of year for general touring?

What are the general activities? beaching? sightseeing? shopping? etc?

And, looking quickly at Balidiscovery and a couple of other sites, there seems to be quite a few neighborhoods to choose from to use as a base. We will be going 4.5- or 5-star for accommodations, so which neighborhood(s) would be most recommended?

And, finally, would 5 or 6 nights be worthwhile to get a superficial feel for the destination?

TIA!
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Sep 14th, 2004, 05:25 AM
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March is the tail end of the rainy season in Bali. It is hard to say how much rain you would have or whether it would last for days or just a few hours, it will depend on luck and the strength of the monsoon that season. If you could go toward late March or into April, you would most likely have measurably less rain.

Bali has numerous hotels in all price and quality ranges all over the island (except for the relatively untouristed western parts of the island) so it is really up to what you want to see and do rather than where hotels are located which should direct your choice. Beaches in Bali are pretty but not spectacular, so bear this in mind. Pure white sand beaches and turquoise water do not abound there. There is some good diving and snorkelling mostly off the north eastern coasts, and some interesting black sand beaches. The very popular tourist areas of Nusa Dua, Sanur and Kuta do not have the best beaches in Bali, IMO, although Sanur has some pretty parts and Kuta is great for sunset and if you are a surfer.

To really appreciate what Bali is about you should sped some time in the inland areas around Ubud or similar crafts villages. Bali is a LONG way to go just to sit on a somewhat mediocre beach, and you may wonder what the fuss is about if you don't see the interior. Making a day trip to Ubud from the beach area is not a good way, IMO, to experience the mountain areas. I would spend at least 3 nights inland and 3 nights at the beach, longer at either depending on how much time you want to spend in Singapore.

Since you know Singapore well, you might consider jut transiting there and spending more time on Bali or making a 2 night stopover in Yogyajarkata on the island of Java. There are two world-class sights here: Borbadour and Prambanan , plus the city of Yogya is interesting in itself. Certainly well off the beaten tourist path. You can fly onto Bali from there.

While this site is useful, it really can't and shouldn't replace a good guidebook for background information about various areas on the island. Balidiscovery is a commercial website promoting trips and can't always provide objective information. For a start, you could look at frommers.com and/or click on "Destinations" above and scroll down to Bali. The Lonelyplanet.com site also gives good background information and their guidebooks are good as well.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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Sounds like you intend to spend half of your vacation in Singapore. Since you know Singapore well, why not spend more time in Bali? I think with 5 or 6 nights your feel for Bali will indeed be superficial but it is doable. Splitting your time between two locations is advisable. Most travelers to Bali pick a beach destination in the South (in the Seminyak/Legion area north of Kuta or one of the southern tourist beaches - Sanur etc.) and an interior destination near or in the city of Ubud. I don't think Bali's beaches are anything special but there are a lot of other activities, shopping and tours you can do - see my 6-part trip report at http://www.balitravelforum.com/archive200307/11747.html for some insite on your options.
Also do a search on Bali on this forum for lots of useful information. I really don't know how March is weatherwise but I don't think there is ever a "bad" time to go to Bali - it was a great experience for us when we went in July 2003.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 06:16 AM
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NoFly-Before you decide on Bali as a travel destination-PLEASE READ THE TRAVEL WARNING ON INDONESIA, UPDATED YESTERDAY-9/13/04. This may be found on www.state.gov-click to the left "Travel Warnings" -you'll see a special link "Indonesia-9/13/04" State is recommending that Americans defer all non-essential travel to Indonesia for the near future. Before I posted on another thread concerning the threat situation there, I did not know that there was already a Travel Warning on Indonesia put out on 9/7/04, after the horrific Australian Embassy bombing. It is signficant that State has now updated that Warning but 6 days later-U.S. Govt. employees who have business in Indonesia are not being permitted to travel there-You should note that the Warning is NOT limited to Java and Jakarta, but extends throughout the country. There was intelligence reporting that I was aware of indicating there is more trouble to be expected in that area. You might want to seriously rethink your travel itinerary in light of this information.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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The travel warning that Spygirl is referring to was in effect even before the bombing in October 2002 of the night club in Kuta, Bali. Since then there have been numerous incidents, many of them targeting westerners and occuring in the city of Jakarta on the island of Java. When we stayed in Bali in July of 2003, we chose to avoid western hotels as a precaution. We did not see any crowds in Bali to avoid. We did register with the US Embassy. I don't think I would feel comfortable being in Indonesia around this month's presidential elections there. Traveling to Bali is very much an individual choice, weighing the pros and cons - personally I think it is a very safe place and I am sure that there several other posters on this site that will concur.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 06:58 AM
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Craig-not having seen what State put out prior to the Bali bombing, I don't know whether it was categorized as a travel advisory, or an actual Warning. I do know, however, that when State sees fit to update its Travel Warning on a particular country twice in one week, and urges Americans "who wish to travel to Indonesia despite this Travel Warning" (diplomatese for don't go) then it's serious stuff.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 07:09 AM
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Spygirl - I don't know whether it was a warning or an advisory but the language was very similar. Unlike the current warning however, State specifically mentioned deferring travel to Bali. As it turned out, it was a good call. The current updates seem to be more a reaction to the recent bombing near the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the forthcoming elections.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 07:25 AM
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The present Warning is not just a reaction to the Australian bombing, there has been ongoing intelligence that bombings of western hotels/institutions may occur in Indonesia, and such information has not been limited to Jakarta-such reports were disseminated to authorities prior to the Embassy bombing of last week and is still in effect, which is why State is updating its Travel Warning.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 07:29 AM
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The State Dept. was surprisingly prescient, and posted the 9/07 warning prior to the 9/09 bombing in Jakarta. The current update to the warning was done in response the the bombing.

As Craig has said, it is a personal choice to still travel to Bali. I intend to go in November. I have travelled to Guatemala and Kenya while warnings were posted for those countries, too.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 07:45 AM
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Cruisin-it has nothing to do with State being "prescient" -it has everything to do with the specificity of the intelligence gathered by the law enforcement and intelligence community for a particular region-the more repeated and specific the warnings, the more credible the intelligence sources.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 07:53 AM
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And it may be a "personal choice" in that the USG can't force you not to go-but the USG can't force you not to go to Afghanistan or Iraq either. It can only recommend and advise, based on updated intelligence reporting for that region, and State is advising Americans in no uncertain terms to stay clear of the country for the time being.
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Sep 14th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Hi...I just got back from Southeast Asia...Aug 31st... and while in Bangkok...at the Metropolitan Hotel...I met the Director of Marketing for Asia...COMO hotel system. She's Indonesian and lives on Bali...Ubud... and we hit it off and started talking about hotels and she had a staff member deliver to my room a whole portfolio on the COMO chain's brand new luxury hotel...on Bali...which looks fabulous. It's in Ubud...where I stay... when in Bali...which is the arts/crafts area of Bali. The hotel is called...Uma...and just opened in July.As for the price, there will be a special price of $145. through December 2004 and then the price...of a standard room...goes to $185.00 if I recall correctly. I have the information at home. If you're interested let me know and I'll post again tomorrow. Happy Travels!
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Sep 15th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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Thanks, All, for the great info.

Especially about the recommendations to spend a few days in Ubud and it looks like we will split about half-and-half between there and a beach area, depending on where we can get a good deaal at a decent resort. And I will research the Uma in Ubud, thanks for that tip. We are not keen beach people so the overall quality of beaches isn't all that important; a few days R&R at a resort at the beginning of the trip is what is paramount here. Won't even be doing any diving as I hear it isn't all that good compared to other superb places I've been, so why be disappointed!

But the arts & crafts of the interior and a general flavor of the culture will easily fill 4 or 5 days. And this couple of weeks is indeed a complete R&R type holiday.

As to Singapore, yes, I've been there 4 or 5 times and know it well. There are lots of places worth doing again and again. Moreover, my wife has never been to Singapore so it will be fun showing her around. In fact, the original trip idea was Singapore "and someplace else." There's a slim possibility of a day or two in Kuala Lumpur (and taking the train down to Singapore) but no other place as we will be on frequent flyer award tickets and stopovers are limited. There's always the risk, when planning a trip like this, for it to grow from a two-week affair to a month or more. Sort of like a travel cancer.

Yes, I have looked throughout this site (I'm active in other forums) and a few others and a couple of guidebooks are on order. And I'll see if we can push back further into March to get into better weather. As for the State Department warnings, they've been noted for several years.
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Sep 15th, 2004, 06:01 AM
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I think you'll really enjoy Bali. Do try to spend as much time as possible there. A few days in SIngapore on the way in and out and the rest of the time in Bali would be ideal. For a beach area, I like Sanur. I always stay at the Bali Hyatt. And it looks like you have good recomendations for staying inland.

Enjoy!
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Sep 15th, 2004, 01:06 PM
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NoFly-it is factually incorrect to state that the State Dept. Travel Warning for Indonesia have been noted "for several years"-these are new, and they are both quite specific and very credible, which is why Jakarta is getting so many cancellations of western businesspeople and artists who were supposed to perform there in the next few months, among other things. In fact, the Australian Ambassador was quoted in several wire service articles yesterday as saying "Australians would be "stupid to ignore the fact of more terrorist strikes in Indonesia." To repeat, the Travel Warning updates do NOT apply just to Jakarta and the Island of Java, but extend throughout the entire nation of Indonesia.

It does indeed appear that fresh terrorist strikes are imminent in that country. The Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta got a new bomb threat just yesterday. But that's okay. If one wants to go on thinking that nothing ever happens in Bali, and you should go and travel in a business as usual style, well, I hope for your sake you're right. It is one thing to go to a country where one should take travel precautions, it's quite another to travel to a country where your Govt. is advising you not to go, partic. in a post 9/11 world-the implications for ignoring such information can be quite grave.

And with that, I'll get off my soapbox.

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Sep 15th, 2004, 04:28 PM
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Perhaps I'm not typical...after all we went to Iran on vacation last year and you can be sure the state Department had something to say about that!
Anyway I would still go to Indonesia/Bali with the following caveat I would prefer to stay in small hotels and not the larger American/international brand hotels or in areas with very large concentrations of tourists (Kuta)...you probably wouldn't want to stay here anyway.

To be honest this is always my preferance but it seems cautious to at least be cognicent of whether you're ataying in a well defined target.

I highly recommend Ibah which is a fabulous small elegant and charming boutique hotel in Ubud, I've made comment on it here before so you may be able to find it in a search. I agree with Cicerone on the beaches and I also think balitravelforum is a great resource if you can read through all the people looking for a cheap beer and sun vacation.

Hope that helps...the crafts are wonderful in Bali...the shopping is fun, art/silver/sculpture etc. We enjoyed the art museum in Ubud and loved taking a long walk through the rice fields. All highly recommended.
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Sep 15th, 2004, 04:35 PM
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I don't think spygirl has ever been to Bali.
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Sep 15th, 2004, 05:39 PM
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We did the same trip in August, Singapore and Bali. We spent 6 nights in Ubud and 4 in Jimbaran and wished we stayed in Ubud 2 days more. And we love beaches! We just didn't like the Bali beach areas nearly as much as the center of the country, since what appealed to us most was the flavor and culture of the country. The beach seemed more....touristy and beachy and less Balinesian. But Ubud to us was more central, lest touristy, more "real Bali". If you need a driver use Putu, you will find him listed everywhere on this site with a search. General activies in Ubud were enjoying the culture and open air markets, touring rice fields and water temples, getting fantastic massages, monkey forest where they climb over you, etc etc.
here is our family blog from our trip
www.themurdochs.blogspot.com
You can see the kinds of things we did, although realize the trip was definitely geared toward kids.
We thought the Four Seasons Sayan was one of the most beautiful we have ever seen. If you like that kind of thing, in particular if you can afford a villa, it is well worth it. We weren't as nuts about the Ritz Carlton in Jimbaran....it was a huge resort we felt you could find most anywhere and very far from everything, but others felt differently it is just our opinion.
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Sep 15th, 2004, 06:41 PM
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Craig: I think Spygirl has been twice to Bali and Indonesia-what could that possibly have to do with the Travel Warning?
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Sep 15th, 2004, 06:45 PM
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And for all those who think it well and fine to go to Bali in the coming months, if something happens, please don't have you or your relatives engage in bitter recriminations against the USG about not being warned of the danger.
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