A Quick-guide For Bali visitors
If you have decided to look into Bali apartments for rent, it might be of some value for you to have a short list of questions to ask apartment owners as you are online researching accommodations for your Bali holiday. This article covers Bali apartment prices, locations, features, cooking facilities, visiting Bali with kids, and miscellaneous questions to ask. As I was getting these together it seemed like it read like a short Bali visitors’ guide too.
Prices For Bali Apartments
Prices for Bali apartments will vary substantially depending on the season, and obviously the location and amenities of the apartment unit in question. You can expect to pay more for Bali vacation rentals in the months of July and August as well as the second half of December, into January. All else being equal you will also pay a premium for being very close to the beach, as well as for newer apartments. In 2010 Bali apartments close to the beach such as those at the Jayakarta Hotel residence units and some Kuta apartments can easily run to US$70 per night. Having said that, some apartment owners are more flexible with their asking price, especially if they do not rent their units as a business.
Location Of Bali Apartments
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The location of the apartment you rent in Bali might be the most important consideration of all, even more important than price. After all, while apartments in Denpasar, (Bali’s provincial capital, located roughly half an hour from Ngurah Rai international airport) are likely to cost you a half or a third of what you might pay for renting an apartment in the more touristed areas, lower price will be outweighed by the time you have to travel to get to the beach and for Bali’s shopping, nightlife and the enormous variety of excellent restaurants.
If you are coming to party, Kuta Beach is probably the first place that you’d like to search for a Bali apartment, especially if you’re under the age of 30. Kuta is relaxed, with casual bars everywhere and no-frills restaurants. It’s noisy and fun, and there’s plenty of activity well into the wee hours. All in all it’s one of the better places in Southeast Asia to do a pub crawl or have fun with a young outdoorsy crowd who will all likely be surfing off their hangovers at the beach the next day. Recently upscale apartments have been built in Kuta and while they might not be cheaper than some of the low-budget Kuta hotels, having a kitchenette and a little more room might be worth paying for.
One could group together the Bali tourist areas of Seminyak, Legian and Sanur in terms of their more relaxed atmosphere than Kuta, with a wider variety of restaurants and nightlife that varies from extremely casual to quite formal. A well-known example of apartments in Seminyak and Legian are the Jayakarta Hotel Residence units, at the Jayakarta Bali Beach Resort, which has about 250 apartments in two five-storey buildings located on the Jayakarta Hotel premises. Jayakarta is also right on the beach not far from ‘Jalan Double Six’ (Double-six Road) and the world-famous 66 disco, and a wonderful restaurant row right on the beach. Ask around: apartments in this area can often be rented for less than a hotel room a similar distance from the beach. You will find apartments in Seminyak located further away from the beach that are newer with attractive amenities, though they might not be less expensive despite the fact that they are some distance from the beach.
Ask the owner of the apartment you’re considering renting exactly how far from the beach the unit is. If it is on the east side of Legian Street you will probably need to rent a motorbike or take a taxi not only to the beach but to shopping and most restaurants as well.
Ask the apartment owner about shopping in the neighborhood, including the nearest food market if you plan to do some of your own cooking in the apartment kitchen. Ask about restaurants nearby as well as nightlife, specifically: is it walkable or will you need to jump on your motorcycle even for a quick snack?
If you are elderly or have small children it might be smart to ask about the nearest health-care facility. Bali International Medical Center (BIMC) is like a small hospital, and though it is much more expensive than local hospitals, many expats and tourists prefer it. Depending on traffic on Sunset Road it’s as little as 10 minutes or so away from the beach areas. If you have health issues or anticipate that you might need to get prescriptions filled in Bali, know where BIMC is located relative to your apartment. Also, any taxi driver will know where it is.
Before renting a Bali apartment I would suggest checking the actual location of any complex you are considering using Google maps. Apartment complexes are popping up in areas that used to be rice paddies and sometimes these are a fair distance from the beach. Bali traffic is getting worse and being able to walk to the beach or the ‘main drag’ of Jalan Legian (Legian Street) is a distinct advantage if you plan to be there everyday.
See our article reviewing different locations of Bali apartments, with emphasis on Seminyak and Legian, for more information.
Bali Apartment Features
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The owner of the apartment you rent should have made service and will probably offer it to you as well, possibly for an additional cost. You should be able to choose whether you want daily maid service or less frequent visits. If maid service is not included in the rental cost it shouldn’t be any more than US$2 or so per visit. (Yes, you read that right!)
Since one does not drink the water coming out of the tap in Bali, a water dispenser holding a 19-liter (about 5 gallons) bottle is something you find in virtually every Indonesian home. Refills are only US$1 and the owner should give you a phone number for his water delivery person. Alternately, water bottle refills may be handled by the maid.
Clean sheets and towels should be provided in the apartment as with a hotel, but you will want to know how the owner does his laundry. Best case (though unlikely) is that he has a washer and dryer in his unit. Otherwise the maid may take it for you, but you should know that it’s easy to find local families who do laundry for tourists, and you’ll see signs advertising this, in English. Doing laundry this way is extremely inexpensive-maybe 20 US cents or less for a T-shirt, but you may want to wash delicate items yourself. There is also a dry cleaner in Seminyak on Jalan Legian (Legian Street), north of the Bintang supermarket if you need one.
Does the apartment complex have a swimming pool? This should be a basic amenity for any Bali apartment, but again you should ask beforehand. How about a common workout room? There are a few excellent gyms in Seminyak, with first-rate gym equipment by the way, such as the Seaside gym below Seaside Restaurant at the beach in Seminyak, and Hammerhead Fitness, east of Legian Street on Jalan Nakula.
Internet access is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity as time goes on. No doubt you’ll want to check e-mail and Facebook to update friends on just what a great time you’re having on your Bali holiday. If you are planning to bring your laptop, know that most Bali apartments should have some provision for Internet access, though you might have to pay something for it. Be sure and ask the apartment owner beforehand. If you’re not going to bring a computer, you can still get online very easily; Internet cafés are very common and cheap, though it might be nice to know just how far away the nearest Internet place is. If you have a smartphone (or you’re bringing your laptop) you’ll be happy to know that most Bali restaurants in the tourist areas have free Wi-fi now.
Does the apartment have cable TV? Indovision Cable supplies dozens of international stations, and your apartment should have it. A DVD player? Bootleg DVDs and CDs are available everywhere in Bali for about US$1, if you are so inclined. (Be sure and ask to view the video quality of any DVD before you purchase it.)
See our article on features of Bali apartments for more information.
Bali Apartment Cooking Facilities
How complete are the cooking facilities in the apartment? Even if you plan on eating most meals in restaurants, it will be good to know just how complete the kitchen is. If you really enjoy cooking, or if you’re interested in saving money by cooking most meals for yourself, this might be a important issue for you. A major advantage of renting an apartment in Bali, especially if you are a family, is not having to get everyone together three times per day to eat at restaurants.
Getting to unit from airport-airport pickup?-Bali taxi rental for day trips-renting a motorbike in Bali- where to buy a local sim card/phone requirements in Bali
Ask the owner about getting to the apartment from the airport. It’s easy enough to take a taxi from the taxi window at Ngurah Rai international Airport, but if the apartment you rent is in an obscure location it might help to have basic directions written down for the taxi driver. For longer apartment stays ask if airport pickup is included in your rental. You will probably want to take day trips during your stay in Bali; ask the apartment owner if he has a friend with a taxi who might be able to give you special rates for half- or full-day trips around the island. You can always find a freelance taxi driver to take you where you’d like to go, but do remember to bargain hard and don’t take the first driver with whom you speak.
You will find motorcycles to rent on every corner, or more accurately rental guys will find you as you walk by. Ask the apartment owner if he has suggestions for a motorcycle rental, or possibly if he has a friend who will give you a better price. If you are renting on your own, bargain like a maniac and if you are staying for more than a week expect a healthy discount.
In the old days, one had to go to the local ‘Wartel’ (Warung Telephone’), to make a phone call, and international calls especially were very expensive, one US dollar or more per minute. Today even short-term tourists often bring their telephones with them, and if you have a GSM phone that is unlocked you will have no problem simply buying a local Bali sim card and popping it into your phone. Look for signs, in Seminyak, Bintang Supermarket has them. It costs roughly US$5 dollars for the sim card, and it comes with some phone credit. If you don’t have an unlocked GSM phone and you’re staying in Bali for awhile you might look into getting a cheap secondhand phone, and your Bali apartment owner might be able to point you in a direction to do this. Indonesians use text messages frequently for basic communications, and it can be very handy for coordinating your massage for the day! Remember that for international calls nowadays most people use Skype or some other VOIP solution.
Traveling To Bali With Children
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If you are visiting Bali with small children who enjoy the water they are sure to have a good time, and there are lots of activities for kids in Bali. For shopping for children’s items, especially those hard-to-find baby products, Carrefour on Sunset Rd. is probably your best bet. It is one of the largest retailers on the island and the prices are reasonable for both local and international brands. There is a huge grocery section, which would be a great place to stock the kitchen in your Bali apartment when you first arrive in Bali.
If your children don’t necessarily enjoy eating everything they find on their plate, don’t worry too much about being able to find food that fits their preferences in Bali. Along with restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world, there are Western-style fast food franchises such as McDonald’s, KFC, etc. (and while many Westerners bemoan this fact, Indonesians and tourists alike clearly are voting with their wallets because these outlets do a lot of business). Of course this doesn’t mean you’ll have no problems with picky eaters, but at least it shouldn’t be any more difficult than it is at home! An advantage that you would have when renting a Bali apartment is that you will likely be able to do your own cooking which might help matters.
If you have any questions about renting Bali Apartments that I have not answered, please just ask in the comments and I will be happy to answer for you if I can.