One of the best parts of being based in Jakarta, Indonesia, is having the luxury to jet off to Bali whenever I want. Since I moved to Jakarta a year ago, I’ve been able to visit Bali a handful of times and one of the things that I love the most about Bali is that I’m always discovering new and amazing places each time I visit. Bali might be a tiny island, but it is packed with beautiful and unique places to visit. For anyone who is planning a trip to Bali (or just dreaming about one) the following list shows the must-see spots you do not want to miss in Bali.
Visiting Bali’s Cultural Center, Ubud
Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali and a visit to Ubud is a must for anyone who wants to get up close and personal with Balinese culture. Ubud is chock full of ornate temples, local markets and art galleries. In the past few decades Ubud has also become a haven for health-conscious, peace-loving expats. The city is bursting with great yoga studios and trendy vegan eateries so if healthy living is your thing then I highly suggest taking a class at the popular Yoga Barn. Afterwards, head to Alchemy – Ubud’s most popular vegan restaurant – for a natural juice and light lunch.
One of my favorite day trips from Ubud is a visit to the nearby Tegalalang Rice Terraces. I highly suggest visiting in the early-morning hours when the terraces glow in the golden sun. You’ll also beat the brutal midday sun and the crowds. Afterwards head right down the road to BAS Bali Coffee Plantation, where it’s possible to get a free tasting of exotic coffees and teas – think mangosteen tea and white chocolate coffee. A sample of the world-famous luwak coffee is also a must.
Exploring the Bukit Peninsula & Uluwatu Temple
The Bukit Peninsula is located on the southernmost tip of Bali and a mere 30-minute drive from the infamous Kuta Beach; it is dotted with high-end resorts, tranquil beaches and stunning vistas. Even if you’re not staying on the peninsula, a day trip to this area is a must. Uluwatu Temple is probably the most well-known cultural site in the area–the picturesque 11th century temple is perched right on the edge of a 70-meter cliff offering up an unreal setting and vista. Another perk of visiting is that the grounds are teaming with wily monkeys (and yes, they will jump on you!).
After getting your culture fix at Uluwatu, head over to Suluban Beach for a Bintang (Indonesia’s national beer). Suluban is a popular surf spot and it’s about as mellow as it gets. Even if you don’t surf, the view is stunning and there are loads of cute cafés lining the bluff. Suluban isn’t a great swimming beach, so if you’re jonesing for some beach time, I suggest visiting Balangan Beach, which is arguably one of Bali’s best beaches.
The Next Big Thing in Bali: Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan is the next big thing in Bali; it’s actually a tiny island off of the mainland. Because it only takes 30 minutes to reach the island, it is becoming increasingly popular among backpackers and divers. My favorite thing about staying on Nusa Lembongan are the deluxe beach bungalows that are peppered around the island; there are a plethora of budget-friendly, two-story bungalows around town. The best way to see the sites is to rent a motorbike. The island is full of dramatic cliffs, breathtaking vistas and Balinese villages. There are some world-class snorkeling and diving sites in the area, as well as a handful of surf spots, and if you’re feeling really adventurous head over to Nusa Ceningan for some cliff jumping action at Blue Lagoon.
Finding Paradise at Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is truly a hidden gem and is by far my favorite place in Bali. It is an unspoiled paradise and it’s about as authentic as Bali gets. This is another Balinese island and it’s located a stone’s throw from Nusa Lembongan. Despite its close proximity to up-and-coming Lembongan, very few travelers ever venture to Nusa Penida – and that is exactly the reason why Nusa Penida is so special.
Since there are so few visitors to the island the only way to see the sights is to rent your own scooter. Riding around the island you’ll glimpse traditional Balinese villages and massive bluffs that look more like Ireland than Indonesia! Crystal Bay is a picture-perfect cove that’s great for snorkeling and diving, while Broken Beach is home to a truly otherworldly landscape. Another must are the natural pools at the Temeling Waterfall–this is a lovely and secluded place to cool off. Other than that Nusa Penida is a great place to get lost and the friendly islanders won’t hesitate to help you find your way. As you can see Bali is an amazingly diverse place that is teeming with many fun, beautiful and unique places to visit; offering up a little something for every type of traveler!
Meet the Author
This post was contributed by travel blogger, Justine Lopez of Travel Lush. Justine is a California girl who always seems to take the unconventional route in life and has an insatiable appetite for wanderlust. In 2013, Justine set out on a year long journey that took her from Southeast Asia to South America! After a crazy turn of events she became an expat in Indonesia where she is currently living and working as a freelance writer. As she meanders her way through her backyard of Southeast Asia, Justine is always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing destinations to share with her readers. Follow Justine and her ex-pat adventures on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter!
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