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Bali, a travelers paradise. From its serene beaches, volcanic mountains, ancient temples and it’s laidback surfing culture, Bali really has so much to offer. It was definitely one of my most memorable travel experiences and I wish I had more time to spend there. Bali was my first proper solo trip, so I decided to start off with a group tour with Intro Travel as I did very little research and didn’t know where to start so this did put my mind to ease. I think it’s fair to say that Bali definitely stole my heart and I fell head over heels more and more with each place we visited.
I loved the laidback lifestyle & surfing vibe in Canggu, the enchanting experience taking wild dolphin boat trips in Lovina, exploring tropical islands & snorkeling/scuba diving with turtles around the Gilli islands and trekking Mount Batu volcano for sunrise in Ubud (totally worth the 3am trek). Everywhere we went was immersed in local culture with the Balinese being the friendliest people I have met. However, not everyone has the time or money to do all the great activities and sightseeing that this island has to offer. From personal experience, I have put together my favorite highlights to help you decide how to spend your time and get the most from your Bali adventure.
Volcano trek- Mount Batur (depending on your fitness level- takes about 2 to 3 hours)
Firstly, I’m just going to state that I am NOT a ‘morning person’. You can imagine my dismay having to make our journey to the iconic active volcano Mount Batur at 2am. On arrival, we were provided with torches and water & ready to embark on the two/three-hour hike. For anyone who has been told that this hike is easy, I call bullshit as it’s definitely challenging and is continuous uphill (don’t be deceived by the first half). However, although it may be a little physically and mentally challenging at times, is it worth it? Absolutely!
It was great to see the trail of torches leading all the way up and a spectacular ambiance on arrival to the top, followed by breakfast and a hot chocolate to keep us warm (don’t be that idiot that thinks it’s cool to wear shorts, take my advice and layer up). Although it wasn’t the clearest of skies that particular day, it was magical to be above the clouds and just about get a glimpse of the sunrise (damn you mother nature). It was such a peaceful and calm setting that everyone just stood there and took in the changing color of the sky. Although I struggled to drag my ass up the volcano at that time of the morning, it was an experience I’ll never forget and yet another one ticked off the bucket list! A definite must-do when visiting Bali!
Scuba Diving around the Gili Islands
The Gili islands have vastly become a prime location for scuba diving, perfect for beginners to experienced divers. The three islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno are guaranteed to deliver on the most diverse marine life, from vibrant corals, pufferfish, clownfish, reef sharks and of course the amazing turtles which the Gili oceans have become known for.
This was definitely a big achievement for me as I have a big phobia of jellyfish & never go in the sea however after a bit of a wild night out, hungover to the max, my new travel buddies manage to twist my arm and before I knew it I was having my induction in the swimming pool. After a quick practice session and a run-through of the health and safety procedures, the time had come to really see life down under.
It’s like your submerged into a completely different world with all these majestic tropical species around you and everything seems to change into slow motion. The sheer amount of marine life underwater is incredible and once I found Nemo, I was hooked! To put the cherry on top of the cake, casually along came my first encounter with a turtle and it completely took my breath away (I got so lost in the moment that I literally forgot to breath). Although this experience is not for everyone, it was an incredible highlight of my time on the Gili islands and one that I can’t recommend enough (definitely my new found hobby).
Balinese Culture Day
Lovina, north of Bali is a low-key, low-priced piece of paradise nestled away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas, where we truly experienced the authentic Balinese warmth and hospitality. On our Balinese culture day, we arrived at the home of a local Balinese family where we were given a tour of the coffee plantation and a quick tutorial in basket weaving (not as easy as you think) to which many of the Balinese make and sell every day. Before our departure, we dived into a traditional Balinese buffet made by the family which gave us a deliciously authentic experience. The day was such a unique experience to learn some of the Balinese traditions and see how they live in their own environments, definitely giving me a new perspective and appreciation for the culture.
Monkey Sanctuary (Ubud)
Ubud is the ultimate chill-out destination, soothing for the soul, the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. Surrounded by lush rainforest and historic terraced rice paddies, it is known as Bali’s Spiritual Capital. However, within this blissfully peaceful paradise, you will find it to be home of the sacred Monkey Sanctuary, a nature reserve and Hindu temple with over 600 wild monkeys (don’t be surprised if you bump into one along the street).
For anyone who has not had the pleasure of meeting these clever creatures, be aware as they know what their doing and they will happily steal from you so common sense, hide all valuables (they will do anything to get a banana). We even saw a monkey take a woman’s flip flop off her foot, so you need to remember they are wild monkeys so they can get aggressive if provoked, however, if anything does happen there is always a hand full of monkey handlers around to help if these situations do arise. There are plenty of opportunities to feed the monkeys banana’s and they are more than willing to get up and personal, climb onto your shoulders and interact with you in return for food. Overall, it was definitely a uniquely memorable experience and a must-do if you are visiting Bali. Another one ticked off the bucket list.
Other Bali Experiences not to be missed
• Wild Dolphin Boat Trip (Lovina)
• Visit to the Rice Terraces
• Ancient temples of Bali
• Fun day out at Kuta waterpark
• Bike ride around Gili T (sunset pics on the swings in the ocean)
Best time to go to Bali:
April to September is known as the dry season but the most crowded time to go, however, the best deals would be in low season which is January to March & October/November but expect heavy rainfalls as this is their rainy season. I went at the beginning of May which was ideal as it wasn’t too crowded & was really lucky with the weather.
Currency; Indonesian Rupiah
Bali Top Tips;
– If you have time, check out one of Bali’s wellness retreats.
– Make sure you try the world’s most expensive coffee Kopi Luwak
– Don’t feed the monkeys & hide your valuables (they will rob you in return for a banana)
– Get a Balinese Massage
– Invest in a bum bag (aka fanny pack)
There’s no doubt in my mind that I will definitely be returning to this Indonesian piece of paradise.
I would love to hear about your Bali experiences. What were some of your highlights?