After few years of solo travel, I got hitched and then started venturing more places with Anu. For a change I wanted to not travel to Europe for my honeymoon (yes, I am addicted to Eurotrips :)) and wanted to go to an exotic location in Asia. Having Maldives,, Bali, Vietnam and even Australia and few other options in my mind, I started researching out each place with visa requirements, cost and the best time to visit. Finally, Bali (Indonesia) and Thailand worked out perfectly. Bali has so much to see around, right from historic temples, wildlife, waterfalls, beaches, islands, traditional dances, rice terraces to a wide range of food options too. I started working on an itinerary for 8 days (5 days in Bali and 3 days in Phuket). Booked everything via Pickyourtrail and customised all places as per our preferences. Indonesia has free visa for most countries and it’s an easy immigration process. In this blog I would like to focus on our Bali experience and walk you through a day by day itinerary. I also took tips from Sandhya who has been there before (Sandhya will also write a blog on Bali in the coming months, hers will be more on traveling to Bali with kids :))
Handy Tips before flying to Bali
- If flying from India, there are no direct flights to Bali so you’ll have to go via Malaysia, Thailand or Singapore. Hence there will be transit and you might need to keep a day or two buffer for the travel.
- You can take USD and convert to Indonesian Rupiah. As Indonesian currency comes in huge denomination, keep a watch while spending. You might easily give IDR100,000 for IDR10,000 by mistake.
- While shopping in local markets, make sure you get a good bargain. You could easily be tricked double the cost for an item.
- There is not much public transport like buses or trains. Its best to book a private car or hire a bike (even cheaper) to get around Bali. Sandhya has a contact of a great driver+guide – feel free to contact her if you are going there – he is a highly trusted source and is a constant contact for a lot of our friends and colleagues.
- Summers are pretty hot and humid and hence ideal time would be Feb to May or Aug to Nov when it is pleasant.
- It may rain in Bali during evenings, hence good to carry an umbrella with you.
- If you’re an adventure freak, you could plan around Nusa Dua or Gili islands and try out paragliding, snorkelling, swimming, scuba diving.
- Dress modestly (covering the shoulders and knees) and conduct yourself appropriately when visiting temples and holy sites.
- Many temple sites have monkeys – so do not carry plastic bags or food around – they tend to snatch!
- Bali is quite a big place so plan in advance as to where to stay as it is quite a drive with a lot of traffic – so plan ahead for Ubud, Seminyak or Kuta.
Best Places to visit around Bali
Uluwatu and Kacek dances: The most popular Balinese sea temple located by the cliff.
We were mesmerised by the rhythmic chanting of the Kacek dance performance at Uluwatu Temple with the shimmering Indian Ocean sunset as the backdrop. Watching the traditional Kacek fire dance by sunset was wonderful. Uluwatu temple is believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillar for its magnificent location perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above sea level. This temple also shares the splendid sunset backdrops as that of Tanah Lot Temple, another important sea temple located in the island’s western shores. It costs 30,000IDR/person for the entrance to the temple and 100,000IDR/person for the Kacek dance and temple is open from 9AM to 6PM. The dance is in the evening after 5PM.
Tanah Lot: It is another historical Hindu temple & iconic pilgrimage site built on a dramatic rock formations in the sea. We loved the evening and this was extremely relaxing. Experience the serenity of the tropical sun slowly disappearing beyond the horizon into the wide open ocean, an incredible sight to treasure all your life. Tanah Lot definitely epitomises the romantic island of Bali. The silhouette of Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most popular iconic features of Bali. It costs 60,000IDR/person and the temple is open from 7AM to 7PM.
Ulun Danu: My favourite place in Bali was definitely the Shivaite temple at Ulun Danu. Quite serene and located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul, it makes you appreciate how Bali must have been centuries before.
The entire area is full of natural beauty and it is worth taking the boat ride and then stroll around the picturesque temple surrounded by the mountains and a lake. The smooth reflective surface of the lake surrounding most of the temple’s base creates a unique floating impression, while the mountain range of the Bedugul region encircling the lake provides the temple with a scenic backdrop. It costs 50,000IDR/person and the temple timings are 7AM to 7PM.
GWK Cultural park: Garuda Wisnu Kancena park or the GWK cultural park is a unique themed park with a huge statue of lord Vishnu riding on Garuda, the mythical bird. It occupies a large area located on top of a small hill. We had parked our car, got tickets and took a mini bus to reach the entrance from where its a nice walk (a bit long though) to reach the main statue. We enjoyed some Balinese traditional dances in the amphitheatre, then soaked up the aerial views of Bali with a welcome drink. Then, we walked to the big Wisnu statue and Garuda statue kept separately. The walk further brings to the mythical statue of GWK. It was quite an experience embracing the art, cultural, culinary, and spiritual aspects of the island. The big statue can be seen from anywhere in Bali. It costs 120,000IDR/person and timings to visit here are 8AM to 9PM.
Ubud Palace: This palace is an artistic cultural masterpiece and the residence of Ubud king. We tried the traditional costume of king and queen here. Its mostly free to enter and we paid around 50,000IDR to try the traditional costume and it is open from 9AM to 8PM.
Tegenungan Waterfalls: The path leading to the waterfalls with its impressive green jungle panorama and cascading water as a centrepiece had the best photo spots. You could also do the Bali swing (fav Instagram hyped spot!) here amidst the falls and it gives great views. It costs 15,000IDR/person and the opening hours are from 6:30AM to 6:30PM
Nusa Dua: Interested in any adventures? Nusa Dua is the place to go then. It has few islands and beaches around offering great views. You could try out adventures like snorkelling, scuba diving, paragliding etc., We went by a glassboat all the way to Turtle island watching the corals and also feeding sea creatures. We enjoyed playing with mini turtles too! We had lots of fun and ended our day with cool tender coconuts (a must try!).
Bali Swing with Tea/Coffee tasting: When in Bali, one shouldn’t miss the swing which is quite popular (and as said above a fav Instagram spot!). It is quite expensive, so think about it before you want to do it 🙂 We managed to get on the swing even though there was a long queue and we also ended up doing tea/coffee tasting. The swing was amazing surrounded by dense jungle and it all of a sudden started raining (hence the tip on carrying an umbrella or even a raincoat!). That’s when we sipped Rosella, Mongusteen peel tea and vanilla, coconut coffee and various other flavours. The rains made the tea and coffee tasting even better – what more could you ask for on a honeymoon! Bali weather is definitely unpredictable, but it can make some perfect memories.
Rice Terraces: If you visit Bali, visiting the rice terraces is a must. We stayed in a beautiful villa in the midst of rice terraces and paddy fields for a couple of days.
Historic temples & Islands: Apart from the places listed above there is lot more you could do in Bali. Goa Gajah, Pura Taman Saraswati, and more temples if you’re interested. Visit Gili, Nusa Penida, Lembongan islands if interested in adventures and beaches. We visited Batuan temple which is yet another unique architecture; UC Gold silver market where you could shop jewellery; art village where we purchased some souvenirs, tea, coffee; tried cuisines in organic restaurants of Indonesia.
Hope you visit beautiful Bali soon and hope our tips helped you!