On your next holiday to Bali, don’t just hang around the pool or beach. Hire a car with a driver and head to the hills to discover the authentic ‘Island of the Gods’. Here are three recommended day trips to make sure you enjoy a remarkable insight into the Balinese people and their exquisite island.
1. The Lakes District
The Angseri hot springs is one of Bali’s natural wonderlands and you can include a visit here on a day trip that takes in the beautiful Ulun Danu Temple at Bedugul on Lake Bratan, one of three lakes located in this lush mountainous area around 50 kilometres from Denpasar. This photogenic temple, one of the most iconic images of Bali was built in 1633 and dedicated to the Goddess of the Lake. Spend a while walking around the serene gardens where you’ll find some beautifully carved Buddhist stupas, or hire a canoe for a paddle on the lake.
To reach the hot springs you’ll travel to the top of the mountains enjoying fantastic views before heading inland to an area which is the food bowl of Bali, through villages untouched by tourism where they still live the traditional way of life.The hot springs are found at the end of a steep and rough road but the ten minute walk from the parking area to the waterfall is along a well laid out path through picturesque rice paddies.You can choose to swim in the public pool or hire a private bathing area for a long soak in the health-giving waters.
After leaving Angseri head to the village of Jatiluwih in the district of Penebel to admire what must surely be Bali’s most spectacular view of luminous green, terraced rice-paddies stretching away as far as the eye can see – best enjoyed from the deck of Billy’s Terrace Cafe.
2. Bali’s East Coast
It’s around a two and a half hour drive up the east coast to the beautiful water gardens of Tirtagangga but it’s well worth it.Inspired by the cooler climate and the natural beauty of the area – which has a natural spring – the King of Karangasem built his country house surrounded by a maze of magnificent pools, gardens and statuary constructed in a mix of Balinese and Chinese styles. Built in the 1940s, it was partially destroyed by the eruption of Mt Agung in 1963 but has been beautifully restored. Being here gives an insight into what Bali must have been like before the explosion of tourism – it’s really a lovely way to spend an hour and they say the pool here is the best place to swim in Bali!
On the way back call into the lovely fishing village of Candidasa for lunch by the sea and then visit the totally unique traditional artist village of Tenganan, famed for its Ikat weaving where you can still see women weaving on the old looms. On the road back to Denpasar you’ll see one of Bali’s most unusual sites, the Bat Cave Temple of Goa Lawah, so called because of the thousands of bats living in the cave and considered to be the temple’s guardians – if you have time, stop off for a visit.
Note:There are many local drivers who can help you organise your day trips and after several visits to Bali, we can recommend the services of Wolly and Rico from The Fun Wagon – you can phone or send a text message to Wolly at +62 87862219169 and Rico at +62 8123913769. Have fun!
3. The Mountains
Just over an hour’s drive from the beach is the beautiful mountain area of Ubud, the artistic heart of Bali where you’ll find some wonderful boutiques and small shoppettes selling original designer clothing, bespoke pieces of jewellery, stone and timber carvings, cushions and delightful homewares. Many of the good shops are found on the long and winding Monkey Forest Road which starts at the Monkey Forest (watch your valuables here as the monkeys will grab at anything!) and there’s some wonderful restaurants that combine great food and wine with spectacular views. For a fab lunch we can recommend Indus which overlooks the mist-wrapped rainforest and mountains – on a clear day you can see mighty Mt Agung in the distance – and Bridges, perched next to the town’s oldest bridge – both offer a tantalising menu and a wonderfully serene ambience.
If it’s your first visit to Ubud then take your time to stop at the villages lining the road along the way from Denpasar as they all specialise in one artistic pursuit and it may be cheaper to shop direct.There’s the stone-carving village of Batu Balan, the gold and silversmith village of Celuk, Gianyar for jewellery and the wood- carving village of Mas. Before you leave Ubud if you still want to shop, call into the central art market where everything you could possibly want to purchase can be found. Ubud is also home to some terrific art galleries where you can purchase original paintings direct from the artist. If you want something special for your home research the artists before you come as several are making a name for themselves on the international scene and you may be able to buy a work of art that will appreciate in value over time.