In 2013, me and a group of friends decided to spend a week in Bali for the New Years celebrations. This was the peak season, so keep that in mind when reading this. Bali is a popular destination because of it’s amazing beaches and coral reefs. In that particular week it was raining A LOT! There was non-stop rain for 3 whole days!
As a South African, you don’t need to apply for a visa beforehand. You will need to carry some cash, preferably US Dollars on your arrival to pay for the tourist visa instead. I’m not sure if this applies to all nationalities, but if you do not have cash on you there is an ATM in the customs office. You will also have to exchange your money into the local currency in Indonesia called Rupees.
If you are not renting a scooter, you will be reliant on taxis or private buses to get you everywhere on the island. There is no public transport and it has poor road planning, so you will sit in traffic a lot. We travelled from Kuta to Ubud and to other various locations and it took the entire day. We decided to prioritise what to see first during the day as a result.
It’s cheap. However, you will be spending a bit on transport depending on what you want to do and where you’d like to go.
For this post, I will talk about Kuta, as this is the area where we stayed for the vacation.
We stayed at the Kuta Resort hotel. It was actually very nice and near to the centre. It was peak season, so accommodation directly in the centre was very expensive. The resort’s interior was very nice, had a pool and inclusive breakfast buffet which was very good.
The rooms were spacious and the service was great. It was also situated near a supermarket which is always important. Travelling to and from the hotel was not bad and not far. In fact, you could walk to the centre from the hotel if you can take the heat…or in our case the constant rain.
We did a lot of day activities and preferred to spend the evening in Kuta instead. We did decide to walk one morning through Kuta to get massages. It is very overrun with tourists, over crowded and for the most part dirty. It is great for finding good restaurants for all prices and wellness spas. The main centre of Kuta is not that bad. The city also has a lot of cool and trendy restaurants as well.
The mix of modern and poorer buildings that can be seen in the streets.
The nightlife in Bali, was great actually. They have huge dance clubs with many floors and bars that are open all night and all with free entry too. The interiors are beautiful and the overall party mood is good.
Looking for a New Year’s party? Plan this one in advance, deciding on the day or night is not a good idea as prices for entry into various parties go up as high as $100!
Overall, I felt safe on the island, there was no real serious threat. However, I would urge you to watch your bags while walking in the busy streets during the day and night.
One evening as we were walking home, two guys on a scooter drove past and grabbed my friend’s purse. That was in the main road, so be careful. Try to bring cash on you and leave your cards at home.
The food in Bali was overall satisfactory. There are a lot of options to choose from in terms of restaurants. You could practically find anything you want. The main dishes from the island consist of rice with amazing spices with fried chicken or pork.
The main beach was awful, dirty and a mess. I could see how it was once a beautiful little cove surrounded in peace. Today, this beach is full of party goers and tourists whole day and night. It didn’t look ideal for swimming or relaxing. We stopped by the beach briefly one morning, but did not stay long. In fact, we didn’t get a lot of beach time that week because the weather was quite awful. It was rainy almost every day, and going to a decent beach was going to take too long.
This was the best part of Bali. The massages and spa treatments here were really cheap. You can get a full body massage and various other treatments in various packages for just R300! You will spend the whole morning just getting pampered.
I opted for the massage and skin exfoliation treatment where you are covered in coffee chocolate, then get to soak in an aroma bath full of petals. Totally worth it.
Kuta in conclusion
As said before, we did a lot of travelling on the island and many activities. Kuta was a place we ventured into in the evenings. I was disappointed by the beach and the bad weather we had that week. If it’s a party vacation, you are looking for with all the thrills then Kuta is the best choice. I think overall, it’s a good place to have as a base, but seeing how far the places are from each other it’s probably a good idea to stay at various locations throughout your holiday. Driving by road to get to different points will be time consuming as everyone uses the roads and traffic is a major headache.
In my next post, I will write about travelling around the amazing Island and all the fun things to do!
- Bring cash when travelling around the island, and leave your cards at home.
- Keep hold of your bag or make it as inconspicuous as you can when walking at night.
- Be wary of traffic issues when travelling between places. Ubud and Kuta are far from each other. I recommend staying over in different places to really explore the areas. If you have time of course.
- Do research on the best beaches to go surfing if that’s your priority. If you are keen to stay in Kuta, prepare to wake up early to go visit different beaches.
- Finally, I would choose the period after February to holiday there to avoid another monsoon! Also, it’s less crowded.
- Lastly, DO NOT DO YOUR HAIR IN BALI! Eeeurgh! I decided to treat myself at a hair salon and I landed up with some straightening treatment where I couldn’t wet my hair for 2 days and it was raining. I asked for a simple blowout and landed up with a mess. Big NO NO!