No I didn`t went to Bali because of the famous movie “Eat, Pray & Love”, in which Julia Roberts is searching for herself while travelling Italy and India and is ending up in Bali. I was just in the search of affordable plane tickets and a place where there will be no rain. This way I ended up as well in Bali. Let me tell you about my trip
Bali is a small, indonesian island with a special atmosphere. I can understand why people come to Bali to find themselves. I don’t know if you will really get to this point here, but this island makes it easy to forget about the world. Beautiful beaches, a close-to-nature-lifestyle and overall friendly people, paired with a lot of spirituality, makes it a perfect spot if you just want to ignore that there is something like reality in your life.
I travelled 3 weeks on Bali independently with my own scooter. I hiked one of the volcanos, tried surfing, experienced the digital normad lifestyle in Canggu, felt in love with yoga in Ubud and got to know that there is a football league existing too.
The Kuta problem
You will arrive on Bali in Denpensar, which is the capital. The closest town is Kuta. This is like the most touristy place I have been in a long time. You could easily be somewhere in Italy around Venice as well. The town is not nice, crowded, streets full of overprices restaurants and hotels, there you can also find the party mile of the island. The beach would be nice but it`s just too crowded. If you want to go crazy and party hard than Kuta is the place for you, otherwise it’s not really a good place to stay. But there is one advantage about Kuta. The beach had the perfect conditions for surf beginners to learn how to handle the board. That was the reason why I stayed in Kuta for 2 days.
Learn how to surf in Kuta
I got myself on a board for the first time with the Up2U Surf School. I can totally recommend this school. The teachers are super, the equipment is in good shape and they take really good care of their students.
For about 25$ you get a 2,5hr lesson incl. pick up from your accommodation and the equipment. They will give you surfer cloth to wear as well, so no worries about your outfit.
I had 3 lessons with them and needed to figure out that surfing is not one of my talents, but with the great teachers is was fun anyway.
Renting a scooter in Kuta
As I wanted to travel Bali by myself I rented a scooter in kuta for 3 weeks. Have paid 40$ for 20 days. The scooter was in a good shape and I also got the helmet. Gas is really cheap on Bali as well 1 tank will be around 1,50$.
When you want to rent a scooter on Bali, bring your international driver’s license with you. “WHY?!?” you will ask now and I was also surprised as I haven’t need a driver’s license anywhere else in Asia for a scooter rental so far. Renting the scooter without a license is also not the problem but the corrupt police on Bali is.
They can stop drivers anywhere along the road and if you cannot present them a valid driver’s license they will charge you with a penalty. For sure this fines are not standardized and it can be everything from 10$ to 100$. I met a guy who got stopped twice in a week and paid everytime 75$. Also at most of the scooter rentals you will not get an insurance with the scooter. So check your travel insurance to avoid any surprises. Even if they don’t cover anything at least you know what you get yourself into.
If you don’t have your international license with you, like me, there is another possibility. I ask a guy on the streets how to solve this issue, he drove me to the police station I paid 20$ + 5$ commission for the guy and got an Indonesian driver’s license. For sure not the most elegant way but hey I guess everyone travelling on the road knows that from time to time you have to adapt with manners that are not exactly yours.
Easy life in Canggu
After my Kuta experience I went on north for a 1,5hr drive with the scooter to a much more relaxed place. Canggu is a little town with two beaches and really relaxed vibes. It is one of these places where a lot of digital nomads and other expats from outside Indonesia are settling down. There are a lot of restaurants, cheap street food place and more expensive special places. You will have no issue to follow a special diet here. If you are vegetarian or vegan, Bali is an easy place to
travel for you. There is some nightlife going on around Canggu and during the day you can just relax at the beaches or be active while doing yoga or surfing or exploring the surrounding.
There are several beaches all with black sand and surfing hot spots. The two main beaches are Batu Bolong and the Echo Beach. The surrounding of Canggu features verdant rice fields, which makes the town to a really close-to-nature place.
There are a lot of yoga studios. I got some lessons in “The Practice” and can totals recommend this studio. I also heard good reviews about the Serenity Eco Yoga studio.
For some nightlife experience just go to “Old Mans”. This is a bar at the Bato Bolong Beach. First you can sit on the beach and enjoy the sunset while eating some street food and then you can bring the day to an end while enjoying some drinks and a fun atmosphere. If you want to partying, you will figure out the plans and places-to-be for the night in “Old Mans” as well.
Tanah Lot and the tourist masses
Within a 30min drive with the scooter you can reach Tanah Lot. Tanah Lot is a famous and big hindu temple. Translated Tanah Lot means “Land in the ocean”. The temple is build up at the edge of the coastline which makes it kind of special. In general, this is a super amazing place but it has turned into a tourist trap. I visited it for the sunset and it was super overcrowded. You could hardly find a spot to watch the sunset in peace without 100 of phones around you and without being on 1000 selfies. This circumstances are total destroying the magical atmosphere of the place.
Getting down to earth in Ubud
After some days in Canggu I had enough of the beach-life and went on to Ubud. Ubud is a small town in the central highland of Bali. It is also called to be “the mecca of yoga”. Ubud is located in the middle of the rainforest and countless rice fields. There are a lot of cultural places of attraction, same as place to practice yoga. They town itself also has turned into a tourist place, so I recommend you to find a place to stay outside of the town. There are several guesthouses in the rice field and rainforest above and around Ubud. There you will have a quieter atmosphere and not be linked to overpriced restaurants and tourist traps. These places are also not more expensive than the backpacker places in town.
Starting yoga in Ubud
I practiced a lot of yoga in Ubud. It was my first time getting into the yoga culture and the trainers at Ubud Yoga House made it so easy for me to fell in love it. The Ubud Yoga house is a small studio in the middle of rice fields and the forest. A small river is flowing behind the studio and while practicing you hear the nature living. You can’t get there with a vehicle. You will have to walk up to the rice fields, then cross the forest on a little path and after a few minutes you will see the studio standing in the middle of nature. The location is unique and creates a special atmosphere. Sheila, the owner, is extremly lovely. The classes are limited to 10 persons and with 8$ for one session affordable. They offer different kind of yoga and meditation classes.
Beside yoga you can explore a lot in and around Ubud. The sacred monkey forest Sanctuary is one of the most famous places in Ubud. It is a holy hindu temple complex in a nature reserve and home of 600 – 700 monkeys. The complex includes 3 temples which are not allowed to be entered by tourists, as they are still active and used by the locals for their ceremonies. The monkeys are used to human beings and will let you touch them or even climb on you shoulder. To not threaten the health of the animals you shouldn’t feed them. As these are monkeys they will try to grab everything which is loose. They are clever and will figure out how to open you bag 😃. So better to take really good care of your belongings.
There are several waterfalls around Ubud which you can perfectly explore with a scooter. The most famous and also best visited one it the Tegenungan Waterfall. Smaller but also less visited are the Tibumana Waterfall und Kanto Lampo Waterfall.
The highland of Bali around Ubud is perfect to get lost while discovering what the nature has to offer. Also a good way to do that, is by walking the several ways through the rice fields. You can spend hours just walking and watching the farmers to do their work.
If you are into natural products like cosmetics there is a lot of stuff in Ubud for you try. There are various shops were you can try or produce your own cosmetics. As the Balinese women are producing their own cosmetics with local ingredients, it is cheap and 100% natural.
Dicovering Gunung Batur
After some days in Ubud I grabbed my scooter and went north to the volcanos. I had the plan to hike the Gunung Batur, which is the smaller one of the two activ volcanos on Bali. You can hike the Batur in the night, so you can see the sun rise while being on the top and eating eggs/toasts which are prepared on the hot surface of the volcano.
I drove app. 4hrs with the scooter from Ubud through the jungle and mountains to the village Kintamani. Kintamani is a little village on the volcano lake. I just stayed there for one night to hike the volcano, but here are also some temples and holy place which you can explore. The drive was not the easiest one of my life. The roads are getting bad in the highland and some of them are more paths than roads. Also it started to rain as I was up in the mountains which made the road slippery. Also bring a real jacket with you as it gets cold up there.
Sunrise on the volcano
Hiking the volcano should be one of your priorities when visiting Bali. You will get picked up at around 3am from your accommodation and start the hike at around 4am. It will take you 1hr to 1,5hrs depending on how many people are on the way up and your walking speed.
As soon as you enter Kintamani just ask some random guys on the street for a tour. Almost all of them know somebody or are connected to a guide. I didn’t even had to ask. The moment I was driving down the road from the mountains to the village the first guides already approached me. I payed 30$ for the tour, including the transport, breakfast
and the guide. Actually you are not allowed to went up the volcano without a guide. I haven’t seen anyone controlling this so. If you really want to refuse to take a guide you can risk it as there are so many groups hiking that you could easily pretend to belong to one of them. As the tour business is one chance for the locals to earn some money and they are everything but no rich people you should follow the rules and just let a guide do the tour for you.
The hike itself is doable and not crazy exhausting. Bring yourself a warm jacket as it gets cold on the top. You will walk on volcano sand most of the times which means you do 2 steps and slide down 1 again. Wear closed shoes, sneakers are enough and be prepared that they will get very sandy and dirty.
While you are waiting for the sun to rise, the guides will provide you some toast and eggs made on the hot volcano surface and some bananas, same as tea and coffee. After the sun rise you will walk around the sinkhole, where you can see steam coming out, and then walk down again. As the path around the sinkhole are getting really narrow and goes steeply down beside you, you are better free of fear of heights. If you really are too afraid you can also walk down the same way you got up. I am afraid of heights and have done it anyway, as it is a really nice experience and view. After the tour we got back to the accommodation at around 10am.
Sanur – relaxing between sports and tourists
Just right after the tour I got on my scooter again and drove 5 hours to the beach village Sanur. Sanur is a fun place to be. It is in the south of Bali and has the longest beach promenade of Bali. In Sanur you can do any kind of water sports. It is also a perfect place for diving as it has several hot spots. For sure you can also find surf sports around Sanur, same as yoga studios.
I can especially recommend the Power of Now Oasis for Yoga and just next to it is the Rip Curl School of Surf. So you can just start your days with a yoga session and then get yourself a board and a trainer if you need on. The Power of Now Oasis is a studio build out of bamboo and directly on the beach. Listening to the waves while doing yoga is simply amazing. Sanur is a good place to relaxe and chill.
Getting sick on Bali – BIMC experiences
After that I returned back to Canggu and got really sick. Driving the scooter with wet surfing cloth on wasn’t the best idea and I ended up with kidney inflammation.
Therefore I can tell you all about my experiences with the international hospital of Bali called BIMC. The hospital is really good, the doctors are well trained, they take really good care of you and the facility itself gives you the feeling of being in a top hotel. They managed to run a several tests including providing me the results within a few hours. So if you get ill, like me and many other of my fellow backpackers in Bali (surf and scooter accidents etc.), this is your address for help.
Prices are reasonable for an international private hospital, but as I hope all of us are having a good travel insurance, that shouldn’t be a need to worry.
Bali – re-charge your batteries
My Bali trip was a nice one. I met amazing people with different, non-conservative lifestyles and mindsets. I dived into a life close to and with the nature and surrounded by a lot of spirituality. Bali may not be the most adventurous place to travel and it is quite touristy, but it is a beautiful and calming place. So if you are in need of a trip to re-charge your batteries and to forget about the world and reality, just go to Bali. You will get all of it there.
Get lost, but dont get hurt.