There are few places in the world that welcome you as their own. Bali was one of them. After arriving pretty shattered from the 18+ hours of flying, she quickly soothed us with her unparalleled hospitality, divine landscape, and endless array of smiling faces.
The only thing more soothing than the warm climate is the sense of love you are enveloped in upon arriving on this enchanting island.
Perhaps it’s the Hindu background or the limitless beauty that Bali offers … from food, to activities, to its incredible art culture. The one thing that struck me about Bali was how its locals create ornate offerings every single day. These offerings, made of beautiful palm and local flowers, are made…just because. Because they are grateful for the day ahead. Isn’t that a wonderful place to vacation?
Where to Stay
Bali is one of those amazing places where you can live like a king on next to nothing. Whether your budget is $15/night or $500/night, you can find accommodation that is right for you.
For higher budgets (and I’m not talking NYC high, this is Bali), head to the Hanging Gardens Ubud. This enchanting hotel boasts one of the worlds best infinity pools (a double-decker!) as well as the most hospitable staff. From the moment you walk into the Hanging Gardens, you feel like you’re a world away from it all. The Ayung River is rushing just down the hill, curious monkeys play in the trees, and a holy temple sits high on the hill across the river. We did not leave Hanging Gardens once while we were there so be ready to go off the grid.
Another great pick is the Samaya Ubud. The Samaya is a quiet sanctuary on the edge of the Ayung River. Try your hand at laughing yoga with their resident yogi. After you’ve explored for the day, take a dip in your private plunge pool and then warm up with some afternoon tea along the river. Make sure to order the sweet potato pancakes for breakfast. Oh.my.god. I still fantasize about them.
Look at those beautiful pancakes…and the incredible view of the rice paddies!
For the budget traveler, stay at the Tegal Sari for ~$20 USD / night. This TripAdvisor winner offers views of surrounding rice fields and it even has a swimming pool. For $20/night, you can’t go wrong at this gem.
Where to Eat
Eat at a local compound – The best part about Bali is the people. They love bringing outsiders into their homes and treating them as family. Pull over to the side of the road and look for a local compound to support and learn about(families live with the husbands family).
Fair Warung Bale – Cozy and welcoming, this gem has great food for a very low price. The best part about it is the proceeds from your meal go back to the Fair Future Foundation Clinic, which provides much needed health services for Balinese people. Try the curry!
Il Giardano – Count on the little Italian girl to eat Italian food while in Indonesia. If you’re tired of Nasi Goreng every morning, order the gnocchi or the pizza.
Where to Adventure
Tirta Empul Temple – A truly spiritual and authentic experience. Jump in the water and make an offering (in the form of flowers or money). You could watch from afar, but where is the fun in that? Drink three sips from the various fresh waterspouts (but don’t do this out of your sink as Bali’s water is not safe to drink) and give thanks to your everyday. Make sure to wear the proper attire since this is a holy place. Men and women alike should both bring sarongs.
Raft the Ayung River – Grab those paddles and suit up for the rafting ride of your life. The water is lower in the summer while rafting in the winter months promises more difficulty. We went with Bali Adventure Tours.
Bike through villages – Grab some bikes and let Bali Adventure Tours be your guide. Meet locals, explore villages, and watch handmade art crafted right before your very eyes.
Visit Monkey Forest – Head to the Monkey Forest in downtown Ubud, where the streets and trees are littered with monkeys. We didn’t even go into the forest and we found ourselves surrounded by monkeys. Keep your valuables and food away…these cute little buggers like to snatch things!
Hike Mt. Batur – A middle of the night wakeup is worth it for this natural beauty. Trek up to the top and enjoy an incredible sunrise over Bali.
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