I’ve recently come back from my first trip to Asia, beginning in Singapore and spending five days in Bali, Indonesia. Although I’ve never considered visiting Asia, the main reason for our visit was my best friend’s wedding. Travelling half way across the world, we decided to tag on a trip to somewhere we could laze on the beach, and Bali seemed the perfect option.
As it was, it was one of the best places I’ve visited. Bali is effortlessly laid-back and beautiful. If you’re not walking barefoot through its beaches, you might find yourself stumbling across temples that wouldn’t look out of place in an Indiana Jones film, or meandering through backstreets filled with scooters!
We stayed in Seminyak and despite the bustling streets filled with the noise of motorbikes and buzz of tourists, our hotel was a little out the way and offered the ideal haven. We also spent a day exploring Ubud, the so-called ‘cultural heart’ of Bali, where we visited some Hindu temples, tested coffee and chocolate from a plantation and caught a glimpse of some of the area’s stunning rice paddies. If you’re looking to visit the gorgeous Island of the Gods (and you really should), here are my top tips for things to do in Bali.
Experience the famous Bali sunset
A sunset on this island is like no other and has to be experienced with a drink in hand and feet up on the sand. Head to Seminyak beach before the 6pm sundown to grab a beanbag at one of the many bars – cocktail enthusiasts should try a ‘sunset mojito’ while those happy enough not to drink might enjoy sipping from a coconut (yes, seriously!) Oh, and take your camera.
Make the most of delicious cuisine
Cuisine in Bali is mixed, with Asian as well as European influences. You’ll find everything from Nasi Goreng to Pad Thai to Pizza on the menu, so make the most of it. Also, no surprise – rice could be found in every restaurant. We ate at some fantastic restaurants on our trip, but our favourites were Sarong and Moonlite. Meals are incredibly cheap in Bali (especially in comparison to London prices) and we ate full 3 course meals for under £20 per person.
Experience Ubud in a day
Although our purpose for visiting the island was to take advantage of the sunshine, sea and sand, we couldn’t resist spending a day visiting the great places Ubud has to offer. We hired a driver from Bali Made Tours (highly recommended!) and spent the next twelve hours making our way around Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi and Tirta Empul as well as many other sights. Tirta Empul was my favourite – a water temple with a sacred spring for bathing in, and a wonderful experience to watch entire families meditating and cleansing themselves there.
Talk to the locals
The people in Bali are some of the most friendly and honest people I’ve ever met and love to talk. Whether in the streets or on the beach, you’ll often encounter sales people brandishing their jewellery, sarongs and artwork. There are plenty of taxi drivers around, freely offering transport. If you don’t want what they are selling, a polite ‘no thank you’ will do the trick – you’ll be greeted with a smile rather than more sales patter.
Pack the suncream
The weather in Bali is beautiful but the hottest I’ve ever experienced. When we visited, it reached heights of 40 degrees and after a long day on the beach, it’s no surprise I managed to get badly burnt. If you’re planning a holiday in Bali, it’s definitely worth packing the factor 50. Drink plenty of water, easy on the alcohol and take some time out of the midday sunshine (even if you’re just hanging out in one of the many beach bars.)
If you’re planning a visit to Bali sometime soon, let it be known I’m incredibly jealous. It is easily the most peaceful and relaxed I’ve felt in years, and I’m still feeling that post-Bali bliss. For now, I’ll be daydreaming about the island – until the next time I visit, of course.