Updated: Jul 20
In February 2020, I traveled solo to Thailand and Bali for two weeks! It was a birthday trip, and a "getting through depression and more in tune with myself trip." Anyways, I wanted to share my experience and some tips!
So try to keep up with all of this: I flew from Tallahassee to Texas for 2h 34m. Had a 10h layover in Texas. Flew from Texas to Qatar for 14h 10m. Had a 55m layover in Qatar. Flew from Qatar to Thailand for 6h 20m. Stayed in Thailand for 4 days. Flew from Thailand to Ubud for 4h I believe. Yes, it was a lot and my desire to be on an airplane was definitely cured.
Honestly, I've had more long flights in my lifetime than short ones, so the length is never a big deal to me.
I flew with Qatar Airways which became my FAVORITE airline. 20/10 starts. The seats were very comfortable, the food was great, complimentary alcoholic beverages, and just overall great customer service. I didn't have any issues with them at all and was even able to change my middle seat to an aisle one at the last minute!
My ticket cost $893.52 roundtrip, which was a dealllll compared to other airlines which are usually around $1000+. Qatar was the only airline I found who was reasonable with pricing. Another reason to love them. That ticket got me to Thailand.
Now to get to Bali from Thailand I had to purchase another ticket for $147 with Thai Lion Air. Personally if I could avoid flying with them in the future, I would. Just because they are very sneaky with additional charges. I was happy with the price of my ticket, but was very shocked to find out my luggage wasn't included with the price, which they failed to mention. Apparently their deal was free luggage if it did not weight more than 15 pounds. Then they kept adding money to it per pound after the 15.
Now thank God I always carry extra cash on me/in my account and granted it only came out to $25 USD, but I was still budgeting according to Thailand's currency so it was a lot. Not an extremely big deal, but if you're on a budget and you're a college student like me, HUGE DEAL.
The main airport in Bali is the Ngurah Rai International Airport. It was pretty easy to navigate around. As soon as you get off the plane there are people standing with signs directing you on where to go. You can also exchange your bills at the airport, you'll know where to go. You can also buy the SIM card at the same place, so it's very convenient and one of the easiest airpots I've ever been to. It's not super big, but not small either.
There's also a section for car service/ getting a driver on the bottom floor. I loved the airport.
Balinese people do speak their own language aside from the general Indonesian. It's called Bahasa, which one of my drivers told me! However, because tourism is so popular in Bali almost everyone speaks English, or close enough that you will understand. Language barrier won't be a major issue. If all fails, Google Translate it out lol!
One of my favorite parts of traveling is seeing how crazy the money exchange is to $1 USD. In Indonesia, the currency is the Indonesian Rupiah. This is the "hardest" currency I've ever had to work with because the bills come in large numbers like 100,000 and it messes you up sometimes! $1 USD = 14,920.00 currently, but was 13,933.50 when I visited. I can't even put it into perspective like I do because the bills are large, but I got an hour massage, body scrub, and a flower bath for $30 which was a 3 hour experience. In the U.S a one hour massage costs $60 on average, so yes your dollars will go far! Also a meal would be like $2-4 on average.
Looking back, this is what a lot of my hard earned dollars went towards lol because I made a HUGE mistake! In my mind, I thought I would be taking $0.50 - $1 motor scooters everywhere. But apparently the popular ones from Gojek were banned in Ubud/ the area I was staying in. So instead I had to hire drivers everyday and try to bunch a lot of activities together because they went by the hour, or else there was no point in booking them. It would be like $7-10 depending on the driver for a ride to the corner store and back. So it ended up being better to just plan to go to this location then that location then here to make it worth the money, which burnt me out lol. I'm more of a "space my activities" out type of traveler.
I found drivers through my villa and was able to bargain, but it just overall was a bummer. I was spending like $27-30/day on transportation alone which switched up my plans a little and left me on a stricter budget than I anticipated, but it all worked out fine.
You might be thinking why couldn't you walk? The streets in Bali are tiny and crowded. Also my villa was far out from the locations I wanted to visit. Also the way the roads are constructed with all the dips and hills, I doubt I would have made it lol.
Now that I know, if I went back to Bali I definitely would not stay in an area where Gojek is not allowed. Also they aren't allowed because it is said that the drivers from that company take away business from the locals in Ubud, which is understandable.
WHERE I STAYED
My go-to for housing anywhere I travel to is AIRBNB, so I made my search on there. The prices for beautiful villas are pretty cheap for what you get. My villa was called the Keraman Suite. (You can see what it looked like on my Bali Vlog on Youtube under Christina Jane!). It was so beautiful man. There were 3 suites in total and every suite had its own private balcony and bathroom. It was just so beautiful and relaxing. It was also a lot of nature and surrounded by rice terraces, secluded from the hustle and bustle of Ubud Centre.
The staff was amazing as well and was extremely attentive. Each member gave me their personal number through WhatsApp and I was able to contact them about any questions, services, and activities I wanted to do through the villa. That's another thing I also loved! They were able to get me a driver, had activities like ATV riding and water rafting available to set up for me.
Breakfast was included, as well as room service for food. There was a big pool as well for everyone to use. At one point I was the only person there so I had the entire place to myself which was peace 2x.
In total I paid $259.66 for 10 days. So for $25.97 a day I lived in paradise!
Now I would LOVE to stay in the villa again minus the transportation issue & just a little thing to add the suite isn't found on GPS so I always had to let one of the staff members talk to my delivery food drivers to locate it, or get a ride home. Inconvenient, but worth it!
There is a huge time difference in Bali! 12 hours to be exact, and it messed me up LOL. So I was basically one day ahead. Also physically my body was still in U.S time, so when it was 3:00am in Bali guess who was still wide awake because it was 3:00pm to me :)
I wasn't a huge fan of the food, but some of my favorites were: Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice), Dragonfruit, and that's pretty much it lol. But I did have some Balinese dishes for sure! I just really enjoyed the fresh fruit everyday. Other than that, my meals were things I've had before.
There are a lot of coffee plantations in Bali and while I didn't visit any, Balinese coffee is really good. And that's coming from someone who doesn't even drink coffee on a regular basis!
I love Balinese people! Very warm and welcoming individuals. I know they're probably use to having so many tourists year-round, but the energy is great. As a black women traveler I am always worried about how accepted I will be in a new country, but it was fine. Of course I got stares, and asked for pictures, but it was in a very interactive way and I never once felt uncomfortable, which I appreciate.
THINGS TO DO
Before I get into this list let me just say that the swing, flower bath pics, and most of the "Instagram" pictures you see online don't even do Bali justice for the natural beauty this place has to offer. Most of the famous sightseeing places are really just great photo opps, which there is nothing wrong with, but don't expect to do much!
Also Airbnb Experiences are BOMB and a great chance to connect with the locals, as many of the experiences are hosted by these individuals.
ATV Riding - There are so many places you can find that offer this, but I went through an Airbnb experience booking and it included a buffet lunch. (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/662951)
White Water Rafting - I did not do this, but I know that it is offered and was at the same place I did ATV Riding.
Tegallalang Rice Terrace - A great photo opportunity, but actually a breathtaking scenery that is worth going to. I can't even believe rice terraces like this exist! I believe there is also a swing here.
Make Coconut Oil with a Local - This was another Airbnb experience I did and Made, the host was hilarious! It was just great not doing something touristy and crowded, but getting to be in the actual kitchen of a local making authentic coconut oil. (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/805182)
Take a Yoga Class - I took a private yoga class at Sang Spa and it was lovely, but there are so many yoga spots in Bali, so you won't have any trouble finding one.
Ride on a Motorscooter - They are just so much fun and you get to physically see Bali differently.
Visit the Ubud Centre - A bunch of touristy shops and the more upscale part of Ubud in my opinion. It was pretty crowded, and wasn't really my cup of tea, but it was a great experience walking the streets alone in the hustle!
Aloha Swing - We all know visiting a swing is on the to-do for Bali and I agree! It's like the #1 touristy thing to do lol, but they are so much fun and definitely not as scary as it looks I promise :)
That is just a little bit of the many things you can do in Ubud!
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW
1. The electrical outlets in Indonesia are different! They use a two-circular hole type:
, so bring a travel adapter as always and a universal charger kit for your laptop!
2. While the apps Grab and Go-Jek are banned in many of the areas in Ubud, I know that they do deliver food and that is okay so I would say download those apps for that reason.
3. I would definitely recommend Bali as a solo destination. I always felt safe and it was easy for me to get around and navigate things by myself.
Hopefully this helps the next person who decides to embark on this journey!
I'm open to any and all questions through the Contact Form, or through social media.