Bali Itinerary Part 1: Ubud

I took a week long vacation with Nigel to Bali earlier in May. I grew up in a family where an overseas trip was relationships driven; either visiting my dad (who worked overseas a lot) or my relatives (majority of them are located in Shanghai and Hong Kong), rarely had the chance to experience touristy activities by myself. Most of my time in bustling cities like Hong Kong revolved around shopping. In my poly days, I seized opportunities to travel with the school for study trips, the main reason being the subsidies and second because I had so much more freedom with my friends. This time, however, I am sick of pleasing people, shopping and always rushed around by someone else. I was craving for a beach vacation that allowed plenty of time for relaxation and indulgence. So that explains why Nigel and I decided to take 7 days off to Bali!

I was extremely flattered by many of you who have followed me on Instagram, liked my photos and requested for a Bali blog post. Firstly, I'd like to highlight that the itinerary was completely planned by Nigel, just because I am a bum who gets anxious easily. He is so awesome and deserves all the credit. The best I could do was documenting our journey for you to enjoy. I have organised this blog post in chronological order.

p.s. As a collective effort, Nigel will be guest editing in green text!

Hello dear readers, thank you for reading Uli's blog and I hope you enjoy our first co-authored blog-post!

Itinerary fact sheet
Flight: Tiger airways
Vacation days: 7 (2 in Ubud, 5 in Seminyak)
Flight & accommodation per person: ~ S$500
Other expenses per person: ~ S$600

We travelled by Taxi, hiring a driver and by foot. Taxi is good for short distances and you should always opt to go by meter as it's usually cheaper. However, if you are moving around a lot in a single day, it is best to hire a driver. Nigel's mom recommended us Agus, who is a genuine yet extremely witty Balinese. He drives a 7 seater mini van. It costs about USD$40 to hire him for a day (8 hours), but it's really worth it if you have lots to go in a day or if you're traveling in a group. He was our friend, guide and company for the 3 days we had him, Nigel and I urge you to get Agus because that will be the best decision you make in Bali. If you're just going out for a short dinner, always check with the locals on the distance. Most of the eateries were within reach so walking was never a problem for our curious minds.

The best tip I can dispense is to get Agus as your driver. A trusty driver like Agus can make your Bali trip a memorable one.  Besides, he offered us adventure activities such as water-rafting at a much cheaper price than quoted by accommodation staff and online. Big plus point for budget travellers! Moreover, he did not charge us extra when we exceeded the 8 hours limit for a full-day of his services. Over the course of our trip, Agus became our friend, companion, tour-guide, caretaker, joker, etc. He really made our stay in Bali special.
Agus Kuswana, driver
Recommended on Trip Advisor
Best way to reach him is at gil.agus@hotmail.com or his Facebook page.

Bebek Tepi Sawah restaurant
Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Br. Teges Peliatan, Ubud
Tel: +62 361 975656 Daily: 10am – 10pm

Upon arrival, the first we did was to grab a late lunch. They're known for their signature smoked duck and dine with a great view. I was initially not used to the 'rawness' of the duck (it's roasted without additional oil, minimum seasoning), but it was delicious nonetheless. Its accompanying butter potatoes were the best I have ever tasted in my life. If you walked all the way to the end of the restaurant, you'll find an amazing view of the padi field, definitely a good preview to what Ubud is all about!

This place was recommended by Ladyironchef and sure enough it lived up to my expectations. The locals all know about it and the prices are affordable for such an established restaurant.

View of the treehouse once you enter. The small stairs lead to the hangout room.

(Left block) top hangout room, bottom bedroom (Right block) top bathroom 1,  bottom kitchen & bathroom 2

(Top to bottom) hangout room, bedroom, store room for gardeners

View of our garden from the balcony + a peek of our neighbour villa's pool

Mini waterfall, crafty bench

Outdoor bathtub which we never used

Bathroom 1: semi outdoors so you enjoy a view!

Kitchen area + extra basin + entrance to bathroom 2


Study area at the hangout room, fully equipped with DVD player and the owner's books

Nigel eats his breakfast in the hangout room

Our daily home made breakfast: (vegetarian) yoghurt, granola, mixed fruits, toast, coffee


Satori Treehouse
Jalan Raya Pengosekan Ubud, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia

We chose to book our accommodation via Airbnb, a popular site for people to list their places or stay in other's. Not only it's cheaper this way, staying in villas can be a great way to experience something new. Our first accommodation was the Satori Treehouse, owned by a French guy and was also recommended previously in the newspapers for winning some sort of Airbnb competition. It cost us about S$90+ for each night. The tree house isn't literally built on trees like Tarzan's, but it was built among a rich lush of greenery. We weren't just entitled to the house, we owned the entire compound! I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of living in an environment that was probably four times the size of my home, something I could only dream of in Singapore. I remember spending the first twenty minutes just running up and down in excitement. We didn't get to meet the owner, but the people who took care of the house (a housekeeper, driver, maid, gardener) were hospitable to our needs. A Nokia phone was provided on our bedside table for emergencies or calling the housekeeper. Not shown in any pictures was a massage room fully equipped with beds but you have to contact the housekeeper to get the external masseuses. We each paid USD$12 for an hour and it was fantastic, swearing from a scoliosis patient here. Highly recommended if you're staying there.

The tree house blew my mind. I wish we booked more days so that I could spend a day just enjoying the house. It's the perfect place for couples who wish to live in nature and quietness. It's difficult to feel agitated in the house, especially when you get a view of the padi field just outside the window. I loved the semi outdoor bathroom because it's so spacious. Although it's technically exposed, you will still feel a sense of privacy simply because you're so hidden by the greenery. I also thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast made fresh by the maid every morning. Even though it's 100% vegetarian, it's nutritious and very filling. You also get an outdoor bathtub that is perfect for a bubble bath!

The bed must have been great because I did not lose any sleep over the 2 nights spent here. The outdoor bathroom on the 2nd level deserves a mention too as it was the most relaxing bathing experience I've ever had. I felt so close to nature bathing among the rocks and in the open air. Service can make or break an experience and I must say that I felt really taken care of by the service staff. No language barrier, plenty of smiles.

I have to admit, because I am a spoilt brat who never had to face insects, getting used to the natural habitat was a challenge. There were some mosquitoes (very common in Bali) but thankfully we were provided with electric repellents and coils, so it wasn't a huge issue. We did encounter some moths, ants, lizards and cockroaches. But having said that, let me tell you that once I accepted the fact that we were in a habitat, I suddenly understood that these insects were just part of the scene and it was wrong of me to consider them as pests. And frankly they were pretty harmless. So I suggest if you intend to stay there, just be mentally prepared to accept nature as it is! Other than that, other cons would include the weak wifi connection that was only receptive at certain areas and how dark the compound can get at night. I won't consider them obstructive of our stay but it's good to bear in mind.

For me, the less you worry about the insects, the better your stay will be. Besides, they weren't a nuisance. I felt at ease here!

Instructor and guide of our raft

Telaja Waja River, Ubud
Phone: +62 361 9124 888 / +62 361 9124 999
Cost per pax: ~ USD$35

One of the things we really wanted to do was white water rafting. Agus said that the summer months are great for rafting as the water isn't too aggressive. I didn't realise how physically demanding the rafting was; you basically make your way from one point of the river to another that stretches over 16km which took about 2.5 hours to complete. Although at some point my arms ached like mad, time passed quickly because I was distracted by how beautiful the scenery was. We got to see cliffs, real waterfalls and occasional villagers who lived along the river. I think white water rafting is a must for everyone who visits Bali. It's really fun and constantly thrilling.

However, I must remind you that it can be quite dangerous, at least for me. At one point, our raft hit a rock and for some unknown reason I flew right out of the raft. The fact that I wasn't the sole loser falling over made me feel slightly better. Although the waters are shallow, the rushing stream and slippery pebbles made it impossible for me to recover by myself. So basically for about 30 seconds all I knew was I constantly slipped, knocked into all sorts of rocks and desperately tried to cover my face. I was also in shock and panic, and even being a decently good swimmer I couldn't help myself. Thank God our instructor managed to rescue me but I was still in tremendous shock that I couldn't feel my legs at all. I was lucky to have suffered some minor bruises. But let this be a good lesson to never underestimate the seemingly harmless waters...

Bali is more than just beaches and nightlife. There's plenty of adventure in Bali and this is one not to be missed! You can get a good glimpse of nature here in Bali coupled with the thrill of rafting. Apparently, there are 2 rivers for rafting in Bali and according to Agus our driver, this is the more scenic of the two. So slap on some sunblock and prepare for BOOM BOOM! 

Please don't be an idiot like me who wore suede sandals. You are required to wear shoes at all times, I suggest fully strapped sandals that can withstand water. Bikinis are totally allowed but just be careful to avoid indecent exposure because it's a sport, not suntanning guys! I wore a swimsuit with denim shorts. Wear sunscreen because your shoulders will burn. You can bring camera but your belongings will be kept in a collective waterproof bag carried by instructors, and I only got to snap some pictures during the breaks. Well unless you have a GoPro, then try your best not to lose it. Shower and sumptuous lunch were provided upon completion. I don't recommend buying your photos because it's ridiculously expensive. Oh and you get to take home a certificate of completion! 

Sambal fish with kang kong and rice

Creamy avocado pasta

Casa Luna restaurant
Jalan Raya, Ubud
Tel: +62 361 977 409

A great restaurant for healthy brewed tea, hearty mains and great music. It has a romantic vibe with its dimly lit interior and has a bar in the basement. Family friendly. Only bad thing is that the place had an annoying amount of mosquitoes so make sure to bring your insect repellent.

Kintamani volcano

Nigel with our driver Agus

ALAM Amazing Adventures
Kintamani Volcano, Ubud
Phone: +62 361 9124 888 / +62 361 9124 999
Cost per pax: ~ USD$35

The best way to sightsee is none other than a cycling tour. Ubud is the 'country side' of Bali and known for its natural scenery. We first assembled with other cyclists at a restaurant near the top of the hill which had an unobstructed view of the volcano landscape. Do note that it's very cold at the top so remember to bring a cardigan! It got warmer as we cycled down. I personally enjoyed the cycling tour because I felt very localised just by cycling among other local motorists. You'll see padi fields, plantations, villagers, temples and so on. But I must warn you that if you like me who is neither active nor a regular cyclist, you might find the tour very physically demanding. Reason being I carried my DSLR in my backpack and maintained an arched position the entire time...definitely straining on the back. Everything else was great. The entire route lasts 35km and takes about 2.5 hours to complete, with occasional water and photo breaks in between. 

This is an activity that allows you to see the "other" side of Bali, where the locals live and play. It was a pleasing sight to see children running next to your bike with their palms outstretched for "Hi-5s" and saying "Hello!" as you  cycle pass though somehow I can't tell for sure if they were genuine. To be honest, most of the time you won't be pedaling the bicycle as this activity is mostly downhill.

Around the 20km mark, Nigel got into an accident. Basically, roads were very narrow to begin with and for safety reasons, we were told to keep left no matter what. To make things even more challenging, we were also sharing the same road with cars, vans and trucks. At the point when we were cycling down a steeply inclined slope, the road at the same time also curved into a sharp turn. I was extremely cautious and afraid the entire while and let me tell you I can safely say that I was pressing my brakes all the time. Nigel on the other hand was more excited and I guess as he was going down that steep slope, he somehow swerved into the right lane and the next thing I know (I was ahead of him), I heard a crack sound like as if someone stepped on a Coke bottle. Nigel actually crashed into a motorcycle which was coming in the opposite direction. To illustrate the situation better, the headlights and glass of the bike were broken. Thank God that despite the bloody post accident appearance, we were surprised that Nigel suffered just external injuries. I couldn't help but to cry helplessly and pray to God because I didn't really know how to respond, I even ended up feeling lightheaded from seeing blood. Our tour ended then and Agus took us to a nearby clinic to dress the wounds. I must say that despite cycling being potentially dangerous, the fact that we were properly protected really mattered a lot. 

The accident made my trip so much more memorable! It was my first accident ever and wow I sure did not expect so much blood. Frankly, I thought I broke my leg! It was indeed a miracle that I could stand up and limp to the car. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief when they saw that I could limp/walk on my own. Miraculously, by the next day, I could walk almost normally with some pain and discomfort. I felt really blessed as my initial fears that my vacation would be over were unfounded. 

In such a situation, it definitely helps if you have someone to take care of you and other matters. I was lucky that Agus was just driving slowly behind the cyclists so when I had the accident, he was promptly on the spot. What was crazy was that we were right smack in the rural area but Agus somehow manage to find a clinic 5 minutes away so I could get medical treatment promptly. Also, thanks to Agus, Alam the bike company was a responsible and safe company. It settled all the matters with the motorcyclist so I didn't have to worry about a thing. More importantly, Alam was one of the few companies that had full safety equipment like helmet, elbow and knee guards. There were some other cyclists with other companies who had zero protective gear on them, not even a helmet! Of course, I definitely have Uli to thank for dressing my wounds over the next couple of days and taking care of me. 

If you're intending to go cycling too, my advice for you is 1. Go slow and keep left all the time and 2. don't be a hero; never skip your safety gears. Wear sunscreen. Be alert of your surroundings at all times and watch out for dogs, cars and people. You will be provided with an ALAM singlet for safety reasons, so wear it. Wear comfortable clothes and protective footwear if possible. Water and lunch will be provided so don't bring all your snacks.

Bali tips 101 by Nigel

Change enough money. I changed $450 initially for 7 days but on 3rd day I realized it's not enough. Eventually changed $200 more, at the end of my trip, wallet totally empty. Your biggest expense will be activities and transport. Both are not cheap if you think about it. But driver is important in Bali. Food is affordable but everything adds up. Imo, $350 is not enough. Driver each of you will pay $43 then rafting+cycling= $76 then 3 water activities about $85 so already $204. You are left with less than $150 for food, cabs,fees for airport, temple, maybe theme park. Just change more to have peace of mind, don't let money stress you on a vacation. Maybe $450-$500 is better imo. And bring extra SGD. At least $200? In case not enough. Last day at airport, I totally broke in rupiah then found out need pay 200k idr for airport tax if not can't enter at all. Just nice I have $46sgd to change, if not Uli and I really stranded at airport liao.

Don't change money at the roadside money changers where it's just a board and counter. They scam money by giving you small notes, making you count, distracting you then taking back some notes. If you really have to change money, ask Agus, just change even if the rate sucks because its better to change with the honest ones. Once bitten, twice shy.

Walk when you can, ask the hotel reception or minimart cashiers if your destination is far from where you are. Most of the time is nearer than you think and actually walkable. Towards the last few days when Uli and I was running low on $, we walked to our destinations and so many was actually just 15-20 mins walk away! Saved us a lot on cabs.

When cabbing, ask them to use the meter before you enter. Usually, they will ask your destination or you tell them then they quote you. 50,000 is too ex most of the times. If you don't believe, you pay once, next time, you take meter then you see how much you overpaid. If they don't wna use meter, just get another cab. Insist on this if you wna save money. 

You probably don't need a driver to pick you up from the airport but it's good to have to avoid the unnecessary stress and hassle when you reach Bali. We had one. If not, you have to flag a taxi and bargain a rate or insist on meter. Plus point is your hotel is not far from airport so if you're cabbing, insist on meter and it should be really cheap.

Watch your spending. At the start of the day, know how much you have. At the end of the day, check how much you have to know how much you spent. I suggest you about 1 million rupiah out daily to have a buffer in case. Maybe bring some sgd too in case you need to change. 

Be careful of your belongings at all times. Never leave your valuables on the table, they can distract you by talking to you while another person takes your valuables away.

Get a driver, like Agus. He will become your friend, companion, tour-guide, caretaker, joker, etc. It really makes your stay in Bali much, much nicer. "Gil.agus@hotmail.com" Ask him about Wendy, it's a … interesting story.

Pack a light handcarry and luggage for Bali. 15 kg check in luggage is more than enough. My luggage was 7 kg and Uli's 10 kg. You won't buy much anyway.

Books are crazy cheap compared to SG, consider buying for yourself or gifts. I bought 2 and Uli one.

BUY TOILETRIES AND MAKEUP! It's really damn cheap in Bali, you won't believe it. Uli saw for herself. Just look at them in minimarts, supermarkets, Guardian.

Shop at the big supermarkets. Advice from Agus, things are fair-priced and value for money here. You don't have to bargain but you still get things for a great price. Really, check it out.

Bring your own sunblock. Maybe you and your friend bring one each. Sunblock is quite expensive there imo.

Order coconuts whenever you can! We loved it, they are super fresh and big and thirst-quenching there. You'll be peeing in no time. Ask to add a lime inside. It's a great new way I learnt to drink it there! Haha.

Interact with the locals. Go with an open mind and don't be skeptical or unapproacheble all the time just because you are scared of scams. Almost everyone is nice, friendly, polite to you except the money changers and taxi drivers. Agus is the best lol.

Buy travel insurance.

Don't worry about wearing contacts. I wore that for all the activities and didn't experience any problem.

Bali electrical wall sockets are 2-pin. Bring travel adaptors to save money rather than buy there. I can lend you 2 if you don't have.

Be careful on the roads. There are no pavements and scooters just zoom by. It's quite dangerous on the roads if you're not careful. Always watch both sides before crossing.

Set aside 200,000 rupiah each for the airport "tax" thing that you MUST pay when you depart Bali.

Wear comfortable footwear, Uli brought 2 sandals. I wore shoes and bought slippers there. Heels are a NO-NO in Bali.

Bring Nets and a Visa/Master card just in case you need to withdraw or you really wna shop but not enough cash. Bear in mind that the rates will suck.

Ask for wifi all the time, they have it almost everywhere which is great.

No need to buy phone card, waste money. Uli and I didn't even bother for our 7 days there.

Bring shades, essential to have. Hat helps but not essential.

Bring your own towel each. If you go to the beach, you can sit on it. Potato Head beach club also does not provide towels so you have to have your own.

Separate your money, don't put all in your wallet. Put some in different parts of your bag/luggage.

Thank you for your time if you have made it to the end. Watch out for part 2 of our Bali Itinerary that will be published by the end of this week! 

p.s. Don't you think Nigel is a pretty good writer considering this being his first time? Let him know in the comments if you appreciated his Bali wisdom!