Bali for beginners: I’m a Perth girl who’s never been to Bali before

Here in the arguably-most-isolated city on earth, Perth, we are actually closer to Bali, Indonesia, than to the next Australian city.

(I promise that’s actually true: Bali is just over 2,600km away, and Adelaide is nearly 2,700km from Perth. There is really very little of anything in between.)

For that reason – and of course the fact that the cost of living (and visiting) in Bali is way cheaper than in Australia, a huge number of Perth people fly to Bali every year. Some of them go multiple times in a year! And it is reasonably rare to find Perth people who have never been to Bali**. I’m one of them at the moment, but that’s about to change.

(Spoiler alert: click through here and you’ll find out what I really thought of Bali!)

Bali for beginners - A Perth girl goes to Bali, Indonesia for the first time

Why haven’t I been to Bali before?

In the past, Bali hasn’t been a destination that particularly excited me. My impression is that a lot of people go there to sit in a resort hotel and drink cocktails at the pool or just drink anywhere! Obviously, that’s a total generalisation and exaggeration, but in general the idea of going somewhere and doing kind of nothing is not really my thing. I like to travel, not to have a holiday, I guess.

On top of that, I’ve always thought that Bali is somewhere I can go any time, because it’s so close. I realised when I filled out the “where have I been” map below that the vast majority of my travelling has been done in the northern hemisphere. I know that when I lived in Japan, for example, I could have also taken some trips to places like Thailand and Indonesia but I knew that I could easily and relatively cheaply get there when I lived back in Perth again, so I took side trips to places like Korea and Taiwan instead.

Amanda’s Travel Map

Amanda has been to: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican, Vietnam. Get your own travel map from Matador Network.

And to be honest, the third reason I haven’t got to Bali yet is I’m a bit stubborn! I have been a bit weirdly proud that I’ve never been. But that’s probably being a bit snobby, right? Lots of people tell me there are all different sides to Bali and my sterotype of the drunken Aussies is only a small part of it. And quite a few people have told me that as a travel blogger who’s based in Perth, it seems quite wrong that I haven’t been to Bali. So I am changing my mind.

Planning for my upcoming Bali trip

The long (LONG!) summer school holidays are almost upon me again. Last time – my first time as a mother of a school-aged child – I made the most of them by spending a fortnight in Penang. That helped the endlessness of the holidays go by rather quickly. In the October school holidays I noticed how much my son missed the structure of school after just two weeks, and I have been wondering (and worrying!) how we would get through the six weeks of summer holidays (a lot of swimming for one, but …). What I also remembered is that my son *never* gets cranky when we travel – he loves to be somewhere new (as long as I’m there too!).

So I had been thinking of some low budget and fun trips that we could take … and then a lovely lady from the new Marriott Courtyard in Seminyak, Bali got in touch with me, offering a sponsorship deal. Bali, I thought. Could I really do it? I asked the two friends I saw that day if they’d been to Bali. J said she’d never been. But that her sister went regularly. D said she’d been once for a wedding and wasn’t planning to go back. But that her sister liked it! (At this point, I thought it would help if I was friends with my friends’ sisters instead of them. Weird, hey?)

Long story short: I’m still a bit nervous, but I suspect that like 99.9% of places I’ve ever been, I will probably have a brilliant time. (There was that one time when I didn’t think much of the Gold Coast. But even that redeemed itself the following year!).

Your tips for my Bali visit

So dear readers, you need to help me out here. You know the kind of traveller I am and you know I’m not going to spend my whole week in Bali shopping or sunbathing at the beach. I’ll be based in Seminyak with my husband and four-year-old son, so what should we do to fall in love with Bali? All tips extremely gratefully received!


Disclaimer: This post and parts of my upcoming trip are sponsored by the Courtyard Bali Seminyak by Marriott. But you know me: I will always tell it like it is.

Image credits:  Jason Paris,  Alexander Zykov & Simon_Sees

**I’ve always felt like everyone in Perth has been to Bali except me. But when I surveyed on the blog Facebook page it turned out my Perth audience is a bit skewed. Of over 50 people who responded, only about half of them had been to Bali – although most of them are well-travelled. Interesting …


  1. Well I am anotherPerth person who has never been to Bali, Will await your posts with interest!

  2. Cindy Siano says

    My tip is Don’t Leave Your Resort. Pick a nice resort and just stay there. We went there with 2 teenage boys and because we hadn’t been there before, thought it was a good idea to explore. Bad idea. Horrendous traffic and a tour guide who didn’t think a van with defective air conditioning was a problem plus taking us places that were clearly a rip-off did not impress. The boys did enjoy Water Bom Park, but there is no obvious good shopping. You obviously need to know where the good seamtresses are. It was a long week and I was so happy to be back in Perth!

    • Thank you Cindy – I think … obviously I am a total explorer so that would be my natural reaction too. But your advice is something I’ve already heard once today (from my lawnmower man!). So I’m going to try to take note of it …

  3. Well, it’s too late as you have booked into a resort – but my advice is DO NOT STAY IN A RESORT. The kids and I hired a villa in Ubud for a week, with our own pool ($40 a night) right next to organic restaurants and yoga places – and close to all the attractions you’ll have to drive ages to from Seminyak – Monkey Forest, Kintamani, Goa Gajah, Bali Zoo, Safari Park, rice terraces, coffee plantations, etc. We also stayed in a resort in Legian (on border with Seminyak) for a week and we have vowed to not go back to Legian/Seminyak/Kuta next year when we go back to Bali. Nothing to do in these areas except go to the beach, swim in the hotel pool, have a massage, and walk endlessly past shop after shop. Ok for a day or two, but not a week. I took the kids to Splash Bali waterpark for a day, it was ok.
    I found the traffic and airconditioning fine, when we hired drivers to take us for day trips. Around Ubud, the kids and I just piled onto the scooters for hire with a driver.
    Further to my comments on Facebook – I think many people who don’t travel anywhere else overseas, go to Bali because of its accessibility as the quickest, cheapest and closest place to go to have an ‘out of Australia’ experience.

    • Thanks Kali – some good tips for our next trip perhaps? It’s very rare for me to have a more relaxing poolside holiday (last time was 10+ years ago … actually that was the only time!) so perhaps that’s what this one is meant to be all about – I sure could use it!

  4. How exciting!! I have to say I am super curious to hear your feedback. My kids are always asking to go to Bali because lots of their friends have been. Me – I am terrified I am going to end up in one of those horrible jails for the rest of my life. I have watched too many programs about how poor innocent (or so we think) people have been caught with drugs in their suitcases! I think I would be a nervous wreck – I’d have to fly with all our bags on my lap so that NO ONE but me touched them. Paranoid much, hahaha! SO silly I know and I really must stop watching those TV shows about the bad things that happen in Bali. So sorry for writing such a silly comment – take no notice of me, you are all going to have a FABULOUS time!!

    • Thanks Robyn! I’m not exactly terrified but I have to say I am a little concerned – I must figure out just what I need to worry about and what I don’t – I’m a natural worrier otherwise! Hope you’re right and we have a fabulous time, fingers crossed, I will report back next month!

  5. Maureen Helen says

    Amanda, my husband and I were in Bali last month. That was the second time I’d been there, and both times were wonderful in their own very different ways. I’m fascinated by Balinese culture and history. The Balinese people I’ve met have all been kind and generous. Some have been happy to share stories about their lives and to show us things that some tourists might not be interested in. One of my best experiences was staying with a family in a home-stay, but this time as we spent a few days in a resort in Nusa Dua and the rest in one of the main streets in Ubud.

    It is prudent to be cautious about a few things in Bali as it is in other countries. For example, always drink bottled in Bali and use it for teeth cleaning. Be careful about food and eat sensibly. I’m careful about my bag where ever I travel, but I’ve been closer to having it nicked in Paris than in Bali.

    I hope you enjoy Bali as much as we do.

    • That’s wonderful to hear Helen – a homestay would be fabulous! We are being put up in the hotel this time round but who knows, we might fall in love with it and be back very soon (it’s certainly very handy to Perth, after all). Thanks for all your tips!

  6. Maybe you can consider going up north next time, more precisely N-W, for some more authentique Bali experience. Far away from the busy south. Pemuteran is a sleepy town no disco’s there. Ckeck out the website a lot of things to do there.

  7. I’ve never been to Bali for the same reasons you’ve mentioned in your post.

    Looking forward to your posts 🙂

  8. if you’re going shopping in Balinese markets, BARGAIN RUTHLESSLY!! these people can sell stuff about 3x the price that it’s worth the instant they see you’re not a local. don’t be fixated on one shop too, a lot of the stuff they sell are sold at other stores too, and may be the other store has a friendlier seller,

    • True but these people also earn a tiny percentage of what we do … I find it hard to bargain ruthlessly over what is a matter of a few cents to me. It’s one of the very uncomfortable parts of Bali for me!

  9. Sonya Sanusi says

    I’m Indonesian (who’s been away from my homeland for almost six years now) so I guess I’d sound biased. However, wisely ‘judging’ from how far and long you’ve traveled before, I’m sure you will survive Bali, and probably like it too. The locals there might charge you more since you are a bule (caucasian/white person) but I have seen so many other bule people who looked okay to pay the amount they had to, so I guess it was not that crazy high. Bali is not the best place to see in Indonesia but it is pretty nice, if we want to experience many different things in one area (i.e. small island) like this. The natural beauty is stunning, the people are quite friendly and they speak English pretty well, and the cultural richness is just wonderful. All in all, it’s worth the visit, at least once in a lifetime. I have been there 12 times so I guess I’ve paid my dues already. Hahaha. Just kidding. Anyways, I hope you have tons of great times there. I’m really looking forward to reading your story (and see your pictures) soon.

    • Thanks Sonya! Which other parts of Indonesia would you recommend??

      • Sonya Sanusi says

        You’re very welcome. Okay now. I have only been to 11 (out of 33) provinces in Indonesia so I haven’t seen much myself. However, I have some places I loved seeing and would love seeing, like Nusa Tenggara Barat (like Lombok (with its beautiful beaches, gili’s (islets or small islands), Mount Rinjani and its crater lake, sendang’s (waterfalls), etc.) and Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara Timur (like Flores area (with its Komodo National Park, Three Color Lake Kelimutu, Wae Rebo, Bena, Ruteng Pu’u Traditional Villages, Blue Stone and Pink (Sand) Beaches, Gili Laba, Kanawa and Padar Islands, lakes, waterfalls, mountains, caves, etc.), Solor, Alor, Sumba, etc.), Sulawesi or Celebes (with its Bunaken National Marine Park, Wakatobi Islands, Kepulauan Togean National Park, Tanjung Bira, Toraja Land, Londa Burial Caves, Lembeh Strait, its beautiful lakes, beaches, mountains, plantations, forts, etc. ), Ambon (with its Natsepa and Ora Beaches, among others), Maluku (Nuhu Roa or Kei Kecil Island, Kei Besar Island, etc.), West Papua (like Raja Ampat Islands, Wayag Island, Misool Island, Pianemo Island, Harfat Peak, Cape Kri, Baliem Valley, etc.), and many others.

        Those are the places you’ll find on the right hand side of BALI on the map of Indonesia. If you want me to list down the places I’d recommend on the left hand side of Bali, then I need more to time to do it. Hahaha… Indonesia is so big, and lucky for us, it gives us so many things to see and do while we’re there. And the food is ah-mazing. You must try their best foods. They’re the perfect combination of local, Malay, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and European dishes. They might not be the healthiest in the world, but they’re definitely hard to forget. I hope you enjoy your visit(s) there. 🙂

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