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Bali: 10 places you must experience on your trip

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Katrine has lived in Bali, and shares here 10 of the greatest experiences on the island.
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Bali: 10 places you must experience On the trip is written by Katrine Øland Frandsen

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Why holiday in Bali?

After I saw the movie 'Eat, Pray, Love', where Julia Roberts drops her normal everyday life and travels to Italy, India and Bali, I had to leave. Bali is referred to as an exotic paradise and that was the impression I had before going on my overseas vacation there.

With all due respect, Bali is not a paradise right now - but they are working on it. Bali and Indonesia are unfortunately the place in the world after China, which contributes most to plastic pollution in the world's oceans. Fortunately, disposable plastic was banned in 2019 in Bali, and the country is recognizing the environmental challenges they face.

Indonesia is a developing country, and without tourism, development will only slow down. So if your next trip is to Bali, then travel responsibly and help the country improve.

Here comes my insider guide to 10 places you must go if you want to experience Bali as an exotic paradise.

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Experience Uluwatu Temple and Sunset Point on your vacation in Bali

Uluwatu Temple is a Hindu temple located on the southern coastline of Bali. Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, but in Bali 80% of the inhabitants are Hindu. The interesting thing about this temple is that it is built on the edge of a cliff that is 80 meters above havet.

You get close to nature and it abounds with monkeys here, so hold on tight to your phone and other shiny objects; the monkeys steal for fun. Visit the temple in the evening and experience the traditional dance 'Kecak' - whose name can be translated to 'fire dance'.

If you don't stay for the evening's entertainment, you can head to Uluwatu Sunset Point, which is 20 minutes away.

From here you can experience one of the better sunsets on top of a cliff edge while enjoying a Balinese beer or a dragon fruit juice.

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Nusa Islands and Kelingking Beach

The Nusa Islands are an archipelago of three islands; Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. The islands are a short boat ride from the coastal town of Sanur in Bali.

On Nusa Penida you can experience Kelingking beach and the famous rock formation that looks like a T-Rex.

The beach will certainly be overrun with tourists – that goes without saying when it has been named Asia's second best beach in Tripadvisor's Travelers Choice.

It is recommended to visit all three islands and not just the main island of Nusa Penida.

On Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan there are both blue lagoons, wild snorkelling destinations, extraordinarily beautiful hiking and diving opportunities and fantastic island life.

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Canggu - the city for young travelers in Bali

Tourism is constantly developing in Bali, and tourists from all over the world flock to the small Indonesian island.

Kuta was originally the big city that first got the attention of tourists. After it became too overrun with tourism, tourists moved further up the west coast to Seminyak. The same thing happened again in Seminyak, and now it is Canggu that is attracting attention.

Canggu is the city for the young travelers and newcomers. The area is full of great shopping, beaches, beach club, bazaars and cozy vegan cafes and restaurants.

The area also offers good evening entertainment at the bar 'Old mans' and the nightclub 'La Farvela '.

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Ubud and Tegalalang rice terracerne

In Bali much of the tourism is on the coast like in Canggu or Seminyak. But if you go inland to the town of Ubud, you will experience a different kind of Bali.

Ubud is known for its famous rice terraces in Tegalalang and civet coffee- coffee plantations. You will find local markets with Balinese crafts in the beautiful green surroundings.

I fell head over heels for Balinese craftsmanship – they make everything from wicker baskets and wooden kitchen utensils to blown glass and jewellery.

When you visit Ubud, you can also go to their 'monkey forest'. It is a forest full of monkeys that are used to the influx of tourists. A fun experience to get so close to the monkeys - and a good family experience.

However, a good tip is to hide shiny objects away when you move around the Money Forest in Ubud, because the Balinese monkeys are known to hoard and steal.

Ubud is also known as Bali's yoga paradise, so if you want to go to yoga retreat or mindfulness journey, then Ubud is the place to go.

Indonesia Bali batur volcano travel - vacation in Bali

Watch the sunrise volcano Batur on your vacation in Bali

Climbing the Batur volcano is a popular activity in Bali.

It is a steep walk on a terrain that is difficult to walk on. The hike starts early in the morning and the volcano takes two hours to climb. You will arrive at the top just in time to experience a stunning sunrise between the nearby mountains and volcanoes.

After all, it is said that the hardest hikes are the most rewarding, and the view here is totally worth it. Prepare to get up early and get sweaty.

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Gili Islands Trangawan, Meno and Air

Indonesia has 6000 inhabited islands and 583 different dialects. The word 'Gili' and the word 'Nusa' both mean island - just in different dialects.

The archipelago consists of three islands; Gili Trangawan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The islands border the neighboring volcanic island of Lombok, providing stunning views from all the islands. The best thing about the Gili Islands is that they are car free, and you get around by renting a bike or a horse-drawn carriage.

Gili Trangawan is the largest and is seen as the main island. Here you can find small shops, food markets, a lively nightlife and lots of water activities. Gili Air is the second largest and is a quieter island than Trangawan. The island is also called the island of love, and many couples go there.

At Gili Air you will find yoga studios, cozy restaurants and small cute shops. With a bike you can explore the whole island. Gili Meno is a more desolate island. It can be visited on a snorkeling trip offered from both Gili Trangawan and Gili Air, or you can go there for an overnight stay or two.

There are also the so-called secret Gili islands, which lie right off Lombok, for example Gili Sudak. Here there is complete peace and you are far from mass tourism.


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The Komodo Islands and the modern dinosaur

There are only a handful of islands in the world where you can encounter the venomous dinosaur-like Komodo dragon, and those islands are located in Indonesia.

The Komodo dragon is a reptile known for its massive size. A fully grown Komodo dragon can be up to 3 meters long and weigh 90 kilos. To maintain their size, they eat up to 80% of their body weight - but only once a month.

Their saliva is poisonous – both to animals and humans. It is therefore mandatory that you only visit Komodo National Park with one creak, who know about the animal's lifestyle. The national park is, in my opinion, one real life 'Jurassic Park'.

To get there, fly from Bali to Flores.

From Flores you go on a two-day boat trip where you visit the different islands. You can spend the night on the boat. The islands offer plenty of good hikes with great views, and it teems with wildlife.

I swam with giant manta rays, met deer – which is one of the Komodo dragon's prey – on the beach, and then of course I met the majestic Komodo dragon. It is a great experience.

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Go to the local fish market in Jimbaran on your holiday in Bali

To travel is to live – and eat.

Balinese cuisine uses many vegetables and of course rice in their dishes. You probably won't avoid trying one of their most popular dishes; nasi goreng – but something else that the island is also good at is fish.

If you go to Jimbaran beach, you will have something of an authentic experience. Jimbaran Fish Market is one of the largest local fish markets in Bali. Here you select the fish you want to have cooked. I went for one red snapper.

Then you take it out to a nearby restaurant, which prepares it. Whether you like fish or not, it is a culinary experience you must not miss. It tastes incredibly good and it's a shame too environmentally friendly to do as the locals. Buy a coconut to rinse down with.

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Waterfalls in northern Bali and the trip there

North Bali is my best experience in Bali so far. Whether it was the scooter trip that did it is not known. North Bali was so amazing that I regret not making the trip up there sooner.

On a three-day trip from Jimbaran and up through the island, I visited the gate 'Gateway to Heaven', spent the night at Amed beach and drove to the waterfalls Tegenungan, Sekumpul and Fiji before turning my nose back towards Sydbali.

Most people will probably recognize the iconic tourist attraction 'Gateway to heaven'. And correctly, there are many tourists - but for me it is the trip up there that makes the experience unique.

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The best beaches in Bali: Nunggalan and Nyang Nyang

Would you like to come home completely rested from your holiday in Bali?

Then I would advise you to visit Nunggalan or Nyang Nyang beach which is next to it. An absolutely untouched paradise - without tourists. In fact, I only met one other person - and that was a Balinese selling coconuts.

The beaches are on the southernmost edge of beautiful Bali, and the walk from the parking lot to the beach is quite a downhill walk through the jungle.

This is probably why it is so deserted. But it is absolutely worth the whole trip. A perfect place to actually recharge and relax by the water without so many distractions.

Four good tips for your holiday in Bali

Rent a scooter. The best way to get around Bali is by scooter. The traffic is heavy, and you can quickly end up sitting in a queue for a long time if you are in a car. Include popular places like Ubud and Canggu.

Download the app Grave or gojek Both work like Uber. You can order everything from a taxi ride to a massage – with delivery to your home – and food from any restaurant.

Do your bit for the environment. It is inevitable not to be affected by trash and plastic floating in the streets.

Bali is a developing island and they are working on it. You can do your part by supporting the locals and saying no to plastic. Bring your own metal straw and pick up plastic if you come across it havet. It makes a huge difference.

Support an NGO. The 'Seaturtle Conservation Center' in Kuta, the 'Turtle Conservation And Education Center' in Denpasar or the 'Bali Animal Welfare Association' are some of the many organizations in Bali that help wildlife on the island. Volunteer, support them financially or donate discarded clothes - everything helps.

Happy Holidays to Bali!


Did you know: Here are the 7 cities in Europe with the most hours of sunshine!

7: Nice in France – 342 hours/month
6: Valencia in Spain – 343 hours/month
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What to see in Bali? Sights and attractions

  • The rice terraces in Tegalalang
  • Sekumpul, Tegenungan and Fiji Falls
  • The Monkey Forest in Ubud
  • Uluwatu cliffs
  • The beaches of Nunggalan and Nyang Nyang
  • Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang - “Gateway to Heaven”
  • Gili Islands Trangawan, Meno and Air
  • Volcano Batur

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7: Pai in northern Thailand
6: Kota Kinabalu on Borneo in Malaysia
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About the author

Katrine Øland Frandsen

A cheerful Jew, living in Copenhagen. On a daily basis, I am a curious extrovert with enthusiasm for travel, creativity and new experiences. I have been backpacking for a total of 19 months in resp. Asia, Oceania, South & Central America, I have had an exchange semester in Indonesia, and am now a communications intern at RejsRejsRejs. I am the type who is constantly looking for the next journey.

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