Because I was spending five weeks in Kuala Lumpur, I decided I should do a longer side trip somewhere in Southeast Asia this month, and I chose Bali, Indonesia. There’s been a lot of talk of Bali from Remote Year folks. The Remote Nomad has talked about how much she loved Bali, and has even planned a Digital Nomad retreat there to show folks how to work remotely while traveling the world. It’s the most popular international destination for Australian travelers. It’s full of geological wonders like volancoes to unique Balinese Hindu temples. Of course, it isn’t without controversy either, be it tourism hurting the environment or executing foreigners by firing squad. Here’s what I found.
1. Bali has plenty of co-working and AirBNB options.
This was only my second time doing a substantial side trip for a full week on Remote Year (other trips have been much shorter, in the 2-3 day range) and also my second time using AirBNB on my own. I heard some other friends were going to be in the Canggu beach area while I was visiting, so I found a nice one bedroom flat with a living room, kitchen, and A/C bedroom that shares a pool with a few other units. Once again, AirBNB delivered pretty well on the experience. I also checked out some of my friends’ places, and, by sharing amongst a few people, they had found some amazing villas, with everything from indoor pools to in-house massage staff.
While somewhat spread out, Bali has a few interesting co-working spots. I didn’t get the chance to checkout Roam in Ubud, but I did visit Dojo Bali for an event on marketing that included some networking afterwards. While a little pricey, Dojo seemed to have a great community, quality Internet access, and tons of unique workspaces. Due to parking availability, and the lack of A/C in many of the spaces, I ended up just working from various cafes and restaurants, as well as my accommodation. Overall, I can see why Bali is such a popular destination for Digital Nomads, despite the visa runs required to live there over a longer term.
2. Driving on Bali is equal parts fun and dangerous!
When I arrived at Denpasar airport, I was immediately greeted by at least 50 taxi drivers offering transportation within the area. After selecting one, and leaving the airport, I got my first taste of what driving in Bali would be like. In short, there are no rules for driving in Bali. Distractions and hazards abound. And hundreds of scooters in any given stretch of road. This video only barely does it justice. I ended up renting a 150cc Honda motorcycle, and drove that all over the island, from Ubud to Uluwatu. While this was my first time driving on sidewalks, between cars, and against traffic, I succeeded in getting around without incident. It was quite an adventure, though!
3. You can live very cheaply, or spend a lot of money.
My lodging cost about US$40/night, which was expensive for one person by local standards. I’m told you can find a single, private room for about US$100/month. But for a fancy villa with multiple bedrooms, good wifi, and a pool, you might find something as expensive as US$1400/month. Still, compared to some place like New York or San Francisco, this is downright cheap. I was able to find meals for under US$1 or as expensive as US$50 for an all-you-can-eat buffet with a gorgeous view. What’s great about Bali is that there’s such a huge range that you can really choose exactly what kind of lifestyle you want to have. I haven’t been to many places where there’s such a wide range of options for different prices.
Overall, I’d recommend Bali for a 2-3 day trip. You can get around the entire island in that time, and see most of the sights with plenty of time to relax in between (or stress out if you’re driving yourself!).