Finally home after my six months abroad so get ready for a bunch of travel posts! I’m trying to keep them in order but it turns out traveling with people 24/7 is not the most conducive to writing. Who knew? Anyway, let’s talk Bali.
On making it back to America, everyone asked, “So which place was your favorite?” And I have to say, although everywhere was incredible it had to be Bali.
Airbnbing our way around the island, it quickly became clear that this was more than just some tropical getaway. Especially once we got out of the party towns of Kuta and Semiyak, every where we turned was either some breathtaking old temple or natural wonder.
And if you’re lucky enough to ever go, here’s what I recommend.
1. Go snorkeling on the Gili Islands.
Technically in Lombok but a quick boat ride from Bali, everything about these islands is amazing. We stayed on Gili Trawagan which they call Happy Island for a reason. No cars allowed, the only way to get around is by bike or horse carriage. And while the main drag is lined with bars and clubs, if you go a little further out it’s all relaxing, ocean-side getaways.
Plus the snorkeling is amazing. For about $40 USD our tour guides took us to the three main snorkeling areas to see the reefs, turtles and even a sunken ship! And while we didn’t get a chance to explore Gili Meno (Honeymoon Island) or Gili Air (Family Island), if we ever make it back we will in a heartbeat.
2. See the sunset in Amed.
While the only reason we ended up spending two nights in Amed was for the cool house and to sail to Gili T., we’re so glad we did. Divers may know about it for the great sights offshore, but to most tourists Amed’s still a well-kept secret. And of all the incredible views and sunsets, seeing the sun go down over the bay from Waroeng Sunset Point was the most magical of all.
3. Relax in the mountains.
Honestly, we just got lucky when we booked this place. Who knew Sideman would be the perfect countryside town to kick back in? We were immediately struck by the lush landscape, and after swimming in the pool could not have been more at peace. Plus there’s a great restaurant on site. I don’t think we could have found a better AirBnb for our last night if we tried.
4. Get a massage (or five) for under $10.
Massages are so cheap in Bali. It’s honestly unfair. While not all massages you find are made equal, it is incredibly easy to find great ones for 1/5 of what you’d pay in the US. So take advantage, and take advantage a lot. I promise you won’t be sorry.
5. Cause some monkey business in the Monkey Forrest.
A classic tourist stop in Ubud, there really is something to being able to wander through a forest filled with monkeys. Everywhere you turn is a scene straight out of Animal Planet, and if you want you can even buy some bananas to feed the monkeys yourself! Not to mention there are tons of nice staff members around to help in case you get a little banana in your hair and a monkey insists on ripping it out.
6. Sleep in this bamboo house.
While it was a bit of a walk off the main road, The Leaf was one of the coolest places I’ll ever stay. Not only was this open air room a dream come true, but the complex had an infinity pool overlooking a rice paddy and great complimentary breakfast. It’s honestly a shame we only stayed one night.
7. Crash like kings at Villa Agung.
For less than $150 a night, you get this. A massive, three bedroom home with a pool, jacuzzi and padoga right on the ocean, you could not imagine a more perfect place to stay. All the swimming, in-home massages, kayaking and SUPing kept us busy. Sure, there was a good amount of construction nearby but when you have a space like this, who cares?
Oh and the complimentary breakfast was amazing.
8. Spend an afternoon at Dreamland Beach.
A great tip from our driver Dennis (because private drivers are just as cheap as renting a car and 1,000x easier), this beach was way less crowded than the others in the area and even more beautiful. In between temples and other sight-seeing, it was a welcome break and we could easily have spent a few days there.
9. Turn up at Sky Garden.
While going out in Kuta isn’t for everyone, Sky Garden is a sight to be seen. A multi-level complex with 5+ clubs, bars and food, if you’re looking to party in Bali this place is a must. The whole street it’s on is filled with bars and clubs, but while those may empty out during the week there’s always something going on at Sky Garden.
10. Eat everything.
Okay maybe not everything, but definitely try as much local cuisine as possible! The food is so good, so fresh, and so cheap you’ll find it hard to say no. While we enjoyed picking out places on our own, our driver took us to a few touristy ones since some areas were pretty rural and even those were great.
And if have any questions or recommendations from your own trip, please leave them in the comments!