Why to Visit Bali?
This small slice of earth adorned with golden beaches and centuries old temples may seem like a perfectly happy country. But behind this veil of a sun kissed smiling face lies a cold, foggy economical crisis. The fragile, unstable Indonesian economy has made Bali one of the most popular shoestring budget destinations on world atlas. This place is almost like second home for European and Australian tourists in sultry summer. The exotic picturesque coastline kissed by blue crashing waves, volcanic peaks waiting to be climbed, endless green stretch of rice paddies, spiritually awakened ancient temples and perfect blend of modernism and traditionalism had turned Bali a fancy place for vacationing.
How to get Bali: There are several airlines that connect Bali from India. We flew with Thai Airways from Kolkata through transit in Thailand.
The Visa: Travellers from India don't need any Visa to enter Indonesia for visit up to a month. Hence, you can easily get a 30-days Visa on arrival at The Denpasar International Airport.
Trip Duration: A week is a good enough time to visit Bali in a touch-and-go way. But I met many tourists from Europe and Australia who spent more than a month to explore every nook and corner of this island. So it's entirely up to you how do you want to travel. There's a lot of places we haven't visited due to the satanic time constraint. But it was our first time visit in Bali and we would keep our fingers crossed for next trip to strike off our Indonesian bucket list thoroughly.
The Pocket:As mentioned earlier, the only challenge Indonesia is currently fighting with is a broken, unstable economy. 1 INR is approximately equivalent to 214 Indonesian rupees (IDR). So when you're in Indonesia, be prepared to walk, talk, eat and sleep in lakhs. I would recommend to carry IDR and not US dollars. The local shops, restaurants and public transport mainly deal with IDR. Even if you pay in USD, they give change in IDR. So it would be wise to avoid exchange charges every time. Whether you're a rough & tough backpacker or a tourist with leisurely vibes, Bali has all sorts of accommodation to offer you. From a low budget dorm to sophisticated private water villa, you can keep your choice broad. We stayed in four star Bintang Kuta hotel and got quite cheap price.
So if want to be a tourist and not a traveler in Bali it would cost around INR 55K-60K/ person.
Taste Buds:When it comes to food, you can satiate your taste buds and indulge in food venture without making a hole in your pocket. Indonesian food is one of the vibrant and colourful cuisines in the world with intense flavour. Over the ages, many races from different parts of world like Indian, Chinese, Arabian, Portuguese, English and Dutch have left their unique marks on Indonesian cuisine. Never ever miss to try 'Nasi Goreng'- a typical Indonesian meal including fragrant stir fried rice served with chicken, prawn, omlette and green salad.
Credit: Saheli Bera
Another popular dish is 'Babi Pangang'- grilled pork cooked with fresh herbs and spices. Almost around every corner of Bali you would find restaurants, cafeteria and thousands of hawkers selling street foods on their carts (known as warungs). If you are a foodie and a spice lover, Bali has so much to offer to enrich your Gastronomical journey.
Bintang Beer is an award winning brand of beer from Indonesia and is absolutely loved by the tourists from all over the world. While soaking in sun by the beach/pool, buy a bottle of Bintang. It's cheap.
Mark the Calendar: Almost everyone suggests the summer (April-June) or the winter (December-January) is perfect time to visit Bali. However, I would suggest target March for a Balinese vacation. During Christmas and New Year it remains overcrowded with European and American tourists. In summer Australian tourists starts flocking towards this island. If you don't want to ruin your trip by crowd, schedule your trip in March. It remains quiet and almost dry. Prices also go down this time. You may get murmuring of soft rain sometime, but mostly the sky shines bright after fifteen to twenty minutes.
The People: The first thing we noticed was the charm and mystical smile of Indonesian people. Almost everyone did welcome us with their heart melting smile and warm polite gesture. One thing I learned from Balinese people, how to ignore every cotton-picking thing happening in this universe and rise above that. Indonesia is a flawed country. It's going through many economical, social and political crisis. But those amazing people have depicted the picture of Bali with an impression of happy smiling face. There are lot of tribes and ethnicities. But the foundation of Indonesia is established on their magical unifying power. They not only love the differences but beautifully embrace them. As it's a popular vacation destination, most Balinese people are friendly and outgoing by nature and can speak English. Our tour guide Mr. Reditha was a wonderful person with an amazing sense of humour. He answered the tiniest query we made about Indonesian people, culture, food and tradition. His contact number is +6281936227839. He is active on WhatsApp 24x7 and would be glad to assist you any time if you go on a trip to Bali. As an Indian, I felt they carry certain knowingness about Indian people and Indian culture. They love Bollywood music and almost everyone knows who Shah Rukh Khan is.
Breathe the spiritual air: Bali is famed as 'The Land of Gods'. It is home to some of most beautiful, sacred and ancient temples in world. Unlike most of the Indonesian people who believe in Islam, Balinese people practice Hinduism. Initially we confused the local homes as temple, as they have typical shrine like architecture everywhere. Most of the streets and squares are decorated with massive statues of Hindu Gods and other mythological characters/events. When it comes to rituals and religious practices, Bali and India has a lot of common things to share. Every morning they start a day with puja and prayer. The ladies wash their front yard, lit candles and pluck frangipani flowers to offer in puja. After dusk almost everywhere in temples, at market places, in the populous streets and quiet backstreets, at hotel lobby and restaurant they play Vedic Hindu chant to spread positive energy in air. The sacred sound of chants, fragrant flowers, incense of candles is intoxicating enough to attract huge foreign arrivals from decades.
Credit: Saheli Bera
Places to visit in Bali: