If you’re studying in Australia, you get two “stu-vac” (study vacation) weeks. One week off mid-semester and another week off right before finals. Sadly, nobody really studies during these periods and travels instead. In no way, shape, or form am I condoning travel during these times. However if you do have some free time and find yourself in Indonesia here are some must-dos!

1. Visit the Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air are three small islands two hours north-east of Bali by fast boat. The Gilis don’t have any cars or scooters so the only means of transportation are bicycle and horse and carriage. Bicycles are usually for rent by the hostel you stay at for almost nothing; I highly recommend taking a ride around the island. Gili Trawangan is the biggest and most popular so most of my time was spent here. Gili T (short name given by the locals) has an awesome night life, great local street food and, of course, amazing marine life.

Spend at least one of your days in Gili T on a snorkeling trip. Multiple boats are leaving from the island throughout the day for 120,000 Indonesian Rupiahs (about $10 USD). You snorkel in three locations, one off each of the islands and get to see everything from colorful fish to wild sea turtles. They also stop at Gili Air for lunch; its a good idea to use the boat as free transport if you plan to stay a few nights at Gili Air.

2. Hike Mount Batur and watch the sunrise

Mount Batur is an active volcano located in central Bali that overlooks Lake Batur, making it a perfect place to watch the sunrise. Getting up at 2 in the morning for a two-hour hike isn’t fun, but the view is worth the hassle. Plus, you get to play with some wild monkeys on the way down!

3. Grab a drink at Potato Head Beach Club

Located in Seminyak, its a bit pricier than places like Ubud or Kuta but the view of the Indian ocean is priceless. Take it from me, try to eat at reputable places because you don’t want to end up with Bali Belly (story for a different time). Also, if you happen to be in Bali in September this is the venue for Ultra Music Festival.

4. Swim/surf at Padang Padang Beach

Unfortunately I didn’t get to take my surfing skills to Padang Padang, but I did get to swim in the bathtub temperature water. If you have time to surf – DO IT! I heard it’s the best place for beginners and your own surf coach is only around $20 USD for two hours! If you’re out of money (like I was) then enjoy the water and fake $4 Ray-Ban Sunglasses.

5. Watch the Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Temple

The Uluwatu Temple was established in the 11th century, so it’s a great place to immerse yourself in a new culture. Sitting on the top of a 230-foot cliff watching the fire dance, while the sun is setting, while wearing an orange-green Balinese sarong (piece of fabric the Balinese men wear around their waste) was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Other Tips:

  • Hire a driver for 8-12 hours. They know most of the places you want to go and it’s very affordable.
  • Check out Single Fin, a restaurant in Uluwatu overlooking the best surf spot in Bali. Sundays at Single Fin are a great day for live music and drinks.
  • Be careful of vegetables and other food that may be washed with the local water and only buy bottled water.
  • Learn how to bargain! If the price is 200,000 Rupiahs, don’t pay more than 100,000 Rupiahs … seriously.
  • Enjoy your time on the beautiful island of Bali!

Thank you for reading! And remember: Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.


Dillon Morgan is pursuing a bachelors degree in kinesiology. This fall he is studying functional anatomy, exercise rehabilitation and sport medicine at University of Technology, Sydney.

2 Comments on “5 Things to do in Bali

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