Bali - The beautiful island destination, or more precisely put, the Honeymoon destination of the world! I had always underestimated this amazing place thinking that is just another beachside country. But my perception changed completely when I got a chance to visit post my marriage!
We went on this trip in December 2022 and this indeed became in my top 5 destinations!
How to Reach?
We took the route Mumbai--Kuala Lumpur-->Denpasar Bali.
There were no direct flights available and this was the cheapest through Malaysian Airlines
Where to Stay?
Booking.com was our preferred choice and is accepted by most of the resorts/hotels in Bali.
Arrival at Denpasar Bali
After a long 9-hour journey which included a 2-hour halt at the Kuala Lumpur airport, we landed at Denpasar, Bali. The view from the plane was beautiful as we could see the beautiful shape of the island and splashes of waves hitting the shore. The sight of the buildings and the Garuda statue was mesmerizing
This will make you fall in love with the city the very first day!
Ngurah Rai International Airport is the main airport of Bali and impresses you with amazing depictions of Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata as soon as you enter the airport.
Immigration: For Indians, it is Visa on Arrival which takes about 40-45 mins considering the significant queue. The process is smooth as the officer checks for the itinerary. The visa fee is 35 USD per person.
Airport to Hotel: We had already booked a taxi beforehand through Klook. It is highly recommended that you use Klook application for cab and sightseeing bookings owing to its convenience and fare prices. The details of the cab driver are sent well before time and one can connect to the driver through Whatsapp. The airport provides you with free Wifi.
Checkin at Tony Resorts and Villas, Seminyak
It took us about 40 mins to reach our hotel. Stepping outside the airport did make us feel the heat as Bali is typically humid for all 12 months. December end till March is perhaps the most ideal time to visit.
Nevertheless, the excitement of a beach vacation after a pro-longed pandemic struck the holiday-less situation, was at its peak. As we entered the Seminyak side of the island city, we were satisfied to see the amazing nightlife that it would offer. The streets were filled with pubs, bars, and restaurants (also Indian!). It somehow reminded me of Goa.
As we entered the resort premises, the stunning look amazed us. It did not look this beautiful in the pics. Here is a sneak peak;
The rest of the day was spent strolling around the area. Since it was late in the night, we preferred to use the resort's bar area to relax and chill.
Tanah Lot Temple
This was planned to be an exciting day, primarily because of the visit to two temples, the first one being the Tanah Lot. Temples in Bali are quite picturesque as many of them are in the laps of nature - beaches or hills. But before we headed, it was time for some breakfast, which was included as a part of the stay.
Tony Villas has a big and nice restaurant where a multitude of dishes are available, however, not many vegetarians. We decided to have a cheesy Omelet before starting our trip.
How we traveled: Thanks to Klook, we hired a cab for Rs. 2,300 for 10 hours (irrespective of kms! - Yes that is fantastic) which took us around.
Tanah lot temple is dedicated to the Sea God and gives travellers some of the best pics of their lives. Picture yourself in the backdrop of amazing views like these.
After the beautiful visit to the Tanah Lot, it was time for another such place. Uluwatu Temple is a cliff beach temple that has breathtaking views from the top. This is situated at the southernmost tip of the Bali island and takes about 1.5 hours to reach from Seminyak.
Lunch: During the journey, we had some amazing Indian food at Kurnia Resto. The food also included Pani Puri :D , that was just about okay! However, if you really crave for some parathas, then Aloo Paratha was amazing with good stuffing.
Post lunch, we continued our journey to the temple. As it was a long 1.5. hour travel, we witnessed the city and its life. Having lived in many Indian cities and Hong Kong, I was trying to strike similarities and differences in Bali city life. There were indeed many vehicles on the road, but it did not seem like a mad rush. The traffic was moving and organized. There were numerous restaurants and shops which never ended till our final destination. The city will continuously give you a feel of a tourist place and not a residential one. I started to think about the way of life if I got an opportunity to work here. It would always feel like a vacation as the city is full of tourists around the year.
With those thoughts and some cool discussions with my wife, we reached Uluwatu. The parking lot was a big one. We got out of the car and went straight to the ticket office.
Entry Ticket Price: 50,000 IDR per person (Yeah, it sounds amazing!! but comes out to be around Rs. 270).
Since it is a temple, entry can be done only by covering yourself. So shorts are not allowed. But don't worry, even if you don't carry one, the temple has shawl like cloth to give you. These are yellow, orange and purple coloured ones and can also be your prop for some cool pics!!
There is a very popular Kecak Dance that happens twice every day at the Uluwatu temple. In the above pic, you can see the gathering of people at one end of the cliff. This is an open theatre where the traditional dance happens. It is a depiction of some scenes from the Mahabharata.
It has a separate ticket which can be purchased at the temple premises or through Klook. It is recommended to purchase it online as the tickets generally get sold out at the temple premises.
The way to the cliff is met by a lot of monkeys, so be aware of your stuff like spectacles. There was one guy whose specs were snatched by a monkey, but eventually returned after getting some delicacies! Unfortunately, at the same time I had switched off my go-pro, or else it would have been an amazing capture :D
After a long trip for the day, we headed back to our resort and decided to have dinner at Seminyak itself. There was a very cool rooftop parlour that served Hookah as well and played live music. The day ended will with delicious pizza, cool local "Bintang" beer, Hookah and music! Here is a video!
Nusa Penida, Lembongan
Apart from the temples, the island tour is something that cannot be missed in Bali, because the authenticity and the beauty of raw beaches is different. There are two major island tours - Nusa Penida West and Nusa Penida Lembongan. The West one is generally crowded and hence we decided to take the Lembangon.
Since it is a different island that can be reached by a ferry, we decided to take the additional services of the tour operator who charged IDR 450,000 per person for hotel pick up and drop, including the ferry charges. It does look expensive but there is no other option. Travelling alone means taking a cab and then a ferry (both to and fro) which would eventually cost the same. Hence, tour operator version is anytime convenient and better. We also got a cool driver who happened to be an SRK fan! You'll see the video once you continue to read :D
Our package included water sports - Snorkelling and Kayaking along with lunch. Fortunately and thanks to the Snorkelling boat's operator's relentless request, I was able to do it :D. I remember that I tried the same in Philippines but was too afraid to do it and had to stick the boat while immersing my head down!
The lunch serves was good and had vegetarian menu like Noodles, Fried Rice and Cottage Cheese.
After a tiring day of Snorkelling and Kayaking, we headed back to our resort. The operator had arranged for the ferry and the cab. However, the cab driver filled us with energy with an amazing conversation about Bollywood, and especially Shah Rukh Khan!
The day ended with a delicious dinner at the "Spice Mantraa", which was located very near to our hotel. It had some authentic Indian food and a beautiful ambience. After having some "Dahi ke Sholey" and main course of Paneer, indian breads, we decided to call off the day and also our last day at Seminyak.
Today was our planned checkout from Tony Villas and Resorts as we headed towards the Ubud region of Bali. Ubud is more of a countryside, with a buzzing Ubud market. Known for its rice fields, we decided to opt it out as it is same as what we see in India. But, lot of tourists do visit the fields and click pictures, apart from learning the details of rice harvesting.
As always, we hired a cab through Klook and decided to cover a few places in Ubud, before checking in to our hotel. We covered 4 major things - Ubud Palace, Saraswati Temple, Ubud Market and Goa Gajah.
This palace was the official residence of the royal family of Ubud. The place's roots dates back to the era of Rishi Markandya who identified the hill and the area as spiritual. The palace is situated in the middle of the Ubud market and can be visited for some photography.
After spending about 20 mins at the palace, our stomachs were making noises which was heard by the amazing "Queens of India" restaurant, just right across the corner. It was a big restaurant and also had seats where one could sit legs folded. Of course, it was hard to resist that, especially in a foreign land! And there we were, having our delicious Thali and "kadak" chai!