- Published by Anu
Are you one of those, who look forward to an upcoming long weekend holiday in a year? And then adds a couple of in-between weekdays to it by taking those earned leaves you saved up? And who clubs even the next adjoining Saturday Sunday to get a whole 9 to 10 days off work?
I am guessing the answer is affirmative.J If so, then there is one destination that effortlessly fits the bill in terms of easy affordable travel, extremely generous hospitality and mind boggling beauty which is worthy of not just every penny but also every single day you spend on this Island. Bali is the place to be!
Indonesia is the world's largest island country that embraces more than seventeen thousand islands, of which, Bali being one such speck, is yet a significantly popular island. It's a melting pot of cultures and traditions seemingly blended in the everyday way of life. To experience this unique blend we decided to do a balanced mishmash of beaches, temples, waterfalls and neighbouring islands in our trip to Bali
Here's how I plANNED MY Bali itinerary
Planning an itinerary was fairly simple owing to Indonesia's generosity in terms of Visa-Free travel available for 30 days.
Day 1 : Arriving in Denpasar
Landing in Denpasar at the Nugrah Rai international airport and getting stamped was a breeze. We had availed the option for an airport-pickup offered by our pre-booked hotel. They diligently sent us a cab to pick us up at the airport. Since it was our first day in Bali we thought this would be a convenient and hassle-free option than haggling with cab drivers on the very first day. The cabbie was very sweet and welcoming which kick-started our trip on a good note.
The drive to our hotel in Legian, a little before the main area of Seminyak, was a good 30 mins altogether from the airport.
A quick check-in and a surprise upgrade later, we checked into our room. Rooftop infinity pools are my pre-requisite for beach destinations, especially if the property is by the beach or overlooking the ocean. A pool and bar signage pointed to the top floor and we were in tow. Views from up there were terrific. We loved indulging in a bit of luxury when there were stunning panoramic views like these involved J
The day was spent relaxing by the pool, sipping cocktails and exploring the vibrant streets of Legian. There are a number of travel and adventure companies or tour operators at every nook and corner. Enquire about tours, private vehicles or scooter rentals (provided you hold a valid Indonesian license or an International Driving License) and decide on which places you would like to explore.
So what we did was, to book, a chauffeur driven for day 2, a hiking trip on day 3 and tickets for our to-and-fro travel to the neighboring island of Lombok for day 4, all on the first day. Based on our personal preferences, prior online research and info from the available brochures at the agents' we sorted our 3 day plans in Bali.
Places explored on day 1 :
- Legian beach
- Boutiques in Seminyak for shopping
- Restaurants and cafes in Legian.
Day 2 : Exploring North Bali
Almost always, we try to explore the farthest destinations first and nearby attractions in the latter part of our trip. North Bali was a perfect choice for today. As a head-start, I had made a list of five places to visit which intrigued me, using the hotel's wifi on the previous night itself. The driver picked us up from the hotel as per the agreed time and we were good to go.
First on the list was a temple in Bedugul region. Temples synonymous to Balinese culture are known for their unique settings and sunset backdrops. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of the most picturesque temples in Bali. The indigenous structure with a multi-tiered roof extends itself onto a lake creating a surreal image that appears to be floating on the Bratan lake. The complex is humongous with several temples and a botanical garden within its premises. We enjoyed the languorous atmosphere and even got to witness a Balinese wedding procession.
Next we were headed to the Bramha Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery. Not many travellers visit or are aware that this temple is a replica of the very famous Borobudur temple in Java, Indonesia. Situated on a small hillock the views are pristine. The precinct is exquisite with intricate carvings, statues, lush trees and water fountains.
Making way, at the northern-most tip of Bali is Lovina Beach. Low-key relaxed vibe is how I would describe this beach. Early morning boat trips can be arranged for snorkelling and for dolphin spotting. We chose walking on the soft black sand and devouring Indonesian dishes for lunch by the beach instead.
A scorching afternoon transformed into a sultry evening. Off the road and into a jungle led us to this stunning waterfall. Waterfalls in Indonesia are particularly the prettiest due to the typical lush foliage of grassy plants growing around them which enhances their beauty. Plunging in to soothe our souls, we could also go behind the waterfall to come out from the other side.
Munduk waterfall is definitely not to be missed.
Bali has 4 lakes, all of them nestled in the northern highlands. One being the aforementioned Lake Bratan, on which Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple is situated and two gorgeous lakes namely Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan were visible from a viewpoint enroute, on our way back. The fourth lake is called Danau Batur, although we won't be visiting it just yet.
Well, I came to Bali, visited some spectacular places, swam and slithered into cascading waterfalls and pools, but there was something very special that I had not experienced yet and that was Balinese Coffee. In a country known for its brew, how could a coffee lover like me miss the opportunity to try some incredible coffee! Our driver cum guide suggested a coffee plantation, where we could experience the processes involved in coffee making and also try different varieties of coffee.
Win-Win situation J
One of the most expensive coffees in the world is the Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee collected from the fecal matter of Civets - commonly known as Mongoose (in India). If you feel crazy enough then definitely give this coffee a try. I gave it a shot and although it was quite strong for my liking, it wasn't bad at all. But I most certainly loved all other flavours of coffee much better than this one. :)
Comfortably seated in breezy cottages overlooking the rice paddies, we sampled around 15 different varieties of coffee. My personal favourite was Ginseng, subtle yet strong, sweet flavoured coffee. I even bought a couple of packets with me back home.
Places covered on Day 2 :
- Ulun DanuTemple and Bratan Lake
- Bramha Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery
- Munduk waterfall
- Lake Buyan and Lake Tambalingan
- Coffee Plantations
After an fulfilling day we retired to our hotel. An early sumptuous dinner followed by quite a few glasses of wine, we quickly snuggled in and called it an early night.
"Why?", you may ask?
Well, the answer is...I had something GREAT planned for 'Day 3'. Find out by heading over to Part 2 of the travelogue .J
couple of quick tips to keep in mind :
- Make sure to bargain a lot when booking tours, car rentals or trips with an agent or travel company.
- Prior to making a payment for the bookings, ensure if there are any additional costs involved and whether the parking fees and/or entrance fees are included in the trip cost.
- Most importantly, when you book a rental car for a day, it is provided for approximately 8-10 hours only. I would strongly recommend making a verbal agreement with the agent beforehand, that you would yourself choose the places or stops to be visited on a particular route and you shall also decide the time spent at each attraction or spot. This gives you complete liberty to explore at your own pace and additionally lets you return well within the expected rental time frame.
- Before you begin your trip, cross check with the driver whether he has also been informed by the agent about your flexible plans to avoid any problems or miscommunication later.
- Always note the booking agent's number to call him up in situations where the driver is creating problems or in case of unforeseen circumstances.
- Taking a picture of your agent, driver as well as your vehicle including the number plate is strongly suggested, again for the 'just-in-case' type of situations. Its also comes very handy in situations when you are unable to locate your driver or vehicle in parking lots and open areas in touristy spots of Bali.
That's all folks! :) Feel free to ask away if you need further help or info in the comments below.
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