There is nothing quite like the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. Volcanoes, rice fields, beaches, monkeys, waterfalls- it is truly a paradise with so much culture. Bali is a known honeymoon spot and a gateway to Asia travel for many backpackers. Because of this, some spots are crowded or “famous” because of social media and word of mouth. One of the reasons I loved our time in Bali so much is because we truly beat the crowds!
There are a few ways to beat the crowds and not feel like a tourist. Choosing boutique hotels, waking up early, and going to off the beaten path waterfalls will really help you feel like you have the island to yourself!
Where To Stay
There are a number of options for villas, hotels, airbnbs, etc. in Bali. Though you can stay in big chains like the Ritz Carlton and Marriott for a cheap price, the charm of the villas and boutique hotels can’t be beat in Bali.
Seminyak: We stayed two nights in Seminyak at the most beautiful airbnb and probably our best airbnb experience to date! This place was in a great location, clean, comfy, and the owners ended up being our private drivers for the duration of our stay in Bali. Book this airbnb here!
To be honest, Seminyak in general was kinda blah. It’s loud, touristy, and more of a party beach scene. We LOVED our villa and spent our time in Canguu, a little further than Seminyak and such a foodie area! We had brunch at the Fat Mermaid and headed to the beach to play cards at one of the many beach clubs. We enjoyed going here during lunch hours and pretty much had the place to ourselves. (At night it gets super busy)
The best part of Bali in our opinion is definitely Ubud. Ubud is located in the lush jungle and surrounded by incredible rice terrace views and so much culture. We stayed at the GORGEOUS Jannata Resort and enjoyed our floating breakfast, complimentary yoga, and spa day.
Ubud has SO much to do! Here are some of them:
- Visit monkey forest
- Rent a scooter and go to the rice terraces EARLY
- Have a spa day
- Walk through some temples
- Have a smoothie bowl
- Go to Ubud market
- Explore the waterfalls
- Experience a floating breakfast
- Eat at the Sayan House! (the most incredible food and view overlooking the Four Seasons)
The trick to doing all of these things while beating the crowds is all about the timing, ofcourse.
When visiting the monkey forest, I recommend going around 10 in the morning before the tour groups come in. Ever experience a rice terrace at sunrise? Do it- there will only be a few people there 🙂 Book your spa day in advance and I highly recommend getting a flower bath done!
The spa day we had in Ubud was an unforgettable experience. For less than $60 USD, I received an hour massage, facial, flower bath, and body scrub. I booked this at Jannata Resort – to read a full hotel review click here!
There are countless waterfalls in Bali (especially in northern Bali) but I recommend Wanagiri Waterfall Pucak Manik. This waterfall is located in northern Bali and the hike was a challenge with a rewarding view! We only passed 4 or 5 people on this hike and even had the waterfalls to ourselves. This wasn’t because we woke up at 5 am or had any special tricks, I truly believe this waterfall was just off the radar and not as well known. Our driver even said he hadn’t been to this one!
One of our favorite things we did was hire a driver for the day to take us around Northern Bali. We visited temples, lakes, and beautiful waterfalls!
Exploring the Nusa Islands
A trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the outer islands. The Nusa islands are much quieter than Bali. We stayed in Nusa Lembongan at D’nusa Beach Resort and enjoyed our sunsets and day trips to the other Nusa Islands.
Getting to the Nusa islands is super easy. All boats take off from Sanur and you’ll be on the islands in about a half hour. Book your tickets ahead of time! From hiking, lounging on the beach, to diving and snorkeling, the islands are a beautiful compliment to Bali.
- Hire a local driver for the day (this costs us around $30-$40 for the whole day with a bunch of stops)
- Always have cash
- Research which temples you plan to visit as some of them have clothing rules
- Instead of getting a taxi, download the app “Grab.” It’s like Uber and SO cheap!
- Factor in traffic time to and from destinations- Bali traffic is no joke!
- Rent a scooter with caution, there are countless scooter accidents in Bali
- When visiting monkey forest, don’t bring anything too valuable as those monkeys will try to steal from you!
Things to avoid in Bali
- The. dang. swings.- Maybe it’s just me, but to pay $20 USD and stand in line to take a picture on a swing is never worth it in my book. They had “instagram parks” where there are bird nests and swings and all of them are busy and crowded just for the sake of a picture!
- Tegenungan Waterfall- This is located right in Ubud and it was loud, dirty, there were concession stands before entering, and way too overcrowded!
- If you take a day trip to the Nusa islands, hire a car and not a scooter! The roads are very rough and you will be sore for days if you scooter around Nusa Penida.