If you are looking for a new rhythm and an experience with many favourites, a visit to Bali should appeal to you.
Indonesia, with its more than 13,000 islands and hundreds of ethnic groups, has so much to offer! But for 15 days, we chose to focus on Bali, this island with its unique Hindu culture in the middle of an archipelago with an overwhelming Muslim majority.
The must-visit attractions in Bali
In Kuta, for 3 days, our lifestyle was slower than usual. Our days were mainly spent swimming in the swimming pool, walking on the beach and in the commercial alleys and improving surfing skills for the boys.
On the way to Munduk, we stopped at the beautiful Ulun Danu Beratan temple. Dedicated to Shiva, built on a lake and surrounded by mountains, this temple is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Bali.
For 4 days, we took refuge in Munduk, in the remote areas of the island of Bali, amid mountains, rice fields, waterfalls and breathtaking vistas.
We stopped by the famous Lovina Beach, where tourists take excursions to watch dolphins. But in order to do that, you have to get up early! And since we are late risers, we preferred to go on a snorkeling excursion during the afternoon. It’s too bad I didn’t bring my GoPro, because we rarely saw as many corals and fish as we did that day!
In the vicinity of Lovina, Brahmavihara-Arama is a Buddhist monastery with a strong Hindu influence. It was a beautiful discovery that was recommended by a local.
While driving from Munduk to Ubud, I saw a huge snake on the side of the road! As I was the only one who saw it and no one in the car believed me, I turned around to find out about it. It was the right decision to make, because we met a man who was running a refuge and who presented some of the injured animals he rescued. And how unexpected when we saw these impressive snakes, iguanas, a giant bat, civets and an owl! Mateo, who loves animals, was delighted! Luka, on the other hand, was more suspicious but still very satisfied!
Ubud is a very special city that gives the feeling of being in the countryside. Its streets are very busy and traffic is chaotic. However, you can find yourself in the middle of a jungle or a rice field after a 10-minute walk. We spent a great deal of time watching a group of young people fly their kites in the middle of a rice field.
Ubud is the epicenter of Balinese culture and tradition. Spirituality, and Hindu temples by extension, are omnipresent. And the least we can say is that it is reflected in all the actions of its inhabitants! Their daily lives are dotted with a host of superstitious gestures and rituals featuring incantations and processions, in an attempt to invoke spiritual protection, blessings and luck.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Also in Ubud, we visited the Monkey Forest, in which more than 700 mischievous macaques live together almost peacefully. It is one of the most popular places in Ubud and with good reason! It was incredible to see so many monkeys everywhere.
Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is another popular place in Ubud. The sanctuary that was built in the 9th century contains Hindu and Buddhist artifacts, but the main attraction is a cave-shaped temple with a beautifully carved facade.
On our way to Tirta Empul, we visited the beautiful rice terraces of Tegalalang, a very photogenic place like many others in Bali.
Tirta Empul is a temple that was founded in the 10th century, dedicated to Vishnu. It contains a purification bath filled by a sacred water source. It’s a highly spiritual site for Balinese people.
Pura Lempuyang Luhur
We took a day trip to visit the temple of Lempuyang Luhur. This temple is extremely popular because it is at the top of the bucket list of many Instagramers seeking recognition. It is due to a portal that points directly towards the majestic Agung volcano, which is still active and very often projects ashes. Well let me tell you that this place holds the highest prize for ridiculousness in the category of “Hypocrisy of Instagram”. First of all, it is a remote area where people have to drive 2 hours to get there (and another 2 hours to get back) from Ubud. Once at the temple, here is what you need to do in order to get the perfect picture and to generate thousands of new followers.
- Get to the end of the queue.
- Use the 2-hour wait to think about three photo poses.
- When your turn comes, hand your smartphone over to the guy who takes all the pictures.
- Run to the gate.
- Mimic your 3 photo poses. You have 10 seconds. Clic! Clic! Clic!
- Get out of the way! Next!
We didn’t have the courage to wait and we preferred to visit the temple. But if you want to know more about it, I invite you to type “lempuyang temple gate” on Google. The worst part of the story is that there is no water in front of the gate. It is the photo guy who holds a small mirror to simulate the reflection of the water, in order to make the photo even more fake.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana
We have moved to the small southern peninsula of the island for the last 2 nights. We went to Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, where we saw a monumental Hindu sculpture, the 4th largest in the world if you include the pedestal. There was a traditional dance performance and a fire dance ceremony to close the evening.
The temple of Uluwatu sits at the tip of a cliff overlooking the ocean. Monkeys are known to be particularly malicious, and we have witnessed the stealing of a handbag and a cell phone by these little thieves.
For a better preparation
When we arrived in Bali, we chose to relax for 3 days in Kuta, a city near Denpasar airport, before setting off on an adventure tour of the island in a rented car. We then chose Munduk (4 nights), Ubud (6 nights) and Nusa Dua (2 nights) as departure spots for day trips.
Our rental car was all messed up and dented. You’d think it was 30 years old and yet it only had 100,000 km on the odometer! In first gear at over 3000 rpm, the car made so much noise that we couldn’t hear ourselves at all. In second gear, things were going well on flat ground but as soon as the hill became steep, it was struggling a bit and it had to be downshifted to first gear. But miraculously, it has always taken us to our destination. Anyway, since people are everywhere and even in the countryside, we always drove slowly. In other words, it was a pleasure to drive in Bali ?
We spent our first 3 nights in a beautiful suite at Best Western Kuta Beach, where the staff treated us like royalty. Our Diamond Select status at Best Western (achieved through a Status Match with our Platinum status at Marriott) has earned us fabulous breakfasts, welcome gifts, afternoon teas with appetizers, and a 50% discount on the excellent food at the hotel. Jessica shed a tear of joy as she ate their Mexican tacos because they were so good. The whole family enjoyed the beautiful swimming pool on the rooftop overlooking the sea. And it just cost us 8000 Best Western points per night, a bargain! A value of more than 300 USD for the 3 nights.
For 3 nights in Ubud, we moved to the Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud, for just 12,000 Best Western points at night. We were able to check in at 11 am in the morning and were offered a beautiful room with a view over the infinity pool. Our Diamond Select status provided us with fabulous breakfasts, afternoon teas, 50% off the restaurant’s excellent food, a free massage for Jessica and me, as well as a late check-out at 4 pm. A value of 380 USD for the 3 nights.
In Munduk, Ubud and Nusa Dua, we slept in very comfortable homestays and bungalows with breakfast included, which were booked with Agoda for 300.000 IDR (21 USD) per night on average. Moreover, hotel rates in Bali are generally so low that it would have made sense to only use our points for accommodation.
One of our worst fears happened in Bali after 12 months travelling. Mateo fell on a slippery surface and broke two bones in his right wrist. We received good care at the hospital in Ubud by a very professional team. Mateo got away with a half cast for a month. Fortunately, it was more fear than harm, we did not have to shorten our journey.
Nasi Goreng, Gado-Gado, Sate Ayam and Sate Lilit are terms you will find in ALL restaurant menus if you visit Bali. The island’s cuisine is not very diversified, but it has the advantage of being good if it is well prepared.
In the surroundings of Munduk Waterfall, we came across a very special coffee producer. He regularly travels his coffee plantation in search of excrement from the twenty or so civets that live peacefully in his sanctuary. Feces contain undigested but naturally fermented coffee beans, which gives the coffee a more subtle bitter taste. Kopi Luwak, as it is called, is simply the most expensive coffee in the world. And we drank it!
Bali was undoubtedly the destination where we spent the least during our entire trip. The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:
- 14.663.000 IDR (1,024 USD);
- 978.000 IDR (68 USD) per day;
- 244.000 IDR (17 USD) per person and per day.
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flight||1.991.000 IDR / 139 USD|
|Accomodation||2.867.000 IDR / 200 USD|
|Transport (including gas)||3.025.000 IDR / 211 USD|
|Eating out||4.282.000 IDR / 299 USD|
|Groceries||698.000 IDR / 49 USD|
|Activities||1.800.000 IDR / 126 USD|
|Total||14.663.000 IDR / 1,024 USD|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2019-05-15 to 2019-05-30|
|Number of days||15|
|Cities we visited||Kuta, Munduk, Ubud, Nusa Dua|
|Inbound||From Malaysia by plane|
|Outbound||To Singapore by plane|
|Mode of transport||Car rental|
|Distance travelled (excluding flights)||606 km|
|Number of photos taken||5500 (367 per day)|
|Currency||The Indonesian Rupiah (1 USD = 14.317 IDR)|
We were delighted by our stay in Bali, which many consider a paradise on earth. Its remarkable beauty, its luxuriant vegetation, its surprising culture and its low cost of living are undoubtedly the major assets of this island.
It’s time to switch scenery. But we are not going too far. Singapore, here we come!
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