Bali Travel Guide

A few years ago, hubby and I decided to venture somewhere new for our honeymoon. As it was the end of February-March, there wasn’t a lot of options due to weather for our budget and we were tossing up between Vietnam and Bali. In the end, going off of the recommendations of others who had been, we picked Bali. 

We flew out of Melbourne the day after our wedding (mind you, we plastic wrapped our bags for the first time ever, horror stories of drug smuggling – we were taking every precaution!) and arrived the day before our ten year anniversary. We were buggered after our flight and as we had landed at night, we were ready to curl up in bed, ready for a new day in a new country. We had a quick check out of our private pool suite at the Grand La Villais Villa and Spa in Seminyak, and they even did a gorgeous set up on the bed and in the bathtub for when we arrived!

As we knew a lot of people who had been to Bali before, we had a fair few recommendations on places to eat, things to do (and avoid) and first on the list was the W Hotel for lunch. It wasn’t far from our villa as we were staying in Seminyak, so we caught a taxi and drove across to the resort. When we got out of the taxi and walked down a small walkway and jumped onto a golf cart, it was mind blowing how pretty it was – but it only got better the further we drove down to the actual resort.
About halfway down to the pool, there was a checkpoint where they used a device to check us and the cart if there were any explosives (I liked this, safety first!) and we were back on our way. 

The W Hotel was stunning! We had a walk around the pool area before settling ourselves at the Woobar for a bite to eat overlooking the beach. We sat there thinking how great this honeymoon could be when we suddenly heard a loud roaring sound fast approaching… A fighter jet flew right over the beach in front of us! What the?! After another thirty seconds, another fighter jet flew over us, even lower! After the fourth one, I hopped up and ran across to the security guard over near the beach entrance to ask what was happening, he turned, scared, and said he had no idea!!! We weren’t too sure what or why this was happening, so we grabbed our belongings, took a taxi back to our hotel and stayed there for the rest of the day to laze by our own private pool. 

That evening, as it was our ten year anniversary together, we had booked a nice restaurant called La Lucciola at sunset (6:15pm) as it is meant to be the best time to go… and boy oh boy ti did not disappoint.
When we arrived, we were a bit worried as the car park area looked very run down and scary, but as we crossed the tiny wooden bridge across to the beach area, we saw exactly why this was a great place to book at sunset. La Lucciola’s is essentially a double story house, without walls, overlooking the ocean with the sun setting in the background. 

We were placed on a table overlooking the beach with the most refreshing breeze coming through as the front of the building actually has no walls! Looking at the menu there were so many options to suit different tastes. The complimentary tomato and oregano bread was delicious, we kept requesting more to come out!

For the mains, my husband ordered the spinach ravioli and I ordered the gnocchi beef ragu and they were both without a question possibly the best dishes I have ever tried – especially the ravioli – and coming from an Italian family this is saying something. The dishes were well priced at approx. $15 AUD each but well worth it!

For dessert we each had a trio of gelato and they were excellent too! Luke had the choc mint, vanilla bean and strawberry whereas I had the choc mint, vanilla bean and coconut – they were freshly made and we couldn’t stop eating even though we were completely full! Towards the end of our meal a thunderstorm was rolling in which was nice to watch.

On day two of our twelve day honeymoon, we booked ourselves in at Wellbeing Spa from another recommendation from a family friend. Though the place looks a bit rundown and at first appears a bit dodgy – it isn’t the prettiest of places – it was a great massage experience.

Whilst here you MUST get the Four Hand Energy Points Massage. For US$59, you get two therapists working their magic on you for a whole 90 minutes! Pure heaven. My hubby and I got this done on an almost daily basis, as it is complete relaxation. It was about a ten minute walk from the Villas we stayed at, but sometimes, if they are quiet, they offer to pick you up in their van.

On day three, hubby decided to take his golf clubs for a spin (yes he dragged his golf clubs with us on our honeymoon, if you know what he is like, you would understand, he loves his golf – it was even mentioned in our vows!) at the Bali National Golf Club in Nusa Dua, so I decided to have a chill day by my private pool listening to Elvis. Again, there were more fighter jets flying over me during the day, and it was then (after hooking up to the resorts wifi finally) that  I found out it was them trialling security as some of the Bali Nine prisoners were in the process of being moved to another facility for execution (if you are not familiar with the Bali Nine story, in short, nine Australian tourists who were convicted of smuggling in drugs into the country – which is a MASSIVE no-no in Bali). Again, scary stuff! 

The next day, we decided to check out a place that kept popping up on all the Bali recommendation forums; Potato Head! Potato Head, Seminyak was a nice day just to relax and have some drinks by a large pool – but you do have to get there early! We got there almost an hour before they opened and the line was massive, otherwise you miss out on one of the day beds they have to offer (which is pretty much the main reason you go here, is for one of these comfy day beds!).

It isn’t the cheapest day out – drinks were about $10 – $12 AUD and lunch (small bowl of gnocchi) was about $23 AUD. It adds up pretty quickly, but in saying that, the food is delicious. Thankfully, we only did this as a once off, being it was our honeymoon and all. The infinity pool is refreshing and cool, and has an awesome swim up bar so you don’t have to leave it. The service here is impeccable, we didn’t have to leave our lounge chair once to find someone to order food or drinks, and as soon as we had taken our last sip, they would be right there asking if you would like a top up.
Lastly, you must keep applying sunscreen, we were only there for three or four hours and were SEVERELY sunburnt under the Bali sun. Thankfully, mine turned into a wicked tan. In short, I would definitely venture back to Potato Head if I ever return to Seminyak!

The next day was another relaxing day, with myself lounging by the pool with some drinks in hand, and Luke off to try golf at the Nirwana Golf Course which overlooked Tanah Lot Temple. That night, an epic storm rolled in over us and boy did it rain! It rained so much that during the middle of the night when Luke got up to go to the toilet, the floor was flooded, it wasn’t a tiny bit of water, but the whole hallway was literally flooded with about an inch of water… Not fun to try and clean up at 3am! 

The following day, we decided to book a private tour guide and venture off to see some Monkeys as well as Tanah Lot Temple. 
Monkey Forest was a unique stop on a tour we did on the way to Tanah Lot Temple, but I don’t think I will do it again!
As soon as you step out of the van, you are bombarded with monkeys trying to sneak in to the van to steal your belongings. You will also be on high alert the whole time you are there as they continually try and steal things from your bag. The “guides” walk around with massive, thick sticks to ward off the bigger monkeys as they try to injure people (we found this out when one came screaming towards us!!!)
The guides get you to buy a bag of nuts which you feed to certain monkeys and take you around the place. Beware, plenty of mosquitoes due to the forest-like area so make sure you respray repellent otherwise you’ll be eaten alive. The guides then take you around to massive bats and other creatures which are covered in muck and try to get you to pay to take photos with them – we declined, naturally – and then, once again, met with a bunch of tin shed stalls to peruse before you leave. Luke bought me a gorgeous wood carved elephant statue (but didn’t come cheap at almost $45 AUD!) It was a unique experience, don’t get me wrong, but been there, done that, won’t do it again

With Tanah Lot Temple, it is probably about a 45 min drive from Seminyak and you drive past rice fields and small towns/villages on the way. Once you get there, there are people EVERYWHERE and you can hardly move, and they have all these really bad stalls lined up everywhere and they try to drag you in to have a look.

Once you actually find where you have to go to view the temple (it’s a bit of a walk) it is flooded with tourists and you have no idea where you are meant to go – hubby and I stood there on the rocks for a little bit looking around us but no idea if we were meant to walk across to the Temple or not. The ocean views are pretty, but you can get those anywhere along the coastline. We left after only twenty minutes as we kept getting hassled by vendors trying to sell off so much random crap which we would never take with us, they just can’t take no for an answer.

On the way back to find out driver, we went to the convenience store and bought us all (driver included) an icy pole to cool down as it was a very humid day, and boy oh boy do they try to rip you off, they tried to charge us the equivalent of 8 ice creams when we were only purchasing 3. Was not pleased at all and after a spray, they agreed to charge us the correct amount.
I guess it would have been a more enjoyable experience if there weren’t so many people around, but for a $200 day, I honestly didn’t get that much enjoyment from it. But hey, that’s just me! 

After a few not so pleasant experiences a week in to our trip, with even more fighter jets flying over us, we were worried things could turn hostile while over here and decided to fly home early. After contacting our travel agent, who basically wanted to charge us MORE than what we originally paid for a return ticket just to get back home (she wanted over $500 EACH), we called Luke’s mum via messenger to contact Virgin Airlines on our behalf to see what could be done. They turned around and said it would be $70 each to change the date and we were scheduled to fly out two days from then! 

On our last full day in Bali, we decided to hit Waterbom Park. This place is similar to Wet’N’Wild in Queensland, Australia as it has an array of water slides and activities to escape the humidity of Bali and the food there is actually pretty good, especially considering how much of a rip off it is back home in Australia. The park is open from 9am – 6pm all days except NYEPI DAY (Day of Silence). Entry fee for adults is 520.000 IDR (approx. $52 AUD) and for children 370.000 (approx $37 AUD) which covers general entry, and use of all rides and mats. You have to pay extra for locker hire, towels, food, beverages and special services such as massages. They have a cashless payment system called ‘Splash Band’ where you can put money on a waterproof wristband and use that to make payments for food, drinks, and specialty services, it beats carrying around soggy money in your board shorts!

Lunch and ice creams were relatively cheap, which we were shocked with. We bought pizzas and ice-creams as well as smoothies and shakes and spent bugger all. They also have fun activities such as water balloon fights where you have to sling water balloons across to your opposition, a great way to get wet and beat the humidity.
The rides are very similar to Wet’N’Wild, but as you can imagine, not run as greatly. My hubby hurt his back after one of the rides, as the “lifeguard” wasn’t paying attention and didn’t stop him before he smashed into the wall and bruised it rather badly. Also, when we went they were remodelling a few rides so had half the park closed off to us.
They also have massage huts and one of those tanks where the fish suck off the dead skin from your legs and feet – I actually tried this for the first time ever and it is beyond weird. I am rather ticklish on my feet, and when they went in between my toes it took all my self control not to squeeze me toes and squash the fish in the process. These go for about $7 AUD for 15 minutes and the massage huts are from $20 AUD for 60 minutes.
All in all was a fun day out where we had a lot of fun and escaped the heat.

Shopping in Bali isn’t all that great, especially when you compare it to the stalls in Thailand. You can go down to Kuta and try your luck at the stalls but just from driving past them, they were your average cheap knock off type of things, nothing to stop and browse really – sarongs, cheap knock off t-shirts, sunnies… The usual items you expect.

Also, the Beachwalk Shopping Centre in Kuta is extremely overpriced, even when comparing to Australia, a lot of their items are more expensive. I went into Victoria’s Secret and some items were almost double that of what we pay over here.  We didn’t really go shopping in Bali, except buying a wooden carving from the Monkey Forest and a sarong from a stall I walked past by accident, otherwise, I avoided them.

On the night of us flying out – we were on a Red Eye flight, eurgh! – We had dinner at a top rated restaurant along the main strip in Seminyak. We were happily eating our pizzas when we noticed a group of men out the front of the window swapping bags of pills and cash… We left straight away, no way were we getting caught in the middle of this!
We were also fortunate to have left Bali when we did, because as soon as we landed home, hubby and I were violently sick for the next two weeks, with Luke getting better, but I continued being so crook I couldn’t return to work for months. Turned out I had caught a parasite! 

Would I ever return to Seminyak – most likely no. Would I return to Bali – possibly. If I returned, I would probably stay in Nusa Dua or Ubud and remove myself from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak and Kuta, as the constant harassment from taxi drivers and vendors wasn’t pleasant. Our private pool villa was AMAZING and one of the main reasons we stayed as long as we did.

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