While there seems to be some stigma about it in some circles here in Australia, heading off to Bali for a family holiday every year was always exciting and has led to some amazing experiences that I am ooh so grateful for.
After jetting over to this wonderful tropical paradise over 30 time…yes I really mean 30. It has given me what I would consider some good grounds to write a few post about it. Over the years I have seen Bali develop and change into what it is today, while now it is much more a tourist destination you can still find the spots that give you the true Bali feel and allow you to escape what can only be described as mayhem. I find there are often complaints around how many people there are and are that fact that has become touristy, I think we have to keep in mind that around 90% of Bali’s revenue comes in from international tourism.
If you are looking for somewhere to unwind and chill, I couldn’t recommend Ubud more to you. Not overly dense with hotels and tourist you can find peace and quite up in Ubud, I would also say it is a good place to take day trips from if you happen to get board of the serenity.
Relaxing and all there is still plenty to do, it just has a much more clam vibe than somewhere like Seminyak…but we will talk about that later. There are some must in Ubud, number one is the Monkey forest also know as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. Hold on tight to your possession, the Monkey forest is exactly what is sounds like. However beyond monkeys (cute or not…depends on your opinion) this is a beautiful place to walk around, it is a site of some beautiful carvings and architecture as well as a spiritual and cultural site for the locals. Additionally if you don’t really like monkeys they will basically leave you alone if you don’t have food, they are far to distracted by all the people who have bought bananas.
Some other beautiful spots are Puri Saren Royal Palace, Pura Taman Saraswati Temple, Ubud Art Market and Tegenungan Waterfall. Obviously you are going to visit some beautiful rice terraces and eat some delicious local cuisine too. While these spots could be considered quite touristy destination they are extremely beautiful, a Bali classic and a must see for first time Bali goers.
One less cultural spot but really one of the best days I had was spent relaxing at Jungle fish, a little on the pricy side for entry but worth it. If you have a few people book out a space beforehand and get ready to lay back with a book of your choice and cool off in the pool. Also the food was delicious and a cocktail or two was defiantly had.
My ultimate recommendation is to get a hotel or villa with an infinity pool looking into the forest and just walk around, there is nothing better than exploring a place with your own two feet. Ubud being one of the best for this because the lack of crowds (warning – it can be a little steep at times).
Now lets talk about Seminyak, probably one of the most “crowded” and popular parts of Bali. It has it all, food, shopping, spas and bars. While it can get crazy (so many cars honking) and you can walk faster than any taxi drives, there is something charming about it and after a day or two the chaos seems to fade into the background. If you are planning to stay in Seminyak for an extended time you defiantly need to find the spots off the main strip where you can unwind. My number one recommendation if you are not a family with kids (no offence if you are) is to find a hotel that is mostly occupied by couples or groups that are here to chill out. Now this is very dependant of what you are looking for, you want to party there are places for it, you want lots of kids to keep yours occupied…well there are hotels for that too. Personally Bali is a place to unwind for me so I head towards more relax hotels where I can have a cocktail by the pool with no super loud music or screaming children. Not too much to ask and very easy to find.
Food, food, food! This is the spot if you love food, with a good mix of cheap and cheerful as well as some more up market restaurants, you can basically get everything you are craving. While I generally recommend that you eat local food as local always make their own cuisine better, Seminyak does offer some amazing non-Indonesia restaurants. Sisterfields has to be one of the most currently popular places, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Difficult to get a table for large groups, I would only recommend going in the busy times if you are less than 4…butttt the food and coffee are all worth the wait. As a coffee snob I don’t say that lightly. Wonderful spot for breakfast and lunch or a mid afternoon pick me up! Some of my other top recommendation’s are Batik, The Bistrot, Biku, Potato Head and La Favela.
There is also great shopping too and like the food a healthy mix of high-end and market…all depending on what you are looking for. The explosion of boutiques in Seminyak has really been significant over the past 5 year. While it’s not at all market prices you can get some beautify high quality pieces. Also the leather shops! Do your research and find a good tailor that makes leather jackets. If you have the time I couldn’t recommend more than to take your favourite leather jacket or find a style you like and have one made to fit you perfectly! Last time I got a black suede jacket made and I barely ever take it off, I dream about going back just to have a few more leather jackets made. If you pick the right place you will have a well price, perfectly fitted jacket to last you for year and years.
There is plenty of shopping to be had, beaches to see and drink to cool down with. If you want to base yourself in one spot I would recommend Seminyak, easy to take day trips from and explore other part or Bali. Take trips and go snorkelling, visits water falls and serene rice terraces. More adventurous? Go four wheeling in the mud. There is so much to do and see but there is something nice about coming back to a place where you have many dinner options and can choose to have an early night if you need it.
As not to bore you longer with my ramblings, this begins a little series of Bali post. I have many things to tell you and this only beings to cover it so stay tuned!