I often proclaim Bali as one of my favourite places in the entire world, but that’s kind of a lie. Because if I’m honest, I haven’t really explored Bali at all.
On my two trips to the island, I’ve hightailed it straight out of the airport, through the heavy air and into a taxi headed straight to the rice fields surrounding the small town of Ubud. In reality, it’s even a bit of an exaggeration to call Ubud the place that steals my soul, because my love actually belongs to the small villages and rice paddies located around Ubud.
What to love in Ubud
As anyone who’s visited Ubud, Bali will tell you, it can be quite a touristy place, with sometimes choking traffic and a whole lot of commerce. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of things to do in Ubud that I love.
Ubud has amazing healthy food options, more affordable massages than you can imagine, and, what I swear, has got to be the most gorgeous Starbucks in the entire world. And don’t even get me started on the insanely exquisite temple located directly behind that Starbucks.
I adore Ubud, in small doses. A stop at Kafe for dinner 3 nights in a row, a ridiculously cheap, but oh-so-nurturing spa package at Shangri-la Spa, a Campuhan ridge walk, and a strong Indonesian cuppa on Anomolie’s balcony are just about enough for me. I get what I need from Ubud, and then flee back towards the solitude and serenity of the village, just as fast as I can.
The real beauty of Bali lies not in the pounding coastlines of Kuta and Seminyak, or the new-agey, “Eat, Pray, Love”-ness of Ubud. For me, it’s found amidst the silent symmetry of it’s acres and acres of rice fields around Ubud, clouds that dot the blue like nowhere else in the world, sunsets that turn the evening sky into a blaze of colour and the heartfelt kindness of the Indonesian people.
My Bali is one where I can breathe.
Getting around Bali
Denpasar Airport has an extremely short runway surrounded by water, so have your cameras ready for landing. Bali is picturesque from the start. 🙂
Once you pass through immigration, and enter the airport, you’ll be mobbed by touts trying to provide onward transit. Ignore them and head outside to negotiate. The first rate we were given was 450,000 IDR, but we got it down to 300,000 IDR (low season – not sure what high season rate could be negotiated) by staying firm on what we were willing to pay.
When negotiating, keep in mind, that gas is subsidized in Indonesia, with current prices hovering around $0.70 per litre. Rates are usually given for the Ubud centre, so be specific about your final destination.
The ride from Denpasar to Ubud will take 1.5-2 hours, depending on traffic.
Where to Stay in Ubud
On our last sojourn, we found ourselves lost in the paddies of Laplaplan at Manyi Village. A winding 10 minute scooter ride away from Ubud, it’s a relatively new hotel surrounded by nothing but rice fields as far as the eye can see. Gorgeous Balinese architecture, a stunning pool overlooking the lush rainforest, restaurant, afternoon tea, air conditioning and wifi made our stay as comfortable as possible.
It was low season, so we negotiated a rate of 900,000 IDR net, directly with the hotel. They arranged a scooter for us at 50,000 IDR per day, but if you’re not comfortable on one, Manyi Village, also provides free shuttle service to and from Ubud Centre.
Have you been to Bali? Do you hang out by the coast or head straight for the interior? My favourite place is found among Ubud’s rice fields. What defines YOUR Bali?
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Heading to Bali next Christmas! It’s so far awayyyyy…but I’m really excited!
Woahhhh!! You’re an early planner…lol, we do everything completely last minute. I’m excited for you… Bali is one of my absolute faves! 🙂
Your vivid descriptions of the food and scenes you’ve experienced in Bali is kind of a torture for us. 😀 Thanks for making us going. 😉
Nice to have you travelling with us Rommel… even if it was torture for you. 😉
I always love Ubud too despite of it being so touristic nowadays 🙂 Great images, made me longing to visit Bali again 🙂
I can never get enough of Ubud…especially in the evenings when all the day tours have left and it’s quiet again. 😀
Ami (Yearful of Sundays)
Lovey pics! I can see why you keep returning to this place. 🙂
There’s such a feeling of serenity there, I always feel totally rejuvenated after visiting. 😀
I would love to go to Bali. A couple of friend came back very disapointed from there, it’s weird isn’t it ?
Oh no, that’s terrible. Which part of Bali were they visiting? The island has such a different feeling, depending on where you stay, and traffic can be really awful.
It was their first time in asia/south east asia and they were shocked by the amount of rubbish everywhere. They found it dirty. I can’t recall exactly where they went, they travelled around 😉
I am not surprise at all. Could that be in Kuta and Seminyak? I read the news about the rubbish issue in Kuta beach. It was horrible in that area because of these marine debris issue. I have been to Bali multiple times and I always tried to avoid Kuta and Seminyak area – too crowded and there were some garbage issue in these two areas.
It was definitely in the south, so probably there. Do they plan to do something about this issue ?
Ooo, the temple behind Starbucks – I remember that! We had it almost completely to ourselves one hot and humid afternoon in October. 🙂
That temple is insanely gorgeous, isn’t it? I was in total awe the first time I saw it. 😀
Totally agree with the above. I like Bali best when I get to escape from the tourist crowds…hehe…and I still have my eye on that infinity pool! 🙂
We are going to live in the infinity pool, remember? 😉
We shall be the infinity pool sisters! Yeah! ??
Love the photos! Need to put Bali on my list 🙂
I wholeheartedly agree Amanda! I think Bali needs to be on everybody’s list…if for no other reason, than to experience the total rejuvenation of an $8 Balinese massage. 😉
Amazing photos as usual. Indonesia looks like it should definitely be on our list of places to go!
Yes Derek, please go! I can’t speak for the rest of Indonesia (which is Muslim and I think might have a different feeling), but Bali (which is Hindu) is so amazing, and besides the flight, it’s really affordable. I’ll be putting together a Breakdown post of what we spent, but besides the plane tix, it really wasn’t much. 😀
Beautiful location and gorgeous shots! Looks like a place worth visiting. Thank you for the virtual tour!
It’s definitely worth visiting! It’s my favourite place to get a massage in the whole world – we did 4.5 hours of massage in 3 days. Think it was a bit much? 😉
That tells me it was really good, so it should be fine haha 🙂
Justine of The Travel Lush
I would love to stay in one of the guesthouses around Ubud. I keep making the mistake of staying in the city center, which I just don’t like that much. But I agree with you that there is something magical about the rice paddies that surround Ubud. Plus, that hotel looks awesome!
I can understand why you wouldn’t like the centre. We walked around for about 20 minutes and it was enough for me. There’s an awful lot of pollution and scooter noise. 🙁 Next time you visit, definitely try staying close enough to access the amazing food in Ubud, but not actually in it. We splurged a bit on this place, but when I was looking, there were plenty of cheaper options available in the surrounding villages…and since you’re comfortable on a scooter, it’d be a piece o’ cake for you to get around. 🙂
beautiful view (=
The best! True serenity. 😀