...What do you know about Balí?
Growing up in Eastern Europe, I knew almost nothing about the "Island of Gods" besides the fact is an exotic destination and is far, far away. I never even dreamed that l would have the chance to visit one day... Well, when an opportunity presented itself earlier this year, my husband and I embraced it and we were off on our first trip to Southeast Asia. Balí was the last stop in our multi-county Asian adventure and delivered an unforgettable experience.
You might find it interesting to learn that Balí is part of Indonesia, which is a mostly-Muslim country, but the island itself is home to Balinese Hindu minority. Another interesting fact is that most Balinese are bilingual, if not trilingual (Indonesian, Balinese, English). The local currency is Indonesian Rupiah and there is No visa required for US citizens.
Travel Tip: Exchange plenty of $ to local currency at the airport, foreign currency is rarely accepted for payments.
Travel Tip: Arrange transfer to your hotel ahead of time - In the event, you arrive after midnight (as we did), and there are no transfers available to your hotel so late at night, there are taxi drivers waiting in the arrival hall that offer their services. There is also a tourists desk that can help you to negotiate a lower rate.
What to expect from Balinese people?
My husband and I found the locals quite friendly and curious to learn about different countries and cultures. Everybody we have interactions with was helpful and respectful.
Travel Tip: Respect the local traditions - Balinese are pious people and their beliefs reflect daily life. The most visible signs are the tiny offerings known as "canang sari" that can be seen everywhere (in Balinese home, workplace, in the restaurants and streets. Every house has a Pura (Balinese for "temple"), attached to it -- even the poor houses have a small one.
When to visit Bali?
With average temperature 30 C throughout the year, Balí is generally a year-round destination, with only two seasons: wet season and dry season. Note that the High season is during the months of July and August, during Easter Holidays, and Christmas / New Year (December until 1st week of January).
Travel Tip: The best time to visit the island is before or after the High Season, typically April, May, June, and September.
How long to stay in Bali?
Balí is a comparatively big island (2230 sq. miles), and it's best to allow at least a week to explore it. If you are planning to include in your trip the nearby islands Lombok/Gili Islands (accessible via Fast Boat, Public Ferry or Air), you should consider staying at least 10 days.
How to get around in Bali?
Travel Tip: Renting a car or scooter is an option only for an experienced driver used to drive on the local roads. Especially inland, in the countryside, the GPS often doesn't work and expect unmarked dirt roads with signs only in the Balinese language.