When Mike and I were thinking of where to go for our honeymoon, we fantasized about a romantic getaway in places like Spain, Fiji, and even Norway (even though we knew that that would have to be placed in the “Someday” file, or else we would be starting our married life in debt!). All those dream destinations sounded so fascinating but there was just one little stumbling block.
The budget. (Isn’t it, always?)
We knew that a honeymoon, just like the wedding, is a special occasion in a newlywed couple’s lives. With that in mind, we wanted to treat ourselves to some well-deserved R&R, especially after all that wedding planning stresssss! And that meant somewhat splurging in a nice hotel instead of the usual backpackers’ inn. However, we also didn’t want to blow all of our money on just one trip.
It’s a good thing that one of the honeymoon destinations in our wish list fits the bill (literally and figuratively!) – BALI!
Bali, an island and well-known tourist destination in Indonesia, was in fact, one of our first choices for our start-of-our-happily-ever-after holiday. When I Googled “Honeymoon Destinations,” a great number of lists have Bali in them, and after visiting this beautiful place, we finally understood why!
So why did we pick this honeymoon hotspot known as “The Island of the Gods”?
♥ It’s budget-friendly!
It’s easy to feel like a king and queen in Bali because you can treat yourself to some luxury – affordable luxury! The island, which capitalizes on its tourism, is teeming with stunning hotels and resorts that won’t break the bank. There are also plenty of inexpensive dining options to make your belly happy in Bali, from nice restaurants to local warungs. We wanted a honeymoon that lasted for 10 days or more, and we were able to afford staying that long in Bali because of the wallet-friendly rates. That being said, I just want to clarify that not everything in Bali is cheap!
♥ It gives you the best of ALL worlds!
Romance? Adventure? Culture? Nature? Bali’s got all that and more! Do you want to laze around the beaches? Hike up an active volcano? Go temple-hopping? You’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy in Bali. For us, we wanted a healthy balance between relaxation and recreation. It was, first and foremost, our honeymoon, so the main goal was to just unwind (a.k.a. “Eat Sleep Love” and be lazy pigs all day) and spend time with each other as husband and wife and enjoy each other’s company. At the same time, we also wanted to explore the island and do a bit of sightseeing. Bali was the perfect place to achieve that balance. Mike asked me, “Who among your friends do you think would enjoy this place the most?” And I answered, “Someone with diverse interests, and someone who likes a little bit of everything!” That sounded just like us!
♥ It’s paradise!
TripAdvisor’s description of Bali is this: “Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy.” We’d have to agree!
Sure, not every corner of Bali is postcard material, but it does boast of spectacular sites that you just won’t be able to stop taking photos of! (I’m so glad I bought an extra 16GB SD card for my camera!) Bali is really blessed with so much natural beauty — from lush jungles to picturesque rice terraces — and what could be more romantic than seeing these breathtaking sceneries with the person you love most? Cheesy but true!
♥ It’s a fairly small island
That’s a good thing because if you only have a few days in the island, day trips can be easily arranged (though I would recommend staying for at least 5 days to a week). If you have a little more time to wander around, you’ll be happy to know that it’s quite easy to get from Point A to B (depending on your itineraries, of course!). Do note that for places like Singaraja (in North Bali), Nusa Lembongan, and Lombok, you would need to take a boat to reach these, and it is more practical to stay there for a minimum of 1-2 nights. We skipped these places because we didn’t want to spend our time traveling (we’ll save these places for another time!), and because we wanted to make the most of the areas we were in.
♥ It’s got character and charm
Exotic. Spiritual. Romantic. Soulful. Trendy. Idyllic. These adjectives may seem totally unrelated to one another but these are words I would use to describe Bali. There’s so much to see, do, and discover here!
***OTHER THINGS TO NOTE:
We took a direct flight from Manila to Bali via Cebu Pacific, which lasted 4 hours. There was a promo at the time we booked, so our tickets were fairly cheaper than the usual, but then we added 20kg for baggage allowance for each of us, and we also paid for pre-selected seats (coz Mike wanted to sit in the aisle for easy wee-wee breaks). Total airfare amounted to PHP 20,508.64 for both of us, or PHP 10,254.32 per person. (Without the baggage allowance fee and pre-selected seats, the fare would have been PHP 17,428.50 for both or PHP 8,714.25 per person). It’s still a bit expensive, considering it’s just in Southeast Asia, but it’s still cheaper than a ticket to Maldives at the time, which was PHP 30,000+ per person!
The Philippines is part of the visa exemption list so no need to obtain a visa to get to Bali. Yay!
There are no trains or public buses around Bali so the best way to explore the island is to travel by car with an experienced driver and guide. There are LOTS (and I mean LOTS!) of drivers-cum-tour guides in Bali. For our trip, we chose Made Adayasa of Galih Bali Tour because of his excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, very reasonable rates, good English, and professional manner of handling email inquiries. (For my review on Made, go to this link). I cannot stress this enough: please choose a good driver!!! He can make or break your trip. Do your research, read reviews on TripAdvisor, stalk them on Facebook if you must (I did! Haha!), and if like me, you are anal about communication, shoot them an e-mail. I judged the drivers I contacted based on how they replied to me – did they reply promptly or did it take them forever to get back to me? Did he sound courteous? Did he answer all of my questions (pet peeve: me asking 3 questions and only getting an answer to 1 or 2 questions! Ugh!)? Some drivers can also help you arrange your itinerary. With Made, I made a list of places we wanted to visit, and he fixed our itinerary, which was very flexible. So hassle free! Another tip: Most Bali drivers/guides can be contacted through WhatsApp, so do message them there too.
Mike and I had some free days (no heavy touring), so for those days, we opted not to use a driver. For short distances, we just either walked to our destination or used a cab. But BE CAREFUL OF SOME CABBIES! We almost got duped once when we went to Ayana Resort from our hotel in Jimbaran (which was only a 10-minute distance by car) and the fare was IDR 212,000!!! (That’s around PHP 750!) We later found out that it was actually only IDR 21,200 – the last / extra zero shouldn’t be counted. Confusing!!! What was the extra zero there for?? Luckily, with the help of our hotel staff, we got our money back! Anyway, ALWAYS ask the drivers to turn on the meter.
You can also opt to rent bikes and motorcycles, which should only cost about IDR 30,000 – 50,000 (PHP 100 – 180)/day. You’ll find that many people in Bali get around by motorbikes — men, women, locals, tourists… and one time, I even saw an 8-year old child driving a motorbike! Whaaat?! I heard that you would need to get a license to drive a motorbike around Bali but most people do not, and sometimes, the police don’t really care. A tip I received is that if a policeman does try to catch you, you can try weaseling out of it by buying him coffee or some nice gesture like that. Haha!
♥ WHERE TO STAY
Bali is a small island, yes, but where you base yourself is crucial because each area has its own personality. One area may be ideal for relaxing with nature as your background, while another may be better if you want some buzzing night life. Also, as mentioned, there are no modes of public transportation so you need to get around by car (or bike). Choosing a location is one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make when staying in Bali. You may also check out this guide or this one if you’re still in the dark.
If you are staying for a week or less, it’s best to base yourself in only 1 area or maximum of 2. For us, since we stayed for 11 nights, we stayed in 3 areas: Ubud, Jimbaran, and Seminyak. Actually, we could have just stayed at Ubud and Seminyak OR Jimbaran, as the latter two are both located in the South of Bali, and are not very far from each other, but I wanted a bit of variety! You may also start or end your trip in Bali in Seminyak or Jimbaran, as these two are very close to the airport (especially Jimbaran). We chose to start our trip in Ubud though (2 hours from the airport) because it is truly the heart of Balinese culture, and that is the first thing we want to experience in Bali.
The alternatives for your temporary love nest in Bali are countless! Literally, everywhere you turn, there’s a hotel or a villa (entire private homes you can rent for days, weeks, or even months!), so you’ll never be homeless in Bali! And you wouldn’t believe it, but some gorgeous private pool villas will only cost you less than USD 100 a night! For our stay in Bali, we mixed it up a little by staying in a 4-star hotel in Ubud called The Kayon Resort (hey, it’s our honeymoon after all!), a private pool villa within a boutique hotel in Jimbaran called The Astari Villa & Residence, and a private pool villa called Villa Angel booked through AirBnB in Seminyak. My favorite accommodation was our hotel (Kayon Resort) because it’s just so awesome! But for maximum privacy and sexy time anywhere (Hello? honeymoon! Haha!), go for a private villa. (The one we got at Astari was so lovely!) Remember to compare prices. Sometimes, it is cheaper to book direct through the website, while other times, it is cheaper to book through third party sites like Agoda, Booking.com, or TripAdvisor. As for AirBNB, it was my first time to try it and it was a generally positive experience (more on that in a separate blog post). Don’t be afraid to try it, just make sure you read the reviews and research, research, research!
♥ WHAT TO BRING
Aside from the usual stuff? Make sure you bring sunscreen, very comfortable and breathable clothes, sunnies, and bug spray. Mosquitoes can be quite notorious in Bali!
♥ WHAT TO EXPECT
- You will encounter a lot of Putus, Mades, Nyomans, Wayans, and Ketuts. Balinese people are given their first names based on their birth order (e.g., Putu is the eldest in the family, Made is the 2nd eldest, and so on.) At our last villa, we had a “Day Wayan” (our caretaker) and “Night Wayan” (our security guard).
- Wi-Fi can be slow at times. It can be frustrating, but it can also be a good thing especially on your honeymoon. (i.e., Go offline and talk to your partner!)
- Always haggle! Go as low as 50% off of their retail price. Someone tried selling Mike a Bintang singlet for around PHP 800 and we said that in the Philippines, that would only cost around PHP 200 (it’s true though, so that wasn’t really lying!). In the end, the saleslady caved in and sold it to us for the price we wanted.
- Their money is in MILLIONS! So yes, you will feel like a millionaire (until you convert it to your currency). Example: IDR 10,000 is actually just PHP 35
- Tipping is not required but very much appreciated. (Like one time, we gave a small tip to an old lady server and she looked like she was about to cry some tears of joy!) From what I heard, the locals don’t really earn that much money so any help to them is quite life-changing.
- Lots of foreigners (mostly Caucasians), especially Aussies! Sometimes, I would blink and ask Mike, “Am I still in Bali or in Australia?” Some of the spots we went to were packed with Aussies and ZERO locals.
- Most Balinese people can speak English so it will be very easy to communicate with them. Also, some Indonesian words are the same or close to Filipino words, like “kanan” (right) and “tolak” (push).
- Balinese people are generally warm and friendly. People we didn’t know would randomly smile at us and greet us “good morning!” or “good afternoon!” Most restaurant staff we encountered were very polite and pleasant, especially that one waitress that called us “handsome” and “beautiful.” Hahaha!
- It’s quite safe. We walked around at night a lot and never ran into trouble. The only life-threatening situation we’ve ever been in was when this vicious dog tried to attack us! (I hate that dog!!!)
- If you’re going there for a honeymoon, don’t forget to mention it! Sometimes, they would give you some kind of special treatment if they know you are there for your honeymoon, like some hotels would decorate your bed and bath with flowers or will give you honeymoon cake.
♥ THINGS TO DO
Hmm… where do I start? There’s just waaay too many! I don’t think it’s even possible to get bored in Bali. In fact, our 11-night trip felt too short because there was still so much that we would have wanted to do! I’m going to share our experiences during our honeymoon in the succeeding blog posts.
For now, let me go back to daydreaming about our wonderful trip! Sampai jumpa! (That’s “see you later” in Indonesian)
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
For all stories related to our Bali honeymoon trip, visit the link below: