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Bali: An affordable holiday (not just for bogans)

Poor Bali. Its reputation as a holiday destination has been on a steep decline for some time now, thanks largely to the bad behaviour of a minority of Australian visitors. Police murders, drug scandals and bars teeming with drunken Aussies make it sound like the holiday from hell. These things get a lot of airplay but thankfully tend to be limited to one main region, Kuta, which can easily be avoided.

Bali has so much more to offer than just a vibrant night life (and all the associated drama). A rich culture, friendly locals, great surf, shopping, relaxation, adventure … Bali has it all. And with affordable flights and accommodation packages readily available it can be great value for money.

Seminyak and Ubud are popular spots for vacationers looking for a more serene Balinese experience. There you’ll find beautiful boutiques, luxurious resorts, and top-notch restaurants and bars, but you’ll also be paying more.

If you’re looking for a luxurious holiday without having to pay Australian prices there are alternatives.

Take the Bukit Peninsula on the southern-most point of the island for example. This beautiful strip of the island showcases secluded beaches, breathtaking cliff top scenery and spectacular countryside. South of Jimbaran Bay and only 45 minutes’ taxi ride from the airport, it feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle of Kuta.

 

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Our family recently had a group holiday in Bali to celebrate my partner’s 40th birthday and stayed in this region for 8 days, in a secluded 6 bedroom villa called Nirvana Biru www.nirvanabirubali.com. This luxurious villa has incredible views over Bingin Beach and ample space and privacy. These are some pics taken from the villa.

 

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The accommodation worked out at AUD$75 per person per night. Breakfast was included so the only expenses were for lunch, drinks and evening meals on the nights spent in. The total bill at the end of the stay, including food, drinks and accommodation, came to something like AUD$100 per person per day. Obviously this is subject to seasonality and group size, but it gives you an idea of what you might be looking to pay.

You would be hard pressed to find an equivalent experience in Seminyak for the same price.

If this sounds appealing and you want to check out this part of Bali, here are some recommendations.

 

Accommodation

In the Bukit Peninsula there are fewer resorts but many private villas for hire. Whether travelling as a couple or a larger group, villas of all sizes are available.

Many villas are no different to a five star hotel, just without other the guests. They are secure, with many having their own private security guard and their own private pools, staff, kitchen and dining areas. Maids are available to change rooms daily and the larger villas have a chef on hand to cook pretty much anything you request. At many villas you can order a delicious seafood barbecue for less than AUD$20 a head. Alternatively, the many local restaurants and cafes do home deliveries.

The villa management generally like you to purchase their beer, which at around AUD$2.50 each is not a big ask. You can typically BYO champagne and spirits for the cocktails which the villa staff will be all too happy to make.

The helpful villa owners will always be nearby to ensure that everything you desire is at hand. Just ask them and they will arrange for a masseuse, nanny … whatever you need. The Balinese people are famously good with kids. The roads in this region are a lot quieter than other parts of Bali so people generally hire mopeds, but the villa can arrange a driver for you for as little as AUD$20 a day. For yoga lovers, your villa manager can arrange your own private yoga classes.

For a good list of villas visit the Bali Retreats website www.baliretreats.com.au/

 

Restaurants & bars
There’s an abundance of food options in Bingin and the surrounding area. Loads of new bars and restaurants across a range of cuisines are opening up.  Spanish tapas, sushi, pizza, organic fusion, traditional Indonesian – you name it, it’s here. The food at these restaurants is made only with the best local produce and fresh ingredients. For around AUD$10 you can enjoy a substantial seafood meal of  fresh snapper, mahi mahi, tuna and foot long squid right on Bingin Beach.

You can also sip cocktails, watch the waves and see the sun go down at clifftop beach clubs like El Kabron Spanish Restaurant and Single Fin Bali Beach Club.

And if you want to venture further afield, Jimbaran Bay is only a 20 minute drive. There are many restaurants along the beach where you can feast on freshly caught seafood. Choose your fish from the tanks and enjoy during a candlelit dinner on the sand.

 

Recreational activities
Surfers, you’ll have no problem filling your days. This region is considered a surfer’s paradise, with the world class surf breaks of Uluwatu, Impossibles and Padang Padang nearby.

If you’re looking for some culture, visit Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of Bali’s most iconic temples. It is perched atop Uluwatu’s immense cliffs making it a spectacular sight. There, each night at 6pm, you can see a Kecak and fire dance show, with the setting sun as a backdrop.

If you like action, sports are aplenty. You can paraglide off the southern cliffs of the Bukit and play golf at a choice of two of the region’s international golf courses. Explorers, check out Green Bowl Beach, one of Bali’s most secluded beaches hidden under a cliff in the village of Ungasan. Click here to read more about Green Bowl.

But if relaxation is more your thing, you can simply arrange for a massage, facial, mani/pedi or just hang by the pool.