While we absolutely loved our time in Bali, Indonesia, here are the things that looking back we wish we had done differently.
1. Don’t go to Bali solely for the beaches
There are so many beautiful things to see in Bali that it would be a waste to spend all of your time on the beach. And honestly, the beaches are not the most impressive in the world. We didn’t make it to the southern portion of the island which I hear has much nicer beaches, but even still I think that if you’re looking for a beach vacation then Bali is not the right designation for you.
2. Don’t go to the Monkey Forest
A lot of people may disagree with this one (including Jake), but this place was NOT for me. The monkeys in Bali are Macaques which are not known to be the friendliest species of monkey. They are extremely aggressive and will not hesitate to jump on you, attempt to steal your camera, sunglasses, water bottle, etc., or even worse bite you. One did lunge at Jake after attempting to steal our camera. After this, I spent most of my time in the forest hiding behind Wayan, our driver. Amy and Andrew from Our Big Fat Travel Adventure had a similar experience.
If you do decide to brave the Monkey Forest in Ubud, I would highly recommend getting a rabies shot prior. Also, if you don’t want monkeys climbing on you like a tree, take a tip from the locals and grab a large stick and carry it in with you as it will scare most of them away.
3. Don’t limit yourself to the Kuta-Seminyak-Sanur area
I was guilty of this during my solo days in Bali and spent the first two days hunkered down at Ku De Ta and Potato Head beach clubs. While I did enjoy my time at each, you’d really be selling Bali short by spending too much time munching on margarita pizza and jamming to techno music alongside all of the European tourist.
That said, if you wish to ignore #3 and simply want my vote on which swanky Bali beach club to visit, it goes to Potato Head due to the beautiful pool and extensive drink list.
4. Don’t go see a ‘traditional Balinese dance show’
Both the traditional Balinese dance show and the fire show in Ubud were a little too touristy for our taste. At each, we were along side at least a hundred other tourist all trying to get a glimpse at ‘real Balinese culture.’ If that’s your goal, I would suggest doing a little research and talking to your guide about where you might be able to catch a local Hindu festival. There are over 20,000 temples in Bali and each typically has at least 2 festivals per year, so your chances of finding one should be pretty good.
5. Don’t rush
Perhaps our biggest mistake in Bali was rushing our trip. As Bali was an add on to another trip for us, we unfortunately only had 5 full days here. 5 days was better than nothing but left us wishing for more. Looking at a map of Bali and trying to determine what all can be accomplished in a days time when driving can be very deceiving. While Bali is a small island measuring in at just under 100 miles across, driving from temple to temple is not a quick process as the roads are winding and not always in the greatest shape. Communicate with your guide in advance to make sure that your wish list can reasonably be accomplished in your time frame.