Bali or my very own “Eat, pray, love”
(Part 2. What to see & do)
As I said in my first Bali blog, the island is much more than surf, rice terraces and Hindu temples. You start reading all the info you can find in books and online and you are totally confused. Probably more confused than before. Then you start counting the days and planning and try to stuff as many things as you can.
But time is never enough. So let’s see together which your best options are so you can decide on your own how to make the most of your Bali holiday.
WHAT TO SEE
I will start with the shorter list because as I already said to you, I am the adventurous type, so the list with WHAT TO DO will be a hell of a lot longer.
- Firstly, Bali means praying. And praying in Indonesia means Hindu Temples. Hinduism is a religion or a way of life, widely practiced in the Indian subcontinent. It is said to be the oldest religion in the world. Personally, it was my first contact with Hinduism and I didn’t know very much about it (and I still don’t), but I talked with some local people and I loved the idea that they consider divinity is in everything around you: sun, sky, human beings, trees, rivers, tools of one’s work, animals and birds. So everywhere in Bali, on the beach, on the streets, in their homes you will find offerings for their Gods made by flowers, candles and perfumed sticks. They thank sun for rising that day, flowers for blossoming, rivers for flowing, friends and family for being by their side.
Hinduism includes a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but has no religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book.
This is the reason why you will find so many temples around Bali.
Some have a great meaning for them and based on their beauty, location and rituals, these temples are also visited by millions of tourists every year. Even if they do not know a thing about Hinduism, people love to be a part of its magic for a couple of hours and Indonesians are very happy about this because in Bali, for example, they live almost entirely from tourism.
- Pura Tanah Lot and Uluwatu are definitely the most visited Balinese temples. Due to their charming locations, they also offer some of the best views for sunset becoming iconic tourist attractions.
Even though I am a sunset addict and Tanah Lot it is said to offer the most beautiful one on the island, I am sad to tell you I didn’t manage to cross this off my list. We were actually on our way to see it, but something came up and we ended our first day in Bali in the police station in Kuta (more about this in my next blog – Safety on the island).
The pictures I have seen are spectacular so do not hesitate in going even if it is a little bit far. The sea temple, which is built on a huge rock right in the middle of the ocean, takes you way back into its timeless journey, being known as one of the most sacred temples in Bali.
!Tip 1: I advise you to arrive around 5 pm so you can explore it a little and find a good spot for the 6-6.30 pm sunset, which is considered the golden hour.
Renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above sea level, Uluwatu temple also shares the splendid sunset backdrops as that of Tanah Lot Temple. ‘Ulu’ means the ‘top’ or the ‘tip’ and ‘watu‘ means a ‘stone’ or a ‘rock’ in Balinese.
!Tip 1: A small forest lies at the front and hundreds of monkeys dwell here, so if you are lucky enough, a Grey long-tailed macaque will pose for your shots for free.
- Moving on the lake side, Pura Ulun Danu Beratan has also a charming location that fills you with inner peace and calm. 50 km north from Kuta, the temple can be visited together with the well known Git Git Waterfall. As we chose to also stay on the mountain side of the island, it was easy for us to visit it by scooter directly from there due to its proximity (around 10-12 km). The temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul. Built in 1633, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi-Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali.
!Tip 1: I bet you have seen on the internet pictures with some beautiful Balinese gates in the mountains. I like to call them “the gates to Heaven” and they are located just 2 km from Pura Ulun Danu Beratan. Arm yourself with patience though if you want a good photo because the place has gained some interest lately and you will have to stay in line with other tourists. The gates represent the actual entrance to the Handara Golf and Resort in Bedugul.
Sure, there are so many other important temples you can visit around Bali, but as I said, time is never enough and since we didn’t have so much interest in Hinduism, we decided these are more than enough for us. I do regret not catching the sunset at Pura Tanah Lot, but I’m sure I will soon be able to cross this off my list as well.
2. Visiting Ubud is mandatory when you are on the island. You cannot say you have visited Bali without seeing the heart of it. As I said in my previous post, for me, staying in the jungle view villa was one of the most authentic Balinese experiences.
And while you are there, you should not miss at least these 2 attractions:
- Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a natural reserve and Hindu temple complex in Ubud.
Even though I am not a big fan of monkeys as they tend to be aggressive, I think a trip to Ubud isn’t complete if you don’t go to the monkey forest. It’s a lot of fun (especially for guys because they are braver than us girls on this matter) and you can have as much or as little interaction with the monkeys as you want. Still, the monkeys are known as excellent thieves. They will snatch your hat, sunglasses, jewelry, etc if they have the chance. The truth is that they are in constant search for food and drinks. Big fans of Coca cola and sweets, they don’t mind searching in your pocket, purse or backpack. The sad part is that they don’t know what is good or bad for them and I personally saw some of them eating hand sanitizer or face cream stolen from people’s bags.
If you are brave enough, they will climb on your back as you offer them a banana and you can take quite good and funny pictures. I am a big fan of pictures (I bet you can already agree to that), but I had to say pass to this.
!Tip 1: The entrance fee is 50.000 IDR which means less than 4 EUR for an adult and 40.000 IDR for a child which means less than 3 EUR;
!Tip 2: To avoid getting robbed or injured by them, try not to have so many sparkling objects with you and don’t leave your bags or backpacks open or unsupervised.
!Tip 3: Don’t look directly in their eyes! It is considered a sign of aggression so they might attack you!
- Tegallalang Rice Terrace is the most famous rice terrace in Bali due to its proximity to Ubud. It offers beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak (traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system).
It also offers tourists the perfect Bali photo opportunity with its dramatic views. A local elder, a farmer who owns the land invites visitors to sample his green coconut drink, to purchase woven hats that he makes from coconut leaves as well as posing with visitors for a small fee.
!Tip 1: It is good to know that there are not fixed prices so you can use your bargaining skills.
!Tip 2: There are many art galleries and cafes nearby offering panoramic views of the terraces, perfect for spending an afternoon drawing or painting if you have an artistic soul.
Even though Tegallalang is the most known rice terrace, Jatiluwih is the biggest. The site is one of the island’s must-see natural panoramas on par with Mount Batur and the caldera of Kintamani.
3. Staying on the “WHAT TO SEE” list, next one is the Water Blow. This can be visited on your way to Nusa Dua Beach and you should not miss it especially if you decide not to visit Lembongan. If you do visit it, the Devil’s Tear should make the trick instead.
Water Blow gives you the chance to witness the awesome power of nature as large waves from the Indian Ocean constantly crash against the jagged limestone edges on the peninsula’s south-eastern cliff.
Imagine if this is the shorter list, how the WHAT TO DO list will look like. So many interesting and thrilling activities that you will want to experience them all. And since I do not want to overwhelm you with too much information all at once, do not forget to check my next post and follow me on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to get all the travel secrets.
See you on Thursday!
And remember: Life is short and the world is wide…