I spent a week exploring the beautiful island of Bali. Here are just seven heavenly things you can do there.💜
1. Visit Breathtaking Hindu Temples
Although Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country, the island of Bali is unique in that it is primarily Hindu. You will not find many mosques here, but rather beautiful Balinese temples.
Balinese Hindus believe that all creatures possess a spiritual essence, and they seek to find harmony and balance in life by worshiping their ancestors, Buddhist saints, and various forms of God.
Canang sari are daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus to the Gods. These small palm-leaf basket usually contain colored flowers, food, and incense. You’ll find them all over the streets on Bali.During my time on Bali, I was able to visit four Hindu temples: Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Taman Ayun Temple, Pura Taman Saraswati, and Tanah Lot.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a 17th century Hindu temple floating on Lake Beratan, which honors Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the lake goddess, Dewi Danu.
The location is 1200 meters above sea level, which means it’s cool and damp enough to grow temperate fruits and flowers. 🌹🌼
Aside from viewing the temple from afar, visitors can also take paddle boats around the lake. For a different perspective, my friend Alad even flew his drone over the temple. We learned minutes later that this wasn’t allowed, but at that point, he had already snapped a few beautiful shots. 💜Just a bunch of rule breakers! Hah! 😜Cost: The entrance fee was 3.50 USD.
Taman Ayun Temple means “temple in a beautiful garden” and its name surely didn’t disappoint. In addition to a well-manicured garden, the temple is also surrounded by a tranquil pond. Access to the holy temple is only permissible during religious ceremonies, so visitors will have to admire it from behind the courtyard walls.
Alad even got some drone shots to admire it from above. 😉For modesty’s sake, visitors must cover their shoulders and bare legs with a shawl provided by the temple.I also learned that menstruating women are not allowed in Balinese temples, because it perceived to be unclean.Cost: Less than 2 USDPura Taman Sarasvati is a Hindu temple in Ubud dedicated to the goddess Sarasvati.
It is surrounded by a calming lotus pond…….and also next to an energizing Starbucks. 😜☕
Cost: free to enter
Tanah Lot means “land in the sea” and this stunning coastal temple sits on large jagged rock overlooking the ocean. This temple is actually one of seven temples that line the Balinese coast. The seven temples honor the Gods of the sea, and at the base of the Tanah Lot temple there are reportedly venomous sea snakes, which guard the temple from intruders and evil spirits. As you can see from the picture, I think the snakes might have gone out for a coffee break! Hah! 🐍😜
Yes, this temple is a total tourist hot spot! Photo shoots and selfie sticks all over the place! 📸I tried to be just a bit more candid with my photos.
Anyway, despite the crowds, it was still a nice place to grab a coconut, walk the sidewalk that linked the seven temples, and watch the sunset over the coast. ❤
Here’s a short video of the sunset view:
Cost: 3.50 USD
Now along with admiring the traditional Hindu temples, one can also witness the many traditional rituals and performances here. While on Bali, I attended a Kecak Fire Dance at the Pura Dalem Temple in Ubud.
Kecak is a Balinese music and dance drama depicting an epic battle between the evil King Ravana, prince Rama, and the monkey-like Vanara.
The performance is amplified by over 150 men chanting “chak” in unison. The men are seated in circular rows around a traditional coconut oil lamp. As the battle commences, the bare-chested men rhythmically chant and wave their arms from side to side.Kecak was originally part of a trance ritual, and this performance not only ends with the death of the evil Ravana, but of a trance dance across a bed of fiery hot coals! 😲🔥
Here’s a short video of their performance:
3. Heal your Body and Mind with Yoga and Massage
While in Ubud, I took an acro yoga class at the Yoga Barn.
Although they didn’t allow photos during the class, acro yoga is basically a combination of acrobatics and yoga, and you essentially act like a superhero and pretend you’re flying. 😜The Yoga Barn is also more like a yoga complex, with multiple yoga studios and classes going on all throughout the day. They even have their own on-site restaurant, juice bar, clothing store, and they offer a bunch of other services, including cleanses, spiritual healing, and massage.Speaking of massage, Bali has an incredible selection of affordable massage parlors, like this one I found near my bungalow. A standard massage is about 7 USD/hour, so you would be silly not to treat yourself while you’re here.Cost: 6 USD per yoga class
4. Enjoy Guilt-Free Vegan Cuisine
Since Bali is all about optimal health, it’s no surprise you’ll find a never-ending selection of chic bistros and healthy vegan cafes here.
Most restaurants have international fare, cozy seating, and a tranquil atmosphere. My favorites included Atman Kafe, Kafe, Earth Cafe, and Alchemy.
Cost: 4-5 USD per entree
5. Learn about Special Balinese Coffee
Kopi luwak is an expensive local coffee made right here on Bali. ☕Kopi luwak is made from beans that have been pooped out by a luwak animal, which is a cat-like creature.As our local guide informed us, the luwak eats the coffee cherries for its juicy jelly.
Once the animal digests and expels the beans in their poo, the plantation harvests and cleans them to make their coffee.
While at the coffee plantation, I was able to sample the kopi luwak coffee for a reasonable 4 USD per cup. The coffee had a very aromatic smell, and a sweet, earthy flavor. Very delicious!
At the plantation, I was also able to try some local teas and coffee creations, like mangosteen tea, red rice tea, turmeric tea, and coconut coffee (the favorite of the bunch).Cost: free tour and tea tasting, minus the kopi luwak sample
5. Visit Monkeys in a Sacred Forest
Long-tailed macaques are endemic to Bali, and many are kept in sacred forests full of Hindu temples.
While on Bali, I was able to visit the Sangeh Holy Monkey Forest and the Ubud Monkey Forest.The Ubud Monkey Forest has about 750 long-tailed monkeys, which are seen as sacred animals according to local mythology. 🐒
The monkeys are cared for by the park staff, whom feed them a local diet of sweet potatoes and bananas. 🍠🍌The monkeys even have numbers on their chest, so that they can keep track of them.During my visit, for the most part, the monkeys were calmly relaxing in the trees or grooming one another. That being said, monkeys are cheeky little buggers.They had no problem jumping on people, grabbing at their shoelaces, or opening up their bags to find something interesting.
My favorite were these two adorable guys playing with the drinking fountain. ❤
I don’t think it helps that the caretakers feed the monkeys to get them to pose with people.In general, just be cautious with what you bring into the forest, and you’ll be just fine. 😀
Cost: 3.50 USDSide note: the Sangeh Holy Monkey Forest is similar, but not as impressive, so I would recommend the one in Ubud.
7. Take in the Natural Beauty
That being said, it doesn’t take much to escape the crowds and enjoy Bali’s natural beauty in peace. Two of my favorite spots to take in the natural beauty were the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces and the Campuhan Ridge Walk.
Jatiluwih means “real beautiful” and this flowing hillside of rice terraces is nothing short of spectacular! They’ve even designated it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s more, these contoured terraces have been irrigated in such a way that they distribute water to the entire community of villagers. Now there is a tourist entrance for viewing the terraces, but what I’d suggest is spending your money at a nearby restaurant instead, where you can enjoy some local cuisine and the spectacular views!
Cost: 5 USD for a buffet and 2 USD for a beer
The Campuhuan Ridge Walk is a 5-mile nature trail near Ubud. It offers a spectacular view of the tropical foliage, and gorgeous resorts scattered along the hillside.
The path is also lined with numerous souvenir shops and restaurants.
I even found this great gelato stand, where I sampled some jamu ice cream made with turmeric, ginger, lime, and coconut. Very nice and not too much spice! 😉At the end of the ridge walk I found Karsa Kafe, which is a restaurant surrounded by a lily pond overlooking the beautiful rice terraces.
They had a full food and drink menu, including fresh juices, like this carrot, apple, and ginger combo.
To get to the ridge walk, you simply enter the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas and Spa, and look for a sign that says, “going to the hill”.Anyway, those are just seven heavenly things I found to do on Bali. I’m sure you’d could find oodles more to do as well. ❤
Getting there: Since I stayed in Ubud, which was in the middle of Bali, I chose a ferry/minivan combo, which cost 90,000 rupiah or 6.50 USD. I did need to haggle with the driver to get that price. The trip began at the ferry port on Java, crossed over to Bali, then took about four hours by car to get to Mengweh. From there I hopped on a motorbike for 4 USD to get the rest of the way.Getting around: As I mentioned, Bali is touristy, so there are always taxi drivers willing to give you a ride at a “fair” price. 😜 Luckily, most cities are pretty walkable. Just be careful of potential road hazards.
Accommodation: While in Ubud, I stayed at Puji Bungalows. For 7 USD/night, I had a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the rice terraces, an air conditioned dorm bed, and a free pancake breakfast. They even organized shuttles to the airport.
Tour Package: To visit the temples, coffee plantation, and rice terrace, I went on a tour. The tour started at 10am and ended at 8pm. It cost 17 USD, and only included transportation.
The other option would be to rent a motorbike and drive there solo; however, the traffic all over the island is so terrible, that I didn’t want to risk an accident. I saw three motorbike crashes on my first day alone! The tour also gave me the chance to meet a lovely British couple, and a digital nomad from Miami.Anyway, up next I flew to the island of Flores for some scuba diving. Stay tuned to hear all about the trip! Until then! ❤