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BALI IS OPEN, OMG WHAT DO I DO NOW?

OK, so hold your horses! Bali isn’t open just yet as you can see from our previous blog post, but we wanted to give you some tips on what to do so you’re prepared for when it does!

Indonesia made it relatively easy for tourists to travel into the country (pre-pandemic) and we can assume that once the easing of restrictions are allowed, things will hopefully return to exactly as before.

There are over 160 nationalities (including those from Britain/USA/Australia/South Africa) that do not require a visa and are permitted to enter Indonesia for FREE on arrival. However, this method of entry does not allow you to extend your stay more than 30 days.

Visas on arrival is voluntary and costs around £25 ($35) and allow you entry into the country for 30 days (the same as the free visa). We would advise you to get this option if you are uncertain of how long you want to stay as it can be extended once, without you having to leave the country for a further 30 days, giving you a total of 60 days in Indonesia.

You’ll need to ensure that your passport has more than 6 months left before expiry!

There are 11 countries that are exempt from VoA, this includes travellers from Nigeria. If you are travelling from one of these countries, you’ll need to apply for a visa abroad at an Indonesian embassy or consulate AND you’ll need sponsor letter from and Indonesian citizen.

You can check out Bali’s immigration website: www.imigrasi.go.id

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16 Dos and DONTs whilst travelling to Bali.

DO

• Keep a passport page empty for a visa stamp!

• Learn some of the lingo! English is spoken in Indonesia, but I always think it’s good to try and immerse yourself in the culture and to be as respectful as possible!  selamat pagi (good morning), tolong (please) and terima kasih (thank you) di mana aku bisa menemukan (where can I find…)

• Expect some crowds at some popular hotspots

• Research the vibe you want!  If you’re all about sophistication, then Seminyak might be your best bet, but if you want some rest and relaxation, you might fare better staying in Padang Bai or Nusa Dua.

• Dress appropriately – you can’t walk around in a bikini everywhere as much as Jemimah loves to skin out, you may be turned way at some restaurants or bars and you can’t wear shorts up a mountain (moreso, because you’ll be cold af! More on this in our Mount Batur activities section)

• Plan a budget, if you like the finer things in life some prices can extend to those similar to that in the UK, but you can also live quite happily on a lower budget and still have a great time!

• Watch out for stray dogs and wild animals (especially at night!) Most have rabies and other diseases. Sarah and I were met at night by several stray dogs when we tried to go out for a midnight stroll looking for a convenience store…needless to say, we ended up getting a cab back home

• Be mindful of rainy season (January to April/October/November) Bali’s year round average temperature is around 28 degrees Celsius, but you don’t want to get caught up inside because of a monsoon.

• Barter!Barter!Barter! But do so respectfully!

DON’T

• Bring more than £5,500 in cash with you

• Overstay without ensuring you have a valid visa or you’ll be fined around £50 a day

• Be afraid to move around, navigating the island isn’t particularly difficult, so do your research and hit up different areas to make the most of your trip

• Be too worried about “Bali Belly”. Jemimah suffered from food poisoning heavy on our trip to Thailand, and came heavily prepared for the Bali trip, but surprisingly faced no issues. Hygiene has markedly improved on the island, so be cautious of street vendors, but for the most part you should be OK!

• Forget your reusable bottle at home, for those of us that are environmentally conscious around 60 tonnes of plastic washes up on the beaches annually and we can help combat this, with most restaurants providing free refills or charging a small fee

• Forget to take out enough money at an available ATM as these can sometimes be few and far between. Sarah and I took out cash when we first got to Bali at Denpasar airport (about £300 as e had already prepaid for some of the activities we’d be doing online). Try and stick to reputable ATMS, its rare, but I’ve heard of skimming happening.

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UBUD vs SEMINYAK

The island of the gods

From Bali’s majestic mountains to the enthralling coastlines, the predominantly Hindu culture is hard to miss. The stunning architecture and myriad of temples encapsulates the spiritual vibe given off by the island, minus the hubbub we as tourists bring.

Seminyak is more of a boujie beach resort area in the south of Bali, with exclusive hotels, villas, and beach clubs abounding, whilst Ubud is typically a bit quieter and has a bit more culture to soak up, but both areas offer great restaurant options and nightlife.

Navigating the island

Sarah and I managed to hire the services of an amazing private tour guide who took us around in his car when we highlighted to him all the spots we’d love to visit. Whilst it’s not necessary to hire a private driver, it does make your life easier.

Many people navigate the island using bluebird taxis, the grab app or motorbikes which you can hire.

Some other places Sarah and I visited:

Sky Garden- Its rated 59th in the top 100 clubs in the world and offers different rooms with a different vibe ranging from eclectic sounds to R&B and house. Entry is cheap and free (can’t remember how much, sorry!) and includes two drinks free depending which night you go on!

Shisha Café – There are a few around, and they usually give off the Mediterranean vibe with amazing shisha flavours, be sure to check one out!

Calma Spa – There are no shortages of massage parlours in Bali, but we were recommended Calma spa by our tour guide and I kid you not! Whew, it was legit, everything my body needed to relax and destress! Check out our Instagram for some pictures.

Tattoo Shop – Sarah and I are no strangers to getting tatted abroad. I’m a bit of a wild card and Sarah convinced me to get my first one in. Phuket, Thailand. This time around, I didn’t need much convincing. We happened on a tattoo shop and did some research about the owners and tattoo artists ensuring they were reputable. He had even won some awards in Australia, so we thought…why not!

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AN INSTAGRAMMER’S DREAM

Floating breakfast by the pool

Entry Price: From 975,000 IDR (per couple)

Opening time: 0700-1100am

Sarah and I decided we wanted a cute relaxing morning at Kamandalu Ubud, it was 10 minutes away from where stayed and they organised a driver for us included in the price.

It’s a 5* hotel that captures the essence of a real-life Balinese village and you don’t need to stay at the hotel to take advantage of all the luxuries on offer such as the spa, picnic lunch on a boat and tapas nights. Ngl, if you’re coming with bae and ya’ll got gwop to spend, I would opt to spend a night or two in one of the chalets or villas overlooking the valley or pool.

The floating breakfast cost us around £35pp and included prosecco, juice, water, and featured a continental style selection of foods, which encompassed waffles and fruits and cereal.

The view by the pool was serene and the earlier the time slot you decide to choose the less chance you have of being interrupted by other guests. We were the first to arrive and there were only 3 other people who came after us. They give you a time slot of around 1-2 hours to complete your breakfast and then you can traverse the grounds an explore the scenic views on offer.

Hand of God

Entry Price: Free (but patronise the café by buying a drink or food)

Opening hours for café: 0700am-1800pm

On our way back from our Mount Batur Sunrise Hike we stooped off at a quaint little hotel called caldera in the Kintamani region. The hotel serves a lush coffee at its restaurant and additionally has an amazing structure of two hands placed together known as the hand of God. An amazing phot opportunity if you’re not scared of heights and you’ll be able to see the most gorgeous view of the mountains if the sky isn’t too overcast.

Wanagiri Hidden Hills

Entry Price: 50,000 IDR

Opening hours: 0630am-1900pm

Wana comes from the word Forest, whilst Gill means Hidden. We visited this deliciously scenic gem after our trip to see the dolphins.

The scenery was created by locals to imitate the Bali swing and has now become a mainstay for travellers wishing to revel in the beauty of the area.

You can haggle to get the entry fee own, but its usually around 50000 IDR (£2.50) and the locals will often help you to capture your dream photo!

Bali Handara Golf Gate

Entry Price: Free

Opening hours: Anytime, but best during morning to avoid crowds

This popular attraction is actually a golf course and resort. The gate symbolises the entrance from the outer world to the temple and plays an important role in Balinese and Hindu culture.

The gate is surrounded by a lush field of green, mountains, lakes and the equatorial rainforest. This is a great spot to visit if you want to make the most of your day, after Hidden Hills are they are nearby one another.

Definitely be prepared for the prospect of large crowds here too and having to wait your turn to get your picture.

Top tip!  If you want to get a picture that looks like you’re standing on water at the gate, place your phone under the camera so it reflects and looks like water!

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

Entry price: 50,000 IDR (Car/motorbike parking 5000/2000 IDR)

Opening hours: 0700am-1900pm (Saturdays from 500am)

From Seminyak its about 2.5 hours to reach the temple and from Ubud around 1.5.

Hindu is the main religion practiced in Bali and if you wanted to visit this beautiful temple it is one of the more popular ones because it floats on the lake.

We had lunch here and made use of the toilet facilities.

Whilst you’re there take the time to soak up the scenery and the beautiful grounds. Fishing is popular on the lakes edges so if you fancy your hand at that you can rent some gear and have a blast on the lake.

Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is a small island off to the Southeast of Bali. You can access it via car or motorbike but will likely need a ferry to cross to the island as we did. When visiting Nusa Penida, be sure to check out these picturesque locations and all the remote location has to offer. To ensure you make the most of your time on the island its best to start your day early. We got to the ferry for around 700am.

Keliking Beach – The view from the cliff has been likened to T-Rex and offers jaw dropping views of the ocean

Paluang Cliff – Another cliff point on the west side of Nusa Penida offering different angles and viewpoints

Angel Billabong – Referred to lovingly by locals as the angel’s bath, be sure to bring a swimsuit and you can take a swim in the lake here or at crystal bay

Broken Beach – As legend has it many years ago the land was covered in soil and one day villagers happened across a cow with no owner. They slaughtered the cow and shared it around. A dusty old man appeared hours later and asked for the cow. All of the villagers denied having seen the cow and so the old man plunged a stick into the ground and asked all of the villagers one by one to try and remove it if they were telling the truth. None of them could and so the old man cursed the villagers and caused an earthquake by removing the stick from the ground, resulting in the glorious structure that remains.

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Baraka Natural Aquarium

Baraka Natural Aquarium is located in the northern part of Nungwi. As with everything these days, I originally saw it on the gram and was very pleased that it matched up to my expectations 😻😻.WE LOVE TO SEE IT 🗣⁣

Baraka is a turtle rehabilitation centre run by local people; the turtles here have been rescued from fishermen capture. They are then nursed back to full health before being released back into the wild. You can wade through the shallow water in the low tide, and swim with fish and other small marine animals.

Price: $10 to get in and the seaweed needed to coax the turtles closer is provided. If you would like to snorkel, you can hire gear in destination.

Here are some tips for making the most of your time:

  • No prebooking – just arrive turn up and you will be directed to the location.
  • Arrive early just as they open to get a shot without other people – I say early rather than later because the sunlight hitting the water is something special.
  • The turtles are just trying to eat, so you can very easily bribe them with the seaweed provided 😂⁣
  • Seaweed is salty; so bring a towel and water to wash your eyes out. (I learnt the hard way 😂)
  • There are showers on site – so you can bring a change of clothes
  • It’s by no means a whole day activity.
  • The turtles will bite! Once they know you have the seaweed they’ll swarm.
  • The turtles have a rubbery texture and they don’t seem to mind you stroking them (follow any instructions given by the guides).
  • Don’t put on too much sunscreen if you plan to go into the water, it will contaminate the water and we don’t want that for the turtles.

Photo op tips:

  • When you walk in, find the cove to your right and coax turtles with seaweed. It’s a good point for a photo with no one else in.
  • If you want a picture on the podium in the middle, you’ll need someone high up to capture it for you.
  • If you’re a confident swimmer, go further out and again use the seaweed to coax the turtles

Most importantly, have fun! It’s an amazing experience.

As always, keep up to date with us on @trippinwithsj // @sarahambitious x

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Nungwi Beach

Nungwi Beach is one of the main areas you will find information about online when planning a visit to Zanzibar, and for good reason. It has powdery white sand, turqouise blue water that simply looks unreal – I remember standing in awe. I never get tired of looking at beautiful water.

Nungwi is all you expect from a tourist beach front; restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, water sports and regular party boats that include food, bottomless drinks and music you can groove to. I even got some beautiful henna done.

Here are 10 reasons you should visit Nungwi if you go to Tanzania:

  1. It’s an island paradise(!) 😍 (hyperbole?, yes but no)
  2. It’s warm all year round. Zanzibar is located near the equator and gets sunny weather most of the time, so tan me up please! (Averaging up to 32°C & 9 hours of sun) 🌞😎
  3. Beautiful sunset views. Again because Zanzibar is on the western coast at the top of the island, its perfect to get your insta moments and have people wishing they were laying up there too. You can enjoy a drink on a rooftop as the sun sets or get on a sunset cruise on a dhow. (Did someone say baecation criteria being ticked?) 🌅
  4. Experience nature up close. Baraka Natural Aquarium is a conservation site run by locals, but that deserves a blogpost all of its own. So keep an eye out 😉
  5. Nightlife! As the sun sets, the beach comes alive. Visit Cholo’s Bar – it’s the oldest in the village. 🥂
  6. Enjoy local flavours. There are countless restaurants that will cater to your tastes, you have everything from French inspired to classic Italian in addition to local flavours. 🥘
  7. Build a dhow. You won’t actually do the back breaking work yourself, but you can get a personal look at how it’s done. Dhows are used to catch fish and other seafood in Zanzibar, and some of the fisherman will give a ‘Dhow building 101’. 🚣🏾‍♀️
  8. Walk, walk, walk. Locals are used to tourists walking around, but please be respectful of the local culture and cover up – shoulders and knees. Try the village market and get the best in local fruits and veg. Try the local faves; date nut bread, fried plantains and octopus! Spice galore again – so much to take back home for friends and family.
  9. Melting pot of cultures. Nungwi beach is in Zanzibar which is an important location for the spice trade, trade always brings people together and as people pass through they leave bits of their culture behind. Asian, European and African cultures, can be seen in the religion, values and cuisine.
  10. Beach boys. The souvenirs will come to you, or maybe it’s a dhow cruise you’re after? Water sports? A picture. The Maasai people will try and sell it all, but they are not overbearing. A firm ‘no’, and they will leave you alone.

There are many beautiful beaches in Zanzibar, but Nungwi stays top 5 no debating. Nungwi has so much hustle and bustle, but you still feel secluded; I don’t know but it’s beautiful. 🧘🏾‍♀️

Best time to travel: All year round; June – October, January and February are the driest months

Places to eat: Le Macis Zanzibar

As always, keep up with us on @sarahambitious // @trippinwithsj x

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Tulum

An 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Cancun lies Tulum. I’d seen Tulum on the ‘gram and I would say it’s the ‘IT’ girl. Tulum has a rustic and chill vibe to it, but the time to turn up is still very much there.

Like most places there is a main ‘strip’ where all the action happens; in Tulum it’s also the Zona Hotelera. There are countless hotels, beach clubs and restaurants – not to forget the signs along the road that give you a dose of self love. I think Tulum is going for ‘eat, pray, love’ vibes and I’m not mad at it.

You get adequate doses of beach, food and views – one of the servers from a hotel on the strip told us their minimum spend was so high because you are getting the views. I appreciated the honesty, but it still didn’t justify spending so much for me.

Photo op on the beach

Where to stay:

  • Zona Hotelera
  • Centro
  • You don’t have to stay at a super expensive hotel, as everything is quite close to each other. Save your coin friends!
  • I stayed at the Mayan Monkey, as I am really glad I did. It’s a hostel with private rooms, they have a range of activities and its a great way to meet other travellers.

Getting around:

Regardless of how close your destination is in Tulum, you will pay $20 for the ride. So, getting around Tulum you will see people on bikes, quads, walking or driving – I’m a strong advocate for hiring a car as you have more freedom to do things. Something to note: parking on the main strip isn’t the easiest feat, so here are a few tips:

  • You may have to (or be better off parking) park further down and walking down.
  • You will have to pay for a parking spot each time you move, so find a central(ish) location to park and move from there.
  • The road to Zona Hotelera is small, there are many construction projects going on. So you can get caught up in some serious traffic as the day goes on.
  • Park by Coco Beach Tulum – it’s free parking!
  • The roads in Tulum are not the smoothest – so slow down.
Tulum sign (there’s a massage parlour right by this sign)
Beach views
Restaurant views

Places to visit:

  1. RAW LOVE – the open arm sculpture you are bound to have seen.
  2. Mia Restaurant – a chill vibe and a lovely photo op that makes you feel like you’re in Bali.
  3. IK LAB – an art gallery in the heart of Tulum (entry fee)
  4. The beach itself! – Go early to almost have it to yourself.
  5. Bagatelle – if you’d like something super boujie to do.
  6. La Eufemia – for a cheap and delicious eat on the strip. It’s a walk from the main sites
  7. Mistico – Restaurant and Shisha bar
  8. Chichen Itza – not exactly in Tulum, but close? enough.
  9. Tulum Ruins
  10. Countless cenotes, Tulum is located perfectly for exploration.
Tacos in central Tulum
Tacos from La Eufemia
Mia restaurant

There are supermarkets all around or if you are willing, you could go into the local community and buy some of their produce – an amazing way to give back! So whether you’re in an airbnb or hotel, you are covered.

I had amazing time in Tulum, and to think I was almost put off going! (Crazy)

Check our IG highlights to see some of these things live: @trippinwithsj // @sarahambitous

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Breaks close to home

Not being able to travel internationally doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some well deserved #RnR 🧖🏾‍♀️. 

Here’s our list of local destinations we think you should try out: 

1️⃣ London – Why not stay close to home or drive/commute down and stay at a 5* star hotel. We recommend the Landmark as they always offer an amazing service 👌🏾 

Breakfast in bed? A spa treatment? Get the holiday feeling without getting on a flight. 

➡️ if you’d prefer a day service why not try the Montcalm or one of the many Bannatyne sites? Their massages are amazing and they offer access to their swimming pool and spa services. 

2️⃣ The Cotswolds 

The Cotswolds have been declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). They are truly picturesque. They cover 800 square miles across 5 counties. It’s a gateway to some amazing cities; Bath, Oxford for example and the chefs at their gastropubs are top tier.

We could go on but then this post would get really long 😉 Look into it and make a weekend or longer of it.

3️⃣ Cornwall – St. Ives, Penzance, Newquay, Torquay. Getting to some of these places will really make you feel like you’ve left the UK. You will have a lengthy drive or train head ahead of you but the destination is more than worth it.

https://www.visitcornwall.com

4️⃣Edinburgh, Scotland 

There are nearly more castles than people (not really but there are a lot of castles)! Gothic vibes, castle vibes, cobbled street vibes. Edinburgh offers a lot of vibes, if you’re feeling even more adventourous why not head to the coast and take in some of the beautiful coastline 😍

**Please check local lockdown/covid restrictions before booking anything**

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Post Brexit Travel to Europe

European travel looks like the way to go once Covid cases start dropping. Here are few things to bear in mind for UK travellers.

We’re officially about to be outside of the clurb 🥺😔

For more information, visit www.gov.uk/transition

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Athens

Visiting Athens in February was my first solo trip, with all play and no business (aside from an assignment I had to do).

I had booked the 5 day trip just under a month in advance in January, but ended up spending the first two days completing said assignment for uni. The change of pace and scenery was very welcome. Fruity cocktails with a view of the acropolis? Sounds like a bit of me…

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ARRIVING IN ATHENS 

I flew direct with BA from London Heathrow and the flight was around 3 1/2 hours. BA are being super flexible because of the pandemic and the constantly changing rules (Boo Boris! Boo Miss ‘Rona!) so you can book now and change your flight at no additional cost unless the dates you want to fly are more expensive! 

(Follow us on the gram for useful hacks @trippinwithsj 😉)

I used Uber in Athens to get to my hotel which was located in the city centre and it set me back just under €40, which is not bad for an airport transfer. The metro system is pretty easy to navigate and next time I’ll consider using it – it only about 45 minutes. If you’re good at navigating public transport and want to save your coin for more exciting things you can also use the metro to get to Acropolis station at the grand price of €8 (or €14 for two people). 

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WHERE TO STAY 

I stayed at two different hotels because I like to switch up the vibes. 

The first was Athenaeum Eridanus Luxury Hotels (£84 for 2 nights with breakfast included). It’s a 10 minute walk away from the M3 metro which goes straight to the airport.

The room was perfect for one, with a double bed and cute little bathroom. 

I spent my first two days here in their restaurant/bar completing my health econ assignment, accompanied by a glass of white, spag bol and the most splendid view of the Acropolis.

The staff here were A1 👌🏾 I fully recommend, for downtime with some comfort at an affordable price ✅

The second hotel/apartment was Pame House.

Recommend for: Being close to the hustle and bustle of the city centre and night life, major tourist attractions and the flea market

For the breakfast offered with your stay, you are given a voucher to redeem at a breakfast joint a 2 minute walk from the hotel which plays chilled R&B – vibes. 

Most rooms have a balcony and luckily my room was no exception. Here’s some action that started popping off on one evening.  

Hotel option if you’re ballin on a budget: £ Athenaeum Smart Hotel – @ £103 for 3 nights for two sharing that works out to £51.5pp. I know you’ve spent more @ Zara sis so don’t play yourself. 😅

And for my luxury living crew: £££ Elia Ermou Athens Hotel – @ £450 for 3 nights for two sharing; you’re spending a pretty penny but I promise the experience is worth it, just check out the views 😍

(Visit Little Kook; an amazing themed cafe you never know what you’ll find.)

Hurry back for my insider tips on where to eat and what to do as a tourist in Athens.

J x