This is the first in a series of two articles on Bali.
Bali is a tiny, yet hugely popular, Indonesian Island in South East Asia. It is popular with luxury travelers, families, backpackers and anyone in between for a good reason; it is paradise! It is a highly tropical climate with high humidity (very, very high humidity!), jungle, and cheeky macaque monkeys who will happily snatch your snacks, sunglasses, or cameras. The people are some of the nicest, friendliest people on earth, and although there are many religions and ethnicities, conflicts are nearly non-existent!
There are very few places in Bali that you wouldn’t enjoy going to, but in this guide, I am going to focus on three locations that are easily reachable from each other and from the international airport: Ubud towards the middle of the Island, Lebbeh Beach to the East, and Padang-Padang in the South.
Ubud is described by many as the cultural capital of Bali. It is filled with hundreds of tiny café’s, stores, stalls, massage places, and more. Try to explore the many stores on Jl Suweta – take your time, there are many stores and part of the Bali spirit is to take your time and relax. Follow Jl Suweta south as it turns into Jl Monkey Forest, which – as you may have guessed – turns into a monkey forest. In this forest there are thousands of Macaque monkeys, including incredibly cute babies. They live in the ancient temples in this forest. There is a small admittance fee, but it is worth it! Among the many statues of spirits, the waterfalls, and the raw jungle, you will find a bridge in the shape of a dragon going across a deep valley with vines falling all around it. It is, to say the least, magical. Always beware of the monkeys who like to steal, and go to Ubud knowing that as well as the cultural capital, it is also tourist capital. For lunch, go to one of the café’s on Jl Suweta, some of which open up in the back onto the many layered rice paddies of Ubud. The food in Bali is unique and tasty, so try to challenge yourself to try some of their traditional dishes, such as the freshly caught fish. When you are done, you can continue to one of the many stores which offer you the chance to stick your feet into large tubs filled with fish who will tickle your toes while they clean your feet.
There are also many galleries in Ubud, so if you like art, this is a place for you! The artists who made the art in the galleries will usually sit outside and will happily tell you about their work if you ask. Balinese art is colourful, cheerful, and cheap, so it is easy to bring some unframed pieces some home for your room.
Although Ubud is lovely, it is easy to get taxis into the city, and there are serene rice-paddies close by, so try to see if you can convince your parents to live a bit outside of the city, where you can relax in the pool without other people around.