Going to Bali this September, Diane and I flew Philippine Airlines since they were one of the very few that offered direct flights from Manila to Bali (aka Denpasar, Indonesia). We got our tickets on sale at around PHP 7,000 each, exclusive of the PHP 1,620 travel tax which you can pay at the airport upon check-in.
The PHP 7,000 is already a good rate for a relatively good airline. The downside, however, is their inconvenient flight times. Our departure from Manila was scheduled at 8:40 PM so given the 3.5- to 4-hour flight duration, we arrived at the Ngurah Rai International Airport past midnight already.
With this in mind, we figured it would be best to just stay at a cheap hotel that’s super close (like a 5-minute drive away) to the airport, and that’s Harris Hotel Tuban for ya. Via Agoda, we booked the basic room called the “Harris Room” at PHP 1,500, which we thought was good enough to just let the night pass.
One of the good things about Harris Hotel Tuban was their round-the-clock free airport transfer service. Too bad we didn’t know that prior to arriving. Had we known, we wouldn’t have gotten a taxi for IDR 100,000. In our currency, that’s already PHP 350 and that was the cheapest we could do. The other cab drivers were offering a ride for IDR 300,000. Crazy. And take note, our hotel was just 5 minutes away.
Anyway, we learned that night that there’s actually a possible advantage to a very late check-in: A FREE ROOM UPGRADE. Haha! Because by the time we arrived at the hotel, they already ran out of their standard rooms, and so they had no choice but to give us a suite. 😉 Given their hotel rates, though, don’t expect luxury but instead the kind of hotel where conference people stay. Still, not bad.
The next morning, which was our official Day 1 in Bali, we booked a Bali Tours driver named Uncle Nyoman. 🙂 Our friend Stef recommended him to us, and we’re very thankful to her for that. (Hi Stef!) We actually contacted Uncle via WhatsApp a couple of weeks before our trip happened, and luckily he was available on our travel dates.
Uncle Nyoman is very friendly and easy to get along with. He’s also very pleasant to the point that even if Diane and I were always late (there was a reason for this LOL), he was still very patient and accommodating. He can also take your photos, and babysit kids if needed. 🙂 So if you’re planning to go to Bali soon, let me know so I can share with you his details! Because if I were to rate him, I would rate him 5 out of 5 stars! Haha!
For reference, he charges IDR 500,000 per day or for every 10 hours, which isn’t bad at all, considering he drives a mini van and you can leave stuff with him and feel safe about it. Uncle Nyoman actually told us that Balinese people are believers of Karma, so when in Bali, you can breathe and not be too uptight about bad things happening to you. Haha. That’s also a note to myself for future reference.
Going back to accommodations, our next one was at Astana Batubelig in Seminyak. Astana offers private villas, where you can have your own pool and all the privacy in the world! For our One Bedroom Villa, we booked two nights for PHP 10,000, and that already includes a heavy breakfast, which their staff delivers straight to your room. Talk about special treatment.
Our first reaction to this villa was WOAH. Haha. Really. We loved everything about it. We loved that it had separate rooms: (1) dining, (2) bedroom, (3A) bathtub, and (3B) toilet and shower. These areas were separated by wood + glass sliding doors, so in a way, the whole place felt continuous but at the same time properly compartmentalized. Also important to note is that their sliding doors all have locks, so that’s extra security for you. Plus points for the paranoid!! LOL
What else did I love about it? The bed was really soft that you’d sink down to your sleep—I’m not sure if that’s good for your posture but, whatever. I also loved that it had two side sofas, one for every side of the bed, and they were also so comfortable to lounge on. And the tub! They had a room for just the tub. Haha!
As for our breakfast, we were given several set options and we went for the American Breakfast. They give you options for everything, from your drink to your type of bread and pastry, to the egg, meat, cereal, and what have you.
Location-wise, as long as you have a ride to go to places, you’re good! There are also convenience stores and restaurants nearby (such as the famous Naughty Nuri but now called Hog Wild almost just right across), so your stomach is covered.
After two days in Seminyak, we transferred to Ubud, which was 1 to 1.5 hours away. Since Ubud is also a very happening district, we booked another villa there for a night so we could maximize the area. This time, we stayed at KajaNe Mua for PHP 5,800 at their Superior Room, which is their second to the most basic room offering.
The external ambiance is superb. It had a tropical resort feel to it, and everywhere you look, you’d see greens.
KajaNe Mua is much bigger in terms of overall size than the humble Astana Batubelig. It offers a for-sharing pool for all guests, and also semi-private ones right outside your villa which you may have to share with your close neighbors.
The room, however, was only satisfactory. Design-wise, I felt like it was a bit outdated and like my friend Diane would say, the ergonomics of the room felt like all over the place. As for me, my ultimate complaint was the lack of proper lighting. I understand that maybe the idea is to for your room to be dim, so you’ll always be relaxed but it makes it so hard to pack and fix things. Huhu. Bed’s also comfy, though! (Clearly, I have a thing for beds. And sleep.)
Upon check-in, they served us with a welcoming snack, which sadly we didn’t have time to finish as we were on the go. I loved their coconut drink, though. It was cold and refreshing, plus–and this was a big plus for me–it was served in a coconut-resembling cup, which I so wanted to bring home if only I could.
And speaking of food, KajaNe Mua also offers free breakfast, which you can eat at their restaurant, or have it delivered to your villa. We had ours at our mini porch, which was pretty awesome, except for the fact that we were both extremely groggy from the lack of sleep while eating. But food-wise, the variety was overwhelming in a good way! Just like in Astana, they make you choose which breakfast set. Here, we chose American (again) and Intercontinental. And per set, they also make you choose everything from drinks to bread to meat to fruit, etc. And there was just an abundance of everything. How does one even finish that early in the morning?
Anyway, what I loved most about this place was its location. It’s right smack in the middle of lots and lots of places to see, like shops for souvenirs and clothes and food, and further down the road there’s the Monkey Forest (which I don’t like because monkeys scare me) and the Ubud Market (where you can buy handmade bags, art, etc.).
KajaNe also offers a variety of activities like spa, yoga, cooking lessons, climbing, cycling, trekking, and the like. You can check them all out on their website: kajanebali.com. We were supposed to take their yoga class, which they happened to offer for free, but our schedule didn’t match theirs, so we just did yoga at Yoga Barn. Luckily, it was just 15 minutes away if you walk and then maybe 5-7 if you rode bikes well… which I don’t. HEHE.
Last and definitely not the least: Tijili Hotel back in Seminyak. This was actually the most nakakapanghinayang thing we’ve done the whole trip, or maybe ever: Book a hotel and only stay there for a couple of hours. HUHU!
Why did we stay there for only a couple of hours? Well, our flight was at 1:30 AM and we thought we needed one more accommodation for the day, for showering and resting purposes. Since Tijili was only half an hour from the airport, and their Deluxe Room was pretty affordable at PHP 2,500 per night, we jumped the gun.
I don’t know if it’s because my stay was short-lived and felt super bitin, but I really, really would like to return to this hotel. It’s a colorful jungle that just gives you good vibes through and through. And it wasn’t just me. Diane felt it, too. When were there, even though we were tired and also quite sad as it was our last day, we felt happier than usual. Hmm… must be the pastel colors!
For me, Tijili had the best pool among all. I don’t know but it just felt cleaner and the view from it also felt extra relaxing even though it’s more modern and less green. Their lobby and café also looked so, so cute and chic. Every spot seemed instagrammable, and that’s what we millenials want, don’t we? Hehe!
As for the room, while it wasn’t all too luxurious, everything was of good quality. We could tell the moment we stepped in our bedroom. Its design was also very functional, and, well, basically I don’t have any complaints about it. Haha.
I would love to return to this hotel when I visit Bali again. Hopefully then I’ll get to enjoy it in broad daylight, too, and not just at night. 😉