Bali is an Indonesian island famous for its forested volcanic mountains, peaceful rice paddies and beautiful beaches. Lots of visitors stick to the beaches and see very little of the interior of the island.
However, there is so much to see and do beyond this. Here are my suggestions to make the most of your time in Bali.
We set an early alarm this morning, as we set off from the hotel at 2am. I could feel my excitement growing as we set off under the stars armed with our head torches. The climb steadily increased in gradient and difficulty but after a 3 mile hike we had made it. It was tough but so worthwhile to experience a truly spectacular sunrise over Lake Batur.
We also enjoyed some brilliant views across to Lombok. We were very lucky to have a perfectly clear morning and happily headed back down the volcano after the obligatory photo shoot. I was quite surprised how busy it was on the hike. We did have to wait in a line to get the view from the top but once we were there, it was well worth it!
There are some great dive and snorkelling sights around the island but one of the best is in the North West corner amongst the Menjangan island. The reef here is in a good healthy state with a great array of corals and fish and good visibility. A quick lunch stop on the uninhabited beach whilst joined by the local deer.
Ubud is a surprisingly big and bustling town set amongst the beautiful rice paddies in the middle of Bali. There’s so much to do and see here, from unique shops to artisan jewellers. Head to Babi Guling for the best Balinese roast pork and wander between the lilypads at the Lotus Temple. You can also explore the Ubud Monkey Forest but watch out! They love stealing sunglasses and hats, so keep your wits about you.
In Ubud, we enjoyed a traditional Kecak dance performance, where human chanting is hypnotically used as a back beat to the dance. It’s quite exciting being on the front row when they start kicking the fire around the arena!
Just outside of Ubud, you’ll find the Campuhan Ridge Walk. It’s a beautiful trek through rice paddies, lush vegetation and sweeping hilltop views. The best time to do the walk is around sunrise or sunset. This means it won’t be too hot and you’ll have a beautiful sky to enjoy whilst you hike. As it’s paved its really not difficult and is only around 30 minutes each way.
For something a little different, why not try the Bali Swing? Set amongst beautiful scenery, you can soar out over the rice terraces for a great photo opportunity. OK, it’s not quite a bungee jump or skydive but still a very cool experience.
Sidemen was my favourite place in Bali. We enjoyed a walk around the village and rice paddies. It’s tucked away from the tourist crowds and very peaceful. There are rice paddies and lush vegetation as far as you can see. If the weather is clear you also get fantastic views of Mount Agung.
We met our guide’s family and learnt about the traditional wedding they were preparing for. Our hotel here was fantastic - we enjoyed a couple of afternoons relaxing in the infinity pool with stunning views.
Of course, Bali is full of beautiful beaches. The most popular areas are in the south east of the island - Kuta, Seminyak, Jimbaran Bay, Nusa Dua and Sanur. Our final night was in Sanur, which had a laid-back vibe and some great beachside restaurants. There are plenty of shops for last minute gifts as well. The beaches in the south of Bali can get pretty busy with a fantastic party atmosphere.
If you’re looking for something quieter and more low-key, head north or north west. There are also some beautiful islands off the coast of Bali, like Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan.
Head inland and you’ll find some great white water rafting options. The most popular rivers are Telaga Waja and Ayung, both close to Ubud. The Telaga Waja River has more adventurous rapids from Grade 2 to Grade 4 and is a longer rafting section. The Ayung river is just 20 minutes from Ubud and with grade 2-3 rapids. It’s a shorter trip so is good for beginners.
They are both beautiful – fighting the rapids as you sweep along the river through the rainforest is so much fun.
Every town in Bali has dozens of massage places that you can indulge in for around £6 per hour. It’s excellent value! There are loads of different styles available, but the classic Balinese massage is a favourite to ease those aching muscles and unwind.
It is a full body, deep tissue, holistic treatment combining gentle stretches, reflexology and aromatherapy. It stimulates blood flow and oxygen and will make you feel calm and deeply relaxed.
Over the years, Bali has become very popular with soul-searching travellers. Yoga and meditation centres can be found all over the island. They utilise the Balinese culture, rituals and local healing. Find serenity and peace on the island of the Gods.
Bali has some fantastic food – enough to try something new and delicious every day. Bungkus is a take away lunch of rice, meat (or tofu), chilli sauce, boiled egg and noodles, all wrapped in a banana leaf. Eat it with your hands -it’s the best take away you will ever have. Another highlight is Nasi Goreng, well known as Indonesia’s national dish. A tasty mix of stir-fried rice, meat, fish, prawns, egg, salad and a kecap soy sauce. Yum!
I travelled to Bali on a fantastic Intrepid Travel tour. This was my first trip with them and it was fantastic! I was very impressed with the itinerary, as well as the accommodation. We stayed in small, boutique 3 star properties, often with pools and amazing views. A group tour is a great way to cover a lot of ground quickly. Our guide, Yogi, was friendly and knowledgeable – he really knew Bali like the back of his hand.
Intrepid Travel have an excellent sustainability and community impact ethos. It was great to see this first-hand. They provided refillable drinking water every day so single use plastic bottles aren’t needed. Most of our day trips were led by local guides and we ate at local restaurants. In fact, the best meal we had was at a lady’s house in Lovina, with a delicious spread of Indonesian food.