Bali is known to most of the travel enthusiasts as a little island full of beauty. We recently visited Bali and I couldn’t agree more that it is one of the most interesting places that I have visited till now. The minute I came out of the airport, I could see the art and culture of the place in its architecture, clothes worn by the locals, the food, the hospitality and its people was evident. Here is a list of things that you can do in Bali if you want to see the best that it has to offer.
1. Blue Point beach, near Uluwatu
Blue Point Beach is located at the southern point of Bali which is popular for its beautiful beaches like Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, etc. And I can say that it has its charm like no other place. We went there while staying at Nusa Dua which is 45 minutes’ drive to the beach. The azure waters and the shallow beach side made it ideal for people who want to laze. Giant rocks, shaped by time and ocean waters and white sand made it look very attractive. Deck Chair restaurant on the cliff makes it one of the best spots for sea view. The restaurant serves, food, bear and other beverages and the sundeck is pretty popular with the visitors. Go early to reserve a spot. Many surfers throng the place because it is windy and pleasant.
2. Taman Nusa, Banjarangka, Bali
If you are interested in the local culture, art and architecture but do not have enough time to explore then this is your one stop solution. This cultural park houses replicas of the popular buildings and architecture around Indonesia. It gives comprehensive information on the cultures of Indonesia’s various ethnic groups in an attractive way. Located at Gianyar, which is not very far from Ubud, we could make a quick trip to this place. The fee seems a bit high but it had a lot to offer about the history, culture, people and food of this island. You can easily spend 2 – 3 hours here.
3. Ulun Danu Temple Complex near Bedugul
Go to this place to see its natural beauty. I was lucky enough to hear the priests chant Gayatri mantra. Tourists are not allowed to go inside the main temple but you can go around the temple courtyard and see the beautiful architecture and the intricate carvings. The foggy mountain at the background gives it a mystical charm. Paddle boats and speed boats go up and down the lake Bratan. Lotus flowers and tall grass deck up the shore. The temple in the backdrop of lake looks stunning. This is the poster temple of Bali as most of the sites host the picture of this temple. It won’t take you more than an hour to completely soak up this place.
4. Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot is a spectacular temple on top of a standalone rock. Although, tourists are not allowed to go inside the temple but it looks peculiar and spooky at the same time. You can see godmen performing rituals or guarding the stairway gates to the main temple. It is somewhat in the middle of water and in high tide, it might not be possible to go very near the temple to have a good look. Another attractive aspect is a small temple on top of a hollow rock. Merciless sea wind and water has carved out a hole in the rock. The visitors go over the bridge like path to the main temple which again doesn’t welcome tourists. Still a spectacular sight to see! What do you think?
5. Barong dance and Kintamani tour
Kintamani tour is an interesting journey around the Bali locales where you can see the real Bali, its people and culture. If you have time, stop by on the village lanes. Every house in the village looks like a temple because of their distinct architecture. The people look simple and are friendly. They smile back. Not many will be aware that villages have a temple at every T Junction as it is believed to bring bad luck if your house is towards the end of a road. On this trip, you will see the hills, the rice terraces, Barong dance in a temple and eventually Mt. Batur and the blackened lava soil. You will get to eat in a beautiful open-sided hilltop restaurant with stunning views of rice terraces and Mount Batur volcano. You will this tour refreshing as it is a contrast to the beaches at Kuta, Seminyak, etc.
6. Satria Agrowisata for Coffee/Tea tasting
There are several tea and coffee tasting places around Bali. We went to the Satria Agrowisata where for the first time I tried Cat-poo-chino or Kopi Luwak. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. For those who do not know, this special coffee is made once a cat like animal called Luwak by locals poops the semi-digested coffee beans. Of course, the coffee beans are washed, dried, roasted and then ground into a fine powder. Over here, you can also find organic spices, oils, herbal teas and various types of coffees. We brought vanilla coffee, Rosella tea, Saffron tea, etc. They take US dollars as well as local currency. The trip is mid-way to Kintamani and won’t take more than an hour. The tea tasting is done for free where tray full of various beverages are brought in small cups. You need to pay only for Kopi Luwak tasting. The ambience is farm like and you can also see caged animals (Luwak) who make this coffee so expensive.
7. Jimbran Bay
Jimbran Bay boasts of serving the best seafood in Bali. The entire seaside is lined up with eating joints which serve fresh sea food as per your preference. From crabs, to king fish to local offerings like Jacket fish, you can find the best quality food there. You can make your food spicy with Sambal masala or keep it bland. But be careful as taxis work on commissions and they take you to average places. So go to a place only after doing proper research. The best thing about Jimbran Bay is that you can see the planes landing and taking off from the airport runway and it looks fantastic in the early evening. These restaurants are right on the beach so your table might be set up where the waves can kiss your feet. They also arrange for entertainment like you can find women performing Balinese dance in traditional attire, or a group of musicians performing a popular song from your country, or fire stunts, etc. This is a good place for an evening. Though I found the prices were steep.
8. Gunung Kawi in Tampaksiring
What makes Gunung Kawi attractive is that it is surrounded by hills on all sides and is less than 45 minutes from Ubud. The temple itself is not that great. It has tombs cut on to the face of a rock. But it reminded me of Lara Croft movies as the tombs in the middle of the jungle were pretty interesting. There were not many tourists around, so we walked through the rice fields and the temple peacefully. If you want to observe natural beauty and the local life, you should visit this place.
9. Trek to Mt. Batur or Mt. Agung
If you can rise early, say around 3 – 4 am then only think about venturing in this direction. Mt. Batur and Mt. Agung both were live volcanoes once but now lie dormant. Mt. Agung being the highest peak in Bali offers spectacular view but it is a tough trek. For those who are not too fit can try Mt. Batur which is comparatively easy. The local tourist company will pick you up from the hotel in the middle of the night and then take you to the foothills of the mountain. From there you start walking up the mountain to reach the peak before sunrise. There are monkeys on the way which can be a bit of a nuisance. But you will not regret this tough trek once you see the best views of Bali from the peak.
10. Uluwatu temple and Kechak Dance (Fire dance)
I was much apprehensive of visiting this place as I had heard horrible stories of rowdy monkeys tormenting unsuspecting tourists. But to my surprise, didn’t find any such incidents. As long as you are not carrying food or wearing any glasses, you are fine. The end of the stairway leads you to a cliff from where you get amazing cliff view of the temple. The water bashing against the rocks at the bottom looks scary though. Then you need to walk all the way to the other end of the stairway/pathway to reach the temple. The main temple is closed for the tourists as usual but people visit this place because of the fantastic unrestricted view it offers of the waters surrounding this island. Finally, you reach an open amphitheater. This is where the traditional Kechak dance is performed every evening at 6. The highlight of this dance is a group of 40 men chanting kecha-kecha while the main artists depict a story from Ramayana. The chanting might get on to your nerves after a while but I would still suggest that you stay till the end if you want to get photographed alongside the artists. There is no extra charge for this. Seating is free, so it is better to reach the venue a bit early. Try to sit in the middle rows to get the best view. Also, fire stunts will not affect you. Hanuman from the troupe keeps the audience on the edge with his antics so don’t feel alarmed if you are victimized by his jokes. Overall entertaining!
These are the top 10 things that I recommend for you if you are planning a trip to Bali. If you liked this post, do leave a comment below.