Written by Karishma Laskar
My friends and I were planning a holiday. Bali had always been on my travel bucket list. After quite a bit of discussion and surfing on the net, we finalized our itinerary on Bali. I had been to numerous beach destinations but for a beach lover like me, I dreamt of hopping into beaches which are less tourist trapped. We started looking for flights to Denpasar and the prices turned out to be quite tempting !!. The next moment the tickets were booked and a couple of months later we found ourselves lazing around in the islands of Bali.
The multicultural city of Ubud, the beautiful countryside with picturesque beaches of outside-Kuta, crystal blue beaches of Nusa Lembongan, the enthralling temples, lush green vegetations and the trek to the volcanic mountains, Bali has something to offer to every tourist making it the most idealistic holiday destination.
To add to our joy is the currency of Indonesia. 1 Indian Rupee is equivalent to 208.18 Indonesian Rupiah. The entire trip cost me 60k INR making it ideal for a budget travelers.
Now, let me pen down my itinerary for travelers like me...
After flying overnight we finally landed in Denpasar airport at forenoon. We took a cab from the airport to our hotel Royal Singrosa, located in the heart of the Kuta city. The property even had a terrace to enjoy the views of the city.
Kuta is quite popular amongst travelers because of its vibrant crowd and liveliness. You can find the city lined up with plenty of beachfront resorts and cheap accommodations thus offering travelers a lot of options to choose from.
If you are a shopaholic like me then it is heaven for you as you will find lots of shopping attractions, selling all types of souvenirs, Bali t-shirts, and beach dresses. Not to miss the mouth-watering sea platters and local food which were cheaper than Seminyak.
What can be more beautiful than watching the sunset on a beach? So we left for Jimbaran beach to enjoy the sunset and dine in a beachfront restaurant. What a spectacular view it was. Scenic sunset, colorful umbrellas, local Balinese bands playing songs for each table. We ordered sea platters which had all varieties of delicious mouth-watering seafood along with Bintang beer which was the most common beer served in the major restaurants of Bali.
The adventure in us...
Holidays in the world's most beautiful beaches are incomplete without water sports. So we dedicated this day to the adventures in us.
We left for Tanjung Benoa beach early in the morning, The beach is the center place for all adventurous water sports. We chose to go for banana ride, parasailing, flying fish and sea walking. All these water activities were completed in the first half of the day. Soon after, we headed for lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Bali is quite famous for its ancient temples. It wasn't possible for us to accommodate all of them in our itinerary. We asked a few locals and decided to pay a visit to the Tanah Lot, which by the way is one of the "not-to-be-missed" icons of Bali.
The temple offers a spectacular view of the ocean and the sunset. Though we couldn't enter the temple ground, we were completely awestruck by the views. The unique structure of the temple perched on a rocky cliff with sunset backdrops was stunning to watch. The temple silhouette against the orange sky makes it a perfect photography place, especially for the sunset lovers.
Every sunset is different in its own way. For me, probably, this view would remain etched in my mind forever !!.
Hiking the famous Mt. Batur volcanic mountains
I have read about this sunrise hike in numerous blogs. This was more challenging than we imagined it to be. We booked a hiking tour through Bali Adventure Travel Group. They charged around 200 USD for five of us for the hike. The cab picked us at around 1.30 am. The guide provided us with torches as we started the trek. It was pitch black and the terrain was rocky which made it bit challenging!!.
We started off for the trek at around 1:30am with our guide, Adi. He was quite friendly and kept us motivated for the entire trek. A few minutes into the trek and the path became quite steep leaving us breathless. Our bodies were struggling over our mind. I was about to give up but it was only a few minutes to the viewpoint when Adi and my friends started shouting that "Come on , you can do this." The adrenaline in me pushed me to brisk my steps and finally I climbed it. It was almost dusk, when we reached the top . The feeling was magical. The blanket of darkness was slowly being replaced with golden beams of the mesmerising sunrise. Nothing can be more beautiful than hiking the mountains and witnessing the sunrise silhouetting the Mt. Batur .The view of the Mt. Batur with the Caldera lake surrounding it was spectacular. After a glimpse of 15 minutes of the mountain view , the cloud took over.
We descended the hills after spending few hours at the top. The path continued through the forest and soon we reached our starting point. After the adventurous hike, we headed to soak ourselves in the hot spring near the lake. The view was spectacular and a perfect place to relax yourselves.
Travel tips for this trek:
Carry a warm jacket because the temperature drops when you reach the top The terrain is quite rocky, so wear a good pair of hiking shoes. You can also pack bananas and fruits along with you cause you won't get a big buffet breakfast at the top. Also, you can carry your own extra water bottles in case you need them after climbing the mountains. (The tour guide provided us with sufficient water bottles we needed during the entire trek).
The half of the day was almost over and we headed to the Nusa Lembongan island, a thirty minutes ferry ride located in the south-east of Bali. We checked in to Nicho's Bungalows and Villas, 10 minutes walk from the Lembongan beach which we booked through booking.com. What I liked most is the hospitality of the property owner and the staff and their friendly behavior. The property had many boutique style huts with a spacious balcony with lush green garden surroundings and a private pool and another outside pool. The place was so relaxing away from the daily city crowd. We were almost tired when we reached Nusa Lembongan. For dinner, we decided to take a walk and explore the restaurants over there with good live music.
Day 4: The Hidden Retreat- Exploring Nusa Lembongan Island.
In the early morning after sipping a cup of tea we rented two scooters from our villa and drove to explore the popular attractions of the island. The major highlights were :
Dream beach -The soft sandy secluded beach with mostly rock formations far-off from crowds. You can enjoy the beautiful seascapes from the cliffs edges and also have a great sunset view. Devil's tear-Located in Lembongan island, this place offers you ocean view of azure blue waters and waves giant and crashing waves near the limestone cliffs. Yellow bridge-If you want to the neighboring island Nusa Ceningan which is just 15-20 mins scooty ride, you need to cross this yellow bridge.T his suspension bridge gives you an expansive view of the island over the blue waters peppered with sailing boats. Blue lagoon - You will be amazed by the crystal clear turquoise blue color of the water. It is mainly famous for cliff jumping.
The night ended after we had a sumptuous dinner in a restaurant nearby the villa in Seminyak.
Day 5: Cultural city tour in UBUD...
Our Bali vacation would have been incomplete without our visit to Ubud. This place is a land of extremes. The whole town is surrounded by rice fields and lush green vegetation. You can enjoy a beautiful walk amid the paddy fields and restore your long gone peace if you are a city slicker.
If you are a shopaholic, you can hop around in the local street markets lined up in the roads. Also, there were numerous restaurants giving beautiful views with scenic backdrop thus making Ubud a perfect destination for tourists with relaxed vibes.
We also included the famous Coffee Plantation and Ulun Danu Beratan Temple as these are some iconic landmarks which I personally feel should be included in bucket list if you are planning to visit Bali.
Bali coffee plantation is a place to see the various coffee plantations and also get the experience to see how to make Balinese coffee in many traditional ways and not to forget to mention the see the costliest coffee maker, the civet cats. The weirdest thing for me was how the civet cats played the unusual part in producing the Luwak coffee. A guide showcased all flavors of tea and coffee like ginger, turmeric, rosella, lemongrass to name a few. We purchased few varieties of tea from there and the Luwak coffee cost around 2,50,000 IDR(nearly 1300 INR). The coffee plantation was lush green with lovely spice garden and also gave us amazing views of the rice terrains.
How to get to Ulun Danu Beratan temple?.
From Seminyak, it nearly took us a 2 to 3-hour drive. I would say start early you can easily fit in your itinerary if you want to cover some parts of Ubud side whilst you have your own private cab driver.
Closing time: The temple closes at 6 pm. Is it as breathtaking as the Instagram pictures?
Perhaps, yes if you ask me because it is mind-numbingly beautiful . The clear lake is still and at times a thin layer of fog from the lake surrounds the temple, enhancing the beauty of the temple manifold. The main highlight of this temple is that it floats on the Beratan Lake. We spent few hours strolling in the temple's ground, clicking pictures and exploring by foot the entire peaceful areas of the temple. I stood there for hours watching the majestic temple and enjoying the cool breeze by the lake side.
We were finally back to Seminyak by evening. Seminyak is popular for some swanky cool beachside clubs. So we finally decided to book a table in the famous Potato head beach club and raise a toast to the good times we all had in Bali. Let me tell you, this place is so damn happening. The moment I entered this place I was amazed to see the artistic approach of this club with an ocean backdrop. It was a beachfront bar flanked by an infinity pool and the dinner tables were around the infinity pool. We ordered few starters and spent few hours sipping exotic cocktails and watching the lively crowd gathered there.
Finally the day arrived to bid adieu to Bali. Many places like Gilli islands and nearby places were left unexplored due to a short span of my trip. So before wrapping up my article, I would like to share a few travel tips...
Carry cash with you and also global cards for easy payments. Hiring a cab for the day will cost will around 3500 INR. If you are travelling in groups, you can shed less. Do your bookings in Airbnb and booking.com if you are looking for some villas at an affordable range. Wear sarongs or traditional long covered outfits for paying visits to temples. Make sure you try the local food and Bintang beer which is mostly served in all places over there. The more you explore, the more you will love this place.
Is it worth visiting?
Yes, definitely!! In a nutshell, Bali is all about pristine beaches, ancient temples, fascinating culture, turquoise lagoons, pink sunsets and golden sunrises, friendly locals, some tantalizing Balinese cuisines, pampering resorts and some really relaxing beachfront bars.
There can be many other reasons to love Bali. Explore them if you are the next...
By KARISHMA LASKAR