With my base camp in Ubud, a rented Scoopy motorbike and a 3G internet to locate myself, moving around Bali is easy. So, what’s worth seeing and what can you skip?
Ubud and the surroundings
I spent almost two weeks there, so can’t leave this town untouched. I liked strolling its streets in the mornings, when everything is just waking up and I could see the locals going to their rice paddies, doing offerings on the streets, sweeping the streets and opening their shops. Jalan Raya Ubud, Jalan Hanoman and Jalan Monkey Forest are the streets to go whenever you need to find shops, local eateries and cafés. I wouldn’t go to the Jalan Cok Gede Rai or Jalan Raya Andong, unless you really need to – it’s the main passing road through Ubud and it’s super crowded and except of plenty phone shops I didn’t find anything necessary there.
Many streets in Ubud are one-way streets but noone respects that and the required driving direction could be changed overnight. One day a section of Jalan Raya Ubud was made one-way street and the direction of driving on Jalan Hanoman and Jalan Sugriwa changed simultaneously one morning. Such chaos is typical for Ubud.
See: I went only to the Monkey Forest to tick my tourist box and I liked it – it’s worth to go there early when there are not too many tourists feeding the monkey, which just gets them angry. In the morning though, when a curious monkey decides to closely examine your bag and everything in it, there is nobody to around to help you. I was lucky, that the monkey lost interest in my motorbike key and took my lip balm instead (everyone wants to be pretty), so I stole my key back and run away from the monkey and kept my distance.
Eat: There are few places to get the famous Nasi/ Mie goreng or any of the fruit juice, such as Mama Warung, Warung Garasi or Warung Bintang Bali, where the prices are still local and food delicious. I also liked the SOMA Organic high vibe, but it’s rather expensive for portions you get…
For the working digital nomads, Ubud is a perfect place to stay: there are 3 co-working places where you can get your work done: Hubud, Outpost and Onion. Yes, you have to pay a membership to use the internet (you can come there to use the space though if you’re working offline), but it comes with a social aspect to it. I’ve seen some cool projects being discussed there and you can get inspired easily. Moreover, if you don’t know anyone in Bali yet, these places are great to meet people. I’ve spent time only in Hubud and I enjoyed it, Outpost is slowly catching up and the Onion, I had been told is very quiet most of the time.
The easternmost part of Bali I’ve been to is the Pura Lempuyang Temple compex, visiting which I can’t recommend enough; you’ll get everything: monkeys, jungle, trekking, temples and breathtaking views – you should reserve 4 hours for this visit tough. Moreover, the road from the lake Batur to the Temple is very scenic, one of my favourite stretches in Bali. I skipped the Batur hot springs, I’ve heard it’s 150000 IDR to get in and it was out of my way anyway. There is the Besakih temple – the Mother Temle on the way, which is the biggest temple in Bali, but also with too many pro-active sellers and tour guides. More on temples here. Going from the Pura Lempuyang, I’ve found the most beautiful rice fields ever surrounding the Br. Dinas Tengah village- even nicer that Jatiuwih (although Jatiluwih is breathtaking by the vastness of the rice fields).
I’ve discovered this part when I got lost near Tegalalang and just drove up and down these little empty roads, seeing the small rice paddies being worked on. I also drove to Jatiluwih rice terraces, which are spectacular, although the ride there is a bit long and curvy. There are beautiful temples in this area too, Pura Tirta Empul, Pura Gunung Kawi and Pura Kehan, about which I had written here.
Despite of the terrible highway going around this part of Bali, I really liked it. I went to the Temple Luhur Rambur Siwi and stopped in Balian Beach for few hours, where the beach was awesome and only a small community of surfers compared to other surfing spots. I visited the temple on Kuningan festival so there was no tourist except me, only the families who came for the praying. The temple itself if one of my favourite temples in Bali, even though I didn’t see it all: obviously there is a small temple on the beach, which I didn’t go to, because I’d thought there is nothing else, just ‘the beach’ down there, which I obviously was wrong and I could’ve seen a cool temple.
I went from Banjar via Lovina and Singaraja to Air Sanah and except of Hot springs in Banjar (5000 IDR entry fee, donation-based parking fee, which basically means compulsory) and a great home stay in Air Sanah, I didn’t find this part particularly interesting. The price for one night at 200 000 IDR for a night and I got my very own big room with an outdoor shower! I had dinner at their place as well and it was the cheapest dinner I’ve ever had in Bali.
I only visited Uluwatu beach and temple in the south and the Jimbaran fishmarket, which was definitely the highlight of this part. While Uluwatu beach is nice, it’s also very crowded and the same goes with the temple. There is sometimes the Kecak dance by the sunset, but it wasn’t happening when I visited, so I don’t know if it’s worth going.