An unforgettable trip to the Island of Gods - Bali!
First things first, let me clarify that Bali is worthy of all the hype.
Unlike those other touristy places that are many a times an utter disappointment, everything you might have heard about how incredible Bali is, is a 100% TRUE.
Rightly called the island of gods, the word "paradise" is a befitting title to bestow upon Bali. It is not one of those flashy islands where you mostly sit around sipping mimosa. This is the place for wanderers who prefer getting lost in the wilderness.
I have to be honest though. I have always pushed Bali to the back of my list for the longest time because of the mad crowds... but then I figured, if I can wade through the Turkish and Eyptian crowds, I can do this. Little did I know that I was in for a pleasant surprise. Bali had only just opened it's doors post the pandemic, so most places were still empty.. especially the way I planned this trip. I had almost every single place to myself for hours on end. This trip could not have come at a better time.
Bali is easily one of my most favorite places in the world now and I hope to make it back there in near future (which, if you know me, is saying a LOT). For now, strap on as you take you through my dreamy getaway.
Day wise itinerary:
Day 1: Travel, check into resort, enjoy a massage and flower bath
Day 2: Ubud area Kanto lampo waterfall, Goa rang reng waterfall, Coffee Plantation visit, Tirta empul holy spring temple, Tegalalang rice terrace and Bali Swing
Day 3: East Bali Heaven’s gate - Lempuyang temple, Tirta gangga water palace, Tukad cepung waterfall, Monkey forest
Day 4: West Bali Ulun danu beratan temple, Banyumala twin waterfall and Tanah lot sunset
Day 5: Sunrise hike to Mount Batur
Day 6: Relax at the property. breakfast and travel back home
These rules are constantly changing, be sure to double check the rules before traveling.
These were the rules when I traveled:
Negative PCR test taken 48 hours to arrival in Bali
Proof of double vaccination (this is important if you want to avoid quarantine)
Confirmed onward journey/return tickets from Bali
Confirmed hotel bookings
Mandatory health and travel insurance with COVID coverage
Flights, Visa and Immigration (if traveling from UAE)
I flew with Singapore airlines as Emirates was not running direct flights at the time.
Citizens of 42 countries, including Indian passport holders were eligible for VISA ON ARRIVAL at the Bali airport. Pay $38 in cash and get your visa stamped.
Immigration was simple - people were so helpful and welcomed us with open arms. Such a treat compared to few other countries we have been to where they throw attitude for no reason.
Safety and hygiene
It was heartening to see a whole lot of local people were wearing masks at the resorts, common places and all supermarkets.
I need not tell you that Bali is famous for solo travelers. Probably one of those few places where you are not overcharged for single occupancy. The people are warm and friendly. Practice due diligence and you will be just fine.
Best time to visit
As with any tropical island, there is a dry season and a wet season. April to October is said to be the dry season in Bali. It will also be the busiest time, so expect higher rates.
Language and People
English, as you would expect, is not the primary language. If you are going with a guide, you should be ok in most places as Bali is a tourist hub.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
Travel Insurance is highly recommended - we have our own, but if you are looking for one try World Nomad. USD accepted at all resorts. Carry local currency for small purchases, entrances to waterfalls/temples and for tipping.
Choosing a guide
In all honesty, Bali is not a place where you need a guide... you can rent a moped or a bike and drive around. It isn't the safest way to get around on congested narrow roads, but it can be done.
I went with hiring a driver since I already knew the places I wanted to cover on the trip. I got in touch with the owner of HIRE BALI DRIVER. I shared my itinerary with them and the owner was quick to respond. Competitive prices too. Our driver, Wayan Surya, was so patient, sweet and safe to travel around with - like an older brother. I highly recommend getting in touch with them if you wish you hire a driver in Bali.
How expensive is Bali?
Compared to Dubai, Bali was CHEAP. From food to stays at five star properties, everything was affordable and backpacker friendly. Haggling is the way to go though - especially if shopping is your thing. The entrance tickets cost from 20000 IDR to 150,000 IDR.
How long to spend in Bali?
Bali is backpacker haven - people spend months, if not years, here. I could see why.. what was not to love about this hippy yoga-vegan natural heaven? At the minimum, spend at least one week. Either at one place or at two different ones. I only wanted to visit Ubud, so my entire 6 days were spent there.
I knew Bali would be one place where I would not have an issue with vegan food. From vegan nasi goreg or mai goreng, I had the opportunity to try so many wonderful flavor-packed local dishes at both the resorts I stayed in.
Where I stayed:
Part 1 - Udaya Resorts & Spa
I split my stay in two halves. The first few days were spent at the pool suite, before shifting to the Garden suite. The whole property was such a vibe - the lush green garden setting, the exquisite spa, the indulgent pool and the amazing staff who could not do enough to make us feel at home. It was a treat worth splurging on.
Part 2 - The Kayon Resort
The second half of my stay I spent a few days at yet another indulgent property straight out of a dream. The ambiance here was just as spellbinding & destressing. From waking up to the views of a waterfall to watching the sun come up over the rice fields, not enough can be said about the postcard opportunities here.
After a long day of travels, I could not wait to unwind and catch some much needed sleep. After an hour of driving, I finally checked in to the beautiful Udaya property. I spent the entire afternoon just roaming the grounds. I was in green heaven, ready to be pampered!
A quick shower later, I booked myself a massage and a flower bath at the renowned Kaveri Spa. What a treat it was.. the ambiance and the vibe of this entire spa was out of my dreams. The ladies here were incredible, kind and friendly. It was the perfect start to the trip.
After a delicious vegan dinner, I tucked into deep slumber.. slept like a baby!
Woke up early to catch that sunrise. Add to that a decadent breakfast. It's no wonder I miss being on vacation. I was so spoilt at Udaya.
My first stop for the day was to Kanto Lampo, a multi-layer waterfall, a gem hidden deep in the jungles of Ubud.
The light falling on those rocks and being surrounded by nothing but the gush of powerful water was soothing beyond words.
Travel tip: for the best photos with the light, go between 9-10 a.m.
Next stop was the Goa Reng Rang waterfall... a bit of a hidden gem for those with an adventurous spirit. The unique feature of this waterfall is that it doesn't fall at a 90 degree angle but more a gentle 60 degree angle.
There was no way to climb up.. except holding a rope. There was no grip at all but that is part of the fun. I went up holding the rope and held on to dear life so I won't go flying into the waterfall Definitely worth it.. once you get to the top, you can take a swim in the warm pool there.
Next stop, a mini stop at the local coffee plantation. Tried 11 different types of coffee/tea.. also had some fried banana fritters. This is a simple local experience surrounded by tea plantations.. also a great opportunity to help the local community.
Just 10 minutes away was one of the busiest, holiest water temples in Bali - the Tirtu Empul Holy water temple. Located at a short distance of 30 minutes from Ubud, the vibes of this place are divine.
Even as a non-believer, I couldn’t resist soaking up the wonderful vibes around this place. As I made my around around the temple, I noticed that people were going through a purification bath in the inner courtyard - locals and tourists. Locals believe that this rids them of their bad Karma.. quiet an enlightening experience. It is also a beautiful place to witness the current Balinese culture and also observe the remains of the ancient Balinese kingdom. Don’t miss this if you are a lover of pure good energy.
Our last stop was the Tegalalang Rice Terrace and the Bali Swing, one of those unique activities that you can't find anywhere else.
Our timing was good as there was no line and we were the only ones around. The activity for a single swing for about 30 minutes costs IDR 150,000 ($10). I will be honest, the swing isn't for everyone. If you enjoy adrenaline packed activities, this one is worth a trip. We went swinging and waited for the sun to go down before heading down to explore the rice terraces. It was the perfect end to an action packed day.
After all these years of traveling, I was yet to experience the floating breakfast. Finally fulfilled that dream. I swear I still dream of this delicious breakfast!
After a relaxing start, I had a few long drives to do. Starting off with the iconic landmark of Bali - the Lempuyang temple, that astonishing temple you’ve probably already seen a thousand times. The massive “Gates of Heaven” are etched with carvings to the gods, overlooking Mount Agung, Bali’s most active volcano, often covered with fluffy white clouds. The temple is sacred & one of the six holiest places of worship on Bali.
REALITY check: it appears as if there is a lake here, I don’t want you to be disappointed so here is the truth - there is no lake! All these photos with the reflection are taken with a mirror 🥲
Even though the famous Gates of Heaven isn't natural, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to this temple because we had it all to ourselves. The temple complex is pretty amazing in itself with local people praying and performing ceremonies. It is worth a visit, even if you are into taking photos here.
📍most people visit for sunrise as this temple lies to the East of Bali. Entrance costs are IDR 150,000k per person
📍you can never tell how much crowd there will be, be prepared to wait. There was NO ONE when I went!
📍 If taking that perfect photo is really important, be sure to check the weather before. If it’s a cloudy day, you won’t be able to see the Mountain. I was very lucky to have clear skies.
📍 There is a friendly Balinese man who takes the photos. He doesn’t asks for money, but please be generous when you tip!
Next stop was yet another Instagram popular location Tirta Gangga Water Palace. Once a royal palace, this place had been turned into a sprawling zen garden filled with intricate stone statutes beautiful flowers. It’s not a huge place but you can easily spend an hour walking around and cool off in the pool.
Travel Tips: this is yet another place made popular on the gram so expect crowds. Go early in the day to avoid crowds. It maybe popular but it’s not hard to see why with it’s incredible maze of pools and giant fish.
After two popular places, I went to check off another incredible landmark waterfall in Bali - the Tukad Cepung waterfall.
This waterfall is a masterpiece of nature. It is one of the most unique waterfalls in Bali with the rays of magical light that beam through the slot canyon.
Tips & costs:
📍 IDR 15,000 for entrance. It is located on the east of Bali, 45 minutes from Ubud.
📍wear flip flops to wade through a shallow creek crossing. I walked through a canyon & scramble around large boulders before arriving at the falls!
📍 It is not the deepest of waters to go swimming in, but I couldn’t resist standing underneath the falls for a refreshing natural shower!
📍To see the sun rays, you’ll need to time your visit between 9:30 am and 11:30 am. I went in the afternoon & there was not another soul around.
The last stop just a few short minutes from our resort was the Monkey Forest.
This was a surprise package, so much to love about this enthralling dense forest filled with monkeys big and small. A fascinating walk through age old temple ruins.. right up my alley.
Though there were rumors of the monkeys attacking people and being aggressive, I still decided to give it a shot. I kept my distance and didn't make eye contact - this was the general advise given by the locals. Just follow the rules and don't agitate the animals, you will be fine.
That's a wrap of yet another fantastic day out in Bali. Dinner and off to bed.
I wanted to have a relaxing morning at the property, so spent my time walking around doing nothing for a few hours post breakfast.
After lunch, started our drive to check off the Ulun Danu Beratan water temple, located on the shores of Lake Beratan. This place is pretty much in the middle of Bali.
As with any temple, the vibe here too is of quiet reflection. There are plenty of scenic temples in Bali and this is definitely one of them. Don’t miss it.
Travel tip: the best time to visit for photographers is during sunrise. I went middle of the day, and it was still a fabulous time for photos.
Next stop for the day was my absolute favorite place in the entire trip - the Banyumala Twin waterfall.
Imagine a beautiful overcast day, a thundering tall waterfall.. and then imagine having that place all to yourself. Yeah, LIFE WINS. If there is one waterfall you cannot miss in Bali, it is this beaut! This waterfall is popular yet it felt like one of the lesser known ones, due to the distance from Central Bali.
Just after I walked through a jungle trail, I was welcomed by two curtains of dramatic thundering waterfalls dropping down over black rocks. It is easily one of the most majestic places you can find here. The icing on the cake was being able to stay here for hours without another soul. I took infinite dips and my wild jungle heart was content. Thank you, universe.
Last stop for the day was to finally catch that infamous Bali sunset. No better place than the iconic Tanah Lot Temple to do that.
I arrived around 5 p.m. so as to catch the right spot for the view. So I got to witness the whole sky changing color.. from golden hour to a deep orange.
Checked into the Kayon resort to spend two nights. A beautiful dinner awaited me and a good nights sleep for the major activity tomorrow. If you are traveling as a couple, you can also book yourself a nice candle light dinner at a cost.
Last full day had to be spent doing something extra, no? I was beginning to wonder if this may that one trip I don't end up doing a hike.. but no, as luck would have it, I couldn’t leave Bali without doing the MOST unique activity in the place.
I finally got to tick yet another incredible adventure of off my list - ascending Bali’s active volcano. No matter when you go, trekking Mount Batur for sunrise should be on every regular hiker/adventurer’s list.
The hike up to the 1700m high volcano in the dark led me to a view of Mount Agung Volcano as the first glow of sun lit up below me offering a surreal view of the caldera and Lake Batur. The hike started off easily enough on a flat land for about 20 minutes but before I knew it, the incline had started and stayed that way for the rest of the hike up.