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Bali tips from a seasoned professional

Bali - Seminyak - Sunset on Seminyak beach 01

I stayed in Bali for a total of two years, but I realize more and more that I didn't use the island and the surrounding islands enough.

Anyway, here are some tips I wrote after I left in 2012 - hopefully most of this still applies!

Rent a motorbike (about 40,000 IDR per day or cheaper for a month), buy a helmet (approximately 200,000 IDR) and drive yourself. Taxi takes so long because there are so many traffic jams due to the narrow roads. I rented a motorbike from a really nice guy called Ketut (+62817351828) for a year, call him and tell him I gave you the number.

It is safe to drive a motorbike as long you drive slowly and wear a helmet. Most people also drive very careful because most of you are on motorbikes and you are all in the same boat. If you are very concerned about safety you can avoid Sunset Road. If you are stopped by the police and have to pay a bribe, have 50,000 IDR ready in a handy place - do not pull out all your money. 50,000 is the standard amount for bribing cops.

When it comes to nightlife and culture, most of the interesting stuff happen around Seminyak, so it's best to live in that area. Jimbaran is located too far south, so check the hotel I stayed at in 14 months, Nipuri. It is two minutes from the quiet beach Batu Belig, between Seminyak and Canggu.

Also check out some 360°/panorama photos I took in Bali, maybe they can inspire. Here are two from Nipuri, the hotel pool and common room.

Eat delicious and cheap Indonesian food at Warung Murah, either at the main shop (down Jalan 66) or at the junction by Lio Square (at the top of Jalan Batu Belig). I ate there a lot, you can get full dinner for less than 10,000 IDR.

And if you live at Nipuri Hotel in Jalan Batu Belig there is a very good and cheap restaurant across the road called Warung Sobat. And 50 meters down the same road is a cool (and hugely popular) BBQ joint called Naughty Nuri.

Check out the "luxury" nightlife in Seminyak at Potato Head, Ku De Ta and Cocoon. (I was DJ'ing at all three of them.) Also check out the W Hotel and Mint. All except Cocoon are located within walking distance of each other in Jalan Petitenget. Potato Head has the best music.

Also check out the club Maria Magdalena (next to JP's bar) at the top of Jalan Dhyana Pura. It's a small underground club with tech and (good) house music.

And if you want to party with gays there are four to five gay clubs in a row further down the same street. It seems Bali is one of the few places where it is unproblematic to be gay in Indonesia. Most of the country is Muslim, and that bunch usually have no tolerance for sexual minorities. Actually many Muslims actually comes to Bali to escape bullying and judgment, it's sort of their safe haven.

You gotta have at least one night where you are completely drunk in Kuta. We called it "trashing it" because it is commercial dance music, cheap drinks and tons of backpackers. Get to Sky Garden around 21.00 and start from there. Just don't get so drunk that you lose your valuables. And do NOT drive a motorbike for that kind of evening, take a taxi. The one time I crashed on a motorbike was when I was too drunk and drove home myself.

Enjoy food, drinks and the sunset at La Plancha (on Seminyak beach) or Warung Pantai (on Batu Belig beach).

Experience sunset at the restaurant Warung Sawah (near Lio Square). It's lovely there, just see for yourself.

Check out the restaurant/bar Deus on the road to Echo Beach, they have a lot of cool stuff going on. Sunday evenings are often nice, with free live music.

Get a massage every day! It is so cheap and good.

You wanna check out Gili Trawangan for two or three days, and take the fast boat, not the slow one. Be careful not to get a hotel room near the mosque, they make noise from morning to night. Dive while you're there, it's beautiful. Cycling around the island takes only 20-30 minutes, do it as well.

If you have time, go up to Menjangan for a few days and enjoy snorkeling or diving. Drive your motorbike or hire a driver with car (not so expensive, ask the hotel if they know of any). You can also snorkel down at Nusa Dua, I think. Ask anyone. See pictures from our trip.

If you want to swim with dolphins, never do it with animals in captivity. They suffer horribly, just watch the documentary "The Cove" for proof. Seriously, don't. Rather go to a village with lots of dolphins in the ocean, for example Lovina in the north.

Ubud is lovely, but many others have found that out as well, so it can be a bit crowded, with lots of traffic. But it is worth a trip for a few days, definitely. You can get a little into yoga too. Try e.g. Yoga Barn, they are a safe bet.

Go on a day trip to one of the beaches in the south, and on the way back in the afternoon, eat a fish dinner at Jimbaran beach, near the fish market. Delicious!

Do not buy any drugs in Bali! It can literally be a question of life and death. It may be safe to buy it, but often the dealer will report you to the police (for a reward), who will then bust you. If you have $10,000 to bribe the cop with right there and then you may get away, but if not he will take you to the police station, and you end up in prison for many years. Seriously. There are lots of foreigners in Kerobokan prison due to drugs.

But "magic mushrooms" are legal, so maybe that's a cool drug to try?

So now that you are armed with tips - bon voyage!