Bali Tips & Information 2022
I’m just back from two weeks in beautiful Bali and have some tips and information to help you make the most of your travels in 2022.
Bali Tips & Information 2022
It took me over two and a half hours to get through immigration. That’s as long as my flight from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar! However, I’ve heard even more terrifying stories of up to five hours wait. (There are four different lines to pass through. First, there’s a health desk where you need to present your vaccination certificate. Then, there’s Visa on Arrival (VOA), where you purchase the visa. The VOA line was long, but most of the time spent waiting was in the immigration line. After you get through immigration, you also need to pass through customs. Fill out the form before getting in (or while waiting in) line. The paper forms are located to the right just before the customs check. Remember to bring a pen. I believe there is also an electronic option but I didn’t use it.) Prior to the pandemic I used the Bali Fast Track service to skip queues and get from the tarmac to the freedom in less than 15 minutes (if you don’t have to wait for your luggage – I usually only take carry-on anyway). This service is now up and running again and for around $40 USD you can cut the line and maximise your minutes on the Island of the Gods. *Update: I just returned once more to Bali. My colleague used Bali Fast Track and she reports great service. I used Joumpa and also had an exceptional experience. (Looking online there seem to be MANY companies that offer the service but not all have good reviews. If you’ve used any yourself, please let us know in the comment box below.)
If you choose not to take the fast track service, be prepared for a long wait. Bring snacks, books, your phone charger and games and settle in. The Visa on Arrival can be paid in several currencies (USD, AUD, EURO and even RM). It’s priced at $35 USD. Be prepared for fluctuating exchange rates when paying in other currencies and bring a few dollars etc to cover the variations. For example, when I looked online, it was $50 AUD. However, with the weakening Aussie dollar, I actually need $52 AUD to get through. All foreigners had to show their vaccination status at a health desk before getting in line for the VOA (Visa On Arrival).
I find Grab convenient to use in getting around Bali because it’s connected to my credit card, meaning I don’t have to carry cash, and I like the safety it offers with tracking my ride. At Denpasar airport there’s a waiting lounge and staff to assist you. Once you’ve made your booking, the app even sends you photos of how to get to the lounge.
That being said, local drivers are not happy with the rates Grab pays. On the two instances I used the app, five-minutes into the ride the driver insisted that I cancel Grab and either pay in cash or download another app, Gojeck. Apparently, Gojeck charges customers a higher fee and also gives the driver a better percentage. Needless to say, this did not go down well and both drivers received a lecture about the tourism industry and visitor perception of safety and scams. Yes, ma’am. I did not cancel either booking but will consider using Gojeck so drivers get a fairer rate. For most of the trip I had a driver and this a popular, convenient and usually reliable method many travellers use. (I can share a number if you like, or go to the Bali Information Facebook page for recommendations.)
Where to Stay
There is a lot to experience in Bali, and where you stay will really depend on your interests, budget and desired comfort level.
One tip related to the first two and saving time is to stay in Nusa Dua on arrival or departure. It’s the affluent area of the island inside the Bali Tourism Development Complex, and as such, connects to the airport with a reasonably new highway. This means the journey is usually 15 – 20 minutes each way, compared to possibly hours of traffic to other locations not on the line. If you book the Fast Track service, only have carry-on luggage and stay in Nusa Dua, you could be in your hotel within 30-minutes of landing, compared to up to eight hours in worst case scenarios.
Nusa Dua is safe, full of 5-star resorts and a good place for families with young children or special access needs. Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort is an excellent choice here and you might also consider checking out the brand-new Renaissance Bali Nusa Dua Resort for a fun contemporary vibe and a pool reminiscent of the wedding scene in the movie Crazy Rich Asians. Both have a huge variety of accommodation, comprehensive facilities and warm Balinese service.
Nusa Dua is also home to the famed Koral Restaurant, which offers fine dining underneath an aquarium! The food, service and setting are all exceptional.
Next door to Nusa Dua is the even more exclusive area of Uluwatu. This spectacular coast has possibly some of the most upmarket stays in the world. Even if you cannot stay here, it’s worth heading to one of several beach clubs for a day just to experience it’s beauty. Travelators take guests down the side of cliffs to exclusive areas of pristine beach with food and beverage facilities. Check out Finn’s Beach Club, Karma Beach Bali and Ayana’s Rock Bar for breathtaking views. Additionally, in Uluwatu find the famed Chef Ryan Clift’s latest dining concept, The Cave @ The Edge.
Jimbaran, also in the southern dot of the island, is home to several big-name luxurious resorts and hotels such as Four Seasons and InterContinental and also a number of lovely boutique hotels, including The Open House. This area is popular for seafood restaurants on the beach, incredible sunsets and some great bars to view them. The reason we keep returning to Jimbaran though is for one of our favourite restaurants in the world, Cuca. Seriously, it’s worth visiting Jimbaran if only to dine here. Furthermore, Rumari in the new Raffles Bali has recently opened. Offering a menu of progressive southeast Asian cuisine and awe-inspiring views, it’s also worth a visit.
Kuta, Legian, Seminyak & Canggu
Moving a little further north on the map, you have Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Canggu. The first two are not my style at all, and I’d personally say to avoid them. Seminyak is great for boutiques, restaurants (some great ones such as MAURI and Bonito Fish Bar), cafes and fantastic beach bars but you better plan on walking everywhere (down narrow streets with inconsistent footpaths) as traffic here can be tremendous. Canggu continues the sprawl further up the coast and has established itself as the wellness, yoga, plant-based, mindfulness district. It’s lovely. All of those fore-mentioned things are right up my alley, but it too suffers from cars and crowds.
Cross to the east of the map, and you’ll find yourself in Sanur, one of the oldest tourist areas in Bali. While there is a considerable strip of all sorts of accommodation here, the area maintains its Balinese community feel. I’m in love with the new Andaz Bali and would return again in a heartbeat, even just for its magnificent breakfast. This is also the coastline from which ferries depart to Nusa Penida and other nearby islands (more on that later).
In the middle of the island is Ubud, possibly most travellers’ favourite area for its rich culture, art scene, rice field beauty and incredible cafes and restaurants. Here you can find all sorts of accommodation. Adiwana Resort Jembawan is an excellent choice in the heart of the town – you’re footsteps from the action but once inside completely immersed in peaceful greenery. About 20-minutes drive out of town, The Sun of Granary Resort & Villas is a peaceful and exceptionally pretty stay in the rice terraces. Additionally, Kappa Senses Ubud has just opened and is the place to stay if you like to be pampered in a magnificent spa surrounded by incredible greenery and kindly service.
For me to enjoy a place so much, there must also be great food, and boy does Ubud deliver! Plan your stay to include, at the very least, Restaurant Locavore, Room4Dessert, Apéritif Restaurant & Bar, Pica South American Kitchen and Kubu at Mandapa.
Other Areas in Bali
These are the main areas abundant in opportunities for tourists, but if you enjoy out-of-the-way finds, there is still much to discover (for me too). In the north, Munduk Moding Plantation sits in the mountains offering cooler air, remarkable views and incredible private pool villas. There are beaches with black volcanic sand such as Tembok and villages teeming with culture around the mountains. If you have explored further afield, we’d love to benefit from your knowledge – leave your tips in the comment box below.
Nusa Penida Tips
While not on the main island of Bali, Nusa Penida is about a 45-minute boat ride away from Sanur. It is very much worth a visit, and lots of the photos you see trending on Instagram are of its breathtaking coastline. You can do day trips to experience the major scenery and spend a little time at the beach or snorkelling, or stay a little longer to disconnect or dive. I had a great stay at Adiwana Warnikali Nusa Penida with its proximity to the dock and striking views, and also just spent three days at MĀUA, a newly opened boutique resort with private pool villas and a pretty good restaurant.
While the island is beautiful and “only a 45-minute boat ride away” sounds simple, there are some things you should know before setting off. You will get wet and it’s not for anyone with mobility issues. You need to walk into the water from the beach, which is not always calm, and climb up onto the boat. On the other side, IF you’re able to dock at the jetty, the platform is unstable and you have to walk up quite a steep slope. With my able body, I think this is an adventure. However, with an injury or older body parts, this would be a challenge.
Additionally, my “45-minute” boat ride took three hours! Because it was low tide when we arrived, we were not able to reach the jetty and smaller boats had to come out to get us first and then the luggage. So, I suggest two things. One: look at the tide times and plan your journey to arrive with high tide. Two: just pack an overnight bag you can carry on your lap for the ride so you don’t have to wait for luggage to be unloaded.
One last thing to be prepared for – various seasons can bring rough rides and windows are closed to avoid the splash, making the cabin hot and humid (especially in the middle of the day). If you get sea sick, try to sit towards the back of the boat where the door is open and you can a bit more of a breeze. Travelling early morning also sees cooler temperatures.
Bali Tips & Information 2022
Where to Eat
I’ve already mentioned several restaurant highlights in the Where to Stay section, but for those of you who scrolled directly to Where to Eat, here you go. Of course, the Balinese culinary scene has much to offer from jamu (health tonic) to suckling pig to noodles with dried fish. While I appreciate it and love to explore the scene myself, it’s not my area of expertise or a match for this publication’s content. Local street food is an incredibly delicious and interesting part of the food scene in Bali and there is so much more! It seems Bali is the place world-renowned chefs come to do their thang. With access to produce from fertile soils, surrounded by the fruits of the sea and a local workforce with hospitality running through their blood, it’s easy to see the attraction.
With that in mind, here are some of my don’t-miss restaurants in Bali: Cuca and Rumari in Jimbaran, MAURI and Bonito Fish Bar in Seminyak, Koral Restaurant in Nusa Dua, The Cave in Uluwatu, and Restaurant Locavore, Room4Dessert, Apéritif Restaurant & Bar and Kubu at Mandapa all in Ubud. Click on the name of each for their full menus and location details.
Bali Tips & Information 2022
Hope these Bali tips & information for 2022 have been useful. If you’ve been to Bali recently, we’d love to read your stories, highlights and recommendations. Share them in the comment box below.