There is just one word to describe Bali and it is “MAGICAL“. As probably the most famous island in Indonesia.Travel & Leisure Magazine has awarded Bali the World’s Best Island in 2009, while the Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2010 ranked Bali second place among the world’s.
Famed as the “Island of the Gods”, with its varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colorful, deeply spiritual and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth. With world-class surfing and diving, a large number of cultural, historical and archaeological attractions, and an enormous range of accommodations, this is one of the world’s most popular island destinations and one which consistently wins travel awards.
Think of Bali as a perfect place to spend your honeymoon or get away place if you are DAMN stress. I never thought I will set foot on this place as it may seemed impossible to plan a trip here because of “RUMORS” I heard from folks who had been to Bali that it is expensive when you get there. But to my surprise everything I thought I know about Bali is not TRUE, it is an affordable place, from Food, Activities and Shopping which somehow reminds me of Thailand for anything but CHEAP and AFFORDABLE is just around the corner. There are numerous ways on how you can enjoy your stay in Bali and to give you some heads up I will highlight the most popular activities here and some of them are included in my itinerary.
1) Soak up in the Sun/Discover the best beaches in town
Travelers come to Bali for its long stretches of white sand beach, crystal clear sea for swimming, strong waves for surfing and volcanic black sands for sunbathing. There are an array of options to choose from in terms of BEACHES and some of the popular ones are Kuta, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Legian, Jimbaran, Dreamland, Lovina and many more. Just imagine you are in an Island which is surrounded by endless sand beaches. I personally explored some of the known beaches on my last day in Bali cause I just thought that the trip is not complete without my sunburn on my skin before I head back to KL. The beaches in Bali are not really meant for swimming as the waves are that HUGE that it can KILL you and sucked you up in the middle of the ocean. As a matter of fact I incurred some bruises on my back from SURFING.
COST: 0 IDR as all of the beaches are open to public except for some private resort beach. The only cost here your transportation from getting to one beach to another.
HOW TO GET THERE: (TAXI, MOTORBIKE, PRIVATE CAR)
2) Temple Hopping
Bali is a beautiful Island in Indonesia known as the “Island of the Thousand Temples” or the “Island of the Gods”, because of the great number of wonderful Hindu temples there are in the Island. It says that Bali has more temples than houses. Each village of Bali has several of temples. Besides, each home in the Island has its own small temple. All Bali temples have a special orientation from the mountains and the sea.
From the thousand temples you can choose from you have to decide which temples you will include in your itinerary. Choose based on what looks appealing based on images available online. I have to check out some travel blogs in order to decide and trust me I think I have seen enough although there are still several which I have not seen during my visit. Everywhere you go, you will see temple and Gods in every corners. I was appalled and amazed how Balinese people are so hooked up with their Religion.
COST: Admission ticket varies from every temple which usually ranges from 10,000 IDR-35,000 IDR. It wont hurt your pocket,though the numerical figures looks expensive.
HOW TO GET THERE: Best option is to go on a day tour with a private car and driver which will take you to the temples. Before your arrival it is best to send your itinerary to the driver so they can decide which will come first and last as the locations of the temples are not near each other. A day or two is enough to explore the must see temples.
3) See the lushes and greenest Rice Paddy Fields.
The area around Ubud is characterised by gently rolling rice paddies, and these create an impression of greenness which can be quite startlingly beautiful. Have your picture taken with this view as you background is tempting and so I decide to visit one of the most visited Rice Terraces in Bali. I have never seen a Rice Terraces in my whole life and seeing the greenest land is like an paint canvass. Aside from Tegalalang Rice Field you can also opt to see other rice fields like Jatiluwih, Karangasem (near Tirta Gangga), Busungbiu, Pupuan.
COST: 0 IDR– You wont have to pay anything to see it and in fact some of them you will get pass by while on your to Ubud.
HOW TO GET THERE: Hire a private car or motorbike. The terraces can be found in Ubud so if you happen to visit Monkey Forest or decide to stay for atleast 1 night in Ubud you can have a look.
4) Watch a Balinese Traditional Dance
Theater and dance is an integral part of Balinese culture. Balinese dances are famous all over the world and the Balinese themselves take them very seriously. Birthdays, weddings, and temples festivals are all occasions for dramatic performances and dance is inextricably linked with the Balinese religion. The colorful costumes is one of the reasons why happened to watch the Barong Dance, for I have not seen that looks of the performers from the previous countries I’ve visited. Some of the known Balinese Traditional Dance you can choose from are Barong, Kecak, The Ramayana, War Dance, Legong Dance and each of dances mentioned has different stories to tell.
COST: It cost’s me 100,000 IDR for an hour of performance but prices varies from each dance performance.
HOW TO GET THERE: Hire a private car or motorbike. Not all of them can be watch during daytime so just be clear which dance performance you want to see for instance Barong Dance hours is during daytime while Kecak Dance is performed at night.
5) SURF SURF SURF
It is a “SURFING PARADISE”. True itself because of big waves and amazing coast lines. I dont know how to swim but I still managed to survive surfing the big waves on Dreamland Beach. You”ll be surprise as to how many Aussie you can spot surfing and the several surfing schools along Kuta.
COST: 150,000 IDR is what pay for a surf board rental and a guy who teaches me basics of surfing. Learn how to haggle and it is always safe to know the basics of prices before you land on a new destination. I have to ask my Indonesian friend about usual price and if you are good enough you can get it for 50,000-200,000 IDR.
HOW TO GET THERE: By private car and motorbike. If you plan to explore the beaches and this activity can be injected for it make sense cause you are in the beach already.
6) Check out the majestic Mt. Batur and serene Lake Batur
The mountainous region around Kintamani, centering on the spectacular volcanic caldera of Mt Batur with its deep crater lake and bubbling hot springs, is rugged with a high and wild beauty.
COST: 0 IDR
HOW TO GET THERE: You can go there by taxi or just rent a car. You can also join a tour to visit Mount Batur and Lake Batur. Tourist shuttle buses between southern Bali and Lovina stop off at Kintamani.
7) SHOP until you drop
The island of Bali is paradise for shoppers. The beautiful traditional culture of the island and its focus on aesthetics mean that locally produced handicrafts, textiles, and art are everywhere. As Bali is a thriving tourist center, products from around Indonesia and Asia can easily be found at low prices, while decades of cosmopolitan visitors have contributed to a thriving fashion scene.
COST: The damage all depends on you if you are an impulsive buyer type or the thrifty one.
HOW TO GET THERE:(BY FOOT,TAXI,CAR,MOTORBIKE) Handicrafts, stonework, and jewelry are made and sold in Ubud and the surrounding areas, while mass-produced souvenirs and cut-rate fashions are a Kuta specialty. Funky and stylish boutiques are all over Seminyak, and in Kerobokan, local furniture stores are filled to the rafters with rescued antiques and modern pieces made of the finest materials
8) Have a taste of the best of Balinese Food/Enrol in Balinese Cooking Class
The true Balinese cuisine is, like all else in Bali, a matter of contrasts. Just as there are men and women, good and evil, night and day, there is everyday food, and there is festival food. The staple of daily fare is rice, accompanied by vegetables, a small amount of fish or meat, and a range of condiments, usually cooked in the early morning, and consumed whenever the need arises, often as snacks. Most Balinese meals are eaten quickly and without fanfare. Dining out and in groups is not a normal social custom. It is also nice to induced yourself on how the Balinese Cuisine and learn how to cook it as most often Balinese Food cannot be found elsewhere.
COST: A decent meal would cost you from 5000-30,000 IDR.
HOW TO GET THERE: there are dozens of good restaurants to be found in the main streets of Kuta, Legian, Ubud, Candidasa, Lovina, Sanur and most of the major tourist areas which can be access by Foot,Motorbike or Taxi.
9) Find your balance by doing YOGA
Enjoy daily yoga and meditation in a spectacular yoga pavilion overlooking lush rice fields and cool breezes. Just thinking of Julia Roberts in the movie Eat Pray Love will surely invite you to try out YOGA CLASSES. If you have the luxury of spending more days then you can try it out as I am sure it will help you regain your balance and energy before you go back to your busy world.
COST: Ranging from 150,000-5,500,000 IDR based on the information available online.
10) Visit the Bali Bombing Memorial (Ground Zero Monument)
Ground Zero monument was built to commemorate the first Bali Bombing tragedy and honor the victims. 1 Bali bombings occurred in 2002, exactly on October 12.These events led to loss of life is very much that 202 people died mostly foreign tourists from Australia. This incident occurred in the area Jl.Legian Kuta, Bali, exactly in the Sari Club and Paddy’s Cafe.
COST: 0 IDR
HOW TO GET THERE: To reach this location is extremely convenient, located at the Ground Zero Monument roadside legian congested. The monument is located in an open space with no other buildings are covered so that visitors can easily take pictures with the background of this monument.You can opt to walk from Legian or Kuta, rent motorbike or hailed a taxi.
11) Do your self a favor (SPLURGE and RELAX)
Honeymooner’s or people who are just tired of their life can opt to just booked an accommodation to a 5 star or any premier hotel. Bali is known for the very appealing Balinese Design and Arts which is very relaxing and soothing to eyes. Supposedly my 1st night in Bali will be spent to a middle class hotel just so I can experience more of Balinese Vibes and Ambiance but the hotel cancelled my reservation last minute so I ended up couch surfing.. Just imagine waking up in a villa room with the greenest rice field around you, the thought of that just makes you lie down and listen to your favorite song from your Ipod.
COST: Accommodations ranging from 10 USD for guesthouses/hostels up to the 200 USD for a nice villa room with pool.
WHERE: Budget accommodations can be found in Kuta and Legian area for backpackers. Just make sure you booked early cause rooms get filled quickly due to numerous tourist coming in and out of the island.
12) Experience a platter of seafood in Jimbaran Beach
Enjoy the magical sunset at place while sitting at a table on the beach with your toes in the sand or have a seat on roofed sea terrace overviewing Jimbaran Bay, colorful fishing boats in front. Sip a cocktail, enjoy your delicious seafood or try Balinese specialties freshly prepared for you. After a very exhausting 10 hour day tour, what is the best way then to end the day and fill your stomach than to experience dining on the beach. I was relieved while seeing sun comes down and the only color of the sky is a bright sunny orange and I just want to sing A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. Oh so romantic but I am alone dining so I kinda missed someone. Jimbaran Beach is few minutes away from Uluwatu Temple and Padang Padang Beach, so it is best to include dining in Jimbaran if you are just around the corner.
COST: Seafood costs a bit cause the place is touristy but you can manage to enjoy dining for less. Around 30,000-300,000 IDR is the prices of the meal you can find on the menu.
HOW TO GET THERE: PRIVATE CAR or TAXI. It is accessible if you are within Uluwatu Temple or Padang Padang Beach.
13) Meet the “Medicine Man” from the movie EAT PRAY LOVE
I had the opportunity to meet with Ketut Liyer, a 9th generation healer in Bali, who was an inspiration for Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat Pray Love. I haven’t read the book but I have seen the movie, forgive me for that as I am not fond of reading for it makes me feel sleepy. Top reason why I wanted to visit Bali ever since is to get a piece of my Eat Pray Love in this majestic Island.
Ketut Liyer became known to various countries, since his character to be a character in a Hollywood movie, “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts. The movie is lifted by the book with the same title, the story is real, soul-searching journey of Elizabeth Gilbert to three countries, one in Bali Indonesia. One famous scene is the encounter with Elizabeth Gilbert. He also studied meditation with Ketut Liyer. The scene is a lot to inspire women from various countries, who come to Bali, to meet with Ketut Liyer, to fortune.
COST: All I thought it is free to just have my picture taken with him but to my surprise I was asked to pay 50,000 IDR although I did not have my palm read by him. But if you opt to have your palm read by him hoping he can give a enlighten you have to pay 200,000-250,000 IDR. But be warned that it is same readings that he give to all.
HOW TO GET THERE: Best way is by private car. Located at Jalan Mongkey Forest area, in the crowded center of Ubud (Banjar Kaja Pengosekan, Ubud,)