I'm looking for chilling out and (mostly) diving for a couple of weeks around Bali and Lombok in the end of November. Initially I was planning on spending it or most of it on the Gili Islands because of the relative quietness of the islands and diving possibilities (well not Trawangan) but have since read some **** about them, especially Trawangan I'm not so sure anymore.
As the trip is quite short I'd like to fix my initial itinerary quite well before going and then modify it as needed. I'd like to ask your help to find some laid back (quiet, maybe "less touristy", etc.) places around there still with possibilities for diving but also wandering around seeing some cultural and above-the-surface natural sights.
#1 gilrand has been a member since 8/6/2009. Posts: 15
The main diving spots are around Candi Dasa, Amed and Pemuteran. None of these spots is especially touristy outside of peak season, so it'd be fine to head to the places and get what you want - culture, diving, decent accommodation and a nice vibe. Out of these three places, I'd choose Amed, but it's best if you have your own transport because the area is quite spread out.
I haven't been to Lombok or the Gilis, so can't really comment on that.
Once you leave the Kuta area (go North) there will be less tourists. I was diving this past March in Pemuteran and it lived up to the hype. I can only comment on Pemuteran as it is the only place in Bali that I dove.
It is more expensive there - mostly resorts but there are cheaper digs and a few homestays farther away from the beach. You will most likely end up diving through one of the resorts - at least when I was there the stand alone dive shops were closed. You will also pay a National Park fee as well as a boat parking fee - serious!
If you are to rent your own car/scooter - an international license is a good idea. Less ammunition for the cops when they pull you over and try to shake you down! The taxis are negotiable and relatively cheap. A drive from Ubud to Pemuteran cost me about 30us. The local buses do not go there (stop at Lovina ) so if you take a local bus to Lovina you'll need to hire a taxi from there.
I think you can cover most of the sites in Pemuteran in a couple of days so consider doing a loop - Get out of Kuta! - Pemuteran...Ahmed...and then Lombok or the Gili's. I'm sure that you'll enjoy it all.
Thanks alot on the good tips about Bali to both of you! Those places you mentioned sound really good to my needs. As the trip will be quite short its not necessary to even stay in the cheapest of the guesthouses (but of course not in the most expensive either) so price is not a major issue. At the moment it seems I'm going to spend at least some of my time on Bali!
If someone would still have some tips on Lombok I'd really appreciate it! Of course more on Bali is also appreciated!
PS. I only have "national" (EU) drivers licence, could that get me into trouble while driving motorbikes / scooters in Indonesia?
Never been hassled by cops in other parts of SEAsia in traffic..
#4 gilrand has been a member since 8/6/2009. Posts: 15
I have never had trouble anywhere else in SEA while driving either. I didn't rent a car or scooter on Bali but I was there for 3 months this past year and met several other backpackers/tourists/ex-pats who had been stopped by the traffic police and were made to pay fines for a lack of an international license.
Just a heads up! Enjoy your time.
Hi not sure what your accreditation level is for your diving. I was diving the Gili's for a week June this year and while the inner more shallow dives weren't all that impressive due to some seasonal bleaching and remants of old dynamiting, the outer deep dives 18mts + were really good, so if your advanced definitely worth a look.
Spent about 5 days way south in Lombok in Kuta but local dive shop wasn't all that keen to go out local at that time of year. Not sure about November but there are meant to be two unforgettable dive sites about 2 hrs by car from Kuta ones called the Cathedral the other name escapes me. big fish including the amazing hammerheads.
Hope that helps
To be legal in Indonesia, you need an international driver's licence. The way that licence works is that it is basically a certification to say that you are licensed in your home country to drive x,y,z vehicles. If you aren't allowed to ride a motorbike in your home country, you won't be authorised in Indonesia either. For some people, that is a problem, for others it's not. When white people ride motorbikes in Bali, they are quite often not licensed and the police know this. So the police pull them over often and fine them. It's fair enough too. You might get stopped when driving a car, but it's far less common. If you've broken the law, the standard fine for white people in Bali is 50,000 rupiah, but you will have to negotiate hard for that price. Hiring a car in my view is a great way to get around Bali and it can be as cheap as 80,000 rupiah per day.
As for a suggested itinerary, you could spend your first night in Kuta as that is close to the airport. Pick up a car from there for 80,000 rupiah per day and then head north. First stop, Ubud. Spend a few days there to soak up some cultural activities such as temples, dancing, rice field walks and good food. Next head east and make your way to Amed via Tirta Gangga and Gunung Lempuyang. In Amed, there is plenty of diving and you can dive the sunken US ship in Tulamben while based in Amed. I wouldn't bother staying overnight in Tulamben as it's a bit barren. After you've had your fill in Amed, head west to Pemuteran and stop at a couple of sights along the way such as Banjar Hotsprings. In Pemuteran, do a couple of days diving and then... up to you. I guess it would have to be the gilis which are best accessed from Padang Bai. You could even leave the car there for a few days and then pick up when you come back from the Gilis.
Actually, that itinerary is a little bit arse about. Probably best to do Ubud, Pemuteran, Amed, Padang Bai, Gilis, Padang Bai, Kuta. Easily doable in 2 weeks.
Hey, the car rental is a great idea! But... hows the traffic in Bali? Are the cheapest car rentals reliable in terms of insurance and vehicles? How about safety of leaving a rental car parked over night / on secluded places during day?
I quickly did some searching on car rental shops in Bali and got a ton of different places with seemingly no difference (according to their webpages) with lowest prices being around 20USD a day, which is not bad in my opinion.
Thanks again for all the input, much appreciated!
#8 gilrand has been a member since 8/6/2009. Posts: 15
Traffic is only really bad around Kuta and Denpasar and even then, it's not that big a deal if you plan to head out of town. As soon as you exit those busy areas, the flow of traffic is usually smooth and relatively easy to deal with. You might also get a bit of traffic in Ubud, but nothing too bad - 10 minutes??
Leaving your car unattended for extended periods of time could be problematic I guess - just as it probably would be anywhere. If you stay at a guesthouse and need to catch a boat the next day, they might be able to keep an eye on it for you.
As for where to get a car from, I only have limited experience. I've hired cars from guys in the street (last time for about 2 months), tour shops (2 weeks) and hotels (a week). In all cases, the vehicles were Suzuki Jimny/Katana models which are old, manual, cheap and drive quite well! They use hardly any fuel and are well suited to the bali conditions. I've sometimes had insurance with these rentals, but I don't trust insurance when dealing with most of these people. The reality is probably this - if you crash the car, you'll be required to pay. Just note the cars are not worth that much anyway (maybe US$4000???) and it'd have to be a stroke of bad luck to have to replace it. That said, some people are uncomfortable driving without insurance I'd suggest going with one of the big car rental companies if it is a must. You'll pay through the nose, of course, but that's pretty standard in the West too.
For a Suzuki Jimny, you are looking at paying between 80,000 and 100,000 rupiah per day which is about US$9-11. I think this is the best approach. Just take it easy on the roads because the rules, conditions and culture are all different. And drive slowly!