Spent three weeks on the Indonesian island of the gods, Bali, and gained unprecedented impressions. I travel a lot, but I’ve never been outside of Europe, so the trip to Indonesia surprised me in many ways.

I want to write this article not only to consolidate my memories of the trip, but also to see where the Google search engine ranks me for the keywords “Travel to Bali”, “Bali” among the offers of all travel agencies. And of course, if Google is kind, then maybe this article will serve as a guide and inspiration to go see Bali’s incredible natural scenery on your own.

We went on the trip as a group of four – me, my wife and a couple of friends. This did not significantly affect the expenses, because we always stayed in our rooms. It was cheaper to take a taxi because we could split the costs in half there.

What we did before going to Bali

Before going to Bali, you must know that a visa is required. The visa can be applied online in advance or on arrival at Jakarta airport. We got to try both options, because the wife had incorrectly specified some data in her visa, so we had to make the visa again on the spot, which took about 20 minutes. In both options, the cost is around 30€. You can apply for a visa online here – Indonesia Visa.

In order to be able to travel by vehicle in Bali, we obtained an international driver’s license from CSDD. We never had to use this document, because we only saw a couple of policemen.

Of course, you can’t forget about insurance. I use the Luminor Black bank card which includes travel insurance for me and my family members. Before the trip, I added my wife as an additional insured person on the Luminor website.

How did we get to Bali and how much did the plane tickets cost?

The island of Bali is 10,856 kilometers away from Latvia, so it should be expected that getting there will be relatively expensive. To get from Riga to Denpasar airport, we flew with three planes and it took exactly one day or 24 hours.

riga-bali distance

Of course, we were looking for the cheapest possible plane tickets and the best option was:

Flying with Turkish Airlines from Riga to Istanbul, Turkey ~4h flight
~12h flight from Istanbul with Turkish Airlines connecting flight to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia
From Jakarta to Denpasar, Bali. We flew with some local airline ~1.5h flight
We flew back exactly the same way.

All plane tickets cost €867.24 per person.

I had previously flown with Wizzair, Airbaltic and Ryanair planes, so Turkish Airlines planes were my first surprise. Comfortable chairs, enough legroom, everyone has their own TV with 850 movies and three delicious meals in both directions. During the 12-hour flight, I stood up only once, and when I got off the plane, my bum didn’t hurt – what comfortable seats!

If you want to go to Bali with a single connection, then it is possible from Doha Airport in Qatar and from Istanbul Airport in Turkey.

What was the format of our trip?

We are not ordinary travelers who use the offers of a travel agency, stay in one hotel and go on tours. We organized everything ourselves, stayed in about 10 different hotels, bungalows, villas. We moved with motorcycles and now and then with dachshunds. We stayed not only in Bali, but also in three other islands.

Such a travel format certainly has its pros and cons, but in my opinion, the impressions can be much brighter.

What to consider when arriving in Bali?

Thanks to our friends who had already visited Bali the year before, we were prepared and informed about Balinese laws. The ones I remember most vividly:

Do not buy anything at the first price you are offered. Bali has local prices and tourist prices, so if you agree to the first price, you will probably overpay a lot. Everything will start already at the airport, where you will be offered at least double the price for taxi services. In the market, it is sometimes possible to negotiate prices even 5 times lower. One trick I remember is when the dealer won’t lower the price anymore, walk away and he will shout a much lower price at you.

You will be a millionaire in Indonesia! 1 million Indonesian Rupiah or IDR is ~60€ so be prepared to feel rich. Also, be prepared to pay IDR 20,000 for one cup of coffee.

Divide everything by 3 or more! My conclusion about the prices in Bali was that everything costs about 3-4 times cheaper than in Latvia. If you want to pay an adequate price for goods and services, then compare the offered price with Latvian prices. If this price is not three times cheaper, then you are asking too much.

Don’t drink tap water and tell them not to put ice in their drinks. Either our stomachs are not ready for it or the local water is really dirty, but it is better to drink water only from plastic bottles. While in Bali, we met two more Latvian couples and one of them told us about the troubles with Bali Belly, thanks to a cocktail with ice.

No spicy! The local menu is quite spicy, so warn the service staff to prepare your food without spicy spices. Later, when your taste buds are accustomed, you can try the Spicy versions of the dishes. Personally, I really didn’t like the fact that even European dishes come with sauces that are so sharp that they ruin the whole meal.

Car rental? Renting a car in Bali can be a pretty bad idea because all the locals and most of the tourists get around on scooters. Especially in big cities, there are abnormal traffic jams, while all the roller skaters pass cars even on the sidewalks. Also, in Indonesia, the steering wheel of cars is in the “bardochok” or on the other side and the traffic goes the other way around (just like in England). I consider myself a good driver, but I would not want to participate in traffic there.

What did we see in Bali?

With the tour format we chose, we saw a lot, so we might have forgotten some places.

Our travel plan looked something like this:

Day 1 – We travel from Riga to Bali

About 24h on the road. Three planes, two transfers. We are well fed because we got three meals on Turkish Airlines flights.

Day 2 – First hotel and sleep

Arriving in Bali, we take a taxi to the first hotel. It is one in the morning local time (Bali time is 6 hours ahead of Latvia time). Take a shower and sleep!

Day 3 – First full day in Bali

The morning started with breakfast, where I went three times to refill my plate with Nasi Goreng, or rice with vegetables and chicken. It was probably the tastiest rice I had ever eaten. The most popular dishes among the locals are Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng, or rice with vegetables and noodles with vegetables. Needless to say, within three weeks they got bored of these dishes and we start ordering European dishes, which they hardly know how to cook. On this day, we left Kuta for Ubud, where we checked into a hotel. In the afternoon, we rented scooters for one week, I learned to drive, we walked a little through the narrow streets of Ubud and by 18:30 it was already dark.

Day 4 – Tegallalang rice field and Kenderen waterfall

The closest major attraction to Ubud town is the Tegallalang rice field. To be fair, it wasn’t at its best during the rainy season, but it was still beautiful. Upon entering the territory, we were offered to swing by ourselves and take a picture. This was the first such offer, so we agreed. After that, during the trip, we received about 20 more offers to swing by ourselves in various places, but unfortunately, we refused all further offers.

swings in rice field

Enjoying swings at Tegallalang rice field

We walked around the entire rice field, taking too many photos because this was our first sight. The picture that ended up in a rice field swing was definitely worth 50,000 IDR or 3€!

Later we visited one small and not very popular waterfall. It seemed very impressive and beautiful, but it was only the beginning and I had no idea that I would see even bigger, more powerful and more beautiful waterfalls.

Day 5 – Tegenungan Waterfall, Kanto Lampo Waterfall, Tukad Cepung Waterfall, Tibuman Waterfall

The island of Bali itself is most famous for its waterfalls, but the most beautiful beaches can be found on the neighboring island of Nusa Penida, but more on that later.

We get up early in the morning, eat Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng, sit on our scooters and go to see four spectacular waterfalls.

Tegenungan waterfall is very close to Ubud city, so it is visited by a lot of tourists. Here we also met two other Latvian couples, who were also the only Latvians we met during our trip.

Tibumana Waterfall

Tukad Cepung Waterfall

Tegenungan Waterfall

Kanto Lampo Waterfall

It probably doesn’t make sense to describe every waterfall, that’s why there are pictures. It’s hard to say which of all the waterfalls I liked the best, because after seeing each one, they all started to look like ordinary Bali sights.

When walking to the waterfalls, you often had to climb hundreds of steps, and you had to sweat a lot to enjoy the view. But at least for dinner you could enjoy Indonesian cuisine without reproach.

As I love the movie Avatar, especially the first part, being in Bali felt a little like I was on the planet Pandora. On the way to the waterfalls, there were many smaller waterfalls, the rocks were overgrown with moss and drops of water were constantly dripping on them – it seemed that the rocks and everything around were alive.

Day 6 – On the way to North Bali. Visit to NungNung Waterfall and Ulun Danu Beratan Temple and Park

Further, our paths led to the north of Bali, where there are two active volcanoes – Batur and Agung. The purpose of this trip is to wait for the sunrise at the top of the Batur volcano.

We don’t rush to the volcano, we stop at another Instagrammable waterfall – NungNung

Team at NungNung waterfall

After visiting the waterfall, we go to another fabulously beautiful place, Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, located on the shore of Lake Bratan. This Hindu temple was built in 1633 and is used for ceremonies dedicated to the Balinese goddess of water, lakes and rivers, Dawi Danu. A very large park has been created around the prayer areas with various figures and entertainment options for children. This was one of the neatest places we saw on our entire trip!

Visiting Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

We looked for a place to spend the night in the immediate vicinity and found container houses. This concept of accommodation has always seemed very interesting to me, the rest of the traveling companions also thought so, so we spent the night in containers. Well, it felt like being in a can, but in the morning the view of the lake opened up.

Sea container Airbnb at Bali

Day 7 – Banyumala waterfall and overnight at Batur volcano

Banyumala waterfall

One of the last waterfalls on our list of attractions was Banyumala. Also known as the double waterfall, this is a very popular waterfall for travelers who make it to Bali North. In the north, the water is no longer as warm as in central Bali, so I didn’t go swimming here at all. But the rock at the foot of the waterfall is a very popular spot for Instagram shots.

Rollering around

This day was followed by a rather long journey to the next place to stay – fresh bungalow-type houses at the foot of the Batur volcano. We were greeted by a very nice Balinese lady who treated us to coffee, cookies and bananas. We went to bed already around 9:00 p.m., because we had to get up at 2:00 a.m. and prepare to conquer the summit of the Batur volcano.

Day 8 – Sunrise at the top of Mount Batur, return to Ubud and visit Monkey Forest

This was one of the hardest and at the same time the coolest days of the Bali trip. At 2:30 the alarm clocks went off and at 3:00 a safari jeep arrived to take us to the foot of Mount Batur. We took bamboo sticks, which in principle could only be carried and not used effectively, and we set off. The hike was not long – around 1:15-1:30h and the road was easy. When we got up, our backs were wet. We were among the first up there and got the best spots to watch the sunrise. It was interesting to watch other people go up the volcano with flashlights.

The sun was shining, but the view was not very impressive because of the clouds. Of course, it was beautiful as well!

Summiting Batur volcano at the sunrise

We then looked at a family of monkeys living on top of the volcano, looked and felt the steaming vents and headed back down. We were at the hotel just in time for breakfast – 8:00.

After that, we went back to Ubud, where we were supposed to visit the Monkey Forest in the evening.

Monekys on the top of the Batur volcano

More than 1,200 monkeys of the macaque species live in Ubud’s Monkey Forest. There are 10 groups or families of monkeys living in the territory of the park, each of which has its own territory, which is also strictly respected.

The ticket costs IDR 80,000 for one adult, which is about €5. It’s definitely worth it because watching the monkeys is quite funny and they themselves have quite a fun life in this park. Here the monkeys are well fed and not as rude as in other places, so if you don’t ask yourself, the monkeys won’t do anything bad.

Day 9 – Rest day in Ubud and visit to Pura Dalem Ubud Temple Dance performance

The trip is almost half over, so we took a day off. While walking through the streets of Ubud, we were offered to attend a local dance performance – we did not refuse this offer.

We went to the market, where we had to learn to bargain. I ended up pretty bad because I bought the slippers for IDR 200,000 more than what I could get from another seller afterwards. It’s okay.

We ate at an already established restaurant, ate ice cream with beans at the Mixue ice cream shop and went to the show.

The show was originally scheduled to be outside, but a little rain came, so it was moved under the roof. The whole performance was quite interesting, about 100 men and three women participated. At the end of the show, real fireworks started – more precisely, a man went into a trance, threw coconut shells at the coals, jumped on them, put them in his mouth and left everyone speechless. Some visitors even got to check if the coals were real because they were thrown on top of them.

Day 10 – Transfer by speedboat to the island of Nusa Penida

Let’s go to the islands!

At the hotel where we stayed for several days, we met the owner who spoke English. He helped us book Bali-Nusa Penida-Gili Islands-Bali trips. For 55€ per person, they took us to the port, to all the islands and on the way home they took us back to the hotel – only possible in Bali!

We spent three days on the island of Nusa Penida. On the first day, we rented scooters, checked into accommodations, ate, and then the rain came. We didn’t do much this day

Day 11 – visit to Diamond beach

The two most popular attractions in Nusa Penida are Diamond Beach and Kelingking Beach. I would even say not the beaches themselves, but the views from above on those beaches.

We visited Diamond Beach first. In order to get to the beach itself, you have to go down some, I’ll be honest, very dangerous stairs. While climbing up, we even saw tears of fear. Relatively few people go down, but everyone else gets pictures for Instagram already at the top of the stairs, where everything is safe.

We of course went down, surfed and played with the waves. And we applied sunscreen about 10 times. And we got pants full of sand. Bali beach sand is very hard to wash off haha!

Going down the Diamond Beach trail

After that, we went to see Banana Cliff, or a rock in the ocean that looks like a banana. Then we drove past Teletubies Hill, or mountains that look similar to those seen in the Teletubbies.

5 out of 6 meals in Nusa Penida we enjoyed at DJ Warung. In this family restaurant, you can get both local and European food at great prices. However, what kept us coming back every day was the Smoothie Bowl, which was super delicious!

Best smoothie bowl in Nusa Penida at DJ warung

Day 12 – Visiting Temeling beach and pool and waiting for the sunset at Kelingking beach

On our last day in Nusa Penida, we visited two beaches.

At Temeling Beach, you could swing on the swing, sit in the pool, or have fun on the beach. To get to this beach, you had to ride scooters on an extremely narrow road – it was scary, but everything ended well.

Swings at Temeling beach

Of course, the biggest adventure of the day was just ahead, as we wanted to wait for the sunset at Kelingking Beach. To get to this beach, you have to climb a very complicated path, where the railing is made of pieces of rope and splinters.

We climbed around 17:00 when it was still very hot. I climbed down with slippers, which was not the wisest decision, because half way through the sweat they started to slip so much that in one place the slipper slipped on my foot and I also got a bruised toe. Lesson learned – next time I will climb with proper shoes. Since I am writing this article, I have been alive up and down.

Kelingking beach trail

The way down is so difficult that only a few make it. There were about 10-15 people down there and this beach is huge. We played with the waves, watched some crazy people swim in 3m high waves. We didn’t try it ourselves, because here the ocean pulls in very strongly. We climbed up at sunset, when it wasn’t so hot anymore, but even then it wasn’t easy. If there are no other tourists in front, then the way down will take around 20-25 minutes, and up around 30 minutes.

Day 13 – Transfer to Gili Trawangan Island

Next, our paths led to three paradise islands off the coast of Lombok. Gili Islands consist of Trawangan, Meno and Air Islands, all three are really small islands that can be explored on foot.

Vehicles with internal combustion engines are not allowed on these islands. The most popular vehicles here are bicycles, followed by electric scooters and then horse carriages, which also work as local dachshunds.

On the first day, we checked into the hotel, rented bikes and drove around the whole island of Gili T. It must be said that the main street of the island that goes around the island and the beach all around it is like a fairy tale. Beautiful, tidy, modern. But in the middle of the island, where the local residents live, there is abnormal garbage, abandoned houses, unfinished repairs and other unpleasant sights.

As cat lovers, my wife and I really liked the fact that animals were taken care of on this island. There were many cats on the island, all well fed and cared for. Unlike the island of Bali, where there are thousands of sick and abandoned dogs on the streets, we did not see a single dog in the Gili Islands.

These islands are about 35 kilometers from Bali, but we saw the sun set on the Bali volcanoes.

Day 14 – Snorkeling with turtles

The Gili Islands are a popular destination for those who want to enjoy snorkeling or diving. Crystal clear water, turtles, underwater statues, corals and a price you can’t stop snorkeling at.

A 5h snorkeling tour in a group of ~20 people cost us 9€ each. The price included a mask, a vest, a place in the boat, a guide, and videos were filmed with a GoPro, which could then be received for free.

Underwater sculptures at Gili islands

Snorkeling at Gili Islands

We stopped at the underwater statues, at the turtles and at one more place, went around all three Gili Islands and went to lunch on Gili Air Island. This was my first snorkeling experience – I loved it, will definitely do it again!

In the evening, my wife and I went to have a romantic dinner in a restaurant, because it is our honeymoon!

Day 15 – We return to the island of Bali and fall off the quad bikes

The way back to Bali was not too successful. At first, we had to wait two hours for the ship to get some kind of permission to return to Bali. When we arrived in Bali, we met monkey people. Local brokers were jumping on the sides of our ship offering transfer and taxi services, when we got out, we had to order *** the most intrusive taxi drivers for the first time. The port where we disembarked was Bali in the East – the most unpleasant place we stayed during the entire trip.

When we got back to the Ubud area and checked into the hotel, my friend and I went on an ATV ride. We received terrible quality ATVs that rattled terribly. This did not stop us from enjoying this trip. Driving through the forest track, I tried to keep up with the group leader. I tried so hard that I ran into the curb, flew over the handlebars of the quad bike and flipped it on its side. I got a little scratched, but it was a fun adventure!

Day 16 – visit to Luwak coffee plantation and visit to Canggu city

We went to see the animals that eat coffee beans and produce expensive coffee. We also met the Civet cats themselves, who like coffee beans so much.

Meeting with animals behind Luwak coffee

Here too we had a personal guide who told us about these animals, history and other interesting things. We were also given to taste about 20 other drinks – various teas and coffees.

After that, you could also buy Luwak coffee and all the other drinks we tasted at the local store. We spent 1.3 million IDR in this store because we bought coffee and tea for the family.

Then we went to the city of Canggu, which is called the Bali of Europe. Many Europeans and other lovers of the tropical climate have settled in this city. We didn’t see much of it – we went to the beach and walked around the local market.

Day 17 – We enjoy life in a private villa

On the 17th day, when everything was enough and we wanted to relax, we made a surprise for our friends who planned and arranged everything during our trip to Bali. Then we rented a big villa just for the 4 of us.

The pool was bigger than all the hotels we stayed in and the place was super-beautiful.

In the evening we were joined by another friend who has come to Bali for three months and goes surfing every day.

Day 18 – Resting in the Uluwatu region

The trip is coming to an end and we are tired of being tourists. On this day we visited a couple of beaches, ate ice cream and walked around the shops and rested a lot.

Day 19 – We surfed Padang Padang beach and wait for the sunset at Pandawa beach

We still need some adventure, so let’s go surfing at Padang Padang beach. I tried surfing for the first time and also ended very quickly because I didn’t wear the necessary shirt and I rubbed my stomach very quickly. I was also not very interested in this sport.

However, it was interesting to be where other surfers are catching waves and see how it happens up close. Otherwise, being on the shore, everything looks too small.


Surfing at Padang Padang beach

We went to watch the sunset at Pandawa beach, which is reached by a very picturesque road carved out of the rocks.

Chilling at Pandawa beach

Here we met a couple of foreigners, where the girl is Greek and the guy is Australian. We talked, threw discus, played with their dog and played ball until dark.

We found out that they came here to surf and the guy works in the construction industry and is currently building five houses in Bali, which he will later either sell or rent.

Day 20 – Shopping before going home

The last day of our trip to Bali has arrived and we already want to go back to Latvian winter. We go to the shops to buy the last souvenirs and fill the allowed kilograms in our travel suitcases.

We bought sweets, but Balinese sweets are not very tasty, we concluded when we were at home.

Day 21 – Traveling home

The journey home took us two hours longer than the journey here due to the 4 hour wait between flights from Jakarta to Istanbul. But it’s a good thing, because the flight from Denpasar to Jakarta was delayed by two hours and we barely made it to the next flight.

How much does a trip to Bali cost?

Our costs were as follows:

Flight tickets – 1734€

Visas – 60€

Spending (shopping, eating, entrance tickets, tours, scooter rental, etc.) – 1425€

Hotels + taxis – 584€

Total cost for two people – 3803€

Is it worth going on a trip to Bali?

Undoubtedly! Bali and other Indonesian islands are indescribably beautiful. There, breathtaking natural views are within a 20-minute drive from each other. Also, you will be able to gain confidence that it is not so bad to live in Latvia, because the locals in Bali are not faring any better than we are here in Latvia. We complain here about how bad our roads are, that the government is bad. Go to Bali and see!

Traveling is cool, but nowhere is it better than home! 🙂