Indonesian Air New New Zealand flight attendant shares top travel tips for Bali

Bali travel tips for Kiwis from an Indonesian Air New Zealand cabin crew member.
Veteran Air New Zealand flight attendant Sarita Rani knows a thing or two about Bali. Photo credit: Getty Images/Air New Zealand

Bali's busiest tourist season has now arrived for the year of 2023.

Recently, it's become much less stressful for Kiwis to get to the island, thanks to the return of direct flights from Auckland

But Bali itself can be overwhelming for people heading there for the first time - from navigating the tourist-dense areas to knowing what of the culture to experience.

Fascinated to hear her hints and tips, I spoke with long-serving Air New Zealand flight attendant - Indonesian native Sarita Rani - who was my in-flight service manager on a recent trip to Bali. 

Kecak dance

Bali is enriched with culture, so what is the best way to experience it first-hand and learn about the island's history?

Rani told me about the Bali Kecak and Fire Dance, a traditional Balinese dance depicting a battle from the Ramayana - where the monkey-like Vanara helps Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana.

"In the evening, they do the Ramayana dancing and that just talks about Lord Rama," she said. "The story goes that Lord Rama walked from India - where he was sent away by his father to leave the kingdom - and ended up in Indonesia."

Personally, I can definitely recommend putting some time aside to attend a Bali Kecak and Fire Dance if you're heading to the island for a holiday. I was lucky enough to see the performance at Uluwatu Temple the day after we arrived.

It was mind-blowing. It's a performance filled with song, dance and fire, and something anyone visiting Bali should experience.

To make the experience even better, Uluwatu Temple is tucked away on the coast of southwest Bali above the vast Indian Ocean - making for a picturesque backdrop as we watched one of the island's most renowned cultural performances.

Rani describes Uluwatu, in general, as a favourite destination for Air NZ flight attendants on stopovers in Bali.

Uluwatu Temple address: Jl. Raya Uluwatu, South Kuta, Pecatu 80361, Indonesia.

Kecak dance.
Photo credit: Wonderful Indonesia

Massage, massage, massage

Rani proudly reminded me several times Bali is renowned for its massages and it's one of the first things she does when returning there for work or play.

For those staying in the tourist hotspot Seminyak, she recommends Spring Spa Bali opposite the W Hotel. 

"That might be a bit expensive but it's still very good," she said.

When Rani said "expensive", she meant expensive for Bali. The cost of a facial ranged between 150,000 and 650,000 rupiah (about NZ$16-70). 

There are plentiful cheaper options, too. At nearby DeNyuh Spa Seminyak, for example, it costs 300,000 rupiah (about NZ$33) for a combination of traditional Balinese massage and body scrub or facial.  

So if you're full of tension or just in need of some serious relaxation after the nine-hour flight, don't hesitate to rock up to your nearest spa, whether it be the one at your resort or a reputable one nearby.

They're everywhere you look and, as Rani reiterates, among the best in the world.

Spring Spa Bali Seminyak Village address: Rooftop level, Seminyak Village, Jl. Kayu Jati Basangkasa, Seminyak 80361, Indonesia.

Photo credit: Supplied

Potato Head is a must 

If you're wanting to head to one of Bali's many beach clubs, Rani is a big fan of Desa Potato Head. 

A short 25-minute drive from Bali International Airport, luxury Potato Head is set on 20,000sqm of beachy island paradise.

A five-star beach club and hotel in the tourist hot spot of Seminyak, Potato Head opened more than a decade ago and has long attracted guests with a wide variety of tastes; from the expensive to the foodies and the partygoers. 

"It's a beautiful place," Rani said.

Potato Head address: Ground level, Desa Potato Head, Jalan Petitenget No.51B, Seminyak Kuta Utara - Kabupaten Badung 80361, Indonesia.

Rock Bar, Ayana Jimbaran

This is the sort of venue dreams are made of. It stretches along Bali's coastline and built on natural rocks with a sunset view described as among the best in Bali.

Rani explained the Rock Bar was also a must-visit. Luckily for me, it was already on my itinerary.

Sometimes, recommendations don't live up to expectations - this certainly wasn't one of them. This breathtakingly big bar and resort was the perfect place to enjoy an evening meal while looking out at the ocean and enjoying the Bali night sky.

Rock Bar address: Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran 80364, Indonesia.

Rock bar.
Photo credit: Supplied

Tanah Lot Temple

One of the most famous temples in Bali, Tanah Lot is built on a rock that gets isolated from the mainland during high tide.

"Basically, it's a temple in the middle of the sea," said Rani, who noted while tourists can't enter the temple, it has "beautiful views". And that's just one of the tens of thousands of picture-perfect temples that grace Bali. 

Tanah Lot Temple address: Kecamatan Kediri, Kabupaten Tabanan, Beraban 82121, Indonesia.

Tanah Lot temple.

Holland Bakery

Some people go on holiday for the food and Rani said this particular chain, which is scattered throughout Bali and wider Indonesia, is a must-try for sweet tooths.

"They sell pineapple tarts," she told me, adding: "It's like a cookie and inside [it] has fresh pineapple - very tasty!"

Newshub travelled to Bali as a guest of Air New Zealand and Wonderful Indonesia.