Highlights of Bali and Nusa Penida in 7 days
We've previously shown you a spoiler of Bali's highlights after the first 2 days there.
But now we want to tell you the highlights of Bali and Nusa Penida in 7 days one by one. But before that, let's tell you our global feeling on how to best visit Bali and how we felt the culture was.
Global feeling about Bali
The Balinese people are just great! They are so nice to everyone, they drive so nicely and respect people who are not experienced driving. They always try to help and many of them have a big smile when they talk to you.
The places themselves (if it was not because of the way they artificially prepared them: see below) are just amazing. The rice terraces close to Ubud for example are amazing, even after comparing with other places of south East Asia. But almost any of the rice terraces in the north are just astonishing.
The temples in Bali are very well decorated with many people participating in their traditions. Balinese are in general super religious and have many traditions they need to respect and follow. For cremation they even build some animal-like statues and they burn the bodies of the dead people inside as a part of their tradition.
They also believe in Karma so they always try to do their best to others to live their best.
The weather is really amazing, especially around Ubud. During the dry season it's just perfect . During the day it's about 30 degrees and at night about 20 degrees.
The food is really good. They have a very nice culinary culture with many different things and many vegetarian options.
The not so good
We thought it would be full of Yoga retreats and Digital Nomads in Ubud, Bali because that's what we've heard before. However, it was not so spread as we thought. But Bali is very touristic. I mean, the whole Europe is there doing holidays. We found out that the majority of tourists are nice and laid back but there is a significant amount of party-like tourist... like the Mallorca ones. Which is a little bit sad but I guess it's what happens when a destination becomes so popular. Moreover, since there are so many people visiting Bali, it has become a theme park. Namely, it's full of swings everywhere, even for the small waterfalls. You also need to pay for almost everything you want to visit, even the small and "hidden" waterfalls or even to go to some beaches.
The roads are not very well prepared, especially in remote areas. And there is a lot of pollution on the street. Some of the locals wear masks while riding motorbikes. There's a lot of plastic on the ground, forests, etc. And you sometimes see dogs and monkeys searching food in the garbage. I think all these things are improving over time but it takes time.
Some children in remote places, especially in Punida, don't seem to go to school and many of them ride motorbikes without helmet when they're young. I think this is improving a lot as well and I hope tourism helps with that :)
Highlights of Bali
1. Rice terraces
There are many different rice terraces to see in Bali. Some of them are more remote and less visited by tourists. However, the most popular one Tegalangan, which is close to Ubud is popular for a reason. The way in which the rice fields are is spectacular! Of course, the Balinese people know it and almost every entry to the rice terraces is controlled with ticketing. Somewhat we were lucky enough to find a Café that had actually a path to the trekking for free. You can contact us in our email or subscribe to know more about the exact place. Afterwards, we gave a donation to the farmers of the rice terraces themselves.
Here you can see 3 different rice terraces:
2. Monkey forest
You can see the monkeys everywhere in Bali for free. However, here you see many of them and you see them as they live, including baby monkeys feeding from the mum's breast or some monkeys having sex.
Some of them will jump on you and try to steal water or food from you so you need to be careful.
And since it's not closed, many monkeys go out to Ubud city to climb on motorbikes or steal some food from the shops haha
Of course, because of the tourists they actually created the so called monkey selfie in which it seems as if the monkey is taking a selfie with you… These are the kind of things that make the experience too artificial in our opinion but if it’s what most of the tourists want, let it be :)
3. Goa Gajah Temple and Tirta Empul Temple (Holy water temple)
The first one is a temple inside a cave and the door is just very cool with one of their gods made of stone. Apart from this you can see some of their swimming pools with holy water. We would say it is worth it but it is also pretty popular since it’s so close to Ubud. If you don’t have a lot of time and don’t like being with other tourists you can skip this stop.
The second one is really nice! It is a temple with holy water and the water comes actually from a spring and you can see how it flows through the ground as some kind of smoke. It's a pretty beautiful phenomena. Moreover, many people go to this temple to do a ritual with the holy water which is supposed to purify you. Even as a tourist you can do it.
4. Penglipuran village (traditional Balinese village)
The Balinese traditional village is really nice. However, we have seen many bloggers mentioning that it is more like a tourist trap. In our case it was definitely not. No one tried to sell us anything, we saw the kids playing and the parents cooking and there were almost no tourist. About 20 people a part from us. The magic hack: Arrive there very late by 18h (almost by sunset). We can imagine that during the day it’s pretty bad. So, if you organize a private guide, you can tell him / her to have this village as their last stop before heading back to Ubud.
5. Mount Batur and best temple in the north (Pura Ulun Danu Batur)
In Bali, all the tours are very much prepared and most of the people do the same thing: climb Mount Batur at sunrise (having to wake up at 1 AM), rice terraces, monkey forest, Tanah Lot and some waterfall close to Ubud. While all these places are nice, you don’t need to do what everybody does. You can also see Mount Batur during the day. Again, you can organize the trip with your private driver so that you can go to different viewing points of Mount Batur. We would really not recommend the viewing point that most of the private drivers go to. It’s not the best and it’s full of locals trying to sell you things. Instead, you can go to the second biggest temple in Bali, which is in the north. From there you have one of the best views of Mount Batur and lake Batur! Moreover, the temple itself is one of the best temples we have seen in Bali. And it is not popular at all. We were there alone with just 4 more tourists and the rest were mainly locals praying.
6. Tanah Lot
This place is usually the last stop of the private tours because “you’re supposed to go by sunset”. Again if you don’t like to be with thousands of people and probably queue for a people you can think out of the box and go early in the morning instead. Moreover in the morning the tide was high so you could actually see the temple surounded by water. We did that, and there were more locals than tourists. They were actually doing a cereomny at the temple itself and had to cross with the water on their feet with all the holy objects.
Moreover, a bit far away from the temple you have a very nice view of a black-sand beach with rocks with a hole in the middle.
7. Ulun Danu Betaran temple (the icon of Bali)
This temple is very beautiful and it’s quite north from Ubud. Even though it’s the icon of Bali it is not extremely full. However, you should expect a couple of hundred of tourists. The temple is in the middle of the Buratan lake and the views with the mountains behind are just incredible. We would also recommend going there.
8. The two lakes in the north: Danau Buyan and Lake Tamblingan
The more north you go, the less people there will be and the more relaxed it will be. The two lakes are very beautiful from above as you can see in the drone video that summarizes Bali. Close to the lakes in the north there are actually more monkeys than people. The locals throw food and drinks to the monkeys from the car directly. The monkeys can of course open the plastic bottles with the drinks but afterwards they will not throw them into the rubish… so it’s pretty full of plastic around the path.
9. Enjoy a traditional Balinese massage for 6€.
To escape from the pollution and the Balinese traffic you can actually have a nice relaxing Balinese massage for 100k idr (6€). We did two during the 7 days visiting Bali and both were really good. Especially this one though..
10. Do a cooking class in Bali
If you like cooking, there is a very nice option to do a cooking class in Bali. For us it was the best food we ate during the 7 days and it was cooked by us and it was lots of fun as well. Moreover, they first bring you to the local market and explain you the ingredients that you're going to use. We would really recommend this cooking class. See this post for the details of the cooking class.
11. Enjoy the streets of Ubud and watch a traditional music show.
And the last tip: if you like ice cream, the Tukies coconut ice-cream is really great. It was recommended by a friend in Germany before coming to Bali.
Highlights of Nusa Penida
To really enjoy Nusa Penida we would recommend to stay at least 1 or 2 nights in the island. Then you can explore the island by yourself and calmly going at the times where the day tours are not there. This means you should visit the stuff before 9 AM or after 5 PM. And during the hours in between you can have lunch and also visit the rest of the things that are not included in the day tour but that are equally beautiful such as the waterfall temple or the temple inside the cave
1. Diamond beach
The trick to enjoy that being alone with only 3 more people and one Monkey is to actually go very late. We arrived there at 17h30 when the sun already started going down. The views are astonishing. And being alone there is totally worth it. It gives you a sense of peace. You can enjoy views like this.
You can see more in the video of Bali and Nusa that we did in the videos section or just clicking here.
2. Guyangan Waterfall
This is one of the places that you can visit anytime during the day since the day tours don't usually go there. This place is amazing. The waterfall is relatively small but the temple is located almost at the sea and you need to go down some dangerous stairs to go down. Not for people who are afraid of heights though.
3.Temple inside the cave (Goa Giri Putri temple) and the way until there
The way is just amazing with the reflection on the still water on the sunset and people picking up seaweed. And the temple itself is incredible since it's built in a huge cave which entrance is really small.
4. Kelingking beach
This is the icon of Nusa Penida so it is always full. Even after the day tours are gone. However, it is really worth it since you can see the spectacular turquoise color together with the beautiful white sands.
How did we visit all these places?
For the rice terraces and the Monkey forest we just took 1 grab motorbike each for each way for 2€. And for the rest of the places we hired a private driver for 30€ for 10h. We did that 2 days covering the two routes you can see here:
He was explaining many things about the Balinese culture, bringing us to eat traditional food such as Babi Guling and also adapting to the way we wanted the tours. You can see more details on how to move in Bali and Nusa Penida in this post