I did intend on my first blog post being a beauty review of some sort but then I got ill and lost my voice/broke out so it generally wasn’t too convenient for that sort of thing! So here we go! Here comes a travel post instead!
Its only now I’ve come to write about Bali that I could slap myself for not taking enough photos while I was there. I think I wanted to take in the moment and see it through my own eyes and not through a camera.. but when you come to look back on the memories and have about 3 photos to work with its a pretty sorry state.
I wish I could have spent longer in Bali, 10 (8) days was definitely not enough! For this reason its still on my bucket list and I know I’ll be going there again sooner rather than later.
When we (my friend Amy and I) first started looking into a Balinese holiday we were overwhelmed to say the least. There are so many posts all around the internet about the different areas that all say they’re a ‘must see’. So with 10 days, a limited budget and the need for relaxation, where do you start?
Yes, in 10 days maybe we could have hopped all around the country and do everything we wanted, but we both have very fast paced jobs and we wanted to truly relax and not come home feeling like we needed another holiday, you know?
We started by booking the flights, If you’re flying into Bali then you’re going to Denpasar airport. The way our flights worked out it was roughly 20hrs there, and 26hrs back including stop overs, because of how long the flight is you pretty much lose a day either side – thats why right at the start I said ’10 (8) days’! We flew with Singapore Airlines, and I would highly recommend them- the service is absolutely amazing! Below is our travel itinerary, and yep, that 7.5 hour stop over on the way back was a killer! The free cinema in Singapore airport definitely helped make it more enjoyable though.
Flights done, it was time to move onto accommodation.. this is where it got tricky!
Amy and I had been looking through Instagram at all the Bali pages/hashtags to get ourselves excited and to build a bit of inspo, and we both noticed the same thing popping up again, and again, and again.. the sunset swings. O M G, we had both seen photos of these swings before, who hasn’t? but now we were trawling through Bali specific posts it was clear that this is where they were, and we wanted to see them for ourselves.
A quick Google search of ‘where are the sunset swings in Bali?’ and we quickly got our answer, Gili Trawagan. Well wtf? All these posts about where to stay in Bali and for some reason we hadn’t seen this name pop up at all. So back to Google again..
We found out that Gili Trawagan is part of a group of islands, the Gili islands. Gili Trawagan (Gili T) is the largest of the three, and the most popular with tourists. The other two islands are Gili Meno (the smallest) and Gili Air.
Gili Meno apparently has the best beaches of all three, with great diving spots, limited bungalow type accommodation and is popular amongst honeymooners. Gili Air is more developed than Meno, with similar facilities to Gili T in terms of accommodation and eateries, but is more of a relaxing vibe. Regardless of the info we found on the internet Gili T was always going to be our choice because of the swings that we had out hearts set on seeing, but this what we found out online about it anyway – good nightlife and popular amongst back packers, friendly sociable vibe, great for snorkeling, diving and sunbathing, accommodation to suit all budgets (hotels to hostels), sunset views and a great nightly food market.. exactly what we wanted.
Gili T (and I’m sure the other two islands) has such a charm about it I literally think about our stay there all the time. It is so laid back and tranquil, but with a nice social buzz on a night time that it was just unbeatable to me. The only transport you have on any of the Gili’s is horse and cart or bicycle, thats it, if you don’t like it thats just tough! All motorized transport is banned and thats really what sets it apart and keeps the authentic island vibe. If Gili T starts to accept motorized vehicles on the island i think it will quickly turn into a mini Phuket, and wouldn’t that be a damn shame!
We discovered that the swings were located at the Hotel Ombak Sunset, on the west side of the island – far enough from Gili T’s night scene that you wouldn’t know it existed but just a 5 min horse and cart ride away for when you want to get involved, and so thats where we decided to stay during our time there! There was loads more hotels available but given that we wanted have the option of going out and staying in it was the perfect location for us and the photos of the hotel looked beautiful.
So we had worked out 1. Flights and 2. Where so stay for part of our trip.. now to plan the rest!
We had pretty much lost the will to live trying to research the best area to stay for the other part of our trip because every website or blog mentioned somewhere different and they all contradicted each other, it was just making the whole process more confusing! So, we decided to go to Expedia.com and just type in ‘Bali’ and look through the hotels from most recommended, taking into account the locations they were in and the prices of the hotels. We saw a theme which included three places, Seminyak, Jimbaran and Kuta. Three areas – we could cope with deciding between just three areas! Progress!
The first thing we found were loads of boards with advice to other travelers trying to weigh up their options between Kuta and Seminyak, most of the advice said the same thing – 45 mins away from each other (by foot), Seminyak is similar to Kuta but more pricey in terms of accommodation and eateries, but you get what you pay for, a little less night life which makes for a little more relaxing stay. Kuta is described as more hustle and bustle, less expensive but you can pretty much go as budget or up market as you like, there is a big nightlife scene, but Kuta beach is a long stretch with resorts lined all the way along, where you can relax and wind down in the comfort of your hotel and then step back out into the action. Kuta was also described as having great transport links to where ever you need to go.
Jimbaran, from what we could gather seemed to be mostly luxury hotels, seafood and a beach, with not much else going on. We wanted to be close to bars and restaurants, with the accessibility to visit anywhere we heard about such as the Ubud monkey temple, and of course to get to Gili T.
We eventually settled on flying into Denpasar – taxi to Kuta (18mins) – stay in Kuta for 4 nights – Gili T for 3 nights – and then spend our last night in a hotel as close to the airport as possible, ready for an early flight back to the UK! The 10 day holiday was taken up by a day of flying either side, so we ended up with 8 nights in Bali.
In Kuta we chose to stay at The Stones Hotel, part of The Marriott’s Autograph Collection of hotels. The reviews for the hotel were amazing and the location was ideal, 5 minuets away from the hustle and bustle and right opposite the beach, and inside the hotel walls you were surrounded by the most laid back, tranquil setting you could imagine. It was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t recommend this hotel highly enough!
We booked the flights and all three hotels on Expedia.com and it was the easiest booking experience i have ever had.. thank you Expedia!!!
We travelled everywhere by taxi, including Ubud for the day, which was super cheap as long as you make sure to look up how much the journey should cost before you head out to find a taxi, and negotiate the price with the driver before so much as open the car door!
The last thing I have to tell you about before I sign off is how we got from Kuta to Gili T!
I had previously been to Thailand and Vietnam, and the only way to get around the islands is by fast boat/ferry/boat of some sort. When I found out that Gili T was an island off the coast of Bali I knew straight away how we would have to get there.
There are sites online that you can book your fast boat travel from if you know the dates in advance, but I found the easiest way was to wait until we were actually in Bali. There are often booking offices along the sides of tourist streets, along the beaches and random stands spotted about with a friendly face to ask any questions to. When there are a lot of these in the same area its really easy to haggle them down for the best deal and we managed to book a fast boat on the day before we needed to leave, for a similar price than the internet boards advised it would be, with travel to and from the harbor included.
We booked our fast boat with Blue Water Express, a shared car picked us up from our hotel, took us to Padang Bai (1 hr 90min journey) and from there we hopped on the fast boat for a bumpy 90min ride and then we arrived in Gili T as two very excited girlies!
Also.. on the way back from Gili T we saw dolphins!
I will do another post on the hotels we stayed in and what we did in Bali, but for now I think thats enough to take in!
Love, Chelsea xx
If you have been to Bali before and have any suggestions for the next time I go please comment below! Did you do anything differently that you think could be helpful? Any hotel suggestions? If you have suggestions of areas I should stay please let me know! I think I want to visit Nusa Dua, Jimbaran and West Bali National Park the next time.. And all three Gili Islands!