After travelling to Bali a few years ago I just could not wait to visit again and to show Rose just how beautiful the island is. I love to travel, I feel like it is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, and more so when you can share it with someone special. I was really touched by just how friendly and beautiful the Bali locals were on my last trip. They were so open to everyone, wise in their love of life and relish everything they have. The culture was beyond beautiful, the food amazing and the landscape jaw dropping. This was the experience I really wanted Rose to have, and I also wanted to expand on what I had previously been lucky enough to enjoy.
Having seen only a snippet of Bali in my previous trip (well a lot in a short time frame), we decided we wanted to see as much of Bali as possible from top to bottom (minus places like Kuta/Seminyak.. avoid!). We started off by staying down south in Padang Padang, a really relaxed area that is popular with surfers and those looking for coastal retreats. The whole idea is we would relax and enjoy a few days of not doing much (pretty hard for me to do). We explored the local area by scooter, and enjoyed some of the best seafood BBQ we have ever had in the local warungs. We then ventured further north to Canggu in a Private Villa for a few nights. I had not stayed in the area before, and we were quite a ways from the coast but right in the middle of a busy local village. We spent our time exploring the local lanes, walks through to the beach and a different Bali vibe. The place we stayed was beautiful, and if we had easier transport we might like the location but we both felt like we like places more tucked away.
To the far north was our next destination, and Lovina. I had heard wonderful things, but found that most people don’t go that far when visiting Bali. The north coast is known for its seafood, diving and picturesque coastline. I heard it was a little more like the less tourist Bali of old, and had a nice community plus lovely foothills to explore. Not wrong, we totally fell in love with Lovina (which is the collective name given to a number of villages all close together near Singaraja). We stayed in the most delightful little villa, tucked away down a lane and near some corn fields about 20min walk from the ocean. We would venture into town each day for supplies and food, and also enjoyed the company of the Villa’s caretaker, who gave us tours of the local area and foothills during our stay. We loved exploring the waterfalls, rivers, rice patties and smaller villages on the north coast which really told the tale of Bali life in 2016. The pace of Lovina is very different to the south, although there is some tourist fair (especially around the Dolphin Tours and the Dolphin Statue) we felt.. at ease to explore as we wanted without much hassle.
After a few days of exploring and relaxing in the north, we headed to Ubud. Now there is a lot to be said about Ubud, some people really like the area and others find it a bit too much. I think the spots surrounding the central market are a bit too full on, but tucked away in the side streets and on the outskirts of town are some very lovely places indeed. It is a Yoga center, it was of course further popularized by the movie Eat Prey Love. I really like it for its central location (and ability to travel in the immediate areas), as well as the vast choices of food and lovely spots to relax over a drink. As usual, I love to explore.. so took Rose down to Monkey Forest at feeding time (so they would leave us relatively alone) and of course, to Ibu Oka for some Babi Guling. I prefer the one tucked away from the Central Market, but i could eat this dish perhaps most days for the rest of my life (although my body would surely revolt). A combination of Roast Pork, Fried Pork, Bloody Sausage, Crispy Skin and Veggies from a suckling pig.. it really just ticks all the delicious boxes. If you like Yoga, then Ubud is the hub for Yoga in Bali. They have their own Yoga festival, its full of Yogi’s (not bears) and there are many many classes morning, noon and night.
Once again Bali delivered the goods, often dismissed by many in Australia due to bad press.. the only person missing out on avoiding Bali is you. It is a beautiful place, yes it is very touristy in places but if you are willing to head off the beaten track or explore a little out of the way, you can definitely find your own little paradise. The food, the people, the landscapes are all very inviting and the whole feel to the island is relaxing but addictive. I already want to plan another trip, if only there weren’t so many other destinations on my list I should visit (at least once) first.
Bali Travel Photographer
Planning your own Bali trip? Well hopefully I can share some valuable information on planning a Bali Holiday. We like mixing up the way we travel, so usually spend a fair bit of time planning in the lead up to the trip. There are some useful sites you can use for finding out prices on flights, such as Sky Scanner and Web Jet. Don’t forget that prices fluctuate as you look, if you use Google Incognito Mode it can be a great way to see the lowest price each time you search (as they don’t cache your results).
We totally love Air BNB and actually booked this whole Bali trip through it. There are other hotel websites, but if you are looking for Private Villas, Shared Villas or even rooms in Resorts at better prices than through their own websites.. we find it hard to look past it! Where did we stay? We stayed in the Lullaby Bungalows in Pedang Pedang, Private Villa in Canggu and this Private Villa in Lovina. For Ubud we had a lovely stay at the Kopi Katz Villa (who we found through Air BNB but booked through them).
Suta from Bali Bagus Tour has looked after us each time we have gone to Bali. I found him through my friends who traveled to Bali and he is the friendliest face you will ever meet. Every time he excitedly waves as you walk out the gates (more so than my parents when I return home from trips..) and asks a million and one questions about how we are going and tells me all about Bali and how it is changing. He can organise many things for you, we love to have Suta as our driver (or he will organise one for us) and they have taken us all around Bali.
In terms of where to visit? We like reading websites Bali Advisor, The Bali Bible and Trip Advisor to find some good things to see/do. We then use other apps like Instagram to find locations and good places to eat. We also use this amazing Map app called MAPS.ME which allows you to download maps and use them offline, which means you do not need Mobile Phone Reception (or Data) like you do with Google.
Our advice would be to find your own paradise in Bali. Avoid the central tourist hubs like Kuta/Seminyak/Legian and explore a little further out. That isn’t to say you cant head in and explore, but do not make it the base for your trip.
Bali is an amazing place and we hope some of these tips help you plan your own Bali holiday.