Tips for traveling in Asia

So far all my tips for traveling in Asia in one place. Hope it will be useful for your travels.

Tips for traveling in Asia Indonesia

Tips for traveling in Asia Malaysia

Tips for traveling in Asia Vietnam


Have more questions? Need more tips for traveling in Asia, especially in Indonesia? Contact me and I will try to help you :)

 



How to spend 5 days in Bali

Are you thinking about holidays destination? Choose Indonesia! Because this country can offer so many things at once – warm weather, sunny days, beaches, volcanoes, wild nature, rich culture and it’s affordable to travel around.

But usually holidays don’t last long and during it hard to explore a bigger part of Indonesia. If you have only 2 weeks vacation, my suggestion – half of the holidays spend exploring one of the main Indonesian islands – Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi or others and rest of the time – relax in Bali.

First time I stayed in Bali only for 5 days and it was enough to taste a little bit what this island has to offer. Here is where I went, what I did and saw during 5 days in Bali.

Travel itinerary – 5 days in Bali

1st DAY

BALI’S ANCIENT ROCKY TEMPLE – GUNUNG KAWI

This complex is constructed in the 11th century by king Anak Wungsu in honor of his father, the great Balinese ruler Udayana. There are total 10 shrine carved on the stone slope of height ~8 m. The countryside where the complex is located surrounded by beautiful rice paddies where you can enjoy the walk downstairs to the temple.
Location: Banjar Penaka, Tampak Siring, Kec. Gianyar, Bali

TIP:

  • On the way to the temple you will find few souvenir shops. The prices there will be cheaper than in main Bali cities. If you will decide to buy something there – don’t forget to negotiate the price.

HOLY SPRING WATER TEMPLE – TIRTA EMPUL

It’s Hindu temple located between 2 hills with spring water sacred by local residents to purify the soul and mind. People believe that springs were created by God Indra more than 1000 years ago. Because of that, this temple is one of the most important temples in Bali. There are: 3 country yards with 13 holy water fountains for cremation or dead ceremony; 1 pool with 3 fountains for spiritual purification; 1 pool with 5 fountains with holy water for people who come from outside to pray. Is it worth to visit?
Location: Manukaya village, district of Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali

TIP:

  • If you would like to have purification ritual in this temple, please before doing it, ask your guide or local people inside, how to do it in right way. Each fountain has the meaning and should be used in special order. Don’t just go under the fountains and wash yourself.

Also read: Tips for traveling in Asia


LUNCH AT “LAKE VIEW RESTAURANT”

Lake view - Batur in Bali

In this restaurant you can have lunch or dinner with spectacular view of still active Mount Batur with it beautiful caldera and lake Batur. If you are not planning to eat there, visit it just for a cup of tea, juice or beer. Food is simple but good (buffet style). Is it worth to visit?
Location: Jl. Raya Panelokan, Kintamani, Bali

TRANQUIL WATER TEMPLE – GUNUNG KAWI SEBATU

Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple in Bali

It’s a peaceful place with verdant gardens around ponds filled with carp and blooming lotuses. Shrines surrounded by crystal clear pools fed by natural springs. Inside you will find many colorful demons decorations protecting the sacral places. I believe you will enjoy the walk as well. All place reminds cozy park and not so crowded. Is it worth to visit?
Location: Sebatu Village, Tegallalang, Gianyar, Bali

FAMOUS TEGALALANG RICE TERRACE

Tegalalang rice terrace - Bali trip

This rice terraces are famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak (traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system). Tegalalang is one of three most splendid terraced landscapes in Ubud area.
Location: north of Ubud, ~30 min. from Ubud main market

RELAXING CAMPUHAN RIDGE WALK

Green walk in Bali, Ubud

Just after stop in sometimes crowded Tegalalang rice terrace you can enjoy relaxing walk in “green walk” which is not so crowded. It’s ~1 hour one way walking distance. You can enjoy green surrounding, cool wind and have dinner in one of the restaurants on the way, see the sunset. Also you can see people there ridding bicycle, jogging – it’s like a small escape place from busy city. If I wouldn’t go there, I wouldn’t believe that you can have such walk almost in the heart of Ubud. Is it worth to visit?
Location: Jl. Raya Ubud No.35, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali

TIPS:

  • Bring a torch with you because the path doesn’t have any lights and after sunset it will be dark.
  • As well can be many mosquitoes, take repellent with you.

COLORFUL BALINESE DANCE PERFORMANCE

Dance performance in Ubud - Bali

I believe you have seen Balinese dance performance photos before coming to Indonesia? Now you can enjoy Balinese music, dance and I could call it small piece of theater in live. In Ubud every day you can see different Balinese dance performances in different places. You can check which performance and where will be on your stay time.

TIPS:

  • If you want to get better sitting places, come at least 20 min. before the performance starts.
  • You can by tickets on the spot or in the streets. You will see many sellers offering tickets.
2nd DAY

UBUD’S MONKEY FOREST

Monkey forest in Ubud, Bali

Officially Monkey forest called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana (houses three holy temples). In this place lives hundreds of grey-haired and long-tailed Balinese macaque. Walking in this forest you will see not only greedy monkeys but as well some huge trees, old temple and some sculptures. But the most interesting (at least for me) is observing monkeys behavior. Is it worth to visit?
Location: Jl. Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali

If you want more adventure while visiting monkey forest and other Bali areas – take vintage VW tour. Luke from Backstreet Nomad had much fun!

TIPS:

  • You can enter forest through 1 of 3 gates: the main one at the Southern end of Jl. Monkey Forest; from 100 m further East, near the car parking; from the Southern side, on the lane from Nyuhkuning.
  • Please, don’t feed monkeys, avoid eye contact and showing your teeth, including smiling, which is deemed a sign of aggression.

Also read: Travel resources


ELEPHANT CAVE TEMPLE – GOA GAJAH

Goa Gajah temple - travel in Bali

Legend says that the name of this temple came from nearby Sungai Peatanu, which was known like Elephant river. It was build in 11th century and discovered by Dutch archaeologists.
The cave is carved into a rock face and you enter through the cavernous mouth of a demon. Inside you can see fragmentary remains of the Hindu god Shiva, a statue of Shiva’s son, the elephant-headed god Ganesha. It’s really small temple but you can have a walk around the area. Is it worth to visit?
Location: Jl. Raya Goa Gajah, Ubud, Bali

VISIT TRADITIONAL BALINESE VILLAGE AND HOUSES

During you trip you will see many Balinese houses but only after visiting them you can see and understand how all buildings inside the house area follows a strict ancient architectural guide, how everything build to bring a harmony for a family. I was visiting Singapadu village. People there was very nice and explained, showed their homes.

LEARN TRADITIONAL BALINESE DANCE, MUSIC IN MEKAR BHUANA GAMELAM MUSIC, DANCE CENTER

You can better understand Balinese culture if you will become a part of it. This center is founded by family. And they not only share the secrets of Balinese culture but as well reconstructs rare or extinct Balinese music instruments, with Balinese musicians, dancers organize performances all around Bali. I really enjoy the time spending in this center, which by the way, is in their home. It was a big pleasure to learn and play gamelan music, as well to remember some moves of Balinese dances (I was studying traditional Indonesian dance before).
Location: Jl. Gandapura 3 No. 501x, Kesiman-Kertalangu, Denpasar

TIP:

  • You don’t need to prepare yourself before visiting this center, you will get everything you need there. So bring your good mood and will to learn something new.

KECAK DANCE IN ULUWATU TEMPLE

Kecak dance - Uluwatu in Bali

Uluwatu is one of the important temples to the spirits of the sea along the South coast of Bali. It’s build on the Indian Ocean cliff. It’s really beautiful to see the sunset there – seeing the temples silhouette in the horizon of the Ocean. But more impressive to see Kecak dance while sun goes down.
Kecak is a form of Balinese dance and music drama that was developed in the 1930s in Bali. Some people call this performance fire dance or Ramayana Monkey Chant as well. Nowadays Kecak dance (in touristic places) contains some flat jokes for pleasing travelers (honestly, I don’t like this part), still the sound and the rhythm of Kecak gives some spiritual energy. Is it worth to visit?
Location: Kawasan Wisata Pura Uluwatu, Pecatu, Bali

TIPS:

  • For watching Kecak dance come at least 30 min. before the performance starts to get the best seats.
  • If you will decide to sit in the side facing ocean, bring your sun glasses – like sun will shine straight to your face and will be hard to see the dance.
  • In the temple lives a lot of monkeys – so take care of your belongings, monkeys can steal it.
3rd – 5th DAYS

 

I spend my 3 days in Sanur. I just enjoy the time there, had a walk and small shopping around. If you want in Bali just relax, have sunbath, enjoy beaches – rest 3 days stay in one of South Bali beaches. Some of them are famous for soft sand, others for beautiful sunset views from the cliffs.

If to stay 3 days in the beach is too much for you, you prefer to explore more in Bali – you can have half day trips for example to Tanah Lot or Lampuyangan temples, water palace, Taman festival, hidden canyon or one of amazing waterfalls.

If you want to see not only Bali – you can go to Lombok, one of the Gilis or Lembongan islands.

If you love snorkeling or diving – go to Tulamben, Amed, Padang Bay or even plan 1 day trip to the North of Bali.


Also read: My days in Bali beaches


WHERE I STAYED?

  • Tjampuhan Ubud & Spa – cozy, beautiful place with a view to a temple and just a couple minute walk from Campuhan Ridge Walk. Breakfast was very delicious.
  • Manyi Village Ubud  – place surrounded by rice paddies but further from the main streets. It’s not big place, quite, intimate. From the balcony you can see the sunrise, from bathroom window paddies.
  • Puri Santrian Resort Sanur  –  quite big hotel but has access to the beach, several swimming pools. I enjoy breakfast with Gamelan music.
  • Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur  –  I love this place, it’s like small oasis near main Sanur area (but you even don’t hear the sounds from the street). So many unique details inside, inspiring surrounding.

Mentioned and visited places on the map


5 days in Bali Pinterest
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SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  • Would you like to visit these places?
  • If you have been in these places what was our experience?
  • Maybe you have other places recommend in Bali to visit?

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Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

Cooking classes in Bali: suitable even for those who dislike cooking
Unique Bali ceremonies, festivals, rituals
My days in Bali beaches



Booking.com

Tips for booking via Airbnb: save money & avoid misunderstandings

I like to book via Airbnb while I’m traveling because it helps me to save some money. As well it makes me feel like at home. For example, if I stay in a flat I can cook there and do other things that I usually can’t do in the hostels, guest houses. Also you can find some authentic places to stay, be a bit closer to a local culture. Here you can check more my pros and cons about staying or renting through Airbnb.

If you are new with Airbnb, I suggest to try it at least once and see by yourself if it suitable for you. But before booking via Airbnb you should pay attention in some things that I learned during my experience. I believe that these tips can save you a bit money and will help you avoid surprises.

How to start use Airbnb?

It’s easy!

  • Sing up. You can get discount for your first booking via Airbnb by using Airbnb code.
  • Create informative profile and verify it. Some hosts may not accept you’re booking if you don’t have a verified profile. You want to book a place with host who tells more about himself? Host wants to know more about people which he will let inside his home as well.

TIP: you can check places in Airbnb (see the prices, free days in calendar and etc.) without signing in, but some of the functions you won’t be able to use.

You sign in. What’s next?
  • Write your destination, how many days you want to stay and how many people will be (in search box that appears in the Airbnb landing page). You will get all results that suit your search request.
  • Now you can mark, choose, use all filters to get only those results that fit exact your needs: choose room type, price range that you want to pay for a stay. Click “More filters” and check all boxes that are important for you. Then click “Apply filters”. You will get all results in the list that suits your search. Also all those places will be marked in the map on the right side of the list. So you can easily see which place is in which part of the city/island and etc.

TIP: in the right-bottom of the page you can change the currency and language. All search result information will be given by currency, language you want.

How to use Airbnb
I marked places where you can find information, change settings and select what you need

What you should pay attention first before booking via Airbnb?

When you will get all list that match your detailed search, choose some hosts that you like.

  • Check the pictures of the place – is it exactly what you are searching for?
  • Read the reviews about the place – but be objective reading them. People’s understanding of cleanliness, distance and etc. can be different from yours. But those reviews can give you general impression of the place. As well what I like in Airbnb – reviews appears only when both sides (guest and host) write them. So if guest wrote bad review, host don’t know it till he will write review about guest – there can’t be “revenge” – you wrote bad, I read and I will write bad about you as well.
  • Check the profile of the host – you will find there information that host provides about himself, picture, guests reviews and list of other places that he rents (can be that host have several different apartments or renting more rooms in the same house but with different conditions). I had experience in Oslo, when the couple was renting 2 their rooms – one was bigger and more expensive, other – smaller and cheaper. I didn’t know that because I didn’t check the listing of the host, so I booked bigger one when the smaller was free as well. At that time I could save a bit more money. But it’s my lesson that I learned for next Airbnb booking.

TIP: if you like several places add them to wish-list (button under the calendar – see the picture above). If during booking via Airbnb process something won’t work out with your choose place, you won’t need to start the new search and spend again your time. You can pick the places from your wish-list and contact those hosts.

Airbnb guide
Check information about the host, reviews about him, other places that he rents
Places that you picked match your needs? Check other important things

LOCATION

Till you won’t make booking via Airbnb you won’t see exact address but it will be shown rough area where it is. Usually the host in the place description writes distances till main tourist objects. If not, sometimes you can find this information in guests reviews.

DESCRIPTION, RULES

Check carefully host information about the place. What is the place rules, check-in, check-out time, booking cancellation policy (different hosts can have different cancellation rules), is it easy to get to the place with local transportation, what kind of equipment host provides and everything else that is written

PRICE

You should know that host can put different prices depending on the dates. For example on weekend or holidays the price can be higher than on low season. When in the first search step you add dates you want to stay, the prices already shown of those dates. But if you will decide to change the dates, the price can be different. As well Airbnb take some service fee – it can be different amount depends on duration of your stay, the booking price. Some hosts as well put extra fee for cleaning, extra bed and etc. (even if you selected that will be 1 guest and later change your mind – will come 2 people, the price can be not exactly just double, but even more). Sometimes depends on some countries rules, can be added even special tax fee. So final sum can be a bit different that was shown in the beginning.


Not a member yet? Try Airbnb and save $20 on your 1st trip through this link.

Airbnb discount for guest


BOOKING PROCESS

Some hosts allow you to book the place instant (please, check the first photo, I marked it near the price). In this case you don’t need to get any approval from host. You like the place, rules and etc. you just book it.

If the place doesn’t have instant booking, after you will make reservation, the host during 24 hours can accept it or reject. Yes, sometimes even if you choose free dates in calendar host can cancel booking without any explanation (maybe he doesn’t find information in your profile, maybe he didn’t update calendar and those dates already booked).

BOOKING CANCELLATION

Different hosts can choose different cancellation policy. Before booking via Airbnb be sure about your will to stay there, dates. If you will change your mind and the host has strict cancellation policy you will lose some of your money, if it’s flexible cancellation policy – only Airbnb won’t return their fee but other money will be refund to your account.

CONTACT THE HOST

If in place photo you saw that something is missing what you need or you didn’t find information in the description – before booking via Airbnb, contact the host and ask what is important for you. As well if you need something extra to be prepared for you, you can ask host if he can organize it. If it’s not written and you didn’t ask but expected that something will be – don’t be disappointed. The host provides all information that he thinks it’s important, but for you can be important something else.

People are different and different things matter for them, but I usually ask such things (if don’t find it it in description):

  • What is in the neighborhood? Who is living around? Is there are any noisy bars, busy streets around?
  • How far is the public transportation stop?
  • Will I have separate set of keys? Will my room where I will stay have a lock?
  • Is there is coffee, sugar that I could use?
  • Will be there any other guests during my stay (if I’m renting a room in several rooms apartment)?

TIPS: some hosts give discounts if you stay longer – for a week or month (it’s written in place description). I never tried but I know that you can contact the host and negotiate the price as well. Even if he don’t give the discount for longer stay – you can ask for it.

Tips for using Airbnb
Read carefully rules, description, contact host if needed before you will decide to book the place
Time for booking!
  • Final step from your side – click the “Request to book” and booking process will start.
  • The booking should be accepted or rejected by host during 24 hours otherwise the system without host approval will reject it automatically. If it will happen – no worries – you still have other places that you liked in your wish-list.
  • When host will approve your booking you will get email with all information. The phone number of the host, most of the time the exact place address (if you won’t receive it – ask from host).
  • After booking is accepted your money won’t go straight to the host account. Airbnb will “keep” it till your end of the stay. So if something will be not exactly how was agreed and etc., you can claim for Airbnb, they will inspect the case and if you are right – they will return your money back.
  • Keep in touch with host – before coming agree the time and how you will meet, how you will get the keys and etc.
Using Airbnb
One of places that you can book via Airbnb in Bali

What else you should know about booking via Airbnb?

Booking via Airbnb pinterest
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  • Not only local people rents their homes, sometimes you can find hostels, guest houses and etc. who suggest to stay in their place. If you find such – before booking via Airbnb, check their prices in other websites, for example Agoda, Booking, Hostelworld and etc. Maybe in these websites have extra discount or even better price (you can see below one of examples of different prices of the same place).
  • Sometimes it happens that the host cancels the booking even couple days before you arrive. Not nice, but no worries, try to contact other hosts from your wish-list.
  • If the host asks you to pay in cash or make a transfer straight to his account – never do it. If something will go wrong, Airbnb won’t protect you or refund your money. All renting through Airbnb should be done only by their system.
  • If you found amazing place, the price looks extremely cheap and there is no review yet, be vigilant, maybe something is not right. You can just save picture of the place on your desktop and add it to google search. If it’s not real place or the picture is stolen you will find it in google. In this case you can report Airbnb that somebody try to cheat.
  • Don’t book the place instead of your friends, because if something will happen you will take the responsibility for it (because you booked the place). Better after you will join Airbnb share the discount code and ask them to join as well – they will stay cheaper, you will get discount also and won’t need to worry about anything.
  • Using Airbnb doesn’t mean that the host will be all the time around. The host can help you as much as he can but don’t expect that he will become your guide.
  • After your stay don’t forget to leave the honest review that could be useful for future guests.
Let’s see quickly in practice how to choose the best place, for example in Bali

In price range I choose the cheapest places (9-20 EUR/per night). The result – more than 300 offers. I pick randomly 4 of them.

1. Shared room, shared bathroom in villa (South Kuta)

1 guest 9 EUR/per night, 2 guests – 19 EUR/per night.  Service fee – extra 3 EUR. In total for 2 people will cost 22 EUR/per night.

Airbnb booking

  • Instant booking – so can take it if you want straight now.
  • Flexible cancellation policy. But charges extra for extra people.
  • 24 hours check-in, pets allowed, kids/family friendly.
  • No air condition, now parking (but if you want to reach this place you need to drive a motorbike).
  • This room by itself doesn’t have reviews yet, but host in general has 160 reviews.

If you click for host listing he offers 10 different rooms in the same villa just conditions are different. For example, other rooms have air condition, strict cancellation policy, check-in, check-out times, free parking and etc.

2. Kenari guest house (Ubud)

Even if the price written 9 EUR/per night, already in March all dates are with higher price. No matter 1 or 2 guests the price the same 10 EUR/per night. Service fee – extra 1 EUR. In total for 2 people will cost 11 EUR/per night.

Booking through Airbnb

  • Already from the name you see that it’s not a person’s home it’s guest house with breakfast, 24 hour check-in, but no WI-FI (just simple internet).
  • You can book it instantly.
  • The prices changes to higher after April.

If you click for host listing, he offers 10 different places in Ubud. From guest houses to hotels and villas. I hope I won’t offend anyone but renting via Airbnb it’s this person business.

Like it’s guest house I found their offer in Booking. The same dates for 2 people there costs 12 EUR/per night. But they charge extra 2 EUR for breakfast. As well in booking.com written check-in/check-out times, in Airbnb it’s not mentioned. If you would like to rent this place – this time booking via Airbnb is cheaper (except if you have some discounts in Booking or rewards that you can use and get better price).

3. NauHere Capsule Beds (Kuta), but Seminyak, Legian beaches are more closer than Kuta beach

1 guest 9 EUR/per night. Service fee – extra 1 EUR. In total 1 night per person will cost 10 EUR. But prices are different depends on the dates.

How to book via Airbnb

It’s a dormitory with check-in/check-out time, breakfast, air condition, strict cancellation policy.

I found this dormitory in other websites as well. In Agoda you can get bed for the same dates for 8,15 EUR/per night. In TripAdvisor you can see other prices from different websites as well.

 

4. Bamboo birds-nest rice field (Ubud)

The place offers to stay in 5 meters up with  traditional Balinese shower and toilet. Could be interesting experience?

1 guest 15 EUR/per night (2 guests, the same). Service fee – extra 3 EUR. In total 1 night for 2 people will cost 18 EUR/per night. But prices are different depends on the dates.

Tips for booking in Airbnb

  • Has chek-in/chek-out time, breakfast, strict cancellation policy
  • Don’t provide any amenities.
  • 21 review with 95% recommendation.
  • The host has 531 reviews in total and 10 different listing in Ubud.

 

 

Now you see how different can be conditions and why it’s important to check everything before booking via Airbnb.

Do you have other tips and hints for booking via Airbnb? Maybe some stories that other people could learn from? Please, share in the comments.


Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

Is it worth to stay / host via Airbnb?
Tips for traveling in Asia
Travel resources

 

Free stay Airbnb