Travelling to Bali, Indonesia is something that’s garnered lots of attention over the last 10+ years. Through the popularity of the novel and subsequent film adaption of Eat, Pray, Love, Indonesia and specifically Bali has become synonymous with being a place to get away from it all, find love and find yourself. Many even finding it hard to think of Bali without entangling it amongst the bestselling story. Still, Bali, Indonesia is so much more if you venture beyond the fairytale and into the realm of real island exploration.
Today, I’m not here to discuss some Hollywood-esq experience. Instead, I’m focused on what you can do as a traveller to go beyond the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ experience when you’re in the island of the Gods, Bali, Indonesia.
Now, I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve been to Bali my fair share of times.
I’ve visited six times so far (more to come, I’m sure) and have what I feel to be a well-rounded experience of the island and surrounding islands, overall. Travelling to Indonesia from Perth, Western Australia with family, with friends on a “lads trip”, solo adventures, diving and surfing holidays and everything in-between.
If I know anything, then I know this… I’m very lucky to live only three hours away from this island paradise.
Yet from my experiences, I know that Bali has more than one “face”. It’s more than the place in which Eat, Pray, Love was partially set. And its more than just the spot where Aussies go in search for “cheap beer and a suitcase of cheap DVD’s”. Bali has many faces.
Over the years, Bali has been becoming increasingly popular with Australians. However, as the internet has developed, books been written and films made, Indonesia and places like it, have had a surge of a more diverse crowd. This is great news for the Bali tourism. But how great is it for the culture. Because as I repeatedly go back, I tend to notice that in the main stretch of Kuta (the most touristy area) there is always a new hotel being build, perhaps a new shopping mall or less room on the beach.
This is all good news for the locals. Potentially putting more money in their pockets and affording them the opportunity to reach more people. Still, what’s happening to their culture?
The short answer… If you venture outside of Kuta, you’ll find that there are still many areas which are humbled by tradition and rich in culture.
Now look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m a master of the Balinese culture, much less the Indonesian one. However, throughout my time, I’ve noticed and learnt some things. Some of these things, only prevalent in the smaller villages and islands as Bali is becoming much more of the Miami of South East Asia. Again, this may very well be a good thing. Adding to the hotels in Bali and the general Balinese tourism may be great news for travellers and locals alike. However, if you’re looking to go beyond the Eat, Pray, Love experience and get a real understanding of Bali and Indonesia whilst having a great time… Listen up, because here are the five places you should go and do in Bali, Indonesia.
Although this article is centered around going beyond the Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon, there’s no going past Ubud. Being rich in colour and culture, Ubud is a must see. Heading to the Monkey Forest may be deemed somewhat ‘touristy’, yet still definitely worth the visit.
Get up close and personal with the stunning landscaped that drape over the area like a cloth. With immaculate temples, delicious food and coffee, and devastatingly beautiful rice paddies. Ubud is worth the trip.
Uluwatu, a surfing Mecca. Shrouded in high-rising cliffs, great bars and restaurants and peeling waves, even in terms of Bali, this place is laid back. You’ll likely come across surfers of all levels, looking to catch the wave of their life or merely to live the island lifestyle. Still, fear not, because Uluwatu isn’t just for surfers, the pubs, hotels and actives are second to none.
Pro tip: For a killer sunset lazily sinking beyond the waves, head to the Single Fin bar. Located on top of a cliff top on the ocean, it’s surely a sight to be seen.
Being one of the up-and-coming areas of Bali, Changgu is becoming more popular while keeping its roots. Although more foundations have been laid, the overall feel of the area is still very hippie. Giving the individual the feeling that they’ve stumbled onto a secret place where more tourists not dare to visit.
Lembongan is a place where I’ve had one of the best weeks of my life. This small island isn’t much more than an island paradise seemingly for those who either love the ocean or commercialised Asia.
With great surf and dive spots, Lembongan is an ocean lover’s dream. Yet with only a few roads around the island to bike around and a handy bridge headed over to the adjacent Nusa Ceningan, coupled with great small restaurants and friendly people, this island is anyone who loves to travels, dream.
Pro tip: Looking for a place to stay, do yoga, learn, dive or surf, I recommend Big Fish.
Gili is yet another increasingly popular spot and for good reason. Much like Lembongan, it has great beaches for surfing, diving and snorkeling, with an increasing amount of pubs and hotels on the island. A great choice if you’re looking for an all-round adventure!
Often Kuta is either seen as a staple for a holiday to Bali, or a spot to avoid at all costs. Personally, I have few quarrels with it, given I’ve spent time there. The fact that it’s by far the busiest place in Bali tells you that it’s going to be full of tourists, pubs and clubs, tattoo parlors and DVD shops. Still, I recommend when visiting Bali, that you stay there for at least a few nights. Sure you don’t have to stay within the hustle and bustle of it all in central Kuta. Instead, there are loads of great places on the outskirts. Places like Legian and Seminyak.
Either way, going to Kuta can be fun. It has a great water park, a good nightlife and nice beaches.
There may be many different faces to Bali, Indonesia. But looking beyond the typical Eat, Pray, Love ridiculousness (that brought masses of people to the island) is sometimes needed. At the end of the day, we’re all different and looking for different things. Especially when travelling. Whether its great food, spirituality or love. Or surf, alcohol and a party, Bali’s got it.
The one thing I would say to any traveller looking to tick Bali off their list is to see Bali for what it is. Stay in more than one place; experience the busy streets of Kuta juxtaposed against that of an out-of-the-way island. You might go in thinking you’re looking for one thing, yet find you enjoy another much more.
You never know, it will probably even do your health a world of good.
So go out and enjoy Bali, Indonesia for what it is. A diverse part of the world, for which you need to check out!
“Travel, it’s the only thing that you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous
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