Date of stay: December 2014 - January 2015
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned with friends
Last year 2014, I began my adventure throughout Southeast Asia for 1 month with a group of friends. My first stop was Bali and I arrived at the Bali Airport located in Denpasar. My trip to Bali was amazing with friendly people and heaps of places to visit.
We spent 10 days in Bali in December 2014 and had a lovely stay at the Tune Hotel of Legian, my friend found this hotel (www.tunehotels.com). At first, we had planned to stay in a hostel, but given that my friend found this offer, the Tune Hotel seemed the best option as we ended up paying AUD 95 for 10 days. The hotel was pretty nice and their facilities included comfortable beds, good toilets, AirCon etc. It's also conveniently located just 10 minutes-walk to the heart of Kuta, this location allows easy access to convenience stores, nightlife venues, exclusive shopping, tourist attractions and sightseeing. Moreover, there was also a beach nearby to the hotel, so we went there a couple of times to enjoy the sun and beach, even though it wasn’t the best beach
The next day we got in touch with a driver called Nikko, whose contact we got through a friend. He drove us to different places of Bali, particularly temples. We took a 3 day trip with him and it cost AUD 10 per person for each day. This does not include the cost for entry tickets. Each day we had to wake up pretty early so we can finish visiting all the places that were scheduled. On average, each trip was from 8 am until 6 pm. Nikko, our tour guide was very friendly, kind and knowledgeable, and taught us everything about the Balinese culture and what it means.
This 3 day itinerary could be a good guide to follow for others visiting Bali.
1st day: Barong Dance, Batuan Temple, Monkey Forest Temple, Rice Terrace, Coffee Plantation, Batur Volcano
We saw the Barong Dance performance as the 1st part of our 1st day tour of Bali. We found it very interesting. The Barong Dance is a show consisting of a story telling dance about a fight between good and evil; however, we found that it was not necessarily to our taste. The costumes were colorful and changed according to the different stages of the play. It was fast-paced despite the pauses, which are typical in these sorts of performances. The dance started out nice, but then half way through the dance got inappropriate and boring. We found some of the actions obscene including a rather lengthy joke based on a boar’s tail not being his member, so people of a sensitive nature might not find it amusing. It was hard for us to keep track on the story partly due to the language barrier, even though each one had a piece of paper with a translation. The play was quite pricey by Balinese standards.
Tickets: AUD 10
Location: Batu Bulan
Note: If you don’t want to pay, you can enjoy in hotels as they offer these dances with dinner.
Next, we visited the Puseh Batuan Temple. The good thing about this temple is that all of the carvings are so different on the buildings and within the temples. The temple was nice and ornate. The intricacies of the teak woods that were used are amazing. It is absolutely worth spending time there.
At this temple, sarongs are mandatory to wear for both men and women and are provided by local people who will happily help you tie them on. No need to pay entrance fee, just a voluntary small amount of donation if visitors wish.
Monkey Forest Temple
The Monkey Forest Sanctuary Temple, located in the district of Ubud, is practically a must for anyone visiting Bali, particularly because of the carb eating macaques, amazing and playful monkeys that are spread along the temple. When we got there, the first thing we did was focused on taking pictures of these monkeys and some of my friends were pretty excited to play with them. However, it is not a good idea; these monkeys are pretty fast and might be aggressive if they are annoyed and might bite people and transmit diseases such as Hepatitis B.
People should also be careful with their belongings especially with their bags and purses. Monkeys can steal them. Apart from the monkeys, by walking along the temple, people can find interesting pathways that lead to see The Statue of the Komodo Dragon and The Dalem Agung Padangtegal Temple
Tickets: AUD 3
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
After visiting Ubud’s monkey forest, we headed to The Rice Terrace located at Tegalalang in the north of Ubud. Rice Terrace is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak (traditional irragition system created in Bali). The scenery offers a sense of calm and serenity atmosphere. It is a good place to take pictures with stunning views of a green scenery which can be seen from the main road from Kintamani to Ubud and even by just sitting in the shops and restaurants located at the top of the terraces. The main feature of this attraction is to walk down the fields and explore the terraces a bit more and if you have the chance, you can usually find most of the villagers working on the rice field and see their cropping systems and how the local farmer works on it to make rice.
Coffee plantation is a good spot to sample local blends. This coffee is the Kopi Luwak or civet coffee, which is a coffee made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, then pooped out, cleaned, roasted and ground for drinking. I really enjoyed, we had a guide who was explaining us the whole process and we were able to taste different kinds of coffee with different flavours. In the end, you can buy coffee given that they have a coffee shop. I remember you can buy a bag of coffee for AUD 10 approximately.
The last place that we visited was the Batur volcano which was in Ubud. We briefly saw the volcano and it was a great stop to have a beautiful picture of the Mountain. Hopefully, the next time I will be able to do the trek on the next trip, which is one of the main attractions. Our guide told us that the walk is good for beginners and not too challenging, so an average person could walk and climb it easily if walking slowly given that if the person does not often exercise much, he or she may get short of breath. The Batur Volcano Trek usually starts early in the morning depending where you live, so it is important to have a good sleep the day before. For more information visit: http://www.balitrekkingtour.com/mount-batur-trekking/
Taman Ayun Temple
Our second day trip, we started visiting the Taman Ayun temple, located at Mengwi. Taman Ayun translates as “beautiful garden” and is considered one of the most attractive temples of Bali. It stands on an island in a river. One of the most stunning view of this temple is the fact that it has several pagodas one behind another which it is a perfect opportunity to take a good picture of its best feature according to me. One can view the main temple from outside and climb a tall tower built in the garden for taking some great pictures. This is a beautiful temple with green gardens spread across large areas. In addition, this temple also features a separate arena for cock fight and an inner sanctum which is only accessible for locals. Less crowded temple compared to other temples.
Tickets: AUD 2
Then, we visited the Bali Botanical Garden. Good spot for those who like the nature and enjoy forest. In this place, a vast expansion of green lawns surrounded by different varieties of plants, cactus, shrubs and trees. If want to get more adventurous, you can do canopy, which is according to us one of the main highlights of this trip. See more at: http://www.balitreetop.com/?goto=home&lang=en
Tickets: AUD 5 (Botanical Garden Entrance Fee)
Ulun Danu is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali situated in the middle of the lake and has become a favorite tourist spot in Bali. Built in 1926, this temple is one of the most famous Balinese temple, it is usually called as Bali Temple on the water given that it looks like it is floating on the water as the water level in the lake rises.
In this temple, one of the main attractive things was the fact that this temple consist of 4 temples: Lingga Petak Temple, Dalem Purwa Temple, Terate Bang Temple and Penaratan Pucak Mangu Temple. These temples are pretty beautiful to take pictures with the background of the lake.
During our visit, unfortunately we couldn’t stay for long; it was raining and had to leave after 30 minutes.
Tickets: AUD 3
After, we visited TheTwin Lake. In this area, Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan, separated by a rainforest-covered hill, are known as the Twin Lakes. This place has a good view of the volcanic heart of Bali. Volcanoes have created and shaped this island. To be honest, we underestimate to do more activities there. Our guide tour told us that we could do some nice hikes around the lakes, offering some unique viewpoints and also have the chance to see a colony of monkeys. However, we were pretty tired by them and as we saw monkeys before in Monkey forest, we decided to continue our trip to our last stop.
Tanah Lot was our last destination and it is probably the most famous temple in Bali. This temple stands just off the coast on a rock and it is quite spectacular. Most people go for the sunset, which makes a good connection with the temple to take good pictures.
Tickets: AUD 3
Location: South Kuta
To be honest, we weren’t that delighted that much with the offers of Nusa Dua. Most of this trip, included passing plenty of all-inclusive resorts to go to the beaches. What is more, not the clearest water, dirty sand and barely palm trees. The only good thing about this part of this trip was visiting The Water Blow, which is a rock formation where waves colliding onto the rock wall create a giant splash like the water is blowing, however, as we were disappointed, we never even took pictures.
Padang Padang Beach
Padang Padang beach is located 30 kms south of Kutu, not far from the Uluwatu Temple in Bali’s northwest side. It is supposed to be the place where Julia Roberts made a film and also a surfing beach, however to be honest we felt very disappointed because the beach was filled of rubbish.
Finally, Our next halt was at the famous Uluwatu temple surrounded by the Indian ocean. The encapsulating ocean view, cliff hanging temple and the golden sun rays beaming from the clear blue sky made us go wow - we were overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. In addition to these one can also see the Uluwatu cave and the kecak dance performance at an additional cost.
Useful Information in Bali:
· The visa process is simple. 52 countries are eligible for Visa on Arrival when visiting Indonesia. When departing from Bali, you are subject to the airport departure tax which is paid in Indonesian Rupiah only, so save some bills for the trip out. The tax is AUD 20 (IDR 200,000). For local flight is AUD 7 (IDR 70,000)
· When exchanging money, let’s say just exchange AUD 20 in Australia for the taxi ride and some food. In Bali, there are numerous money changers all over. I suggest asked some staff in the hotel or tour guide where the best option to change is. Never change in these small stalls operated by street vendors, even though they offer an attractive rate, they will try to scam you when counting the money, they are super-fast and you won’t notice whether they give the correct amount of money.
· When traveling in Asia, especially in countries like Indonesia and Thailand, try to use cash instead of credit or debit cards. In fact, do not use the Travel Money Card of the Commonwealth Bank. It pays very low, offers unattractive exchanges rates and charges AUD 4 of withdrawal fee. It might be useful for some emergencies; however, I recommend using Citibank.
· Although commuting is easy, the local transportation system in Bali is not one of the best. Taking taxis are the best option but always bargain for a good price. Do not attempt to rent motorbikes given that you can be pulled over by a police officer and be fined.
· When dining out, try the local food. Nasi Goreng, Gado Gado Salad and Pepe’s Tuna were my favorite meals; however, sometimes they can be spicy. Always tell the waiter to serve without spicy sauces. They are a pretty good deal, I would say AUD 3 per dish.
Any questions please post a comment to this blog. Thanks