When it comes to pristine beaches, South East Asia offers a wide array of holiday destinations to the travelers. Be it the hidden beaches in Philippines & Vietnam or the well know destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, these beaches would not disappoint travelers who love the sun, sand and water. Bali in Indonesia, undoubtedly is one of the most sought after holiday destinations in this region.
Summer was around the corner and we were hunting for our a destination for our annual get away. After deliberations and negotiations with wifey it was finally decided on a beach holiday. We quickly ruled out our favorite beach destination “Goa”, as we had done it recently. With the Kiddo on-board, we wanted to limit our travel time to around 12 hours.
The options that we zeroed in were: Srilanka, Maldives, Phuket, Langkawi and Bali.
All these destinations more or less ticked our check-box – Travel duration was less than 12 hrs from India, had huge resorts which were toddler friendly and had great weather during the month of April. By great weather I mean, clear blue skies, warm sand and a blue sea buzzing with activity 🙂
Considering that we had been to Phuket couple of years back, we eliminated the option. We parked Srilanka as we wanted to visit this beautiful country when the little one was old enough to explore the entire island. Maldives was ruled out as most of the resorts were not allowing us to book the on-water villa’s.
That left us with the 2 options – Langkawi in Malaysia and Bali in Indonesia. Both these destinations are beautiful islands with exotic beaches and similar weather. On the travel aspect, flight duration was almost similar (Bali flights took an additional couple of hours), with the transit being Kuala Lampur. What tilted our decision towards Bali was that, we felt 5 nights in Langkawi might be bit of a stretch, considering that the island was much smaller as compared to Bali.
Having decided Bali as the destination, I started the planning phase – usually do my bookings around 3-4 months in advance to avail the best prices.
We were flying from Bangalore to Bali and had multiple options when it came to reaching Bali. If you would want to fly a full service carrier, you can opt for Singapore airways (transit through Singapore), Malaysian Airways (transit through Kuala Lumpur) and Thai Airways (transit through Bangkok). Another option is AirAsia – many of my friends had recently taking this option and had positive feedback.
Quickly checked the ticket prices and found that AirAsia was working out a good 15K Indian Rupees lesser than the next best option Malaysian Airlines. One question that kept popping up while researching about AirAsia flight from Bangalore to Bali was “Will I need a transit Visa while transiting through Kuala Lumpur?”.
From my past experience I do know that one does not need a transit visa while flying Malaysian Airlines, but was not very sure about AirAsia as it operates from the Low Cost terminal KLIA2. Did loads of research on the internet but found conflicting reviews and comments from travelers.
For the benefit of people who are travelling AirAsia and transiting through KLIA2 let me clear the air:
- One does not need a transit visa when you are booking a FLY THRU route of AirAsia. If you are not sure about what FLY THRU option is:
- Select the place of origin – which in my case was Bangalore
- Select your destination – which in my case was Bali
- If the desired destination appears in the destination box and you book your flight as a single ticket it is technically called as a FLY THRU ticket booked under a single booking ID
- Your bags would be checked in directly to the final destination and you should be getting boarding passes of both the legs of the journey at the place of origin.
After getting this clarification that I would not require a transit visa in Malaysia, I went ahead and booked the priority seats (which can be purchased by offering a small premium).
Once the tickets were booked, started looking out for the accommodation. There is no dearth of hotels and resorts in Bali – you will find all kind of accommodation available, from budget hotels to the high end luxury resorts. Considering that Bali is a large island, you need to select the place where you need to stay based on the interests and activities that you would be involved.
Following are the main areas in Bali where tourists usually camp:
a. Seminyak: Known for its beautiful beaches, Seminyak is an upmarket beach resort area typically suited for travelers who do not mind shelling few extra bucks. The beaches here are not that crowded and the area also offers good nightlife. There are also many good upscale dining options available where you can indulge yourself in the local cuisine. The only downside of being in Seminyak is the traffic that you will encounter. While driving through Seminyak, we felt as though we were travelling through a very busy downtown with innumerable signals and pedestrian crossing.
b. Ubud: Bali is not all about beaches. Ubud is the epicenter of Bali’s culture and is famous for the rice terraced landscapes. Many tourists spend couple of days during their trip in Ubud to experience the Balinese culture, arts and historical places. You will find many beautiful luxury resort and villa’s by the river valley and rice plantations which is a stark contrast to the beach life that Bali is known for.
c. Kuta: Undoubtedly the most famous beach area in Bali, Kuta is know for being the hub of beach activities in Bali. At any given point of the year, you will the beach buzzing with activity with many surfers refining their skills. The place is relatively cheaper than the other options and has loads of budget hotels and pubs where you can hang out. This place though might not be an ideal destination for families.
d. Nusa Dua: Nusa Dua is located at the Southern tip of the island and is a resort enclave which houses most of the 5 star resorts in Bali. If you do not mind splurging those extra bucks and do not mind being a bit disconnected from the local culture, this is the place to be. The place houses all the luxury resort brands and most of the resorts provide direct access to beach front. The entire area is maintained by ITDC, a state run corporation and brings together the needs of the Western travelers and the local culture. The entire area is a gated community and the sense of security even during odd hours is unquestionable.
Apart from these options, you can also explore properties located at Legian beach, Jimbaran, Sanur, Denpansar and Tanjung Benoa.
Since we were travelling with our little one, Nusa Dua checked all our requirements and we ended up booking our rooms at The Westin, Nusa Dua. (Will review our stay separately in another post).
The last time we visited Bali around 7 years back, it was Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) for Indians. Things have changed a lot over the years and as per the new Visa and immigration rules (since 11 November 2015), most of the countries do not need a Visa while travelling for tourism purpose. You just need to possess a valid passport with minimum validity of 6 (six) months and a Return Ticket or Through Ticket to get through the immigration.
Note: Our immigration was very smooth as the immigration queues were practically empty. We just had to show our passports and they were stamped. It is generally a good practice to carry the following documents just in case few questions are raised:
- Copies of your Return / Through flight tickets
- Copy of your place of stay – hotel reservation
- Copy of your bank statement or credit card statement – I just had downloaded my bank and credit card statements on my phone, just in case they ask anything regarding the funds.
Please refer the following official immigration site to check if you are exempted: http://www.imigrasi.go.id/index.php/en/layanan-publik/bebas-visa
Everyone travelling to Indonesia is a “Millionaire” 🙂 . The currency of Indonesia is “Indonesian Ruppiah”. Indonesian banknotes come in denominations of Rp 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000, and Rp 100,000.
It is always a good idea to carry some cash, just in case you would need them to settle your taxi bills or grab a quick bite before checking into the hotel. Initially I did not have any plans to get Indonesian Ruppiah but ended up buying it at Bangalore International Airport. Was indeed a feeling to push Rp 1.7 Million into my wallet :). Even though you might have a million bucks in your wallet, be rest assured that it would not suffice. To give a perspective I hired a Toyota Innova for a day to go around Bali and it cost me a Rp 1.45 Million – was a bit expensive as we had booked it through the hotel.
Note: I would not advice you to buy Indonesian Ruppiah directly as the exchange rates are pretty bad. I ended up losing around Rs 5k. I would recommend you to buy USD and then exchange them at Bali. (1USD ~ Rp 13,000). Even with the double transaction, you will not end up losing the amount that I did.
There are no dearth of taxis in Bali. The basic fare of the taxi starts from Rp 7,000 (Around USD 0.55 cents) and around Rp 7,000 to Rp 10,000 per kilometer. You can also avail UBER which are a bit cheaper than the Bluebird Taxi Fee.
Even though you will find many cabs as you walk out of the Bali Airport, it is advisable that you book your cab through the hotels, especially during the peak holiday period. We booked our cab through the hotel and had a hassle free pick up and drive to the resort in Nusa Dua.
So why wait any further. Pack your back and head to this beautiful tropical destination. Bali would never disappoint you and will have something new to offer each and every time !!!
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