The Non-Touristy Travel Guide
to Sunny Bali

It’s no wonder this island is called the Land of the Gods. Bali is both spiritual and awe-inspiring; a haven for those looking for adventure, for peace, amazing food and incredible cultural experiences.

The island’s increasing popularity doesn’t always mean you need to be resigned to jostling with the crowd, though. Here are some unique experiences that may not be on every basic Bali guide, but are top on our list of non-touristy things to do.

The Best Time to Visit

Seasoned travellers will tell you now is the best time to visit Bali. The island experiences tropical, humid weather all year-round, but its driest months are between May to October. That’s also peak season, which means a healthy stream of visitors in the more touristy areas, and expensive flights.

In the wetter months between November and April, you may experience quick, heavy rainfall, but we say it makes exploring on foot a lot more bearable as the weather is cooler. The off-peak season still offers plenty for you to see and do, and it’s the cheapest time to go.

Know Before You Go

Getting Around

From the Airport: If you’re not a fan of haggling with drivers who stand around at the Arrival gate, the best way is to book your ride with the hotel before your trip. Alternatively, look for the Ngurah Rai Taxi sign and get a fair quote from the booth.

Around Bali: Ride-hailing apps such as GoJek and Grab are often used around Bali. However, they are now allowed to pick passengers up from the airport. (Only drop-offs are allowed.)

You may see signs around areas like Ubud that say these services are banned, but they were mostly created by private Bali taxi businesses who are not in favour of platforms such as Gojek or Grab.

For peace of mind, arrange for a private driver to take you around throughout your trip in Bali. Your hotel will most likely be able to provide you with a contact to call. The average price of a private driver for 8 hours is between USD 70-100.

Language

In touristy areas like Kuta and Seminyak, locals are more likely to speak basic English, enough for them to understand you want that hat a little cheaper. The most common spoken languages are Bahasa Indonesia and Balinese. It never hurts to learn a few local phrases, such as ‘Terima Kasih’ (Thank You), ‘Selamat Pagi’ (Good Morning), and ‘Permisi’ (Excuse Me).

Dress Code

In touristy areas like Kuta and Seminyak, locals are more likely to speak basic English, enough for them to understand you want that hat a little cheaper. The most common spoken languages are Bahasa Indonesia and Balinese. It never hurts to learn a few local phrases, such as ‘Terima Kasih’ (Thank You), ‘Selamat Pagi’ (Good Morning), and ‘Permisi’ (Excuse Me).

Sarong wraps are often worn in places of worship and may be available for visitors to wear.

Sarong wraps are often worn in places of worship and may be available for visitors to wear. Photo from Shutterstock.

If we could, we’d opt for beach attire and flip-flops all day, every day. However, many high-end bars, restaurants and religious sites enforce a dress code. Check ahead of time just to be sure.

Note: Since June 2019, Bali has successfully banned all single-use plastic items. When shopping, bring your own reusable bag.

What to Do

1. Do the Campuhan Ridge Walk in the Early Morning

The Campuhan Ridge Walk will take you to a side of Ubud rarely seen by passing tourists.

The Campuhan Ridge Walk will take you to a side of Ubud rarely seen by passing tourists. Photo from Shutterstock.

The Campuhan Ridge Walk is a 2-3 hour scenic hike in lush Ubud that is suitable for all ages. Pass wooden houses, green paddy fields and warungs (small local restaurants) before reaching a ridge with amazing vistas of nature on both sides.

It’s a little touristy, but rarely crowded in the morning. Because of its long uninterrupted paths, locals also use this as a jogging route.

2. Eat at a Warung

When visiting Bali, one must have a taste of its national dish – the Nasi Campur.

When visiting Bali, one must have a taste of its national dish – the Nasi Campur. Photo from Shutterstock.

The Campuhan Ridge Walk is a 2-3 hour scenic hike in lush Ubud that is suitable for all ages. Pass wooden houses, green paddy fields and warungs (small local restaurants) before reaching a ridge with amazing vistas of nature on both sides.

This may mean travelling a few streets down from the main road, but trust us, it’s worth the journey.

Balinese food is heavily influenced by indigenous traditions, as well as from other Indonesian regional cuisines such as Chinese and Indian. If you don’t know where to start, try the ‘nasi campur’, a dish that is rice literally mixed with a bit of everything; chicken, vegetables, eggs, tempe, and some form of spicy sambal. Bonus if you eat with your hands.

3. Sign Up for an Eco-cycling Tour

Eco-cycling tours ensure minimal negative impacts to the environment, while giving you priceless sights of Bali.

Eco-cycling tours ensure minimal negative impacts to the environment, while giving you priceless sights of Bali. Photo from Shutterstock.

An eco-cycling tour is one of the best ways to see parts of Bali not accessible by traditional modes of transportation. Pass by paddy fields, local villages, family-owned businesses and take in the fresh air. Routes are available for beginners and more experienced riders.

4. Visit the Bajra Sandhi Monument

A major landmark in Denpasar, symbolising the struggles of the Balinese.

A major landmark in Denpasar, symbolising the struggles of the Balinese. Photo from Shutterstock.

Take some time to pay tribute to the struggles Balinese people have endured at Bajra Sandhi Monument, which features historical exhibits and dioramas depicting the beginnings of the Balinese kingdom, early Hinduism, Dutch colonialism, and more.

The surrounding gardens are where locals gather to jog, chat, and put on street performances. If you’re up to it, climb to the top of the monument for 360-degree views of Denpasar.

5. Find Your Zen at Taman Ujung Water Palace

Built in 1919, Taman Ujung Water Palace, also known as the Karangasem palace – was once the recreation and relaxation site of the King of Karangasem.

The water palace incorporates elements from Chinese, European and Balinese culture; one of the key features of the palace are the three large ponds, connected by the long elegant European bridges. See if you can spot the roaming deer that have made the grounds home.

Where to Stay

Mayura – A Karma Retreat

If peace and tranquility are what you’re looking for, stay in Ubud, considered the cultural heart of Bali. The area is well known as a flourishing arts and crafts centre, as well as its close proximity to lush natural scenes such as amazing green terraces, which serve as a backdrop for your serene retreat. There are also lots of little hidden gems in Ubud to discover.

Designed to blend in seamlessly with its natural environment, Mayura – A Karma Retreat (#DA15) is a contemporary, Balinese-style property set on the banks of a jungle-clad river in the village of Mas. Encompassed by rice terraces, coconut groves and mossy-stone templates, the resort offers guests the utmost in service, comfort and luxury.

Live in perfect bliss, and be sure to book yourself a spa treat.

Live in perfect bliss, and be sure to book yourself a spa treat. Photo from Mayura – A Karma Retreat via Facebook.

Enjoy its swimming pool and children’s pool, as well as horseback riding and biking. Guests seeking relaxation can take refuge at the calming spa, pick up a round of golf and dine at the on-site restaurant.

Royal Sanur

Find your own slice of heaven at Royal Sanur.

Find your own slice of heaven at Royal Sanur. Photo from Royal Sanur via Facebook.

Just a 5-minute walk from Sanur beach is Royal Sanur (#C386), a luxurious hideaway with lush landscaped grounds, a stunning pool and beautifully appointed apartments.

Sanur is Bali’s biggest traditional village, but that doesn’t mean it will be overwhelmingly bustling. You can still find your slice of heaven at Royal Sanur, which boasts the delights of staying on a tropical island while offering a real appreciation of Balinese culture and local life. We think it’s got the vibrancy of Kuta, without the throngs of tourists or persistent local vendors.

Sanur is one of the first major beaches that put Bali on the map.

Sanur is one of the first major beaches that put Bali on the map. Photo from Shutterstock.

Relax by the pool in beautifully landscaped surrounds or take a wander along the paved beach side path running the full length of Sanur where you can check out a multitude of shops and restaurants. The Royal Bali Beach Club at Sanur is only a 20 minutes’ drive from Denpasar Airport & Waterbom Park. Ubud, Bali’s cultural centre, is also only a short drive away.

Royal Candidasa

Royal Candidasa

Photo from Royal Candidasa via Facebook.

Royal Candidasa (#3968) is located at Balina Beach on the outskirts of the town of Candidasa, an up and coming seaside town that is already showing a healthy buzz of activities. For those looking for a chilled and laidback beachside holiday, Candidasa is the perfect spot to start. Discover a treasure trove of Balinese temples and hidden beaches, with a stunning natural lotus lagoon filled with pink and fuchsia lotuses.

Royal Candidasa is surrounded by coral-filled seas and incredible marine life, so it is a perfect location for diving and snorkelling. Combining traditional architecture, modern comforts, and daily cultural activities makes this one of the best places to discover the 'real Bali'…without the hectic crowds. Fancy a swim in the ocean? It’s just steps away from the resort.

 
Featured Properties

Mayura A Karma Retreat #DA15
Denpasar, Indonesia

Royal Candidasa #3968
Candidasa, Indonesia

Royal Sanur #C386
Denpasar, Indonesia