Warm, smiling happy faces fill the beautiful island of Bali in Indonesia. These friendly souls can’t wait to greet you. Open arms, they want to share their homes, cooking, and well just about everything with you. However, they don’t just want to show you Bali. They want you to experience it.
From adventurous activities to indulgent therapies, you’ll find it in this part of the world. Get ready to open your heart and for Bali to flood it. Enjoy these seven pearls of wisdom (#7POW) on things that you must do when you visit…
♥ Sunrise Volcano Trek
The only reasons that a 4am start is ever allowed are catching a cheaper flight, or watching the sun rise. As soon as you pull up to the base point of Mount Butur the excitement will swamp you. You’ll hear the other travellers pulling into the car park, so you’ll double your pace to the tour leader to be one of the first visitors of the day.
Following the dirt track you’ll learn about the history of the most active volcano on this island. You’ll also find yourself moving further away from the steep rock edge as your guide recounts unfortunate incidents. The dim light from your torch will flicker, echoing your tired limbs. As you climb higher and higher, the sky will turn from nothingness to blankets of colour. You’ll practically race to the top to make it in time for the sun rise and it won’t disappoint. Descend just in time for a victory breakfast of eggs boiled in volcanic steam and puppy cuddles (naturally), before heading further down in search of craters and scalding lava.
If you’re feeling extremely adventurous, you could swap Mount Butur for holy Mount Agung (a longer and some might say, harder trek). There are many tour providers online and on the main strip in Ubud.
♥ Spa Time
Ubud is filled with therapists offering spa treatments for next to nothing. Walk two minutes down the main strip and you’ll be inundated with offers of the best massage of your life. Couples are catered for, with most spas offering the option to enjoy the experience in the same treatment room. Fresh petal baths are a common feature on the menu and with such vibrant, sweet smelling flowers (especially the pretty flowers from the frangipani tree) you really ought to sample one. Sampling on more than one occasion is perfectly acceptable too, trust me.
Most of the luxurious resorts have their own in-house spa facilities and widely acclaimed therapists, so although your budget might not stretch that far for an overnight stay, a spa day may well be a good compromise. Just bear in mind, that you’re likely to pay a little extra than you would if you went for one of the smaller spas.
♥ Monkey Forest
Pretty much what it says on the tin; monkeys in a forest. Wear your comfy walking shoes and don’t bring any food with you unless you’re prepared to be harassed by an entourage of fearless locals. They own this area in Ubud and they’re not shy about it. They jump from tree to tree, or tourist to tourist, entertaining the crowds. You’ll see little babies and grumpy old ones (and all the in-between) up close. Explore the forest at your own freewill, taking in the mighty trees, streams and abundance of temples. Plenty of photo opportunities. Allow at least half a day.
♥ Red Light Dinner
If you want to go all out and ridiculously romantic make sure you experience the Red Light Dinner offered by Komaneka at Tanggayuda. Think private dinner for two, with your own personal chef, and enough candles to light up the sky. If you’ve been looking for the perfect opportunity to propose, or perhaps celebrate a special occasion then this is it. You can read my full review here.
♥ Village Cycle Tour
Saddle up and explore the lush rice fields and village life in Ubud. You’ll see farmers at work and cheery mothers carrying the weekly shop…on their head. Each day is different; the route, the reasons for celebrating (there’s always one in Bali), and the locals you encounter. During my cycle we witnessed young men competing to win mountain bikes and t-shirts hanging from a greased palm tree, to cockerel fights, and religious blessings. The trip even finished inside a local compound (a typical Balinese residence housing generations of families). For less than £20, it really is an activity that you shouldn’t miss out on. Book once you’re in Bali.
Ubud is renowned for being the centre of creatives and arty types. Avoid the touristy imitations and head to one of the art galleries. You’ll see them lining the many side streets of this neighbourhood, and even at some resorts such as Komaneka at Tanggayuda. With entrance fees next to nothing, it’s worth exploring the gardens and cool rooms if nothing but a chance to escape the midday heat. For a good collection of Balinese works head to Neka.
♥ Cooking Lessons
Food is a big part of Balinese life. Fresh and unique flavours, sit in pretty formations upon a folded banana leaf. Wild flowers adorn plates and tasty dishes appear like they might not ever stop. Take part in a cooking lesson so that you can continue your travels even when you’re back home. Thanks to the Balinese banana bread recipe I was sent home with, my house is often filled with the sweet smell of Bali. Most resorts offer cooking lessons with their chef and many locals are more than happy to take you to the market to pick fresh ingredients. Lessons are usually small, so book online or on your first day of arrival to avoid disappointment.
Bali is a heartwarming place, full of kindness and welcoming friends. Send them my love when you visit. X
Have you been to Bali or is it on your wish list? Do you have any recommendations to add?