Bali, known as the land of Gods, sacred temples, character-filled villages, idyllic beaches and amazing food, falling in love with Bali is fairly easy.
If you are visiting Bali, then Jimbaran is quite a convenient area to stay. Relatively close to the airport, easily accessible and not as crowded as Kuta, Jimbaran offers a variety of things to do and a good combination of luxury and tropical beach scenes.
We opted to stay at the Mövenpick Resort and Spa Jimbaran Bali. The location is convenient and the Samasta village nearby has a nice selection of bars, coffee shops and restaurants.
The check-in was seamless, the staff absolutely friendly, representing the Balinese hospitality it’s no surprise that this resort has made its way into becoming one of the best Resorts in the island. The highlight being the 2900 sqm pool with the pool bar and the perfect frozen margaritas. The rooms are spacious and quite comfortable with all the amenities you would need during your holiday.
The first thing you hear when you start planning your holiday to Bali is their insanely beautiful sunsets. When it comes to that show-stopping sunset spot, the Rock Bar has to be seen to be believed. Declared one of the world’s best sunset bars by CNN and Forbes, the bar is perched 14 meters above the Indian Ocean and accessible via Ayana Resort’s (Formerly the Ritz-Carlton) dramatic Cliffside inclinator. Make sure you book well in advance and visit just before the sunset. The Rock favourites like the Chamomile Gin and Tonic and Rock-a-tonic really hit the spot while the Grilled Octopus and Black Cod Batter Ink were personal favourites. Smart attire is recommended, and no backpacks allowed so dress to impress and watch that sun drop.
We spent the next day discovering Bali’s sacred temples. We included the Elephant cave temple, the Gunung Kawi Sebatu, an 11th century temple, Tirta Empul also known as the Holy Spring temple and Taman Ayun in Mengwi. Tanah lot was the final stop for the evening with the most dramatic sunset in Bali.
The Elephant cave temple dates back to the 11th century, initially built as a place for meditation. Set amid green rice paddy fields and surrounded by ancient Hindu temples, it’s also known to some as the “Goa Gajah temple”. The bathing pools were excavated in 1954 featuring statues depicting Hindu angels and to reach the cave, you need to walk down a long flight of stairs. When visiting the temple, make sure you’re dressed modestly. If the heat gets to you and you prefer shorts, you can rent some sarongs at the entrance.
We found the Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple to be the most tranquil. With ancient shrines surrounded by clear pools. The temple complex features 10 rock-cut shrines dedicated to King Anak Wungsu and his favourite queens. Still used for ceremonies and rituals, this temple is considered one of the oldest in Bali.
The Tirta Empul – holy mountain spring is Bali’s sacred pool of purification, said to have been created by The God Indra and possesses curative properties. The entrance is surrounded by lush gardens and tropical plants while the vast courtyard takes you to the bathing pools. You are free to try out the purification bathing rituals (if you are prepared for long queues).
The Taman Ayun temple is one of the landmarks, built in 1634. It was restored somewhere in the 1930’s and towering shrines make up most of Taman Ayun. Surrounded by an elegant moat, despite the crowd, the spacious areas gives you a serene place of calmness.
Tanah lot was the final temple visit for the day and it’s safe to say that with this tour, you never really have the need to visit any more temples in Bali. With breathtaking sunsets, its name aptly translates to “Land in the Sea”. Built to worship the Sea God, it’s now one of the most photographed and Instagram worthy spots. (But be prepared to wade through hundreds of tourists and locals)
After an overdose of temple visits, we spent the next day in the Penglipuran village and bamboo forest. This village is untouched by modernization and is one of the most serene and clean sites in the country. Their well-preserved culture and layout is maintained through-out the village while stone-paved streets direct you to the village temple. You can even visit the residents or enter any of the houses and you will be greeted with a genuine smile. The Northern part of this village leads you to the Bamboo forest. It’s guarded by the villages and this short trek takes you through several pathways giving you time to admire the thick green bamboo stalks continuing endlessly up while listening to the wind rustling the bamboo leaves.
Another “must-do” when in Bali is to try their local cuisine. By that, I don’t mean a lunch or dinner at a fancy restaurant. We spent the next day on a half day “Eat like a local” Kuta street food tour. You get the opportunity to discover the best food stalls and casual eateries the city has to offer. A friendly local guide takes you to around 5 places and along the way, explains the local culinary culture, so make sure you skip lunch on the day! We commenced our evening with an Indonesian lamb soup and satay, which was pretty straight forward and delicious, then moved on to the signature Balinese fried Duck with curry sauce, (an acquired taste to be honest) and then a “dare to try” Indonesian chicken feet soup, a clear spicy broth. It surprisingly tastes delicious, but the “feet” irks you just a tiny bit and I politely downed it with a Bintang lemon beer. If you have dietary restrictions, your guide will be more than happy to amend the itinerary accordingly. (Next time, I might just omit all types of feet).
All in all, Bali is a destination you can visit in a week or a month. There’s just so much to do and there’s something for everyone. From temples to beaches, luxury resorts, rafting trips and rope swings, Bali is more than a place. It’s magical and a tropical state of mind.
By Nadia Issadeen