5 PLACES YOU MUST VISIT WHEN IN BALI
It is often said that the magical atmosphere in Bali is more of a mood, than a place and I couldn’t agree with that statement more! From the minute you step onto the island to the minute you leave, you will experience pure Paradise. White sandy beaches with amazing blue surf, mysterious hindu temples, rice terraces as far as the eye can see and some of the best island night life I have ever experienced, it will capture your heart and never let it go!
As flutes and pipes fill the air and you walk down the streets filled a thousand temples, you may stop and pinch yourself how you wound up on this amazing little island full of happiness, tradition and culture. These are the 5 things you must do if you find yourself in Bali.
Bali is centrally located in the archipelago of the Indonesian Islands, it is only a mere 2 hour flight from Singapore or 3 from Kuala Lumpur. You will most likely arrive into the Denpasar airport terminal and from here you can arrange a car/bus transfer to anywhere on the island where you are staying. When booking a transfer, ensure that you arrange an official service provided through the airport which will have fixed prices for driving to locations. All the official drivers wear the same blue shirt. Most taxi drivers who do not work for the airport (and no blue shirt) will try to rip you off when you arrive so just politely decline and head straight to the transfer desk.
If you’re already island hopping through Indonesia, Bali is accessible by ferry from the East side of Java and West side of Lombok. From either side of the island, there are bus stops/buses that will take you back to your resort or hotel.
From here you can easily fly to Perth in Western Australia in 3 hours, hence why it is frequented by Australian tourists going away for long beach weekends.
Compared to it’s muslim neighbours, Bali is predominantly Hindu and so you will notice a lot of gods and goddess carved into the walls, statues and temples. Most families have built or own their own temple with a god of their choosing so you will see plenty as you travel through the island. You will also notice that there are little pallets offerings made out of palm leaf and decorated with frangipani, flowers and incense which are meant to appease their gods and keep evil spirits at bay. These are made daily and although difficult to avoid, try not to step on them when walking through the streets!
The currency here is Indonesian Rupiah and you will be dealing in the thousands so make sure you have you currency converter app on hand to help you understand how much things cost.
Throughout all of my backpacking adventures and using local transport in Asia, I found Indonesia the most challenging. I was informed to use Bemo’s (local buses) as these were more cost effective but it actually ended up costing more. Ojek’s or motorbike taxis are pretty good and cheap but they will try and fit two of you on with all your luggage!
Car Taxi or rental is probably the most cost effective and time efficient option of getting around the island and cheaper if you share.
If you’re looking for a reputable bus company to transport you the Parama Buses are excellent and have tourist offices to assist you. These have multiple routes to locations like Ubud, Lovina, Nusa Dua, Kuta and Amed. (Tip: if you keep your ticket, you will get a 10% discount if you book a second time)
Indonesian is used universally across all islands but you will find that many islands and even regions within the islands speak their own dialect. Balinese, Javanese – there are way over 300 separate languages! Despite this, if you learn a little Indonesian it will go along way;
Hello = Apa Kabar
My Name is = Nama Saya <insert name>
Thank you = Terimah Kasih (Tereema Kassy)
You’re welcome = Sama Sama (my favourite!)
Please = Silahkan
Excuse me = Ma’af
Good Bye = Salamat Tinggal
Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali, and if you’re looking for a more spiritual experience than partying on the beach, this is the place to be. You can almost sense the ladies looking for love with their Eat, Pray, Love books clutched in their hands! Here, you can visit Yoga retreats, the monkey sanctuary, explore the rice terraces, visit some amazing temples and sample traditional cuisine in the many restaurants that line the main street.
One of my favourite experiences when in Ubud was watching the traditional shows! They run every night and you can choose whether to watch traditional dancing, or their incredible Kecak fire dance accompanied by the Ramayana. The Ramayana is one of my favourite Hindu tales and has been since I was a child. It follows the story of Prince Rama and his army of monkeys who are on a journey to rescue his wife Sita from the evil clutches of Ravana. It will be performed through dance and has an impressive male choir of forty who sing the background completely A Capella. It’s an experience you cannot miss when in Ubud.
2. Goa Gajah
Located down the road from Ubud, Goa Gajah is one of the coolest temples I have ever seen. Translated to the Elephant temple, it was originally built in the 9th century as a sanctuary. It is quite imposing with a demon and smaller evil characters carved into the front but as you step inside it’s really not all that scary. You will struggle to see as there is smoke from the offerings of incense to the gods of which fills the temple.
The gardens surrounding the cave are so impressive and are like Utopia or the Gardens of Babylon. Here you can drink from the fountain of youth, and explore your serene surroundings. There are waterfalls, hanging palm trees, rivers, temples – it’s divine.
3. Tirtu Empul
My favourite temple of all Bali was Tirtu Empul. Here, beyond their incredible temple, you can bathe in their holy spring water. You will need to pay a small fee for the experience but they provide robes and an offering for you to give to the gods before you go in. Here you need to ask for what you want most in this world and ask the gods to deliver to you. Then, you need to bath in each one of the fountains, concentrating on your wish until you reach the end. It was a liberating and refreshing experience which I would recommend you partake in.
4. Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Another short stop from Ubud, the Tegalalang rice terraces are located around 20 minutes by bus or taxi. You can rent a car or hire a Bemo (local bus) from the main street. The rice terraces are outstandingly beautiful and you don’t just have to view them from afar – you can get stuck in and explore! There are plenty of trails to climb the terraces and around so make sure you take time to have a look.
5. Tanah Lot
An insanely picturesque temple which is built on a rock face off the South coast of Bali, Tanah Lot is an essential stop on your itinerary. It is like stepping into another world of snakes which guard the temple and hindu blessings where you can lace your hair with Frangipani. Make sure you visit when the tide is out to explore the temple and the beaches around. The best times to visit for a fantastic view is at sunrise or sunset.
So those are the 5 stops you must include in your Balinese adventure. Aside from the above there are plenty more places visit. You can see the dolphins in Lovina, visit the black sand beaches of Amed, party with celebrities in Nusa Dua, visit the stylish Seminyak or party the night away in Kuta.
Whatever you decide to choose, it will be a magical journey on the island. Bali is a mood and you will quickly come to realise that it will stay in your heart and soul forever.
Do you have any other suggestions for visiting Bali? Is it on your bucket list? Comment below!
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