04th November 2018 – Written by Lisa Glassey
Bali has never really been on my radar as a ‘must see’ destination, however with airfares from NZ so Bali are so cheap at the moment it was well worth the trip to check out what all the hype is about! Emirates are now flying daily during peak seasons between Auckland and Denpasar with airfares starting from around $1000 per person return. On a good sale day these can drop to under $900.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Bali but I’m delighted to say I was pleasantly surprised from the moment we stepped off the plane in Denpasar. I was so impressed by the cleanliness, openness and efficiency of the airport and not to mention the welcoming Balinese people, it was just such a sigh of relief – welcome to Bali! Step outside of the main terminal is like entering a peaceful, green, garden where you cant help but feel at home. The one thing that really impressed me was how well the airport is set up for people in wheelchairs, I saw many wheelchairs arrive and depart and it was just such a simple process – it was great to see the Balinese really thought about access for everyone during the recent refurbishment of the airport. Upon arrival be aware if purchasing Duty Free the staff will ask for your fingerprints for purchase, this is not necessary and you do not need to provide, we just declined and carried on with our purchase.
First stop, Ubud! What an amazing area to visit, I now get why people continue to go back again and again to Bali – Ubud truly is paradise without the beach. We stayed at the incredible Wapa Di Ume which was one the most relaxing places I have ever been (ok maybe just after Phi Island in Thailand – that is Paradise!) but Ubud is different. The resort is surrounded by rice paddy fields, jungle and gardens – oh and the neighbouring cow! The rooms have been designed with pure relaxation in mind, the bathrooms are amazing – although the water pressure wasn’t that great. Wapa Di Ume has also just opened another resort further into the mountains at Sideman which is meant to be even more luxurious – I’m definitely keen to check it out on my next trip!
The resort itself offers complimentary a la carte breakfast, daily yoga and various activities included in their rate. It’s an approx. 15 minute walk into the township of Ubud, however the resort does have a complimentary shuttle to all guests which departs every hour on the hour – both directions. Walking around the narrow-cobbled streets of Ubud is just fun, lots of markets and quirky shops and its nowhere as busy as the main areas such as Kuta or Seminyak and to top it off, Ubud also has some fabulous cafes most specialising in Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw Foods etc. Highly recommend the Clear Café, look out for the ‘Hobbiton’ door, once you walk through you will find yourself mesmerized from the greenery, beautiful décor and spiral staircase leading to the Clear Spa upstairs of the café. Fantastic food and juices, highly recommend on a hot day.
While in Ubud we took a one day cycling tour with Bali Eco Tours, although the tour itself was educational and fun I did think their vehicles and bikes were well overdue for a upgrade. There are plenty of tour companies doing the similar tours such as ebikes Bali. The highlight of the day was a stop at the Tegalalang Rice Terraces situated in near the village of Ceking – this is the most photographed Rice Fields in Bali and once there you can see why, it’s absolutely stunning and you can’t help but fall in love with the scenery. Back the shuttle, Ceking was followed by breakfast overlooking Mt Batur, visit to the coffee and chocolate plantations, before picking up the bikes to ride through the local villages, stopping to meet one of the many families who have arrangements with the tour companies, then a walk through the rice fields finishing up at one of the thousands of temple! If you’re keen to do a bike tour definitely do it while you’re in Ubud otherwise you will waste a good few hours commuting each direction. I do recommend you take your own water bottles to guarantee the water is fresh.
After staying in Ubud for 3 nights, it was time to move onto Jimbaran Bay. The reason we chose Jimbaran is due to the area being very well known for the fresh seafood, white sandy beach and some lovely resorts. We stayed a the Le Meridian Jimbaran which was lovely, the hotel is set up really well for families with the lagoon style pool in the heart of the resort and a large kids club area. If you’re looking for a more romantic trip then I would recommend either the Four Season or Intercontinental Jimbaran which both have direct beach access with so many restaurants lined along the beach offering amazing seafood fresh out of the water.
Across the road from the Intercontinental is my all favourite restaurant in the entire world – Balique Vintage Restaurant. The décor, food, service, everything at this restaurant will have you going back for more. The décor is very vintage vs French with a hint of Indonesian and the food is mixed but everything was delicious! I can see why Balique has won best restaurant of the year for both 2017 and 2018 – it certainly gets my vote! Other restaurants in the Jimbaran Area to look out for are Fish & Co – their seafood platters were great value for money, Barrells which offers a Argentinian menu and Tanamera Café brew their own coffee and it’s delicious! – all within walking distance. Other than the beach and Seafood Restaurants there isn’t a lot more in the Jimbaran area to do.
During our stay in Jimbaran we did a day trip to Seminyak which lovely but super busy! I did quite like Seminyak during the day, there’s some wonderful shopping and cafes found down the narrow cobbled streets – another favourite we stumbled across was the Earth Café, again another vegan option and even the husband agreed it was pretty good! Kuta at night is crazy and the area to be if you’re young and in need to party … I was well gone by 8:30pm back to the comfort and quietness of Jimbaran!
If you’re still after a quiet trip but looking for something a little more exciting than Jimbaran but not has busy as Seminyak and Kuta, then definitely look at Sanur. After Jimbaran we stayed at the Sudamala Villa & Suites which to be honest the grounds were amazing, the day spa was fantastic, the pool area relaxing and this resort is not set up for children. The only downside to this hotel was as the bathrooms are open (out to a private courtyard) which looked amazing, however we felt we could never really cool our room down, therefore making sleep in the heat rather difficult. The concept is fantastic but would recommend more in the cooler months.
The thing I loved about Sanur was the walkway right along the beach, it’s a fantastic cobbled strip and really well maintained making it perfect for walkers, runners, cyclists, wheelchair users etc. Along the entire pathway are market stores, dive / snorkelling companies, restaurants and cafes – it had a really lovely vibe to it. Just a 5 minute walk away is Sanur village which has some quirky shops, more restaurants etc but it’s not busy therefore you can easily take your time strolling around and enjoying the village. A couple of hotels which backed onto the Beach are the Prama Beach Resort and the Puri Santrian – both are highly recommended and a slightly better location than the Sudamala – but all are good options.
At the end of our trip, our flight was delayed, therefore instead of sitting in the hot airport terminal we actually purchased a one off pass into the TG Lounge which is available to anyone travelling internationally. The cost is AUD30 and includes the private lounge, unlimited food and beverages (including beer, wine, coffee etc) bathrooms, showers, complimentary WIFI and a complimentary 15 minute foot massage! Although the lounge was small the numbers are strictly adhered to avoid any overcrowding. It’s not first class but it’s a lot more comfortable than the terminal for a small price when you have a few hours to kill.
All in all I can understand why New Zealanders continue to visit Bali and it will be on my list to visit again soon. If you’re thinking about Bali for your next holiday, give me a call and I would love to help you plan the best Balinese holiday for you and/or your family.