Thursday, 14 January 2016

Travel Guide // BALI

After a visit to Bali in November it has quickly jumped to the top of my favourite places list as well as my summer 2016 hit list as I will definitely be returning. I thought I'd write an ode to Bali in the form of recommendations and tips that I've picked up along the way. I've separated each area in order to organise my thoughts more!

We stayed on Jalan Legian at a very modern hotel right in the heart of the main bars and a fair few restaurants so that we were in the optimum location for sight seeing and getting around. This wasn't my favourite place in Bali as it's heavily westernised, think McDonald's and knock off designer shops, but it was definitely interesting to visit. I would recommend getting a hotel with a pool because the beach was not the best, it was super windy so we only wandered down it one afternoon. A couple of our friends took surf lessons on Kuta beach as Bali is known for it's phenomenal waves and surf scene, which is noticeable from the amount of surfboard shops dotted around as well as the surf clothing brands. Sky Garden is definitely worth a visit if not for the sheer size of the nightclub, the buffet was definitely worth the money £5 for all you can eat and drink (alcohol too!) for three hours. We stayed here late one night but spent about 5 minutes on the dance floor as we loved the atmosphere at their rooftop bar, the relaxed sofas, balmy air and music wafting through.

This is probably the nearest we got to the 'real' Bali, it definitely felt more authentic and relaxed with the yoga vibes it's famous for being visible. We stayed on Jalan Monkey Forest so that we were in the heart of things and, again, in walking distance (nobody wants to be cooped up in taxis in that heat). Monkey Forest itself is definitely worth the visit, it's done a bit like a national park in the UK so you pay entry which goes towards the maintenance etc of the area and the monkeys. It was a couple of pounds but definitely worth every penny if you love to see the primates! You can pay a pound for a bunch of bananas which guarantees monkeys running up and down your arms and legs in order to get to them. We spent a few hours here because it was so amazing to see these monkeys in (more or less) their natural environment, just don't take any food or water bottles with you! We spent one evening watching a traditional Balinese dance troop in the Palace at the top of Jalan Monkey Forest which was so mind blowing. The musicians, playing instruments I had never seen before, working in time with the dancers, building the tension whilst unravelling the story they were telling us. We stayed for three days but probably only needed two maximum as there isn't as much to do in Ubud without organising a trip to the surrounding areas. Spend one afternoon wandering around the markets at the top of Jalan Monkey Forest, you will definitely get lost and pestered by the traders but don't be intimidated, if you smile and say 'no thank you' they will often back off. It is a nice way to break up a trip to Bali due to the relaxed nature of Ubud, all the bars and restaurants are relaxed and alfresco style and everyone is tucked up in bed by midnight.

Lombok/Gili Islands
Gili Trawangan had its own love letter on my blog as it has become my favourite place on the planet, I could quite happily move to the island and run a coffee shop on the beach. We only spent one night in Lombok on Sengiggi Beach but it looked gorgeous from what we saw, winding hill top hotels with beautiful infinity pools and spacious rooms. Awaking to a beautiful sunshine filled day we traveled to the port to catch a quick speedboat to the Gili Islands. A little tip to help you with this immensely stressful experience (we had read up on it luckily so knew what to avoid), you will get absolutely hounded on the walk/horse ride up to the port (the taxi will drop you off further down the road to encourage you to pay more for a horse and cart, we walked, it's less than five minutes) for 'quick cheap speedboats' to the Gili Islands, IGNORE THEM they are private boats. Walk right up to the port by the dock itself, you'll see a big building where you can pay to go on the public boat (10/15 minute wait often) which is more than half the price of the private speedboats. For the sake of a ten minute wait until the boat fills up you can save yourself a fair amount of money. Whilst on Gili, go scuba diving or snorkelling, you'll see so much and more often than not will see turtles. Rent a bike and travel to Villa Ombak Sunset to swing on the famous sea swings whilst watching a beautiful sunset. Traveling back from Gili T to mainland Bali is an hour and a half boat journey on a more substantial (often Australian run) boat and was the only time I have ever felt seasick, it's a rough crossing - be prepared.

Let me know you're favourite places to visit in Bali below, I definitely want to explore the island more, especially the less tourist places!

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