2 Weeks Travelling around Bali and the Gili Islands

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Bali

We have always wanted to visit Bali and we were not disappointed!  We had just over two weeks to take this trip in April 2017 and wanted to make the most of it, the weather at that time of the year would be the end of the wet season/start of the dry season.  Once there it is cheap to live, the food, drink and taxis are very cheap and the hotels are good value.

Due to the flight travel time from the UK to Bali (approx. 16hrs) we broke up the trip and stopped in Dubai (see Dubai blog – click here for link)

As soon as you step off the plane in Bali, your senses are hit with the heat and smell of Balinese spices in the air.  Bali is a beautiful adventure, the people are friendly and the scenery varies from the jungle to rice paddies to cities to idyllic islands with no motorised vehicles and quiet sandy beaches. It has it all!

Bali

How to get from Bali airport to hotel in Seminyak

We booked the hotel shuttle service to pick us up at the airport.  On arrival in the airport the driver holds a sign with your name on (surname of the person who booked).  When we arrived at the airport it was really busy and congested and there was a sea of drivers holding signs, if you don’t see your name keep walking as our driver was round the corner.  The transfer was around 20 minutes to our hotel and the car had aircon, which was a blessing in the heat!

Grand La Villais Villa and Spa Hotel – Seminyak

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Seminyak was the first stop on our journey and it is close to the airport (approx. 20min).  It is a party town so there are lots of bars, restaurants and some really good shops especially the clothes shops.  Don’t worry if you forgot anything you should be able to buy it here.

We stayed at Grand La Villais Villa and Spa Seminyak and booked a lovely villa with private pool.  There was an outdoor day bed to lounge on, and the sitting room and kitchen were outside (use mosquito spray). The bedroom with connecting bathroom were indoors and lockable. The bed had a mosquito net and aircon.  The breakfast is served on the rooftop with great views and was homemade and very basic.

Double Six Hotel  – Seminyak

This is a luxury hotel with its own private beach, roof top bar and amazing restaurant.  We did not stay here but we visited twice and we wish we had!

Double Six Bar

A roof top bar for chilled out days and party nights.  It has floating pods in water that you sit in at the edge of the bar overlooking the hotels private beach for amazing sunset views.  The cocktails were quite strong and the snacks were tasty!

We were so relaxed at this point of the holiday we were late and missed the sunset so had to go back again! (well that’s our excuse haha).

 

Double Six Plantation Grill

We LOVED this!!!  A 20’s era restaurant and bar, decadently decorated, dark and moody this bar had an amazing atmosphere and food and wine to match.  This is pricier but worth it.  It is a must do!!

Ubud – The Jungle

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How to get from Seminyak to Ubud

From Seminyak we got a taxi to our accommodation in Ubud which took around 1 hour (we made sure we got a taxi with aircon!)

Purana Boutique Resort

This is one of the best hotels we have ever stayed in.  From the moment we arrived we relaxed instantly, it is a peaceful relaxing getaway.  The staff are very friendly, helpful and went the extra mile to ensure you have what you need and are enjoying your holiday. They greeted us, took our bags and made us a welcome drink with a cool refreshing towel for our face.  We were taken straight to the villa and the lady performed the welcome ritual foot massage (washing your feet).  There is a fresh fruit basket provided on arrival and every villa is given a dedicated butler.

The villa is beautiful, it has a private pool, loungers, outdoor kitchen and dining table, the bedroom is large with aircon and an attached bathroom sink (the toilet and shower are partly outside but concealed).

We ordered room service and were quite delighted and surprised when our breakfast was delivered on a floating tray in the pool! We loved this and the food was fresh and delicious (you can also have this served at the table).  We also ordered evening meals served at the table by our pool which was a quiet romantic setting or you can go to the restaurant (this is small).  If you prefer you can go into town as there are various restaurants to choose from. The hotel is a short drive from the main centre in Ubud.

The massages were so good we booked twice! They set up the tables at our villa by the pool in the shade with the fan on, to escape the afternoon heat.

We wanted to visit some local sights and our butler offered to guide us round (you pay to rent the hotels vehicle).   Our first stop was the rice paddies, unfortunately it was raining buckets just before we got there, so we dived into a local restaurant which had an amazing view of the paddies.

The monkey kingdom was good to walk around and we got some beautiful photos.  It is a tourist trap and was very busy.  The monkeys are wild and can be vicious so keep your bag close and don’t keep any food in it as we saw them take it off the back of a girl and pull everything out till they got to the banana! You can take bananas or buy some there to feed them.

At the Purana resort there are some beautiful wooden carvings from local artists, we wanted some to take home and our guide took us to the local gallery that supplies them.  It was a large beautiful building with everything from ornate carved wooden furniture to the smallest souvenirs with a range of prices to suit everyone.  Definitely spoilt for choice!

Gili Islands

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The Gili Islands are south of Bali.  There are three small islands called Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan and Gili Air.  Gili T is known as the party island and from our research it did say it was quite loud and you could hear it even when on the other islands, Gili Meno is the quiet island and Gili Air is a mix of both so you can choose what suits you.

Tips:

  1. It is best to have a backpack and not a suitcase as you are getting on and off boats on the beach. This is the only time we needed a backpack on this trip.
  2. Wear flip flops or shoes that you can easily take off an put on while getting on and off the boats as your feet and legs get wet
  3. I was advised you could not get cash on the island and you had to take it with you, however now there are cashpoints on the islands and hotels take credit cards so don’t worry about running out of cash.
  4. Bring mosquito repellent/plugs.

How to get from Ubud to Gili Islands

From Ubud we travelled 1.5hours in a mini bus we booked through our resort as they advised it would have aircon.  We arrived at the harbour had lunch and waited for the boat which took 2 hours to get to Gili T.  As we got off the boat onto the beach at Gili T there were a lot of people offering water taxis which only took 10-15 minutes to Gili Meno, we accepted the first one who offered.  Overall this was quite a long journey and at times not pleasant in the heat, but so worth it when you get to the islands!

There was a funny situation with the transfer from Ubud as the driver stopped to pick up other travellers and at one point he left the mini bus on a main road which got quite congested to the point a local jumped in smiled and drove it down the road and parked out of the way!!!  At this point everyone on the bus was partly shocked and partly laughing, then we just hoped we were going to make the boat on time, after what seemed like a long time the driver turned up and off we went!

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Gili Meno

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We chose to stay on Gili Meno as it is the most quiet and unspoilt of the three islands.  We wanted a castaway experience with luxury! There are only 500 locals living there and no motorised vehicles are allowed so you can walk, cycle or get the horse and cart taxi (best if you have bags so you are not lugging them round in the heat!).  If your walking or cycling you can go round the island which only takes about 1 hour or you can use the paths to go through the middle which is quicker.

There are some white sandy beaches with beautiful clear water (note: there are some that are covered in stones/coral).  Snorkelling is a must do and most travellers took their own snorkels though you can rent them on the island.

There are local restaurants that catch fresh fish during the day and bbq them in the evenings.  They have all the fish set out so you can choose what you want. The prawns were massive and the barracuda was really tasty!

 Avia Villa Resort

We arrived on Gili Meno island by water taxi from Gili T which they said they would take us ‘to the door’ of Avia Villa Resort which means the boat pulls up on the beach next to the resort so you have a short walk across the beach (make sure you have shoes/flip flops that are easy to whip off and on as you need to get off the boat and wade in the water to the beach, you’ll need to put the flip flops on as the beach is covered in coral which can hurt your feet or if you have arranged a drop off to the jetty the you can get a horse and cart to bring you and your bags to the resort.

We stayed in a private one bedroom villa with pool.  For a small undeveloped island this was a slice of luxury.  We had aircon, hot water and a mini bar.  The pool was excellent to cool down in on hot days (pretty much every day) and you can float and relax with a Bintang (which you can get from the mini bar in your room or they will bring it to you if your extra lazy!)  The staff were really nice and we had fun chatting to them.

There was a breakfast buffet and they cook pancakes on request, we enjoyed the banana pancakes.  The food during the day and night was nice and so were the cocktails.  There is a lovely covered seating area by the beach where you can eat day and night with a nice view.

There was a monsoon that hit one evening and when it rains it pours! There were two large umbrellas in the villa so we used those and wondered along to the restaurant and enjoyed the food, cocktails and Bingtang while waiting out the storm.

Gili Trawangan (Gili T)

We wanted to visit Gili T to see what it was like and we heard this was the party island!  We spoke to the staff at our resort and they arranged a water taxi which would only take 10 minutes to the island and the driver would wait for us and take us back at an agreed time.

Arriving at Gili T in the evening was great, it is busy and vibrant.  There are lots of restaurants, bars and live music.  We stopped for food and after having weeks of local food it was nice to have a pizza haha! There was a lovely high end luxury hotel that we walked past and stopped for drinks by the beach which looked fabulous!

There were also parties on Gili Air and you could see the fireworks!

We loved Gili T more than we expected and would love to stay on this island and also visit Gili Air, so island hopping is definitely on our list for next time!

Date of trip :April 2017

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