Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bali Indonesia

I am writing again after a long time again. Now I have a 2 year old son. :)
We as a family visited the beautiful island of Bali in Indonesia in Feb-Mar 2014. Its been over a year but the memories are still as fresh.

We took an Air India flight from Mumbai to Singapore and then onwards to Bali by Tigerair. Since the stopover in Singapore was just 3-4 hours and we reached in the morning, we had enough time to freshen up and had a hearty breakfast at the comfortable and large Singapore airport. Bali is about 2 hrs away from Singapore and once we boarded the plane, we were super excited to reach Bali.

For Indians and most nationalities, the visa is on arrival for Bali. The visa cost for us at the time was $25 per person (approx. Rs 1500). The immigration process was fairly simple and soon we were out of the airport. The first thing we did as soon as we collected our baggage was to convert the USD we had to Indonesia Rupiah. I must warn you though, at the current rates 1 USD = 13000 Indonesia Rupiah approx. So you need to do your maths right because suddenly you will feel like a millionaire or a billionaire!! :) You can check the latest exchange rates here though:
I generally use xe to check exchange rates before travel.

Few Tips once you land in Bali:

1. Get some currency exchanged at the airport since you will need it straight away to pay for a taxi. If you do not, the taxi may rip you off on the exchange rate. Also the exchange rates at the hotels are generally same or worse than that at the airport.
2. Book a taxi from the official prepaid taxi counters if you haven't already booked through your hotel. Do not talk to many of the taxi drivers waiting outside because many of them will charge you much more and even later on ask for baggage charges extra (i.e. extra money per bag) once you reach your destination.

Bali is one of the provinces in Indonesia. In fact it is the only province which is predominantly hindu population in an otherwise muslim country. It's one of the most diverse island that I have seen. Its about 1.5 hrs flight from Jakarta, 2.5 hrs from Singapore and 3 hrs from Perth and about 4.5 hrs from HK. The Bali airport is called as Denpasar (DPS).

Best Season to visit
June to Oct is the best season to visit Bali. The weather is dry and cool - best for any sort of outdoor activities or strolling along the beaches. Rainy season is from Oct to Mar. This time of the year can be avoided, although you may get really good hotel deals during this period. Take your call. In case you are on budget travel - would suggest Oct and March as the month's to travel to Bali. The tourist season is just starting and if you are lucky, you may get a good weather.

There's a lot to do in Bali with activities including water sports, fishing, relaxing on the beach or playing beach sports, visit to various ancient temples (a must) and shopping among others. more to come on this in another post...

Where to Stay

Bali has many beautiful hotels and resorts across various places - Kuta (the party place), Jimbaran (the serene and quite place), Nusa Dua (beautiful beach), Ubud (close to nature and perfect for shopping) among others. If you are young (at heart) and party animal, would suggest you to stay at Kuta. If you are peace loving and need a quite place to stay, then Jimbaran or Ubud are the places to stay. If you need a luxury stay with a private beach, them Nusa Dua is the place to go. There are umpteen number of hotels in these areas. So take your pick.

We stayed in two hotels in Bali. First two days were spent in a small boutique hotel in Jimbaran - The Astari Villa & Residences. Its a small hotel with large rooms. It is so small, it almost seemed to be a private hotel with a private swimming pool. The breakfast was being served at the pool side. They also have a drop facility to the city center. The best part is that its cost efficient. We got a room with breakfast for approx. 60 USD.

The other hotel we stayed in was The Pullman at Kuta for three days. It has a infinity pool overlooking the Kuta beach. Standard 5 star rooms. Superb spread of breakfast. Its situated on the main beach road and the shops are also close by.

I would highly recommend both the hotels.

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