Bali is one of the most polarizing destinations on earth. You have one group of people who swear it’s the most beautiful, authentic and unique land on the planet, and another group who swear it’s the most cliched place one can possibly visit. The answer: both are right. Bali is what you make it, and if you want to make it into an incredible experience, follow these tips…

All photos taken during a recent trip to Bali, staying at the Viceroy Bali, Villa Nusa, Pan Pacific Singapore…

You Really Will Need To Carry Some Cash Around…

I’m absolutely one of the “but everywhere takes card” people, and in most cases I’m correct. Bali however is an exception. Many places, especially merchants do take card, but you’ll want to carry around at least a million IDR (rupiah) at any given time. Certain warungs (food stalls) and smaller businesses don’t take card and even those that do often have connectivity problems…

If You Want To See The Best Of Bali, Try Leaving The Island…

You undoubtedly found countless different beach areas on the main island during your Bali research, and unfortunately, many seem uninspiring. That’s because the very best Bali beaches are not on the main island at all, but rather on the nearby, easily accessible islands such as Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Penida and Gili Trawangan. Here you’ll find the very best diving, the most crystal water and a less conquered, extremely desirable vibe. Just look at the photo above, taken from Villa Nusa on Nusa Lembongan. Hell of a way to wake up…

You Can Trust Busy Warungs (Food Stalls)…

Travelers are inherently cautious of street food and unknown local restaurants. Though that’s always wise, a busy warung (food stall, cafe) is an excellent sign that it’s completely safe. Stick to bottled water, but the food standards in any busy warung are generally very high. It’s hard to beat eating authentic Indonesian food, both on price and quality. You’ll never taste ingredients so fresh, direct and vibrant anywhere else…

Hiking An Active Volcano Is A Must, If You’re In Shape…

Please heed this warning. Climbing Mount Batur was more strenuous than I could have possibly imagined, even as an active boot camp lifestyle 30 year old. It’s tiring and at times, can even be slightly scary during a pre sunrise hike. However, it’s magic. Watching the sun rise from above the clouds, atop the crater of an active volcano, looking across to an even larger active volcano (Mount Agung) is something you’ll never forget. Just bring proper gear and be ready to sweat!

Be Wary Of Airport Taxi Scams, Even Using Uber…

Denpasar Airport is a bustling place. There are countless drivers offering rides to wherever you’d like to go, and it’s hard to know who to trust. In general, Uber can be a good play if you haven’t pre booked, but even Uber occasionally has drivers who will ask for some extra cash in addition to the fare. If you don’t want any hassle, pre book your ride to your destination with your hotel, villa, hostel, whatever.

Ubud Is Truly Incredible, But Stay Just Outside….

Ubud is considered one of the most sacred parts of Bali. It’s tucked into the jungle hills running along a plunging river and it’s landscape and vibe are truly unique, as evidenced by this photo from the legendary Viceroy Bali. Just minutes outside the bustling (with hippies) center of town in Ubud, you’ll find gorgeous isolated villas and resorts giving you the perfect balance of tranquility at night, with the ability to explore the town just 10-15 minutes away in the day…

Stick With Local Dishes, Produce, Whenever Possible…

Bali is an island rich in nutrients and vegetation. Coconuts fall like water, rice grows all around you, ginger and lemongrass are everywhere, papaya, fresh fruits and everything you crave, and even the chicken you eat is likely butchered just hours before you eat it. Insist on eating in places which offer local, well sourced fresh ingredients, because anything else is just a shame. I highly recommend trying the traditional Nasi Goreng, Laksa or Rendang. Aside from having a unique experience, you’ll also be far less likely to overpay for foreign ingredients.

BYOB, Alcohol Is Not Easy To Come By Reasonably…

Bali is a loose, spiritual and mostly Hindu land. Indonesia, however, is a predominantly Muslim country with strict alcohol laws and tariffs. Even the most basic wine, beer and alcohol will cost you western prices, whereas everything else will seem like a great bargain. If you plan to enjoy yourself, consider trying to bring in some duty free (purchased before arrival) in another country. If you don’t have much luck on that score, stick to Mojitos. The mint and lime are as fresh as can be, and the palm sugar adds a striking taste. Balinese wine is terrible, and will cost you far more than it should…

If You Want An Authentic Experience, Don’t Use Points…

Everyone loves a free hotel night, and that’s totally valid. Unfortunately, almost all of the major hotels offering free nights for points are located in the Southeast of the island, with close proximity to the airport. Though the beach will be perfectly nice, and the hotel will surely rustle up some “locals” in sarongs to make you feel like you’re in Bali, you could really be anywhere on earth, such as Hawaii in these mega resorts. There are far niftier parts of the island and surrounding islands. Shell out, most hotels aren’t too pricey…

If You Can’t Find A Good Direct Flight, Stopover Somewhere Like Singapore…

Singapore Airport, oh dear… it’s just wonderful. It’s not an airport. it’s an oasis. Singapore itself, no different. It’s often hard to find great deals into Bali itself, and even if you find a great deal, the connections can be daunting. For a really fun two in one trip, I highly recommend stopping over somewhere on the way or the way back. Singapore is just a 2.5 hour flight, with countless daily flights to Bali which average around $95 round trip. It’s connectivity to the Western or further Eastern world is unparalleled and makes for a wonderful city to unwind before or after.