Not only one of the best destinations for secluded beaches, rich culture, and spirit-awakening but also one that is home to cliff-top cocktail bars, lush landscapes, friendliest locals and cheap buys. Despite the overwhelming increasing number of tourists, Bali has remained its reputation to be the main destination for both passive and active recreations.
As you may all know, I used to be a corporate slave so I’ve only had 4 full days (leaving for Singapore on the 5th day) when I visited Bali. Nonetheless, even in just a short amount of days, Bali didn’t fail to exude that magic.
I say your best option is to hire scooters and explore at your own pace. Otherwise, source a transport and hire a driver for about 30 USD a day. Taking a taxi between locations is one, too. But make sure to only get the metered ones.
Places To See
Called as “the island of a thousand temples”, this little Hindu island has endless sacred temples and shrines respecting the numerous Gods that run and meander Bali island. In fact, every Balinese home has its own little temple or shrine to place their offerings several times a day as well as big temples for every village where ceremonies are held.
Pura Tanah Lot
My favorite of all, presumably on the grounds that it makes the best picturesque view of a Bali sunset. It is situated on a cliff bulging out into the ocean, encompassed by dark sand and surfing waves. There’s one problem, though — CROWD. So I highly recommend that you walk further to the left until you reach large rock formations, sit for hours, and watch the sky gradually change shading from orange to pink to purple and blue.
Opening Hours: 7am – 7pm
Admission: Rp 60,000/adult and Rp 30,000/child
Tbh, it’s actually hard to pick a favorite temple but Uluwatu definitely makes a good contender! Sitting over a high limestone cliff, you bet the view of the ocean and the powerful waves slamming on the stones down beneath is simply jaw-droppingly beautiful! Also, brace yourself for cheeky monkeys who are always on the look-out for food and items from unaware tourists — one stole my cap!
Opening hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Admission: Rp 30,000/adult and Rp 20,000/child
Dress Code: You will be required to wear a sarong. If you don’t have one, you can borrow one at the entrance.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
Yet another iconic landmark of Bali, the name of this temple translates to “the head of the lake”. It was built to celebrate the gods and goddesses of all water, the source of life in Bali. If you feel like doing more than the usual, you can rent a paddle boat and drift out on the lake.
Opening hours: 8am – 6pm
Admission: Rp. 50,000/adult and Rp. 25,000/child
2. Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Probably the most famous rice terraces and the one pictured in most Bali postcards. Tegallalang Rice Terraces is just a 20-min drive from the center of Ubud and offers an excellent view of lush and green terraces.
Top tip: Make sure to go for a walk in between the terraces
3. Handara Golf Resort Bali Gate
Don’t be fooled! This isn’t an entrance to a Balinese Temple.
This is Handara Golf Resort Bali which is located in Pancasari Village Bedugul, the central highlands of Bali. Mainly popularized by Instagram, a stop to Handara Gate is definitely worth a stop after visiting Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.
During our visit, we didn’t shell out a single penny but, last 15 February 2018, Handara started issuing a ticket for taking photos.
Fee: Rp. 20.000/person but parking is free of charge
4. Tegenungan Waterfall
If you want to visit a waterfall that is close to Denpasar City, then Tegenungan is your best call. With it being close to the city, this is easily a tourist hub. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit and take a dip at the bottom of the falls. You’ll surely feel like cooling off a bit after a small hike.
Opening Hours: 8am to 7pm
Admission: Rp 10,000
Things To Do
1. Dive in
Well, need I say more?
While I still dream of becoming a professional freediver, I somehow manage to stay underwater longer than usual.
Offering a unique vast of marine species and underwater landscapes, a trip underwater is one that SHOULDN’T BE MISSED. When visiting Bali, it is never difficult to enjoy its rich marine biodiversity.
JUST PLEASE BE MINDFUL OF YOUR TRASH.
2. Stay in Private Villas
Staying in a private villa doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. And, DUH, you’re in Bali! You are more than deserving to treat and pamper yourself in such a place like this where relaxation is just within reach.
Picture yourself chilling by the pool after a long day of exploring on foot in the middle of lush green fields. Man, it couldn’t get any better than that. And Ubud Heaven Penestanan was definitely a stunner, highly recommend!
But if you are tight on budget, I suggest booking for at least a night so as to complete the total Balinese experience! There are surely cheaper options over Agoda, Booking, and BnBs.
3. Seafood Dinner at Jimbaran
Jimbaran is most known for its romantic sumptuous seafood dinner by the ocean. Candlelight + beer + soothing sound of waves, hey?! Worry not if you didn’t make any reservations, as soon as you arrive, you’ll be welcomed by a long-stretched of restaurants to choose from, offering all kinds of seafood dishes. Tucking into succulent seafood right on the beach against a scenery of a gradually setting sun is only a magnificent experience. Can’t be missed. If you are coming with your partner, expect a group of people to serenade before your table but know that tipping is an option.
Tip: A visit is usually taken after visiting the Uluwatu Temple
4. Surfing in Kuta
More than temples and yoga, Bali is likewise home to some of the world’s best waves making it perfect a perfect destination for surfers as well. While Lovina beach and Echo beach are top surfing spots, I recommend giving a go to Kuta first, especially if you are not a pro surfer. This is where visitors can learn surfing for the first time without feeling too bad for not killing it in front of many visitors chilling along the shore! ha! Chill, enjoy a drink or two and watch the sky turning slowly to pink.
5. Cycle and walk around
You might desire of seeing as much as you can despite the limited number of days you have but, don’t forget to pause for a while and have a feel of the surrounding. There’s nothing like walking through empty roads and wide green fields, taking in the beauty of nature. It’s more like channeling your inner Julia Roberts in search for balance and harmony! haha
Also, cycling is definitely a must-do! Bike rentals are everywhere and renting for a day won’t cost you that much!
6. Trek Mt. Agung
With a handful number of things to do, hiking in Bali remains to be one of the best excursions when visiting Indonesia. Although it presents risks, connecting with nature is still the best one there is and taking a hike up Bali’s highest mountain, Mt. Agung, gives you that opportunity.
Now you could be asking me why not Mt. Batur instead. My answer to that is simple — it’s the HIGHEST mountain and the MOST CHALLENGING trek. So how can someone so hungry for adventure say no to that? Also, Mt. Batur is very touristy.
7. Take A Day Trip To Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is the biggest of the three Nusa Islands just off from mainland Bali. But if you have more days on your clock, I highly suggest spending at least 2 days, if not 4! There are so many beautiful places to see and a day trip is definitely isn’t enough. However, if you happen to be unfortunate, like that of my case, Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach should be on top of your list.
The roads are underdeveloped so if you are not an experienced scooter driver, I would recommend hiring a taxi, or, better yet, look for a local around who has one! *wink* the latter is way better, of course!
How to get to Nusa Penida
From Bali.. you can get on a speedboat to Nusa Penida and return back to Bali in the evening. There are ticketing shops all around so you won’t need to worry even if you book just a day before your intended trip.
It really is difficult to pick a word that perfectly describes this spot. Angel’s Billabong is just one hell of a magical spot. The crystal clear tide pool is deep enough that will easily make you want to jump over and enjoy a relaxing dip.
Broken Beach is an incredible little cove on Nusa Penida island. It is one of those places that will leave you in a complete state of awe, thinking how mother nature ended up as beautiful as it appears before your eyes. The reason it is called Broken Beach is that of the passage that folds over the bay enabling water to stream in and out of the sea.
Unfortunately, there is no way down into the cove for a swim. Sad. I know, I feel you.
8. Visit Ubud Art Market
Located just across the Ubud Palace, the Ubud Market is a must-visit bustling market where you can find everything from sarongs, souvenirs, clothes, and handicrafts. ALWAYS bargain on the price before buying anything. These sellers are professional hustlers but you gotta keep up and show who’s the real boss! lol
Also, make sure to walk around and explore the market first.
Bali’s Best Food
1. Nasi Goreng
FUN FACT: I’m that Asian who doesn’t eat rice but, GOOD LAWD… Nasi Goreng was definitely something! 90% of all the food I ate throughout my stay was this dish lol
The way local ingredients mixed to technical perfection was nothing but a wow factor on the palate. Exquisite to look at; equally exquisite to eat.
2. Taste The World’s Most Expensive, Luwak Coffee
“Ugh. Disgusting.” I whispered. But hey, the coffee turned out to be pretty delicious.
To put it simply, civets consume the best beans and digest them. The poo is then collected and cleaned by the specialists. Roasted. And then brewed. Due to its unique manufacturing process, Luwak Coffee is considered a rare delicacy, making it one of the world’s most expensive coffee — with retail prices reaching 700 USD per kilogram! Insane, eh?!
Nonetheless, the coffee tasting was free of charge!
Despite the growing popularity and number of tourists visiting, Bali is still a place for peace and serenity. No doubt. I wish to pay a visit again in the near future but stay longer, definitely.