Bali offers a variety of landscapes that include sandy beaches, lush rice terraces, volcanic hillsides, rugged coastline, cliffs, mountains, and waterfalls.
In addition, Spirituality is deeply rooted among its people. The main religion here is Balinese Hinduism, and a Hindu temple is called a pura. The island dotted with many temples is known as the “island of a thousand temples.
“A little bit of spirituality, little bit of beauty, and a whole lot of wonder: The essence of Bali. There can be fewer experiences as fulfilling as enjoying the sights, smells, sound and many hues of the wonderful island of Bali.” –author unknown.
With careful planning and reading about what to see or do in Bali, you can come up and organized your itinerary according to your interest. You’ll be amazed how much we saw and did during our short visit (4N/4D).
Day 1: Sanur (south Bali): A coastal stretch of beach of Denpasar city in southeast Bali, about 30 min drive from Ngurah Rai International airport. Despite the abundance of restaurants and accommodations, it has a quiet and relaxed feel to it. A good place to consider if you are tired of the party atmosphere of Kuta or of the sleepy Nusa Dua.
DAY 2 : Explore Bedugul Attractions (northern part of Bali)
Bedugul and it’s surrounding areas are in the mountains north of Kuta and Ubud. The attractions and sites we visited are near to each other, and can easily be done in one day.
Tanah Lot Temple: A Hindu Temple set on a big rock surrounded by seawater on the west side of Bali. It is a popular and most photographed landmark of Bali. We visited in the morning to avoid big crowds who prefer coming at sunset to witness the breathtaking view of the temple at sunset.
Pura Ulun Danu Temple: The temple sits on the edge of Lake Bratan and gives illusion of floating in water. It is significant, especially to rice farmers for its subak irrigation system. Built in 1633, the temple is devoted to Ida Batara Dewi Ulun Danu, goddess of the lake.
Part of the temple that gets all the attention is the 11-roof meru, situated on a point of land, jutting out into the lake.
Taken at the play area of the temple, this amusing posed caused two little boys playing laughed so hard.
Jetiluwih Rice Terraces: The best of the 3 rice-field terraces found in Bali.
Munduk Fall: Located in Munduk, to reach the fall get off the main road and trekked down to a heavy forested steep hill, avoiding motorbikes using the same path. Going down is manageable but climbing back up maybe difficult for people who have heart or breathing problems.
We also saw men (dangerously) climbing up tall trees to harvest cloves, used commonly to impart aroma and flavor when baking ham.
After about 30 min or so of walking, there it is the Munduk falls!
Getting into the water after working out a sweat to get here must be so refreshing, which was exactly what these guys had in mind.
Candikuning Market: Prices of herbs here are higher than what I paid for at Munduk. Be sure and bargain. I did, and got a shop owner to accept my offer which was 20% of her original price, using prices at Munduk as basis for my bargaining.
Lake Buyan & Lake Tamblingan: Also known as “The Twin Lakes”, the two crater lakes are located within the caldera of Bedugul volcano. They used to be a single lake until 1800 when a landslide separated the lake into two. A narrow strip of land, less than a mile in width, divides the two lakes.
DAY 3: Attractions near Ubud (Kintamani & surrounding areas)
Penglipuran Village: I highly recommend visiting this village on your way to Kintamani. It is a traditional countryside village that takes you back in time to experience how the locals lived. What I love the most is the well maintained, beautiful gardens featuring tropical plants and unusual, unique flowers.
Pura Tirta Empul Temple: Dates back to 926AD and known for its sacred spring water with healing properties. Many people climb up to the temple for a bath and meditation in the long main pool believed to bring good fortune and health.
The temple Includes the traditional Balinese split gate along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Mt. Batur and Indra.
Worshippers first make an offering to the temple then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray.
This Hindu Temple is famous for its holy water where Hindu Bali people go for purification of body, mind and soul. Visitors can bathe here as well.
Mt Batur Volcano and Lake Batur:
Mt Batur, as seen today, was formed by an eruption in 1917 and is still an active secondary volcanic cone. Since 1917, Mt Batur has erupted three times (1926,1974, 1994).
Lake Batur is the largest lake of Bali. It is crescent-shaped and found in the smaller, secondary caldera of the Batur volcano, right at the foot of Mt. Abang.
A Visit to a Batik Gallery: Before visiting here, I thought batik fabric is made by dying a fabric using wax to create patterns and designs. I learned there are two other methods: weaving and by hand-painting (a very meticulous and labor intensive method). At their shop, cost of hand painted scarves starts from $100 US and up.
Bali’s Cultural Festival
In the words of Surya, our tour guide “Bali likes to party and there seemed to be one going on from every other village almost everyday”. We saw at least 3 festivals just in one day while in Ubud.
A way of life for Balinese. Festivals and events are celebrations which are part of the social landscape of the island. They showcase its rich art and cultures and have become part of Bali’s attraction. The days of celebration are determined by Balinese calendar from long ago, while others are highlighted schedules that take place on specific dates each year
It was fascinating to see the women parading in their colorful outfits. They carried baskets on their heads filled with flowers and foods to bring to the temple as offerings.
DAY 4 : NUSA DUA
Pura Luhur Uluwatu: A famous Balinese sea temple, and one of the nine directional temples of Bali meant to protect it from the evil spirits. A spectacular temple perched at the edge of the rock overlooking the raging sea. The word Luhur means “something of divine origin” and ulu means “land’s end” while watu means “rock” in the old language, and as you can see aptly described this temple. There is Kecak dance performed everyday at the adjacent cliff-top stage at 18:00 to 19:00, and charged a nominal fee. We did not go due to lack of time.
To be honest, it took a long drive to get here and was little disappointed for there was not much to see. Beware of the monkeys roaming around that can be aggressive at times. Our tour guide carried a stick to shoo them away. You can’t get into the temple unless you’re a Hindu. Best you come in the morning to beat the heat.
Conclusion: So glad we included Bali in our Tour of Asia, It turned out to be a most enjoyable, exciting, fantastic sensory and cultural experience. The wonders and essence of Bali is fascinating, and the warmth and hospitality of Balinese people, endearing.
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