With a week in Bali, we had our hands full with things to do and see. From temples to beaches to city markets to small villages, Bali has a wealth of culture just waiting to be discovered.
Bali has several well known beach areas – Kuta, Seminyak, Jimbaran Bay. Those are also the very touristy areas that we decided to stay away from.
We enjoyed the beaches at Sanur during the first part of our stay. It’s a much quieter town and they are just as beautiful.
This was a fun idea for half a day. Joann and I took a cooking class taught by a local married to an expat. This started with a visit to the food market in the morning to pick up the fresh ingredients.
After that, we went back to the instructor’s ‘resort’ and she taught us how to make some very tasty Balinese favorites in an outdoor kitchen.
It was a fun experience and if you’re into fresh and local food, you’ll enjoy it.
Ubud is the cultural center of Bali; it’s also the most crowded area because of this.
Ubud Market is a must-hit. It is the heart and soul of what Ubud is about – people trying to make a living. Here you’ll find every little trinket that will remind you of Bali. Prices are ALWAYS negotiable at the market so haggle your butt off. If the price isn’t right, just walk away. Guaranteed they’ll come running after you with a great “final offer”.
Overall, just wandering through Ubud can easily take up the better part of a day. It’s great for people watching, both locals and tourists alike. There are plenty of things to do in Ubud like see traditional dances, art museums, etc. but Joann and I were really content just meandering through Ubud city center and absorbing our surroundings.
No trip to Ubud is complete without a visit to the famed Monkey Forest, a nature reserve full of beautiful temples. There are just throngs of monkeys as soon as you step foot into the forest.
Pro Tip: Don’t be that guy who buys bananas from a hawker at the front gate and then gets attacked by the monkeys before he’s 5 steps in. I guess you could be but I didn’t want to give the monkeys an excuse to bite me. Apparently, many people are bitten by monkeys here. Just be smart and you’ll be fine; we were.
This is a beautiful place to visit. The temple here is one of the seven Balinese sea temples around the island and it is built on a large rock formation protruding into the sea. It’s also one of the best places in Bali to see the sunset. It is very touristy but definitely worth a visit.
Speaking of temples, they are all over Bali. In Balinese Hinduism, every family compound has a “pura” or temple. They are necessary in order to conduct worship several times a day. Religion is VERY important to the Balinese and that was pretty apparent throughout our trip.
Who are we to argue with a cheap massage? This was another service that was very competitively priced. We had a few massages in Bali, the best one being at the in-house spa at the Komaneka at Tanggayuda. It was “fairly” priced compared to what we’re used to in the US. Less than $1 a minute. We also hit another spa in town at Sanur and that was really cheap at about $15/hour. It wasn’t the greatest massage but for the price we paid, it was fine.
Village Tour & House/Compound Visit
After our cycling tour with Komaneka, our personal assistant took us through one of the neighboring villages. It was really cool to see how the local people live and they were more than welcoming to outsiders, inviting us into their compounds to look around and have a fresh coconut to drink.
The layout of the village reminded me a lot of the provinces in the Philippines, with several generations of one family living in each compound. There were a lot of similarities and, not having been back to the Philippines in several years, it was nice to see some of that familiarity.
After a week of exploring what Bali has to offer, we still weren’t done, but it was time to head home…