There really is something about Bali. Year on year, it continues to grow in popularity.
Digital nomads from around the world flock to Bali to take advantage of the stunning scenery, chilled lifestyle, low living costs and convenient working facilities. Of all the places I’ve been, Bali is a firm favorite.
Bali’s development has happened at record speed in recent years. It has a new airport, and there are more cafes and affordable accommodation than ever. The stunning sunsets are a major draw, as are the golden sands and mind-bogglingly beautiful rice fields. One thing I love about Bali is how unbelievably vibrant and colorful it is. It exudes a richness that other places find hard to match.
Traditional culture permeates almost everything in Bali
Bali has a reputation for being a spiritual mecca, and there’s no smoke without fire. Who says you can’t be a spiritual seeker and a digital nomad at the same time? One quick glance around will tell you that it’s almost a general consensus. Why is this? Well, the mesmerising traditional culture is certainly one thing that keeps calling people back to Bali.
It is largely influenced by religion, and is demonstrated in various ways on a daily basis. It can be seen in everything from the architecture to the religious rituals and ceremonies. There is no shortage of barong wherever you go – that’s Bali’s famous lion-type creature – and ancient temples are dotted around the highlands and coasts. Many of them are now the island’s most iconic landmarks.
Digital nomads can’t get enough of Bali
I know plenty of other digital nomads who would testify that this country has a massive amount to offer. Bali is incredibly rich in culture and as it’s such a hotspot for digital nomads, it makes an excellent choice for those who want to make new friends or business connections.
When most digital nomads think of Bali, Ubud is the first location that springs to mind. This might have something to do with the popularity of the film Eat, Pray, Love, however distant a memory that is.
Ubud is awesome, in my experience, but it won’t be everyone’s first choice. Beach lovers like myself might have other ideas. I’ve found that there are plenty of other places in Bali that cater for digital nomads, and they each have something different to offer.
Other attractive options for digital nomads include Denpasar, Sanur, Seminyak and Legian. You may want to consider those as alternatives to Ubud, but two of my personal favorites are located on the coast: Canggu and Kuta. Below I’ll go into more detail about digital nomad life there.
Can you get a good internet connection on Bali?
For me, this was one of the main considerations when I chose Bali. Balinese internet connection has improved drastically over the last few years, making it an easier choice for digital nomads. Note that once you move too far away from the more touristy areas, Wi-Fi connection can start to get a little sketchy. Sticking close to the places I mentioned above should remedy this.
You now have a choice of 4G and fibre-optics, and Wi-Fi is readily available in plenty of cafes, whatever the region. Hotels also offer it, and you can expect Wi-Fi connection speeds of between 512kbps and 2mbps… or even higher, dependent on the provider.
For around $6, you can get a SIM card and 4gb data. I found that the connection is fast enough for most of my nomad activities; expect 1mbps to 15mbps dependent on your package. On arrival, you can sign up with Telkomsel, XL, or Smartfren.
Personally, I love working in co-working spaces as it helps me to focus. I can make connections and relax, safe in the knowledge that I’ve got the fastest internet on the island. They’re often comfortable, with kitchens, conference rooms and Skype booths for those all-important overseas calls. Plenty of the co-working spaces in Bali organize digital nomad events too. I don’t normally pay more than $10 or $20 per day for drop in, but sometimes I’ll opt for a monthly membership if I’m settling for a while.
My favorite digital nomad hotspots in Bali
Canggu town is situated about 20km north of Seminyak, which is another place worth a visit.
Canggu beach area is simply called ‘Canggu’ and is divided up into sections, totaling around 8km. Within Canggu, I’m a fan of Kerobokan Kelod, bordering Berawa. Kerobokan may be viewed as a suburban area, which is great if you like to integrate with the local culture.
Here you can find the Batu Belig road, running from Seminyak to Canggu. Batu Belig has a lovely beach and decent restaurants. I sometimes choose my locations with peace and quality coffee in mind, which is why Tuck & Trap cafe in Kerobokan helped to lure me there. Digital nomads also congregate there for the coffee, strong Wi-Fi and abundant power outlets.
There are several co-working spaces I can recommend here. The main one digital nomads in Canggu love is Dojo, near Echo Beach. It’s got fibre-optic Wi-Fi, outdoor seating, and blessed air-con. It’s even got a swimming pool, and there are plenty of friendly fellow nomads. You can join their networking events and seminars if that suits you too.
Another Canggu co-working space I like is C’ugh House in Berawa (which has a great restaurant). It’s worth checking out!
Although Kuta is quite touristy, it has a lot to offer the digital nomad, in my experience. If you’re a digital nomad who loves to surf and/or party, you’ll like this place. It has awesome beaches where you can also indulge in fun water sports.
There are plenty of good restaurants, attractions, nightlife and general entertainment… and I particularly appreciated the reasonably priced accommodation. Culture-wise, there are lots of gorgeous, intricately carved temples, statues and pagodas. If you’re into the local ceremonies and rituals, you can find them here.
When I’m in Kuta, I often gravitate to the Brown & Butter Café (part of the Berry Biz hotel) to get my work done. It’s a cool spot for digital nomads in Kuta, as it’s a co-working space and coffee shop in one. Wi-Fi is reliable and the food and drinks are good. One thing I love about it is that it’s open 24 hours a day, so you can bring your late night inspirations to life here.
Digital nomad life in Bali: Sorting your Bali budget
If you’re anything like me, you want to keep your costs down, but you don’t want to settle for substandard accommodation.
There is no shortage of gorgeous villas with infinity pools, looking out onto lush green rice paddies. And they won’t break the bank, either. You shouldn’t have to spend more than US$ 1500 per month if you want a villa with everything included, but you can even get one for US$ 750 or less. In terms of value for money, I find Bali to be one of the best places around.
Tip: finding a place in Bali to rent per month is easiest when you are already in Bali. But if you are looking for a villa or comfortable apartment to rent for a few days or weeks, check out HomeAway.
When not staying in a villa, I rarely spend more than $30 per day, and that includes everything: accommodation, food and getting around. It’s certainly possible to live on less, too. I’ve stayed in hotels with pools for $20 per night, including air-con.
If you’re looking to settle in Bali longer-term, you could join a Facebook group like this one (for digital nomads in Canggu) where people both advertise and happily advise. Or check out one of the general Facebook groups for digital nomads in Bali. These groups are great places to both ask questions about digital nomad life in Bali and to connect with other digital nomads in Bali.
Getting around Bali
Lots of travelers will use local taxis, but don’t expect drivers to always be honest! They may tell you that they have a broken meter, or they may drive the longest route to charge you more. Agree a price before starting the trip. The blue taxis called ‘Bali Taxi’ have a reputation for being more honest than most.
Car or scooter rental
This is not for people who are nervous drivers; Bali’s chaotic roads are tough to navigate unless you’re used to it. Traffic rules are made to be broken in Bali, it seems, so most journeys will be unpredictable at best.
With rental cars, you’ll need to feel comfortable driving from the right hand side of the car. If you want to rent a scooter, as many do, you’ll pay between $4 and $10 per day, depending on the engine size, not including gas. If you’re uncomfortable with motorized vehicles, opt to rent a bicycle instead.
Bus, shuttle bus or ferry
The Kura-Kura Bus Shuttle service operates from the Duty Free DFS bus terminal at Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai. They go to popular places such as Ubud, Seminyak and Kuta. They’re pretty cheap to use, and easy to spot with their turtle motif. Kura-kura busses can be pre-booked through their website if you want to purchase a daily ticket, but you can also hop on at any stop and buy a ticket by tapping your card on the card machine near the door. Check their website for more information.
There is also Perama Shuttle which offers both bus and ferry services all over the island. They can be booked by phone, through their website or personally by going to one of their offices.
If you’re looking to travel Bali on a budget, grab a Bemo minibus, the local buses that operate on set routes across the island.
Bali is a great location for digital nomads!
In short, Bali has an abundance of areas that work well for digital nomads looking for somewhere exotic where they can work comfortably and make great connections.
Enjoy your time on this beautiful island!
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