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Travelling to Bali in 2023-how it’s changed & why it’s still worthy of your bucket list

After more than two years away from Bali (no thanks to Covid-19), I finally planted my feet back on Bali’s sand and soil. Here’s what I learnt, and why I still love it…

I’ve been visiting Bali for the past 15 years – I love absolutely everything about the island. So much so, I created Honeycombers Bali just so I could justify the frequent trips as a business expense! But Bali has changed dramatically in the last few years, and though my most recent trip was a super short one, it was eye-opening. In many ways, Bali is still the same magical island that we all know and love, but here are my top 10 tips to help you get the most out of travelling to Bali in 2022…

Top 10 tips for travelling to Bali in 2022

1. Traveling post-Covid takes a little more prep

For vaccinated Aussies, traveling to Bali is a breeze. But there are new travel and visa regulations you should be across. For starters, only 86 nationalities can get the Visa On Arrival – everyone else must pre-apply for the B211 Tourism Visa in order to enter Indonesia. Secondly, all travellers must be fully vaccinated (either two doses or a booster), and you must also download the PeduliLindungi app, and show an onward flight out of Indonesia. Once your documents are all in order, the rest is a breeze, but you’ll want to tick off our pre-flight checklist before heading to the airport.

2. Villas are still amazing as ever

In this post-Covid era, there’s no better excuse to splash out on a private villa, rather than staying in a busy hotel. And I just love the Bali villa experience. From the meticulously prepared fruit platters for breakfast, to the in-villa spa treatments and personal butlers – you can’t go wrong for some major R&R. We stayed at Villa Nini Elly, a very new and modern six-bedroom villa in Canggu (which had a sauna in the ensuite!), and a more traditional, but very grand (think massive lawns and palatial rooms) at Villa Bendega Nui. Both were conveniently located in and around Canggu, but Villa Bendega Nui was our fave purely for the fact it was just a stone’s throw from the beach and Canggu’s iconic healthy cafes and affordable spas.

3. New restaurant options are insane

One restaurant not to miss on your next Bali vacay? Skool Kitchen

Whilst it’s sad to see that some of Bali’s old favourites have not reopened post-Covid (like Sardine and Metis), there are plenty of incredible new dining experiences to be had (wear elastic waistbands only!). Our picks include the brand new Luma in Canggu (killer food, killer interiors), Skool Kitchen (start with sundowner cocktails downstairs at The Lawn) and Shelter in Pererenan. Then, for a fun night out with a communal dining concept, try SaMesa – a great way to meet other travellers and foodies. If you’re in town for more than a few nights, check out our full Canggu restaurants guide for your complete must-eat list.

4. Traffic is hectic, so be prepared

Road infrastructure is not Indonesia’s strong suit. So be prepared to sit in traffic, and allow more time for day trips and travel across the island. For example, Canggu to Uluwatu is now a two-hour one-way car ride, and potentially even longer at peak sunset hours. Check with your villa or hotel for the best time to travel before you plan your day trips, or send us a DM if you want our advice. Another tip is to use GoJek – an app like Uber that lets you ride on the back of a driver’s motorbike, who can speedily wiggle you through the traffic. This is a great option for shorter trips, but not ideal for long island excursions unless you want a numb bum! Sure, you can also hire your own scooter if you have experience AND a license, but know that there are a lot of inexperienced tourists driving scooters illegally, and tourist accident numbers are off the charts, so please don’t be one of them!

5. Canggu is the new Seminyak

Another sad change is seeing how deserted Seminyak has become, compared to life before Covid (and Kuta is even quieter). A few long-time favourites are still kicking on in style – like Ku De Ta, La Lucciola, Sisterfields and W Bali – but the frenetic buzz (and traffic) has certainly moved north to Canggu. In some ways, Seminyak is now the better option for a less hectic family-friendly escape, while Canggu is where it’s at for buzzing beach bars, happening restaurants and late-night cocktail spots.

6. The Balinese people are as lovely as ever

The thing that keeps me (and everyone else) coming back to the Island of the Gods is the lovely nature of the Balinese people. Here’s just one example of how this manifested during my recent trip to Bali. Picture this: I’m on the back of a scooter and my straw hat blows off into oncoming traffic. In any other country, it would have been run over in seconds. But instead, the traffic stops, and a local food vendor runs out onto the road, letting go of his food cart which proceeds to roll away from him. Not knowing who I was, or whether I was coming back for the hat, he leaves his rolling cart and grabs my hat before handing it over to me. Seriously, where in the world does this happen? Bali… only in Bali!

7. Make time for outer islands

Take a break from the popular beaches of Bali and escape to Nusa Lembongan

Bali has a lot to offer, but there are so many other islands to discover that are less hectic and deserve your tourism dollars too. Better yet, they’re just as charming and just as beautiful, just in different ways. My picks include the Gili Islands (three islands that are completely free of cars) sitting off the north coast of Lombok. Or there’s Flores, just a short plane ride from Bali, where you can explore the Komodo National Park by boat. Or, closer to home, you can hop over to Bali’s very own outer islands – Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan – where snorkeling with Manta rays is a daily pastime.

8. Wash your shoes

Public service announcement: Foot and Mouth Disease is a real threat to the international livestock industry, and from the daughter of a farmer, the threat is real. It’s easy to wash your shoes with soap before you get on the plane, so please travel responsibly.

9. Come with luggage allowance (lots of it!)

Traveling with carry-on only might be convenient when it comes to skipping the baggage claim queues, but it’s not so great if you have a serious homeware habit. As an interior’s addict myself, I know the drill when it comes to stocking up on the goods in Bali – just check out our full homewares guide here to see what I mean. And if you can only fit in a visit to one store, Kim Soo is my pick (and please bring me back a marble cheese board!).

10. Be respectful & tip generously

Bali is a magical place, and the people and their religion plays a huge part, so please respect them and their traditions. Dress appropriately, especially when visiting temples and holy sites, and always ask one of the friendly locals before taking a photo of a ceremony or cultural happening (and no bikini shots near temples!), as you may be unintentionally intruding on a funeral, wedding or an important offering to the Hindu gods. And finally, please tip generously – the island has had a very challenging couple of years, so every Rupiah counts.

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