A spiritually captivating country, whose culture enraptures every part of your soul, Bali will put a spell on you and anyone who enters this Southeast Asian sanctuary. The Balinese culture radiates with an essence of beauty and serenity. The breathtakingly stunning rice paddies escalate down the emerald hillsides, the wonderful traditions colorfully illuminate from every corner of the villages, and the smiles and simplicity of the locals lifestyle puts life and beauty into perspective.
Travel to Bali Like A Local!
When you arrive in Denpesar you can hire a driver to take you immediately to my favorite village in the hills of Bali. Ubud, highlights all the best aspects of Bali, from the rich culture to the lush jungle surroundings. As you drive on the unpaved Indonesian road you will become transfixed by your every surrounding. Locals wearing triangular straw hats walk in a single-file line bordering the road, carrying massive bushels of rice and crops they just harvested from the rice-patties. Large temples overflowing with offerings reside every mile in Bali. Their paramount importance are seen in daily rituals and this constant cycle of offerings. The Balinese follow a matrix of guides, customs, and paths, which lead them to true spirituality and happiness. The Balinese believe that balance is one of the most important aspects of a human. They in fact are global masters of balance, and feel it is an absolute necessity to maintain perfect equilibrium. Bali has a very interesting structure and caste system throughout its Hindu roots. Throughout history it has been known that every true Balinese is the descendent of either a king, a priest, or an artist, and that is why they have such a unique and magical sense of culture. The Balinese religion is by far one of the most methodical of all religions. The people have a strong sense of roles, tasks, customs, and ceremonies emphasizing the importance of their Hinduism. Their rice terracing represent shared labor, and practice to prosper, their food and flower offerings are in hopes of pleasing deities and higher spirits, and their ceremonies highlight all the things Balinese. Now back to Ubud
There are many varieties of accommodation in Ubud. If you are looking for a reasonable and truly Balinese experience try Ananda Cottages. Clean, newly renovated, sitting atop a series of rice patties, the surroundings are absolutely bewitching. Years ago when I stayed there, there were no windows and only bamboo blinds, allowing almost any insect or lizard to creep on in your room. Thanks to the new windows and mosquito netting surrounding your bed you wont have to worry about any bed bugs ; ). A more pricey but truly special hotel, is Tjampuhan retreat and spa. Enjoy a night or two at this divine haven, and partake in a decadent outdoor massage on the river. As always when traveling, I highly recommend renting a house. Usually much cheaper then a hotel, with flexibility, a kitchen, many with their own pool, Ubud offers amazing options.
As a town, Ubud focuses on culture, nature, and yoga. When you come visit this mountain village you will retreat to the calm environment. During the day, rent a vespa and take day trips to surrounding villages and rice patties. Or take a walk through the center of town and visit the sacred Ubud Monkey Forest where you will be swarmed by tame and rather friendly monkeys. Visit the many temples Ubud has to offer, where you can get a taste of daily life and Balinese ritual. At night, you must go to a traditional Balinese ceremony where they dress in sacred garb and perform their Barong Dance as you listen to Gamelan music. Ubud is full of enticing activities and plenty of things to do on your Balinese holiday.
Cuisine in Ubud is very fresh, with many organic and vegetarian spots, and traditional Balinese dishes. Try Bali Buddha for incredible food, environment, and a fun hang for tourists and locals. Lotus Cafe is located in the center of town, and is a gorgeous temple-esque restaurant with a large lotus pond in front. A very ethereal, indoor-outdoor restaurant Lotus is deliciously traditional. Lastly try Lamak Restaurant, with international roots and western association Lamak has very unique dishes and is absolutely lovely.
Ubud is my favorite place in Bali. I love Balis beaches as well, but I feel as if their beauty has been overpopulated by tourism and overdevelopment. Yet, I do feel that if you've traveled all the way to Bali you must visit some beaches. One spot that has not been struck by massive tourism is Sanur Beach. This little gem of a town is quite special and only 15 minutes away from Denpesar. If you're looking for a more happening and bustling beach town, visit Kuta. Decades ago this spot was barren, and absolutely gorgeous. Now it is governed by Hard Rock Cafes and massive surf shops. Still it is quite beautiful, and you can enjoy a $5 massage right on the pearly white sand. For a more cosmopolitan beach destination visit Seminyak. Fine dining, designer boutiques, and away from the madness of Kuta this town is quite idyllic.
Bali is truly a magical destination that beholds so much of the world's beauty. As a culture aficionado Bali is such a mecca for rituals, sacred practice, and a colorful way of life. From the mountains to the beaches, Bali overflows with life, enchanting ceremonies, mesmeric rice-paddies, ribbons of pristine beaches, and is absolutely spectacular.
HIGHLIGHTS OF BALI
-Ananda Cottages |http://www.anandaubud.com/
-Hotel Tjampuhan |http://tjampuhan.com/
-Bali Buddah Restaurant |http://www.balibuddha.com
- Lotus Cafe |http://www.lotus-restaurants.com/cafe-lotus-ubud
- Lamak Restaurant | http://www.lamakbali.com
-Traditional Dance Performances
-Rent a Vespa and cruise the countryside
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