Bali, that little island in the Indonesian archipelago of over 17,000 islands, inspires serious wanderlust for anyone who has an Instagram account or saw the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I had heard it was over-touristed, but the allure of Bali won over my sensible side. When I was in Indonesia, I set aside two weeks to visit this fabled island and it’s neighbor, Lombok. Yes, it is touristy, particularly the southern part of the island. However, it is possible to avoid crowds if you use a few strategies. Heading to sights in the morning is a rule of thumb anywhere I go. Also, traveling to less visited parts of the island will give you more
sights without hordes of wannabe Instagram stars breathing room. Here are my favorite things to do in Bali along with tips to enhance your enjoyment.
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This street is close to La Plancha beach club and full of cute shops. I had a nice quiet morning stroll before having a banana smoothie and parking my self on a lounge chair at the beach for the day (She says, sighing wistfully).
No better place to avoid crowds than your own private oasis! One of my favorite things to do in Bali is sipping a smoothie by the pool. This place was a dream and I literally cried when leaving. The owners were lovely people and made custom breakfast every morning, provided scooters, laundry, even help with a flat tire. You can book it here: Villa Pondok Sawah Asri
Rent a scooter and head north of Ubud to these stunning rice terraces. This scenic valley shows off the traditional and ancient Balinese irrigation system that was passed down for generations.
I’m usually skeptical of animal tourism but this seems like a good place to enjoy interacting with monkeys. The forest has a temple and apparently, research and conservation work is done here. There are rangers walking around making sure things don’t get out of hand. You shouldn’t touch the monkeys but there is a good chance they will climb on you. One had a tussle with my hair. It was hilarious.
Don’t be a
dick bad tourist. Follow the rules. The macaques are fearless and have large scary teeth. I watched some Russian tourist baring his teeth and staring at a monkey. I can’t lie, I was hoping he was bitten was reprimanded. Hey, I’m not the Dalai Lama, OK?
This gorgeous temple is really easy to find, right off a main street in Ubud, Jalan Raya. Saraswati is the Hindu Goddess of knowledge and arts. I loved the ponds full of blooming pink flowers.
Another of my favorite things do to in Bali is chase waterfalls. Bali has many but this was my favorite. This waterfall is relatively unknown, even to locals! All the more reason I adored it. If you go in the morning, you could have it all to yourself! It’s not often that you can become one with the waterfall.
This is a two for one deal because you get a fabulous meal plus a great view with a sunset. What more could you want in life? The food was so good that I cried. Hint: Get a reservation here for 30 minutes before sunset time.
This is one of my favorite hotels of all time. If you don’t stay here (which you should), at least come to visit. They will gladly give you a tour of this museum-like property with stunning grounds. Thursday evening they have a cultural dinner with a Balinese dance show. The breakfast here is served anywhere on the property and is to die for! Book here: Hotel Tugu
Starting at 4:00 pm, the beach chairs are replaced with bean bags and you can pick one out, order some cocktails and snacks and watch a typical stunning Bali sunset. The vibe here is great with music and friendly waiters.
Not sure the name of this beach, but I found it while wandering around and standing on this little outcropping of rock. Head south from the Hai Bar and Grill in Mushroom Bay, hike through some woods and find the rocky path to climb down to this beach. You wanted an adventure, right?
Watch locals and tourists bathe in the sacred fountains.
If you have time and some major cajones, walk down the steep path to the secret beach.
It really is dreamy. There are a restaurant and infinity pool that anyone can use. If you want to stay here they have beach view bungalows check out Dream Beach Huts
This stunning temple complex faces west and is well-known for gorgeous sunsets. If you want to avoid crowds, go at another time of day, like smack dab in the hot as hell afternoon. Just kidding, mornings would work also. I went mid-day and it was crowded, but not overly so. I can only image at sunset, but I’m sure it’s gorgeous.
This was another great budget find with ocean view bungalows and this stunning infinity pool. Book here: Poh Manis Resort
Legend has it that the land that used to connect this bridge with the place I’m standing fell into the sea when the villagers angered a God.
I heard there was a cool pool bar at the W and I was so excited to discover this dreamy entranceway!
You have to pay a minimum on food and drink to get a chair here (I say bring it on, cocktail minimum), but if you go to the blissfully uncongested upper level, you sit for free and have this view.
Bali is definitely worth a visit and has much to offer; Culture, adventure, beautiful beaches, great shopping, and food. If you want nightlife and shopping with western style restaurants, head to Seminyak. Canggu has a chilled out surfer vibe. Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali with jungle and rice fields surrounding cute villas and cafes. Northern Bali is a lot less touristy and has gorgeous waterfalls and temples. Take the ferry to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida for off-the-beaten-path rugged beauty.
Check out a short fun video about Indonesia!
Have you been to Bali? What were your favorite places? What did I miss?
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