Hi! My name is Michael, a digital entrepreneur and recovering workaholic.

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I leased a villa in Bali a few years ago after coming to a crossroads in my life, and like many people decided I wanted to spend more time living the life I wanted, and less time working insane hours for years on end without a break.

When my family and friends would come to visit – the attraction of a luxury 3 bedroom villa in Seminyak may have been a strong drawcard – they peppered me with questions. Was it safe to use ATMs in Bali? how do you exchange cash for Indonesian Rupiah at a money changer and what scams to watch for?

So I started writing emails, and then I would cut and paste them rather than writing from scratch every time. The emails got longer and longer with each iteration, and soon they could have filled a book.

Which is what my family and friends suggested I do – write a book with all the local knowledge I had accumulated.

But I’ve been coding the web since 1995, so it seemed to me that knocking up a website was a far better (and easier) option. That way I could update posts and just send people the link, rather than making the huge effort to write, format and publish a book that perhaps nobody really wanted, let alone keeping it updated.

A website would also mean I had access to real-time data to gauge whether or not people were actually interested in how to catch a taxi, or where the best fine dining restaurants are.

The posts are usually written in a single, stream-of-consciousness binge with the idea it’s better to publish early and get feedback than spend hours polishing prose that no-one wants to read.

I also had guests staying in my villa asking me even more detailed questions. Where are the best waterfalls in Bali, and what was the best way of getting there? Where were the best Balinese temples to visit and what was the etiquette for visiting them?

So I wrote some more posts, including tips for arriving at Bali Airport and how to get from Denpasar Airport to Seminyak. After allowing people to comment on these posts I realised that what people really wanted was long-form articles that covered a specific topic in-depth, rather than the commonly found superficial post written by an intern who had clearly never been to Bali before and the copy and paste keys at the ready.

There were three scathing comments about my right to hold forth on local knowledge from people who had holidayed here themselves a long time ago, but 99.6% of comments have been very positive and more often than not people are asking me questions in the comments as if this were a full-blown travel agency (which it most certainly isn’t).

The most useful, up to date, practical and unaffiliated information

Thanks for this email and for your awesome website. Of all the Bali websites that I have looked at, it has the most useful, up to date, practical and unaffiliated information, which I have referred to and used many times over during and whilst planning my trips to Bali. Thank you so much.

Most of the information about Bali that I discovered in my own research was light on detail and heavy on sponsored content and affiliated sales pitches.

So after beefing up the posts with as much detail as I could reasonably write considering this isn’t my day job, something big happened. Google’s algorithms decided that one of my posts was the most authoritative on the subject and ranked it number one for the search term ATMs in Bali.

Traffic soared, and so I started taking a data-driven approach to rewriting my original posts, and more of my articles started ranking on Google’s first page for a number of frequently searched terms. Website traffic is now 15,000 25,000 30,000 35,000 unique visitors a month and continues to grow at a steady rate.

I already knew that mobile usage was going to be big, so I coded the website using a mobile-first methodology so it looks great and loads fast on any device, particularly smart-phones.

I put some newsletter sign-up forms on the website to see if anyone would be interested in joining a mailing list – and that worked too. I placed some valuable content within a content locker, which shaded out the content until people registered for free, and then they can see the content immediately – and that worked too!

Website Traffic

Looking at website traffic by weekly visits smooths out the vagaries of daily activity and more clearly illustrates the trend. Looks like things keep going up, so I must be doing something right.

The most significant thing, in my opinion, is that audience numbers continue to grow without any real social media activity at all. One, I simply don’t have time to meaningfully feed social media accounts, and two – it proves that growth in audience numbers from quality website content plus short, simple email newsletters really does work.

Website Traffic - Google Analytics - Bali Holiday Secrets
Website Traffic April – November 2019 – Google Analytics – Bali Holiday Secrets

I’ve been asked a lot about how I built Bali Holiday Secrets, the tools I use and how to deploy them, along with my techniques for getting posts ranked o the first page of Google search results – but that’s a whole other subject destined for a future post some other time.

Email Subscribers

The downward kinks that you see are when I send an email to the subscriber list, which predictably results in a bunch of unsubscribes.

I make it easy to unsubscribe with a single clicked link at the bottom of every email. It’s more important that only people who want to hear from me get my email newsletters.

Email Subscribers - Bali Holiday Secrets
Email subscriber growth April – November 2019

As of 27 November, there are over 1,500 email subscribers, and I’m slowly sending out the occasional newsletter to see what people like and what they don’t.

I’m proud to have demystified some of the issues people worry about when travelling to Bali, and while some say tourism is over-cooked, I’m of the view that better-informed tourists make better customers, so this is my way of saying thank-you to all the wonderful, beautiful, generous and kind-spirited people of Bali that I have been so fortunate to meet over the years.

My view is that this website is a positive force for Balinese tourism, and so while I am sometimes blunt about the drawbacks of some aspects of Balinese tourism my intention is to balance that with helping people navigate their holiday with less risk, lower their concerns and help them enjoy everything that Bali has to offer.

A growing number of people were asking for my driver’s contact numbers so they could hire them for a day tour. So I got together with some drivers that I frequently used for my friends, family and guests, and asked them what they wanted most. The answer was for the website to take bookings directly, rather than having random people calling and texting without any context.

So I made a simple Day Tour with Private Driver booking form connecting customers with drivers and linked to it from the post on Expert Tips for Hiring a Private Driver in Bali. The bookings started coming in immediately, and one of the things I am most proud of is the positive change in the quality of life for my driver friends. It has made a huge difference in their lives, especially those with young families.

Inspired by the effect these bookings had, I started creating a few more for speciality transport, like transfers from Bali Airport, and a day tour that starts with an airport pick-up. These started generating bookings too, so I’m writing a few more speciality tours and itineraries when I get the time.

I don’t live here full-time and I travel frequently, so I write all the articles and tours when I’m outside of Bali, to remind myself what it’s like to be a tourist again. It’s an Australian based and registered business, even though it’s really just a hobby for me. It helps me keep my tools sharp when developing websites, trying out different applications, techniques and responding to people’s comments.

So here we are with 30k visitors a month and 1,500 email subscribers and increasing daily. I’m considering writing more because there are a ton of insider tips for the perfect Bali holiday that I haven’t had the time to write, and possibly publishing them all in an easily downloadable book, or making a premium membership section for some of my personally recommended itineraries for a few dollars.

Maybe people will pay for a book, or pay for a subscription to access secret insider tips, or maybe not.

If you have an opinion on what people would pay for, or how much, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Just never forget the most important thing – Bali is always a good idea!

Safe travels,


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  1. Hello! I hope you are doing well! I have a question. We booked a hotel in Seminyak for 4 nights and we will need a driver from Seminyak to Muduk (North Bali). If we purchase the 10 hour private driver, would this include the drive from hotel (Seminyak) to hotel (Muduk) + with whatever hours are left we can visit the area such as waterfalls? We booked hotels at very far locations from one another.

    Would this always include the drive to our next hotel + the extra hours to visit around? Thanks so much

    • Hi Claudia. You can use the South Bali to North Bali transfer service. Munduk is definitely in North Bali, so it’s longer than a 10-hour South Bali Tour. And yes, you can definitely use the time to go sightseeing and visit different attractions along the way.

      You may want to take get some inspiration from my custom itineraries for day tours.

      Just remember that a tour to North Bali includes 12 hours driving, but you need to leave your driver 2 hours to return home if being dropped off up North.

      Safe travels, Michael

  2. Hi Michael,

    I have a couple of questions for you

    1) Do you offer airport transfers from hotel/villa to the airport? Your site and the form to book an airport transfer only seems to reference transfers from the airport to hotel/villa.

    2) If we want to book a private driver for multiple days if we like the driver are we able to ensure we have the same drive for all of the days? Conversely, if we do not like a driver can we have a different drive for the following days?

    Thanks so much for your help and for the detailed guides!

    • Hi Jason. Yes, we provide a transfer to the airport. It’s also linked to from the airport transfer page.

      We generally assign the same driver for multi-day bookings, and while we have never had a request to change the driver, I would be happy to do so should the need arise. All you need do is reply to me from the itinerary confirmation you will receive after booking.

      Safe travels, Michael

  3. Hi Michael

    I’ve been drooling over your different tour suggestions and just have a quick question before booking 🙂

    Would it be a feasible itinerary to make the following stops in a day, when the starting point is Canggu?
    1. Lempuyang temple (Gates of heaven)
    2. Tirta Ganga temple
    3. Ulun Danu Beretan
    4. Tanah Lot

    Thanks for a some great guides to Bali!

    • Hi Louise,
      I wouldn’t recommend that itinerary to anyone, to be honest. You are literally looking at 4 points of the compass and circumnavigating most of Bali.

      Looking at your aspirations, and assuming you wat an epic temple tour, I’d recommend (if you only have one day) Danu Beretan, Tirta Empul, Gunung Kawi, Goa Gajah, Tanah Lot back to Canggu.

      You can see the route map here. It’s a big day, but far more achievable than trying to get from Lempuyang to Danu Beretan and Tanah Lot on the same day.

      If you want, I’ll even make a customised tour page so you can book it through me. Or you can simply book a private car and driver with the East Bali option and advise your driver of your itinerary by return email after receiving the confirmation. What date are you looking at?

      Safe travels,

      • Thanks for the prompt response🙏

        You make a good point. I have at least a day more to go exploring at a later stage, was thinking, as you rightly surmised, to start my exploring of with a boatload of temples 😊

        Your suggestion sounds perfect, I’d like to book it through you, on this coming Saturday 18th if possible?

  4. Hello Michael. Is there a discount for hiring a driver for multiple days? We would be thinking of 5-10 days. There are two of us and the dates would be between March 14th and March 23rd.

  5. I’m travelling to Bali on 3rd Jan with seniors (group of 4). My mother is 80 year old. Checking to see what are the places recommended for sight seeing. Staying at Seminyak: 3-6 Jan; Staying at Ubud: 6-9. Appreciate ur response over email.

  6. Hi Michael – Great website and resources! I’m interested in booking a car/driver through you for a family trip to Bali in Feb 2020. Would like to review some more details and get your suggestions via email first.

  7. I randomly found Michael’s website a few months before our first trip to Bali and I am so thankful I did! We literally followed his tips exactly for getting through customs, buying a SIM card and getting out cash and it was so smooth. We booked an airport transfer and 4 full days with a private driver… which I was a little nervous about at first (just to be honest), but everything worked out perfectly. Having a private driver ensured we saw all we wanted without having to deal with the tricky local taxis and it gave us peace of mind knowing who we would be with every day. I can’t recommend his services and his advice enough!

    • Thank you so much Aimee.

      It was a pleasure providing you with both travel advice and a car and driver (the drivers are stoked from your feedback). And thanks for letting me know by email that arriving at Bali Airport was made much easier because of my insider tips.

      It’s because of the feedback from people like you that I keep writing this website. We very much hope to see you in Bali again someday.

      Terimah kasih banyak!

      Safe travels Aimee,

  8. Hi. I’m interested in taking the aping along waterfall tour. I prefer to pay by cash instead of via your website. How do I book for the tour and pay by cash? I could pay in full.

    • Hi Hussain,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We only take confirmed booking paid with a credit card beforehand – but you can book the Aling-Aling Waterfall Tour with just a deposit, and the rest paid by cash on the day.

      This helps to avoid no-shows and last-minute cancellations which is unfair to our drivers. Hope this helps.

      Safe travels,

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