Bali the Island of the Gods

Bali is the most popular island in Indonesia, being one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world, thanks to its various entertainment options, including surfing, diving, fishing, jungle tours, cultural tourism, yoga, Balinese massage, etc. Located in the southern hemisphere, in the tropics, between the islands of Java, Sumatra and Lombok, Bali attracts over 4 million visitors per year, due to its warm climate and countless opportunities to spend a dream holiday.

The Island of the Gods is a land of discrepancies, a mix of modern and traditional, of opulence and poverty.

Further down, I will talk about the experiences of a friend and mine, during a two-week journey in Bali, providing some tips for a beautiful holiday.

Climate. Bali has a tropical climate all year; the average temperature is around 30°C. There are two seasons: one dry, from April to September, and one wet, from October to March. Usually, the best weather is from May to August, which is also the busiest period.

Currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian rupee, the exchange rate on 15 June 2016 being approx. 1 EUR = 15,000 IDR, 1 RON = 3,330 IDR. It is good to have cash, but there are ATMs and many places where you can pay by card. Food prices are low compared to Europe; a main course in a restaurant costs between 50,000 IDR and 100,000 IDR, or between 4 EUR and 8 EUR.

Cities.

  • Candidasa – a quiet coastal town, gateway to the east part of the island.
  • Denpasar – the city is the administrative centre of the island, but not a major tourist destination.
  • Kuta – a beach for surfers, by far the most developed in Bali, where you can find plenty of shops and clubs.
  • Jimbaran – many seaside resorts, a beautiful sheltered beach, full of terraces where you can enjoy seafood.
  • Legian – located between Kuta and Seminyak, is a suburb of Kuta.
  • Lovina – black sand beach, suitable for diving enthusiasts.
  • Nusa Dua – quiet, luxurious beachfront resorts, very large beaches.
  • Padang Bay – a traditional and quiet fishing village, where you can enjoy sunbathing, snorkeling, diving, and eating fresh fish.
  • Sanur – seaside resort with beaches suitable for large families.
  • Seminyak – very large beach, with fine sand, more quite than Kuta, having many restaurants where you can enjoy the sunset.
  • Nusa Dua – quiet, luxurious beachfront resorts, very large beaches.
  • Ubud – the Bali’s art and dance center, where you can find museums and lots of souvenir shops.

Transport. Bali doesn’t have public transport, but renting a car with driver is not very expensive, reaching between 35-50 EUR per day, depending on how you negotiate. For us, it has proved to be an excellent way to visit the island; we went wherever we wanted, comfortably and stress-free. We were very pleased with our driver (Putu Driver tel: 6287860713393), who was also our travel guide. Avoid renting scooters because the roads are twisty, crowded and chaotic.

Accommodation. You can find accommodation for all budgets in Bali, but overall prices are lower than in Europe, and the services are very good.

Temples. A holiday in Bali would not be complete without visiting some of the 20,000 Hindu temples on the island. The most important are: Pura Besakih (Mother Temple) the greatest of all temples, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave).

Beaches. Due to its various landscapes, Bali is an island with very different beaches, each with its own charm. In the north, there are beaches with black sand, suitable for diving enthusiasts, the best known being Lovina and Amed, and golden sandy beaches (Nusa Dua) in the south. In the west of the island, you can find very long, grey sand touristic beaches (Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Jimbaran), suitable for taking surfing lessons. In the east, which is more quiet, there are golden sandy beaches (Sanur). My favourite beach in Bali, Dreamland Beach, is located in the south-eastern part of the island, having all I ever wanted from a beach: clear blue water, white and surrounded by rocks and lush vegetation.

Some travel tips:

  • 3 weeks before departure, we got vaccinated against typhoid and hepatitis A and B. This was our choice, but I have met many people who went to Bali without being vaccinated. The best thing would be to follow the advice of a doctor.
  • Don’t forget to bring spray for mosquitoes and a sun hat, because you will surely need them.
  • After a 15 to 18 hours flight from Europe, it would be a pity to stay only a week in Bali. For remote destinations I recommend at least a 10 days stay, in order to have enough time to see and feel the place.
  • Try not to not stay in a single part of the island. Bali is an island rich in tourist resorts and you should spend time in each one of them.
  • Visit other nearby islands, because each offers interesting, beautiful and different experiences. Gili islands are near Bali, where you should stay at least 3 nights. You will enjoy sensational white sandy beaches, spectacular sunsets, snorkeling and scuba diving with turtles.
  • Visit at least a waterfall in Bali; the spectacular road through the jungle and the beautiful landscapes will give you an exquisite experience.

Our trip was organized as follows:

We flew from Bucharest to Dubai for 5 hours with Fly Dubai, stayed overnight at an airport hotel, then went on a day flight with Emirates Airlines to Bali. We left at 8 a.m. and arrived in Denpasar at 10 p.m., after 9 hours. Then, we spent 3 nights in Nusa Dua, 3 in Gili Trawangan, 4 in Ubud and 3 in Seminyak.

Further down, I will talk about the experiences of a friend and mine during a two-week journey in Bali, providing some tips for a beautiful holiday.

Enjoy!

Travel to Happiness!

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Bali the Island of the Gods

Kuta

We landed on the island on Saturday at 10 p.m., having the pleasure of being welcomed at the airport by an Indonesian friend I had met in Singapore a few months before. Icha is an optimistic girl, with whom I made friends very quickly, always smiling and hospitable, like most people in Bali. Meeting with her and some of her friends delighted us greatly, because we could feel the Balinese spirit at its best. The girls were dressed in colorful and cheerful dresses, each one of them wearing a plumeria flower in their hair. This is a flower seen everywhere in Bali.
We went to the hotel, left our luggage, and went to the famous club Ski Garden in Kuta, together with our exotic Indonesian friends. The club reminded me of Ibiza, being very large, built on three levels, each with a different kind of music. We enjoyed a few hours of Western-style fun, dancing to different rhythms, alongside Europeans, Australians, Americans and Asians.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Jimbaran

Jimbaran was our first touristic location that we chose to visit in our first day in Bali. We left at 4 p.m. from Nusa Dua and arrived about an hour later at Ayana Resort and Spa (Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Kuta Selatan, Badung, Bali, Indonesia Tel: +62 361 702 222), perhaps the most beautiful resort of Bali, home of some of the best restaurants on the Island of the Gods.
When we got there, we were absolutely impressed by the grandeur and exceptional beauty of this place: overlapping pools with sea view (the famous infinity pools), lush vegetation, relaxed atmosphere and extraordinary landscapes. We admired the sunset while drinking cocktails.
After that we went to Jimbaran Bay, where all the restaurants have tables placed right on the sand. We ate seafood in a relaxed atmosphere, at lantern light at Menega Cafe (Address: Jl. Four Seasons Muay Beach, Jimbaran, Badung, Bali, Indonesia, Phone: +62 361 705 888).

Bali the Island of the Gods

Nusa Dua

New city in the south part of the island, known for its Western style rather than Balinese, Nusa Dua is very clean, green, offers golden sandy beaches and luxury resorts. We stayed 3 nights there, at the Grand Whiz Hotel Nusa Dua, a quiet resort. Contact: http://www.grandwhiz.com/nusadua/. Blok T, Kawasan Wisata Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia Tel: +62 361 849 8020: +62 361 849 8021.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Nusa Lembongan

During our stay in Nusa Dua, we visited Nusa Lembongan, which is a small island lying south-east of Bali. We booked a trip at the hotel reception, and the next day at 8 a.m. we took a shuttle from the hotel to the Sanur harbour and from there a fast boat to Lembongan. Once we arrived there, a guide took us by a tuk-tuk to the main tourist attractions on the island. The first stop was at snorkelling, where we could admire colorful corals and fish. After an hour, we returned to the shore and continued to discover the island. The next site was a mangrove forest, through which we followed our guide walking 15 minutes on some bamboo bridges suspended on tree roots. That path seemed to be long and full of mysteries, we could hear all kinds of sounds, as if the forest was talking to us. Our chancy steps took us to some water; there, we took a boat for half an hour and we admired the winding channels of the mangrove jungle. We continued exploring the island by visiting an impressive place, Devil’s Tears, a violent demonstration of the unleashed nature, through a scary spectacle of the waves that burst dramatically against the limestone cliffs. Last stop was Dream Beach, a beautiful beach with fine white sand, located in a small bay. We relaxed there for two hours and we had lunch admiring the beautiful view.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Gili Trawangan

After 3 nights spent in Nusa Dua, we left to the Padang Bay, and from there we took a speed boat to Gili Trawangan. On the way, we saw dolphins dancing gracefully near us. After 2 hours we reached the island, where our luggage was left directly on the sand. My luggage was weighing about 24 pounds and I remember with amusement how I pulled it up to the nearest road, in order to take one of the famous local taxis, a yellow wagon. We stayed 3 nights at the Pearl of Trawangan (Gili Trawangan, Lombok Utara Kabupaten, Nusa Tenggara Bar. Indonesia, Tel: +62 370 6194808), a new hotel, very nice, built in Balinese style using lots of wood. We loved the hotel’s restaurant, beautifully located on the seafront, so close that sometimes the waves reached over our feet while enjoying breakfast.
Gili Trawangan is the largest and the most spirited of the three Gili islands, located between Bali and Lombok, a tropical paradise surrounded by blue waters, white sandy beaches, where there are no cars, and people are relaxed and friendly.
The island is full of restaurants and terraces on the beach, some truly spectacular due to the chill-out music, like Cafe del Mar, but mostly because of the atmosphere created by the crowd that gathers to watch the sunset. The most popular place is Pandawa Beach, where we took pictures in a swing installed in the sea.
Gili Trawangan is visited mostly by young travellers, eager of fun. I noticed that many of them go there for a kind of fun that can lead to another level. “Magic” mushrooms naturally grow on this island, which are sold everywhere without being deemed illegal, as cocktails or ingredient for pizza in some restaurants.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Gili Meno

We spent a great day in Gili Meno! Walking around the island on the beach, we found deserted beaches only for us. The waves were high and unpredictable, and at some point they carried away our backpacks, shoes and hats, but we recovered them and hanged them in a tree, being able to enjoy the exotic landscape worriless. There is also a turtle sanctuary, a place where locals breed turtles, attempting to save this species. We ended the 4-hour trip to Gili Meno having an unforgettable experience that filled us with enthusiasm: we swam with turtles in the sea for the first time in our lives.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Ubud

Located about 20 kilometres far from Denpasar airport, in the middle of the jungle, Ubud is a town in which you feel the real Balinese traditions and spirit the most intensely. The area is famous for its picturesque landscapes of rice paddies, many shops with artwork, paintings, sculptures, and for resorts built in the middle of the jungle. We stayed four nights in Ubud, at the Tejaprana Resort and Spa hotel. In the first day we visited Monkey Forest, Puri Saren Agung Palace and the Museum of Art. In the next two days, we took trips to the north and east of the island.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Sacred Monkey Frorest Sanctuary

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a sacred forest, housing three temples and about 600 monkeys living in this area. When visiting this place, be careful not to hold food or other objects in sight, because the lovely monkeys can become very aggressive.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Sekumpul Waterfall

The visit to Sekumpul waterfall was my favourite! The way to destination, walking through the jungle was particularly spectacular. After an hour of walking, during which we climbed up and down, even crossed a river, we finally reached the famous waterfall, which is said to be the most beautiful in Bali. The photos speak for themselves. We also enjoyed the famous luwac coffee, made from coffee beans digested by this animal.

Bali the Island of the Gods

The Budhist Temple Brahma Vihara Arama

Brahmavihara-Arama is the largest Buddhist monastery in Bali, located on the hills of Banjar, at only 1.5 km west of Banjar Hot Springs. Opened in 1970, Brahmavihara-Arama comprises one hectare of hills, with many meditation rooms, libraries, beautiful gardens and an impressive mini-replica of the largest Buddhist archaeological site in the world, Borobudur.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Banjar Hot Springs

Located in the north of the island, amidst tropical gardens, Banjar Hot Springs is a leisure centre built around springs with thermal and sulphurous water that flows into two pools. The water has a temperature of 37 °C and attracts many people who come to treat their rheumatic problems.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is one of the most famous and photographed temples in Bali. Located at 1,239 meters above sea level, by the lake with the same name, the temple was built in the 18th century and is dedicated to the Goddess of Waters, Dewi Danu.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Pura Besakih (Mother Temple)

Pura Besakih (Mother Temple) is considered by Balinese people to be their mother temple. Located on Mount Agung, this is the most important Hindu temple on the whole island.
Besakih complex consists of more than 20 separate temples and numerous other smaller shrines scattered on three kilometres. Each temple has a specific purpose, and the only way to visit them is by walking and climbing many stairs. Make sure you wear a pair of comfortable shoes and sarong (scarf) to cover your legs.
Besakih is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bali and the area around the entrance inevitably became a small town of souvenir sellers, who annoy visitors. At the entrance we were approached by some individuals who tried to obtain money from us, saying that we could not visit the temple without being accompanied by a local resident. However, the temple can be visited without these guides; you just have to refuse them and keep walking. Compared to other temples visited in Bali, this one looked a little untidy. Later I found from the driver that this is the only temple managed by the government, the other ones being in the custody of local communities.
Despite these small inconveniences, don’t miss this temple, because it is an iconic place, of impressive greatness.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot is one of the most important temples in Bali. Located on a cliff, it is the work of a venerated Hindu priest from the 15th century, representing an important element of spiritualism in Bali.
This is an extremely popular tourist destination, so the whole area is often very busy, especially in the late afternoon, when the sun goes down. A maze of souvenir shops is found near the temple, but once you pass it, you will see the magnificent temple, perched on a cliff, just a few meters in the sea.

Bali the Island of the Gods

Seminyak

Seminyak is the largest and widest beach I’ve ever seen. The sand is fine and the water does not withdraw quickly after the waves pass. This phenomenon creates a particular reflection, giving the impression that people who walk on the beach actually walk on water.
When we went to Seminyak, 8-11 June, there was a storm in Australia, also felt in Bali, by the presence of very large waves, so that swimming was prohibited. We took advantage of this fact and we went to several beach clubs with infinity pool facing the ocean, our favorites being: KUDETA (Contact: Jl. Kayu Aya no. 9 Seminyak, Bali, 80361, Indonesia Tel: +62 361 736 969) and Potato Head (Contact: Jl. Petitenget Seminyak 51B, 83 061 Bali, Indonesia, tel: +62 (361) 473 7979).
In our last day there, I saw something black in the water, brought to the shore. I quickly grabbed my phone and ran to the waterfront to see what it is and while approaching, I saw a turtle. This event was really special, because turtles are rarely seen on this beach. The cute turtle came, greeted us, and then went back into the ocean.
Following the example of the turtle, after 30 minutes, we also said good bye to the wonderful Bali.

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