On this island, you will have access to a large number of unique and different landscapes, you can go from a populated city in the mountains and after 5 kilometres of road, you find yourself at the edge of a beach, with a blue and even transparent sea, without anyone. You can admire the volcano from the heights, visit the cultural places in the mountains, find yourself in the middle of rice fields or at the bottom of magnificent waterfalls, only known by local guides.
The capital is Denpasar, but the city I recommend is Ubud, the cultural centre of the island, a city that I found very atypical and completely different from what we know in Europe. I recommend you to forget driving, there are a lot of scooters going in all directions and it is very difficult to drive (and especially if you are not used to it, you drive on the left side). You will find splendid Hindu temples in the city centre, authentic restaurants, the royal palace (part of which can be visited), the streets of craftsmen, museums or the Monkey Forest in the city centre.
MY MAIN RECOMMENDATION
Don’t do as others do, don’t take a hotel and stay there for the whole stay, go instead to meet the locals or the places known only to the locals.
What I remember most were the moments of sharing with the inhabitants, their warm welcome, their willingness to let you discover what they do, to show you how they live, some of the tricks they have to make certain things with few materials…
Our guide was very kind and his knowledge of the country indispensable, he made us discover waterfalls known only to a few local guides, and what waterfalls ! After several minutes of walking on a path that went up and down, in the middle of a mountain, we arrived in a kind of “secret garden” with a waterfall and a river, where we only saw locals walking around and very few tourists with their local guides. We went to meet the locals in the hills, past the big rice fields, where we could walk around and see the locals working. We visited a weaving workshop and discovered the techniques and skills of the locals, working in the middle of the rice fields, with breathtaking views of the valleys and villages.
If you want to travel to a heavenly place to relax, Bali is also suitable for that. Part of Denpasar is completely made for tourists, with big hotels or holiday clubs, of all levels, and you have access to several activities around your hotel or on the beach directly, such as jet skiing, flyboarding, yacht or boat trips, scuba diving… several activities that you will find beautiful because of the scenery you will have around you. I myself have been flyboarding, and I can assure you that when you are a few metres above the water, when you have understood how the machine works (after about ten flats in the water) and you look up, you have a splendid scenery that you will only see once in your life (unless you go back, of course). You can also, if you are curious, go to the “land” side, in the small streets behind the hotels, to meet Balinese people. You will see that despite the few material possessions they have, their smile, joy and kindness will touch your heart.
Discovering the rice fields
Agriculture is very important in the country, and has a very strong impact on the whole population as a large part of the inhabitants live from it. The main activity is harvesting rice. You will see a large number of rice fields, almost all of which are accessible. Try to walk in the footsteps of the locals, to avoid trampling their crops, they will let you walk around as long as you don’t disturb them, and they won’t hesitate to show you all their know-how on the harvest. If you have the opportunity to walk around, take advantage of it ! You should know that these rice fields are often high up, and I encourage you to go as high as possible, because you will have the chance to have a splendid view once you are on top. You will see the rice fields in the foreground, and depending on where you are on the island, you will be able to see the sea, the mountain, the volcano, dazzling landscapes that you will remember for a long time.
What not to do in Bali
When you enter one of the many temples in the country, you will have to pay for a sarong, a garment that covers the lower part of the body from the hips down. Don’t protest, it’s compulsory and would be frowned upon by the locals, but also by your local guide.
If you want to go to the Monkey Forest in Ubud, be sure to follow the safety instructions if you want to keep your things, and don’t go over a bridge when monkeys are on the railings on either side, as you could lose your bag (and negotiating with the monkey to get it back will be complex…).