Expert Advice

5 Surprising Things I Learned During My Bali Vacation

Unexpected experiences can lead to the best memories

Raeanne V
View of Bali's blue water and white beaches in Indonesia

In October 2022, my best friend invited me to Bali, Indonesia. I thrive on adventure, so of course I said yes. I spent months reading travel blogs about what to expect in Bali and watching Instagram Reels to learn more about our vacation destination.

However, Bali was one of the first destinations that defied my expectations. Here are five things that surprised me when visiting this Indonesian island.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member in verdant Bali 

1. Brace Yourself For Flight Prices

As a frequent traveler and Filipino-American, I have experience booking international flights, especially to Southeast Asia. Therefore, I figured a flight to Bali from New York City would be comparable to economy flights to Manila.

However, Bali is a dreamy paradise, making it a popular destination. What I also didn’t take into account was Bali’s remote location. These two factors influenced the price of a flight to hit a whopping $2,000 for my July trip.

While the cost may be steep, there are a few workarounds. Off-season travel during the rainy season can significantly lower flight expenses. My July trip hit peak season as others visited Bali during its dry months.

Alternatively, fly into a larger Asian travel hub and book a separate round-trip ticket to Bali. By doing so, I saved a few hundred dollars and explored the beautiful city of Bangkok, Thailand.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member on an ATV while on vacation to Bali, Indonesia 

2. Enjoy Affordable Activities

Despite the high flight price tag, Bali is quite affordable once you arrive. The United States dollar goes a long way there. Food, souvenirs and excursions are a lot cheaper than they would be in the U.S.

Some of my favorite low-budget activities include:

Remember to tip your guides, drivers and waiters. A few dollars means more than you can imagine.

3. Plan For Unpredictable Weather

Bali’s dry season takes place from May to October. However, dry season doesn’t mean it won’t rain. It rained nine out of the 10 days we were there. Prepare some backup activities if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Here are a few things we did to pass the time when it rained.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member surfing while on vacation to Bali, Indonesia 

Bali is known for some of the best surfing in the world, offering waves for all skill levels. You already get wet while surfing, so why not brave the rain while catching some waves?

Padel is a racquet-based sport that’s a mix of squash and tennis. Island Sports Club’s indoor courts in Uluwatu provide a fun way to pass a rainy day.

Explore the food scene. Bali provides a surprisingly large variety of culinary cuisines, from traditional Indonesian flavors to chic vegetarian-friendly cafes.

4. Don’t Get Stuck In Traffic

Bali is known for its serene beauty, so the traffic and chaotic streets may catch you off guard as tourists and locals swarm the streets. Most of the roads are single-lane, so the traffic in Bali was bad. It took my friend and me three-and-a-half hours to go 11 miles north of Uluwatu — more than double the time it took me to run a half marathon.

A beach inside a rock formation in Bali, Indonesia

Because Bali has so many areas to explore — such as Uluwatu, Ubud, Seminyak and Canggu — you’re bound to sit through hours of traffic. I figured out that I had to make the most of our day by starting early and heading back home after dinner to avoid traffic.

This plan also helped us cram as much into each day as possible to avoid having to sit through more traffic, and it was so worth it. One day, we explored the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and Ubud’s shops, ending the night at a Korean BBQ before hitting the road.

5. Prepare For Genuine Warmth And Hospitality

Talking with my peers, I noticed people’s common concern about traveling to Asia is the language barrier. Because Bali is such a tourist destination, it was very easy to communicate with locals because most spoke English.

Even if we didn’t share a language, I still found it easy to connect with locals. Their happiness radiated through, adding a heartwarming layer to Bali’s charm.

If you ever make your way across the world to this Indonesian island, embrace surprises with an open heart and create memories that exceed your expectations.

Use your Hilton Honors™ Points to visit more destinations like Bali worldwide, one of the many perks of timeshare with Hilton Grand Vacations.

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Hilton Grand Vacations Owner Raeanne surfing while on vacation in Hawaii

Raeanne V

Raeanne’s been an Owner since 2019. One of her highlights of ownership was using her ClubPoints to WFH (work from Hawaii) for three nonconsecutive months. Follow Raeanne to satiate your travel bug for adventurous vacations.

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