I recently spent two weeks in Bali and while I have very few photos to show for it, I really really enjoyed my time on the island! The past few months have been quite action packed – perhaps we’ve been trying to see too much in too little time – however things changed when we got to Bali.
We purposely chose hotels that were a little removed from the center of town, and most importantly, hotels that had nice big swimming pools!
I had a total of 2 days of sightseeing around the island, and the rest of the time was spent swimming in the pool, walking on the beach, swimming in the pool, having dinner at the beach, swimming in the pool… That was Bali for me.
I’m not going to taunt you with pool photos, since most people in North America are likely covered under a blanket of snow, however, here’s a look at what I managed to do around Bali:
Visiting the Ubud Monkey Forest
I had heard tales of the mischievous monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest and I was half expecting to walk into the park and be greeted by a brood of macaques flashing their sharp teeth at me. While that wasn’t exactly accurate, it wasn’t far from the truth either… The thing about the macaques at the Monkey Forest is that they have no fear of man! Between the lack of natural predators and the daily stream of visitors who enter the park with snacks in hand, the monkeys have become quite bold.
Sam and I made the mistake of going to the park early in the morning as soon as it opened, which meant we were the only ones walking around while hungry monkeys looked at us with expectant eyes. There was just something a little creepy about being the only people there in a park full of unruly creatures…isn’t that how horror movies start out?! I spent most of my time trying to avoid eye-contact and walk by unnoticed.
Climbing Mount Batur
Getting up in the wee hours of the morning to climb a volcano in the dark was one of the most strenuous yet fun activities I did on the island. The 2 hour climb had me scrambling up volcanic rock as I fought my way to the top, and the reward was a spectacular sunrise set over a lake and some of the surrounding mountain peaks. My legs were shaky for a few days after that, but it was totally worth it!
Watching a Fire and Trance Performance
During one of my first nights in Ubud, I attended the Kecak Fire and Trance performance. While there are various cultural dances on the island, the Kecak dance is considered a secular dance even though it takes place within the temple grounds.
The dance consisted of about 100 men sitting in a circular formation around a fire. It began with a handful of men chanting and it slowly grew in volume as the other men joined in with clapping and more chanting. I can’t say I knew what was going on as there was no explanation about the meaning behind the dance before they started, but it was entrancing to watch nonetheless.
Aside from the Kecak Fire and Trance Dance, there are numerous dance performances that happen across Ubud. The dances are rooted in Hinduism and they each tell the story of epics from Hindu literature.
Touring the island
If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of in Bali, it’s drivers. Anytime we went out for a walk we were met my a flood of offers – Taxi? Transport? You need driver? – so eventually we hired one to take us around the island.
I find the full day tours aboard a coach bus a bit too much to handle, so the option of hiring a driver and customizing the itinerary seemed like a good option.
In the end we ended up visiting the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, the Rock Temple of Gunung Kawi with its shrines carved into the rock wall, the Elephant Cave Temple, a coffee plantation, and we also enjoyed lunch at Sari Restaurant – a great little spot with magnificent views of Mount Batur.
It was a small taste of Bali, but just enough considering this trip was all about relaxing and having some down time.
Hopping over to Nusa Lembongan
If you’re looking to expand your horizons when it comes to Indonesia’s beaches, there are a lots of day trips available out of Bali to many of the surrounding islands. Some of the most popular choices are the Gili Islands, Lombok, and Nusa Penida, however, I went with the closest choice: Nusa Lembongan.
Not being one who likes to be out at sea, the 30 minute boat ride to Nusa Lembongan seemed like the most logical choice. This little island located just off of Bali’s southeastern shores was a really nice change from busy towns like Ubud and Sanur. The beaches were empty, the town was sleepier, and I couldn’t help thinking that this is what Bali must’ve been like many moons ago.
The main draw to Nusa Lembongan are all the water activities – snorkeling, scuba diving, freediving, surfing, and even kayaking. You can also visit a mangrove forest and a few of the local temples, but really, you come here for the beaches.
And that was Bali for me – a lazy vacation with not much on the itinerary. But I mean, can you blame me for not exploring more when I had a pool like this? 😉
Have you been to Bali?
What were some of the highlights for you?
Almost every pool in Bali looks amazing, including the two hostel/guesthouse priced places I stayed at in Kuta and Ubud … it’s like it’s a crime to have a boring one there!
Ohhh yes! The hotels/guesthouses I stayed at were quite budget friendly, but the pools looked like they were straight out of a 5 star hotel.
Bali – it is one of those dream destinations, isn’t it! I’m glad you had an amazing time and it looks like you visited some incredible places! It sounds like you did some chillin’ but you also went to a lot of amazing sights and saw a lot of places!
It wasn’t the quiet paradise I was expecting, but if you get a nice hotel with a pool, it’s a great place for relaxing. 😉
Never been there, but is on our list this year, so thanks for short introduction, Audrey 🙂
I’m always surprised to see how much there is to do in Bali. I’ve been there twice, and yet I haven’t been to some of the places you mentioned. Beautiful nature and lovely people. I’m glad you enjoyed your time there!
I agree, Jenna! I feel like only covered a tiny fraction of it. It’s such a big island with so much to do – it would take many many visits to see it all. 😉
Wonderful pictures! It looks like you hit a lot of the high points on your trip and had a great time. Happy traveling!
I hear there are a lot of places in Indonesia more exciting to explore, so I think in Bali you can lay by the pool as much as you want- that’s what I’d do!
Gunung Kawi was amazing. I really want to go back to Bali–it was one of my favorite trips so far (it’s my retirement dream, especially if I could retire tomorrow).
This looks like the perfect lazy vacation!! I live at the beach, but I think I’m ready for a vacation by the pool now 🙂
I’m currently working hard trying to save money for my full-time travels this summer. Today I encountered a bit of a set back when hit with an unforeseen bill…but your post reminded me why I am working so hard and saving every penny – to visit places like Bali!
I can’t wait to get there later this year, really glad you enjoyed your time there 🙂
Glad you had a great time in Bali Audrey! Matt & I love Bali and have been several times. It’s fantastic that you can as much or as little as you like. We enjoyed the west coast, over at Balian beach (for surfing) where the sand is black, and the vibe is oh so chilled out. Such a magical island.
I want to go to Bali so bad! Great pics and I want to see all the places you did.
I have some pretty idyllic notions about Bali and would love to visit for myself, for sure.
Looks like you had a grand time… I had a chuckle thinking about you with the monkeys!
I have seen a few posts about Bali lately and it’s making me so excited to go there. I’m glad you had a nice relaxing time. We all need to do that sometimes.
I’m glad you enjoyed Bali. We spent there like a week. The first thing we did was to rent a scooter and we did temples hopping for 3 days in a row. Absolutely amazing experience! I was so amazed by Hindu religion!
We didn’t see a lot of stuff we wanted to see in Bali because we spent so much time lazing by the pool. Bali is one of those places where you get very friendly with other travellers, so it was very easy to fall into the routine of getting up, having breakfast, then hanging out by the pool and chatting to all the friends we had made. We often stayed in the pool for hours on end, and even in the evening time after dinner we sometimes found ourselves back in there. What can I say, it’s hot in Bali. :p
I love Bali, I feel as if it my spiritual home when ever I am there. I have been a few times and am fortunate to have couple of friends who live out there and every time there is something new to do, to see smell and hear! The people in Indonesia are some of the nicest people I have ever met which goes hand in hand with Bali.
I am planning my travel year now with atleast 2 months put down to explore the greatness of Indonesia. I have a feeling that I may never leave!
Thanks for the good post and feeling 🙂
I’ve been in Bali some years ago as a surfer, and I visited the most surfer style beaches!
Of course that was before I got my ear infected and couldn’t go any near the water gggrrr
My favourite beach was Uluwatu, to which you had to access through a grotto, and a loved the surfer’s village on top of it!
I also liked Padang Padang beach, where they say a scene out of “eat pray love” have been shot!
This looks incredible! And I definitely don’t blame you for taking a relaxing couple of weeks. Travel can be exhausting, and sometimes, you just need to recharge your batteries and enjoy spending time on yourself, rather than trying to see absolutely everything there is to see.
Glad you had a good time – and I’m super jealous of those beautiful looking swimming pools 😉
I always wanted to visit to Asia. Bali looks really good, I will put it on my bucket list. Pictures are awesome. Thanks a lot..
Ah, Bali! On my way in a few weeks to get out of this Thailand heat and smoke. Such a tough life!
It’s nice to just chill out for a while Audrey! Glad you had a nice and relaxing time…The pool looks too good to leave. I agree. :-p
Next time you should def check out Lombok though! It is like what Bali must have been in the beginning. Although the Gili’s are becoming well known, they are still spectacular and Kuta, Lombok is simple beautiful. Have fun wherever you’re going next!
One of my favorite places in the world! There are so many things on the island to explore. I spent my last visit finding the little secluded beaches. People say Bali is too crowded, but you just have to venture a little to the north to find quieter areas. I haven’t had the chance to climb the mountain, though — next time! 🙂
I absolutely LOVED Bali when I went! Unfortunately I didn’t have time to fit in a trip to any of the other islands, although some friends I met staying there went to the Gili Islands and loved it! The Ubud Monkey Forest is stunning and also super fun and entertaining! A little monkey came and took my friend’s water bottle out of his backpack and started drinking from it and I saw one also take off a woman’s glasses. Very funny and sneaky! Your photos are stunning and I’ve definitely learned some tips I can take with me when I go back to Bali!
Fantastic – I’m heading to bali in a few weeks (and heading to nusa lembogan for a wedding) so this post is perfect. Thank you!
Beautiful photos Audrey, glad you had a great time in Bali 🙂
I head to Bali in the fall and will definitely be referring back to this post! Sounds like a great combination of relaxation + exploration!
Good post. I’m glad you enjoyed Bali, a magical island. My girlfriend and I just spent a month there. It was very hard to leave. It’s our favourite place in Asia. The Hindu culture there is really strong. The locals we had the good fortune to meet we’re very nice. They all spoke with pride about their island and were really eager to converse with us on many subjects. We spent about a week in Ubud, shuttling between different home stays, seeking the perfect accommodation, and partaking in the excellent restaurants and nightlife. Next, we climbed Mt. Batur and then spent a memorable few days among the rice terraces of Sideman – that surely is one of the most peaceful places in the world. I’m looking forward to going back to Bali.
Hi Audrey — this post is amazing because it just looks like pure relaxation! I was actually iffy on Bali having read very conflicting reports, but I am glad I cam across this post, as this is exactly what we are looking for as we head for a vacation from our travels 🙂 Would you mind sharing where you stayed in Ubud? I am looking online and it doesn’t look all that inexpensive — budget in $40 range? Thank you!
Hi Jenia, I stayed at the “Jalan Jalan Villa and Spa” which was beautiful and very affordable. It was in the outskirts of Ubud, but I kind of liked that about it since Ubud can get quite congested. There were also lots of great dining options in the area, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out by being a bit further removed from the town centre. Wishing you a great holiday in Ubud! 🙂
thanks so much 🙂
Hey Audrey, You think two weeks would be a too much/little time to spend in Bali? 🙂
Hi Gem, if you’re planning to just lounge by the beach then 2 weeks might feel like a long time. However, if you’re planning to do some sightseeing around the island (which is quite big!), then 2 weeks sounds like a good amount of time to explore. 🙂 Wishing you a great trip in Bali!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed Bali – I moved here 7 months ago I quit an office job back home and I consider it the best decision I could ever make. I’m proud to call Bali my second home 🙂
I highly recommend other travelers to visit Bali, everybody can find something interesting here. 🙂