Saturday 14 July 2018

1-Week Bali & the Nusa Islands Itinerary

I come to like writing about these genre, so here is another itinerary from my 2017 Bali & the Nusa Islands vacation! Hopefully with this guide, you get an idea of how to plan for your next travel to Bali. You're welcome.

By the way, I say 'the Nusa Islands' a lot because it's too long to say Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan repetitively in the blog!

As you can see, Nusa Penida's the largest island among the three.


Where to Stay..
.. in Bali

There are no shortage of hotels, villas and hostels in Bali, it seems everyone is doing this business! They do get booked out quickly, so I would definitely recommend you booking online to secure a room and to get the best prices. I have opted mostly hotels with private rooms and even though the rooms are simple, I am quite contented with most of them. I spend most of my time out of the room anyways. 

I do have one problem _ the water! Because of the geography, most of Bali and the Nusa Islands, their main source of water is from the sea so tap water and showers have really strong sea water odor which is really uncomfortable to brush teeth with and it isn't so good on my hair! The good news is, not all hotels I have stayed in have such problem, I don't know what's the difference...

In Sarma Homestay, Kuta.

In Flamingo hotel and the Legian Sunset Residance in Bali. the Nusa Islands

These are the places I stayed in Nusa Penida. I'd definitely recommend Abian House for many reasons, read my Day 3 travelogue for more of that.

Super cute cottage in Bintang Bungalow, Nusa Penida.

This is probably the first and last time I stayed in so many different stays in a single vacation. It was ridiculous and troublesome to say the least! However, it wasn't an option either because of how my itinerary was arranged and the whole island hopping going on..  Well, at least next time I know!

Tip #1: Plan your itinerary to reduce the number of AirBnB bookings and the time needed to check into each hotel.


Getting around Bali

In Bali, you can find taxi drivers and unlicensed ojeks (moped riders offering pillion rides). For the latter, there are even apps such as Uber Ojek and Gojek offering similar services. Because Bali's so commercialized, it is not hard to rent a car or moped (~70kRupiah) for your own use.

I do not have the nicest things to say about taxi drivers and unlicensed ojeks because of some unpleasant experiences with these unruly people who are more than happy to charge foreigners exorbitant fees! In fact, almost all simply threw in 100kRupiah when quoted for a less than 5-minute rides! For the later half of my vacay, I relied mostly on Uber whose rates are much more reasonable ranging from 10kRupiah - 20kRupiah for short trips. Hail Uber! the Nusa Islands

I'm going to include a How-to-get-to-the-Nusa Islands guide here LOL. I took a speedboat ride from Sanur to Nusa Penida. If you are planning to return from the same island, you can purchase the return ticket from the same speedboat operating company for about 450kRupiah. I didn't do that instead, island hopped from Nusa Penida to Nusa Lembongan then heading back which cost me 500KRupiah for the return ticket to Sanur and 70kRupiah to get between the two Nusa Islands.

Table to give you a better picture:-

Sanur ↔ Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida ↔ Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan ↔ Sanur

As for getting around the Nusa Islands, you can rent moped, at price similar to in Bali, 70kRupiah per day.. I tried asking around and found cars are scarce so renting them is out of question, at least for now. I wouldn't recommend doing the former for reason the road condition in Nusa Penida is horrendous and dangerous for those not use to them! I supposed the Nusa Islands are relatively new to tourism compare to their neighboring archipelago island, Bali and so roads were not made to cater for large traffics. They are working to improve that, according to my host Made which was why they are charging entrance fees to the attractions around the island. 

My suggestion is to go in groups and hire a tour van. If you are going solo, ask your local staff in the hotel. A lot of them are out of their shift by 3PM and offers ojek services for 70kRupiah. Not bad at all but at the end of the ride your bum and thighs will most probably hurt!

Me riding pillion around Nusa Ceningan


Bali & the Nusa Islands 1-Week Itinerary

If you would like to read about my experiences in Bali & the Nusa Islands, you can read about them by clicking the links below. I also include some recommendations of additional activities you can do and places you can go. These were some of the places I wanted to check out but couldn't!

Click on the * link to my daily Bali & the Nusa Islands travelogue

Summary of Places to Go
Day 0
Departure from KLIA2
Arrival at Ngurah Rai International Airport at night
Flamingo Hostel, Kuta
Head to Legian & check into room
Explore Legian & Seminyak by foot
Lunch at Ocha Warung
Explore Arjuna Street
Dinner at Apartment Red
The Legian Sunset Residence
Breakfast at Shelter, Bali
Boat ride from Sanur to Nusa Penida to Dwi Menunggal Harbor
Lunch & Dinner at Bintang Bungalow's cafeteria
Kelingking Beach, Angel Billabong & Broken Beach in Nusa Penida
Bintang Bungalow, Nusa Penida
Morrning hike down & up Peguyangan Waterfall
Lunch at Penida Roadside Warung
Explore Goa Giri PuriCheck into Abian House & short break
Night chatting with host
Explore the nearby seaweed farm and town
Dinner at Warung Dukung
Abian House, Nusa Penida
(Half-day in Nusa Penida)
Take ojek to Atuh Beach and TreehouseLunch at Warung Makan Boga Segara
Rest in room
Take dukung boat ride to Nusa Lembongan
Dinner at Sanghyang Bay
Suba Guesthouse, Mushroom Bay in Nusa Lembongan
Breakfast at The BAR
Morning explore Dream Beach, Sandy Bay & Devil's Tears in Nusa Lembongan 
Lunch at Blackwood Coffee Shop
Gala Gala Underground House and Panorama Road & Beach, Nusa Lembongan
Marvel at Blue Lagoon, Nusa Ceningan
Dinner at Warung Mola Mola
Breakfast at TS Hut
Board boat back from Mushroom Bay to Sanur, Bali
Lunch & dinner at roadside warung
Do nothing evening~!
Sarma Homestay, Kuta
Explore Ubud, Bali
Brunch at Warung Lokal in Ubud Art Market
Continue exploring Ubud
Breakfast at Babi Guling Karya Rebo
Walk at Jimbaran Bay (Best to come at night!)

Shop at Oleh Oleh Krishna
Shopping in Matahari Department Store and along Jalan Pantai, Kuta

Recommended to check out Uluwatu Temple & Tegal Wangi Beach if you have the extra time
Day 9
Departure from Ngurah Rai International Airport to Singapore
Take a tour up Northern Bali to Tanah Lot, La Laguna, Lovina Beach / Yeh Leh Beach
Hiking at Mt Batur or Mt Kintamani
Sanur, Nusa Dua & Jimbaran Bay, Bali
Head to Lombok from Nusa Lembongan
Diving or Snorkelling around Nusa Penida

One of my regrets is that I didn't snorkel or dive in the most beautiful diving spots in the world! From underwater temple and shipwrecks to diving with sharks or stingray to beautiful corals! Corals, I must see them!!

I have read online that Bali waters are homes to the huge Mola Mola fish, also known as Moon fish or Sun fish. I was telling my friends how I wanted to swim beside the gigantic fish and have even looked up several videos. I don't know why I chicken out in the end. Partly because after seeing how big the waves are in Bali and that scares the hell out of me. I am no swimmer and freaked out even when wading in waters thigh-high. Mind you, I'm also fun size so there are possibility of me getting swept away by the waves and that thought scares me!

Diving and snorkeling. My bucket list. Will I ever conquer my fear of water? *Deep breath*

What & Where to eat

Like Malaysia, there is no shortage of good food in Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesian cuisines are generally quite similar to Malaysian's though I learnt from my friends that some are influenced by the Dutch (they shared lotsa food with me! woots!)  during the colonization era. Though, I don't remember seeing the latter around Bali... I would have love to try those! Some of the must-trys in Bali are the babi guling, bebek, ikan nyat nyat, ikan bakar and lots other seafood! 

From Warung Mola Mola, Nusa Lembongan

My 'mixed rice' from the roadside warung

I was introduced to this dish, Ikan Nyat Nyat by my host from Abian House. This is in Warung Makan Boga Segara.

Tip #2: Get along with your host or locals for insider's opinions on the best places and what to eat.

Babi Guling set meal from Babi Guling Karya Rebo, Bali.

Bali is also a haven for vegans, there are so many trendy cafes and you'll find all the hipsters-ish, meals or fruits bowls, stuff like that. I only went to one because my friend wanted Insta-worthy photo spots. I didn't mind going once in a while but not everyday LOL! It's too boring!

Hipster vegan meals in Shelter, Bali

Souvenirs to get

The best places to purchase souvenirs are along the street of Legian, Ubud and Jalan Pantai in Kuta. My favorite got to be the latter because there are rows of Art Markets and Matahari department store in one row of street. The department store has almost everything you probably want to find _ batiks, traditional toys and decorations, wooden cutleries and diningwares, coffee and so much more! Check out my souvenirs haul in this post.

Budgeting for Bali & Nusa Islands

I don't have the breakdown of each and every expenses because I'm too lazy to keep track! In fact the receipts are still left on my working desk unattended... However, I can tell you my biggest expense aside from flight and accommodation is transportation! My friends and I relied heavily on tour guides almost daily, especially in the Nusa Island. Not to mention, getting to the Nusa Islands by speedboat makes up a large part of my expenses.

Food-wise, I am a simple traveler and contented with eating at roadside warungs which mostly charge me under 50kRupiah per meals. Even with a bottle of Bintang beer, still under 100kRupiah. Of course, there are times I dined at the more expensive warungs. The most expensive one at 250kRupiah! It's really for the sake of one-time experience. The other one-time I splurged on, is for a woven based batik tote I really liked.

Money Changers and ATMs availability 
in Bali & the Nusa Islands

I have literally an entire rows of money changers along Jalan Pantai Kuta, and supposed this is the best place for you to change enough currency! In fact, I would advice you to do so before heading to the Nusa Islands where you will most likely get lower rates compare to what you can find in Kuta! 

In Nusa Penida, you can check with locals but you won't find many and if you do, they are unlicensed operators. In the neighboring Nusa Lembongan, Blackwood Coffee Shop offers such service and is the only one I know off. Again, you won't get better rates than in Kuta. 

As for ATMs, there are MEPS ATMs again in Jalan Pantai Kuta, Bali and nearby Mushroom Bay in Nusa Lembongan (not too far from Blackwood Coffee Shop) if you're in need for one.  In Nusa Penida, ironically despite being the larger Nusa Island, have only one local, non-MEPS ATM near the market.

Tip #3: Prepare enough local currencies to avoid paying for more especially before heading to the Nusa Islands where currency exchange rate is lower and there are fewer to none money changers.


In Conclusion

Albeit some uncomfortable incidents I think Bali & the Nusa Islands are one great place for a relaxing getaway. The Nusa Islands being my favorite because I felt the safest and experienced the greatest hospitality from the locals! If you have time to spare, I would DEFINITELY recommend you taking your time island-hopping around the Nusa Islands, perhaps even Lombok. Or visit these places on another trip, because even in Bali there are so many places to explore!

Saturday 7 April 2018

Bali (Day 8 & Day 9): Kuta

My last two days in Bali, I spent just taking my time in Kuta town. Day 8 was mainly walking around Kuta town which got to be my favorite place ever. Aside from that, I discovered Matahari Department Store along the main street and spent the entire evening shopping for souvenirs! I would definitely recommend people to shop there because it is one of the places with the best prices. Another is the art market not too far from this department store.

~ ♡ ~
Day 9 was my last day in Bali therefore I headed towards the south to one of the mall I found via Google. I didn't spend much time in the mall as there wasn't much to see. However, I happen to come across this warung called Babi Guling Karya Rebo on Google Maps nearby so off I went.

Ordered the Babi Guling set obviously! Everything tasted great. This was about 70k if I remembered correctly but it was well worth the try.

After filling my stomach, it's time to explore Jimbaran Beach. Afternoon's not the best time to hang out here, it was so hot! There were several restaurants open but only a handful of tourists. I'm sure by evening there would be more crowd.

Later, I took an ojek to another nearby mall which similar to the first mall I visited was so quiet! What's up with malls in Bali, like really?

I didn't find anything interesting but here I did find Oleh Oleh Krishna, which sells affordable souvenirs. I would definitely recommend either Oleh Oleh Krishna, Matahari Department store and some Art Markets along Jalan Pantai Kuta for souvenirs shopping in Bali. Some art markets which doesn't display price tags have their prices marked up for unsuspecting tourists. So one thing to look out for.

By then I was bored and had enough of ojek rides, and decided to retreat to my familiar spot _ Matahari Department Store to help get souvenirs for dear bff. "You had too much of paradise," my bff concludes when I told her I have enough of vacation. I never did thought I will get bored in a foreign country but that happened LOL

Back at Kuta and having completed my shopping, I stopped by a warung and ordered Kopi Bali. I don't usually take coffee in the evening (just my thing) but I wanted to have Kopi Bali before I head home. I super love the coffee! It tasted very much like Malaysia's version of kopi o but less thick (or kao as we call that).

Last sunset at Kuta Beach before my flight!

Dinner was at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport. I wouldn't advice travellers to have their meals here because a lot of restaurants here are expensive!

Next destination, Singapore!

~ ♦ ~

While I was in Kuta for the last two days, I spend most of my time shopping and just chilling, Mostly because I quite enjoy having to ride an ojek every single time I needed to head to a different destination. I guess I prefer vacaying at countries where destinations are more connected by trains or by foot so I'd rather just spend my time shopping in Kuta. I wouldn't mind too much if I have company, perhaps.

Another irk that annoys me as a solo traveller in Bali is how a lot of locals, particularly taxi drivers, unlicensed ojeks and souvenirs stall/shop owners in Bali Island would take advantage on tourists! A less than 10 minutes ride whether on ojek or taxi will cost you 100kRupees, what extortions! I had several unpleasant experiences with this unscrupulous people in Bali, one man took to stomping his foot and howling when I rejected his overpriced ojek ride. Don't even get me started on a car rental company who tricked and robbed me! Downright despicable! It also appears that this 'culture' is even practised by airport staffs! Supposedly "free porters" (it's stated behind their uniform) would shamelessly request for tips. It also didn't help that my luggage was mishandled so badly that when I arrived in Kuta, there was a hole in my luggage. When I took the flight to Singapore, my luggage had fell apart... Totally WTF.

On the other hand, I enjoyed my time tremendously in the Nusa islands, which is new to tourism and therefore locals are way-y kinder and genuine, which I am truly grateful for! On top of that, I always, always felt safe. I do wish from the bottom of my heart that with the increased of tourist won't taint the local's attitudes.

Bali (Day 7): Ubud

I started my day pretty early which was a good thing because I didn't know the journey to Ubud from Kuta will take me a frigging whole one and a half hour! It was super smart of me to decide to ride pillion on this Uber motorcyclist, all the more. My poor bottom was hurting from the ride... But hey, it was cheaper than taking a car!

Such a cute weaved dogs statues!

Because it was almost noon when I arrived and I have not had breakfast, I stopped by at the only warung I found in the market, Warung Lokal before I continue to explore the town.

Chose fried rice and a rather huge portion of stir fry vegetables with pork. They were great except when I left I was bloated LOL

I walked around until I noticed a sign leading to a paddy field and being the adventurous me, I decided to walk along the path less taken. Ceh wah. Like seriously, it IS a path less taken _I didn't meet anyone along the alley!

Reached my destination but unfortunately it wasn't the Ubud's famous rice terrace. I really wanted a view of the terrace, but didn't managed to because not long later it poured and I took shelter in Ubud's Starbucks.

 If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see me posting this photos already. If not, here is the photo of my Ice Pink Machiato, taken behind Starbucks. A lotus pond is right behind the building! Took refuge in Starbucks because it was raining.


I simply walked and walked for several hours, window shopping by several boutiques which I came across and snapping photos here and there. That's the fun part of walking you see! 


Once I had enough of walking, I Uber-ed back to Kuta. I couldn't find any Uber motor so I had to resort to choosing the car, which was almost thrice as expensive at 170kRupees!! That's the bad thing about travelling solo! My friends who have never done solo travelling tell me how boring it can be, but that's the least of my concern. Safety wise in Bali and the Nusa Islands, I find it really safe for female solo being one myself but still wouldn't recommend going out super late, like in the wee morning. I had, however, once dropped by a 24-hour convenience store at midnight in Kuta.

Anyway, it was 2 hours (the traffic from Ubud to Kuta was horrendous!) when I arrived home. I was terribly tired and simply opted to have mixed rice for dinner at the warung close to my homestay.

Sunday 1 April 2018

Bali (Day 6): Nusa Lembongan & Kuta

Day 6 marks my last day in Nusa Lembongan. I started my day by having breakfast at TS Hut, a warung just walking distance from where I stayed. Breakfast is kopi Bali (Bali coffee) and banana pancakes. Simple but yummeh!!

When I first met my host, he mentioned of one Nusa Lembongan's secret beach which I was dying to check out. My hike led me to the path less taken, shrubs and .... . I didn't find this super secret location but instead, I found a quieter, sorta hidden beach!


It wasn't long before it was time to head back to Kuta. So off I took yet another bumpy speedboat ride to Sanur. I am so missing the Nusa islands right now. Would definitely love to be back!

My next agenda is to check into my new stay. This is probably the only trip that I have done that requires me to check into and out of so many AirBnbs! This is like my sixth and thankfully last stay. I think this place looks great on the outside but the room I was staying was really basic and badly ventilated. Worse, the water reeks of strong sea water. Overall just OK, if you're not too fussy you can opt for this. Thankfully, the host managing this place is friendly which made it better.

OMG the tan... Took months for that to fade! I'm so-o skipping islands and beaches for awhile.

Lunch I had it at a random warung just outside my new stay.

It was only later I was introduced to the term Nasi Kuching by my friendly Indonesian buddy to describe the rather meagre portion of the meal.

And those were most of it from my day! Since I was tired from the whole adventure, I spent my evening resting. This can be considered one of my most relaxing trip where I spent a lot of time doing nothing hahaha

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