Beautiful Bali | Part 2 – Where to go
In my previous travelogue I spoke about “How to get to Bali and things to know before departing”. You can read the article here – Beautiful Bali | Part 1
Where should you go in Bali?
Honestly, Bali has so many places to visit, it’s almost ridiculous. I would recommend a stay of at-least 5 days and if you have the time and the money, you can even extend it up-to 10 days and visit the nearby islands that belong to the beautiful Indonesian enigma.
The Bali tourism industry is fast developing so I would suggest you to read the published date for any other articles you may read. For example, in 2013 people suggested to get a boat and go to Gili Island, in 2015 people suggested to go to Seminyak and in 2017 it’s Ubud and Nusa Dua. We visited in December 2017 and here is our 5 day itenary:
Kuta: This was probably one of the first places to be developed in Bali as there is an abundance of everything here. Since our hotel was located here, we spent our first evening strolling around Kuta beach and Kuta market to absorb the local feels. Not to discourage you but Kuta beach was dirty and empty, maybe because it was raining, and it kind of left us disappointed and we wondered if Bali is actually worth all the hype!
Pro Tip #5 – You can skip the Kuta beach and instead visit the Kuta Street which is full of amazing walk-in restaurants and shops offering local clothing, cosmetics and art. Dream catchers are a thing in Bali. In case it’s hot or raining then you can go to Discovery Shopping Mall which is an amalgamation of eateries and shops. There are also many beach facing restaurants which serve a full glass of sunset romanticism. Kuta also houses the world-famous Skygarden which is a 5 story music pumped club.
Spa: In Bali, spa is one of main attractions and an integral part of their medicine and culture. We took the spa twice during our stay and both the times we went to Febri’s Spa, because it walking distance to our hotel as well as amazing. They have some magical body masks which make you glow like a sunrise; I am not even kidding. Opt for 90 minute treatments that offer scrub, mask and flower baths. As if the massage wasn’t enough, you have the view of green gardens, winds whistling against the trees and water fountains.
Pro Tip #6 – Do book your spa appointments in advance as they are relatively busy throughout the day and please, please don’t miss on getting a spa in Bali. Average cost of good quality 90-minute spa should be around 1500 – 2000 INR.
Seminyak: This area is buzzing with great cafes and beach side lounges. An impressive 5km stretch of powdery white sand, this beach has got just the right vibes for a perfect chill with a perfect sunset. Alternatively, if you visit Seminyak during the daytime, you can learn to surf and then have a coffee at Revolver Café or head to Potato Head beach club for a beautiful sunset view. See for yourself –
Now, we hadn’t actually pre-planned our itenary as me and Ila like to take life as it comes, possibly screwing up simultaneously, Bali made us realize that a bit of planning is needed as we deliberated each night as to the action items of the next day. Thankfully everyday went smoothly and we could get last-minute bookings but I wouldn’t suggest you to do the same. For our third day, we booked a full day Ubud tour and our driver was the best. He told us stories, took us to so many places and even bargained for us in the street markets and made us laugh the whole day.
Ubud: Sometimes also referred to as “Authentic Bali”, Ubud is located in the central foothills of the island. Imagine vast green paddy fields and coffee plantations, lots of temples and traditional architecture, yoga centres, street markets and home-stays in and around monkey jungles. Complete detox from metro city lifestyles! Here is what all we covered:
Hindu temples: Goa Gajah and Tirta Empul. People of Indonesia are primarily Hindu and pray to Lord Shiva and Rama, just like we do in India. Balinese people are very serious about their culture and each neighbourhood hosts a magnificent temple and some of the ancient temples have become iconic. Ensure to visit at least 1-2 temples to experience the architectural marvels. If you aren’t religious visit for an amazing backdrop for your next profile picture 😉
Goa Gajah – translates to “Elephant Caves” and is great for a brief stopover on tour to Ubud region. Altough there are no elephants here, there is a cave which is the main temple and a small waterfall. The place was built for mediation purposes and still retains a sense of calm.
Tirta Empul – means a “Holy Water Spring” and is a national cultural heritage site. Built in 960 AD, the main attraction here is a pool which is considered sacred and many devotees take a dip, something like the “Ganga river” in India. There are also several warungs or food stalls selling local food and snacks as well as a market near the temple.
Pro Tip #7 – Ensure to wear decent clothing as the temples require no skin-show and most temples will provide a sarong in case you wear a dress above knee length, for both, men and women. There is an entry fee and the temples close at 4:00 PM on average.
Active Volcanos: These sites provide an animate view of the raw power of mother earth. Bali has many active volcanos and just a few days before our visit, Mount Agung had erupted and tourism in Bali was on high alert. We wanted to visit Mt. Agung but due to seizing of the site we couldn’t, however, we saw it’s neighbour Mt. Batur. Lunch with a view! However, I do wish SEA countries start serving more vegetarian food.
These volcanos also offer a chance for camping and trekking, for the adventurous. Mt. Batur and Mt. Agung offer breath-taking sunrise treks. Mt. Agung considered the toughest trek in Bali and begins mid-night (mostly, do check these out on more sites as we didn’t do the treks).
Rice fields and Coffee Plantations: Ever had Luwak coffee? Have it here and even buy some for yourself. Coffee plantations offer walking tours where their employee, who will also become your friend, simply becase Balinese people are a bunch of happy faces, will explain you each step in the coffee making process and you can even meet the luwaks.
Ubud Market: Carry and empty bag and bring back two. A healthy combination of street vendors and designer boutiques, Ubud offers clothing, aromatherapy-handmade soaps and lotions, jewellery, souvenirs, arts etc. Our driver gave us a strict one-hour shopping window but we extended it to two 😉 Girls!!! Although we didn’t shop bags full, the few items we bought were so unique.
Pro Tip #8 – Bargaining is key, try 50% less of the price they quote, some sellers will budge some will not! An average cost of a dress should be around 500 INR at a street vendor.
Apart from all this, there is a Monkey Forest in Ubud region. We skipped it due to scarcity of time and the fact that monkeys are as common as cows on Indian streets. Wild monkeys – not exactly exciting.
Well, this was a tiring day yet so exciting that we still had energy left after reaching back to our hotel. We freshened up and headed out to Kuta street for dinner.
Day 4 & 5 in tomorrow’s article?!! I am sure you need a break… well, I do from writing to over 1300 words! Phew! Come back tomorrow to this space and read about Scuba Diving at Nusa Dua, Ulwattu Temple and more…
Have you been to Bali?
What did you do? Where did you visit? I’d love to know!