By Prasiddha Gustanto
The writer is editor at ALVEO
Five of the breathtaking places to visit on the Island of the Gods
Of all the 17,000 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, not a single one of them commands more international adoration than the island of Bali. With all of its gorgeous natural, cultural and spiritual destinations, the place is globally viewed as a tropical paradise. Its tourism industry nickname, “The Island of the Gods”, reveals as much. Whenever you look up lists of the world’s most coveted tourism sites, Bali is typically placed somewhere within the top tiers.
Tripadvisor earlier this year named Bali its fourth most popular tourist attraction for 2022. The island’s prestige is such that it is even set to host the seventeenth and latest Group of Twenty (or “G20”) summit of world leaders later this year come November.
So everyone agrees the place is beautiful and important and that you need to visit it in your lifetime. But where to begin? Here are five of the best destinations in Bali to get you started.
There is no better place to begin when visiting Bali than the city of Kuta. It’s the most well-known and developed tourist area in all of Bali. It is home to Kuta Beach, arguably the city’s most iconic destination. It is here in this 2.5-kilometer stretch of sand that you can book surfing lessons, try out parasailing, go on banana boat trips and even enjoy traditional massages at the beach. Or you can just relax and soak up the sun or dip your toes in the water. It’s quiet enough that you can relax but still lively enough to feel the local culture and vigor. The place stays alive long after the sun sets thanks to the bars, shops and restaurants that make up its nightlife.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the comforts of modern city living, you can head over to Uluwatu Temple over in the south of Bali to get in touch with the island’s spiritual side. Not only is this one of Bali’s most famous Hindu temples (one that dates back to the 11th century), it’s also its most scenic thanks to its cliff-side location some 70 meters above sea level. The best time to visit it is as the sun is about to set. You can get to enjoy traditional “Kecak” dances inspired by the epic of Ramayana that are performed daily around that specific time of day and enjoy a beautiful view of the sun in the background as dusk is about to fall. Nearby is also a famous forest filled with gray long-tailed macaques. You may possibly come across many of these monkeys freely roaming the area as you explore the temple.
The Rice Terraces at Jatiluwih
Rice is a staple food for more than 3.5 billion people in the world. Is it possible for something so mundane to have such beautiful origins? The answer is yes, if Bali’s Jatiluwih 600-hectare rice terraces are any evidence. There are green rice terraces as far as the eye can see that unfold from the foot of mountains to the coast. If Kuta is all about the sights and sounds of city life, then these rice terraces are the opposite. It’s pure silence, lush greenery and photogenic natural scenery. Its beauty is so breathtaking and its local, machine-less method of water irrigation (called subak) is so distinct and traditional that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ubud Art Market
Ubud is known as Bali’s art and culture capital, and for very good reason. It houses a wide array of temples, museums and art galleries all throughout the area. It is also host to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, an annual literary festival that brings together hundreds of authors, artist and performers from all over the world. A good way to get yourself a taste of all this art and culture in one venue is through Ubud’s Art Market where you can find and buy all sorts of locally made creations such as silk scarves, hand-crafted woven bags and other antiques to bring back home. The market is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Be sure to know how to bargain for prices when you’re here.
Why would hundreds of people in Bali spend close to two hours hiking in the early hours of the morning just to reach the summit of an active volcano like Mt. Batur? It’s because the peak of the mountain offers a viewpoint that few other places can ever hope to match. You get to see the morning sun in all of its glory, the surrounding mountain range and nearby crystal-clear waters of Lake Batur. Just make sure you have the energy to make the hike in the first place, since regardless of what hiking path you choose, it takes at least an hour to reach the summit. Once you’re done with that, you can explore the nearby lava fields.
Originally published on 3S magazine