For A Simpler Life, Head To Bali

Ever dreamt of swapping your drill sergeant alarm for waking to the sun’s soothing rays streaming across your pillow? Kicking off your shoes and slotting on sandals? I know I did. I’d slog out my nine to five, day dreaming on a sunlit slither peeking above my brick building view. My fingers may have been locked in a neverending tap dance clicking across the keyboard, but my mind was free, always roaming far away.

Then, one day, my body caught up with my mind. I kicked the corporate bucket, fled from the gathering grips of yet another icy Cape Town winter and flew to Bali to work as a teacher.

Two months on and my life is simpler, my soul rejuvenated and my daily cuppa caffeine has been replaced with fresh coconut water. Banishing my fears and breaking free of my comfort zone was the best gift I’ve ever given myself! And I’m here to help you do the same. Feel the island life calling your name? Here’s all you need to know about making your move to Bali.

You are exactly where you are supposed to be

Visa and flights

With it’s prominent position at the tip of the African continent, South Africa tends to be located a bit far from most popular destinations. But, although Bali may seem a lot more than a mere pebble’s throw away, it’s neither too difficult nor too costly to get there. For example, a flight from Johannesburg, connecting in Hong Kong then through to Denpasar, will cost about R14 000 return. But, if you are like me, then a single ticket in your pocket is all you need!

With the recent rise of the digital nomad culture, many people can now choose to work from anywhere in the world. All you need is fast wifi and a comfortable seat of choice, beachside bean bag or hammock anyone? If you do plan to make your migration to Bali a permanent one, and will be looking to earn money while you are there, it is best to apply for a KITAS visa. Or, if you are simply going to check it out, with a few meetings or observations along the way, then a 60 Day Business Visa will suffice.  Alternatively, if you are just going for a jol, then you can buy a 30 Day Visitor on Arrival Visa when you land in Denpasar.

Where to stay

Seaside Dining at Uluwathu

Bali may be a small island (extending less than 150km at its widest point), but it is an island as diverse in its offerings as South Africa is a melting pot of culture. Choosing where to stay depends entirely on what experience you are after. Here’s a quick lowdown on three of the most wellknown spots.


Ubud is known for its quirky esoteric shops and abundance of yoga studios. Many a pilgrim has trod its cobbled streets and meditated within its midst, searching for a deeper meaning to life. The lush inland town, surrounded by terraced rice paddies and tropical jungles with monkeys traversing the treetops, has become a mecca for hippies and hermits alike. Warungs (translated to “little shops”) with nourishing organic and vegan delights, line the streets, some operating purely on trust based payment just stash your cash into a jar before you depart. Popularized by “Eat Pray Love”, the town is home to throngs of trustafarians, so if this isn’t your vibe you may want to consider setting up shack elsewhere on the island.

Monkey forest in Ubud

The Bukit

If you’re searching for a surfer’s paradise, then The Bukit is your treasure. Jungled cliff faces gaze down on a panoramic vista of turquoise ocean. White sandy beaches follow the trail of the warm tropical oceans. And surfer’s boards glint in the setting sun’s rays. You can stay in your own wooden bungalow with ocean view balcony at Bingin Beach for about R150 per person per night. Spend your day surfing or tanning, have an authentic Balinese massage, why not? It’s only R60. And end your day with a fresh seafood braai, your toes buried in the sand. Long term rentals are also pretty affordable. But, if you are working in Denpasar, be ready for a bit of a commute.

Bukit is a Surfer's Paradise


If the hustle and bustle of a busy night life is right up your party central alley, then Kuta is absolutely buzzing. Bars and clubs own the sprawled out streets and beanbags line the beach. Plop down, grab a coconut, stick in a straw and suck in the simple pleasures of life. Kuta is by far the most popular tourist destination so come ready to meet various globetrotters with stardust in their eyes and some cool stories to tell.

Not for you?

Maybe you’re in search of a simpler existence of quiet and serenity. Well, Kuta may still be your answer. Head up North to peaceful Kuta Utara where you can set up home next door to a rice paddy villa or get a bunch of friends to rent the whole place out, full length swimming pool, sunset balcony and all.

How to get around

“Be prepared to forget any rule of the road you have ever learnt. There’s just no point gripping onto that security net.”

Scooters are the king of the streets

The only steed to trust in Bali is the scooter. It is the king of transportation, roaring loudly through its zigzagged streets. All it takes to rent one is an International Driver’s Licenses (IDL) and a South African scooter permit. The cost per month is around only R600, and petrol, poured from Absolut Vodka bottles on the sides of the streets, isn’t expensive either! To buy a bike though you will need to be on a KITAS visa.

If you do happen to get your hands on one of these zippy vehicles, be prepared to forget any rule of the road you have ever learnt. There’s just no point gripping onto that security net. Get ready to cross on the inside, drive on the pavements, rumble over rubble and dart through red lights, following the flow of seamless traffic. There are no rules, but man, I have never seen traffic run smoother.

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Soak up the culture

Bali is the only Hindu state in Muslim dominated Indonesia. It boasts a bright and cheerful culture with locals sporting frangipani braided hair, colourful traditional ware (known as Batik) dutifully blessing shade reclining temples on every street corner. The people are genuinely friendly. On trips to the temples, lit incense and flower basket offerings in hand, they may engage you in a lively conversation, showing a real interest in your life. Sometimes they ask too many questions but they always mean well and you could even pick up a word of Bahasa Indonesia yourself too. The language is dead easy to learn and as a result of Dutch colonisation, has a healthy sprinkle of Afrikaans words in it. So don’t worry, a piesang over here is still a piesang over there.

Climbing the Summit of Agung Volcano

Experience the food

Selection of Indonesian street food (1280x960)

If scooters are the kings of the streets, then warungs are the rulers of the sidewalks. The narrow roads are laden with street food merchants. Cooking on stoves attached to scooters, serving from rickety roadside stands or from wide shop fronts boasting a buffet of Indonesian offerings. Pick and mix from selections such as fried shrimp fritters, curried chicken with bamboo shoots, mashed potato cakes, or stir fried vegetables in coconut milk. Always built on a bed of nasi (rice); often with homemade ice tea to drink. And a meal like this will only set you back about 19 bucks, ice tea included.

At most places, Bintang is the most popular tipple of choice, which is great news for beer drinkers, but not so good for the wine lovers. A glass of house will cost you R80, quality not considered, and a full bottle will break cracks in the bank at no less than R250 each. Despite this though, with such low food prices, South Africans can enjoy the full luxury of overseas living, eating out like royalty for under 100 bucks.

Live an island lifestyle

Ferry to Gilli Air Island

Bali lilts to a slow paced lull. The sun and moon acting as the reigning timekeepers. Open homes let nature, wandering visitors and opportunities in. A chance encounter or short meeting with a stranger often turns into a Bintang accompanied soirée at the host’s discretion. Despite appearing a dozyeyed island, where locals sit all day long, passing the time of day, Bali has a humming vibrancy to it. The energy is alive. It flows through your veins, making you feel you can achieve anything you set your heart to. Bali truly is a magical place where the dreamer’s most daring dreams come true.

Chill Out Boat

Just go!

That, in a coconut husk, is my rough guide to living in Bali. It truly is the paradise people say it is and I am grateful each day that I can call it home. So, how about you? Are you ready to fling from the corporate ladder and feel sandy grained freedom soak up through your soles? The hardest part is to just get up and go! But I promise, when you do, you will discover the magic that lies just beyond the cushions of your comfort zone and your life will be all the better for it.

Camilla Marsh in Bali

Our Readers Comments

  1. I agree 100%, my favourite destination. Down south at Padang Padang. Dont forget to check out KAMAFARI surf camp. Great place to stay. will be visiting in 5 weeks time again. If you want to do something in life, just goand do it, if you wait for others, you not going anywhere.

    • Hi Johan,

      Thanks for the tip on Kamafari surf camp.

      Sure you going to have an incredible time visiting again 🙂 Happy Travels!

      And thanks for those words of wisdom. So true!

  2. I agree 100%, my favourite destination. Down south at Padang Padang. Dont forget to check out KAMAFARI surf camp. Great place to stay. will be visiting in 5 weeks time again. If you want to do something in life, just go and do it, if you wait for others, you not going anywhere.

    • Hi Johan

      Thanks for the great advice! I’m going to check out KAMAFARI when I next head to The Bukit, sounds awesome!


  3. I loved Bali when I visited some years ago. I can safely say that I can think of nothing negative to say about it

  4. Hi Camilla 🙂

    Can you (or anyone else) give me a name or contact details for any of the wooden bungalows you mentioned on the Bukit. Going to Bali soon and would really love to stay there.

    Thank you

  5. I am interested in visiting Bali in December. Please help with info on flights and accommodation. Thx

    • Hi Vanessa,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      Holiday in Bali, awesome!!! 🙂

      You welcome to contact our Travelbar team on: where one of our Travel Experts would love to assist.

      When e-mailing them your request please give all details including exact dates of travel, where you would like to depart from and fly to and number of passengers.

      Alternatively you are welcome to contact them on 021 468 4300 (Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm) or Saturday 9am – 1pm and speak to a Travel Consultants. (Our lines are closed for quotes on public holidays)

  6. What about kids? I have a 3 & 4 year old. what would your thoughts be about going over with kids?

    • Hi Tammi,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      Yes Bali does cater for families traveling with children. They have family resorts with play parks to entertain them.

      Waterbom park is in the center of Kuta and lots of fun for families — water slides, swimming, games.

      You welcome to contact our direct sales team should you want a quote: one of our Travel Experts would love to assist.

      When e-mailing them your request please give all details including exact dates of travel, where you would like to depart from and fly to, number of passengers and budget.

      Alternatively you are welcome to contact them on 021 468 4300 (Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm) or Saturday 9am – 1pm and speak to a Travel Consultants. (Our lines are closed for quotes on public holidays)

  7. Hi Chloe, sure thing! 🙂 I stayed at Sticky’s Place. Sticky’s number is: +62 816 574 104. Beautiful wooden bungalows overlooking the beach with your own sunset balcony. You can’t ask for more! Let me know if you would like anymore advice.


    • Hi Camilla, I enjoyed reading your article and I would really like to follow my heart and make the step to move to a beautiful place such as bali but I actually have no idea where to start. Would you be able to assist with advice?

    • Hi Camilla – thanks so much for the tip! Will be sure to give them a call. If you wouldn’t mind could you possibly privately e-mail me some advice as to how to go about getting set up as a teacher in Bali? I am going to be qualifying as a teacher at the end of this year and would love to look at the prospects of maybe heading over more permanently next year while I’m there on holiday next month. Thanks again!

    • Hi Camilla….thanks for a very interesting article on Bali.
      I live in Durban and would like to ask about work. My English is very good…..would I be allowed to teach over there or should I do an English teaching course here before I arrive? Perhaps I can do a course in Bali itself?
      Please advise
      Have a great day!

    • Hi Nic,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to contact Camilla on and she will gladly answer any questions you might have on travelling to Bali and living the life 😀

  8. I’m so ready to kick the corporate bucket FAR AWAY!!!!! Bali sounds magical, and affordable!

    Just nervous. Where do I start?

    • Hi Refilwe,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I know, it’s pretty tempting knowing what all is waiting out there. A world of freedom and adventure.

      First start by doing some research of where about in Bali would suit your best, then book those flights!

      You welcome to contact us on 021 468 4300 and speak to a Travel Expert who would gladly assist with a quote to Bali.

  9. I am leaving for Bali in about a week and I couldn’t be more excited☺️

    I would love to know what the night life is like on Gili island? Or night lif in general?

    Thank you

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Sure you going to have an amazing time 🙂

      Bali’s top nightlife venues and best clubs are mostly spread throughout its southern regions of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, and several spots around Bukit. Bali club scene mostly starts around midnight. Diversions come in the form of nightclubs, restaurants and bars – either stand-alone or in-house hotel dining and entertainment outlets.

      Gili Trawangan has always had the stigma for being the ‘Party Island’ of the three Gilis and there are numerous restaurants and bars open until 2pm along the main strip and the beach, however most kitchens close around 11pm.

      There are regular party nights with DJ’s spinning the latest hip hop, dance and house hits, they are rotated so there is only one party a night which can stay open until 4am.

      Currently the schedule is Monday night for the famous Blue Marlin rave party, Wednesday nights at the beachfront ‘Shipwrecked Bar’ is the ‘Tir na Nog’ Irish bar party, with a mix of funky house music, Friday night is at Rudys Bar, & Reggae music most nights at Sama Sama bar.

  10. hello guys. how do I go about applying for a teaching job in bali? or any kind of work in bali?

    • Hi Joshua,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to Camilla on she might be able to answer some questions you have on teaching in Bali.

      Or e-mail Liam at he will be happy to answer any questions you might have about teach in the Far East.

  11. What type of work can you do?
    My partner and I are currently living in Bangkok as English teachers.

    Any advice would be great.

    • Hi Hilario,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You are welcome to e-mail Camilla direct on she will gladly answer any questions you might have with regards to heading to Bali for a simpler life 🙂

  12. Hi Camila

  13. Hi Camila

    Thanks for the write up. Been to Bali once and really loved the place. I definitely have been researching more about making that step over.
    Could you offer more advise as is there only teachers requirements over in Bali or as there other professions that are needed?

  14. Hi there, I am in that exact same position right now…. I am busy completing my Yoga Teachers certificate, and then I am wanting to ditch the 9-5/ stuck behind a computer vibe all day, and see where it takes me. What was the final straw that made you move? And how much did it cost you overall to move? Did you know people/ family over there? Did you go through an agency? Sorry for all the questions, but being South African as well, I was really caught by your reasons for going over. And it is something that I have been contemplating for a long time!

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