Bali for beginners

So you’ve got 2 weeks max and you’ve always wanted to visit Bali! But where do you start when exploring this bucket list location? 

I found myself in this very position when I had the opportunity to visit this famous, volcanic island. With much research, I narrowed it down to the following must-sees. I’ve tried to include admission prices where applicable. Hope it helps!

Temples

With over 20, 000 temples decorating this small island, there is plenty of choice to experience a Balinese Hindu temple. However, to ensure you get your travel snaps with the most iconic of Bali temples, I would recommend the following.

Not too far from Ubud there is  the peaceful Tirta Empul, or the Holy Spring temple to visitors. Visitors can partake in a traditional cleansing ritual here. Also located near Ubud is the Goa Gajah temple, or Elephant’s cave temple, existing from around the 11th century. 

Moving to the South of Bali, tourists tend to flock to two special cliff side temples. Firstly, there is Pura Luhur Uluwatu (admission 30,000 RP/person).  It is at this temple that you can also catch the traditional Balinese Kecak dance (100,000RP/person). 

The second popular coastal temple in Bali (and a favourite of mine) would have to be Pura Tanah Lot. This tidal temple sits just off the coast and is only accessible when the tide is out. Visitors can make their way to the bottom of the cliff to receive a blessing from a priest. Be prepared for flocks of tourists and a challenge to get that shot of sunset uninterrupted by visitors. Admission is 60,000 RP/person.

Heading North West of Tanah Lot, is the Royal temple or Pura Taman Ayun. Built in the 1600s for King Mengwi, this temple is still visited by descendants of the royal family (admisson 20,000RP/person). 

And finally, perhaps the most beautiful temple in Bali, is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Situated north west of Ubud, with views of Mount Agung along the way, sits this stunning temple on the shores of Lake Bratan (admission 50,000 RP/person).  Definitely my favourite temple in all of Bali for the aesthetics!

Waterfalls

When visiting Bali, personally I conjured up skyscraper tall waterfalls tumbling down through a lush jungle. And so for my bucket list vacation, I wanted to go chasing waterfalls. Many of the larger waterfalls are situated further north of Ubud and not ideal to visit from south of the island, so if you are dedicated to chasing waterfalls, use Ubud as your base. The easiest waterfall to access would have to be Tegenungan waterfall near Ubud. Now when I say easiest to access, what I mean is that the trek down to the base of the waterfalls does not involve a 4hr trek down steep stone paths. That’s not to say you won’t feel the burn in your thighs on the climb up, but it is certainly easier for those that aren’t used to trekking. Admisson is 10,000 RP to the base).

For the larger waterfalls like Git Git waterfalls, Aling-aling waterfall and Sekumpal waterfall (which we almost went to but decided against due to time), ensure you’ve packed your trekking shoes, or water shoes. I’ll definitely be heading there the next time I go to Bali. 

Rice Paddies

Southeast Asia is known for stunning agricultural landscape. In particular rice harvesting, or rice paddies come to mind. Bali, once again is one of those locations where tourists can visit these amazing fields, carved out and cultivated into the valleys of the land. Perhaps the most popular, albeit the smaller of the two is Tegallalang rice terraces. Located within close proximity to Ubud, for a small admission fee (10,000 RP/person), you can take in the lush green views of the staggered rice terraces. If you arrive early in the day, you can hike through the fields before it gets too hot. There is a small fee to farmers as you make your way through the fields.

The larger of the rice paddies is Jatiluwih, a UNESCO world heritage site in Tabanan, Bali. Spanning as far as the eye can see, the rice fields are cared for  by a small community nestled within the rice fields. It would take hours, if not days to explore all the fields but walking through, you will note a few hiking trails, tagged with colours, to guide you through the fields. It was by far one of the most relaxing hikes I’ve experienced, despite almost losing a flip flop to sticky mud from the well-irrigated fields. Travel tip: Wear proper shoes or risk losing them! Admission fee for Jatiluwih is 40,000 RP/person.

Beaches

Since returning from Bali, I have learned that if you are searching for beautiful beaches- Bali is not the place to go. Admittedly, I was disappointed with what was available for beach scenery. However these two beaches certainly made up for it.  Mengit beach, is located in Nusa Dua. Nusa Dua itself was a strange place to visit after travelling through Bali as it didn’t seem like real Bali. The hotels and resorts are located in a gated community, fencing off the rougher, dirtier, ‘real’ Bali for the visitors that choose to stay there. Cars do come in and out of the area and the beaches are accessible to the public. The beach is lesser known, as it is embedded amongst the 5 star hotels. But for golden sand beaches and a quiet, relaxing atmosphere it is definitely worth the visit. 

Virgin Beach was another favourite. Located in Candidasa, this beach takes it name from being the only white sand beach in an area dominated by black sand beaches. Again lesser known to tourists, there is a 10 min walk down to the beach (and an up hill hike back!). A few beach bars line the beachfront but this is still a developing area. Beach loungers can be rented from the restaurants at various prices. 

Notes

Admission fees cited at travel October 2017.

I travelled with Bali Made tours during this trip (self-arranged).

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Bali for beginners

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