The best ways to experience Bali + our sweetest driver/ guide.
River pool at the Grand Hyatt Bali
I'm not usually a beach vacay person - I mean, have you seen how fair I am? So sun, sand, sea... sorry, not quite me. But my recent trip to Bali has gotten me so smitten that I absolutely can't wait to head back!
1) It's incredibly accessible
With 15 direct flights a day from Singapore, Denpasar (the capital of Bali) is only a short 2-hour flight away where most of the hotels and resorts can be easily accessed from the airport. (Even the hippie district of Ubud is only an hour's drive away). You know how there are all these beach destinations in Malaysia that may be geographically closer but getting there can sometimes take up to 10 to 12 hours including having to take a flight (that flies only once a week), and then a ferry followed by another 6-hour car ride?!
2) Cheap plane tickets
I hate to sound all Singaporean and cheap cheap cheap but plane tickets can really be quite affordable with all the budget airlines flying there plus Garuda often has some pretty good promos - we scored our tickets at less than $200 per pax!
3) Your Own Private Pool Villa
Out of the many beach destinations in SE Asia, Bali is probably the one with the most number of luxury villas with private pools available at affordable rates from as low as $100 a night (again, being the Singaporean) - making it perfect for honeymoons, romantic retreats and girly getaways.
(Check out our stay at The Santai!)
4) Stunning rice paddies
There are numerous paddy fields but the most traditional is probably the 500 year-old Jatiluwih Rice Fields in an ancient village in Tabanan, Bali. This breathtakingly beautiful UNESCO world heritage site is natural Bali at its finest. Located 700 meters above sea level, it can get a little chilly so it's best to bring along a cardi!
Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, Penebel, Bali, Indonesia
5) Magnificent temples
Bali is known as the “island of a thousand temples” and no visit is complete without visiting at least one.
Some of the most iconic pura (Balinese for temple) are:
- Pura Besakih (This Mother of Temples is probably the oldest in Bali)
- Uluwatu temple
- Taman Ayun Temple
- Batukaru Temple
- Tanah Lot (Perfect to view at sunset)
If you are lazy (like me haha) and want to cut it down to just ONE temple then I'll suggest the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, featured in my pictures above and in the 50,000 IDR banknote.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan // Jl. Raya Candi Kuning, Desa Candikuning, Kec. Baturiti, Tabanan, Bali 80345, Indonesia
6) Cat Poop Coffee
Kopi Luwak - or cat poop coffee - is the most expensive coffee in the world and a single cup usually goes at $35 to $100 in New York and London :scream: In Bali, you can get it at about S$5 per cup.
7) The most beautiful sunsets
Bali is synonymous with gorgeous sunsets and we found ourselves planning our itinerary every day to best catch them all.
Tip: The sun usually sets at about 6:30pm in Bali.
There are numerous Insta-worthy places that you can consider, my favourites being Jimbaran Bay where you can enjoy a seafood dinner by the beach and the Rock Bar at AYANA Resort and Spa Bali.
Psst, they don't take reservations so it's best to head there in the late afternoon to avoid the sunset queue.
Ayana Resort, Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80364, Indonesia. T: +62 361 702222
8) Seminyak beach clubs
Seminyak and its beach clubs - despite being touristy - is still the place to see and be seen to laze the afternoon away by the pool, Ibiza style with good music, cocktails and sundecks.
Ku De Ta, Bali
I'll suggest choosing from the Big Three - Potato Head, Ku De Ta and WooBar at the W Retreat & Spa Bali.
Potato Bead // Jl. Petitenget No. 51B, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 83061, Indonesia
Ku De Ta //Jalan Kayu Aya No.9, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
WooBar // Kerobokan, Jl. Petitenget, Bali 80361, Indonesia
9) The local markets
There are a number of traditional markets in Bali where you can get an insight into the locals' way of life.
Kuta Art Market at Jl. Bakung Sari for a wide variety of merchandise including sarongs, clothes, shoes, jewellery, handicrafts, leather goods, and even furniture. My friends ended up purchasing some pretty rustic Balinese furniture for their new home.
Badung Market at Jl. Gajah Mada, Denpasar - This 24-hr market is the largest and oldest in Bali where the locals get their meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, spices and other groceries from.
Ubud Market at Jl. Raya Ubud - Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali and this market has retained much of its traditional charm where amongst spices and vegetables for sale, you can also get handicrafts from the neighbouring villages.
And saving the best for the last,
10) True Balinese friendliness
I'm not kidding when I say I've never felt hospitality and friendliness as genuine as what I felt in Bali - none of that fake, plasticky smiles and it extended to everyone we met... from the customs officer to our butler at the villa, to the random Uber driver and our sweetest, sweetest, SWEETEST driver-cum-guide.
We had booked a day tour to cover most of the attractions (which explains why I'm in the same dress in 99% of the photos above lol) with a random company I'd found on the Internet. Our driver, Agung, showed up on time at 8am sharp despite leading a 3am sunrise trek up Mount Batur that morning.
And so, he brought us to the rice fields and then to lunch at a local restaurant he recommended (which was very very very good!) but when it came to payment time... we realized that we were ALL out of rupiah and their credit card machine was down and they didn't accept USD.
So erm, he had to pay for us first.
(Even though there were 7 of us and we're the ones who were supposed to buy him lunch!)
Then we went to the temple where we found out that we needed to get admission tickets and you guessed it, he paid for us first.
By then, we were like OK WE NEED TO GET RUPIAH NAOOOOO so we made him drop us off at an ATM where we could withdraw IDR... but the ATM wasn't working.
So we went to a money-changer hoping to change our USD to IDR... and as Murphy will have it, that guy was closed.
:sob: :sob: :sob:
As we walked back to the car bearing the bad news, we were wondering if he's gonna think that we are a bunch of conmen (and women) from Thailand. Plus, we had NOT paid him his fees yet :pensive:
(I texted the boy with our situation and his reply of - "OMFG YOU GUYS ARE THE WORST TOURISTS EVER" - obviously didn't help very much either.)
But Agung was totally cool (he was very fatherly and treats us somewhat like his children - which made us so much more guilty!!!) and even bought us freshly steamed corn (that was VERY VERY sweet btw!) and some other local snacks.
Thankfully, the next ATM we ended up at was working properly and we could quickly withdraw cash and pay him, finally!!!
If you're ever in Bali and want to hire a driver / guide, I really highly recommend Agung! He's incredibly well-mannered, polite, speaks very good English and knows A LOT about the culture and history of Bali and Indonesia. I learned so much from him! He charges US$50 a day for his minibus which seats 7 of us comfortably and I honestly think it's very reasonable!
It is through chance encounters with such genuine, gentle and generous people like Agung who remind us that sometimes, those who have less, give more and that more often than not, traveling is not just about the destination but the people you meet along the way.
BALI TWINS TOUR
T: 081 999 071 427 / 081 236 962 104
Address: Perum. Dwijaya Griya Mandiri
Blok A-17 Dalung Permai, Denpasar, Bali