Destinations

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Ultimate Singapore Itinerary for a Long-Layover

Ultimate Singapore Itinerary for a Long-Layover

Welcome to Singapore, a kaleidoscope of culture, nature, and innovation! If you’re lucky enough to have a few extra hours to spend in Singapore during a long layover, this guide is for you. The best part is – you don’t even need to leave the airport for the best adventures (well you don’t need to go far anyways). The Changi Airport is a perfect representation of how architecture is inspired by art and a showcase of how innovative and creative the Singapore style is. Check out this Singapore Itinerary for anyone with a long layover!

Let’s dive into the best ways to spend your long layover in the best airport in the world, complete with specific attractions, ideal sleeping locations, and free airport excursions

View from plan window while leaving from Singapore's Changi airport

Table of Contents

No matter which terminal you arrive at, or what time of day, this itinerary can be sliced and diced however works best for you! Transportation between terminals is completely free on the Airport Rail and can be reached via walking. Take what you want and leave out the rest to create the perfect day of exploration for you! 

Keep reading to find out about the FREE Singapore Tours, a list of the best excursions by terminal, and info about navigating the airport!

Free Singapore Tour

For those looking to get out of the airport and explore, Changi offers FREE tours of the city! All tours take 2.5 hours, and attendees must be present 75 minutes prior to the tour start time to ensure a timely tour for all participants. This is available for anyone with a layover between 5.5 hours-24 hours, and a ‘Singapore Arrival Card‘ must be filled out. See the following table to ensure the reporting and returning times work for your travel itinerary! 

For up-to-date information, see the Changi Airport website

Experience what it feels like to live as a Singaporean, through an exploration of the charming east side of Singapore, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is great for people who have seen the main sites already or those that prefer a more authentic local experience. 

The first stop is at Tampines New Town, which received the UN World Habitat Award for its high-quality affordable housing. You’ll then make your way to the Tampines Central Park to enjoy the green social space and some uniquely designed playgrounds! The third stop on this tour is at the Our Tampines Hub, the largest community and lifestyle hub in Singapore! Make your way to the Changi Village, a popular recreational hub with plenty of Hawker stalls and quiet village walks. Finally, the tour stops by Changi Beach Park where you will enjoy pristine white beaches and a serenity rarely found in this bustling city. 

Tampines housing and community center
Precinct Tour | Changi Airport

See the modern side of Singapore, catching all of the iconic highlights. Get a photo of the Merlion against the city skyline and marvel at the magical, Avatar-like Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay. Almost every picture you’ve ever seen of the famous city of Singapore will be seen on this tour! 

The tour starts at City Hall, where you’ll see the famous Raffles Hotel (home of the Singapore Sling), as well as St. Andrew’s Cathedral. You’ll then make your way to the Civic District where you can see the distinction between old national monuments against the modern skyscrapers in the Central Business District. Walk across the Jubilee Bridge for a spectacular view of Marina Bay, as you head towards the Merlion Statue – Singapore’s icon! Enjoy the sun at Merlion Park, as you learn about Singapore’s history in trade and fisheries. In the distance, you’ll see the Gardens by the Bay, a Singapore icon (the constructed trees that make you feel like you’re in the Avatar world of Pandora). If you’re lucky enough to take the tour at night, you’ll get to watch this area come to life with lights and colors! Before returning to the airport, the tour concludes with Marina Bay Sands, a convention center that hosts over 200 luxury outlets, a Skypark, and incredible rooftop views of the city!

 

Gardens By The Bay a part of the city sights tour on the Singapore Itinerary
Gardens By The Bay | Changi Airport

Step into a multi-dimensional destination combining retail, dining, and attractions, and immerse in a lush green sanctuary through this 2.5-hour walking tour.

This tour starts in Terminal 3, where visitors will get a chance to see the Changi Control Tower which is at the heart of the airfield operations, allowing the airport to be a central hub for eastern travel. Next, you’ll hop onto a train and venture into the Jewel to take in the serenity of the Shiseido Forest Valley – where mist-covered lush greenery bathes in the filtered light. Central to it all, is the HSBC Rain Vortex – the icon of all of Changi and the tallest indoor waterfall in the world! Explore some of the foreign and local heritage brands in the 6 story shopping plaza, and find your way to the Changi Experience Studio – a digital attraction that allows you to immerse yourself in games and the world of aviation. The tour concludes after a trip to the Canopy Park, located on the top floor of the Jewel. 

*Admission to Canopy Park is included in the tour, with discounts available to the individual attractions in Canopy Park & Experience Studio.

 

Sheshido Valley in the Jewel Changi is a must see on any Singapore Itinerary
Shiseido Forest | Changi Airport

Discover Singapore’s colonial past and cultural heritage through a visit to the historic Civic District, Chinatown, and the picturesque Kampong Gelam.

The first stop is at Marina Bay, where iconic landmarks such as the Merlion and city landscape show the modernization of Singapore. The next stop is at the Central Business District, where the tour will feast on local (and very cheap) food from the famous Hawker stalls. Chinatown is just a short walk away, a destination you definitely can’t miss here! You will find iconic places of worship, shophouses, and street murals depicting the daily lives of local people. The Singapore River is where this nation’s economy grew from a small fishing region to the powerful trading center that it is today. The final stop on this tour is Kampong Gelam, a traditional neighborhood with strong Malaysian & Arabic influence – the street art is insane here!

Singapore river is a part of the heritage tour on the Singapore itinerary
Singapore River | Changi Airport
Tour Timing Itinerary Reporting Time
9:00 am - 11:30 am
Changi Precinct Tour
Before 7:30 am
11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Jewel Tour
Before 9:30 am
12:00 pm - 2:30 pm
City Sights Tour
Before 10:30 am
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Heritage Tour
Before 1:30 pm
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Jewel Tour
Before 4:30 pm
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
City Sights Tour
Before 5:30 pm

* All tours except the Jewel Tour must accompany the group back to the airport. If you wish to explore longer than the 2.5-hour time slot, you must go out on your own! 

Terminal 1

Water Lily Garden

The Water Lily Garden is the perfect destination to head towards to start the day. Nearby you’ll find a ton of local cuisine options, where you can get the local special; Kaya Toast & a Soft-Boiled Egg (try it, you may be surprised at how good it is!)

Grab the food to go and eat outside in the pleasant surroundings of a pond filled with water lilies, open 24 hours a day!

Cost: FREE

Discovery Garden

A perfect place to move your legs and get some fresh air – the Discovery Garden features a winding trail that takes you to different heights of the trees they encircle. Located on the second level of Terminal 1, this is a great place to pause and stroll through, especially since it’s open 24 hours a day!

Cost: FREE

Cactus Garden

When you’re ready for some fresh air, head to the upper floor in Terminal 1 and you’ll find the Cactus Garden – where succulents and cacti from around the world are ready to be explored! This is a great place to reset, it’s not every day that you find a state-of-the-art cactus garden in the middle of the tropics, or in an airport!

Cost: FREE

Rooftop Pool

For those of you that don’t want to walk all day, you may find yourself craving a lounge chair to kick back and relax while you wait for your next flight. There is no better place than the rooftop pool in Terminal 1, where you can hang out in a cabana with a book and a Singapore Sling, soaking up the sun (don’t forget your sunscreen!)

Cost: S$23

Terminal 2

Sunflower Garden

Located on the roof of Terminal 2, the sunflower garden is a great place to relax and reset before the next leg of your journey! Soak up the sun, read a book, or stretch your body in this floral paradise. Don’t skip this at night either – head to the rooftop to see a spectacular show of lights and colors, open 24 hours!

Cost: FREE

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is a cute installment featuring impressive orchids and floral arrangements, a walking platform that leads to a little pond area, and nature-inspired art installations. You’ll notice the forest come to life as you walk through, thanks to the interactive exhibit that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the world of Avatar.

Cost: FREE

Terminal 3

Butterfly Garden

Now, for my absolute favorite attraction at the Singapore airport; the Butterfly Garden. Walk into this creative space where butterflies get to feast on fresh fruit and flowers, drink water from a waterfall feature, and you can witness it all! 

Cost: FREE

The butterfly garden in Changi is a must-see on any Singapore itinerary

To get to the Butterfly Garden, you have to pass through a Hawker-style food court. Stop by and see what's on the menu for an authentic taste of Singapore!

Long Bar by Raffles

You have probably heard of the Singapore Sling – a refreshing blend of dry gin, cherry brandy, and lemon juice, created in 1915. The original location is located at the Raffles Hotel, but this local icon is available to you at the Long Bar. At the Raffles Hotel, you can get a Singapore Sling for around S$30 (insane), but they are complimentary for travelers right here in the airport!

Stop by between 3 pm – 11 pm, and get your first drink on the house!

Cost: FREE Singapore Sling Cocktail

Climbing Wall

There’s no better way to spend a layover than moving your body and getting on a climbing wall! Even if you’ve never done it before – there are package options for guided or un-guided sessions so you. can learn or play as you want.

Located in the basement of T3, open between 10:30 am-9:30 pm! For more info check out the Climb@T3 webpage.

Cost: S$19

Giant Slide

The Changi airport is home to the world’s tallest indoor slide, designed with kids & adults in mind, take the chance to zip down this 4-story slide!

Cost: FREE with Changi Membership (Free to join)

*Located land side, meaning you will have to go through security to leave the airport

Jewel

The Jewel is an attraction that is visited by locals and travelers. However, since it is not on the air side of the airport, you must exit the airport by going through security and immigration. If you don’t have enough time to explore the Jewel fully, make sure to hop on the Skytrain connecting Terminal 2 and Terminal 3! This rail goes through the center of the Jewel, with an up-close view of the waterfall.

HSBC Rain Vortex at Changi Singapore airport

Rain Vortex

The main attraction of the Jewel is the HSBC Rain Vortex – a 40m tall waterfall that flows through the center of the roof straight down, 3 floors below the first floor. This spectacle is lit up in vibrant colors at night – an attraction everybody should see! 

The best part is the central area of the Jewel where you can marvel at the waterfall is completely free to enter. There are seating areas and a walking path that encircles the dome building, so you can get a glimpse of the vortex from different heights and angles before checking out the rest of the attractions!

Canopy Bridge

Get the highest view of the Jewel & the Rain Vortex, by walking across the Canopy Bridge. The bridge is suspended 23 meters above the ground floor, with glass floors and the best vantage point! Open from 10 am – 10 pm daily. 

Cost: S$14

Changi Experience Studio

Join this interactive exhibit where you can learn about the airport, play immersive games and so much more! This is where technology, education, and fun all come together to create an experience perfect for any traveler. Located on L4 of the Jewel complex, this studio is open throughout the week. 

See their website for timing and to buy tickets!

Cost: S$25 for adult

If you join the Free Singapore Tour – Jewel, you will receive exclusive discounts to the Changi Experience Studio & FREE entrance into Canopy Park!

Additional Attractions in the Jewel

Canopy Park Walk – Discovery Slides, Petal Garden, Foggy Bowls, Topiary Walk – S$8

Bouncing Net – L5 Canopy Park – S$25

Walking Net – L5 Canopy Park – S$19

Hedge Maze – L5 Canopy Park – S$14

Mirror Maze – L5 Canopy Park – S$19

 

Sleeping in Changi Airport

If you’re traveling on a budget, you likely haven’t booked a cozy hotel to get some rest. Luckily, Singapore has a lot of options for sleep to fit every traveler’s budget and travel style. Changi hosts rest zones, hotels, and lounges, and they used to have sleeping pods pre-COVID (not sure when/if they’re coming back)!

The best sleeping place for you will depend on which terminal you’re arriving at the airport from, and what time. The snooze zones fill up quickly, where sleepy passengers lounge in recliners. Check out the Lounge Buddy app to see what deals and offers are happening in the airports you’re traveling in!

We arrived at 11 pm, so all these areas were occupied. We wandered around a bit and found a quiet corner where we slept on the floor (we never travel without our eye masks & headphones)! Give yourself some time to explore and find the best spot for you!

For more specific details on seeping areas, head over to the expert – Sleeping in Airports.

Luggage Storage

If you have any bags that you don’t want to lug around with you in or outside of the airport, check out these luggage storage options! Anything can be stored for a cost between S$5-S$18, per 24 hours.  There is a storage location in each of the 4 terminals, but during this writing, T2 & T4 are out of use! 

Check out this Baggage Storage link for updates and exact locations! 

Summary - Ultimate Singapore Itinerary - Long Layover

Too often the airports are a boring to-do that comes with travel. But when you find yourself in Changi with extra time to kill, you will be amazed at everything you can do! You can spend days here, and still not see it all while keeping your budget as low as you need to.

My favorite spots in Changi were sitting in the Jewel just watching the vortex, the Butterfly Garden, and taking the Skytrain to get up close to the falls. What things are you excited to explore in Singapore?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Destinations, Singapore, 0 comments
10 Things To Know Before Visiting Bali

10 Things To Know Before Visiting Bali

Bali is on everyone’s travel list – the waterfalls, the ocean, the cost, and the friendly people have made it a top destination in recent years. While it is relatively easy to navigate (since most people speak English), there are still a few things to know before visiting Bali

Check out what is awaiting you on the ‘Island of the Gods’, and use this Itinerary for 2 Weeks in Bali before your trip so you hit the ground running to all of the top destinations (and hidden gems)!

things to know before visiting Bali header

Table of Contents

1. Language

Bali is one of the thousands of islands in Indonesia. Although the country’s national language is ‘Indonesian’, Bali people primarily speak ‘Balinese’.

Although most locals speak English very well (less so in rural areas), putting in some effort to speak their language is always appreciated! 

English Balinese
Thank You
Matur Suksma

Please

Tolong

Good Morning

Selamat Pagi

Selamat Malam

Selamat Malam

How are you?

Apa kabar?

2. Religious Influence

Bali is a Hindu island, with spiritual practices performed daily. You will commonly see offerings on the street, in shops, homes, etc. for the gods and spirits that exist in their religion. 

Hinduism brings a beautiful feeling of oneness with others, and respect for the world. 

Visiting temples is one of the main things to experience in Bali!

Basket with Balinese offerings and incense

Tip: Bring a sarong with you, or buy one early. It will save you money in the long run as they are required on any temple grounds – and there are temples everywhere! Sarongs are available for rent for around 15k IDR.

3. The Happiest People

If you ask anyone from Bali, the local people are among the most genuinely polite and caring people. You can wander through the rice fields and streets, and be met with consistent smiles and eye contact that make you feel welcome to the space. Bali people in general feel very thankful for tourism, and all the jobs it creates for local people!

4. Safety in Bali

Bali is considered a very safe island, and it’s known to be warm and welcoming to visitors. The Hindu influence permeates deeply through society, where people lean heavily into the idea of Karma and how your actions will follow you into the next life. 

You don’t have to worry about being robbed or pickpocketed in most areas. The religious influence, partnered with the overwhelming positivity that is carried amongst the people has created a safe and spiritual place within Bali.

Tip: There are potential dangers to be aware of everywhere you go. Nowhere is 100% safe, so look after your belongings, yourself and your friends.

5. Affordability

Bali is a very affordable country compared to many locations in Western culture. You can grab a local meal of Mie Goreng for IDR 30k ($2), get your laundry done for 15k/kg ($1), and rent a motorbike for 65k/day ($4).

Like anywhere, you live as budget or lavishly as you want (and can afford). Bali has become a digital nomad hotspot because of the low cost of living, but you can definitely have an expensive vacation as well! 

Keep cash on you at all times! Most small vendors and restaurants will not accept cards.

Currency: Bali (and all of Indonesia) uses the Indonesian Rupiah – IDR. 
1 USD = 15.000 IDR
1 EUR = 16.140 IDR

6. Plastic Pollution

It is no big secret that the trash in Bali is a major problem. You will see it piled up in waterways, roads, beaches, and in burn areas. There is no single culprit to blame for this unreasonable problem, it is due to a few reasons including; 

  1. Poor education for the local people who end up burning a lot of their residual waste
  2. The tourism industry creates a mentality of quick profits, not long-term solutions
  3. Lack of government attention and support in accountability and resources

*Did you know that single-use plastic straws, plastic bags, and polystyrene were outlawed in June 2019? Unfortunately, there is little oversight in this change, and these materials are everywhere. You can help by asking your accommodation or any restaurant why they aren’t abiding by the law – your money helps push a lot of changes!

Monkey holding a plastic water bottle in Bali

7. Driving in Bali

Simply stated, driving in Bali is chaos. It’s not for everyone, and if you’re even remotely cautious you may think driving in Bali is downright insanity. There are very few stop signs and street lights, lines on the roads are mere suggestions, and the traffic lanes are a soup of beeping and swerving potholes.

Sounds fun right?

As crazy as the driving may seem, it really does make sense. There are fewer ‘rules’ of the road and more common sense that allows a more natural flow. People merge when they want, and people make space for others. It is a constant flow and it is actually really enjoyable to drive in Bali once you’re on a bike!

I highly suggest you rent a motorbike and give it a try! Read more about everything you need to know about transportation in Bali.

Woman sitting on motorbike in Bali

8. Bali Belly

Maybe you’ve heard of Bali Belly, but if you haven’t.. listen up. Bali Belly is no joke, it’s a few days of very rough food poisoning that quite a few travelers get. Getting Bali Belly will basically ensure you’re no more than a few meters from a bathroom for days

But what exactly causes it? Well, poor sanitation and water quality (gross). There is quite a bit of E. Coli swimming around in the tap water, which everyone uses to wash their hands (and then cook food). 

If you’re worried, here are some helpful tips to keep your body ready!

  • Ask if ice in drinks is made from filtered water
  • When refilling a water bottle, clarify that it is to drink
  • Avoid brushing your teeth with the tap water
  • Look where people are eating, if the restaurant is empty, keep looking
  • Avoid fruit that isn’t peeled (strawberries, blueberries, apples, etc.). The skin was likely washed with tap water
  • Check ratings and reviews online
At the end of the day, you can be as precautious as you want, but you never know where you could get it. Don’t let the fear of Bali Belly stop you from experiencing anything while you travel. My partner got it from a pasta dish at an expensive Western restaurant. Go to local warungs, eat all the mie goreng your heart desires, and stay focused on the beauty of the area.

9. Avoid Drugs At All Costs

Bali is notorious for its insanely strict drug laws, with signs in the airport stating it is punishable by death. They’re not messing around. 

You may be offered some marijuana or magic mushrooms on the beach, and while smoking a joint on a beach at sunset sounds too good to be true, it is. It’s estimated that 1 in every 3 people selling drugs to tourists is an undercover cop! 

Instead, try Bali’s local liquor, “arak“. It is made from fermenting either banana leaf, coconut, or rice, and you’ll notice that it is quite a bit cheaper on any menu!

10. The Police

And on the note of being set up by the police, or fined for any crimes you commit, be aware of the cops. Being a tourist instantly puts a target on you. You don’t fully know the laws, you don’t have the protections you may be used to at home, and you have a lot of money.

Corruption is high in Indonesia, and although there is a big crackdown by the government, it can happen. When a cop is threatening jail time or a $1,000 payment, you’re not really in a place to argue. 

The best thing you can do is to avoid any reason for a fine. Wear your helmet, don’t drive without an International Driver’s License, don’t do drugs, don’t be loud and disruptive, and follow what the locals are doing. 

Summary - Things to know before visting Bali

Bali is a traveler’s haven where you can connect with people, do some soul-searching, as well as off-the-path adventuring. Its affordable price and picturesque views have made Bali a top destination in recent years.

Be aware of the scams that are targeted toward tourists, be smart about the health and safety of where you are, and respect the Balinese culture and traditions. Don’t let the fears of a place scare you away, but be aware of the risks that exist!

 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Destinations, Indonesia, 0 comments
Essential Thailand Packing List – What To Bring To Thailand?

Essential Thailand Packing List – What To Bring To Thailand?

Known for its vibrant sunsets and called the “Land of Smiles”, Thailand is at the top of everyone’s travel list for very good reasons. If it’s almost your lucky time to explore this beautiful country, make sure you’re prepared with this Thailand packing list. 

Street markets, island getaways, coral reefs, elaborate temples, friendly people, and more are waiting for you in the Kingdom of Thailand (sounds fancy). So pack your bags…what are you waiting for?!

Items you bring to the beach scattered on a floral towel, including a dive mask, sandals, water bottle and speaker.

Table of Contents

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Things To Know About Thailand

Seasons & Weather

Thailand is typically shown with white sand, clear water, and top-tier sunsets, but what about when it’s not all clear skies? Thailand’s monsoon season is a major consideration, as the region is affected by Asia’s summer and winter monsoons. 

The rainy season is from July-October (with some outlying storms because ~climate change~). The start of the wet season has intense storms which may last for just a few hours and continue to worsen in intensity as the months go on. 

The best times to visit are between March-June when the weather is hot but not raining yet!

Religion

Around 90% of Thai people are Buddhist and practice regularly. You will often see small offerings and sites of worship in homes or public spaces, as well as grandiose temples. If you plan to visit Buddhist temples, be aware of some social etiquette to practice in these sacred spaces. Even if you’re not exploring the spiritual side of Thailand, Buddhist principles are apparent in everyday life. While you’re free to do what you want, some repercussions may follow (either socially or legally). 

Cost

Thailand is relatively very cheap to travel to, but like anywhere, you can stretch or squeeze your budget as you need to. The islands are typically where luxury vacationers come to spend money, but there are plenty of breezy bungalows with a $1 coconut for you. In general, Thailand should be on every budget traveler’s destination list, as you can have a rather lavish lifestyle for a pretty conservative budget.

Essential Travel Items

  • Passport
  • Entry Documentation
  • Copy of Documents
  • International Driver's Permit
  • Travel Insurance

These are essential items to bring to every international destination! Make sure to check the embassy of your destination to see what entry requirements there are before you arrive!

Thailand has many public water refill stations as well as support from restaurants to refill. Save your money, reduce plastic,  and bring your bottle!

Health & Safety

The elements in Thailand are strong and can be a major factor depending on where you travel (coastal vs inland / North vs South). 

The biggest things to be aware of are mosquitos and the sun. The mosquitos here are no joke, so be sure to use a high-quality repellent and be aware of your surroundings!

Stop by a local pharmacy and ask about any outbreaks of Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, and Zika Virus - these illnesses will typically happen in blooms. As always, use insect repellent and avoid being near standing water.

Bags

Having quality bags on your travels can improve your experience a lot. The best setup is having 1 large backpack, and one small day bag you carry on your front (everyone does it, so who cares how silly it looks). 

To stay organized with all of the bags, I highly recommend getting packing cubes and other ways to stay organized! 

Clothing

  • T-Shirts
  • Tank Tops
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Dresses / Skirts
  • Bathing Suits
  • Sarong
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Tennis Shoes / Hiking Shoes
  • Waterproof Sandals
  • Bulky Jacket
  • Heavy Boots

The style in Thailand is casual, creative, and anything to keep you cool.

In the coastal areas and islands, your bikinis become your favorite top and shoes are optional (often even prohibited inside buildings).

Even in the hottest of weather, a cool coastal breeze can come in, so it’s smart to bring a light jacket, a bonus if it’s also waterproof!  

The most essential item to a tropical destination is a sarong. Sarongs are everything you need; a makeshift skirt for a night out, a beach blanket while you soak up the sun, and a sheet to create privacy in your hostel bunk (don’t forget your string).

Bring 1 set of modest clothing to use in Buddhist Temples (cover collarbones, elbows, and knees).

Laundry

Avoid over-packing your clothes, and do laundry while you travel. It is extremely rare to have access to a washing machine, but there are laundry services everywhere! Typically you can do 1 kg of laundry for 30 baht for a 24-hour service.

Thailand also has public-use laundry, which are pay-to-use machines for anywhere between 30-45 baht.  Note: you do need to bring your detergent so throw a few laundry pods in your bag! 

Toiletries

You know best which toiletries you need. It’s easy to overpack, but be realistic about what you will absolutely need!

If you have any specific needs for your hair or skin, be sure to bring extra! There aren’t a ton of product options in Bali.

I suggest bringing minimal makeup (you will be sweaty), and prioritizing natural products when you can!

You’ll likely be sweating bullets from the inland humidity, or constantly in the ocean breeze.. so don’t worry too much about your hair and makeup. 

Enjoy the scenery, be natural, and drink more coconuts.

First Aid Kit

  • Bandaids
  • Antibacterial
  • Medical Tape
  • Small Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotics
  • Paracetimol

Traveling smart means being prepared for whatever could happen! A basic first aid kit is necessary and can save you when you need it most!

Keep your first aid kit small and accessible in your daily backpack so you can use it when you need it. Be aware of whats around you, and get familiar with the local flora and fauna that you may come into contact with!

Electronics

Thailand’s outlets are a hybrid – compatible with plugs from both the US/Japan (2 parallel prongs +/- grounding) and Asia/Europe (2 round prongs). When in doubt, bring a universal adapter to be sure you’re good everywhere!

Be sure everything you use is working well – unless you’re in a bigger city, a quality electronics store may be tough to come by (especially on the islands). 

Prepare to capture Thailand’s beauty with a camera to take home a few personal memories!

Miscellaneous

Some of these are self-explanatory, and up to each traveler to decide what would be beneficial vs a waste of space.

Street food in Thailand is the best I’ve had, so I never leave home without my reusable cutlery and to-go containers, ready to eat without the waste!

A string & carabiners are so helpful to set up your space and stay organized. Whether you need a makeshift curtain at a hostel or a way to hang your bags, we always use these!

Avoid carrying a bulky beach towel, and get yourself a microfiber towel instead. These are perfect for every traveler, especially in Thailand. 

A word of advice: If you don’t use it at home, you won’t use it on vacation! Over-packing can put a big strain on your travel, and change how you travel.

 

Summary - Essential Thailand PAcking List

Most travelers will make their way to Thailand eventually – to soak up the sun, experience the food (wow is it so good), and kick back in this relaxing way of life. Be ready for your next adventure in the country of Thailand with this list of helpful considerations! 

As with any trip, the most important thing to bring is a sense of adventure and an open-mind! But make sure to add bug spray and sunscreen to that list too when going to Thailand.

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Destinations, Thailand, 0 comments
2 Weeks In Bali – The Ultimate Itinerary

2 Weeks In Bali – The Ultimate Itinerary

If you’re interested in breathtaking landscapes, friendly local people, and cheap prices, Bali should be at the top of your travel list. How do you even plan where to begin with so much available? Check out this Ultimate Itinerary for 2 weeks in Bali that will take you to the vastly different corners of Bali.

Create your perfect holiday with waterfalls, temples, local food, beaches, snorkeling, hiking, and meeting other travelers in this destination hotspot.

Photo by @mattcognac

Have more than 2 weeks in Bali? Check out this list of the top eco-friendly activities in Bali to get more connected to the land and the people.

Table of Contents

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Arrive in Denpasar

The most straightforward and simple way to get to Bali is by flying into I Gusti Ngurah AirportThe airport is big but easy to navigate through immigration and out to the exit. Getting from the airport to your first destination depends on where you’re going. You will have 4 main options:

 

  1. Driver Provided. Your first accommodation may provide an airport pick-up included in your nightly cost, or for an additional fee (always ask!). 
  2. Driver Hire. If they don’t you can hire a driver yourself through various ways online, or by asking your host if they have any driver contacts.
  3. Taxi. Bluebird Taxi Group has a pretty good system set up in the airport, with a pre-fixed rate based on your destination. Taxi’s stick to the southern area closer to Denpasar, so you won’t get much further than Canggu or Ubud. 
  4. Walk to get a Grab / Gojek. Gojek and Grab drivers are not permitted to pick up passengers at the airport, but with just a 10-minute walk you can be off the property, and good to catch a ride to your stay.

Be prepared for your trip by setting up a data plan before your arrival. Check out these options so you can choose the best phone plan while abroad

Day 1+2 - Canggu

Canggu is a bustling area northwest of Denpasar, filled with surfers, digital nomads, and more surfers. This area has definitely been a hotspot in recent years, with a ton of new and trendy restaurants, bars, and shopping! Canggu is a great place to land to start meeting some fellow travelers, and get to the beach to relax and ease into the new atmosphere. 

Surf at Batu Balong

Canggu is the best place for surfers of all levels in Bali. On the main beach of Batu Balong, you’ll find dozens of booths offering 2-hour surf lessons to get you into the water and riding the waves in no time!  While you can surf at any time, there are definitely better and worse times to give it a go. I suggest connecting with an instructor at least 1 day before, to set the best time based on the tides and the crowds.

Surfing lessons cost around 300k-350k IDR ($25 USD), but worth it for the 2-hour coaching lesson. We had an awesome instructor, who was also the owner of the Salty Shakas Bungalows where we stayed!

Tanah Lot Temple

An absolute must-see in Canggu is the Tanah Lot Temple, only 25 minutes by motorbike up the coast and only 60.000 Rupiah to enter. This temple is built near a cliff side, making it appear to be on an island during high tide. Travelers are not permitted to enter the temple, unless they are a practicer of Hinduism and wearing traditional Bali clothing, however walking around the grounds is definitely worth it. 

While at the Tanah Lot Temple, keep your eyes peeled for ‘Ular Suci – Holy Snake’. This is an experience you won’t want to miss! Inside this elusive cave, you’ll find a snake charmer sitting with holy snakes, that you can touch and make a wish. These snakes are venomous (Blue-Lipped Sea Krait), however, they have never bitten anyone!

Pasut Beach

One of the best beaches you’ve never heard of is a 40-minute bike ride up the coast, at Pasut Beach. If you need a break from the hustle of Canggu, get out to nature on this black-sand beach, where you can freely drive your motorbike, swim, and, actually relax. This is a hidden gem of the area, and a great getaway when you need one! There is a 2.000 Rupiah fee to enter the area, and a small stand selling local food, coconuts, and bintangs near the parking area. 

Where To Stay In Canggu

Canggu is a town with trendy cafes, surfing, beach bars, and amazing food. It is a digital nomad hotspot, marketed toward younger Western travelers. It basically felt like San Diego if that’s your thing! If you want to be in the heart of it, stay near the beach – anywhere between Old Man’s restaurant and Finn’s Beach Club. 

If you’re looking for something a bit quieter (and authentic), find a location that is a bit more inland along the rice terraces, or coastal heading northwest from Canggu (southeast is Seminyak – also very crowded and westernized). Canggu still has a lot of charm, you just have to go a bit more out of the way to find it.

Either way, it’s a great place to land after your flight to get your feet in the sand and start to get to know the Bali culture. The town is really well-connected, so with a motorbike or ride from Gojek or Grab, you can get anywhere in under 15 minutes!

Salty Shakas
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Serenity Eco Guesthouse
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Maylie Bali Bungalows
$$$

* We stayed at the Salty Shakas Bamboo Stay and absolutely loved it. It was a place you could be social over a shot of arak, relax in your bungalow, take a swim, work, and more.  Plus, get personal surf lessons with the owner!

Day 3+4+5 - Ubud

Depending on where you’re coming from, you may feel a bit jet-lagged, and Ubud is the perfect mix of relaxation and exploration, surrounded by the rainforest. Ubud is the “love” in “Eat, Pray, Love”, where you can explore your mind, healing, and spirituality through different avenues. But don’t let that fool you, Ubud is a place for adventurers too! Ubud’s central location on the island is also a great jumping-off point to explore somewhere for the day! 

Ubud Monkey Forest

Located in the heart of Ubud, is the Sacred Monkey Forest, where Macaques roam around temples and ruins. While this is a classic tourist stop, it’s for a good reason. Where else can you stroll around a rainforest with hundreds of monkeys casually eating bananas and swimming? 

These monkeys are very intelligent, so do be cautious with what you bring to the forest. They know how to open backpacks and pockets, and they really like jewelry, so be aware of what type of attention you’re attracting from the locals!

Entrance tickets cost 50.000 IDR, and can be purchased at the door. Get there at the opening to beat the crowds!

Yoga & Meditation

You will find yoga culture everywhere, which is great to try out a new style or go to your first class! If you’re a. veteran in the yoga world, go a bit off the beaten path, you will find a more authentic experience to connect with whatever you need! The Yoga Barn is famous for its unique and high-quality classes, and it’s where you’ll find the best Ecstatic Dance in Bali! If you’re looking for a more local experience, my favorite place is Bali Swasthya, led by an Indonesian teacher.

Waterfalls

There are so many waterfalls to explore that are only a quick drive from Ubud! While the bigger waterfalls are further north, you can find lush tropical falls that are perfect for a swim and to get that Instagram shot. While these falls do get crowded since they are closer to the main areas if you go earlier in the morning you can avoid most crowds! Check out the best waterfalls in Ubud, a perfect way to refresh from the jungle heat.

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

One of the main attractions in Bali, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces is just 20 minutes by motorbike north of Central Ubud. This is where you can get your photo taken in those iconic swings, or just meander along the impressive terrace walls. You will likely get stopped for a 10.000 Rupiah entrance fee for the maintenance of the fields, and once you’re in you’ll be funneled to a stand where you’re urged to purchase a drink for $1 to support the farmers. Have some extra cash on you!

Tegallalang gets extremely crowded, but you can avoid the crowds and go for sunrise! Also, if you're really looking to escape the crowds, head just a few hundred meters north to the Abian Desa Rice Terrace.

Where To Stay In Ubud

Ubud has a very congested center, located around Jl Raya Ubud, and extends south along Jl Monkey Forest. Where you stay can change your views on the area depending on your preferences. On these main streets, you may be checked into an idyllic zen guesthouse, but have the sounds of motorbikes and crowds in the background. It’s in the middle of the noise, so be prepared!

If your main focus is getting some peace and time for reflection, you’ll want to look a bit more on the outskirts of town. Ubud is surrounded by the jungle and rice fields, creating the perfect environment to reconnect with nature

If you’re looking for a little bit of both, I suggest looking near the Ubud Yoga House, where quiet shalas are tucked along rice paddies, and Ubud Center is only a short ride away. Motorbikes are great to have in Ubud, but the traffic congestion and way of driving aren’t for everyone. Plenty of Gojek’s, Grab’s, and taxi’s are available in the main areas. Check out everything you need to know about transportation in Bali. 

Wenara Bali Bungalows
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Tirta Arum
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Bje Suite Villa Ubud
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Day 6+7 - Munduk

Munduk is a lesser-known region in Bali, located west of the ‘twin lakes’. This area is a bit colder and less crowded than others in the best way possible. Unlike much of Bali, Munduk has retained its authentic charm, so you feel completely immersed in the culture and life there. Its removal from the main tourist areas in Bali, combined with its higher elevation has made this area one of the best for stargazing at night!

Waterfalls

Northern Bali is home to the most impressive waterfalls on the island. While you can definitely take the trip up from Canggu or Ubud, you’ll wish you stayed right in the heart of the area to explore as much as possible. 

Let’s cut to the chase with the waterfalls. You see them everywhere online, but not all of them are how they appear. Of course, with dozens to choose from, there are some that are untouched gems hidden in the forest, and others that are filled with mini photoshoots followed by a lot of edits. I can’t speak for all of them, but do your research and ask travelers and locals which ones are worth the drive (and payment) to see!

Some of the most popular include Gitgit, Sekumpul, Banyumala Twins, and Aling-Aling. If you’re going for a photo shoot, get a local guide, they’re also the best photographers and hype men to capture your beauty!

Photo by @mattcognac

Twin Lakes & Ulun Danu Bratan Temple

Located in the caldera of an ancient volcano, the twin lakes of Bayun & Tamblingan offer a serene escape from the crowds of Bali. To further explore the area, rent a traditional wooden canoe and get a different perspective of the mountainous area. 

Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is a must-see in the northern region and a highlight for many travelers, primarily for its unique location. The temple appears like it is floating on the water, as the land it was built upon protrudes from Lake Bayun’s shores. 

The entrance fee to the temple is around 75,000 IDR. It is a picturesque photo spot, so be sure to beat the crowds for those early morning sunlit photos. 

Coffee Plantations

Bali is known for its coffee and cocoa. If you have enough time in your schedule and you like coffee (who doesn’t?), seeing the creation from the start is an incredible experience. Many coffee plantations offer tours, tastings, and even unique experiences to get involved! 

Maybe you’ve heard of the famous Bali Luwak Coffee, known to be the most expensive in the world. It’s exclusivity is due to the production process, where a Luwak animal eats the coffee beans, ~digests it~, and then is used for a perfect brew. 

Where To Stay In Munduk

Munduk is a quiet area, and with a motorbike, you can get just about anywhere. This is a great place to not worry about what you’re near, but rather find the perfect space for you to have a peaceful time in the jungle. Since it is higher in elevation, the views from this area are top-tier, so keep that in mind when finding your perfect stay!

Da'Kayu Glamping
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Bali Jungle
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Munduk Heaven
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Day 8+9 - Amed

Amed is a quiet town in the far east of Bali, where lava flows meet the ocean and the sunrise kisses the coast. This is a less-traveled to location, but it is gaining popularity among tourists for good reason. There are many attractions in this area, so why not save some driving and stay for a bit to soak it all in!

Scuba Dive - Liberty ShipWreck

One of the best dive sites is the Liberty Shipwreck, an American cargo ship that was sunken during WWII by Japan, and then carried into the sea during the Mount Agung eruption of 1962. This wreck is the host of aquatic life including coral, tropical fishes, turtles, rays, and even reef sharks! 

While you can take a dive trip to this site from anywhere on the island, it’s about a 2-hour drive one way from Ubud and Canggu, so save your precious time and avoid an unnecessary car ride!

Woman scuba diving next to a coral reef at the Liberty Wreck in Bali

Pura Lempuyang Temple

An Instagram icon, the Lempuyang Temple is a must-see for travelers with so much more to see than what’s online. The temple entrance is 30 minutes from Amed and has a perfectly framed view of Mount Agung, hence the western name of the “Gates of Heaven”

The cost for entrance is 100.000 IDR, plus a 50.000 IDR shuttle ride to the entrance. The famous photo spot is in the first temple, just 5 minutes from the entrance. However, the grounds host 7 temple sites, and worth the exploration! It takes about 4 hours, so plan accordingly with water and sunscreen. 

Since this is a Hindu temple, be mindful of your behavior – no drone photography, keep your shoulders and knees covered, and no PDA. 

Mount Agung Trek

As of June 2023, Ascending Mount Agung is no longer permitted.

The one thing you’ll notice while you’re in Amed is the massive volcano sitting back in the distance. That is Mount Agung, and for the adventurers out there, it’s definitely worth looking into a hike! The trek takes about 10 hours round trip, starting around 11 pm so you can summit at sunrise, around 5:30 am. You can imagine the perfect sunrises in Amed, but now picture it from the highest point on the island at 3,031 meters. You must hire a guide for your safety, but it is well worth the money. By far one of my favorite things I did in Bali!

Photo by @mattcognac

Where To Stay In Amed

Amed is a laid-back area that hugs the coastline, filled with divers, yogis, and locals. The town is built around steep rock ledges that create a mountainous landscape. The main area of Amed is located right next to Amed, but don’t expect anything like you experienced in Ubud or Canggu in this quiet town! Whether you’re looking for beach-front views or serene inland getaways, there is plenty of options around Amed.

Bali Buhana Beach Cottages
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Sudamala Resorts
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Sudamala Resorts
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Day 10+11+12 - Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is a perfect island to explore within a few days. It is located off Bali’s southeast coast, with 2 main ports through Sanur or Padang Bai. The ferries have a limited schedule, varying costs, and destinations on Nusa Penida, so getting over will take a bit of research. Once you arrive, plenty of people will ask you to rent one as soon as you step off the ferry! 

A fair price is about 300.000 Rupiah but definitely use your haggling skills.

Planning the ferry can be a bit confusing. Chances are, your host at your accommodation and help you book your ticket, and give you any information you need to plan your trip!

Snorkel Manta Point

One of the highlights of Nusa Penida is the ability to swim with 5-meter (& completely safe) Manta Rays. This island hosts a reef that serves as a manta rays cleaning station! There is a symbiotic relationship between these ‘cleaner fish’ and larger aquatic life including Manta Rays to swim through and be cleaned of any bacteria and other little critters. 

As with anything in nature, nothing is guaranteed to happen, and it is wild. While you may go out on a snorkeling trip, you may see 0 Manta Rays, while the day before you saw hundreds. It’s always a gamble to see a specific thing in nature – be patient!

Beaches

Nusa Penida is home to some of the most iconic beaches in Bali. The most famous (and popular) is Kelingking Beach, also known as ‘Cap de T-Rex’. This area costs an additional 25.000 Rupiah to enter, and it is madness with the number of people. The iconic photo spot is on the stairs descending down the cliff, but there will likely be people in all of your photos. You can venture down to the beach, but be warned.. it is definitely not easy. I consider myself an advanced hiker, but this route is steep, slippery, and takes about 30 minutes each way! 

If you’re looking for an easier famous beach, then look no further than Atuh Beach. This is located on the southwest coast of the island, but definitely worth the drive. Atuh is located right next to Diamond Beach, but if you don’t have all day to explore, Atuh is way more worth the trek down. Diamond Beach is littered with trash (sad), very rocks, and compared to Atuh, it’s just okay. 

Photo by @mattcognac
Photo by @mattcognac

Hidden Gems

While you’ve seen some of the iconic points from Nusa Penida, there are a lot of amazing places you haven’t heard of. These are amazing because there are fewer tourists, you can get an authentic taste of Nusa’s beauty and culture, and who doesn’t love an original experience?! 

You have to make a stop at the natural springs at Guyangan Waterfall, where freshwater falls into the ocean and you can sit back and relax. Don’t let the stairs deter you, it is well worth the walk and completely free to visit if you have your own sarong (rental = 15.000 IDR).

Temeling Beach is another one that is easily missed, but this incredible spot takes you down a steep road where a forested spring opens up to the vastness of the ocean. The drive down is steep, which turns away a lot of tourists, but you can pay a local to drive your bike down for only 50.000 IDR!