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In the 2010 movie Eat, Pray, Love, Julia Roberts manages to find herself again while visiting the Indonesian island of Bali. If you’re feeling a little burned out from the daily grind, why not take a cue from her playbook and let Bali heal you.
by Sher Bautista, 26 June 2017
Ah, Bali… Just the name of the place evokes images of beautiful beaches, verdant rice fields, and enchanting temples. The place is a holidaymaker’s dream—plenty of local culture and history balanced with modern amenities and your pick of resorts. In case you are still on the fence about paying the Island of the Gods a visit, here are five reasons that will make you finally book that flight!
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more immersive experience than the one you’ll have in Bali. Stone shrines adorned with flowers can be found in front of homes, stores, and government establishments. You’ll see offerings made at family temples as you walk through old neighborhoods. Balinese culture is everywhere. It permeates everyday life and can be a little intense for some visitors—careful where you step on the sidewalk as daily offerings called Canang Sari are laid on the ground in square woven containers. It is considered bad manners to trample on them. There are festivals throughout the year celebrating everything from the dedication of a temple to feast days of a whole pantheon of local deities. Watch a local Kecak dance, soak in all the culture, take part in the ritual of daily incense offering. Bali does not lack in visually stimulating treats or culturally enriching activities. All you have to do is look around you.
Bali isn’t called the Island of the Gods for nothing. If exploring old temples is your thing, Bali will not disappoint. There are temples everywhere—old crumbling temples in the middle of nowhere as well as more tourist-heavy destinations such as Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temple. Geek out on the history and admire the intricate stone carvings on temple facades throughout the island. Try to visit the Hindu temples that are a little out of the way. Locals and some guides can point you in the right direction. These are quieter destinations, and give a more authentic feel of what these places of worship would have felt like, all those years ago. With nothing but nature surrounding you, gaze in awe at the wonderfully preserved structures still hidden from the maddening crowds.
Indonesian food isn’t just nasi goreng. Have your fill of local food here, from satay to all manner of chicken and vegetable dishes accompanied by flavorful local sambal. Try Balinese babi guling, which closely resembles our lechon. Have some local coffee or if you’re the adventurous type, try their famous luwak or Civet coffee, which is made of partially digested coffee cherries excreted by the civet cat, and harvested by locals. They swear the extra step is what gives this coffee roast more flavor.
Don’t limit yourself to the tourist hotspots of Seminyak and Canggu. Try visiting quiet Amed on the eastern side of the island where only a handful of travelers end up, or go way down south to Uluwatu for some serious surfing. If you don’t fancy venturing far from the capital, visit Echo beach where you can watch street artists paint the kilometer long beach wall and where surfers wait for the perfect wave. Have sunset drinks at any one of dozens of bars lining the shore, from high-end resorts such as Ku De Ta to the more chill vibe of small beer shacks in Canggu. After the sun sets, put on your party clothes and watch as the beachfront bars turn into an all-night party scene. Their beaches are legendary for a reason.
While most visitors will limit themselves to staying near the touristy spots or making the quick trip to Ubud and Uluwatu, why don’t you venture off the beaten path and reserve a couple of days to hike Mt. Batur or Mt. Agung? The climb will invigorate you and the views at the top are positively breathtaking. Group tours can be arranged ahead of time so you don’t brave the mountain alone. Climbing is no joke and one should always be prepared and be safe, regardless of the skill level involved.
There are definitely more reasons to visit Bali besides those mentioned above. Perhaps a trip out there will give you a couple more to add to the list. Regardless of your reasons for visiting, if you’re going solo or with friends, Bali is sure to welcome you with open arms and, as your holiday comes to a close, send you back home with a host of new experiences and a better understanding of why this tiny Indonesian island is so beloved by travelers the world over.