Updated: Oct 18
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 Eygptian 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 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
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FLIGHTS + VISA
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.
It should come as no surprises that Bali is famous for solo backpackers from around the world. 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.
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.
USD accepted at all resorts. Carry local currency for small purchases, entrances to waterfalls/temples and for tipping.
HIRING A LOCAL DRIVER
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.
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 ON THE ISLAND
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.
VEGETARIAN + VEGAN FOOD
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
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.
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!
KANTO LAMPO + GOA RENG RENG WATERFALLS. TIRTU EMPUL TEMPLE. RICE TERRACES
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.
LEMPUYANG TEMPLE. TIRTA GANGAA WATER PALACE.TUKAD CEPUNG WATERFALL. MONKEY FOREST
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.
ULUN DARU TEMPLE. BANYUMALA TWIN WATERFALL. TANAH LOT SUNSET TEMPLE
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.
BATUR VOLCANO SUNRISE HIKE
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.
I have to admit, starting the journey from Ubud to Mount Batur at 2 30 am was less than appealing at first. However, the magical moments of experiencing one of the most breathtaking sunrise colors atop was the ultimate reward.
You have to keep hiking further up to experience the actual smoke from the volcano.. it was such an amazing once in a lifetime experience.
If you are to drag yourself out of bed for only one thing, make it this one. It was such a magical way to spend my last day here.
Tips & cost:
📍 Best to go with a guide as you will need a torch light and guidance climbing up in the dark. I did a private tour with Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking ID. Cost was $35 per person. They are SO good.
📍 There is no guarantee you will have a clear sky to watch the sunrise. I was extremely fortunate to witness this breathtaking morning! 🥲
📍 Wear a jacket and dress in layers, it gets very cold up on top!
📍 It’s not the easiest of trails with steep inclines for 75% of the hike; moderate fitness this can be done in 1.5 hours one way!
📍Don’t hike in flip flops. These trails are slippery with loose rocks everywhere, wear good hiking shoes!
Back to the resort to shower and sleep for the rest of the day. Those sore muscles need rest!
REST AND RECOUP
It's true what they say, time flies when you're having fun!
It was time to bid goodbye to this place that stole my heart. I had a very relaxing morning exploring the property.. it was so early in the day, so I was the only one around..
Couldn't have asked for a more fitting end to what was one hell of an unreal trip.
Bali is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations the world. Once you are there, it is not hard to see why people flock to this corner of the world. This a place where the ethereal waterfalls meet the zen temples and rice terraces.
What I loved most about it was that it had something for everyone. Like beaches? You can enjoy diving, snorkeling, parasailing and more. Like the jungle? You have Ubud. Like the island coasts? You have Seminyak, Uluwatu, Gili and Nusa Penida. Enjoy culture and temples? Got plenty of those too!
There is SO much to see in Bali so the only problem you will have is picking what to do. The first thing is to decide where you want to base yourself. Once you have that figured out, you can easily hop around to the rest of the towns.
If you haven't been here yet, then just GO. Go Now. What awaits you in this jungle oasis are impressive waterfalls, massive volcanic mountains, greenest of green paddy fields and laid back beaches. There is a sense of spirituality here that I have previously only encountered in Japan. It is the ultimate place for calm indulgence and unparalleled tranquility.
Drop your comments below and show some love. Feel free to shoot me an email with your feedback.
To explore more Asian destinations, be sure to check out other blogs for additional insights.