Bali guide, hotels

This item appears on page 32 of the November 2008 issue.

My wife and I (both seniors) spent 12 days in Bali in August ’08. It was the dry season. The weather was excellent, with a high of about 82°F every day.

As we wanted to see all of the island, not just the heavily touristed areas, we engaged a guide/driver, Paul Pranoto (e-mail, who was excellent. He was knowledgeable and pleasant and spoke perfect English (he went to school in the US).

For $53 per day plus gas, Paul drove us around the island. We spent six nights with Paul; he provided his own sleeping arrangements. We invited him to join us for meals.

Among the accommodations we recommend on Bali is the Watergarden ($95) in Candi Dasa, on the eastern side, and the Monsoon Forest Resort ($140) in West Bali National Park, on the northwestern side. The latter is near Menjangan Island, which is the best snorkeling area.

At Ubud, the primary tourist area, we stayed four nights in the most beautiful room and setting at the Warwick Ibah, just outside of town. Set off behind a gated fence, our room, or “villa” (Hybiscus No. 101), was a bargain at $250 — a fraction of the Four Seasons rate — and better located. Other villas at the Ibah had private pools but required more walking and were more expensive ($330).

The Nusa Dua area in the southern peninsula has one of the greatest collections of 5-star hotels in the world (a 6-star is under construction). Although expensive (minimum $300 for a room), as July-August is the primary tourist season, they all were fully booked, primarily by tourists from Japan and China.

Fine rooms were available throughout the island for less than $100. The hotel staffs were unfailingly smiling and friendly.

Probably because of the somewhat recent bombings, apparently few Americans are visiting Bali now. When asked by the Balinese, who were super-friendly, where we were from, we would respond, “Where do you think?” “United States” was a last-resort answer, after Germany, France, Poland and other European countries.


Los Angeles, CA