Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Bali is known as one of the best surfing destination in the world and one of the most romantic places too, or to moviegoers, the location ofEat Pray Love film by Julia Roberts. To me and Rodrigo, we've intentionally missed the surfing side of Bali. Instead we've enjoyed the culture and the sceneries. Here are the places we've visited in Bali. I've arranged it according to regions so its easier to travel.
p.s. We didn't see the sun when we were in Bali at all, so apologies for our cloudy photos.
South of Bali
Uluwatu is located in the South West of the island of Bali. We travelled here to visit the famous Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple located on the cliff edge jutting out into the sea. Before entering, Kiko (our driver) helped us out with our Sarong (I had no idea how to wear it!) as it is essential to wear one of these before entering the temple. Outside and throughout the temple there were plenty of monkeys wandering about. We were told to be careful of pockets and shiny items which the monkeys might want to grab. There is an amazing view here from the temple of the cliffs and surf from the sea. Whilst we were here we managed to see the traditional Kecak Balinese Hindu fire dance. An interesting moment watching a man dressed as the monkey god kicking fire across right in front of the audience! The musical chanting and the Hindu drama depict the epic fight between Hanuman, Rama and Ravana. Interesting to watch and listen to, with aspects of humour included (a poor American man tried to leave early and promptly found the Monkey God blocking his way!)
Best time to go: The firedance occurs at 18:00 so if you wanna watch it and see the sunset in Uluwatu as well, then best time to be there is 16:30 to have ample time to see the place before sunset.
Other places to go in south: Jimbaran bay, and the popular Jimbaran seafood restaurants
East of Bali
Pura Lempuyang is the Holy temple overlooking Mount Agung - the active volcano in Bali which erupted at the end of 2017. The volcano was still covered by clouds and ashes when we visited. (we were very gutted that Mt Agung wasnt in our pictures!) Before entering this temple there was a strict requirement to make sure we had dressed in a sarong before being blessed with holy water. We travelled about 2 and half hours from Kuta to get there. Pura Lempuyang is located at the top of the mountain and there is an astonishing view of the Volcano on a clear day.
Best time to visit: If you want Mt Agung as a backdrop which is majestically breathtaking, go on a clear sunny day.
Tirta Gangga Water Palace is on the way to Lempuyang so we've visited it afterwards. It is one of the most impressive and beautiful sights to see in all of Bali. The name literally means "water from the Ganges" and across the shimmering water many Hindu statues can be seen to ordain the waterscape. The ponds are filled with the most beautiful and colourful goldfish which are well fed and swim throughout (the largest I saw was almost the length of my arm). There is a great sense of peacefulness about this place which is captured in both the awe and beauty of the surrounding architecture and magnificent water fountains and springs. Well worth visiting!
Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali and is the place to go if you want to see some of the most impressive buildings, temples, and landscape sites. Many of the buildings and hotels are cleverly built into nature creating a “garden feel” to the place. We travelled there to meet with our friend Koko who was visiting from the Philippines. Unlike our hotel in the more tourist area of Kuta, the hotel that she was staying in had more of an nature feel with plants, gardens and water features typical of the Ubud area.
Some of the best locations to visit are Pura Taman Ayun, The Monkey Forest (which is an awesome experience and is an opportunity to be up close and personal with plenty of the Macaques Monkeys) , Ubud Market (happy bargaining and shopping) and the Rice Terraces at Tegallalang. The rice paddies stretch out across the landscape in a stepwise way fashion and create a beautiful vista of symmetry and greenery which stretches out across the distance in front of the eyes.
Best time to visit: Shopping is best in the morning to get the best deals, Pura Taman Ayun is best early morning to avoid too much tourist.
You can see the beauty of the beach at Tanoh Lot which is free of tourists and unspoilt, even though it is a place frequently visited. Nearby you can travel across to the Holy Pura Tanah Lot temple. To get to the temple we needed to paddle walk through the gentle ocean tide and we were greeted and blessed by the Hindu priests with water and rice.
Best time to visit: Morning
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, and also known as the Floating Temple, is one of the most mesmerizing temples in Bali. Built over 350 years ago, this temple houses waterside gardens and meru shrines that are so well-known in Bali. We travelled about 2 hours north of Kuta to see this gem. Although it was a cloudy day, the temple did compensate as it is very beautiful. There were monks praying in the mainland temple and non-monks weren’t allowed in.
Wanagiri Hidden Hills overlook a lake and is a scenic spot made for instagram - literally. It’s hard to explain without seeing it up close. The Hidden Hill is around 1.5 to 2 hours away from Kuta and 15 mins from Ulun Danu Bratan.
Best time to visit: Anytime during the day
Entrance fees ranges from £1 to £2 in Indonesian Rupee. Except for the destinations below. These are the places we’ve missed but intend to visit next time (highly recommended by others and by me):
Nusa Penida – world famous bird sanctuary and dive sites
Lombok – home to the location of some fantastic looking beaches
Bali Safari and Marine Park – You can have breakfast with the Orang-utans here as well as have ride and bath with the elephants
So we intend to go back, and prioritise the places we've missed. For sure, Bali for us will be a regular destination.
For basic information about Bali, check out my other blog post.