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Bali Island, Complete Guide - Eat Pray Love & Nasi Goreng.

Updated: May 30


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Pura Agung, Bali


"Bali is more than a place… it's a mood, it's magical.

It's a tropical state of mind."



This is the one island that everyone seems to know about, making it so inevitable no matter how overrated tourism in Bali is. With such charm and contrast, Bali is one of its kind. The island has been such an enigma to many travelers, that over-done incantation banging hard on everyone's bucket list every time. An initial plan to travel for a few days quickly turns into weeks and eventually months, if not careful. (why not?)




Also known as the Land of the Gods, Bali captivates everyone's interest through its absolute Balinese culture and wondrous natural beauty. Marvel through the looming volcanoes, lush green terraced paddy fields, dramatic cliff drops, amazing beaches, and thousands of idyllic temples, adding so much complexity and character to the island.


A friend once told me, "Bali possesses a unique scent, hard to describe, but definitely something that you will remember when you arrive home."

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The internet has brought new excitement to tourism in Bali along with the extravagant Hollywood fame from Eat, Pray, and Love. The island's picturesque beauty remains prominent on social media, alluring old and newcomers every now and then. Today, Bali is one of the digital nomad's hubs, a perfect working space inspired by creative minds.



Bali is no small in size, there are so many things to see but so little time. To get to know the island better, you need to understand each location to match your itinerary.




I had dreamed of visiting Bali for many years.
-Carolyn Murphy


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When it comes to things to do in Bali, your holiday can be filled with so many excitements, adventure, culture, culinary, and spiritual. The sensational beaches of Kuta, Nusa Dua, and Seminyak offer hours of swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, while the epicenter of Balinese culture, Ubud, is known for its picturesque view, traditional crafts, and dance and ceremonies.




 

Denpasar



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Photo by Leonanta Kusuma

Often breeze passes by travelers in favor of beaches and highlands, Denpasar is Bali's capital city. Being the first glimpse of the idyllic tropical island if you happen to enter from Ngurah Rai International Airport.


Succeeding Singaraja's former capital in 1958, Denpasar's city has seen tremendous growth in economy and development ever since.


For the record, Denpasar is also the place where the famous Bali Arts Festival is held annually. Perhaps not as famous as its neighbors like Kuta and Legian, you can find several historical, traditional, and religious treasures here. There are a few museums and monuments from the Dutch colonial period and several temples worth visiting.




Good to Know.

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The airport in Bali is the namesake of a Nationalist. I Gusti Ngurah Rai was an Indonesian National Hero who commanded Indonesian forces against the Dutch during the War of Independence. Today, they printed his face on the new denomination of 50k IDR.




 


Tanah Lot

Bali's iconic sea temple


An epitome of a unique Balinese culture and beliefs. Tanah Lot translated as Land in The Sea, suggesting its perfect location for its iconic offshore settings. The unusual epic looking contour of the rock formation making Pura Tanah Lot is one of the highlights of iconic temples in Bali.


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Tanah Lot pays homage to the sea's guardian spirits, and it's also among Bali's key sea temples. Imagine a temple set high on a large piece of rock, facing the endless ocean, while the waves continually crashing right below. The sunset intensifies the backdrop with an orange teal filter that creates an epic silhouette of Bali's postcard images.




 


Kuta, Legian and Seminyak

Bali's beaches, boardwalks, and nightlife hubs



Bali's nightlife scenes are mostly focused around these locations, mainly Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak, feeding to a wide range of crowds, style, and budgets. The unlimited selection of bars and nightclubs around this trio is always ready for the late-night revelers. During the day, these three closely-knit areas offer extended hours of vitamin sea to beachgoers; swimming, surfing, and sunbathing are some of the typical daily activities made up by tourists.



Seminyak


Seminyak is known for its chic, high end and luxury beach resort atmosphere. This is the place to splurge on vacation as it's home to some of the most expensive resorts in the whole of Bali. With an endless list of choices along the streets, it's not hard to find yourself in one of those fine dining restaurants and fancy boutiques.


Jalan Petitenget and Jalan Kayu Aya are the two famous locations in Seminyak that offer a more secluded feel than the busy Kuta and Legian. If you have what it takes, spend a day in an expansive beach club, get a glass or two of those fancy drinks and end the day with a bang over a sunset.


Kuta


A former fishing village was one of Bali's first towns to witness substantial growth in the tourism industry. Known for its long stretch sandy beach, great waves for surfing, and party culture among young travelers.


Kuta is busy with day-trippers. You probably heard many infamous stories about this area in Bali. Well, Kuta is not that bad, if you come with the right mind. It's just hectic full of tourists with too many things going on simultaneously—a complete contrast of everything serenity you are expecting from Ubud.


Legian


Not very far from Kuta is Legian, another coastal town with an almost identical feel and vibe. You won't notice any significant difference between these two places. In some ways, Legian is more laid back and less intense in terms of crowds and activities. You can find your sweet spot here without having to sacrifice too many personal preferences.


 

Canggu


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Canggu is Bali's reigning surfers haven lies in between Seminyak and Tanah Lot. Once a sleepy coastal village turns into a trendy tourist hotspot on the south coast of the island. The coastline has several black sand beaches stretching from Batu Bolong to Echo Beach packed with colorful beachfront bars and restaurants, creating a magical view from a drone high.


Inland Canggu offers a scenic view of rice fields that are close to leisure villas and fancy resorts. Home to many expatriates, There are plenty of surf camps, clubs and bars, alternative restaurants, and retails outlets.







Uluwatu

A dramatic temple high on a cliff


Gazetted as one of Bali's most significant sea temples, Pura Luhur Uluwatu sat perfectly on a cliff edge about 70 meters tall facing the wide-open sea creating such a dramatic backdrop. Ulu means the 'top' or the 'tip,' and watu is 'stone' or 'rock' in Balinese.


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Uluwatu is undoubtedly one of Bali's top lookout points. During the day, catch the picturesque seascape from the cliff edge and occasionally watch the playful grey long-tailed macaques that inhabit the forests nearby.



Photo by Mauro Fabio | Khamkéo Vilaysing


By the afternoon, marvel at the beautiful sunset from one of the viewpoints. After a few pictures, walk to the open-air-theatre, settle yourself in a nice spot, and get ready to be thrilled by the breathtaking Kecak fire dance's performance.





Nusa Islands

Nusa penida, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan


The Nusa Islands constitute a cluster of three sister islands. Nusa Penida is the largest, Nusa Lembongan is the closest to mainland Bali, and the smallest is Nusa Ceningan. The trio islands are just 30 minutes away from Sanur by speedboat. There are still pieces of unspoiled nature that worth seeing, have not been exploited much by tourism. Experience the laid-back ambiance with somewhat rustic Bali Vibes here before the era of Eat Pray Love.



Nusa Penida: Kelingking beach | Broken Beach | Angel's Billabong

Photo by Alec Favale | Kilarov Zaneit | Ankhurr Chawaak on Unspalsh



Nusa Ceningan Blue Lagoon | Nusa Lembongan Diving Trip by

Photo by Catchingtravels | Marvin Mayer


Being famous for great surfing waves, remarkable sunsets, epic viewpoints, underwater activities such as diving and snorkeling, and whatnot. There are plenty of spaces for adventures and explorations away from the busy Bali.


 


Ubud

Heart of Bali


One of those places where a holiday for a few days can quickly turn into weeks, months passing by without any short notice. Ubud will never let that piling itinerary go unintended, little that you know you will be running out of time, even trying hard to squeeze all the plans in one day, soon to realize the holiday is ending. The idyllic Ubud is a never-ending enigma to many frequent travelers.



Photo by Sergio Camalinch | Pier Francesco on Unsplash


The name Ubud originated from the word Ubad (medicine) in Balinese. Reckoned as a healing land to whoever is seeking, Ubud is the perfect place to be.


Ubud is the beating heart of Balinese Culture, the place where traditional Balinese culture inspires every waking moment.


Amplify the senses with the smell of burning incense, adore the colorful offerings on the streets while slowly hypnotized by the mesmeric sounds of degung gamelan, an ever-present soundtrack of Bali.


Inspired by vibrant green paddy terraces, mountains, and strong culture, these are few things you can do in Ubud.




Tegallalang Paddy Terraces


You might notice these lush green panoramas from many social media posts hashtagging #Bali #tegallalang. The paddy terraces of Tegallalang offer one of the most memorable scenery you can capture while up in Ubud. Don't just admire the view from above. Take some time to stroll through the paddy field, meet the farmers, and enjoy the landscape up-close.


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The view of Tegalallang in Ubud

There are stalls and art shops offering items and trinkets of all kinds on the road sideways, together with small Warung offering lunch or dinner complete with a view of the lush green valley.






Ubud Monkey Forest


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photo by Radoslav on Unsplash

Considered as one of Bali's sacred places, Ubud Monkey Forest is a natural woodland sanctuary home to long-tailed macaques. Just a stone's throw away, the forest is within walking distance from Ubud center.


Spend some time here to watch the playful and cheeky monkeys swinging through canopies in their natural habitat or simply getting some fresh air in the forest.


Savor the slow phase of Ubud surrounded by lush remnants of an ancient forest. Be careful with any dangling items you are carrying, as this mischievous cutie will grab it without mercy.






Ubud Art Market



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One of the landmarks in central Ubud, just next to the Ubud Royal Palace road. The market has countless small shops run by local vendors who sell a wide range of crafts and items such as silk scarves, batik, printed shirts, handmade woven bags, baskets, ornaments, trinkets, and many other locally produced products.




Pura Tirta Empul


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This is the place to experience the spiritual Bali. Tirta Empul translated as "holy spring water," is a sacred water temple near the town of Tampaksiring. The main attraction here is the long rectangular bath area carved with 13 sacred fountains. Purposely visited for purification rituals, worshippers first make an offering at the temple and then get into the pool from the left-hand side. Do all the fountains one by one, but skip fountain 11 and 12 as it reserves for rituals relating to the dead, continue to fountain 13, and it's done.


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Temples Guide

 

Like in any Balinese temple, always dress modestly and respectfully. Pack a Sarong or borrow one from the entrance. Women during their period are prohibited from entering the sacred sites. If you insist on getting into the spring water pool, ask around, the temple keeper will be happy to assist you.

 



Kintamani - Mount Batur

Hiking at Mount Batur, an active volcano


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Kintamani is a mountain village in central Bali that's home to an active volcano Mount Batur, the second tallest peak in Bali, after Mount Agung. Standing 1717 tall above the sea, it's a famous peak among mountain hikers and adventure seekers.






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Photo by Esse Chua on Unsplash

Sunrise hiking offers an unforgettable experience for many travelers. The trails are just challenging enough to make your muscles scream for a few hours, but then, before it gets unbearable, you can imagine reaching up the top.


Relish the moment as the first light unravels in front of your eyes, calm your senses and get ready to be thrilled by the legendary epic view.




Karangasem - Pura Agung Lempuyang

The Gates of Heaven



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Picture by Aron Visual

The most iconic temple in Bali gate-facing the majestic view of Mount Agung. Pura Lempuyang Luhur Temple is one of the oldest and most remote temples on the island. At 1,175 meters above sea level, the temple is at the peak of namesake Mount Lempuyang in East Bali.


The first thing to notice upon entering the temple is the towering dragon staircases leading to the most Instagram-worthy viewpoint, the perfect picturesque postcard of Bali.

 



What to Expect from Bali



Bali can be everything you want it to be. Take your time to blend in and get lost in its wonders. Soak the vitamin sea, rejuvenate as often. Go slow or fast; follow your own phase. There is no point getting all those bucket lists ticked if you are going home feeling exhausted instead of being occupied.


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Whatever your expectation and desires, don't set it sky-high. Bali is the perfect destination, but in some ways, it is just another tourist playground. Having never been straightforward in unveiling its wonders, Bali is complex, unpredictable, and full of surprise; some people may like it, and others will skip for good. Don't let the harsh realities affecting your travel, create your own space, and find that little something of Bali in you.


See you in the next one! Terima Kasih :)

 

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