My husband (Just going to acknowledge that writing that term feels odd and being married is a concept that I'm still getting used to 😄) and I went to Bali for our honeymoon. We'd intended to go back to the Motherland but our timing was off (Safari life in March is no bueno), so we explored other options. We kept seeing flight deals to Bali so we figured we'd take advantage and explore this popular honeymoon destination. And it was everything we could imagine and more.
Fun Fact: Many Balinese people speak more than one language: Indonesian (the language of the country), Balinese (the language of the island) and English- particularly in the tourism sector.
* Art Life
Ubud is known for it's art and traditional crafts. The center of Ubud hosts a number of art galleries and museums. If you are into traditional crafts like wood carvings or jewelry, be sure to check out the Ubud Art Market, where folks are selling their handiwork (located right across from the Royal Ubud Palace). If you are interested in seeing local artisans work on their craft (i.e. carving wood, weaving tapestries, making jewelry), you don't have to look far. Tours are available on Viator and Airbnb. We were fortunate to witness a craftsman hard at work at Dewa Malen woodcarving studio in Gianyar, a family owned business that practices traditional skills that have been handed down from one generation to the next. You can of course find art outside out Ubud; We actually went the interactive route while in Kuta and explored Dream Museum Zone Bali which offered 3D illusion art. That made for a fun morning and provided some cool relief from the hot sun.
* Nature Life
There were a lot opportunities to experience nature while in Bali. For instance, our Airbnb had an open air concept, where our living room/kitchen did not have any walls, providing exposure to the natural sunlight and flora planted all around the villa. We also had an outdoor rain shower at our resort, (Kamandalu Ubud) nestled right under a slew of trees. It was a first for me (Jeff had experienced this before in Costa Rica), to bathe in an open space, with the sun shining down on my skin (also with lizards and ants just freely walking around haha).
We checked out the Monkey Forest, which is a nature reserve intended to conserve rare plants and animals, particularly Balinese long-tailed monkey and Timor rusa deer. It also houses three Hindu temples.
It was nice to see the monkeys in their natural habitat.
If you want to engage with them, just buy a bushel of bananas. But get ready because as soon as it's placed in your hand, a monkey will crawl up and grab it!
We enjoy a good day at the beach, so we made sure to venture out to Seminyak Beach, about a 15 minute walk from our Airbnb.
This beach is no rival for my favorite - Playa Blanca in Colombia- but it offered a relaxing vibe. Apparently Seminyak is also more chill (and less crowded) than the beach in Kuta (which is just a little south), so consider the mood you are going for when selecting a beach to frequent. It turns out that this part of Indonesia hosts some pretty strong waves, so if you are looking to learn how to surf, this is the place to be. After a bit of walking, we eventually found a more calm area to dip into when we wanted to cool off from the sun.
*NOTE: The sun here is no joke. Bring that sunscreen!!
We also kept cool by frequenting the pool. If you didn't know there is a whole load of infinity pools in Bali, which offer some amazing views of the island. The infinity pool at our resort was situated right at the edge of resort, overlooking the jungle that surrounded our resort.
If you are into views and landscapes, you can see that Bali won't disappoint. It's such a lush and vibrant place. It was also pretty cool to commonly stumble upon coconut and jackfruit trees, as well as trees that bear spices like cinnamon.
* Temple Life
The Bali people are a spiritual people. Everywhere we went, we noticed offerings, called canang sari, placed out in front of neighborhood temples, of homes and businesses, and even on dashboards of taxis. You would be remiss to not learn more about this important tenet in their culture. We visited three temples while there.
Puri Saren Agung, also known as Ubud Kingdom Palace, is a temple located in central Ubud, directly across from the traditional art market mentioned above. It is surrounded by beautiful traditional houses which were used by the royal family.
Goa Goajah, also known as the Elephant cave houses a relic-filled courtyard, bathing pools and fountains, and meditational caves. The pool features statues depicting Hindu angels holding vases that act as waterspouts. Inside the central meditational cave are three stone idols, surrounded by incense and canang sari.
The Saraswati temple is dedicated to honor the Hindu Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music and art. It is a popular tourist attraction because of its beauty, but it main purpose remains as a place of worship.
Do some research about the rules for visiting temples and adhere as best as you can. For instance there are rules about who can enter and when (i.e. women are discouraged to visit during menstruation) as well as rules about how one should be dressed (i.e. it is custom to wear a sarong and waist sash). It was an enlightening experience to learn about Hinduism and it offered an opportunity to reflect on our own spiritual journeys as Christians.
Fun Fact:Though a multI- religious (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism) island, the dominant religion in Bali is Hinduism. However, while Hinduism is the most dominant religion on this island, 87% of the Indonesian population adheres to islam.
* Rice and Coffee Life
You probably know that rice is a staple of Bali. You may not know that they produce three kinds: white, red, and black. I share our experience of tasting different dishes with rice in another post, but for now I want to highlight a famous terrace known for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak (traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system): Tegallalang Rice Terrace. Most tours of Ubud will include this popular tourist attraction. If you wish you travel through the terrace, be prepared to pay a small fee per person (about 8,ooo IDR per person, which is less than a $1 USD). Be sure to go early morning to help avoid that fierce sun (and that humidity) and to enjoy the view with limited crowds.
Did you know that most expensive coffee in the wold is produced in Bali? The Luwak Coffee. I will get into our experience of tasting this unique coffee later, but for now I want to recommend that you find a shop that offers this. Even better, find a tour where you can learn how this coffee is made through the help of Luwaks like at Merta Harum Agroo Plantation.
It was nice to get a tour of the plantation and learn about the flowers and trees that bear ingredients like lemon grass and ginger and then try them in a variety of coffees and teas.
* Spa Life
If you are looking for a bit of rejuvenation Bali is the place to be. There are spas galore and the offerings are quite affordable. We spent our entire afternoon on Nyepi Day getting restored. I would highly recommend getting a full body papaya scrub and if there's time, soak in a milk and honey infused flower bath. Your body will thank you for it!
* Shopping Life
Interested in a little retail therapy? Seminyak is known to be Bali's most upscale and stylish area where you can find a mix of local and international designer boutiques. If you are more of an outlet type of person you can venture down to the center of Seminyak and check out Seminyak Square, the first modern shopping center for the area. If you are looking for high-end, you only have to go next door to Seminyak Village, the newest mall on the block that has over 60 prime retail spaces and a landscaped rooftop terrace that provides a stunning view of bustling beach resort area.
Check out this post, if you want to know about must try foods as well as our favorite restaurants in Ubud and Kuta.
Have you thought about visiting Bali before? What's the one thing you wouldn't leave off of the itinerary?