Many things influenced me to dream of traveling Bali. Aside from its reputation as honeymoon place or #TravelGoal #RelationshipGoal destination, it is also tagged to be the last paradise on earth. I won’t disagree with that! The island has complete list of things to do from the peaceful and relaxing natures and waterfalls of Ubud to the noisy nightlife and beach of Kuta .
My first sight of Bali was back in 2004 when I was still in first year high school through a Korean drama entitled “Memories of Bali”. The fact that I was in love with the story and characters of it, it also convinced me to visit Bali one day. Starting that day I made it a goal to travel Bali someday when I grow older. That burning desire grew stronger when I was in university, I came across with a newspaper article entitled “Bali, The Last Paradise on Earth”. It talks about the beautiful sceneries, cultures and clear blue ocean of Bali. So I said to myself I really must go to Bali. After a few years I was already working when I watched Julia Roberts movie “Eat, Pray, Love” where it featured Ketut: the Medicine Man in Bali who predicts Julia’s future saying she will lose everything but she will gain it back and she’ll return to Bali and he will teach her everything he knows. It also shows the beautiful town of Ubud where Ketut is living and some of a must visit islands. She ended up being in love again, settling in Bali and raising some funds to help the people of Bali. Finally, the year 2017 after 13 years when a friend and I decided to backpack for a month in Southeast Asia and included Bali in the list of countries we’ll be visiting. My dream came true!
Disclaimer: Bali is one of my dream places. Yes! But not all the things I’m going to mention here will be positive or in favor of Bali! There are fair share of good and bad experiences I had during this trip and I am completely honest in writing about them. This blog is not to bring negativity but to give you an idea of what to expect. In my opinion Bali is still a must-see place.
HOW TO GET TO BALI
Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly directly to Bali from Manila at approximately 4-5 hours. A round trip ticket cost from ₱8,000- ₱20,000 depending on the season. Airasia also flies to Bali with a layover in Kuala Lumpur at an estimated cost of ₱7,000- ₱12,000. In our case we flew from Bangkok, Thailand to Bali, Indonesia via Airasia for 4 ½ hours that cost us ₱ 6,150 each with no check in baggage.
GETTING AROUND BALI
Bali has no fix and systematic mode of public transportation which I think is the number 1 drawback of this place. The most common mode of transportation here is either taxis and private cars (which are overprice) or renting a motorbike to go around. I read some about Kura-Kura van that goes from Kuta to Ubud however we haven’t experienced it when we were there. So we usually walk from one site to another or use Grab and Uber. However, most of tourist sites in Bali ban these taxi apps from picking up passengers due to strikes from drivers saying they’re losing their jobs so a good haggling skill is necessary to avoid being ripped off. There are also circumstances that the Grab driver will ask you to pay 3x more than what is in the app rate. My tip, book a driver that has 5 stars rate only.
WHERE TO STAY
Originally we plan to stay for the whole time in Ubud and just do day trips in Kuta however seeing the transportation problem in Bali then it won’t be smart for us to do so. For 6 days in Bali we decided to stay in two places, Ubud and Kuta so we’ll not be very far from our day trips in each area. There are various accommodations to choose from in Bali from private villas to hotels, homestays and guesthouses. We booked our first place in Ubud in Made Arsa Homestay (totally recommended). It is 1 kilometer away from the center of Ubud but I am very satisfied with this place. I observed that unlike in other cities in Southeast Asia where it is more convenient to stay in the center, Ubud has the opposite approach. In Ubud center the restaurants and stores are more costly than in our area. Although 1 kilometer away from the center there are many cheap local eateries and food stall around here. Luckily our homestay also provides free breakfast and transportation to the center although that is not necessary for us since we are used to walking.
In Kuta we stayed in Legian Road near the beach. It is very convenient place, near stores and restaurants, pubs and clubs and all the wild night life.
PLACES TO VISIT
Ubud is more of countryside, nature tripping mood. The town is known as a center for traditional crafts and dance. The surrounding Ubud District’s rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, are among Bali’s most famous landscapes.
UBUD MONKEY FOREST
Ubud Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, is one of Ubud’s most popular attractions; a natural forest sanctuary that is home to a horde of grey long-tailed macaques. The village’s residents view the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation center for the village. You can watch or see the monkeys and be entertained as they play or remove lice from each other. You can also feed them with bananas that can be bought in the forest or if they are curious enough they might jump into your shoulders or head and hang in there for a while. One funny thing I experienced when a monkey jumped into us for some cuddling or food the staff guarding the place would immediately shoo the monkey away but if you pay some cash they would invite the monkey to stand on your head or your shoulders so you can take pictures with them. However be warned that these monkeys are curious of everything so it is advised to watch out for your belongings and don’t bring food and tissue because chances are they might snatch those things from you. This place doesn’t only let you hang around with monkeys but also will give you a bit of a hike since it is a large forest type of place.
Entrance Fee: IDR 50,000 (₱188)
Banana: IDR 50,000/ bundle (₱188)
A free and easy nature trek, popular among Ubud visitors. The area provides a great retreat and escape from the contemporary boutique, guesthouse and restaurant-lined in Ubud. The hike doesn’t only let you enjoy cool fresh air and see gorgeous hillside vista in the region, it also allows you to shed off some calories with its nine-kilometer hill track. The place is not difficult to reach since it is present in google maps and signages are present as you do your trail. At the end of the trail you will see rice paddies, some hostels and cafes that are present there.
Entrance Fee: Free
Hmmm.. What can I say, when we searched google for waterfalls this is the number one recommended place to us. The closest natural attraction that you can reach within half-hour transfer southeast from Ubud town. Getting to the falls is a pleasant drive down paved village roads lined with stretches of green rice fields on both sides. There are hot springs where you can take a dip if you want to be away from the crowd or a little side trip after taking photos on the waterfalls.
Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 (₱56)
Additional IDR 10,000 (₱38) if you go on top of the waterfalls.
A bit of an underrated waterfalls in Bali but a bit of a so so too, maybe because when we were there, there’s not much water and I’m kinda disappointed with the trash gathered in the hole at the back of the waterfalls. It is not that popular so don’t expect much crowd in the place which is good however because of that reason also there are no taxis standing by when you leave. So travellers usually either have their own drivers waiting for them or they have their own motorbikes. There’s also no restaurant around the area but there’s a store selling snacks and drinks only.
Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000 (₱38)
GOA GAJAH (ELEPHANT CAVE)
We discovered this place by accident when we were desperately looking for a taxi going home from Tibumana waterfalls. This is an archaeological site of significant historical value that makes it a special place to visit. Located on the cool western edge of Bedulu Village, six kilometres out of central Ubud. You do not need more than an hour to descend to its relic-filled courtyard and view the rock-wall carvings, a central meditational cave, bathing pools and fountains.You are required to wear a sarong upon entering and you can also hire a guide as you go around but not necessary.
*note: Female visitors who are on their period are NOT ALLOWED to enter the temple.
Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 (₱56)
UBUD WATER PALACE
Located in Jalan Ubud Raya, very near the market and next door to the Lotus Café can be reached on foot if you are staying in Ubud center. In the daytime, it is nice, with large lotus ponds reflecting the gorgeous Balinese architecture of the Palace facade. The palace is closed to public so you will just settle outside for pictures.
Entrance Fee: Free
TEGALALANG RICE TERRACES
Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies that spread down before you and away to the rice paddies on the slopes across the valley. The high roadside location is cool and breezy however when you reach there on a sunny midday until 4 pm, prepare to be burned as the hot Indonesian sun is no joke. It is a well-known spot for tourists to stop and take photos but be aware of some locals offering to take pictures with them then suddenly would demand to pay them for it. Painters and nature lovers also enjoy visiting this spot, and there are numerous art kiosks and cafes near the ledge offering their ware. Although the entrance fee is by donation some locals around the terraces would demand you to pay them IDR 10,000 (₱38) for you to pass by since they are claiming that they own the piece of pathway way you are passing by. Some would even block the way and won’t let you pass which I find very aggressive. Anyway it is still a must see place just go there prepared.
Entrance Fee: Donation (Most visitors pay IDR 10,000 but for us we gave IDR 2,000)
An exact opposite of Ubud. Ubud is peaceful and quiet while Kuta is wild and energetic place since it is a beach and resort area in the south island of Bali, Indonesia. One of Bali’s first tourist developments where the modern era of tourism in Bali began. It’s best known for its party-centric atmosphere with wild nightlife and high concentration of bars, nightclubs, and hotels. Kuta’s Indian Ocean long sandy beach with consistent waves make it a popular surf spot, particularly for beginners, with plenty of outfitters offering board rentals and surf lessons. It is popular with younger travelers and those on a budget. There are plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from. Traffic is really mad sometimes and it can get really busy, but it is still a great place to meet people and have fun.
It’s considered Bali’s most famous beach resort destination. Once a simple, rustic and quiet fishing village, Kuta Beach has witnessed a transformation over the past years. This is due to the rise of various accommodation options, dining and shopping scenes. The rapid growth owes much to visitors, beachcombers and art lovers from nearby Australia. Expatriates also helped pioneer surfing in Kuta, as well. Don’t expect a white sand beach here or crystal clear blue sky water but be amazed with its waves that have great reputation in surfing for beginners or professional that is hyped by surfers from all over the world. Although its waves are not that high it is still perfect for beginners. Alleys of bars and cafes are lined to view the beach while relaxing on their comfortable seats or cushions with beer and live music or just simply spread your sarong and lie on the beach to get a tan.
Not far from Kuta beach you will find Seminyak beach a few east feet away. The waves in this beach are way bigger than in Kuta perfect for professional surfers. The alley of bars and cafes along the beach of Kuta is stretched until Seminyak. This area is also a home to high end and luxurious beach resorts, restaurants and boutiques with a more secluded ambiance. I must say there’s no big difference between the two beaches since they’re just next to each other except their waves.
One of the comment from tripadvisor said “A so so temple located in a perfect cliff with a perfects sunset.” I kinda agree to that. First the temple is close so I can’t access and comment about it. However the location is just so perfect for sunset and ocean viewing. The high blue noisy waves of the Indian Ocean is so addicting to watch plus the fact that it has a clear blue water. Most visitors visit the temple at around late afternoon to view the sunset and for the Kecak Dance performance, a Balinese traditional fire dance that happens at 6:00 pm. Be advise to wear modest clothes in going to the temple. Sarongs and belts are provided in the entrance after you get your ticket. Be vigilant on your belongings because the monkeys here are smart or hungry enough to snatch your things away from you. When we were there several cases of snatching happened from cellphones, earrings, sunglasses, hats, cameras and water bottles. As much as possible avoid wearing accessories or just simply avoid the monkeys. Although staffs are there to help you, prevention of this situation is way better than solving it.
Entrance Fee: Adult: IDR 30,000 (₱112) Children: IDR 20,000 (₱75)
Kecak Dance: IDR 100,000 (₱375)
Private Car: IDR 300,000 (₱1,125)
- Note: We rented a private car and a driver we met on the street. His first price for a round trip to Uluwatu temple is IDR 500,000 (₱1,870) but we haggled until it went down to our agreed price.
- Agencies offering tours or private cars going to this temple are around Legian area. Their prices varies from IDR 350,000 (₱1,310)- IDR 750,000 (₱2,800) others include Tanah Lot Temple.