Ultimate Bali Itinerary
If I could only go to one destination for the rest of my days, it would without a doubt be Bali. My spiritual home full of the kindest people, the right priorities and a way of life that embraces happiness. The land of the most beautiful sunsets and lush tropical jungles. Full of extreme activities while being perfectly relaxing, it’s a destination that should be on everyones list. Having now been fortunate to visit three times, I’ve fallen more in love with it every time.
In the central hills of Bali, surrounded by jungle and rice fields and dotted throughout with Hindu temples, providing a dose of Balinese culture in a lush rural setting. Life here is laid back and green. Bali’s cultural capital, a seductive town of painters and craftspeople.
I stayed just outside of town at COMO Shambhala Estate, away from the busy centre of Ubud town, but close enough to enjoy the best that the area has to offer.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
One of Bali’s most iconic sights, the layered terraces line the sides of Ubud’s famous green hills, providing a patchwork that has to be seen to be believed. Just a short drive outside of the heart of Ubud, these are some of the most well maintained rice terraces in Bali with fantastic vantage points. The layers create such a special pattern on the side of the hill that looks something like a big, green, layer cake. Take some time to walk along the pathways through the terraces, the view from the top is stunning and well worth the sweaty walk to get there.
Purification Ceremony at Pura Tirta Empul
Read more about this special experience here. The most spiritual experience and the absolute highlight of my trip.
Visiting a Balinese spiritual healer
Visiting a Balinese spiritual healer left me speechless. I avoided reading much about this beforehand, I’m sceptical by nature so I wanted to approach this with an open mind. Everyone’s experiences will be different, but mine was truly magical. I realised it’s not about believing, but about being open and I was utterly blown away by what happened. It’s a very personal experience as your soul is read, so I won’t go into details, but if you have the opportunity, don’t think twice about this.
Nadis Herbal Jamu Class
Jamu is Indonesia’s cure-all ancient herbal medicine, the belief being that if disease comes from nature, then so must the cure. A surprisingly tasty concoction based on turmeric and galangal, it is claimed that its properties act as; antiseptic, tonic, blood cleanser, anti fungal, expectorant, slimming and energiser. And perhaps most impressively, it is thought to help to cure cancers with the Jamu helping the body to produce it’s own antibodies to fight against cancer.
We went on to make a healing body scrub, body oil that can fight infections and a body mask that draws out toxins from the skin. The products were applied to us and bottled up to take home. Even if not cured of everything in this two hour class, it gives a great insight into the spiritual beliefs of the locals and is a fascinating experience.
Kopi Luwak Coffee Farm
Home to the world’s most expensive coffee, the beans here go through one of the more ‘exotic’ forms of coffee processing, the Luwak! This animal is native to Indonesia and a few neighbouring countries. They feed on small pulpy fruits with a particular fascination towards the sweet Arabica coffee berries.
The coffee cherries undergo fermentation in the animals digestive tract before being excreted and cleaned (thoroughly!) to separate out the coffee beans. The Luwak only feeds on coffee cherries seasonally so there is a limited supply, as well as them living in the wild making the process of collecting the poop in the early morning quite time consuming. Cheaper Luwak Kopu is produced by overfed Luwak’s bred in captivity so it is important to go for the more expensive and ethically sourced option.
Walking around the farm, you are shown the process that the beans go on, before having a tasting of about 15 different coffees and teas produced locally. And of course, there’s a shop at the end where you can collect enough coffee to fill your suitcase.
Hidden away in the jungle close to Ubud is one of Bali’s most stunning waterfalls. There’s an impressive green valley panorama with the cascading water as a centrepiece. Take the steps down to the water where the water crashes and a misty spray cools everyone in sight. There had been so much rain during my time in Bali that the water was too dirty and the volume too large for anyone to bathe in, but this just made it more impressive.
Cross over the makeshift log bridge and climb up the side to the top of the waterfall to enjoy the picturesque views back across the valley.
Yoga Yoga Yoga! If there’s one thing I definitely did in Bali, it’s yoga! And in the most beautiful of settings, open air with the chilled Balinese breeze mindfully keeping you in the moment. There are many places to choose from, but my hotel offered complimentary yoga with some of the best teachers there are, so I didn’t drift much further.
Seminyak is Bali’s more fashionable beach. Home to the islands luxurious resorts, the best restaurants and the cutest boutiques. An absolute world away from Ubud, its relaxed, but in a much more busy way.
This is the perfect spot to come to enjoy Bali’s stunning sunset and there are a number of places to do just that. Many of the hotels are located on the beach and offer their own show, such as Alila Seminyak where I was staying. Otherwise head to one of the day clubs such as Ku de Ta with lounge beds facing out to the sea and a DJ providing the perfect soundtrack to your sundowner.
Sadly not an actual circus, but in no way a disappointment. The outside is painted in bright colours just ready and waiting for Instagram and the decor inside continues the theme. Serving a healthy menu with lots of great vegan options, this is a brilliant place to come for brunch. It’s open all day and already on my list to try out for dinner next time.
Pura Tanah Lot
Pura Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s most important sea temples, famous for its sunset backdrops. The Ancient Hindu shrine is perched on top of an outcrop amongst constantly crashing waves. It is said to be protected by holy sea snakes which formed from the scarves of its founder. It’s the most visited temple in Bali, so I decided to visit first thing in the morning and wow am I glad that I did! The only people I shared the site with were the three monks climbing up to make their morning blessings, perfect.
Pura Taman Ayun
The royal water temple of Pura Taman Ayun is a serene space of calm, generally regarded as one of the most attractive temples of Bali. Surrounded by a wide, elegant moat, the temple was built in 1634 before becoming the main temple in the Mengwi kingdom. The first courtyard is a large open, grassy expanse, protecting the inner courtyard where the important shrines are located along with a number of five, seven, nine and eleven-tiers meru’s. Lotus-blossoms fill the pools, with the temple forming part of the subak (complex rice-field irrigation system) that was recognised by Unesco in 2012.