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For a peaceful venture away where an entire island feels like one large spa resort, Bali is the perfect place to go. I would urge anyone to travel to this beautiful location; it must be said, there is a reason why everybody is going and it’s because the island is paradise. You can tell from their historical temples that the Balinese know how to create little oasis’ which are achieved so perfectly within their hotels, many inspired by Indonesian culture and design. The island is small but there are many areas to visit, with local, cultural and authentic experiences and, also, the ever-growing tourism culture brought into the island that has produced a, separate, whole new vibe.
My own stay in Bali was during a jam-packed 6-week travel around Asia with my boyfriend. I stayed in Ubud for 4 nights and in an Airbnb north of the island for 4 nights as well. I loved changing it up a tiny bit and experiencing the different areas, even just the drive between the two regions was super interesting, we went through many little villages and saw a lot of the beautiful green countryside and rice paddies.
Whilst in Ubud, we stayed at one of the most tranquil hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure to stay in, Puri Gangga Resort. Compared to a lot of hotels in the area, this hotel is astonishingly well priced for what you get. We treated ourselves to an upgrade of a room with our own little infinity pool that looked out onto some luscious green rice fields and forest.
After a manic few weeks of travelling around Asia, this room was an idyllic place to enjoy our own company and unwind. The little perks at this resort are worth mentioning also; now I know that there is no shower quite as refreshing as an outdoor shower and I’m sad not every dinnertime meal comes with a tasty, Indonesian amuse-bouche (a free little pre-dinner taster that chefs make in restaurants). All the employees were Balinese locals and were extremely attentive and friendly. We were even given little gifts when we were checking out.
Having a staycation all in the same resort was made pretty easy as the unforgettable restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and dinner never became boring. In the morning and at lunch-time it was a lovely place to head to and enjoy views of the countryside over a portion of dragon fruit, bananas and melon, or maybe some yummy little pancakes, and at dinner it was transformed into the most romantic little place. With candles, flattering lighting and a lovely, new table setting, the atmosphere completely changed from somewhere to grab a refreshing and casual bite, to a relaxing, glorious dinner date. The restaurant served Western, Asian and, more specifically, Indonesian food that fully introduced me to amazing dishes like Chicken satay which has since been unmatched.
Just around the corner, within a two-minute walk, is a Hindu water temple, Gunung Kawi Sebatu. It’s a stunning little oasis located in a dip in the land and surrounded by three stonewalls and the fourth by a steep forested slope. The small temple complex is built on a natural spring, which flows into a succession of ponds and pools. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu, who is said to rule over water and is a stunning piece of art.
You can buy fish food here to sit and feed to koi fish and enjoy the peaceful surroundings and a little bit of Balinese history. It was lovely to be able to pop in here and not have to spend time travelling too far out to experience something so cultural.
The Ubud rice paddies were also just a short car journey away. I loved it; this is a really fun trip out of the hotel. It is busy but worth it and everyone there is having fun navigating along the paddy’s and taking photos of Bali’s unique palm tree and rice paddy views. This is quite a famous spot where most people travel to in the aim of taking some very scenic photos. There’s also lots of little gift shops along the road opposite too if you are looking for a sweet souvenir.
Next, was our beach villa north of the island. The north of the island is well known for its luxurious villas that sit on empty, beautiful beaches. Again, in comparison to the same sort of villas you get in a European country these are cheap, especially considering they also have staff there especially for your villa! At Beachvilla Sungai Raja, a villa that has now earned Airbnb Plus status on Airbnb, we had our own pool, a beautiful garden and undisrupted views directly of the beach and sea which only looked better at sunset. Here, you’re able to get massages on your own balcony, cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner and your own driver if you wanted a day trip.
A major Balinese festival, Galungan was happening whilst we were here, this meant there were plenty of things to see and Balinese people were out in full force visiting family. The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjor, which are decorative bamboo poles that line the streets, with offerings hung at the end, embellishing the villages with colourful adornments.
This also meant that we had to stock up a little bit and cook for ourselves when this was happening, as we were in a much less touristy, and more local neighbourhood and, of course, the staff at the villa wanted to be with their families. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to intrude on people’s festivities anyway, we were the visitors! It was a pleasure and privilege to see a very local part of the culture and to be able to relax in our villa during the day anyway and cooking for ourselves was lovely. Also, going to the supermarket in the local town to grab ingredients for dinner was such a fun experience in itself.
This was booked in my early days of travelling outside of Europe, so I’d like to say I’ve learnt since then to do my research on local national holidays. I know hotels and a lot of places will work through them, and sometimes it can be unavoidable, but for the sake of not intruding it is definitely worth a little bit of research before you go.
Anyone who loves a beach holiday knows the schedule: get out of bed, lay in the sun, eat, drink, have a swim, watch the sunset, play some games, go to bed happy. There’s not much more to say! Bali definitely takes the cake when it comes to this though, it is a whole new kind of beach vacation, especially if you make the effort to get to know the local culture, shop and eat at local places and learn about the country/island you’re in.