When you think of Bali, you probably conjure up images of white sandy beaches, lush green paddy fields, precipitous cliffs, and bountiful souvenir shopping. Oh, how spot-on you are!
Upon arrival at the Ngurah Rai airport, the first thing to do is to jump into a taxi, the only form of public transportation recommend to first-timers on the island. Ensure your cabbie works for the Blue Bird taxi fleet as they go by the meter as opposed to an over inflated fixed rate.
Skip the bustling tourist area of Kuta and head over to Ubud instead. Stop by one of the many paddy fields along the way and Instagram shots of yourself. Widely known as the artsy district of Bali, Ubud is home to plenty of independent boutiques, craft stores, cafes and restaurants. You will definitely get a little taste of a hippie-vibe here so do not hesitate to get your hair braided, buy a woven basket or two and sit patiently whilst two elderly Balinese women decorate your skin with henna.
Another stop to make would be the area around Uluwatu. Known for its hanging cliffs and beautiful ocean views, check out Uluwatu temple first. Beware the multitude of monkeys who call this temple their home as they have a fondness for bling-bling and have been known to grab anything and everything from sunglasses, cameras, snacks, flip-flops, bottled water to wallets. Also, ensure you stay till sundown to catch a live performance of the kecak dance, a traditional fire and dance act. Venture a little further along the coast and you will hit Padang-Padang, a beautiful little bay where you can sunbathe, swim and catch a few waves.
One thing you need to know about Bali is that the further north you venture, the less touristy it becomes so I suggest you spend a few days going through the touristy motions before heading north. Expect to spend over three hours in the taxi, but the drive will be worth it as you will come across perfect views of mountains, sleeping volcanoes, valleys, oceans and wonderful plots of agriculture fields. Simple magical!
If you are a certified scuba diver, you have to make the effort to seek out a dive center and indulge in a little diving up north. If not, partake in some snorkeling and gasp in awe at the corals and marine life left alone by the scores of tourist huddled together down south. You will be able to find family-run resorts that focus on sustainability and being ‘green‘ so if that is the sort of thing you are into, then the northern coast of Bali is for you. Also note that Bali is famous for its world-class hikes so you will get the chance to set aside your flip-flops and bust out your trusty Nikes. Do not forget to bring some mozzie repellent with you because depending on the season, they can get pretty aggressive.
From vibrant party scenes to secluded beaches, look no further for your own little taste of paradise. With its tropical weather, friendly people and great food, Bali truly is an island getaway like no other.
When returning from Bali, make sure that you have checked your flights aren’t delayed or cancelled. Also, it is important to ensure that you haven’t bought anything that is prohibited on the returning flight to the UK, or that your baggage weight is too heavy. On re-arrival to the UK, your next step will depend on which parking service you booked - for example, if you’re from Newcastle, and you bought a Newcastle airport parking meet and greet service then you should collect your car from the terminal, as opposed to taking a bus transfer to the car park. Once home, all that is left to do is unpack and reflect on what is sure to be one of the best experiences of your life.
(Photo by John Yavuz Can via Flickr, edited)