Not everyone who goes to Bali has a bad experience, some people love it for what it is and we must respect that, however friends who recently went were also not impressed and similarly to us have scratched Bali from their vacation list. However if you are still planning to visit the tiny Indonesian Island, here are a few things that you will enjoy no matter what.
- A trip to Bali isn't complete until you have been massaged for an hour by one of at least a thousand masseurs; try the traditional Balinese Massage for R70. Yes, it's that cheap. Expect to get pampered with coconut oil and sweetly aromatic essential oils. The experience is very relaxing and definitely worth your time. While you there get one everyday because they are so cheap!
- If you enjoy strong alcoholic beverages you have to try Arak, this is a traditional Balinese liquor that is commonly enjoyed among locals and served at most bars around the island. It tastes pretty similar to moonshine alcohol. It is best enjoyed with some of the locals. Be prepared to get completely hammered, as its alcohol content is about 50% proof, so it's stronger than your average vodka or rum. In many religious ceremonies around Bali, people enjoy drinking arak with their friends and family. It's super cheap, and local, so give it a try!
- Learn to Surf in Kuta - the waves are small and Kuta is considered one the hotspots for surf novices. The beaches are usually packed with Australian and European tourists who are on holiday, but nonetheless, it is still fun!
- Rent a scooter and explore the island. It is the fastest and the cheapest form of transport and the best way to see the island. It will take you a couple of days to do it properly so make sure you give yourself at least three to five days to explore the island.
- See the Tanah Lot Temple, which is probably the most famous temple in Bali. This rock formation has emerged as a Balinese cultural icon. It was built in the 16th century as a place to worship the Balinese Sea Gods. The temple itself sits on a crazy rock that has been formed over centuries by the ocean currents. When you visit this temple, you must try to do it at sunset! You can get some incredible pictures of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean with the astounding Tanah Lot Temple in front. Be aware that there is an entry fee to visit the temple, and men and women must wear a sarong.
- Hike Mt. Batur Volcano for sunrise, hiking Mt. Batur for sunrise is something really worth doing. This active volcano is one of the highest in Bali, and it is located about 1 hour drive north of Ubud. Get picked up at 2am and begin the hike around 3:30 when it is pitch black outside. The hike takes about 1.5 hours up, and it's an easy walk, you don't have to be terribly fit to enjoy it. It gets a bit more difficult towards the top, when you are literally walking on black volcanic ash-sand. The views from the top are out of this world as the sun is rising in the distance. Seriously, if you do one thing in Bali, you must hike this volcano!
- Visit the Tegalalang Rice Fields in Ubud - They are only 15 minutes drive from the centre of the city. Imagine luscious green rice fields, with beautiful palm trees inside. The shape of the fields are even more amazing, because it's perfectly organized almost like symmetrical. You can take a walk down inside the thick of the fields, and see locals working and farming around. The entire area is spectacular; you will be amazed at their natural beauty.
There is so much to do and the nightlife is incredibly vibey with hookah bars and night clubs all over the party districts of Seminyak and Kuta. Visiting the nearby islands for a day trip will include activities like surfing, snorkelling, diving, deep sea fishing and then there is always the chance to drink Champaign in the shade of your beach umbrella.
The time to go is now, the mystical enchantment that is intrinsic to Balinese life is slowly dwindling away and will not last forever so make those travel plans and get the last glimpse of a truly magnificent culture. Go now.