Bali’s not all luxe living and glamorous beachfront haunts. Lush green interiors and a band of wave-crashing coastlines set the stage for some truly soul-stirring moments.
Tell someone you’re going to Bali and it’s likely to be met with awe or slight derision. When it’s the latter, it’s often visions of rowdy sunburnt Aussies in Bintang singlets crammed into a beach bar. That’s not the real culture of Bali.
The real Bali is a paradise spanning natural wonders and spiritual splendours. It’s a simple, affordable and easy getaway, exactly what so many of us need amid the humdrum of everyday life. It’s the perfect place to reset, without needing to venture too far into ‘eat, pray, love’ territory.
The cultural and artistic heart of Bali is Ubud. Needing little introduction, this central Bali town is far removed from the party scene of Kuta, delighting pleasure seekers with a veritable blend of serenity and discovery. Yoga retreats, boutique markets, tantalising fare and secluded villas are all bonuses.
Campuhan Ridge Walk is one trail that brings Bali’s natural side to life. Less rice terraces and more ethereal jungle, begin early or in the late afternoon to see the sunbeams dance across the green landscape (and beat the heat). Of course, for those quintessential Ubud scenes of cascading rice terraces dotted with palms, embark on an easy walk through quaint villages along the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
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Temple tramping is also a must in Ubud. And what more fitting place to start than Pura Taman Saraswati, built in honour of the goddess of wisdom and art? This holy destination features a pond blanketed in lotus blossoms and intricate carvings throughout created by local artists. Visit, meander and soak up the stillness.
Further afield, Pura Luhur Batukau is set against a backdrop of chanting priests, melodic birdsong and mist on the southern slope of Mount Batukaru.
Today, the temple remains a truly sacred Hindu site, and a visit is the ideal combination of mindfulness and exploration. It’s the first stop on ascending the summit of Bali’s second-highest volcano, a challenging yet scenic three- to four-hour hike.
A private guided trek will not only help you navigate the often muddy terrain, but also provide interpretation of and insights into the Jurassic Park-like surroundings.
When it comes to aquatic healing, a dunk in the ocean is said to work wonders. Of course, Bali isn’t short on stretches of sand and surf, but there are also the mineral-rich waters of its hot pools.
Scattered right across the island, these sulphuric baths are said to hold restorative powers. At the Batur Natural Hot Spring in North Bali near Lovina Beach, warm water gushes from the mouths of stone-carved mystical creatures into milky aqua ponds. Again, the best time to visit is in the morning as you’ll encounter fewer crowds.
Bali’s the kind of place that can be anything you want it to be. The jewel of Indonesia is no secret, yet one that has many routes to relaxation and soul searching. Here, finding yourself or simply getting back to nature and away from the demands of the modern world comes naturally.