A few months ago we were brainstorming about where to go for the autumn holidays. One night I came home after a dinner at an Indonesian restaurant and told my husband that according to the star chef you should go to Bali for the delicious cuisine. Turns out that my husband found super cheap business class tickets to Singapore during my absence. From there you fly for 80 euros to Bali. Great minds think alike! Book tickets and plan!
Bali is one of many Indonesian islands. It lies east of Java and is about 5600 km² in size. The island has more than four million inhabitants. It is a green island with beautiful beaches and a rich cultural heritage. The vast majority of the population is Hindu.
Travel to Bali
The disadvantage of cheap tickets is that you have some stopovers. The advantage is that I will soon be able to dedicate a blog post to the business lounges we visited.
Amsterdam – London Heathrow – Bangkok – Singapore – Bali
Not for wimps, but since you can change your seat into a bed, it was not that bad.
The return journey was indeed a little quieter. We flew from Bali to Singapore where we stayed for another two nights. Then our flight schedule looked like this:
Singapore – London Heathrow – Amsterdam
We flew with British Airways and the flight from Bangkok to Singapore was operated by Cathay Pacific (unseen service and a brand new plane).
Did you know London Heathrow is Europe's biggest airport but it has only 2 landing strips. That explains the traffic jam.
Hotels in Bali
Since we do enjoy a nice bite to eat, friends advised us to book The Mulia in Bali.
The hotel is quite modern, located on a beautiful beach, and is a paradise for foodies. Really, we have seen many hotels, but the food they serve here is extraordinary. The breakfast buffet was endless. There is a section of Western cuisine where they bake your omelet à la minute, delicious croissants, crispy bacon, beans in tomato sauce, .... it's all there. The Asian part is, however, the max. A buffet where you can decide what you want in your noodle soup, delicious dishes from China, Japan, Indonesia, a huge sushi bar ... It’s too much to mention.
In the evening we tested the buffet once and that too was of an unseen level. No dishes with food that simmers all night. All dishes are prepared on site. If you want your piece of meat or fish saignant, then it is really saignant. For the wok dishes you choose the ingredients yourself and the cook will prepare a delicious dish for you in a few minutes.
When our son discovered the dessert buffet, he became completely lyrical. The largest chocolate fountain you ever saw, fruit skewers, fresh biscuits, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, creme brulée, fresh pancakes with coconut filling, cotton candy, .... In short, heaven.
At the beach you can test the grill restaurant. Here we ate a platter of grilled shellfish. Delicious! The Japanese restaurant with show cooking also looked promising.
The rooms in the hotel are very spacious, the bathroom is gigantic, and the beds fantastic!
The hotel has several swimming pools, all flanked by gigantic images. The sunbeds are top and there is a towel for you everywhere. Each pool also has its own pool bar.
If you prefer a hotel in traditional colonial style, then you have to be with the neighbors. We went to take a look at St. Regis Bali Resort. That looked fantastic too.
If you prefer staying in a villa, you have to check this post 'Top Eight Villas in Indonesia'.
Bali is great for families but it's also an amazing solo travel destination.
We met Ketut through an acquaintance who often travels to Bali. We hired him to show us as much of his island as possible in a short time. I hear you think 'a private driver, what does that cost?'. For only 42 euros, a driver will take you around the island eight hours a day. He shows you the most beautiful places, knows the way everywhere and all kinds of interesting facts. You can enjoy the fabulous landscape undisturbed. Absolutely recommended! If you want to go to Bali, you can always contact me and then I can share Ketut's contact details.
DAY 1 route Southern Bali
We stayed in Nusa Dua and Ketut picked us up at the hotel. Our first stop brought us to Dreamland beach.
Dreamland Beach is located in the South of Bali, near the town of Kuta. It is very popular because of its location against a high cliff. It has beautiful white sand and is a perfect location for beginning and advanced surfers. There are plenty of cozy bars and many hotels in the area.
Just like on many other beaches you can enjoy a fabulous sunset here.
On 12 October 2002, a bomb attack took place in the nearby village of Kuta, killing more than 200 people. The Balinese are still very impressed by this act of terror. An attack was also committed in 2005. It is sad that such acts are now also common in our environment.
Padang Padang Beach is located in the Southwest of Bali near Uluwatu. Again, this is a beautiful white sandy beach along a cliff. The water here is wonderfully calm. This beach is where they filmed part of Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts.
Then it was time for the first of many temples, Pura Luhur Uluwatu. It is one of the holiest temples in Bali and a beautiful example of classical Balinese architecture. The original temple was built in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 16th century. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the temple was only accessible to the princes of Denpasar. Via a staircase you climb up 200 meters because the temple is at the tip of a cliff. You can not enter the temple yourself, but you have a good view through the gates.
A very common picture is the so-called Ganesha. You can see these elephant-headed statues at almost all temples. Ganesha, son of the gods Shiva and Parvati, is the god of knowledge and wisdom and the patron saint of travelers. His vahana, vehicle, is a mouse or a rat called Mashika. The Hindus pray to Ganesha before they start something new.
Leave your sunglasses in the car here. The monkeys walking around the grounds are very cheeky. We passed someone who had just been robbed. One of the monkeys just tore the glasses off his face.
When you enter a temple, you get a sort of sari at the entrance to cover your legs.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Parkis a park of more than 60 hectares where many activities and festivities are organized. A monumental statue of the god Vishnu is currently under construction. At 120 meters, it will become one of the highest and largest statues in the world.
.To end the day, Ketut brought us to Jimbaran Beach. Here you will find plenty of restaurants on the beach.
While enjoying a delicious dish of grilled seafood, we witnessed a wedding at sunset. Romantic setting, just a pity that there are hundreds of tourists. That was for me the only disappointment in Bali.
According to the locals it was very quiet because many trips were canceled due to the volcano threat, but we still found it incredibly busy. On Instragram you can see beautiful pictures of amazing sunsets on a deserted beach. NOT. It is very busy everywhere. A good example of the clean appearance that we get for mirroring on Instagram. At Jimbaran we really did not manage to take a picture that doesn’t include a tourist.
Bali is the number one place to elope!
In Jimbaran you will also find the Rock Bar. This bar was crowned by CNN and The New York Times as one of the best bars in the world. Unfortunately, we missed it.
Day 2 route Central Bali
.The next morning Ketut was waiting for us again to show us central Bali. On the way to Ubud we noticed that there was a lot of activity on the street. Apparently November 1st is also a public holiday here and the inhabitants were busy decorating the street. Everywhere you saw pop up shops that sold decorative material. It is apparently quite a feat to decorate your street as nicely as possible. Neighbors walk away with beautiful poles that they place in front of each house. Everyone helps each other. The children also help enthusiastically everywhere. We decorate at home, each for ourselves, our Christmas tree. It would be much nicer if we would work with our neighbors to decorate our streets together.
After a good ride we arrived in Ubud. What a disappointment! Ubud should be the cultural center of Bali. Ubud is an amalgamation of villages and now has 60,000 inhabitants in an area of just 40 km². According to the travel guides and bloggers, you must have been here. If you like loud honking, traffic jams, uncomfortable terraces and shops with cheap souvenirs, then you have to go to Ubud. Is not that your thing? Then stay far away.
However, Ubud is the place to take a great picture while you are swinging the Bali Swing.
Since we were there anyway, we visited the Puri Saren Agung (also called Ubud Palace). You have also seen this former royal palace in 10 minutes. The palace is located along the busy, main road. Nearby you can find the art market.
The famous Monkey Forest is located near Ubud. Since we had seen enough monkeys at the previous temples and because we were completely crazy about the crowds, we decided to get out of our feet quickly.
In addition to tea plantations, Bali also has several large coffee plantations. We visited Satria Agrowisata and enjoyed a real coffee tasting.
Most special and most expensive coffee is made from feces. Yes, you read it correctly. The luwak or civet cat lives in the coffee plantations and almost exclusively eats coffee berries. They digest the meat from the berries, but the seeds just come out again. Because of the fermentation the bean gets an exceptional taste. A small number of civet cats are kept in captivity, but the real kopi luwak is made from the excrement of wild civet cats. For the coffee of the tame version, you will soon pay 200 euros per kilo. The faeces of the wild civet cats are sought in the forest and therefore cost a multiple. Apparently, a kilogram costs more than 5000 euros. It is also the only coffee that you can not taste for free.
Today there is also a special temple on the program. Pura Tirta Emul is a Hindu temple that was built in the 1st century. Sacred water flows from a nearby well and is used in the temple for cleansing rituals. You can participate in such a ritual yourself. It is therefore very busy and we just watched.
If you want to learn more about rituals in Bali, check out Bali Day of Silence.
On the way back to the hotel we pass the beautiful Tegalalang rice fields. A small taste of the Jutilawah rice fields that are on our program tomorrow. You can arrange day trips that take you through the rice fields towards a number of beautiful waterfalls. Read more about Tegalalang rice terraces and see a stunning video!
Everywhere in Bali you see the swastika. Over here the symbol has nothing to do with nazisme. Its a holy sign for Budhists since ages.
DAG 3 Northern Bali
Today we go into the hills. After a good ride we can have a first glance on the purpose of this trip: Danau Buan and Danau Tamblinga, the so-called Twin Lakes. There is often a lot of fog here, but we were lucky and enjoyed beautiful views. On the way to the lakes you will find one stop after another where you can shoot Instagram-worthy pictures that go from simple platforms to a wooden hand you can stand on. The two lakes are separated by a small piece of rainforest. There 's often a lot of smog but we were lucky and had a clear view on the lakes. You can make boattrips and go hiking around the lakes. On your way to the lakes there are many possibilities to take Instagram-worthy pictures on constructions that are made to take a perfect photo with the lakes in the background. We didn't do this, but our guestbloggers Ella en Sarah took some nice ones.
Twinlakes from the sky!
Note: Buy a bag of peanuts on the way. You pass a group of monkeys who are so used to the tourists that they just get the nuts from your hand.)
Then we drove to the attraction I was most looking forward to, the Jatiluwih rice fields. Jatiluwih is a village in the middle of Bali and lies at an altitude of 850 meters, making it cooler here. The surrounding rice fields are incredibly beautiful. Your photos do not need a filter because it is greener than green here. The rice fields are on the Unesco World Heritage List. You do have to pay entrance fees to get to the rice fields, but the 1.25 euros are well spent. You can walk through the fields or book a bike ride. Of course you can also, like us, order a beer and quietly enjoy one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world from a terrace.
The best travel time is from May to October.
For the most amazing view you have to go to Billy's cafe. Unfortunately it was closed at the time we vistied. Thank God there are many other places to relax and enjoy the scenery.
.Today we close the day with a beautiful temple, Pura Tanah Lot. This temple is located on the west coast of Bali and is especially known for its location on a huge rock formation in the sea. It is one of the most visited temples in Bali. Tanah (earth) Lot (sea), first the god of the sea.
At low tide you can reach the temple . You can only enter a small part of the 'island'. There you will find a cave with a magical source. The temple is in the sea, but fresh water comes from the source.
The legend says that the holy Dang Hyang Nirartha advised to build the temple to protect Bali against epidemics.
Try to visit this temple by night because the sunset is breathtakingly beautiful. Only downside: here again you have to share it with thousands of others.
Our son will remember this temple for a long time because the locals absolutely wanted to take a picture with him.
A real market has developed at the entrance of the site. If you want to get a cheap souvenir you will succeed over here. Compared to many other countries, the Balinese sellers are absolutely not intrusive. They let you sneak around without having to feel obliged to buy something.
On the way to the hotel we stopped in Kuta (bombings) to enjoy a delicious dinner in Sangsaka.
Dau 4 route Southern Bali
During our last day in Bali we made a short trip. We visited Sanur beach in one of the most famous beach resorts of the island. Sanur, however, has retained its charm because the government has decided that buildings here should not be higher than a palm tree. Only the Grand Bali Beach hotel is higher because it was already there before this rule was introduced.
Finally, we visited Pura Taman Ayun (beautiful garden) in Mengwi. This 17th century temple is dedicated to the princes who ruled Mengwi until the end of the 19th century. It is also the only temple on the Unesco World Heritage List. The temple complex has a main gate and a few meru towers. The highest meru has 11 floors. The complex is a so-called penyawangan, a place where holy places are offered. There are altars for the mountains Agung, Batukau, and Batur.
Broad canals surround the complex. Tourists may only walk around the complex.
Are you looking for more inspiration? Check this list on Top 10 best things to do in Bali.
The Mount Agung that is worshiped here has given us a lot of worries. The weeks before our departure, this volcano was about to burst. In a radius of 12 km around the volcano everyone had to leave thier homes. On the day of our departure Mount Agung had already calmed down, but he still rumbled. Since there was no negative travel advice, we left anyway. In the hotel, however, we heard that they received many cancellations because of the vulcan threat.
Although according to the Balinese people it was very calm, we thought it was everywhere very busy. That was the only disappointment for me.
If you have some more days to spend, I can recommand this 1 week itinerary. If you have lots of time to spend, you will love this 2 week itinerary. Even if you are not a backpacker, this Bali Itinerary is also a great one.
Bali has beautiful beaches, unique landscapes, delicious food and a very friendly population, but it is even more touristy than Bendidorm (for those who don't know Benidorm: it's the most touristy place in Spain).
In the next blogpost I take you to Singapore.