You think of Bali and you get this wonderful picture in your head, a picture right out of the glossy pages of magazines of breathtaking shores, of impressive rice terraces and orange trees, of imposing and astounding temples amidst the backdrop of brown mountains in the distance.
You think of Bali and you come up with a nice mental gallery of grandiose hotels by the sea, fancy restaurants, and adrenaline-pumped surfing.
It seems to be a place for the rich and famous. Maybe you aren’t that. It seems to be a place for the athletic and active sorts. Maybe you aren’t that either.
So what business does a young twenty-something like you, with no inkling for surfing and a highly limited budget, have in a place like Bali?
Everything, of course!
Bali, a small island province in Indonesia, is, as every bit of magical as they said it would be – thriving, colorful, and everything in between – and you don’t have to break your bank accounts or live off on cup noodles (think of your kidneys!) for months to enjoy the place.
Lounge in the Shores of Nusa Dua
If you prefer quiet secluded beaches without the dizzying swarm of tourists, Nusa Dua is the place for you. Nusa Dua is also the place where most of the luxury hotels are. Okay, so the hotels here may be way off our price range, but it doesn’t mean you don’t get to enjoy seeing them. Being surrounded by all those architectural masterpieces will definitely be a treat in itself but if the sight of those awe-inspiring buildings is not enough to wow you, the shore with its fine yellowish sand definitely will.
Rent a beach chair! A few minutes of strolling around and you’d come across a group of chairs they rent out to tourist who are not checked in to the hotels. We rented ours for Rp. 100,000 an hour (PHP 360; USD 8) and I just spent most of the morning with a good book basking under the Balinese sun, feeling all fancy and relaxed.
Visit the Temples
Most of Bali’s population practices Balinese Hinduism, a mixture of local beliefs and Hinduism, as opposed to the mostly-Muslim Indonesia. Theirs is a very interesting and rich culture and, learning a little more about it is definitely a plus when visiting Bali.
You might go and say, “Why visit different temples? They all probably look the same” but they’re more than just buildings of worship. There are different temples around Bali – Uluwatu Temple and Tanah Lot, to name some – that don’t just give you wonderfully pictures for keeps but also a better understanding of the Balinese Culture.
Join a Bike Tour
Ditch the expensive tours you see online and join a Bike Tour instead! Bali offers a good number of them. It’s not as expensive, it’s a better way to truly enjoy the Balinese landscape, and it’s good for you – what’s the downside to this?
I’ve been dying to try this out myself and was originally part of the plan when we came and visited Bali. Sadly, I broke my leg surfing and had to make do with a tour with a rented cab instead. Maybe next time, then? Despite that, I believe it’s a unique way to get around. Plus, I believe this is a great way to actually meet other people and interact with the locals. After all, that’s what traveling is all about! You’d just have to let me know if this was just as awesome as I’ve imagined.
Discover the Sensory Treat that is Ubud
Have I told you how totally in love I am with Ubud?
Out of all the wonders that Bali has to offer, Ubud remains my favorite. It may seem quaint at first with sprawling rice paddies green as far as your eyes can see, but stay a while and you’ll see that it’s a melting pot of modern and traditional culture and art.
Ubud houses a good number of art galleries that will definitely bring out the art enthusiast in you. Check out Ewa Gallery for tribal art and handcrafted jewelry from Papua New Guinea or Sika Gallery for contemporary Indonesian art. Ubud is definitely a treat for the eyes.
While your eyes are getting their fill, don’t forget to treat your taste buds as well and visit Ubud’s coffee and tea farms. This has got to be my favorite part of Ubud, being a coffee and tea lover myself. Sip coffee and tea samples and meet some new people amidst a spectacular Balinese countryside.
Before going to Bali, I believed that the five days we would spend there were more than enough. We didn’t have a really big budget to spend on hotels and spas (like the all the websites suggested we visit) and I’m not particularly coordinated enough for sports like surfing, which is another thing Bali is known for (like I said, I fractured my foot trying to surf in Kuta, Bali’s surfing haven, so I guess that’s proof enough there.) so I figured there wasn’t much for us to do in Bali.
I was completely wrong! There are tons of stuff to try, a million sights to see, and endless lessons to learn from the amazing Balinese people and this wonderful, wonderful place that is Bali.
So don’t think about how expensive Bali is going to be – it’s not. Don’t think of how limited your options are – it isn’t. Go and explore because Bali is as every bit as magical as they said – from the beaches and the picturesque landscapes, the local art and the rustic temples, and to its hospitable locals. Bali’s colorful culture will simply leave you in awe.