Ahhh Bali. The land of monkeys, temples, beaches, Nasi Goreng and Bintang. What could be better?
While living in New Zealand, a huge travel goal of mine is to experience Asia. I had never been before, and Brett doesn’t remember much from a Thailand trip when he was a kid. We finally got our chance and began planning a week-long trip to Bali with friends visiting from the US. Leading up to the trip, we kept joking that this would be our “Asia starter pack,” since many people had told us that Bali wasn’t “the real Asia.” Fine by me!
I had a list of attractions (temples, beaches, restaurants!) a mile long – everything in the travel blogs looked incredible. How could we narrow the to-do list down to just a week? Our friend’s dad kindly gifted her 5 nights in a timeshare property near Uluwatu (amazing!!!), so that dictated much of our itinerary. No trip to Bali would be complete without some time in Ubud, but I’ll cover off all our highlights in another post.
For now, here’s our guide to Uluwatu & Southwest Coast:
Accommodation: I’ll admit, even with all the cultural sites I was dying to see, nothing could beat the beauty of our resort. We stayed at the Karma Kandara, and it was amazingly gorgeous. I felt incredibly spoiled the entire time – with our own private villa, infinity pool and daybed. And look at that breakfast view!
Oh, did I mention there were monkeys literally everywhere? One of the best parts of the trip for me!
Plus, you could take a little gondola down to the secluded beach – where we drank many a fresh coconut and of course Bintangs! And even had super cheap beachfront massages.
Temples: We managed to get to Pura Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temple to see the Kecak Fire Dance at sunset – unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Watch out for the monkeys at Uluwatu Temple. They WILL steal your phone, sunglasses, hat, etc. We saw several people who had to get their stuff back by throwing the monkey an egg to catch! Both temples were beautiful and worth battling the traffic and crowds, but you need patience (see notes below on Getting Around!).
Beaches: There were endless beaches to choose from, but here are two we spent a bit of time at:
- Jimbaran: One of the coolest experiences was Jimbaran Beach, where you can eat super fresh seafood directly on the beach. We ate at Made Bagus, where we picked our whole fish, and watched them weigh it before grilling it over charcoal. Plus, you can buy fresh corn on the cob from vendors on the beach.
- Seminyak: We watch the sunset here and it was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Seminyak is very upscale and known as a getaway for Aussies. It was a fun scene, with tons of places to eat and drink, but very westernized compared to other parts of Bali. We had a delicious dinner at Sarong Restaurant and then migrated to Potato Head Beach Club (a swanky spot) and La Favela (a fun dance spot more our speed). We definitely didn’t stay out late enough to see the real nightlife – just didn’t want to keep our driver out that late! It’s probably best to spend at least a night here if you can.
Getting Around: We hired a private driver recommended by a friend. It was such a strange experience to have someone waiting for you and take you anywhere you wanted to go. Again, I felt incredibly spoiled. But this is basically the only way to get around Bali. You could also rent a scooter, but with so much traffic, and roads without lane markers, a driver is best. Keep in mind that it does take a very long time to go anywhere, even a short distance. Our rate was approximately $40/day. It’s crazy that even with tipping your driver extremely well, you’ll have plenty to spend on a daily massage and nights out.
Next it was on to Ubud – where we played with monkeys (twice), walked rice terraces, and indulged in massages and yoga. More to come!