The temples, art and beaches of Bali

Text: Ruth Ninajanty. Originally published in The Jakarta Post, August 24, 2017

Bali is one of Indonesia’s most popular holiday destinations as there is something for everyone on the island. From fun family rides to romantic honeymoon trips, with endless festivities and one-of-a-kind experiences, they are all spread over different parts of Bali.

But first, let’s revisit the beaches. Bali’s shorelines are often categorized by what you want to enjoy. If you’re not a morning person and prefer a romantic sunset instead, Kuta and Legian are perfect. Even better, in the two areas, sundown marks the beginning of fun. Step away from the crowd to Jimbaran where you can experience memorable seafood dinner with your loved ones and continue to have a tranquil stroll at the more private Tanjung Sanghyang.

Sanur Beach – courtesy of Lonely Planet

However, if you want to start your beach itinerary in the early morning, go to Sanur beach to catch the sunrise. Continue to find the surfers’ waves at Echo Beach and the beaches of Canggu or explore the sea turtle sanctuary at Lepang Beach and the sacred Klotek Beach. A little more adventure will take you to hidden corners of Bali, where you can explore more beautiful and quieter waterfronts.

Another thing you don’t want to miss while in Bali is taking a tour of the temples. From the most popular Tanah Lot to the legendary Uluwatu, Bali never ceases to amaze you with stunning temples and sanctuaries spread across the island. Tanah Lot Temple is a sea temple in Tabanan region, making it a popular spot to catch the sunset. Its offshore shrine is surrounded by water while the onshore side is filled with shops and restaurants for tourists to stop by. As this iconic temple is almost always included in Bali’s travel packages, it may be really crowded on weekends and holiday seasons.

As an alternative, you may want to visit Uluwatu Temple, which also offers spectacular sunset view. Unlike the offshore Tanah Lot, this temple is located on a cliff and is inhabited by monkeys. Aside from its unique location, Uluwatu is also one of the oldest temples in Bali, dating back to the 11th century. However, the largest temple on the island is Besakih, which is located on the slope of Mount Agung. Besakih is a complex consisting of 23 different temples, with Pura Penataran Agung as its main and most important shrine.

Fun is also there for families, taking their excited children on school break. Places like Botanic Garden Ubud, which is also home to outbound facilities, orchids, lotus pond, butterfly garden, local plants like cinnamon and a maze, will provide plenty things to see until they run out of energy. While you’re in Ubud, take the kids to explore the Monkey Forest, a one-of-a-kind experience to walk by the monkeys and see them in the Hindu temples complex. The 12,5-hectare conservation area is home to more than 600 monkeys which are divided into 6 different groups.

The award-winning Bali Safari and Marine Park in Gianyar are top spots for families. Young children would surely enjoy interactive encounters with the wild through Safari Tram or the Elephant Back Safari. The Marine Park is also a fun place to spend the afternoon, especially after a long day of walking around under the sun. Bali Bird Park in Batubulan focuses more on birds, but with the same amount of educational fun. Located halfway between Ubud and Denpasar, this park is home to more than 1000 birds from 250 species, including the beautiful Cendrawasih birds.

Creating memories while you’re there but why don’t bring something home with you as a souvenir. You will also find the different atmosphere and the fun it offers when shopping in Bali, ranging from modern-day shopping mall to the road side market. Down by the popular beaches are Kuta Beachwalk, one of the latest shopping and dining centers in Bali. The mall, which boasts its unique design, is home to different local and international brands. Catch the duty free shopping as you drive back to the airport at Mal Bali Galeria or check the unique printed t-shirts at Joger, a popular retail store in Kuta/Legian area which has become an icon of Bali.

Want to take home a masterpiece? Sukawati Market in Gianyar has a wide selection of local handicrafts, arts and textiles. Ubud Art Market, which is located across the Puri Saren Royal Ubud Palace, is always open to welcome you. You can find anything from woven bags to hand-crafted goods. Pasar Badung is where you can browse and bargain for almost produce and food from all over the island. If you wander around enough, you’ll find handmade household goods as well as paintings.

You can never be satisfied with just one trip to the island because it takes more than just one holiday to enjoy what Bali has to offer. Know what brings you to Bali and what do you want to see on this trip. The island is always there to welcome you another time.