In autumn 2017, my boyfriend and I went on a four week trip to Indonesia #firstbigtrip, during which we visited 6 out of the 13,466 islands. #notnearlyenough Our main stops, the classics: Lombok, Bali, Java and the Gili islands. Although we were looking forward to all of them, we were most curious about this famous paradise-on-earth called Bali, and I guess, if you are reading this, so are you. Here you can read my favorite do's and don'ts.
If you've seen "Eat pray love" and loved it like I have, Ubud is the place for you. #suckerforromcoms Not only was part of the movie shot here, the friendly healer Ketut actually lives in Ubud. If you want, you can visit him for a spiritual healing, but bookings need to be done a few months in advance. He's quite popular these days.. (We weren't lucky enough to see him).
Besides the "the eat pray love" reference, I don't think I'll be able to explain my excitement for this place in a way that does it justice. Ubud seems to be the place where restless minds come to find themselves again. #thisiswherethemagichappens There are so many things to do, ranging from a great market for souvenirs, an ancient forest full of monkeys, called the monkey forest #ofcourse, spas, spiritual healers, healthy food, yoga etc.
"the place where restless minds come to find themselves again "
Even though it might not be along one of the magnificent beaches of Bali, it was my favorite place by far on the entire trip. Side note though, if you're not into tourists you probably won't share my enthusiasm.
If the souks of Marrakech make you go nuts, then this place will do too. You have it all and it costs next to nothing (if you're used to European/American prices). This place definitely filled all of the remaining space in my backpack. A golden tip: Don't think you'll find it cheaper or better at your next stop. You won't. Buy whatever it is you want here.
If you have some time in Ubud, try out a yoga class. There's tons of different yoga studios who offer several different styles and it feels like the Ubud-menu is quite elaborate. Even if you're not that into it, like my #notsoflexible boyfriend, it's still a nice place to try it out. The scenery is gorgeous and relaxing and people here know what they're doing. #gurus
Another famous pit stop in Ubud is the Monkey Forest, which in essence is a forest filled with monkeys. #brilliant Even though I'll never apply to be part of the cheer leading squad for these little thieves #cutebutpshycho, the Monkey Forest is a stop you should make. Try to go early so you're ahead of the crowds #peoplethatis, when monkeys still outnumber tourists and you can walk around in a relaxed way.
Besides monkeys, the forest holds some nice infrastructural elements such as temples, bridges, holy trees and sculptures. And if you're somewhat of a daredevil and wouldn't mind risking rabies, you can always buy food and feed them. #theydontshare
If you get the chance to check out a Kecak fire dance, don't hesitate. The many performers don't use any instruments other than their voice. #fireandtrancedance I'm not sure how much of this show has been adapted to tourists, but watching the story of Ramayana come to live is quite cool. Especially if you visit some of the temples in Java later, you'll recognize scenes from the story sculpted into the ancient temple walls.
Get a massage, or lots of them
Get a massage. Get two massages. Get as many massages as you can. Try them all. They cost next to nothing (about €6 for one hour), you can find them in the proliferation of spa's, along the streets, pretty much anywhere in Bali. Get pampered, you're on holiday. #goddammit #pampertime
Campuhan Ridge walk
The Campuhan Ridge walk is a famous walk starting in town. It takes you on a paved path along the, surprise surprise, Campuhan ridge. The path brings lots of green and calming views and even leads to some rice fields where you can stop and have a drink. It's not a though walk nor a long walk, but you'll definitely enjoy it to escape the hordes of tourists and scooters found in town.
Read more here, on how to get there.
RICE FIELDS OF TEGALLALANG
I wouldn't have felt like I truly visited Asia without seeing at least one extremely beautiful rice field. Rice Fields are quite common and you can see them very often, but the nice plateau's of Tegallalang give them a little extra. The only downside is the fact that next to a (low) entry fee there are people inside of the park begging for more money. I think it would be better to up the entry fee and stop the extra begging, it quite spoils the beauty of the place.
You can also go on the famous Bali Swings there, but keep in mind, they're a lot less magical than the Instagram crowd gives them credit for.
Drink cat poop at Bali Pulina plantation
Drinking cat poop might not be on everyone's' bucket list. But if it's on Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freemans', there is no harm in adding it, right? Add a fancy name to it and we're all sold.
"Hello Kopi Luwak."
Kopi Luwak is type of coffee made specially in Indonesia and consists of digested coffee cherries, eaten and defecated by a cat-like animal called Asian palm civets. It's specifically the digestion of the cat which is known to give the coffee its special and very expensive taste. If you're curious about this coffee, than don't leave Indonesia without trying it.
A nice place to do so is Bali Pulina.
The private tour you get there takes you through the process step-by-step, and shows you around the gardens. The best thing about it, is that it's completely free. #backpackersbudget (tipping is always advised). After the tour, you get to try different kinds of coffee (also for free) in a very nice setting. For the Kopi Luwak, they ask a small fee, but if you made it there, don't let this stop you please. #trythisshit As a bonus you'll get to enjoy some nice views on rice fields and take some more cool pictures.
If you enjoy waterparks Waterbom is the place for you. It's located in Kuta, the peninsula of Bali. The park is known to be the number one waterpark in Asia.
Rent a scooter and drive around
In Indonesia scooters are used more than shoes. It's the main transportation method and you can actually get stuck in a traffic jam made up of scooters. Luckily there aren't many traffic jams in Uluwatu and renting a scooter is actually a cheap and really nice way to discover the area, looking for hidden beaches and chasing sunsets.
Nyang Nyang Beach
Sunset at single fin bar (or any place near the beach)
Sunsets in Bali are, just as almost anywhere along the beach, pretty spectacular and colorful. One very nice and chill beach bar is Single Fin in Uluwatu. It's quite crowded but the food is good and the view is better.
Uluwatu temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu)
The Uluwatu Temple is located on top of a steep cliff, giving rise to spectacular views over the Indian Ocean. This is another great place for viewing the sunset. The best way to get there is either on foot (if you're nearby), taxi or our preferred method: scooter. When you're there watch out for the kleptomaniac residential monkeys (macaques), who's fashion sense urges them to steel sunglasses or cameras when not bribed with food!
Learn how to surf in Uluwatu
Yes it's a surfers paradise, but we saw the waves. We felt the waves. We nearly drowned barely dipping our toes in those waves. It was quite embarrassing. Leave surfing to the pro's and go enjoy a cold Bintang on the beach. If you really want to learn how to surf, try to find some beginner waves somewhere else. #justsavedyourlife #yourewelcome
Sanur (during low season)
Sanur is a small village along the beach on the east-side of Bali. We heard it was similar to Kuta (the party capital), without drunk British tourists #stereotyping
We stayed in a very nice hotel called Puri Tempo Doeloe, a gorgeous collection of small huts that reminded me of New Orleans somehow (even though I haven't been there).
However besides relaxing, there's really not much to do here. We #readme got bored halfway through our 4-day stay. Also during that time of the year (Oct-Nov) it felt like hotel occupancy rates here were at 15%, which made it spooky at times as well. So if you're not into doing nothing all day, this isn't the best place to stay. The main reason we went to Sanur was to visit #Waterbom which is just a 15 min cab ride away.