Much has been said and written about Bali. The island is in fashion and maybe that’s why, the last two years, we haven’t stopped seeing the same images of the same beaches in the same emblematic places again and again repeated by all the influencers, celebrites of the world including our friends in all social networks especially Instagram. Therefore, here you will find a travel proposal for those who have never been to Bali and for those who, after reading it will want to repeat.
In case you did not know, Bali is the name of both an island and an Indonesian province. The province includes the island of Bali, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. It is located in the western part of the small islands of Sonda, along with Java to the west and Lombok to the east. The island is now a popular tourist destination and is known, like Java, for its delicate arts that include dance, sculpture, painting, goldsmithing, leatherwork and a particular musical style, highlighting the Gamelan (Indonesian orchestra that plays court music and accompanies the theatrical performances and public parades, varying the number of instruments according to the uses).
But apart from being a tourist destination, Bali is increasingly a meeting point for fashion, jewelry, footwear, furniture and decoration wholesalers from all over the world who buy on the island to export it to their countries of origin and sell it more expensive. It is also known as “the island of the gods” for its great religious devotion, although many call it “the magic island”, because when you travel there you feel a special energy that makes the imagination fly and ideas flow without the need of psychotropics; reason why lately many young and not so young are leaving everything to live and fulfill their professional dream in, why not, the new island of opportunities.
But it has also became a paradise for couples who come to spend their honeymoon, brave adventure seekers, surfing, yoga and snorkeling lovers; and without a doubt Bali is an unmissable destination for anyone willing to disconnect for a few days while enjoying wonderful beaches, landscapes and discovering a new culture, history, people and their delicious cuisine.
The problem is that when you travel to the island of Bali there are too many options to plan your trip. In this case we will not cover them all, but we propose you a route that includes: Denpasar, Bukit, Jimbaran, Seminyak, Ubud, a brief mention of Kuta and Canggu; highlighting in each one, the special places that not everyone knows yet.
Denpasar: is the capital city and the main center of the Indonesian province of Bali. Nearby are the Pura Blanjong Temple, the Bali Museum and the Pura Jagatnata Hindu Temple, with a white coral sanctuary. Puputan Square is in the center of the city and next to it there is the Taman Werdhi Budaya (also known as Denpasar Arts Center), which is an extensive complex that exhibits local art, cultural events and is also the venue for the Bali Arts Festival that is held every year with traditional music, dance and art. The island of Bali has too many wonders to discover, so we will not stop much longer in Denpasar except to mention that this city is the first and the last thing you will see on your trip, since in this city is where the Bali-Denpasar Airport is located with more than 20 million passengers per year.
Bukit: known as “The viewpoint of Bali”, the peninsula of Bukit welcomes all kinds of people in search of that other Bali that does not appear in the travel catalogs. Today, the peninsula is accessed through a single road that connects Kuta and Jimbaran, and reaches Uluwatu through secondary roads. Once there, the most adventurous onces can move around by motorcycle, taxi, or for much less than you can imagine… in private driver. Although difficult access, the Bukit area has some of the best beaches in all of Bali, highlighting: Uluwatu the most famous- and the same one that appears in the well-known documentary made by Albert Falzon “Morning of the Earth”, who in 1973 shot for the posterity the moment in which its waves were crossed for the first time-, and nowadays it is the beach where consecrated surfers and surf lovers take advantage of the quality of their waves. Do not forget the exquisite Balangan, Bingin, or Suluban beach –a total delight when the tide descends and it is also where the surf championships are held- and finally Padang Padang -located very close to the famous Uluwatu temple which is worth a visit.-
Accommodation: Experience the authentic Balinese experience in your own private bungalow in Gravity Hotel, and more of the same if you prefer to stay at Toraja Bambu Boutique Hotel but with the difference that your private bungalow here will be fully made of bamboo. Another option is the Suarga Padang Padang hotel for those looking for even a little more Asian luxury. Do not miss: to admire the last waves of the day at Single Fin; to have breakfast in Suka Espresso -if you are a fan of the healthy food-, or Drifters that in addition to healthy restaurant is also a store specialized in surfing. Try the delicious and authentic Indonesian food in Yeye’s, or in any of the small street stalls that you will see located on the sides of the road. Enjoy the sunset at least once and dine after at El Kabrón in its impressive Spanish restaurant specialized in paellas with an infinity pool facing the sea (essential to book a table in advance).
Jimbaran: fishing village and tourist area on the south coast of Kuta in Bali. Jimbaran Bay has an extensive beach with calm waters and fish restaurants surrounded by tropical forests. At the north end is the Kedonganan open-air fish market, where colorful boats dock. Do not miss: its beaches and a local fish and seafood BBQ’s in front of the sea where you can choose what you are going to eat and if you are lucky, to discover their famous secret sauce! Specially in this area do not forget to try the culinary experience of the one star Michelin restaurant Cuca that for over 50 euros will delight you with its tasting menu designed by the well-known and successful Canadian chef Kevin Cherkas.
Seminyak: area located in north of Kuta that is known by its international atmosphere and its fancy hotels. Seminyak has a great offer of all types of restaurants plus the most exclusive stores; and although it is an important tourist center, it is somewhat a quieter area for those who are not looking for the “party” atmosphere of Kuta. Do not miss: this area is very nice for a great shooping day for fashion clothing and decoration, and to enjoy an international meal with cosmopolitan atmosphere if you are a little tired of Indonesian or Asian food only.
Ubud: located on the heights of Bali, it is well-known as a traditional dance and craft center and admired thanks to its rainforest, rice fields and the Ubud district with its ancient temples. The dynamic city of Ubud is full of yoga and healing centers, organic restaurants and art galleries. Also museums such as Neka or Agung Rai that exhibits traditional and contemporary works by local and expatriate artists plus traditional Balinese dance performances are often performed in the courtyard of the Royal Palace.
If you go to the Monkey Forest of Ubud you will see the macaques playing among the jungle vines and the great Hindu monuments. And to the south you will find the artisanal villages of Mas (famous for its carved wood), Celuk (famous for its silver jewels) and Batubulan (famous for the stone carvings). Accommodation: paradise exists if you decide to stay a few days in Aria Villas Ubud. No more and no less than your own eco-luxury apartment with outdoor-indoor bathroom, private pool, 24-hour service and free craniofacial massage on arrival! Do not miss: a full day at the Ubud Market training you in the wonderful art of “bargaining”. If you are used to this game or want to start in it, remember that when they tell you the first price you should start negotiating asking for half 😉
Kuta: it is a beach and a very tourist area in the south of the island of Bali. It is one of the first tourist areas developed in Bali and is known for its party atmosphere and for its long waves perfect for surf beginners. The entire Kuta area has large shopping centers that offer absolutely everything; tones of noisy clubs and bars attract crowds of backpackers; a WaterPark full of slides and pools in the middle of a tropical landscape and the Bali Bombing Monument is located on the same place where in 2002 terrorist attacks targeted two nightclubs. Do not miss: the most interesting thing in Kuta is the Tanah Lot temple, known for its spectacular location on cliffs that rise above the Indian Ocean.
Canggu: until a few years ago it was only a small town located in the south of the island of Bali and visited almost exclusively by surfers thanks to its good waves. A quiet place to escape from the crowded and touristy Kuta and far enough away from the popular Ubud. But the atmosphere of Canggu has changed a lot, and although its surfing lifestyle still remains, in recent years the area has seen how surf camps located between Hindu temples and rice fields, have been quickly invaded by villas, exclusive boutiques, jewelry, clothing and accessories stores, yoga and beauty centers, tattoo studios and hundreds of cafes, bars and restaurants all of them with an aspect that makes you doubt if you really are in Bali, in the Soho neighborhood of New York or in the heart of Borne in Barcelona… because nowadays Canggu has become the coolest town in Bali.
Accommodation: get your luxury room with garden and private pool for less than you imagine at the tropical and at the same time minimal boutique hotel The Slow. Do not miss: the experience of eating at Moana restaurant that is specialized in fish only and they prepare it in every possible way with a Thaitian touch. The best Warung (name for the traditional restaurants of local cuisine, often self-service type) to try the authentic Indonesian cuisine is called Warung Heboh and is located in JL Raya Semat, Tibubeneng. Enjoy delicious breakfasts at Matcha Café Bali, located at Jl. Pantai Berawa No.99 for lovers of Japanese green tea at any time of the day. Get to know Deus Ex Machina: nicknamed the “Temple of enthusiasm”, the company of Down Under that manufactures vintage motorcycles, shapes surfboards and sells almost everything that is fashionable, has established its branch in Bali consisting in a bicycle workshop, hairsalon, a skate’s factory, an art gallery and a cozy cafeteria surrounded by rice fields. And for lovers of shopping do not miss either Le Petit Cartel with an interesting proposal of Parisian jewelry produced in Bali with a shop in Canggu located in Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong No.66 and the brand from Berlin Haze & Glory that offers wonderful pieces of clothing for both men and women with stunning fabrics.
As you can see, in this magnificent island there are options for all tastes and places of all colors. In general the climate in Bali is warm throughout the year, temperatures reach their highest figures during the midday and the lowest during the night, especially in mountainous areas, and the rainy months begin in the end of October until end of April. The official language is Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesia, although Balinese is also spoken. And due to tourism English is also becoming more and more spoken and frequent. Remember to check if your country needs to apply for a special Visa before traveling to Bali and do not forget to have your passport with a minimum validity of 6 months.
So everything is ready now. You just need to decide what Bali you want to (re)discover, meet for the first time and with whom. Selamat tinggal!
Translation by Coolhuntinglab.com Original article in Spanish here published on 11/15/2018 at La Vanguardia.com Spanish newspaper and written by Clara De Nadal Trias, digital journalist, travel and fashion coolhunter and founder of Coolhuntinglab.com.