bali story guide – magical towns worth a visit

bali story guide – magical towns worth a visit

Whenever I travel to a new place, I am curious just to get to know every little secret about that place. Do you know what I mean? Knowledge about the country you are traveling to makes everything so much more magical and it makes me appreciate everything I see so much more because I know the story behind. Under the surface of the waves you see in an ocean, there are endless beautiful depth underneath to discover. Getting to know as much interesting and detailed stories about the culture you are traveling to is actually so much fun. That’s why I decided to take some time in Ubud today to sit down in a wonderful raw vegan Café, to not only enjoy my white tea and the beautiful view on the small side streets of Ubud as mindful as I can, but also to self study all the things that make me so curious about Indonesia. So curious, that I decided to come here myself. I think it’s a nice idea to share the things I learn today about Bali today in order to make you curious about that little place as I am right now. Also, my little creation is simply perfect if you are ready to come to Bali as well and you want to use your precious travel time to visit all the places that are worth a visit and learn about the beautiful story behind them as well.

Since there is a lot of knowledge to share about Bali, I will make a little post series out of that. I will provide you with everything you need to know about the most beautiful beaches and nature”, ”towns”, ”locals, temples and their way of life” and ‘‘food aka vegan cafés and restaurants” Today I am starting with the simple topic I am most interested in: Stories about all the different towns in Bali that are definitely worth a visit.

Also, I want to encourage you to keep growing the beautiful mind of yours whatever you are doing and wherever in the world you are. Learning things when you have to go to school or you decide to study is easy. Studying because you follow your own, unique interests is an act of self love and discipline. For me, it takes a lot more effort to get myself to self study about all the wonderful things in life you can educate yourself about when I am really the only person I am doing it for. Simply taking the beautiful opportunity to let your mind grow freely about the things that make you excited for life is a just amazing when you think about it. By writing that, I am reminding myself to take that opportunity more often and hopefully make it a regular habit to do in future since I can get super lazy at times and start spending my precious free time binge watching youtube videos that are not inspiring or serving my wellbeing in any way. I work on minimizing these useless habits since I am the mastermind and I have the power to create my own dream of life everyday, just as you can too. But for now, lets make our minds sparkle inside out by growing it with wonderful knowledge about Bali.

UBUD Ubud is one of the places that are not at the beach. Don’t be scared of that. The town is centered in the heart of Bali, surrounded by rice terraces and rainforest. When I came to Ubud, I felt like entering a completely new world. Even though I am definitely not the only tourist, you will probably get a lot of local feelings as well. The center of the city is the old ”puri saren” palace. It used to be the old residence of the Raja (basically another word for a monarch in Southeast Asia) of Ubud. When you are lucky, you can see the local teens practicing spiritual dances, or even visit one of their dancing shows after sunset.

When you visit the old palace, you will be surprised by the beautiful garden there that looks like art itself. It’s true that Ubud is known for its art. It basically is the central city for creativity in Bali. I saw many little shops along all the main streets and the side streets of Ubud that sell beautiful art, just as much as I got to see very different street artists. On the daily art market ”pasar seni” , you can look at all the different forms of art, manifested as silk scarves, wood carving, baskets or hats. They are a wonderful souvenir or memory for your Ubud explorations. And if you are seeking to see even more art afterwards, just visit the palace of painting called ”puri lukisan”. You can see a lot of old paintings and wood carvings there, that are collected there since the last war of independence in 1930.

The main streets of Ubud are busy and and I was quite overwhelmed at first, but when you are a curious explorer like me, it won’t take long until you find quiet side ways straight into the green rice fields as well.

Another really popular place to visit is the monkey forest. It’s basically made for tourism and you will probably meet a lot of other human beings from Europe and Australia. Actually good for finding company as a solo traveler. It’s not expensive at all definitely worth a visit if you like monkeys, or maybe even want a monkey to sit on your shoulder. During the hot midday hours, you can treat yourself with a wonderful balinese massage. There are endless spa shops all around the center in Ubud. The four euros for that one hour of relaxation are worth it, I promise. Next to all the spa shops, you will probably find even more great restaurants and cafés.

Most places are wonderful to spend a few hours to create something or just to be and appreciate the beauty of life in Ubud. You will find many vegan options and so much great food to try. Summing up, I would describe the center of Ubud as a busy place full of locals on the street to sell their fruits and other foods. Also there are plenty of restaurants with lots of vegan options, yoga houses, spa houses and art shops around the main attractions like the old palace and the art market. If you decide to leave the busy streets, you can let yourself get lost in the rainforest and rice fields around.

When it comes to your experience of nature to a next level around Ubud, I suggest you to go for a beautiful Ridge Walk in the morning. The scenery over the highland in the middle of the rainforest is breathtaking and the perfect way to start your day early and in an active way before the tropical heat will probably force you to slow down, especially when you are not used to the climate yet. After the tropical rainforest highlands, you can also go further along simple Restaurants. Get yourself a raw vegan ice designer ice cream and enjoy the view on all the rice fields, until you decide to turn around and enjoy everything on your way back to the busy streets in return.

From Ubud, you also can visit a lot of different waterfalls. Most popular to reach from Ubud are the big ”nungnung waterfall”, the canyon waterfall called ”tukad cepung”, and the wide ”goa rang reng waterfall”.  More about the story of all the different waterfalls I will share in another part of this post series. For one last and a little different adventure from Ubud, go and visit the old elephant cave ”goa gaja”. After it was built more than thousand years ago, it used to be a holy place. You walk inside through a mouth, which was pointed to be the mouth of an elephant. Actually, it is not true since elephants didn’t live in Bali when the cave was built. Inside, you will find a statue of Ganesha, as well as different images of balinese demons.

CANGGU The first thing I heard about the small town called Canggu was that it would be a little bit like visiting a small Australia. Canggu is placed right at the ocean and I already made the pleasure to visit that wonderful place for one day. When I came there, I was blown away by the best vegan restaurant I’ve ever visited in my entire life – and I already visited a lot of lovely vegan places. So first thing you need to know about Canggu is that the food is incredibly amazing. You definitely need to visit the vegan ”I am” café if you want happiness tears for the best vegan cinnamon roll your tastebuds will ever come to experience. Actually, you should come back every day to eat yourself through the whole menu. The cake is perfect, just as their waffles, their pancakes, their drinks and all their savory meals. Of course there are many, many more vegan places to visit, but since there will come a second and a third part of my Bali story guide, let me save all my wonderful food experiences for later.

Canggu is great for surfing in Bali. At the ”batu bolong beach”, you can visit one of the several surfing schools in Canggu. While Ubud is a great place for yoga and meditation, Canggu is probably the best place on the island to hit the gym and get sweaty because of movement, not because of the sun. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of places to practice Yoga. If you like horses, you can go for a ride to the beach and see a lot of the other surrounding around Canggu as well.

When I visited Canggu for the first time, ”echo beach” took my breath away. The rocks in the water just look incredibly beautiful. I definitely could imagine spending all day there, from sunrise to sunset, simply doing what I love. Beach bars are perfect for a work day with a wonderful view. Overnight, you have the wonderful opportunity to choose one of many villas and experience what’s it like to live in such a beautiful building for once. They are not expensive at all, so if you are curious, just try. I am definitely excited to not only another day trip, but to even stay there for a few nights and experience the Canggu lifestyle.

KUTA When I asked the nice locals about Kuta, they laughed, shake their heads and said ”Kuta is crazy”. Maybe they wanted to keep me away from Kuta, but another crazy place in Bali definitely got me quite interested and even before my research, I was sure that I will stay for a few nights. Kuta is the first place that was basically made for tourists. Prepare yourself for a maybe not so beautiful view on many big, cheap hotel houses. Before the tourism, Kuta was a small and unknown valley of fishers until the surfers discovered Kuta in the sixties. Kuta is placed in the south of Bali and one of the most famous places of the island. For many tourists, it’s the first way to go after arriving at the airport in Denpaser, only ten kilometers away. Kuta is known for  a wonderful beach with the best places to go surfing. The best beaches to enjoy your day are the ”balangan beach” and the ”pandawa beach”, a place that even was secret before all the tourists came. The strong waves are not the best place to go for a peaceful swim, but for surfing, it’s perfect.

Next to the beach, you will find a lot of places to enjoy a cheap, balinese massage, but also a lot of merchants trying to sell you jewelry, watches and other fake branded articles for a good price. The most popular streets filled with young tourists, merchants and cheap restaurants are poppies one and poppies two. A lot of people mainly come to Kuta for the nightlifeThe best way to find a perfect bar or club is to simply stroll along the beach promenade, especially the street ”jalan pantai’‘ is known to be full of life under the moonlight.

With a lot of tourists, of course there come a lot of touristy activities for entertainment and a lot of fun. If you want to dive deep into the Indonesian culture, these crazy activities in Kuta probably won’t be your number one to go. But if you are looking for some balance after visiting a ton of holy temples and caves, maybe you will enjoy an afternoon in the upside down world, pandora experience bali or waterbom in Kuta. Crazy Kuta, I am excited to see you soon.

SEMINYAK Despite Canggu and Kuta in the south, Seminyak is the third place in the south of Bali that got me interested. I am not sure, but maybe the best way to describe it is to say that you will come to a really touristy place like Kuta, but a lot more luxury and a little bit more quiet version of it, mixed with the trend that makes Canggu so special. It is modern and affordable which is probably a reason why so many tourists come to Seminyak. The tourism attracted so many people, that it is possible to even walk along the beach promenade full of bars into the next party town.

There are many opportunities to go shopping since the most boutiques in Bali are found right in the city center. If you are looking for the luxury kind of shops, ‘‘seminyak square”  is your way to go – but if you are a fan of surf shops, yoga shops and all the other hip things, better go straight to jalan kayu aya”. When you have a lot of money to spend, you can visit ”jalan raya seminyak”, and when you are just looking for a little souvenir or some art, ”jalan legian” is your perfect shopping street. The nightlife also makes a part of the special Seminyak experience, but the good thing is that you don’t even need to go to a bar or a club to party to be a part of it – you can simply visit the night market and enjoy some vegan, Indonesian food.

Moreover, you can visit beach bars, visit good restaurants and do all the touristy activities, you can do in Canggu and Kuta as well. A special thing about Seminyak is a wide sand beach. When you walk, you can reach quiet beaches until you will end up in Canggu, a ten kilometer walk along the beach away. Of course you can also go surfing there, like everywhere, but Seminyak is the perfect place for swimming and snorkeling too. The beaches around here are known for really beautiful sunsets.  Just like Kuta, Seminyak has so crazy touristy activities as well. You can visit an escape room or the museum trick art 3D.

ULUWATU While the last three towns I shared my knowledge about were really touristy places, Uluwatu actually is a really touristy place too. Luckily, in a completely another way, a more beautiful way in my opinion. Uluwatu actually isn’t even a town, but the area around a temple. I plan a day trip to Uluwatu next Thuesday, and I already know how much more excited I will be after taking my evening time now to research about all the little secrets this little town has to offer and fill my mind with curiosity. Knowledge is fun – the more you know, the more you want to know.

The most special thing about Uluwatu is the wonderful Uluwatu temple called ”pura luhur”. I already visited one big and beautiful temple in Bali and took part of a ceremony, but the Uluwatu temple is probably just as popular. The temple takes place on a big rock and with the ocean and sky right behind, a magical atmosphere is created that reminds me of all the fairy tales I loved when I was a little child. The temple is the most western point of the island and its main purpose is to prevent the balinese people from bad demons. As a tourist, you can’t go inside the temple, but you can create beautiful art by taking pictures of the temple at sunset or even sunrise. All around the temple, you can find monkeys playing around.

One of the most popular dances in Bali is also shown in Uluwatu in the Evening. You can buy tickets at the temple and watch the kecak dance, so called monkey dance, in a theatre. It expresses the story of a princess taken away from her prince by a demon. The prince asks the monkey god for help. The monkey god fights the demons. When they set him on fire, he takes the chance to set the town of the demons on fire to save the princess.

The beaches around Uluwatu are a lot more quiet, but of course just as beautiful. Some beaches are almost white, others almost black because of the active vulcans in Bali. You can go surfing on the classic ”uluwatu beach”, enjoy a breathtaking view at a landscape created by huge cliffs on the western peninsula Bukit. If you want to enjoy a breathtaking western sunset right over the endless ocean, the ”surya café” seems to be the way to go and meet other sunset lovers. Next to the beaches ”thomas” beach and the ”nyang nyang” beach with a lot of steps to go, the best hippie beach to visit is the ”bingin” beach, but the so called pirate beach ”balangan” is worth a visit as well. Just take a few days enjoying the beautiful nature to the fullest, read a book or do other wonderful things that serve your true happiness.

LOVINA After all the places in the south, in the middle heart of Bali and in the west, you will probably ask yourself if there are any other places worth a visit in the north or in the east. Well, Lovina in the north of Bali won’t disappoint anyone. When you are not interested in the places that attract the typical kind of tourist, you will probably find your special place here. The lovely name Lovina is a mixture out of the words ”love” and ”Indonesia”. Actually, Lovina isn’t even a real town, actually it’s seven little northern villages all summed up together. They are called Temukus, Kalibukbuk, Anturan, Pemaron, Tukad Mungga, Banyualit and Kaliasem.

Lovina is known for black beaches that are twelve kilometers long. Of course you can go for a surf, but you also can go swimming, since there are coral reefs and dolphins all around. You can go for a dolphin tour, offered by the local fishers. Moreover, there are a few diving schools located in Lovina, and I am already so excited to start diving myself. Kalibukbuk is the center of Lovina, but instead of a wild nightlife and merchants trying to sell you cheap fake bags, you will find a big dolphin statue and good restaurants. The town represents a lot of the Bali history. Since the Netherlands used to rule Bali, all the houses are built in the old, dutch colonial style, which makes Lovina really special.

But even around Lovina, there are a few other special places you shouldn’t miss. Don’t forget the ”sing sing” waterfall  and its green surroundings. Next to all the Hindu temples in Bali, the buddhist monastery ”brahma vihara arama”. It’s a meditative place with a nice garden, a lily pond and many lotos flowers in front of a hill. As a visitor, you are not allowed to go inside the monastery, but you can enjoy a nice view behind on a green coastal landscape, which is definitely special when you think about all the black beaches. Not far from the monastery, you have the opportunity to take a bath in the hot thermal sources. Usually, next to all the tourists swimming around, even ritual washing takes a place there.

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