Follow me to Ubud!
So, I turned 25 this past July and I wanted to do something completely new to ring in my first quarter century of life. I decided to take my first international solo trip. And I decided to do it in Bali, Eat, Pray, Love style.
I had been traveling for two weeks in Asia with my MBA program. We went to Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore, and I wanted to keep the Asia adventure going. I left Singapore for Bali, one of a thousand islands of Indonesia. I spent five days on the island, staying in Ubud and Kuta specifically, but touring much of the Eastern and Southern parts of the island. Here are my thoughts.
What to do in Bali:
- Visit the Tegalalang Rice Terraces
This is a must. While you can see rice terraces all throughout Bali, the Tegalalang Terraces are very large and you can walk all throughout them. I’d budget an hour for the terraces and 80,000 for the entrance fee. You will be stopped and asked for donations multiple times during you walk through the terraces – be sure to bring small bills so you have something to throw in because they will hassle you.
- Go to a Spa
There is no better way to pass half a day in Bali than relaxing at a spa. I personally enjoyed Kersa Spa. You walk from the center of Ubud along the Campanu ridge line for 40 minutes and take in amazing views. I treated myself to a delicious lunch and fresh coconut at Kersa Café before my three-hour massage/facial began (cost was 450,000 Rupiah plus tip).
- Try the Coffee
Luwak coffee is the most expensive in the world and made famous by The Bucket List. And yes, the coffee beans are partially digested and pooped out by the Luwak animal. Visiting a coffee plantation is a fun way to take in some amazing views and try a wide variety of the local coffee and teas.
- Enjoy the Local Eats
Tropical islands are the best places to try new fruits. I stopped at a fruit stand and tried mangosteen, durian, and tons of other goodies. So delicious! Some other local favorites foods are betutu (steamed duck with seasoning) and Balinese cake. If you are going to eat at the Instagram famous places, like Cafe Pomegranate, I’d recommend going in the afternoon. I check it out at night after the sun had set (missing the magical view) and the restaurant was out of the majority of their menu. I’d also try to get a reservation at Locavore, voted the best restaurant in Bali. If you are looking to save some cash, you can get a full meal for $1USD at JFC, Java Fried Chicken.
- Hit the Beach
Balinese beaches are gorgeous and the surf is mild. Rent a board and hit the waves. I went to the Southwestern part of the island and spent a night in Kuta Beach, where the surf is second only to the nightlife. I also hunted for oysters and cooked them up at my hostel!
Other Things of Note:
- Hire a Driver
There isn’t any public transportation here and driving in town is crazy. While you can rent a scooter, I’d recommend hiring a driver. For 600 Rupiah for 12 hours, you can go all around the island without worry. It also costs around 350 Rupiah for a lift from Denpensar Airport to Ubud.
- Embrace Tourism
Bali thrives off tourism. Honestly, I went to the island hoping to have more of a cultural experience, but everything was tailored to me as a tourist. Whether it was visiting Ubud Palace, seeing the Baring and Kris dance, or visiting the island’s holiest temple Pura Besakih (60,000 Rupiah for admission, guide, and sarong), it all felt a little…scamy. If I could do it again, I would have passed on these “cultural” activities and instead chased waterfalls and hiked the volcano.
- Money $1 USD was 13,000 Indonesian Rupiah. It was pretty crazy paying 100,000 Rupiah for a meal, but the USD goes extremely far in Indonesia. I definitely recommend coming here if you are looking to have a luxury vacation at a fraction of the cost.
- Everyone Has the Same Name – In Indonesia, you are named and called by the order of your birth. Wayan being first-born, Made second-born, Nyoman third, and Ketut fourth – then it repeats. Wayan Tess, present.
- Don’t Drink the Water – The water is not safe! Not even to brush your teeth with. Safe yourself the pain and load up on massive bottles of Aqua at Coco Supermarket. And while you are at the supermarket, grab a flashlight. It gets so dark in Ubud at night and you don’t want to be wandering around blind (or draining your cell battery).
- Watch Out for Strays There are stray dogs all over the island. While harmless, you do have to watch when you step because you will find packs lying across the sidewalks and they will refuse to move. The reason you find them in the busy city center is because they are on the hunt for free food – which they find plenty of in the offerings left daily for the Gods. The offerings also have incents, making the entire city smell great.
Suks suma for reading this post! I hope it helps you in your planning of a trip to Bali, or allows you to spend a little time traveling vicariously through me. Bali is an absolutely beautiful island and the perfect location for a week of luxury R&R at a great price.
What are your thoughts on Ubud? Let us know below.