First-Timers Guide To Bali

For many Australians with a new passport, they find Bali Indonesia very affordable and attractive, so here is our first-timers guide to Bali to help you book your dream holiday.

First-Timers Guide To Bali

Uluwatu – Photo supplied by Bali Villas and taken by Timo Wagner

Bali is one of the most visited destinations in Indonesia. It’s the most popular island for Australian travellers.  Recently I was talking with a friend who was planning her first time to Bali and I thought it would be great to put together a guide for her, and many others who have never experienced the wonders of Bali.


©Exploramum and Explorason – I love Bali sign at Seminyak

First Timers Guide To Bali

Before You Leave

There are several things you need to do before you leave for Bali. Here are a few tips for the most obvious ones.

First-timers Guide To Bali

©Exploramum and Explorason – First on the plane!

Booking your Flights

There are several airlines that fly to Bali. I love using LastMinute when booking flights.  They offer some great specials whether your trip actually is last minute or months in advance.

When booking your flight be careful that the cheap price really is cheap.  Does it include luggage, seating allocation and meals for example?  Often paying a little more will give you peace of mind that you can have a relaxing flight, especially if it is your first time.

Bali at Sunset Photo supplied by Bali Villas and taken by Cassie Gallegos

Pool parties and perfect relaxation in Bali at sunset

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is really important.  Often credit cards have an option for free travel insurance, but never leave Australia without it.

As Bali has had volcanic ash issues rarely in the past, it is important to check what happens with your travel insurance should this occur.

Also, check it covers you for all the sporting activities and adventures you might try.

Plus, we always travel with TravelGuard to protect our credit cards and our passport too.

Bali helicopter

©Exploramum and Explorason – Our helicopter flight Bali

Airport Transfers

One of the biggest mistakes ‘first-timers to Bali’ make is not booking their initial airport transfer.

After a long flight, and going through customs, you need to then find an ATM to change money, figure out the currency exchange and haggle for a cab without getting ripped off.  Often accommodation will offer an airport transfer.  If this is your first time to Bali, I suggest you book this with the accommodation.

If you are staying in Ubud or the north of the island, there is always the option of booking helicopter transfers too.

Bali accommodation

Villa Metisse is a stunning choice for accommodation in Bali


With so many accommodation styles from one to five stars, it is hard to know where to start when booking accommodation for your first time to Bali.

Then there is the choice of accommodation styles.  Because Bali is so inexpensive, you can afford to splurge a little on accommodation and stay in luxury at a very affordable price. One option that is proving very popular is to book one of the gorgeous and traditional Bali Villas.  You can arrange to have complete privacy, or staff to service your every need.  Most have a swimming pool and are located in lovely surroundings.

There is a great site called Bali Villas that have a gorgeous range of villas all over the island of Bali.

Packing Photo - Supplied by Bali Villas

Get packing for your trip to Bali

Packing Essentials

If you are coming from somewhere cooler like Melbourne, then you might need a little reminder that balmy weather awaits you so pack lightly!  Although you might like a light jumper for the plane trip, as soon as you arrive you will be shedding layers.  You won’t be wearing that jumper again until they’re back on the plane!

If you are travelling with children, I always take a change of clothing, and 3/4 into the flight (before the final rush to the restrooms, we change into lightweight clothing.  The airport is open and warm, and you need to be straight into the queue for your customers and immigration, not held up in the toilets only to be stuck on the end of the line.

Bali is a casual island, and unless you are planning a fine dining experience, you won’t want dressy clothing, but we do try to dress nicely for dinner.  Plus, shopping is so affordable you might as well leave that space in your luggage for all the great clothes you will buy in Bali!

Bali Villa

Villa Shantika has one of the most beautiful pools directly off the living area

Where To Stay

There are so many places to stay in Bali and it really does depend on so many factors.

Firstly, how long do you plan to be on the island? 

My friends are planning a twelve-day vacation. We decided they’d like to experience several nights on the coast near either Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, or Canggu for shopping at the start. Followed by a few days in Ubud.  Then to a different part of the coast for the final days of their stay.

Bali Shopping

Bali Shopping is a must – photo thanks to Vikki Ludwig – (Bali first timer)

What do you love to see and do?

Other places like Bukit (known as Uluwatu) is perfect for photography; Tulamben for divers, and Medewi for those who love to surf.

Tanah Lot supplied by Bali Villas and was taken by Nick Fewings

Tanah Lot is a beautiful place to visit

Is this a relaxation trip, shopping expedition or an adventure holiday?

It’s really important to have the right location when you plan your Bali getaway.  There is nothing worse than booking accommodation in the middle of a luscious rice field in a Bali Villa if you want to be near the beach.  The same would apply if you are if you find yourself near a busy and bustling shopping precinct, but you want to be meditating on the patio overlooking the serene rice fields in your Bali Villa.

Photo supplied by Bali Villas

Uluwatu – Photo was taken by Eirik Skarstein

Getting Around Bali

Bali is easy to get around and it depends how adventurous you are.  I’ve been to Bali nine times and I actually become a little less adventurous each time I go.  I realise that I don’t want the stress or dangers of renting and riding a scooter.  I like to self-drive and go on an adventure – but I love exploring. Other times it is just as easy to hire a driver or use Go Jek/ Grab (Bali’s version of Uber).

What To Do

The activities in Bali are obviously endless and with many varying factors.

Some of my suggestions would definitely be to visit some of the many temples, waterfalls, rice terraces, monkey forest, elephant park, zoo, waterslides or white-water rafting. If you have time, island hopping to nearby islands is a must.

Swimming Pool

Take a dip in your private swimming pool  at Villa Pawana

There are beaches for photography, diving, snorkelling with the mantas, surfing, swimming, fishing and relaxing. And of course, you can then head back to your Bali Villa for a lovely and private sunset dip in the swimming pool.

Then you must enjoy a bit of retail therapy shopping, markets, roadside shopping or even the wholesalers. 

But you must take time for some fabulous cuisine experiences and try the local food.  If you are not brave enough to eat from the street vendors, then many restaurants offer great dining experiences.  There are wonderful bars and locations for beach or sunset cocktails. Plus a great nightlife too.

Bali Spa

©Exploramum and Explorason – Fabulous spa packages await you

And finally, I’d suggest a few massages or a spa package for total relaxation.

Whew! And you thought you were going to have a rest?

Tourist Warnings

As with any developing country, Bali has some warnings for the tourist. Newbies mightn’t be aware of the dangers that can lurk in Bali (that aren’t really that dangerous as long as you’re aware of them).

Sadly there are street scammers, crazy traffic especially for scooters, laws on wearing of motorbike helmets, money changing rip-offs, petty thieves, virus-carrying mosquitos especially at sunset, animal cruelty, illegal cock-fighting and gambling, monkeys that can bite or steal, wild Bali dogs, and the need to dressing appropriately.

The general rule for traffic is that the biggest vehicle has right of way is one rule that forced me off the road a few times. But when you use caution and common sense, you will find that you and your valuables should remain safe.


One thing that is bound to lure you to Bali over and over again is the beautiful Balinese people.  The minute you arrive on the island of Bali you will feel welcome.  Balinese people are gentle souls, and because they have a great love for international visitors, you will be treated beautifully.  Particularly for those who haven’t travelled to Bali before, this might just be the most incredible and memorable part of your holiday in Bali.

Balinese culture

©Exploramum and Explorason – Dress respectfully at temples and respect their culture

Bali is steeped in culture and religion, so please use respect and dignity when visiting temples or sharing in their celebrations and holidays.  Some of the special ones include Nyepi (day of silence) and Melasti, but there are many more. If you are in Bali for The Day of Silence, then staying in a beautiful Bali Villa is a must.

Bali Villas

Relax in the serenity of your private villa at Villa Eshara Satu

Regardless of the time of year that you head to Bali, you will always find it to be a beautiful cultural experience.  There are wonderful traditional dances to see, and all-in-all, Bali is a place that once you visit, you will want to return again and again.

Be warned – they say the ‘Bali Bug’ bites you and you must return!

Balinese culture

©Exploramum and Explorason – Temple ceremonies are very interesting

Comments and Questions

What is one of the most important things you are looking for when you go on vacation?

What would you book – a place surrounded by tranquillity, or close to all the activities?

Tell us in the comments below, we’d love to know.

First-Timers Guide to Bali

©Exploramum and Explorason – First-Timers Guide to Bali


92 thoughts on “First-Timers Guide To Bali

  1. Valuable tips, thanks for sharing! We share the love for Balinese villas: there’s nothing better than a private pool in a tropical garden in the afternoon heat. Personally, I’d add Gili Islands to any Bali itinerary that is longer than one week. For us, visiting the Gilis was the highlight of our trip.

  2. I really would love to visit Bali. I love that villas are so affordable – I am definitely planning on staying at a village with a private pool when I finally make it there.

  3. Bali has been on our list for a while but there’s just so many weather events there lately.. volcanoes, earthquakes.. I’d like it to settle down a bit if you know what I mean

  4. We live in Perth, West Australia and we regularly visit Bali. It’s a three-hour plane trip from here and its a fantastic family destination. The Balinese love children and are so welcoming. My favourite place to stay is Canggu, it’s out of the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Seminyak but still close enough to get to from the airport and other attractions.

  5. Such a useful guide for people visiting Bali. Wish we had known some of this before arriving here. The culture in Bali is so beautiful and the countryside amazing! Can’t wait to go back.

  6. Bali is still on the travel list to visit. I think tranquility would be the option for us. It looks so beautiful and it surprises me how many Europeans travel to Bali. I’ll also be looking for yoga retreats too.

  7. I’d love to visit Bali. I’ve been trying to persuade my husband – I think I’ll have to just show him this article and he might be on board!

  8. Such a great guide for a first time in Bali! I haven’t visited Indonesia yet, but this sure does make me want to go there asap!
    P.S: I love your photos of the locals

  9. Some great tips for first-timers. I’ve been to Bali several times now and I’m always learning new things. I like to be close to activities because I like to see and do things, but I also like the visit the peaceful and tranquil places.

  10. Java and Bali were the destinations of my first trip to Asia in 2007.
    The funny thing was that when we arrived in Ubud, we immediately wanted to leave as it seemed too touristic for us after the incredible time we had in Java. We had a road trip along the sea – Amed and Munduk were my favourites – when we met a Balinese from Ubud who promised to show us the “real” Ubud a few days later. And he did! He especially invited us to the tooth filling ceremony and big birthday of his wife. It was just incredible. Hiking in Bali was also a must as we always met a temple ceremony on our way…
    Thanks for sharing your favourites!

  11. My wife has been talking about going to Bali for a long time, and although we are not religious I think the temples would be interesting to see. Thanks for the post, will show her.

  12. Everything you did looks so incredible! Is there anything better than staying in a Balinese villa and soaking in a tub of flowers?! I hope to travel to Bali sometime soon.

  13. What a fantastic guide, Bali is one of my favourite places in the world! We never stayed in a villa but I think I’ll definitely try that on our next visit. Thanks for the tips!

  14. So many great recommendations for Bali! I love to discover the local culture of each place I visit, but, I admit, I’d definitely try one of those amazing spa treatments (the photo said it all!). Island hoping sounds good too!

  15. Booking an airport transfer is a top tip! That haggling mass of drivers is a bit daunting if arriving with kids in tow. To balance all the cultural stuff we loved Waterbomb!

  16. This is so exciting since we are finally heading to Bali in a month or two, and didn’t know where to start! Thanks for this incredibly helpful guide!

  17. Thank you. Great tips for someone who has never been to Bali. We are stuck in Darwin at the moment, our car needs extensive repairs and it has slowed down our “Big Lap” trip. I just decided that we are going to go to Bali and wait out the car repairs there. It makes the whole ordeal so much better!

  18. Thanks for the great write up. I’m in Korea working and Bali is only about 7 hours from Seoul. Love to go. I’m wondering about the best time in the year to go to Bali. Any recommendations on when to go?

  19. One thing I would add under the things to do section is cycling in Bali. You won’t want to try this in the built up areas, but in the quieter north and north-east of the island, it’s a fantastic way to get off the beaten track!

  20. I like a balance of activities and tranquility – I’m actually looking at a wellness trip to Ubud in January. Random question, curious if the purple wrap you guys have on for the temple picture is of religious/traditional purpose or just the days fashion. Cheers! And thanks for the great post and inspiration.

  21. We loved spending 2 weeks in Bali recently. Then we went over to Lombok, just East of Bali, and found ourselves even more in love! It’s much calmer and easier on traffic with so many things to still see and do. Not to mention the amazing beaches!

  22. I love Bali and I have been there a couple of times.
    I know some areas are overflown with tourists. But it is a magical place, or as they call it, the Island of Gods. You gave really good tips for first-time travelers, and I would like to stress that any traveler should explore beyond Kuta and Seminyak, so they can experience the real Bali.

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