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.
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.
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.