Hello everyone! First of all – happy new year! I hope you have a prosperous 2018 and your troubles are few and far-between. If you’ve read my previous blog post or follow my instagram, you’ll know that I recently got back from a holiday in Bali and Dubai with my family. We spent seven days in Bali, Indonesia, and three days in Dubai, UAE. To summarise – it was amazing! So I thought I’d share the highlights of this trip in a Bali travel guide. Because we spent the majority of our time in Bali, I thought I’d concentrate on it most.
Bali Travel Guide
One of the most important things I would like to share in this post is that Bali is safe! You might have heard of the volcano eruption, but Mount Agung is faraway from the majority of tourist areas. All of the hotels and the airport have a back-up plan for the worst case scenario of the airport closing, but the island is 100% safe for tourists to visit! Tourism is a major part of Bali’s income so, with the scare of the volcano, the people do not have enough work. Hotels are empty, Bali is not crowded and you can enjoy it in peace.
Where we stayed
Bali is a really big island! There’s something for everyone. We stayed at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel in the Nusa Dua region. It’s a resort-type hotel, with beautiful gardens and decor. The facilities are excellent and the hotel opens out onto the beach. If you’re looking for somewhere more luxurious to stay, I would definitely recommend the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel. Nusa Dua is a bit of a distance from some of the main attractions in Bali, but it’s close enough to places like Kuta and Ubud.
What we ate
Two of my sisters and my mom are on a gluten-free diet due to Celiac Disease. So, naturally, we had to find gluten-free food wherever we ate. In Cape Town, finding delicious, halal, gluten-free food is quite the struggle – but we had no trouble in Bali. Because Indonesia is a Muslim country, halal food is easy to come by. Because of its convenience, we ate at the restaurants at our hotel (I would recommend the Maguro Asian Bistro in particular) – and were very pleased with the offerings. Outside of our hotels two restaurants, we also ate at an Indian restaurant called Spice Mantra in Kuta which also had yummy food.
What we did
There are so many activities to do in Bali that, even with seven days, we didn’t come close to doing everything. So here are some of the highlights:
- Went “sea walking”.
- Visited Waterbom Bali
- Saw a Kecak show
- Visited a 1000 year old Hindu temple in Ubud
- Went to a plantation for tea and coffee tasting
The sea walking adventure was fantastic. We were taken out on a boat, given helmets that allowed us to walk on the ocean floor without any scuba-diving experience needed. With the helmet on, you can breathe freely and your head stays perfectly dry. The fish were beautiful, the water was clear and it was definitely worth it. Water sports is a big attraction in Bali so make sure you pack a swim-suit (here’s my guide on what to pack) .
Waterbom Bali was just as fun. It’s a water park in Kuta with some really thrilling slides. It’s quite an adrenaline rush (especially the slides where you get dropped almost-vertically down a tube) but there are more laid-back slides and rides if you need a break. The park is well-run, clean and has all the facilities you need.
Of course, Nusa Dua itself has gorgeous beaches so if you’re staying at any of the hotels there – you have access. The water was calm, warm and deep enough for swimming within demarcated areas and other water sports.
The Kecak show is a Balinese performance of the Hindu Ramayana story. Although it is a performance meant for tourists, it was very interesting to see the traditional form of storytelling. We saw the show at our hotel, but there are multiple places where the Kecak show is performed and you should check it out if you’re in Bali.
Bali is filled with ancient temples. Our guide took us to a temple in Ubud that was built in the 10th century. It was beautiful and peaceful to visit. When visiting temples or any religious sites anywhere, please be respectful and listen to your guide! We were loaned some sarongs to wear while inside and got to learn about the different gods. Although I am Muslim, it was incredible and interesting to learn about about another religion and what they hold sacred.
Finally, in Ubud we had a chance to do a small tea and coffee tasting! Agrotourism is a cool attraction in Bali and if you love tea or coffee you should give it a try. The coffee tasting included a R50 cup of the infamous luwak coffee (i.e. poop coffee) which was surprisingly delicious and didn’t taste like it had been pooped out by a ferret. Unfortunately, my sisters weren’t too well that day so we didn’t get a chance to visit the rice paddies in Ubud or the Elephant Cave – but those activities are high on my list if I’m blessed with a trip to Bali again.
How we got around
If you’re a big group (we were five adults), then hiring a driver is an excellent idea. Our driver, who also functioned as a tour guide, knew exactly where to take us and where he could help us get a good deal. His name was Mr Putu and I mistakenly took down incorrect details for his facebook page. If you’re looking for a driver, I would HIGHLY recommend him (drop me an email if you’d like to get in touch with him – I’m sure I could make a plan). If you’re just one or two people, then most tourists get around by hiring a motorbike or scooter. They’re fairly safe and I’m sure there is another Bali travel guide that can recommend good places to hire them from.
Shopping in Bali
The key to shopping in Bali is bargaining. I’m terrible at bargaining so if you’re like me – do not go shopping without someone who can say “no, that’s too expensive”. Fortunately, my dad is one of those people so I did buy a few things that I’ll share in an upcoming post! Otherwise – stick to stores that have prices labelled where there’s no bargaining. You can get some great clothing and accessories in Bali – alongside the usual tourist knick-knacks – in places like Kuta.
Dubai Travel Guide
Because we were in Dubai for such a short period of time, I’m not going to write as extensively about it. One thing about Dubai is that it is BUSY. We stayed near the Dubai Marina and took the metro to get around (which is convenient and quick) and made the mistake of visiting Dubai Mall. That place was PACKED. The one upside – we had a delicious lunch at The Social House cafe and took some selfies with the tallest building in the world!
The next day was spent at the one place I would recommend visiting – Motiongate Dubai. It’s a massive theme park based around Colombia Studios, Dreamworks and Lionsgate. The rides are incredible! I would suggest going early, doing the Dreamworks Madagascar rollercoaster and the How to Train Your Dragon ride first before the queues get insane (we waited two hours for the Madagascar rollercoaster and it was worth it). We didn’t have time to do The Hunger Games rollercoaster but the park stays open until 10 p.m. at night but the Madagascar and HTTYD rides were the best! I’d also recommend the Kung Fu Panda 5D ride which is a lot of fun!
In terms of food, our best meals were from Freedom Pizza (it has amazing gluten free pizza which my sisters were so happy about) and a restaurant on Marina Beach called Pots, Pans & Boards. We spent New Years Eve at Pots, Pans & Boards where it was peaceful enough to avoid the crowds, but close enough to enjoy the atmosphere and see some of the fireworks from the nearby Palm Island. After that first day at Dubai Mall – we did not have the energy to see the big laser show at the Burj Khalifa so this was an excellent alternative.
I hope that I get the chance to travel to Bali again! But, for now, I’m back to regular life…sort of! I’m happy to announce that I’m officially taking a gap year in 2018! I really need a break from studying so I’m excited to see what this year has in store for me. Of course, I’ll be sharing more about my gap year in some upcoming posts. If you’re not subscribed to my blog already and would like to follow along, please enter your email into the box in the sidebar. Otherwise, if you’re interested in seeing more of my travels, check out my instagram.
I hope you found this Bali travel guide helpful! What destinations are on your bucket list? If you’ve been to Bali or Dubai before, let me and my readers know what’s missing from this guide in the comments section.