Can you guess what was the number one holiday destination for 2017? We didn’t know that it was Bali until we came back to London. Honestly before you visit the island it’s hard to understand what’s so special about this place. Bali is a must see – with such a beautiful and rich culture, all of the tropical landscapes, white/black sand beaches – it has it all.
Hard to say how long it would take to explore the whole island – depending on the season – each part of Bali has plenty of places worth your attention. We had planned our itinerary long time before our visit. This was the last and most wanted destination that we were looking forward before coming back to London. Two weeks are certainly not enough to immerse what Bali has in offer but we did our best!
If you are staying outside of Ubud you can book a driver online through www.balicab.com. Efficient and fast service of 10 hours cost 540 000 IDR (~27£). Always pay to the driver directly in the end of the day.
We scheduled our pick up at 6 am. and it took us 2 hours to reach the farthest point of our daily plan. Located on the very north part of the island, Gitgit Waterfall is only one of the few breathtaking spots in the area. If you feel like having refreshing morning dip pack your swimsuit too. Some of the waterfalls are hard to hike, sometimes it takes hundred of steps to get your way down. This one was easy but remember to carry a bottle of water at all times because humid is a real struggle since the early morning. Admission fee is 10 000 IDR per person (~0.5£).
There are two more waterfalls in the area – Aling-Aling and Sekumpul. It might look close on the map but in reality the road often gets curvy so always add an extra time while getting to the destination.
Driving back south we stopped by the iconic Handara Gate which is an entry to one of the resorts. By the time we got really hungry and decided to have a lunch at Beratan lake. Ulun Danu has a perfect setting because the sanctuary was built at the edge of waters and it gives an illusion of a floating temple.
We also stopped by Luwak Coffee plantation which was recommended by our driver before coming back to Ubud. Beautiful gardens and free coffee tasting in such an authentic place was a nice way to end our busy day. They also have a little shop where you can purchase the coffee you liked the most. Sadly to produce the coffee beans they keep civet cats in a really small cages and not the best conditions which was the only disappointing part of this tour.
Driving through Bali gives an impression that there are more temples than houses on the island. Considered as one of the oldest holy places in Bali – Pura Luhur Lempuyang is literally a temple in the clouds. Don’t get scared by the 1700 steps up because the view up there is just breathtaking. At the summit you can admire the beauty of Mount Agung and hopefully there won’t be many tourists around. We were lucky to have the space for ourselves. The whole hike up and down usually takes around 4 hours for average fit person. Entrance fee cost 15 000 IDR per person (less than 1£).
Our next stop on the way was Tukad Cepung waterfall – a relatively new discovery among tourists. The hike to the bottom is a bit challenging and might be dangerous if you are wearing a slippery footwear. We had to pass a little stream and massive rocks but the reward is impressive and we didn’t regret it.
It’s good to plan two separate itineraries to the north and to the east side of the island. Considering the distances it will be only possible to visit three or four places during 10 hours of drivers service. We made this silly mistake to leave sacred temple Tirta Empul as our last destination. Apart of the huge amount of tourists we also had to accept the fact that Balinese people are attending their Hindu celebrations. The temple usually gathers lots of people because of holy spring waters and belief for their ritual purification. Admission: 15 000 IDR (1£).
Not far away from Tirta Empul there is another big complex of temples called Gunung Kawi Sebatu. You will find ten shrines carved into the faces of a rock cliffs. Gunung Kawi perfectly represents a traces of ancient Hindu civilisation.
We spent our last days in Nusa Dua because it’s not really far from Kuta, Seminyak and Denpasar airport. We found a secluded and quiet villa on airbnb with an idea of cooking, chilling and enjoying free time with our friends Jonas and Monika. We were mainly shopping at insanely cheap supermarket Hardy’s where for example tempeh and tofu cost ~0.25£.
We were tempted to check some great spots in the very south part of Bali. Relying on UBER and GRAB drivers we were getting around super cheap. Sometimes they were refusing to come and pick us up from certain points (keep in mind that in some areas these apps are banned) so then use an official Bluebird cab. Just make sure that the driver turns on taxi meter – sometimes they lie that it’s broken then you should get out of the car and get another one.
Kuta and Seminyak are considered as an aussie party places with not the best reputation. Despite the fact we made so many trips there because of all the epic vegan places and coffee shops!
Starting from Canggu towards Kuta:
- Bungalow Living; little cafe and home decor shop 2in1, great for inspiration!
- Peloton Supershop; literally utopia for vegans, our no.1 in the area! Try their jackfruit tacos!
- La Laguna; gypsy style beach front restaurant with great cocktails, nice spot for pictures
- The Spicy Coconut; tasty smoothie bowls to start the day healthy,
- Shelter Bali – very popular spot, great quality food and delicious vegan desserts!
- Baby Revolver Espresso; small coffee shop with excellent coffee,
- Sea Circus; epic photo spot, few vegetarian options, great coffee
- Down To Earth; restaurant and grocery in one place,
- La Favela; incredible interior design and idea, bar in a jungle but they are open only in the evening
- Tasty Vegan; homemade food, small place run by a lovely couple,
- Zula Seminyak; cafe and organic shop, lots to choose from
With pretty bad weather in the end of our stay we visited La Joya Biu-Biu to have a spa day. Affordable prices let you to enjoy the views from the cliff while chilling in infinity pools.
Few more hidden gems in south part of Bali:
- Tegal Wangi; secluded beach featuring cliffs with panoramic views,
- Cashew Tree; vegan heaven, they have homemade ice creams
- Suluban Uluwatu; spot for surfers and epic sunset
- The High Cliff at Melasti Beach; stunning views, not many tourists