The land of volcanos, forests, beaches, and adventures has finally made it on my compass. Be it, the spell-bounding pictures that one gets to witness about this place on social media, or the extent to which people praise about Bali, those made me inquisitive enough to mark it next on my journey.
Well, to start with, there are certain incredible places in Bali which make you wonder about how much beauty nature encapsulates within itself and then, there are few more renowned places which are definitely not worth the hype. This blog has my suggestions about the places to visit and places you can skip based on my experience in Bali.
To start with, we didn’t try to squeeze in too many places in a week as we were looking for a relaxed holiday. We have stayed for 2 days in Gili Twarangan while the rest 5 days in Ubud.
Ubud is in Central Bali and is bound to offer you an authentic Bali atmosphere with the architecture involving their mythological characters, which take you back in time. It is a good place to stay, if you are not into the partying mode of Kuta/Semniyak. We made day trips to Eastern Bali, Nusa Penida island, and Northern Bali.
Gili Island, on the other hand, is a group of 3 islands located at around an hour distance from Bali. They are known for their white sand beaches, diving, partying and beautiful sunsets. Gili Twarangan, which is the most popular and largest among the 3 islands is known for its party vibe and of course, the sunset points. We stayed there for 2 days, just cycling around all the time (No motor vehicles in the island, grab your cycles or take a walk around or may be take a horse carriage), watching beautiful sunsets, and enjoying Balinese spa. If you are looking for calmer islands, try Gili Meno and Gili Air.
Let me dive into the list now.
1. Visit Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida
If there is one place in Bali that makes me to think visit Bali again, it would be Nusa Penida island. Unlike the crowded and commercialised islands of Gili, these islands are much more calmer with stunning landscapes.
You can reach Nusa Penida by taking a boat ride from Sanur beach harbour. There are many stalls, right on Sanur Beach which sell tickets (should not cost you one more than IDR 500,000 for two-way journey per person). We have done a 1-day trip to Nusa Penida but if you have enough time, I would recommend to skip Gili and stay in Nusa.
Kelingking is one of the most beautiful marvel of nature with its water showcasing shades of blue and the cliffs standing out, in the huge expanse of the ocean. Even though, it is touristy, it is worth visiting. Wear comfortable shoes as it involves hiking. Ensure you have at-least 2 hrs to visit this place so that you can go to the beach.
Nusa Penida has a very rough terrain with steep hilly and broken roads. It’s highly advisable to take a four-wheeler within Nusa Penida to ride around. The island is huge enough to not be able to cover by walking. Each place is atleast 1/2 hours from the main centre.
2. Dive/Snorkel in Crystal Bay Beach, Nusa Penida
This beach is known for snorkelling and diving. Nusa Penida, particularly has amazing diving spots. In case you are planning a day trip, ensure you carry an extra pair of clothes to snorkel or dive.
Tall coconut trees, wild sea and the changing shades of sea is enough to soothe you, even though you are not into diving or snorkelling.
3. Hike to the Broken Bridge, Nusa Penida
It is a natural bridge formed by rocks with turquoise shades of water flowing underneath. One of the spectacular spots to not miss and it is usually slightly crowded with tourists. Plan it early in the day so that it is less crowded. It is a very short hike of not more than 30 min.
4. Head to Jemeluk View Point in Eastern Bali
This view point is going to sweep you off your feet with the view of the majestic Mount Agung and the Jemeluk Beach stretching right below, and the tall green coconut trees surrounding the beach, and last but not the least, watching all these while the dusk sets in. It gives a much better view of Agung compared to the view from Lempuyang temple.
It is going to be a long ride of approximately 3 hrs from Ubud. However, it’s definitely worth it. I happen to visit this in early morning but if you have time to visit it during sunset, it would be the most calm and romantic place.
5. Watch Sunrise at Ulu Danu Bratan in Northern Bali
Ulu Danu Bratan is a temple in Bali, that is right on the shore of the huge lake Bratan which is surrounded by huge mountains of Bedugul in the background.
Hold on, before you judge that this is a temple, Indonesians have scouted the best locations in entire Bali to build temples which overlook that scenery. So, even if you are an atheist, I would recommend you to visit this place. The drive to this place is incredible with beautiful panoramas of lush green trees and mountains.
This place is at its best if you reach there by 6 (2 hrs journey from Ubud). The mountains would be partially covered by clouds, with the rays of rising sun touching the waters of Lake Bratan.
6. Visit Uluwatu Temple in Southern Bali
It is located on top of the highest cliff which is standing tall on the shores of Uluwatu beach. The view is spell-bounding and it is usually less crowded if you reach before 9 am in the morning. However, this spot is known for its sunset. So, if you can plan a visit during sunset, it would be great 🙂
Beware of monkeys in this temple.
7. Watch the Sun Set on the beaches of Gili Twarangan
Gili T is usually noisy and crowded on the main streets of the island. However, the sunset beaches of Gili are much more calmer with slow music and a chilled-out vibe.
You can even walk to the night markets of Gili, which start from 9 pm. They sell some unique handmade products.
8. Visit the renowned “Gateway to Heaven” in Lempuyang
The famous “Gateway to Heaven” is in Lempuyang temple which overlooks the Mt.Agung (biggest active volcanic mountain in Bali). Try to reach there by 6 am in the morning to catch the spectacular view with clouds partially covering Mt.Agung and the sun rising above the horizon.
It is a 2 hr drive from Ubud (Start by 4 am in the morning from Ubud to catch sunrise). The ride to the temple is spectacular in the early morning. Also, the 4 wheelers are not allowed beyond a certain point near the temple due to extremely steep roads. There would be bike taxis that you can take if you don’t prefer to walk (They charged around IDR 100,000 for one-way but you can bargain for lesser price)
9. Dive in the waters of Gili
More than the underwater world which is not as good as Andaman, the diving experience with Dive Central Gili is amazing. They take you through the basics and teach you useful techniques in diving. Ask for Rose if you are in there, she is amazing at teaching the art of diving for beginners
10. Trek to Mount Batur
This is a famous trek to Mt.Batur (one of the volcanic mountains) which many recommend. It is usually a night trek where you reach the peak during sunrise. Bali Bliss Tours organises this trek for around IDR 48,000 per person (which includes Rice terraces trekking as well after the Batur trek)
If you couldn’t make it to trek, then you can head to this restaurant called “Batur Sari Resto” which gives a closer panoramic view of Mt.Batur. It is definitely worth the visit.
The ride to Mt.Batur is around 1.5 hrs from Ubud. Again, the journey is incredible with greenery all around.
11. Visit Sarawasti Temple in Ubud
This temple takes you back in time with its architecture and the lotus ponds. It is right in the centre of Ubud and usually gets crowded after 8 am. Try to reach there before 8 am to get a good view of the temple and to sit and relax around.
12. Explore the Tegalalang Street and Local Markets of Ubud
If you are into interior decor and handmade straw bags, Ubud has it all. Even though many people recommend local markets of Ubud, I found Tegalalang street sporting more variety in terms of shopping and it is reasonably priced compared to Ubud local markets. We came to know about the Tegalalang street after shopping in Ubud local markets, so we couldn’t shop much there. But, if you are thinking of shopping, head to Tegalalang Street.
But, be sure to bargain for 1/4th the price that they demand in Ubud Local Markets and around half the price that they demand in Tegalalang Street.
13. Visit the swings on Wanagiri Hills
You must have seen the Bali swing pictures with amazing background, and many other major iconic picturesque nests. On the way back from Danu Bratan, there would be many swings on Wanagiri Hills, you can just stop by one of those and click the pictures.
The actual Bali Swing which is just a swing on the edge of little valley and few other spots to click pictures, is way too overhyped and way too expensive (charging around IDR 1,100,000). It would be a sheer waste of money unless you want to spend so much for pictures which you can anyways get on Wanagiri Hills.
14. Get a Balinese Spa and Taste the Indonesian cuisine
Balinese spas are renowned and relaxing. Kaveri Spa in Ubud is one good spa recommendation. Not all the spas are good, look up for the reviews before you go ahead.
Indonesians have a lot of healthy options for food. The smoothies, acai bowls are famous for breakfasts and Nasi Goreng, famous Indonesian dish is something that you can try.
If you are into beer, you can try their local beer “Bintang” which is one of the best beers in terms of taste.
If you are not into having noodles/ fried rice everyday, I suggest you carry some ready-to-eat food or they have good vegetables and wide range of options for fruits.
15. Visit Tegenungan waterfall
This is a renowned waterfall with good view and I would recommend you to visit this place before 8 am as it gets crowded after that.
Inspite of it being famous, I didn’t find it so beautiful as it is currently in a very bad state with litter all around. There are other good waterfalls which you could visit – Padang Bulia, Timbumana waterfalls which are much cleaner.
- If you are wondering why I haven’t recommended rice terraces, I didn’t find them interesting or beautiful in any way. It is just a different way of growing rice. Being an Indian, paddy fields are a common sight which could be one of the reasons that it didn’t intrigue me
- The interesting part about temples in Bali is that tourists are allowed to see the temple, only from outside. They are not allowed to enter inside to watch the idols. In case of any temple ceremonies, temples are completely closed for tourists. So, in case you are planning to visit the temples, check the temple ceremonies schedule
- Temples in Bali permit fully covered clothes for both men and women. Ensure you avoid short clothes while visiting temples or else, they do offer Sarong ( a piece of cloth to tie around the waist) which you can rent for minimum price
Few more tips about Bali travel, and shopping tips would come up in my next blog. Until then, stay connected on my Instagram for more updates 🙂
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Photos by Durga Pulijala
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