What to do in Bali in 8 days
Without doubt Bali is one of the most romantic paradises I’ve ever visited with good reason it’s called “The Island of the Gods”. It was out first (and only) trip as a couple after the birth of Africa, so having tested our parenting skills, it was time for a second honeymoon. We were not disappointed the beautiful temples, rich green rice terraces, infinity pools, floral decoration helped create an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity in which we could lose ourselves… or at least that’s what we did
Interesting Fact:Bali knew a thing or two about confinement before Covid darkened our lives. The Balinese celebrate the New year (Hari Raya Nyepi) in strict confinement for 24 hours which are dedicated to fasting, prayers and meditation. During this time no one can do anything else such as turn the lights on, cook, work, sports or even leave the house! And be warned this applies to everyone including tourists and enforced by the police.
Info general about visiting Bali:
Having off loaded Africa with her grandparents we wanted to make the most of the child free holiday making the odd mix of part diving holiday and part romantic getaway. We spent 8 days on the island, the first 4 days in Canidadasa diving and visiting temples and the last 4 days split between exploring the city of Ubud and relaxing in luxury in the rice terraces of Tegallalang in a villa with private pool.
One week or 10 days is long enough to discover the most interesting on Bali, you’d need more if you want to discover the Islands (4 in total). Being relatively cheap we spoilt ourselves a bit on the sort of luxury hotels that would break the budget on other trips. It’s a lively place to visit with plenty of young tourists from all over enjoying the mix of culture, countryside and adventure sports on offer. Apart from diving, which we did, you can trek on the volcano, snorkel, surf, rafting or relax a bit with meditation and yoga courses. We (or rather I) organised the trip ourselves and it resulted easy enough, if you avoid the high season or if you don’t want a specific hotel you can go booking places as you go without too much stress (or at least before COVID you could).
Day 1: Flight Madrid- Ngurah Rai (Bali).
Day 2: Diving in Candidasa and temple tours in the afternoon.
Day 3: Wreck dive in Tulamben.
Day 4: Diving in Nusa Penida.
Day 5: Road trip Candidasa to Ubud and temples in the afternoon.
Day 6 & 7: Visit to Ubud.
Day 8 & 9: Chilling out in the rice fields of Tegallalang.
Day 10: Flight back to Madrid
Scuba diving in Candidasa
We stayed at Benthos Bali Dive Resort, a diving club with its own hotel. Behind the club house is a wonderful swimming pool with a handful of small bungalows that provide the accommodation and a bar to help keep the diving stories flowing. The attention by the team working there was excellent from beginning to end, special thanks to Vera, who put up with my thousands of email questions. With their help I was able to choose the best dive sites for us and they even helped us decide on the afternoon trips. We were joined by a super bunch of people that added to the great experience we had here, can’t recommend them enough. And the icing on the cake was catching a glimpse of the famous Mola Mola (giant Sunfish).
Our dive sites were:
Candidasa: 1km offshore from the Benthos resort this is where we saw the Mola Mola.
Tulamben: This site to the north of the island is where can dive one of the most accessible wrecks ,the US Liberty found just 30m from the beach in 5 to 28m depths. Be warned this accessibility means it can get very crowded.
Nusa Penida: Manta point lived up to its name with huge number of manta rays at the cleaning station, also lived up to its reputation in terms of water temperature… 10degrees colder than nearby sites! Also had a great drift dive here.
Pay attention to the blog and in the future, I’ll write a post in more detail about diving in Bali.
What to do in Candidasa?
We relaxed in the evenings after the dives and explored the following to the north of Candidasa.
Temple Taman Ujung: This palace is an architectural case study of Balinese architecture recontructed after eruption of Mt. Agung in 1963 and again in 1979 because of an earthquake.
Temple Tirta Gangga: antiguo palacio real, también reconstruido tras la erupción del volcán y un terremoto. Former royal palace that was also reconstructed after being hit by the same siesmic events as Tirta Gangga.
White Sand Beach: The only White sand beach on the island, the rest are all black thanks to the volcano.
And to the south of Candidasa:
Coffee plantation at Kopi Luwak supposedly the most expensive in the world. (I’d recommend being selective in choosing a plantation visit assuring that guarantee the correct treatment of the animals).
You can also visit the Temple of the bats Goa Lawah, the ancient palace Kertha Gosa, o some of the traditional hamlets of the island of Tenganan.
Candidasa, whislt being small, has plenty of bars and restaurants to cater for your needs, even live music once the sun has set.
What to do in Ubud?
Near Ubud :
The city of Ubud:
In addition to enjoying the atmosphere of Ubud, the hustle and bustle, the terraces, its architecture and simply strolling through its streets, there are many other things you can do. We took it easy.
We visited the Monkey Forest, aka Sacred Monkey Sanctuary which is practically in the centre of Ubud. It’s a curious place to visit and not something you’d expect to find in a city centre, although the real spectacle was to see how far human stupidity goes, we weren’t disappointed. We were only there for a couple of hours and despite all the signs advising about «basic rules and respect» and common sense towards animals such as: do not feed them, do not eat near or in front of them, do not take anything from your backpack because if they see something interesting they are capable of opening it by themselves in a flash, of course don’t touch or store directly at them. So, tourist number one enters the park and takes a banana from her bag (it had to be a banana!). Needless to say, the banana lasted 5 seconds in her hand before being expertly removed. Tourist number 2 enters park and takes hand sanitizer from her bag, 5seconds later monkey is drinking. Next up a girl playing with a monkey until the monkey decides it would quite like to keep her and Bingo screaming angry monkey and screaming scratched tourist.
We also strolled along the Campuhan Ridge Walk that takes you through the rice fields in the suburbs of Ubud. Its worth it if you fancy stretching your legs or if you’re not planning on visiting Tegallang, if you are then you can give this a miss.
One evening we enjoyed the traditional dance show of Fire Kecak en the palace of Ubud, very touristy but enjoyable no the less.
What to do in Tegallalang?
Whilst many prefer doing a day trip from Ubud to visit the rice fields of Tegallalang, we decided to treat ourselves and reserved a luxury villa with private pool to ensure we returned to Spain thoroughly relaxed.
Visit to the rice fields: We did the typical visit to the Tegallalang rice fields, but we were lucky to find an alternative entrance to see them and we were practically alone in the valley. When we looked at the next valley where all the tourists are, it seemed like a bit of a circus to be honest. Giant swings with the girls taking photos for Instagram (basically lol), in their long dresses rented for the occasion, people riding sky bikes and crossing the valley on cables hung a few feet above the ground, couples posing for the photo on the typical Balinese nest-shaped swing, dozens of tourists walking through the rice paddies and queuing at every turn…. At that point we turned around and headed back to our «quiet valley».
In the rice fields I recommend first that you get away from the busiest area to really enjoy the walk, and second that you look carefully where you step because I started to greet a local lady and when I turned around, I had stuck my leg up to the knee in the mud, yes, the woman laughed at me for a long time as fished around for my sandal hahaha.
Bike ride in Sebatu: relax and sunset: As a farewell to the trip, the last day we relaxed in our villa, in the afternoon we went for a bike ride through Sebatu where we passed through several small temples and several small towns, whilst nothing like the big temples the ride gave us a far more interesting view into the life in the small villages and a chance to escape the tourist route. Sunset drinks followed by a farewell dinner sat over the rice terraces to end our romantic trip to Bali.
If you´re not a fan of temples you´ve definitely come to the wrong place, there are over 10.000 temples on the island so foret about seeing them all.
The islands roads aren´t up to much when the traffic volume builds. Our drive from the airport to the dive centre was supposed to be an hour and a quarter, we took over 3 hours to arrive by which time we were hungry and grumpy, so be prepared with water and snacks.
Get off the beaten track: Bali has some beautiful spots and has attracted a lot of «instagramer» tourism. Nowhere have I seen the madness of waiting hours (literally hours) to take a photo in that famous spot or between some doors of a well-known temple, and on top of that you have to pay!!!! We steered well clear and always found our own spots to enjoy.
Don’t try to cover everything in one week. Better to choose three or four places to see and enjoy them, soak up that slow travel movement and don´t rush.
As I have already told you, in Tegallalang enter the valley from lower down and you´ll be surprise by beautiful rich rice terraces (careful they are seasonal) and a near absence of tourists.
At some point during the trip, take advantage of the good value for money that the island offers you and treat yourself to a charming hotel, relax and enjoy on the Island of the Gods.
Check if your trip coincides with the Balinese New Year, because as mentioned, you will not be able to leave the hotel or your accommodation for 24 hours, this year it will be from March 3 to 4 and in 2023 from March 22 to 23
Flight- Madrid to Den Pasar with stopover in HongKong with Cathay €750 pp.
Where to sleep in Ubud: Hotel Pertiwi Bisma 2, spacious and clean room and very nice pool areas. Its on the out skirts of the city centre taking about 15-20minutes to hit the main drag, but very peaceful.
Where to sleep in Tegallalan: this is where we stayed at Nau Villas Ubud in a villa with a private pool, in a tiny hotel with a few villas on the outskirts of Tegallalang. The villas are phenomenal, with their mini pool and small garden. Typical honeymooners’ location. They have a restaurant with a few tables by the rice fields with spectacular views. We were practically alone every morning having breakfast at our favourite table on the terrace. They have yoga and cooking classes and organised free bike hire bikes (Don´t expect anything tour de France Mike ended up on the neighbours’ bike). All the staff were very friendly and helpful, and all that at an incredible price
Best time to visit Bali?
The best time to visit is in the dry season that runs from April to October, with July and August being the high season when prices are at their highest. That leave the wet season and it usually rains more in January and February with high temperatures and a lot of humidity (yes, mosquitoes too), although of course, prices are cheaper.
I hope you liked our trip to Bali, if you want a romantic trip, the Island of the Gods is an ideal destination, but if you travel with the family it is also a good option because Bali is a very laid back place, easy to navigate and that can be enjoyed a lot with children.
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Thank you very much and see you at the next destination!