Say hello to paradise.
Nestled in among Indonesia’s expansive archipelago lies Bali, aptly nicknamed ‘Island of the Gods’ and undoubtedly the country’s most frequented destination by international guests.
This tourist hotspot has copped a lot of flak over the years for becoming an unruly drinking destination, but contrary to mainstream belief, Bali has much more to offer than the notorious bars and nightclubs in Kuta. Its unspoilt scenery, ideal weather, beautiful beaches and ancient temples are just the tip of the iceberg, so whether you’re looking for a luxury escape or an action-packed weekend away, Bali has what you’re after, as I found out during a heavenly weekend…
1. Where to stay
On the cheap: U Paasha, Seminyak
Considering how budget-friendly U Paasha is, it’s a welcome surprise to be treated to a five-star experience when I arrive. Breakfast includes everything under the sun – a continental and full English breakfast as well as fresh fruit, green juices, and omelettes and waffles made to order. Venturing outside, I step into the heart of Seminyak, and when the crowds become too much, I spend the rest of my day enjoying the hotel’s rooftop pool and bar.
If you’re splurging: The Mulia, Nusa Dua
Rated the number-one new hotel in the world back in 2013, The Mulia did not disappoint. The staff are attentive and continually go the extra mile to ensure you receive the royal treatment. With ocean-view rooms, an impressive day spa and excellent facilities, this hotel is the epitome of luxury.
2. Where to eat
On the cheap: Casa Luna, Ubud
This place has been offering its diners a selection of traditional Indonesian and Mediterranean food for almost 25 years. Located in the artistic and cultural heart of Ubud, the restaurant has picturesque views over the river, an eclectic neighboring gallery and a wondrous energy. If you can, try to get there on a Sunday when there’s live music and free donuts for all, which I certainly get my fair taste of.
If you’re splurging: Bambu, Seminyak
As soon as I arrive at Bambu, I walk across the water and enter a luxury oasis that seems far, far away from the busy roads of Seminyak. The modern Indonesian cuisine is absolutely delicious and it’s hard not to be blown away by the impeccable service and stunning setting. The food and cocktails at this ethereal restaurant are exxy in comparison to the usual Bali prices, but you couldn’t find a better meal for the same price back home.
3. Where to drink
On the cheap: Motel Mexicola, Seminyak
Motel Mexicola is a little slice of Mexican heaven. Here, the interior is an eclectic mix of bright prints, the music is loud and the food authentic. And if that’s not enough, there are tequila shots, congo lines, cocktails galore and an unforgettable electric vibe.
If you’re splurging: Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak
If there is a heaven on earth, this is it. Situated on the beach and within walking distance of some of the best streets in Seminyak, Potato Head Beach Club provides its patrons with an unbeatable experience. Open from 11am, you choose to enjoy cocktails at the bar, restaurant or grassy knoll, by the pool or in it. I waste no time in heading straight for the bar to soak in the relaxed atmosphere right before the sun goes down.
4. Where to play
On the cheap: Mojo Surf, Canggu
Whether you’re a total novice or seasoned expert, Mojo Surf has something to suit. The team offers overnight packages for those looking to dip their toes in the water and give surfing a go, but if you’re more adventurous like me, there are surf and stay packages that’ll allow you to island-hop to catch Indonesia’s best breaks.
If you’re splurging: Ultimate Adventure Adrenaline Package, Ubud
Thrillseekers, look no further – this package includes a morning helicopter ride over the island’s volcano, then a 25km bike ride past rice fields, Hindu temples and traditional Balinese villages. Following on, I take an elephant ride and end the day on a whitewater rafting adventure through expansive rainforest, towering gorges and terraced rice fields, which is all part of the OTT experience of this tour.
Images via abikiniaday.com, atactilelife.com.au, mobilcharter.com, ratanddragon.com, seminyak-villa.com, tripadvisor.com.
Comment: Have you been to Bali? What do you consider to be the best place there?