Solo Travel in Bali

Sunset at Jimbaran

 

I have been solo traveling for last seven years and each time I have an interesting story to narrate. But as a solo backpacker, I have always avoided travelling in Asia, but this time around I decided to visit Indonesia.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much but I came back with such beautiful stories and memories. And I totally recommend you to pick your bags and travel alone and cheer up your soul.

The first thing that comes to mind when one says Indonesia is Bali. But trust me there is more to Indonesia than Bali and Ubud. Infact, beaches in Bali like Kuta, Seminyak etc seem like upmarket Goa, the good thing is as a solo traveler it makes you feel at home before you set out to see the unseen. I spent the best part of my holiday roaming around an island called Gili Trawangan (more on this in next post).

For Indian travelers, Bali is really hop skip and jump away (Mine was a 15 hour journey). I took a Malaysian Airline flight and reached Bali via Kuala Lumpur. The flights were delayed in all legs of my trip so maybe you can see if you want to choose any other airline. The official name of Bali Airport is Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, and it can easily be passed off as a domestic terminal in any Indian airport. It’s small, hence convenient and easy to get by. So if you are a solo traveler don’t be intimidated, things are easily under control.  For Indians, visa is exempted, so basically you don’t have to pay a penny to enter the land of history, culture and magnificent sunsets.

Currency:

The Indonesian Rupiah is quite intimidating for the first two days, as you haven’t really dealt with millions before in your life. Inflation hasn’t really helped the economy. For eg- a packet of bread costs  17,000 Ind rupiyah. So the best part is to know your currency and you should bargain hard for a better rate. In case someone offers you a better deal than anywhere else then dump it, always ask for a receipt. There are currency exchanges shops in every nook and corner so try and be careful. I exchanged currency in batches as I ended up spending way more when I had pile of cash.

Hotels:   

Now, picking a hotel is the first part of the trip, here is what I did and what I could have done better.  I booked all my hotels through Expedia and when compared to other sites, I did get a better deal.

As a backpacker I usually live in hostels, but when it comes to travelling in Asia, especially back home I prefer hotels. Although the mindset is changing but for a first timer I decided to try the safe bet. I booked Sun Boutique Hotel managed by BENCOOLEN at Sunset Road in Kuta, it was quite cheap and the facilities were very good. My room was next to the pool and there wasn’t any outside noise and the staff is very nice and updated me on every offer they had during my stay.

Cost: Rs 1975/- per night per room (2pax)

But I would recommend that if you are travelling budget in Bali, you should opt for a hostel or a hotel near the beach road. Don’t try and stay too far from the beach, else you will end up wasting money on cab and time as traffic is a huge problem in the island. It helps to leave early when in Bali. The roads are too small and taxis are an expensive affair.

I also stayed at Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort during the last leg of my stay as I wanted to pamper myself. If you are looking for luxury this hotel surely ensures one. The hotel has a gate which opens up to the beach and it is in the midst of all the action Bali has to offer. Totally recommend their Spa services too.

Cost: Rs10,000/- per night per room (2 pax)

Other hotel that I liked include Hard Rock Hotel on Kuta Beach Road. One can try hotels in Legian Street or Seminyak. Infact Seminyak has some of the best hotel properties for luxe travelers.

Food and Shopping:

While walking on the beach road one can’t help but see series of shops hanging dreamcatchers in every sizes and trust me you will end up buying one. One thing in Bali that one shouldn’t forget is to bargain. I was totally ripped off in the first two shops and then I rehashed my bargaining skills. Always pay half of what they ask for and always be confident. And go to as many stores as you can before you start buying.

Indonesian food can be quite spicy, but the plethora of sea food it offers warrants mention. I had a lovely sunset dinner at Ganesha Café at Jimbaran Beach. The prawns were beautifully cooked and served with rice and sea plant.

Travel Tale in next post: Canyon of Sukawati, Bali Marine Safari, Saraswati Temple, Goldsmith shop, Tanha Lot and more.

Goa Diaries!

What is travel, if not to seek something new?

Goa is by far the most travelled city in India and rightly so, for its pristine beaches, cheaper alcohol and coconut trees adjoining the scenic villages. Goa’s old school charm can never fail to mesmerize you or liven up your soul.

Way back in August 2013, I attempted my first solo trip in India and after much mulling I had pinned on Goa. Since then Goa has become an annual affair, yet each time there is a new story to tell, a new beach to discover and a new sense of happiness.

These are my recommendations from my recent trip and kick starts my travel blogging journey.

Stay: We had booked a 2BHk apartment through AirBnB called Mesmeric Sunsets at Benaulim owned by a couple called Jolene and Sujit, although they don’t stay around the property, it’s a beautifully done house and I totally recommend it if you are looking to travel around South Goa. The Benaulim beach is just five minutes away from the apartment, which caters to the guests of Taj Exotica and other premium properties around it and we came across very few people on the beach, making it one of my favorites. The house has every amenity that one can ask for and is spick and span.

Cost- Rs 2330/- per night, minimum booking 2 days.

Clubbing: Even though news reports suggest that Goa’s partying scene is up for some major overhaul, we did manage to dance our way through the night. Off late Club Cabana at Arpora is the major favorite among tourists overtaking the old ones like Tittos. The interior of the club is well done with a rustic look, a pool to sit by and a closed dancing room where the DJ plays latest favorites. Even though the club was crowded, one can find their own sweet corner to chill. The dancing room is too chaotic but the music makes up for all the jammed space and sweaty faces.

Entry Fee: Rs 2000/- couple, Rs 1500/- Stag entry in a group

Saturday Night Market (SNM): Although we came across a rip off of the original SNM called Saturday Night Bazaar, I would still recommend the original one here.

The market isn’t just another flea market but culmination of live music, food stalls, edm and trance dance area and the higher you climb the hill the better it gets!

The SNM is open on Saturdays from October to April 30. There is no entry fee or parking charge, one needs to pay for stag entry at the dance level. We heard Electric Pulse, a Goan rock band play live music and then headed towards dance. There is no way one can miss local live bands play in Goa, their music is too good to be missed. Also, the flea market has some really good local artifacts. Bargain as much as you can but don’t strain them all.

Beaches: As you keep driving towards South Goa the world seems calmer, better and happier. There is no other way to express that feeling. Highly recommend all the beaches along the south till Polem.

Books: We came across a beautiful library nestled inside the lanes of Bardez called Literati, owned by Neha Kapur. The Villa turned into library not only boasts of classics and new collections but a beautiful collection of Antiquarian Books. I managed to grab a 1940 edition of The Three Musketeers.  Adjoining the book store is a small café and we totally recommend the chicken pizza and good reading time!

Goa is known for its beaches and churches and casinos, hence it would be too unfair to pick any one! To live it up , Go Goa!

Picture Credits: Mayank Mishra.