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?