Bali Review! Best bits of Bali – Ubud, Uluwatu and Seminyak

Travel alert!

Uluwatu
The gorgeous Uluwatu

I’ve been traveling in beautiful Bali for the past 10 days, and it has been amazing. This was a make or break trip for me, and I have to be honest I didn’t love Bali at the start – the taxi drivers are so painful that it really put me off initially. By the end if the trip I could see how people keep coming back to Bali. The people are so lovely, and Bali is the most beautiful island I have ever been to.

From a personal safety perspective, Bali Is very safe for solo female travellers. I had no issues apart from the aggressive cab drivers and having some money go missing in Ubud.

However, Bali has a High Degree of Caution listed due to a high threat of Terrorist Attack on SmartTraveller.gov.au. Bali has had a number of terrorist related bombings and if you travel to Bali make sure you choose a insurance policy which covers you in instances of terror. See more how to protect yourself during and after travel on this blog here.

But onto the BEST BITS!

Where I stayed: 

What I did: Shopping and Yoga in Seminyak, Painting, Yoga Barn, Balinese Dancing and Yoga Retreat in Ubud. Scooter rental in Uluwatu, which was AMAZING!

Getting around: Download the Bluebird app here. This was by far the best option for getting around in Bali.  This is how I avoided the Taxi thugs at the end of the trip (more on that to come later).

Unfortunately, many cabs copy the Bluebird logo that it’s hard to work out if it’s legit. Check to see if the Blue Bird is spelt correctly (I saw Blue Biro, Blue Birds etc) My tips are, BlueBird is spelt correctly, the seats have head covers on them, and from the outside the BlueBird logo is on the rear window of the taxi – here’s some pics to help out!

Arriving in Bali

I flew into Denpasar, and chose to stay in Seminyak on my first night due to the recommendations of friends.

I stayed at Grandma’s Hotel Seminyak for 4 nights. I caught a cab there, which was an interesting experience (Full blog to come on the Taxi Industry in Bali, as getting a cab was hard work). It was a great low to mid range hotel, next to the Courtyard Marriot. It was close to Seminyak shops, and walking distance to the beach. It was noisy at night though due to the nightclub next door. There was Yoga for $10 AUD at the hotel down the road, so I did that for a couple of days in the morning, then wondered around shopping in Seminyak during the day. I walked into town, and also to the beach. I did the W Hotel Sunset One Night, and the Potato Head Beach Club the night before I left. I met a few travellers, but not many. So after a few days, I went to Ubud to do some crafts. I felt really safe in Seminyak, walking around is fine, cabs are easy to get. Bear in mind my tip above though – the taxis are painful so don’t make the mistake I did, which was wait until 10 days into the trip to download the app.

Here are some pics from the epic sunset I watched at Potato Head – click on the photos to learn where they are from:

 

In Ubud, I stayed at the Pondok Pekak Guesthouse, which I booked through Booking.com. It’s the only free library in Ubud, built by an American expat and her Balienese husband in 1995.  Profits from the classes help support the library, which also provides free classes to Indonesians. This was a great place to stay – had a terrific pool downstairs. No air con though so if this is essential for you, stay elsewhere. I did a Balinese painting class, and the teacher Wayne was very patient.

The Mystery Yoga Retreat….

Before heading to Bali, my plan was to go to a $13 dollar a day yoga retreat. It was on Air BnB, and the it didn’t have it’s name listed. I kept changing the booking before leaving, as I was all over the shop after the bad work gig. I finally changed the booking to Sunday March 25th for 3 nights, and I’m very glad I did!

The Airbnb room for $10USD per day turned out to be..the Shanti Toya Yoga Retreat. It was terrific. The retreat runs Sunday to Sunday, so coincidentally I had booked to start in with the others doing the full retreat. Each day there were yoga activities, and it was a really great way to unwind. The wifi was patchy, so it was great to eat organic food, and unplug. I also really improved my yoga practice, as doing yoga at least twice per day in the heat meant my stitches were deeper and better quality. I ended up being able to stay for the whole week, and I was so glad. The people were the best part – in my group there was a round the world Danish sailor, a German Engineer, American Speech Pathologist, Czech Career Psychologist just to name a few, as well as, like me, another One Young World Ambassador! Talk about a coincidence. It was a terrific retreat, and I can recommended the full package as they also got air conditioning. I also had to pay about $5 AUD for the food per meal, as well as activities outside the retreat. However, my package was very cheap, and I would wager the cheapest in Bali if you use the Air Bnb room.

IMG_1725

And finally ULUWATU!

Uluwatu was absolutely gorgeous – it’s famous for it’s surf, and is where Bali surfers go. I went there on recommendations of the Yogis, and I’m so glad I did. It was the most beautiful place in Bali I went to. I stayed at Karma Backpacker House, which I highly recommend. It has air conditioning in all rooms, free breakfast, and really helpful front desk. They also had scooter rental. I was only there for a day, so I rented a scooter and took photos from around the island. The sense of freedom was fantastic.

My driver commented on new buildings going up (a new massive party hotel), and I suspect Uluwatu’s charm may be somewhat eroded in the future, so get in quick! Here are some of the fab photos:

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Bad Bits:

The cab industry. Bali is having a lot of problems with ride sharing apps – Uber in particular is getting a lot of protests. It’s at the point where Uber drivers put on fake number plates when they arrive, as otherwise other Bali drivers will log into the app, and pull the car over and harass them for signing with Uber. As a traveller, Uber is preferable as it tells you how far away the cab is and HOW MUCH you should be paying. That I believe is the crux of the issue – the cost. Drivers are getting a very good wage for Balinese people –  everyone will be a driver for you in Bali. Fuel costs about $20 AUD a month, and the trips are usually charged way over.

Bluebird is a lot more accepted, but technically not allowed to arrive at the front of the airport. However, my personal sympathy is limited after my experience using all of the various services – private car, fake BlueBird, real Bluebird, and Uber.

Bluebird is the best! Read more over here on the cab issues, as it warranted a whole #travellingcriminologist post on its own.

Rubbish/Trash:  The beaches were absolutely littered with trash. It is a problem everywhere I have been – plastic is difficult to dispose of safely and cheaply, it is cheap to manufacture, and you need to drink bottled water in Asian countries for safety reasons. However, I did notice on this trip that there were a lot more places to refill your bottle – when I was in Thailand in 2014 that wasn’t available, so that’s terrific. It’s just so devastating to see such beautiful places impacted so badly by debris.

Overdeveloped

Bali’s overdeveloped. Don’t get me wrong, the opportunities are fab. I had this immediate dream of the laptop lifestyle in Bali the second I arrived. However, I spoke to some Balinese people who are worried about the impact tourism is having on the Balinese culture. Thailand has started closing some of its beaches for regeneration, and despite the income from tourist dollars, my guess is Bali will have to tighten investment law as so much of Bali is taken over with tourism.

Scooters

Bali Business Opportunity! Scooter School! Please make sure you know how to drive a scooter. The Uluwatu backpacker I rented my scooter from asked if I had experience riding a scooter, and then advised using it on back roads due to dangerous driving from tourists.

Word to the Wise: Death Penalty In Bali

Don’t forget – all drugs are absolutely banned in Bali, including Marijuana. The death penalty applies for people importing and exporting drugs. Famous Australian cases include The Bali Nine, and Schappelle Corby.

Thanks for reading!

Overall, Bali was an amazing country, and I can see how people come back year after year. Very easy to travel in, and great for people of all ages.  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my next posts on Cambodia, Vietnam, and a more in depth look at crime laws in Asian countries.

Emma x

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