The Bali thing was love at first sight. A month in Bali, a month without packing and unpacking, a month shopping and cooking our way. A month of routine within a long trip, which sometimes is also necessary. I tell you my 20 reasons to fall in love with Bali, I ‘m sure you will also get caught.
Our Bali trip was not a ‘normal’ trip. We travelled in the middle of December, in the rainy season and just when the Agung Volcano was erupting. That has made Bali strangely empty. They told us that, usually, the traffic is usually a horror, that in Ubud there is no room for a pin, that the ascent to the Batur Volcano is usually done accompanied by a buzz of people. Our experience has been different, but regardless of when you travel to Bali, I am sure you will love it. These are the 20 reasons that have made me fall madly in love with this Indonesian island.
20 reasons to fall in love with Bali
1. The Balinese
Regardless of the time you go, the Balinese are a charm. In general, they are all quite friendly, smiling and helpful. If you take the taxi drivers yelling ‘taxi’ every time you pass, the street vendors who sometimes get a little heavy and the occasional biker, the rest are maximum love.
We stayed for a month in a house in Bali. The house was located in the backyard of a traditional Balinese house, so we have had a lot of relationship with the owner, his family and their traditions.
2. Their culture
Bali may live off tourism, but for the Balinese, the first thing is their religion and culture. Balinese Hindus have deep-rooted customs that pass from parents to children. They perform simple ceremonies daily and purification ceremonies and more complex ceremonies from time to time. Their weddings last three days, including various dresses and a visit to a traditional dentist to file their teeth with the bride and groom.
And this is just tiptoeing through some of its traditions. But if something seems truly authentic to me, it is that these islanders who have seen their land transformed by tourism continue to keep their beliefs intact. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons to fall in love with Bali.
3. Rice fields everywhere
Rice is the main protagonist of Balinese gastronomy and also of its landscapes. Rice terraces are found practically throughout the island and are also a tourist attraction.
Perhaps the best known (and also the most touristy) are those of Tegalalang . They are located 15 minutes north of Ubud and access to them is free. In the different accesses to the terraces you will find small booths where you can deposit a voluntary donation.
4. The swings
I don’t know the history of the swings in Bali. Or in Asia in general. Someone must have come a few years ago, put a swing on a beach or on a terrace, he became famous on Instagram and there they saw business. The case is that in Bali there are swings in many places. Even we had a swing in our house!
But if you want professional swings, you have to visit Bali Swings. It is the amusement park of the swings and with privileged views.
5. And the nests
Ojito also to the theme of love nests, which have become very fashionable in recent months and are the kings of social networks. In Bali Swings they have some. And at Wanagiri Hidden Hills they have another facility with more nests and swings. Wanagiri is further from Ubud and I do not know if there is an entrance fee.
If you travel to Bali, you can consider doing trip-drop. We personally got to know the IHF Bali, which offers after- school classes to children in rural areas. They work thanks to donations and have a very tight budget, so if you want, you can write to them in advance to find out if they need something and take it with them.
I have mixed feelings about surfing in Bali . Although this island has been an international benchmark for this sport since the 1970s, we did not enjoy it very much. In advance I anticipate that we are not experts in surf, far from it. We know the technique and try to put it into practice. We like sports and that is why we try to practice it where we can.
In Bali, it is important to take into account the tides. When the tide is high, there is practically no beach. The best time for inexperienced people like us is when the tide is rising.
In our particular case, the problem we encountered was that in order to catch waves we had to swim deep inside and there was enough depth, so we had the constant feeling of paddling without moving from the site. A very big effort to then catch (or not) a wave.
7. Traditional ceremonies and dances
I have already commented that one of the things that we liked the most about Bali is its culture. If you have the opportunity you have to go see a traditional dance show. We saw one of Kecak, a Balinese dance that began to be practised in the 1930s. It is starred by men , who sit in a circle around a leader. As they sing, they make movements with their torso and arms. The dance represents a battle between Rama (Indian God) and Rávana (demon).
From what they told us, this dance has been relegated to the tourist plane. Even so, in their celebrations, they maintain similar dances. We were able to attend one of these local ceremonies in which there were traditional music and dancing. The truth is that it was one of the best experiences of our month in Bali. We were the only tourists, they lent us clothes to visit the temple in the Balinese uniform and we sat down to enjoy its culture.
In Bali there are 1655 communities and each community has a minimum of 3 temples. In addition to the temples that are in each traditional Balinese house. Each temple has its celebrations, so imagine. Almost every day is a party somewhere.
8. Travel in low season
In December 2019 Bali has gone through a negative moment in terms of tourism. Not only for the low season but also because the Agung eruption has been added to it. And when it’s not erupting, it seems the risk is still there. This has caused many people to cancel their trips to Bali and choose other destinations.
But despite this, I have to say that for us this tourist hole was a gift . We have known Bali calmly, without haste, without stress, without people.
If you decide to travel to Bali in low season , you should know the following:
- It rains, yes. And one day you may screw up your plans.
- There are sunny days. And the sun burns like a devil
- Normally it dawns clear and after 2pm it starts to rain. So I recommend that you get up early and try to visit as much as you can in the morning.
Being an island so full of nature, waterfalls could not be missing. There are many, but we visited two.
- Tibumana: It is one of the best known, basically due to its proximity to Ubud. It takes half an hour on a motorcycle and upon entering they will ask you for a voluntary donation. The waterfall itself is not bad, but that day the water was very cloudy, so we decided not to swim.
- Kanto Lampo: of the two, our favorite. You pay a small amount when you enter but the truth is that the site is very good and there are guys working there who assist you at all times. As soon as they lend you a hand to climb the waterfall to take 20 photos. The fall of the water has eroded the rock in such a way that you can get on the waterfall and it is really fun.
10. Street markets
Another thing that abounds in Bali is the street markets. In Ubud, there are several, mainly oriented to tourism where haggling is the order of the day. Do not expect to find priced products. At least from our experience, they find it difficult to lower their prices and, when starting to negotiate, they start from high quantities.
For locals, selling something is a symbol of good luck , so sometimes you will see how they take the tickets and shake them saying that ‘good luck, good luck’.
Our favorite street market is in Sukawati. It is not very touristy -especially in the early morning- and is somewhat far from Ubud . It has much better prices and they have two areas, one dedicated to art and the other to fruit and vegetables. The truth is that if your intention is to buy enough souvenirs, I recommend you go there because it will pay off.
11. Cheap accommodation
Although we will dedicate a complete post to our accommodation in Bali, the truth is that the accommodation on the island is very well priced. For a villa in front of the rice fields we have paid around $ 500 on Airbnb but we saw much cheaper options on this platform and on Booking.
If you travel in low-cost mode and can do without certain ‘luxuries’ such as having a kitchen, you will find good bargains. But above all, Bali is fine for luxury for the same money that you would pay the night of pension or hostel.
12. The temples
The Bali temples deserve a separate chapter. And there are so many and so beautiful, that you would not finish them even if you lived all your life on the island. But there are more famous ones, either for their history or for their location.
To access the temples you must wear a sarong, a kind of sarong that covers the legs. It is used by both men and women . If you visit a temple and do not have a sarong, they can leave you one on loan for you to visit and return it when you leave. It is also common for Westerners to pay to visit the most touristy temples. The price is usually around Rupiah 15,000-30,000 ($ 2-5).
Of all the temples we visit my favorite is Uluwatu. It is the simplest but what makes it special is its location. Although it is in the southernmost point of the island, I recommend the excursion and stay a few days in the area to see the nearby beaches.
If you want to know the best temples in Bali, I recommend this article about the Islands of the Gods.
13. The adorable (and not so adorable) little monkeys
The Scholar always says that a place where there are monkeys earns many points just for the simple fact that there are monkeys. And they seem adorable to us except when they get aggressive. In Bali you have many opportunities to see monkeys in ‘freedom’. I say ‘freedom’ in quotes because they are monkeys that either feed them so that they are close to some areas and thus become a tourist attraction, or they are the ones who know that where there are humans there is food.
By losing their fear of humans, they get too close and can sometimes become aggressive. And you have to be careful: if a monkey bites you, you run the risk of transmitting rabies and having to go to the doctor to get vaccinated. Monkeys are wild animals that are better not to feed (and less with food that for them is not natural like candy, as we saw done on Mount Batur).
In many places they are so used to humans that they will climb on your back in search of your backpack, they will steal your glasses or flip flops. You really have to keep an eye on when they pose for you and you take a snapshot as adorable as this one 🙂
This may be our excuse to return to Bali because the island gave us so few sunsets that we can count them on the fingers of one hand. And it is that in the rainy season, it is normal that in the afternoon it is cloudy or a storm is falling.
Of course, the sunsets we saw … ❤
Vegetarians, vegans and eco projects
In Bali, there are many Yoga centres. In fact, there are many people who travel to Bali to do yoga courses. It is a practice that is usually closely related to healthy food, vegetarianism or veganism. For this reason, there are many restaurants, either 100% free of animal products, or with many options on their menus.
In addition, there are projects on the island such as the Green School or the Green Village. Although they are sustainable spaces where you educate and live in harmony with the environment, they are also quite elitist because not everyone can afford a bamboo house or attend this school.
Like all its neighbouring islands, Bali is also a volcanic island. Mount Batur and Agung are two active volcanoes and the latter has been erupting for much of the last quarter of 2017. Although this may be a reason not to travel to Bali, I recommend that you consult reliable sources before making a decision.
From the entire month, we were on the island of the Gods, the airport was closed for 3 days due to the ash cloud that came out of the Agung. But in no case were we swimming in lava, as some newspapers advertised. El Agung is located about 50km from Ubud and yes, there have been people displaced from their homes and their jobs within a 10km radius around the volcano. It is not a pleasant situation, but it is a way to prevent deaths if things get worse.
If you decide to travel while any of the volcanoes are erupting, make sure what your travel insurance covers and what doesn’t. If you bought the ticket before the volcano erupted and you have doubts, I tell you the same. It is important to know how far your policy coverage goes in these cases so that there will be no confusion later.
Being in Bali we chose to go up to the Batur to enjoy the sunrise from the top. Dawn dawn, what is called dawn did not dawn. Come on, we rather saw clouds and were cold. But we really enjoyed the climb and the experience.
17. Beautiful cafes
If there is anything leftover in Bali, it is the beautiful cafes. I would need a whole month just visiting cafes and restaurants because there are places that are very special. My favourite in terms of the balance between aesthetics and rich product, Folie.
18. Learn to ride a motorcycle
If someone told me before traveling to Bali that I was going to learn how to ride a motorcycle precisely on that island, I would have laughed in his face. Bali is reputed to be a place with horrendous traffic and it really is even with little tourism. The only law is that there is no law. Go ahead, go ahead, look in the rearview mirror a lot and try not to hit anyone.
But yes, I learned to ride a motorcycle in Bali and it has been an equally fantastic and stressful experience. I believe that after riding a motorcycle in Bali I can drive anywhere.
19. Street Art
If there is something that I did not expect in Bali it is the amount of street art that is in its streets. Especially in the beach area of Canggu and Seminyak, we discover great works of art. You already know that I am a big fan of street art and Bali also succeeds in that regard.
20. Typical gastronomy
Although in Bali you can find restaurants of all kinds, we also enjoy their typical dishes. Rice is the base of its gastronomy and is present in all facets of the Balinese. From the offerings to the dishes they cook.
In addition to being the main dish, rice is also cooked in a sweet way. We were able to try some of those more typical desserts with our local guide. We were waiting for the rain to subside and a street vendor came over and tried almost everything he had. In general, they are desserts made with rice, coconut milk and banana, wrapped in banana leaves. If you have the chance, try it!
The truth is that Bali is a place where you can be, you don’t have to do anything to make it special. You have been? Tell me what made you fall in love with the island of the Gods!