In September, my boyfriend Chester and myself jetted off to Indonesia for a two-week holiday and a bit of minor backpacking. Bali and the Gili Islands are places that I’d wanted to go to for quite a while, and even though we were both beyond skint, I persuaded him to book plane tickets with me. By the way, if you haven’t heard of the Gili islands, do a quick google image and thank me later.
We booked tickets on Emirates to Kuala Lumpur via Dubai with STA. They have this thing called a blue ticket, which enables you to put down a £49pp deposit on your flights, and pay the rest (I think) two weeks before you travel. This was a really good way of doing it for us, as we wanted to get the cheapest possible airfares, but couldn’t really pay for it up front. I then booked, separately, flights with Air Asia (Asia’s answer to Easy Jet)- one from KL to Denpasar, and one from Lombok to KL, as we figured our route would be Bali, Gili islands, Lombok.
You might be thinking that if you’re trying to travel on a shoestring budget, flying with Emirates seems a little illogical. And err…yes it is really. My only defence is that I have a fear of flying, which causes me to become very anxious and paranoid in the weeks prior to, and during flying. It’s not so bad that I let it stop me from travelling (love>fear!), but it means that I have a certain way that I prefer to fly in order to make things less stressful. I wont go into details, as it’s incredibly boring, make makes me feel like a bit of a weirdo. I know the whole thing is completely stupid and irrational- but hey- most fears are!
Because we booked our flights so far in advance, we had aaages to find accommodation in each place we wanted to visit. I used the website/app of booking.com for every booking, and honestly found it so helpful. You can arrange your search results by budget, review rating etc. and they often have pretty good discounts. The best thing though, is that you can reserve *most* of the places on there without paying anything up-front, and can even cancel them free of charge up until the day before you’re supposed to arrive. This was really handy, as I was able to reserve two or three rooms in each location, then discuss with Chester which one we wanted to go for, and just cancel the others!
When we arrived in Bali, we got an airport taxi straight to Ubud. This probably took about an hour, maybe a bit less. The first place we’d booked to stay was 100% my favourite accommodation of the whole trip. We’d chosen the cheapest room type, which was like £30 a night, so weren’t really expecting all that much- but it was amazing!! We were led down a stone track towards the rainforest, and were shown into a huge, traditional Balinese styled villa, with beautiful wooden doors, a semi-outside bathroom, and a terrace with uninterrupted views of the rainforest. We LOVED it here, everything was 10/10 from check-in to check-out.
Because it was slightly out of the centre, each guest is given their own mobile phone with the number of a free driver, who will be there instantly to take you into town, and pick you up again when you call. We also got taken on the hotel’s motorbikes up to their private villa pool, surrounded by rice fields. It was so lovely to wake up here and to have your breakfast waiting on your private terrace with all the sounds of the rainforest. Oh and we also had a huge-ass spider in our bathroom who would disappear every morning, and reappear at night.
Ubud itself is so beautiful and full of culture, amazing food, shops and temples. We wish we’d had a bit longer here than 3 days, but just couldn’t fit it all in. Some of our highlights were eating at Kafe, visiting the huge markets, getting a traditional massage at a day spa, and stopping in at the (slightly strange) cat cafe.
Top tips for Ubud:
1) Eat at Kafe. It’s a really beautiful setting and they do delicious food and drinks including a lot of vegan and raw options. Try and get a table upstairs on the balcony.
2) Stay at Pajar House! You really wont regret it, and for the price, it’s amazing.
3) Be careful where you change your money. Check online forums for which banks are ‘official’.
4) The same with buying your boat ticket to the Gili islands. Remember most things here are negotiable!
5) Ubud is *the* place to explore holistic therapies to heal your mind, body and spirit. Check out Alchemy Holistic and Yoga Barn, which come highly recommended.
If you have any questions, or want to share an experience of Ubud, I’d love to hear it!