Our Top 8
Things to Do in Bali
Bali is an anomaly in the middle of Indonesia, a little Hindu outpost surrounded by predominantly Muslim islands. Replete with waterfalls, rice paddies, hot springs and delicious local cuisine, it’s the perfect place to slow down.
To hike a volcano in Bali (such as Mount Batur, pictured above) is to truly witness nature at its best. For an especially memorable experience, embark on your hike before sunrise. It’s roughly a two-hour venture but with some motivation it can easily be done. Early in the morning, when the air is cool before the sunrise, the climbing keeps you warm and comfortable. Once at the top, settle into a spot with a great view and relish in the spectacular sunrise that beams over the volcanoes in the distance.
Batur Natural Hot Springs in Kintamani
After a big morning hiking Mount Batur, relax in the nearby natural hot springs, which boast outstanding views of Danau (Lake) Batur and the surrounding volcanoes. This hot-spring-turned-spa has multiple pools all flowing with natural thermal mineral water and is equipped with locker rooms and a restaurant/bar. This experience is especially lovely on a cooler day, as the hot springs keep you relaxed and comfortable for hours on end. For a quiet, serene experience, head over early in the day as the owner occasionally allows staff to bring their young children in the late afternoon and early evenings.
Looking for somewhere to relax, kick back with a book and do some snorkeling? Look no further than the Gili Islands. These three miniature islands are bordered by white-sand beaches and a turquoise sea. These islands are distinctively serene due to their lack of motorbikes; the only way to explore is by foot, bicycle or horse and carriage. For complete isolation head over to Gili Meno or Gili Air. If you’re looking for trendy guesthouses, lounge bars and dive schools hit the busiest of the islands, Gili Trawangan.
Canang Sari (Daily Offerings)
Here’s something to watch out for: early in the mornings you’ll find packages of woven palm leafs, flowers and herbs everywhere. Canang Sari, or offerings to god, are an integral part of daily life for the Balinese Hindus. Be careful not to step on them in the street—this can be deeply offensive to any Balinese who witnesses your misstep.
Bali’s cultural hub, known for its easy-going lifestyle and deeply Balinese Hindu culture, Ubud rose to prominence in the West after the release of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Spend a few days here exploring the many restaurants, cafés and boutique shops in the quaint town centre. Escape to the spa to unwind, experience a cooking class in a traditional Balinese home or indulge in a peaceful yoga retreat. Don’t forget to venture along the rice paddies and visit the sacred monkey forest!
While each corner of the island offers unique experiences, some travel truths remain universal, and Bali is no exception in at least one regard. When it comes to cuisine, you’ll be best served to embrace the local culture and dine at warungs, the small, family-owned restaurants. Sometimes the chef will offer only one menu item, often prepared over a very smoky grill and eaten with the only utensils available – your hands.
Explore the Tegenungan Waterfalls just outside Ubud. It’s a short walk down large steps to reach the incredible view of the falls, surrounded by river, countless palm trees and serene rice paddies. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike alongside the river to the water, where you can swim up to the rocks behind the falls and unwind while basking in the spectacular view and loud sound of the waterfall crashing into the river. The Tegenungan falls are quite large and powerful, to get back to the shore dive directly into the falls and the water pressure will spring you out effortlessly! On your way out of this hidden gem, cool off in a natural spring shower where local residents often fetch water.
If you think hitting the beach seems too pedestrian a suggestion for a blog whose motto is “Inspired. Insightful. In Deep.” I assure you: you haven’t seen these beaches. There’s a reason that the mere mention of this place can send your mind racing into vacation mode. Head to the shore around sunset and take in a sight simultaneously relaxing and revelatory.
A few words of advice…
Bali is a safe city, but when travelling abroad it is always best to take extra precaution. Bali is known to have a counterfeiting problem so be sure to inspect all bills and ask for new notes if the original bills do not seem authentic or have been damaged. Indonesian establishments accepting American money do not take bills that are worn, torn, defaced or issued prior to 1996.
Be sure to only take taxis that agree to provide a metered fare. When consuming alcohol stay away from Arrack, a distilled alcoholic drink produced in Southeast Asia. Arrack is often created as a form of moonshine because legitimate producers are unable to meet demand and high alcohol import taxes. This illicit form of production may result in methanol-tainted Arrack that can be lethal. Stick to brand name, premium alcohol. Beer and wine is generally safe for consumption.
When entering places of worship (such as Balinese temples) both men and women are expected to wear shirts that cover shoulders and part of the upper arms. Leg coverings are likewise mandatory for both men and women.