We absolutely loved our time in Bali and used it as a hub to visit other places—Gili Air, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Cennigan. If traveling around Bali there are a few things you should be aware of before you go:
1. It’s a massive island - Unless you have weeks to spend, don’t try to see it all. Pick a few places you would like to see and enjoy them.
2. South Kuta is a completely different world - unless you are looking for drunk westerners on holiday, it’s best to find another place as your home base.
3. Balinese culture is different than other parts of Indonesia - if you have traveled from Java you will notice the difference in the language, in their dress and the temples to name just a few.
4. The beaches aren’t that amazing - if you surf, Bali is definitely the place for you. The waves are amazing and there are great spots for beginners too. It really does cover it all. But if you are looking to lounge around on white sand beaches and water that you can see your toes through, look to hop to the Gili Islands to get your fix.
5. It’s a great jumping off point to visit other parts of Indonesia - if you have the time, use Bali as your hub for visiting other parts of Indonesia. Flights to Yogyakarta are under $40 one way, same goes for Jakarta. If you are interested in seeing some volcanos, take a ferry over to Java and hike Kawah Ijen or visit Mount Bromo.
6. Bali visa situation - as a US citizen you get 30 days free entry if you enter through Bali (as well as some other ports), however you cannot extend your stay past that unless you tell immigration you'd like to pay for your visa. If you enter through another port, Yogyakarta for instance, you will have to pay a $35 visa on arrival fee. On the contrary, this visa can be extended for another 30 - 60 days (bring Indonesian Rupiah as the entry price can be higher if using American Dollars and their are no ATMs upon arrival). We had no intention of staying in Indonesia longer than 30 days, but we fell in love with some places and it happened. It’s just something to think about if you are flexible with your travel plans.