Bali-mazing! 5 Tips for an Unforgettable Experience in the Land of a Thousand Temples

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At the Gunung Kawi temple

If there’s a single piece of advice I’d give someone my age right now, it would be this: visit Bali, at least once in your life; while you’re young, while you’re strong enough to run through its many temples, nimble enough to climb its mountains and tread its rice fields, foolish enough to have one too many Bintang’s, greedy enough to take what you can out of it, because you can only gain so much out of Bali. And Bali, in turn, has much to offer.

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Emerging from the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah)

Bali has always been a dream destination of mine. I’ve always been fascinated with its many temples, its rich culture, and its “Eat, Pray, Love” vibes. Thankfully, Bali did not disappoint; it was everything I imagined it to be and more. If you’re as Bali-obsessed as I am, here are some tips I’m offering from our recently concluded trip, on how to make your Bali journey as great as it can get.

1.Choose a villa with a show-stopping view

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Can’t get enough of this pool with a view!

While numerous hostels and homestays abound in Ubud, it would be a real waste to visit and not take advantage of the breath-taking views that surround it. Ubud is littered with lush forests, rolling valleys and flowing rivers, and there are many resorts and villas that offer stunning views of each and every one of these.

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Maximum chill at our veranda

For a mid-range resort villa with a million-dollar view, we highly recommend a stay at Sunset Hill, Ubud. It is located along the sleepy village of Bangkiang Sidem, flanking the Woss river and valley. Fronting the villas and its infinity pool is a 180-degree view of unadulterated foliage and clear blue skies; the best view you can get for its price.

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Breakfast with a view!

It was just sheer joy to wake up to such a view! We had breakfast at their little bistro overlooking the valley and could hear the Woss river flowing below; each morning we would take in the sights before we set off for the day’s itinerary. Sunset Hill also has a yoga studio, bistro, and in-house spa services. Driver service can also be arranged upon request.

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Our host, Ms. Anita was the absolute best. Upon our arrival, she warmly welcomed us and gave us some tips on how to explore Ubud by foot, complete with a detailed map of Ubud care of Sunset Hill, knowledgeable advice and valuable warung recommendations. Everyone from our host, to all the staff, were incredibly kind and helpful.

Sunset Hill may be at the farther end of Ubud, but the bustling Ubud center is only a scenic 20-minute walk away through the Campuhan ridge.

Sunset Hill Villas, Ubud

Bangkiang Sidem PO BOX 88888 Kedewatan Ubud Gianyar Bali, Indonesia

For reservations and rates, visit their website: http://www.sunsethill-ubud.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunsethillretreat

2. Your driver can make or break your trip. Choose wisely!

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Bali’s famous Luwak Coffee

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Various coffee flavours! All super yum! Our faves were the Spiced Hot Cocoa, Vanilla Coffee, and Coconut Coffee

During our 4-day trip, we had gone through a total of FOUR different drivers. We randomly met our first driver at the airport, who offered to take us to our hotel in Ubud for what I’d like to think was a reasonable price (300,000 IDR). He also took the liberty of arranging a side trip for us to a Luwak Coffee farm (Bali’s most famous, and apparently most expensive coffee), Bali’s ornate UC Silver and Gold shop, and a massive gift and souvenir warehouse.

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Uluwatu temple, and the trek towards most beautiful sunset

Our second driver I’ve contacted months prior. We’ve arranged for him to take us to Uluwatu temple for 550,000 IDR. A tad overpriced, but considering Uluwatu is actually 2.5 hours from Ubud, this is quite reasonable. Our kind and fluent driver also doubled as our tour guide around the temple complex, leading us to the best spots to witness and take photos of the sunset. He also gently prodded us to have dinner at the famous Jimbaran bay, where by his recommendation we ended up at a beautiful beach-front restaurant with overpriced Bintangs and mie goreng.

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Terrified of the sheer amount of monkeys at Monkey Forest

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In awe of Pura Taman Saraswati’s intricate facade

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Due to some last minute mishaps, our driver was suddenly unavailable for our whole-day temple tour, a crucial day in our itinerary. The substitute he found for us was an equally nice driver, who unfortunately spoke very little English. Due to the frustrating communication barrier, we decided to let this driver go and contacted our friend’s trusted Bali driver at the very last minute.

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More temple doors! At the gates of Tirta Empul or Holy Spring Temple

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Locals bathing at the temple

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At Goa Gajah

Our last (and best) driver, Nata, was a godsend. He saved our temple tour when it was falling apart at the seams, knew the shortcuts around Ubud, and helped us arrange an itinerary to visit the temples we missed due to our driver mishap. Nata also warned us of common Bali driver MO’s, most of which, to our surprise, we’ve previously succumbed to.

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At the Tegallalang Rice Terraces

What I’m trying to point out is that your driver heavily weighs in on how your trip and overall experience will be. Choose a driver who speaks good English, is knowledgeable around the areas you’ll be touring (warung and souvenir shops included), and won’t take advantage of you. Better yet, get Nata to drive you around! You may contact him via email: natadawas@­gmail.com or via mobile: +6281338341276, +628179797890

Other ways to get around:

-GrabCar is insanely cheap in Bali, use this for long rides or single-journey trips

-Unarguably the best way to get around is through motorbikes. Rentals go for as little as 50,000 IDR per day and allow you to take in Bali’s sights and sounds.

More tips after the jump!


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