Holidays in Bali - 10 places to experience is written by Katrine Øland Frandsen
Why holiday in Bali?
After I saw the movie 'Eat, Pray, Love', where Julia Roberts drops her normal everyday life and travels to Italy, India and Bali, I had to leave. Bali is referred to as an exotic paradise and that was the impression I had before going on my overseas vacation there.
With all due respect, Bali is not a paradise right now - but they are working on it. Bali and Indonesia are unfortunately the place in the world after China, which contributes most to plastic pollution in the world's oceans. Fortunately, disposable plastic was banned in 2019 in Bali, and the country is recognizing the environmental challenges they face.
Indonesia is a developing country, and without tourism, development will only slow down. So if your next trip is to Bali, then travel responsibly and help the country improve. Here is my insider guide to 10 places you must go if you want to experience Bali as an exotic paradise.
Opev Uluwatu Temple and Sunset Point on your vacation in Bali
Uluwatu Temple is a Hindu temple located on the southern coast of Bali. Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, but in Bali 80% of the population are Hindus. The interesting thing about this temple is that it is built on the edge of a cliff that is 80 meters above sea level.
You get close to nature and it abounds with monkeys here, so hold on tight to your phone and other shiny objects; the monkeys steal for fun. Visit the temple in the evening and experience the traditional dance 'Kecak' - whose name can be translated to 'fire dance'.
If you are not into evening entertainment, head to Uluwatu Sunset Point, which is 20 minutes away. From here you can experience one of the better sunsets on top of a cliff edge while enjoying a Balinese beer or a dragon fruit juice.
Nusa Islands and Kelingking Beach
The Nusa Islands are an archipelago of three islands; Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. The islands are a short boat ride from the coastal town of Sanur in Bali. At Nusa Penida you can experience Kelingking beach and the famous rock formation, which resembles a Tynannosaurus Rex.
The beach will surely be overrun with tourists - it lends itself when it is named Asia's second best beach in Tripadvisor's Travelers Choice in 2019.
It is recommended to visit all three islands and not just the main island of Nusa Penida. On Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan there are both blue lagoons, wild snorkeling destinations, unusually beautiful hiking and diving opportunities and a fantastic island life.
Canggu - the city for young travelers in Bali
Tourism is constantly evolving in Bali, and tourists from all over the world flock to the small Indonesian island. Kuta was originally the big city that first got the attention of the tourists. After being overrun by tourism, tourists moved further up the west coast to Seminyak. The same thing happened again in Seminyak and now it is Canggu that is attracting attention.
Canggu is the city for the young travelers and newcomers. The area is full of great shopping, beaches, beach clubs, bazaars and cozy vegan cafes and restaurants. The area also offers good evening entertainment at the bar 'Old mans' and the nightclub 'La Farvela '.
Ubud and Tegalalang rice terracerne
In Bali, much of the tourism goes by the coast as in Canggu or Seminyak. But if you go inland to the city of Ubud, you will experience a different kind of Bali.
Ubud is known for its famous rice terraces in Tegalalang and civet coffeecoffee plantations. You will find local markets with Balinese crafts in the beautiful green surroundings. I fall head over heels for the Balinese craft - they make everything from wicker baskets and kitchen utensils in wood to blown glass and jewelry.
When you visit Ubud, you can also go to their 'monkey forest'. A forest full of monkeys accustomed to the flow of tourists. A fun experience to get so close to the monkeys - and a good family experience. A good piece of advice, though, is to store glittering objects away; the Balinese monkeys are known for hoarding and stealing.
See Sunrise on volcano Batur on your vacation in Bali
Climbing the Batur volcano is a popular activity in Bali. It is a steep hike on a terrain that is difficult to hike. The hike starts early in the morning and the volcano takes two hours to climb. You arrive at the tops just in time to experience an amazing sunrise between the nearby mountains and volcanoes. It is said that the hardest trips are the most rewarding, and the view here is worth it. Prepare to get up early and get sweat on your forehead.
Gili Islands Trangawan, Meno and Air
Indonesia has 6000 inhabited islands and 583 different dialects. The word 'Gili' and the word 'Nusa' both mean island - just in different dialects.
The archipelago consists of three islands; Gili Trangawan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The islands border the neighboring volcanic island of Lombok, providing stunning views from all the islands. The best thing about the Gili Islands is that they are car free, and you get around by renting a bike or a horse-drawn carriage.
Gili Trangawan is the largest and is seen as the main island. Here you can find small shops, food markets, a lively nightlife and lots of water activities. Gili Air is the second largest and is a quieter island than Trangawan. The island is also called the island of love, and many couples go there.
At Gili Air you will find yoga studios, cozy restaurants and small cute shops. With a bike you can explore the whole island. Gili Meno is a more desolate island. It can be visited on a snorkeling trip offered from both Gili Trangawan and Gili Air, or you can go there for an overnight stay or two.
The Komodo Islands and the modern dinosaur
A little about dinosaurs. There are only a handful of islands in the world where you can meet the poisonous dinosaur-like komodo dragon, and those islands are located in Indonesia.
The Komodo dragon is a reptile known for its massive size. An adult komodo dragon can grow up to 3 meters long and weigh 90 kilos. To maintain their size, they eat up to 80% of their body weight - but only once a month.
Their saliva is a deadly poison - both for animals and humans. It is therefore mandatory that you only visit Komodo National Park with a ranger who knows the animal's lifestyle. The national park is in my opinion one real-life 'Jurassic Park'.
To get there you need to fly from Bali to Flores. From Flores you go on a two-day boat trip, where you visit the various islands. You spend the night on the boat. The islands offer lots of good hikes with great views and it abounds with wildlife. I swam with giant devil rays, met deer - which is one of the prey of the Komodo dragon - on the beach, and then of course I met the majestic Komodo dragon.
Go to the local fish market in Jimbaran on your holiday in Bali
To travel is to live - and eat. Balinese cuisine uses a lot of vegetables and of course rice in their dishes. You probably do not avoid trying one of their most common dishes; nasi goreng - but something else that the island is also good at is fish.
If you go to Jimbaran beach, you will have something of an authentic experience. Jimbaran Fish Market is one of the largest local fish markets in Bali. Here you select the fish you want to have cooked. I went for one red snapper.
Then you take it out to a nearby restaurant, which prepares it. Whether you like fish or not, it is a culinary experience you must not miss. It tastes incredibly good and it's a shame too environmentally friendly to do as the locals. Buy a coconut to rinse down with.
Waterfall in Nordbali and the trip there
Nordbali is my best experience so far in Bali. Whether it was the scooter ride that did it is not known. Nordbali was so amazing that I am annoyed that I did not take the trip up there before.
On a three-day trip from Jimbaran and up through the island, I visited the gate 'Gateway to Heaven', spent the night at Amed beach and drove to the waterfalls Tegenungan, Sekumpul and Fiji before turning my nose back towards Sydbali.
Most people will probably recognize the iconic tourist attraction 'Gateway to heaven'. And correctly, there are many tourists - but for me it is the trip up there that makes the experience unique.
The best beaches in Bali: Nunggalan and Nyang Nyang
Would you like to come home completely rested from your holiday in Bali? Then I would advise you to visit Nunggalan or Nyang Nyang beach which is next door. An absolutely pristine paradise - without tourists. In fact, I only met one other person - and that was a coconut-selling Balinese.
The beaches are on the southernmost edge of beautiful Bali, and the walk from the parking lot to the beach is something of a downhill walk through the jungle. That's probably why it's so desolate. But it is definitely worth the whole trip. A perfect place to actually recharge and relax by the water without so much disturbance.
Four tips for your trip to Bali
Rent a scooter. In Bali you get around best by scooter. The traffic is heavy and you can quickly get in line for a long time if you are in a car.
Do your part for the environment. It is inevitable not to be affected by garbage and plastic floating in the streets. Bali is an island in development and they are working on it. You can do your part by supporting the locals and saying no to plastic. Bring your own metal straw and pick up plastic if you come across it in the sea. It makes a huge difference.
Support an NGO. The 'Seaturtle Conservation Center' in Kuta, the 'Turtle Conservation And Education Center' in Denpasar or the 'Bali Animal Welfare Association' are some of the many organizations in Bali that help wildlife on the island. Volunteer, support them financially or donate discarded clothes - everything helps.
Happy Holidays to Bali!
What to see in Bali? Sights and attractions
- The rice terraces in Tegalalang
- Sekumpul, Tegenungan and Fiji Falls
- The Monkey Forest in Ubud
- Uluwatu cliffs
- The beaches of Nunggalan and Nyang Nyang
- Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang - “Gateway to Heaven”
- Gili Islands Trangawan, Meno and Air
- Volcano Batur
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