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Need help with planning for first Bali trip

Need help with planning for first Bali trip

Dec 31st, 2010, 11:24 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 420
Need help with planning for first Bali trip

Have just decided to go to Bali next year to celebrate one of those birthdays with a zero at the end. Have never been and need help first with a basic question. We plan to go in mid August for around 2 - 2 1/2 weeks. Would it make more sense to pick 2 places to stay and travel around the country or is it necessary to move around every few days. We will probably want to see the island and maybe some nearby places, but would like to pack and unpack as little as necessary. Can't tell from the guidebook how easy it is to get around. Have not decided on a car vs public transport yet either (usually just rent cars it is reasonable to drive).

Any help greatly appreciated!
mstraveler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'd choose two places and tour from there. Hiring a car and driver is pretty inexpensive, and much easier than trying to drive yourself (and there are considerations like finding your way around and liability issues to consider if you self-drive). You might consider a brief trip to central Java while you are there. Borobudor and Prambanam are well worth the trip. You'd likely spend a couple of nights on Java for that jaunt.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 03:30 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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ms, You may be aware that mid-August is one of the busiest seasons in Bali, so it’s good to plan in advance. Unfortunately, rates will also be at their highest.

Bali is fairly compact and though public transportation is pretty much non-existent, car/driver combinations are easily come by and inexpensive. In the beach area taxis are plentiful. Self drive car rental is available but I would NOT recommend it for a variety of safety and convenience reasons.

Ultimately your itinerary depends on your interests and how your like to spend your time, but in 2.5 weeks you could easily do three or even four places.

You could divide your time between one of the Southern Beach areas (Look at Seminyak, Sanur, Jimbaran.)and the central area around Ubud. Even within Ubud you have the choice of staying in town or out in the countryside, so Ubud could be two stops.

After that if you want to venture further you could try North or East Bali which are about 3-4 hours drive from the central tourist areas. Or you could just visit the rest of Bali using Ubud or the beach as your base. The choice is really between packing and spending time in the car.

There are a lot of new resorts in the less developed parts of Bali -- far North, upper East coast, Southern tip -- but personally I think you could do as well with a combination of the beach (I like Seminyak) and Ubud (I like the countryside outside of town). Exceptions would be if you want to SCUBA or have a remote nature experience.

There are many, many choices in accomdation at a range of price levels. For a special celebration (but pricy) I like the Legian in Seminyak, Como Shambhala in Ubud and Amankila on the Eastcoast. Less expensive, but just at atmospheric: The new W in Seminyak, Alila in Ubud.

You might also want to look at villa rentals for luxury and privacy.

You can get to Lombok by ferry or by airplane. Central Java is definitely a flight.

I like the idea of visiting Central Java/Borobudur/Yogyakarta, but August will be Ramadhan, the fasting month, with the big Islamic holidays at the end of the month. Though the hotels and tourist sites will be operating, it isn’t the best time to travel in Muslim Indonesia. Hindu Bali isn’t directly affected by this holiday but starting the last week of August, millions of people will be on the move in Indonesia so you want lock in your transportation early.
marmot is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 04:49 PM
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Thank you both so much. Am aware of the August issue...we don't even have children we need August for, but for many reasons it would be an ideal time for us. September is not as good but doable and I would consider it if the rates and crowds will diminish enough to make it worth it. Any ideas about that? Is the end of August the end of the "season"? Thanks again.
mstraveler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 04:52 PM
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Also, we would probably be content with very little or no beach time, but the more wilderness the better. At least for some of the trip. The outskirts of Ubud was already on my radar (we are big Four Seasons fans, but am not sure we will want to spend so much money when it looks like there are really lovely places for so much less).
mstraveler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 05:34 PM
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Yes, generally rates drop considerably in September. You have to be aware of the Islamic holidays during which a lot of Indonesians travel. This would be more or less the last week of August/first week of September.

Bali isn't that big or that diverse. There are less populated, less developed areas but I wouldn't really describe it as wilderness.

I really like the Ubud area but 2.5 weeks may be more than you'd want. The attractions of the North and East Bali are to me somewhat unreliable and inconsistent. Some pretty areas, but not as spiritually and naturally rich as the area around Ubud.

If spending part of your time at a beach resort doesn't appeal, then you might want to visit another part of Indonesia, like Java or Sulawesi. Central Sulawesi (Tanah Toraja) is spectacular for nature and culture. North Sulawesi for marine life.

The East Java/Mt. Bromo area for adventure travel; Central Java/Borobudur for culture in a beautiful setting.

Everyone likes the Four Seasons in Sayan, but I think for a special experience the Como Shambhala is unparalleled.
marmot is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 08:53 PM
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Thanks Marmot. I think I have some research to do! Part of our thinking as well was to rent an apartment or villa and just be there for part of the time. But clearly I need to look into all of this. Greatly appreciate the info so I can start focusing my thinking and planning.
mstraveler is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 09:15 PM
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you could visit the whole island from just one central location like ubud, but i think i would prefer two locations...

i love the alam shanti hotel in ubud.... i also love the town of sanur in the south...

you might look at the pan pacific hotel on the west caost for a few days to really relax and a bit of lux and even some golf...

having a car and river for a few days is a good bet.... i tried to drive myself on my last trip and it was a bit difficult, but doable...

i like putu, who is often mentioned here, as my driver/guide...

a few days at the qunci villas on lombok is fun as well...a complete change from bali.... easy one hour flight or a long ferry ride from bali
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 03:19 AM
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August chock a block bump to September if you can.

Always negotiate for driver guides from $50 or so per day

Easier usually cheaper far less liability than rental.

Usually stay in Ubud area nice venture out from there.

Review consular advisories trip insurance always wise.

Happy Journey,
qwovadis is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 07:15 AM
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Again, thanks all. It looks from hotel websites that the low season is mid-Jan to the end of June, with high season being July to mid to late Sept. Any opinions on June? That would actually be much better than Sept for us. Any reason Sept would be better than June? The appeal of not going during the peak vacation season is worth a lot to us!
mstraveler is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 02:14 PM
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August and December are really the months to avoid. The crush bleeds over to the adjoining months, but these two are really the high season (plus holidays like Easter, Idul Fitri and Lunar New Year).

Traditionally the rainy season is October to February, but this year it rained all year!

Villa prices -- and amenities -- are all over the place. You should be able to find whatever you're looking for.
marmot is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 10:32 AM
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you should stay inat least two places, Ubud. And a southern beach not Nua Dusa which is too sterile. If you are going for 2 1/2 weeks or more, you can add Lombok or East Bali. putu is a great guide. You can search him on this forum.

Late June or early September will have great weather without tons of tourists.
Gpanda is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 11:35 AM
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If you want wilderness, I highly recommend the Sarinbuana Eco-Lodge (http://www.baliecolodge.com/). Remote, pristine, quiet, lots of wilderness, delicious & healthy food, great massages, lots of activities (if you want -- or you can just relax). Here's the review I left on Tripadvisor:

"My huband and I stayed here for 4 nights in late Feb. 2010. The Eco Lodge was leg 2 of our first R&R from Kabul (leg 1 was Singapore). We were looking for somewhere that was the exact opposite of Afghanistan, and the Eco Lodge was the perfect choice. Lush, green, peaceful, with lots of good, healthy food and room to explore. We stayed in the Rumah Magiah suite, which was lovely. We spent many hours sitting on our private verandah, reading and enjoying the view. My husband took a cooking class; I got lots of massages. We went hiking and swimming and bike riding down to the beach. I really enjoyed observing a small slice of rural Bali life.

Although the Lodge was perfect for us, it won't be for everyone. First, there are LOTS of steps. Second, there are LOTS of bugs, frogs, and other creepy crawlies that go peep in the night. We're avid campers, so none of this bothered us. But if you're looking for a luxurious resort with lots of pampering, or a bustling hotspot with lots of nightlife, this is not the place for you.

I truly loved our visit to the Lodge, and wasn't ready to leave after our four days were up. I think I could have skipped Ubud and just spent our entire 10 days in Bali at the Eco Lodge. I would highly recommend the Lodge to anyone looking to unwind, unplug, and get away from it all."

Hope this helps!
circusliz is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 02:33 PM
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i have been a few times in may/june and the weather was fantastic and bali was not crowded
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 03:50 PM
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We decided and have booked, thanks to all the great help here, the trip for May 22-June 12. We had a constraint June 15 and this is what worked best. I think this is a great compromise and really appreciate all the help. And circusliz the Eco-Lodge sounds fabulous and right up our alley. Will definitely look into it!

The one issue with the SQ flight we have is that we don't get in until 7:10 pm (later than I would like after a 26 hour flight) and I figure by the time we deplane and get our bags we will want to bivwac the first night nearby and set out for real in the morning. Any recommendations for hotels at or near the airport or is there some place more interesting not far away?
mstraveler is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 06:03 PM
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mstraveller, I love Bali, but just in case you haven't heard - there have recently been spots on TV here in Australia warning the many Aussies who go there to watch out for rabid dogs. Don't panic, but be careful. Many are being vaccinated, quite a lot destroyed. If you haven't been warned, you'd be surprised at the number of stray dogs - not in the resorts though, I expect. Have fun!
Carrabella is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 07:33 PM
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Thanks Carrabella. Although we will be at resorts for some of the time we like to do local traveling and this is necessary, but certainly not great news. Good to be forewarned.
mstraveler is offline  

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