With its bargain Bintang beer, lovely beaches and volcanic landscape, Bali is a popular choice of stopover on the way to Australia. I chose to stop here briefly on route to Perth, to get the bulk of the travel out of the way, and get myself used to the time difference (Bali to Perth is then less than 5 hours).
London to Bali is around a 17 hour flight (usually with a short transit in Singapore) and Bali stopovers work out very cheap in comparison to Australia, so your money will go much further!
Once you arrive into Bali you have a few choices of locations to choose from, all just a short distance from the airport. Here are some insider tips to help you chose where to spend your Bali stopover.
Most flights booked as part of a round the world ticket will arrive into this city. This may not create the best first impression as you'll arrive into a haze of motorcycle traffic and huge surf warehouses and not much else. Don’t despair however; you just need to go a little further afield to find your hotel options!
This is a very famous surf stopover for Australians and just a 20 minute taxi ride from Denpasar airport (budget 70-90,000 rupiah per car, so less than a fiver).
Kuta is definitely touristy; think cheap hotels, many bars and again lots of big surf warehouses. You can find some great hotel deals here, plus lots of nightlife, however it may not be the most relaxing experience. I stayed here for a brief shopping trip, but found it a bit too hectic and the hassle-factor from local touts was quite high.
Just a short taxi ride from Kuta, Seminyak is much lower key. I stayed at the Ping Hotel, just a short hop from Legion beach, which while not boasting brilliant white sand, does have some good restaurants and pretty spots to watch the sunset. You'll also find plenty of shops and nightlife here, yet it has a more upmarket feel.
A little further afield is Sanur, which takes around 40 minutes in a taxi (budget 95,000 RPH per car). Here you’ll find the more authentic beach hotels and small Balinease restaurants. You can find a good mid-range hotel room on the main road, like Sari Villa where I stayed. It’s a few hundred metres from the beach and cost about $USD 50 per night, or you can pay a little more for a beach front spot.
This was the spot where I spent most of my time on my recent Bali stopover, and I think it’s a real gem!
This little island is just a 30 minute fast ferry ride from Sanur (approx. 45 USD per person return) and all the ferry companies will arrange pick-ups from Kuta or Seminyak too. The island has no room for cars (so simply hire a scooter to explore) and has a much more relaxed feel. Think little beach bars, traditional Lumbung Huts and quiet nights under the stars.
I stayed in two different spots during my time here; one on Mushroom Bay, which is the nicest swimming beach on the island. An ocean view villa at Sadeg Lembongan starts at just 70 USD per night. It even had an infinity pool with beach views!
From here you can organise everything from banana boating to snorkel and dive trips. We were surprised to discover the large Manta Ray population here, and arranged a boat out to ‘Manta Bay’ paying just 20 USD per person for a private boat and snorkel gear. This sheltered little bay is home to Manta Rays year round, so pretty amazing stuff! The snorkel is easy off the boat, so perfect for swimmers of all levels. I was there during the end of the wet season, so unfortunately storms had brought in much rubbish into the bay, however nothing could really detract from the experience of swimming up close with such stunning creatures.
These islands always deserve a mention, as if you’re looking for turquoise waters, brilliant diving and close up turtle encounters then the Gili Islands are brilliant spot!
I was here a few years ago to take my open water diving qualification and the marine life there really is stunning. You also have the choice of a more party island (Gili Trawangan) or the two smaller and remote islands of Gili Meno and Gili Air. One thing to note however is that if you are planning to just travel here, then you are better off arriving into Lombok, rather than Denpasar airport as in the locations above.
From Lombok you simply take a shuttle bus or taxi to Bangsal harbour (1 hr from Mataram), and a public boat from there which will takes just 15 minutes to the nearest island of Gili Air, and 45 to the furthest (Trawangan) If you do arrive in Denpasar, then boat companies will arrange transfers from the towns of Kuta, Seminyak and Sanur as mentioned above, with the journey taking around 90 minutes to the harbour, and 80 minutes on the ferry. Budget approx. 60 USD for this journey.
If you decide you want to make the most of your stopover, we have some incredibly good value options! Check out these ideas:
If you’re booking multi-stop flights or looking to fly to Australia or New Zealand, you have the perfect opportunity to work in a stopover in Bali, with some time to explore Lombok and the Gili islands too!
We can arrange your flights and find you accommodation to suit your style and budget. Here are some ideas for multi-stop flights that go to Bali - just call us on +44 1273320580 for more advice or request a quote by email.