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B A L I

Emerald green mountains of rice terraces and jungles, rugged coastlines and white sand beaches, barren volcanic hillsides and a deep, exotic spirituality all come alive in the "Garden of the Gods." From surfers to jet setters to island lovers, Bali holds something remarkable for everyone, whether they come to explore or relax in this quintessential romantic destination. Not to mention the welcoming smiles and warmth of the Balinese.

A predominantly Hindu nation, the island is alive with art and religious homage. The Balinese take pride in their spirituality, religion and art as expressed through their intricate paintings, extraordinary carvings, and the myriad of shrines found in public areas or paddy fields.



Bali rice terraces

Situated off the eastern tip of Java (a two-hour flight southeast of Singapore), Bali is a magical destinations that many travelers remember for a lifetime.

Believing that their island ultimately belongs to a pantheon of gods, the Balinese joyously dedicate themselves to a vibrant and elaborate culture that revolves around a complex set of Hindu religious rites and mythologies. Scores of sacred holidays and festivals are celebrated each year with fervent ritual and pageantry. Ubiquitous palm-leaf offertory plates are replenished daily with flowers and fruit to honor the deities and placate evil spirits. Thousands of temples and altars dot the fertile landscape, rising from rice terraces and family compounds in rural hamlets that have remained mostly unchanged for a thousand years or more.

An astonishing wealth of creativity flourishes on Bali. Whole villages of dancers, musicians, weavers, sculptors, woodcarvers, stonemasons, painters and silversmiths pursue their arts as an expression of religious devotion. Humble caretakers for the gods, the Balinese have also been blessed with the inherently unselfish gift of hospitality.

Bali’s intriguing culture is best experienced at classic hideaways near Ubud in the Central Highlands. We have, however, also recommended several resorts in the more commercialized Denpasar/International Airport area, as they make ideal spots for beginning and ending your trip.

Things To Do & See on Bali

During your time in Bali, you've no doubt planned relaxing at your resort should be as much a priority as anything else. However, Bali offers much beyond your resort lounge and spa. The artistic town of Ubud, for example, often referred to as Bali’s spiritual heart is about 20 minutes’ drive away in Ubud from most resorts.

From Ubud, we also recommend exploring the nearby spectacular Ayung River Gorge and spending time in the idyllic countryside in the north and west of the island. There, temples, villages and paddy fields are overlooked by 10,000-foot volcanoes. Highlights include dinner overlooking the Ubud landscape of terraced rice fields, a spectacular sunrise view of Gunung Agung (Mount Agung), Bali's volcanic peak, Ubud's cultural attractions, including the Royal Palace and the market, and snorkeling the aquamarine waters off Jimbaran with an abundance of sea creatures and rainbow corals. Most people don't think of mountains when they think of Bali, but the mountainous interior of Bali is similar the interior of Java around Yogyakarta, and we'll explore the picturesque landscapes of both mountain and beach in the "Garden of the Gods."

Other local activities: enjoy a guided ramble along the Ayung River and to a nearby village, identifying local plants and learning about their medicinal uses as you stroll. Outdoor activities include river rafting to mountain biking, as well as more sedate ones such as yoga lessons and painting classes with local artist Dana, whose work appears around Ubud. Read more about recommended activities below.

Bali Activities, Highlights and Day trips in Ubud & Beyond

MARKETS of UBUD and DENPASAR

Balinese markets and bazaars are a vivid feast for the eyes and a shopper’s paradise. In Ubud’s bazaar, food and produce markets, bright colors are everywhere from the stacks of rattan boxes, candles, sarongs, carved wooden masks, batik silk scarves, oil paintings, and overflowing baskets of bright tropical fruit.

Denpasar city is a shopper’s paradise and we can provide insider access. This half day trip will visit a couple of department stores, which are far different than in the West, the traditional Balinese market Pasar Kreneng, to witness how the locals shop and browse all types of trinkets, hand-crafted souvenirs, wood carvings, and batik and tailored cloths, and local boutique shops.

EAST BALI NATURE TREK

This half- to all-day excursion affords views of Bali's finest landscapes. After a half hour drive to Eastern Bali, arrive in an isolated village for a gentle cross-country trek with incredible panoramic views of the blue ocean, mountain volcanoes and vaulting rice terraces. Our hike will pass through villages otherwise inaccessible, ending at the indigenous Balinese “Bali Aga” village of Tenganan, with its unique customs and ancient culture.

At trek's end meet our transport and head for lunch and short swim at Candi Dasa, a fishing village with a scenic lagoon, before returning back to hotel.

Bali by Helicopter

The Island of the Gods never looked so magnificent as from the vantage point of helicopter gliding over the terraced rice fields and blue lagoons. Several panoramic flights are offered, including the west and south coasts of Bali that highlights the beaches of Kuta and Legian, the mysterious Tanah Lot temple, and remarkable rice terraces.

Air transfer may also be arranged to the Gili Islands. We suggest flights of 30 to 90 mins.

Catamaran Cruise & Reef Club BBQ

Sail out into the Badung Strait, relaxing over refreshments as your Balinese crew hoist the massive mainsail to carry you across the seas to your private beach resort on Lembongan Island. Settle back and relax to the sounds of the sea, and the wind in the sail and on the way, see dolphins playing in the warm tropical waters or blue-green mahi mahi or gun-metal tuna, which become an incredibly fresh addition to your delicious BBQ lunch on the island.

Share the glittering open waters with fishing prahus carrying their cargoes to the smaller islands, and you see the great volcano, Gunung Agung (which the Balinese call “the Navel of the world”) emerging from the clouds.

UBUD ART ENCOUNTER

Traveling via scenic back roads, visit a "bali style" house compound built on traditional Balinese architectural principles; a silver work shop in Singapadu, the studio of a sculptor of fine quality woodcarvings at Mas; the gallery of a well known artist in Ubud meeting with the artist. Also strolling in the Sacred Monkey Forest, a nature reserve and temple complex in the heart of Ubud and a traditional market, selling spices and vegetables, and handicrafts, mostly made in the neighboring villages. Design aficionados may also tour and shop for furniture, masks, painting, decorative items in these artisan villages that dot the area.

ARTISANS, TEMPLES & SACRED MONKEYS

A day trip to explore Central and West Bali, with back road visits to a traditional Balinese house compound and silver workshop in Singapadu; a studio of a woodcarving sculptor at Mas and an art gallery in Ubud. Westwards to the Royal Water Garden temple Taman Ayun, surrounded by a moat in Mengwi; the Sacred Monkey Forest Alas Kedaton and Tanah Lot temple, a pagoda perched on the rock promontory, famous for postcard pictures of temple at sunset.

SACRED BESAKIH—MOTHER TEMPLE

A day trip visiting the small township of Klungkung Kertha Gosa, the ancient Courthouse, a beautifully painted relic of old Bali. After, continue up the winding road taking in views of the majestic rice terraces of Bukit Jambul, to Besakih, situated on the slopes of Mount Agung. This 14th-century temple complex is sacred to all of Bali’s Hindu populace.

Note visiting the complex involves some moderate hiking and steps. (7-8 hrs)

ART, DANCE, ARCHEOLOGY & VOLCANOS

An all-day excursion viewing a performance of the Barong and Keris dance – drama, representing an eternal fight between good and evil, offers both comedy and trance. Visit a house compound built on traditional Balinese architectural principles; a silver workshop in Singapadu; the studio of a woodcarving sculptor at Mas; the gallery of a well-known artist in Ubud, the 11th Century archaeological cave Goa Gajah with its Buddhist and Hindu history; the cool waters of Sebatu Holy Springs; a coffee plantation and the coffee production process  and the active volcano Mt. Batur with its caldera lake at Kintamani.

Temple of Water, Monkey Forest & Tanah Lot

Afternoon tour visiting the Royal Water Garden Temple at Mengwi; the sacred monkey forest at Alas-Kedaton, and Tanah Lot temple, set on a huge eroded rock surrounded by seawater for sunset (weather permitting). En route try the traditional Balinese snack  Kelepon.

There’s nothing quite like a stroll down Monkey Forest Road: start at the Art Market at the top, then meander down stopping for coffee and window shopping along the way, before retreating into the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Apart from the thieving, but rather entertaining, macaques who inhabit this patch of thick jungle, there is also the Temple of the Dead further into the park. Return to hotel early evening.

Bird Park & Reptile Park

Visit the beautifully landscaped Bird Park with the largest and finest collection of Indonesian birds in the world plus fantastic birds from Africa and South America. See the baby bird nursery, stroll through giant walk-through aviaries that replicate the natural ecosystem of Bali Jungle and Papuan rainforest, enjoy the free flight bird show, feed the birds and visit the 4D Theater.

Next, visit the Bali Reptile Park, situated right next door, where you can have a close look at a large collection of reptiles, including an 8-meter long reticulated python, crocodiles, a large collection of snakes and lizards, and the possibility to interact and take photos with tame iguanas, tortoises and others.

Uluwatu, Kecak Dance & Jimbaran Bay

Uluwtu Temple, located on the southernmost tip of the country, is unique only-in-Bali setting where wild monkeys scamper around the cliff side over-looking the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean. We recommend an afternoon trip, taking in a fiery and spellbinding Kecak Dance performance at Uluwatu and the GWK Cultural Park with its superb views of Kuta, Benoa, and Sanur in the distance.  The day concludes with a delicious barbecued seafood dinner on the white sands of Jimbaran Bay. (5-6 hrs with dinner).

FASHION & YOGA

Meet with entrepreneur Nicolai Kredler, a yoga master and longtime Bali resident who founded the popular organic kid's clothing line Kids Organic.

Tour Kids Organic design studio and factory and learn about Nicolai's experiences in Bali and his business during a hosted lunch. (2-3 hrs with hosted lunch)

Take a dive: Bali is a snorkeling and diving paradise and offers some superb dive locations that are located on the east, northeast and northwest coasts in Sanur, Nusa Lembongan, Tulamben, and Pemuteran, or with giant turtles in the Gili Islands.

Diving & Surfing the Gili Islands

If you want to get away from the crowds on South Bali, take a step back in time and visit the remote Gili Islands, just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Bali’s neighbor island.

Automobiles and motorized traffic are prohibited on the islands, with bicycles and horse-drawn carriages serving as transport. Experienced divers often state that the diving around the Gili’s has some of the best water in Indonesia. A couple of simple but pleasant hotels are located on the islands and a smattering of excellent seafood restaurants.

Surf Gili Trawangwan: The surf on this island breaks roughly half of the time, and when it does is quite good. See more below on diving in Bali.

Diving Candidasa & Amed Reef

Diving in Candidasa & Amed offers great underwater experience with abundant tropical fish, extensive reefs and Tulamben, world-famous for the USAT Liberty divable shipwreck. Tulamben Bay offers incredible shore-diving with easy conditions – perfect for beginners and underwater photography.

Resident marine life includes large schools of Big-eyed trevally, Leaf scorpionfish, Bumphead parrot fish and pygmy seahorse. Outside Tulamben Bay are other wonderful sites such as Kubu, Magic Rocks, Emerald, Alamanda, and Batu Kelebit. Night diving is also organized. See below for more information about diving on Bali.

Ubud Ayung River Rafting

Spectacular rafting is offered down the Ayung River. Suitable and safe adventure for all ages this rafting trip is a mixture of wild excitement, breath taking views, well guided and informative sightseeing.

Drifting through some of Bali’s most appealing landscape, the Ayung River provides a thrill switching between Class I and II rapids, winding through deep valleys with cascading waterfalls and towering cliffs. On leisurely stretches through spy Hindu shrines that are brightly decorated on ceremonial days.

Ubud Monkey Forest & Sanctuary

Visit and play with some of the hundreds of gregarious long-tail macaque monkeys that call the Ubud Monkey Forest home. The monkeys roam around freely in the tree canopy and temple complex that is a sacred Balinese Hindu site. Interestingly, the Balinese believe the monkeys are capable of guarding temple sites against evil spirits and thus favor their presence in this holy place. The monkeys might get a little frisky with shiny things and cameras though, so watch your things!

Also exploring the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah), located along the Petanu River valley with ornate carvings of Buddhist deities such as Hariti and Ganesha.

BIKING THE ELEPHANT SAFARI PARK

A leisurely bicycle tour starting at the base of Mt. Batur in Kintamani district and winds through 15 miles of lush valleys, small villages, century-old temples, emerald green rice fields and through the Elephant Safari Park, stopping to visit with the gentle giants.

Expert guides will explain the history of the land, culture, its people and take you on an unforgettable experience that will remain with you long after you leave Bali. During the ride, stopping to savor a variety of exotic fruits and spices ride before biking through the towering bamboo forest of Taro and end at the Elephant Safari Park.

TENGANAN TO TIRTAGANGA TREK

Tenganan to Tirtaganga is a half-day hike, taking the back trails of Bali. Starting in East Bali, close to the fishing village of Candidasa in the ancient Bali Aga village of Tenganan, this hike meanders around the lush tropical hills, verdant rice terraces, through local villages beneath massive Mount Agung above. The villages are very nice and commonly say hello.

At trek's end in Tirtaganga, the old water palace and bathing place of the King, enjoy jumping into cool fresh spring said to be a fountain of youth. 4 hours.

Rice Paddy Trekking in Jatiluwih

Escape the crowds on this rice paddy trek in Jatiluwi, a UNESCO World Heritage site—a delightful way to take in Bali's incredible landscapes. Your guide will escort you deep into one of Bali’s most famous rice terraces Jatiluwih. , learning the art of traditional farming and complex irrigation system called subak.

This hour and a half trek goes through huge cascading rice terraces with peaceful unspoiled mountains in the background. There is a longer trekking option, about thee and a half hours, for those of you who are fit enough. Also learn about indigenous horticulture of Bali's famous coffee, cocoa, bamboo, bananas, and leaves that are used in traditional Balinese medicine. 1.5 hours.

Trek the Volcano —Sacred Mount Agun

After trekking through the early morning, watch the sunrise from the top of Mount Agung, the highest mountain on Bali and forming part of a chain of volcanoes that make up the back bone of Bali. Mount Agung has great spiritual significance to the people of the island, and is home to the ‘Mother Temple’ of Besakih. It

Note: This 12-hour excursion is for advanced hikers. The best time to climb Mount Agung is in the dry season of April to October with January and February not possible due to heavy rain, flooding and landslides. 12 hours (2:00 AM to 1:00 PM), with about 2.5 hours hiking uphill.

SAFARI PARK

Home of hundreds of exotic animals representing over sixty species, including some rare and endangered species such as the Komodo Dragon, Orang Utan, and the Bali Mynah. At Bali Safari & Marine Park, you can choose to enjoy your safari journey from the elephant back with our Elephant Back Safari, interact with your favorite animal up close at the Animal Encounter space, experience the wildest fine dining surrounded by lions, meerkats, and porcupines at the Tsavo Lion restaurant, and unwind with the spectacular show of Bali Agung at a state of art theater in the park, Bali Theater or make your own big splash at our Water Park and Fun Zone.

ELEPHANT SAFARI PAR

Elephants aren’t native to Bali, but that hasn’t stopped the island from becoming a sanctuary for the endangered Sumatran subspecies. Some of the rescued and rehabilitated animals now reside in the Elephant Safari Park, located on immaculate grounds in Taro, about 12 miles north of Ubud, and is the oldest and largest facility, and considered the most dedicated to elephants cares and concerns.

In addition to the rides, there’s an elephant show arena, a museum, an often-used elephant bathing area, a full restaurant, and plenty of opportunities to touch, feed, and pose with these gentle giants.

Traditional massage in Bali

BALINESE MASSAGE

Whether at your resort or enjoy a massage at Iman Spa, which offers relaxing treatments by Nyoman Sparsa, who is known to be one of the best massage therapists in Ubud. The spa specializes in deep tissue massage, reflexology and acupressure.

Or join an nature spa excursion with Esprite Nomade in the hills outside Ubud. This tented-safari style picnic along the banks of Wos River (a 10-minute walk from Payogan Temple) lets you experience a 30-minute foot bath and massage plus sumptuous high tea complete with Indonesian oolong and fruit tarts, cocktails and canapes. To cap it off, bamboo flute music will serenade you while you enjoy all this experience.

BIKING the ISLAND OF THE GODS

Having founded the Asia bike touring scene in 1993 (www.veloasia.com), you know we love to ride. Spend the day getting to know the real Bali, biking through the verdant rural landscapes, riding past sleepy villages These bike trips are suited to all level of ages and skills, from babies, kids, teens to elderly people and from the beginner to the most advanced of riders and customized to preference.

Mid-ride, pause to bathe and cool off in the pools at the sacred water temple Tirta Empul, a temple built in the ninth century that has 13 ornate spouts. Each stream of cool fresh water represents purification—from fertility and love to protection from evil spirits.

Children’s bike and baby/child seats are also available. All routes are designed with safety in mind. and at least 2 guides will accompany you while being followed by your support van. (1/2 or full-day)

Hiking Mount Batur


Mount Batur and crater lake
Most people don't think of mountains when they think of Bali, imagining green rice paddies and white sand beaches, but the mountainous interior of Bali is similar the rugged, high-mountain interior of Java around Yogyakarta, with vaulting volcanic peaks which we'll explore one of the most famous, Mount Batur, on this 4-hour moderately challenging hike. Mount Batur (Gunung Batur), is located north west of Mount Agung, featuring a "double caldera" (one crater inside another) and offers one of Bali's most stunning vistas.

The south east side of the larger 10×13 km caldera contains a caldera lake, Danau Batur, the largest crater lake on Bali and an important source of fish. The inner crater is a classic volcano-shaped peak that reaches 1,717 meter. The caldera is populated and includes the two main villages of Kedisan and Toya Bungkah.

Before sunrise, depart for the trailhead to Mount Batur (about one hour), hiking up to view sunrise followed by breakfast and exploring the mountain's striking crater. Mid-morning, begin descent, hiking through local villages and stopping to soak legs in a natural hot springs. Following lunch, return to Ubud for after free to explore the town or relax at resort.

 

Bali Diving

Nusa Penida Diving

Nusa Penida's Temple Point

One of Bali's most spectacular dive spots is off shore from Sanur, including Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan, two islands off the south eastern coast of Bali (or we can drive to East Bali - about 2 hours - to dive Tulamben, which has decrease currents). A world-class diving destination, there are more than 20 dive sites around Nusa Penida, the most notable including Crystal Bay, Manta (Ray) Point, Toyapakeh, Suana Bay and Malibu Point. The rich waters around the three islands support no less than 247 species of coral and over five hundred species of fish.

Special attractions in this diving area include fabulous Mola Mola (Oceanic Sunfish), in season, and large Manta Rays year-round. Mola Mola are migratory fish and most likely from September to October although sightings are reported all year round (September is one of the best months for diving in Bali). There is diving available here for beginners but most of the dives require a decent level of experience as currents are strong and unpredictable.

Schedule & Dive Notes:
Pick up at your hotel between 8:00-8:30 AM for transfer to Sanur harbor. Board a dive vessel at 9:00AM for 45-minute ride to the Nusa Penida. You can choose to enjoy three dives at Nusa Penida or two dives at Nusa Lembongan to maximize the chance of sighting the Manta Ray or Mola Mola (seasonal). The corals are beautiful and the currents off the island make for some exhilarating drift diving. It is an achievement to spot the Mola Mola, and many divers will try their best to find this magnificent sea creature. Timing, positioning and how you interact with the marine life is critical to having a wonderful experience. The dive guides will focus on giving you the best chance of taking that elusive photo of the Sunfish, or just get you close enough to feel part of its environment.

Dive Specs:
• Depth: 8-40 meters
• Visibility: 20-45 meters
• Surface conditions: Can be rough
• Water temperature: 20-26°C (68 to 78°F)
• Experience level: Intermediate to Advanced

   

Amed Diving

This full-day diving daytrip is organized in East Bali's renowned Amed

Schedule & Dive Notes:
Pick up between 06:30 hrs and 07:15AM, and transfer to Amed on the east coast of Bali (about 2.5 hours). On arrival, board boat for the five-minute journey to our dive sites. Enjoy two dives: here you will see corals walls grow-ing from a two-meter slope all the way down to 30 meters, with some going down to 50 meters. The two reefs stretching on both sides of the bay continue along the shore line for hundreds of meters, creating a home for countless smaller creatures such as shrimps, jumping craps, harlequin sweet lips, clown fish and banner fish. Bigger marine life such as white-tip reef sharks, big Trevally, octopus and Napoleon wrasse can also be seen around the reef. Inside the bay, we can encounter blue spotted rays, Moray eels and different kinds of parrotfish. We will also see many different kinds of hard and soft corals such as sponges, anemones, gorgonian fans and beautiful black fire corals on either side of the bay.

Dive Specs:
• Reef basics: Wall and reef diving
• Depth: 3–40 meters (average depth 18 meters)
• Visibility: 15 - 25 meters
• Surface conditions: Can be rough
• Water temperature: 20-26°C (68 to 78°F)
• Experience level: Beginner to Advanced

Bali Surf Camp


Attend an Aussie-run 2-day surf camp for intermediate surfers in Kuta Beach, and (by preference) other destinations around the south shores of the island, including Canggu and off-shore Nusa Lembongan Island, one of the most pristine surf islands in the world. Other, optional activities include snorkeling, kayak, and SUP.

Read a story on Canggu in the New York Times

Ubud Shopping

Ubud market, an eclectic shopping experience. There are two markets in Ubud, one for the locals and one for tourist. While you can find some fun items at the tourist market, the local morning market offers an authentic Balinese market experience. You need to rise early when the market is busiest and everything wraps up around 9 a.m., when most locals have done their shopping, many vendors shut down and products aimed for tourists starts filling the market.

Bali Spirit Kafe sells indigenous foodstuffs, including local Big Tree Farms’ sea salt and spices.

Gallery Macan Tidur carries Balinese arts and crafts, including an extensive collection of weavings.

Threads of Life Textile Gallery supports local women’s weaving cooperatives.

Arts & Design

Tonyraka Art Gallery was established in 1968 by wood carver A.A Gede Raka Wirayuda. For nearly 30 years the gallery has been accumulating and selling its collection, which mostly are fine wood carving artwork, textiles, and tribal crafts. Jl. Raya Mas No. 86 Mas, Ubud, Phone: +62 361 781 6785 Fax: +62 361 975 207, Web: www.tonyrakaartgallery.com/

Komaneka Fine Art Gallery, Ubud Bali‎ Komaneka Fine Art Gallery features unique work by artists with new and exciting visions that reflect the lifestyles of contemporary connoisseurs. Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Gianyar 80571, Bali - Indonesia tel. +62 361 4012217 / 4012218 fax. +62 361 977140, Web: gallery.komaneka.com.

Ubud Dining

Alchemy – A raw salad bar that specializes in mouth-watering vegan and raw desserts. Make sure to try their chocolates, pies and cakes—it’s hard to believe it’s gluten (and guilt) free! Location: Jalan Penestanan, Ubud, Bali; quick eats; juices and chocolates from USD 7.

Nasi Ayam Kedewatan – After a short trek to reach the restaurant, the star among the locals is the sate lilit, which is minced chicken satay with lemongrass. Location: Jalan Raya Kedewatan, Sanggingan, Ubud; lunch.

Casa Luna – We love the coffee here and it’s a good place to chill out, relax and enjoy organic salads, homemade pasta, bread and pastries. Location: Jalan Raya, Ubud; all-day dining; mains from USD 5.

Mozaic – Bali’s fine dining temple that foodies must visit. The chef-owner, Chris Salans wrote the book on his specialty—Mozaic: French Cuisine, Balinese Flavours. Salans uses traditional Balinese ingredients in an innovative menu that marries French fare with Balinese flavors and with the support of his loyal team at the restaurant, Mozaic Restaurant has become a culinary icon in Bali. Try the Discover Menu from USD 60 (think local Indonesian flavors cooked using classic French techniques) and the Chef’s Tasting Menu from USD 78. Location: Jalan Raya Sanggingan
; dinner; mains from USD 60.

One of the revered local dishes is babi guling (roasted suckling pig) and nowhere does it better than Warung Ibu Oka (+62 (0)361 976 345; Jl Suweta), as chef Anthony Bourdain attested on his show No Reservations. You get a plate full of pork, rice and veggies along with some spicy sauce and crackling all for a criminally low price. It opens at 11am and they only cook 10 piglets a day, so make sure you get there early.

You don’t come for the service or the décor at Naughty Nuri’s (+62 (0)361 977 547; Jl Raya Saggingan; www.naughty-nuris.com). Here, it’s all about the unusual combination of barbecued pork spareribs and martinis. It’s nearly always crowded, but worth the wait.

Sarong (Kerobokan) — Eclectic but authentic Asian flavours in laid-back surroundings.

Scottish-born Will Meyrick cooked briefly in London before heading to Asia and Australia, where he worked in all kinds of outlets from roadside shacks to high-end hotels, gaining proficiency in a wide range of Asian cuisines. Opened five years ago, Sarong is a culmination of that experience: a melting-pot of eastern cuisines prepared using everything from an Indian tandoor oven to a Balinese coconut grill.

Curries are a particular speciality here, ranging from a Sri Lankan-style pork vindaloo to a pokey Vietnamese curry of caramelised duck with young coconut juice, black pepper and fresh lime. Meyrick is also an expert on south-east Asian street food, and recently published a well-received book on the subject. Guests at Sarong can expect authentic, intense flavours achieved through techniques learned from experienced vendors across Asia. Website: www.sarongbali.com

Bars

Kick back with a few beers, a cocktail and some good food and watch Ubud life stroll on past at Laughing Buddha Bar (+61 (0)31 970 928; Monkey Forest Road). The generous sunset happy hour runs from 4pm until 7pm, and there’s live music on Monday and Thursday nights. More excellent live music, from Latin to blues, is on offer at the popular Jazz Café(+62 (0)361 976 594; Jl Sukma), where regulars rave about the cocktails.

Cafes

Frozen yogurt, wheatgrass shots, light, organic meals, cakes and good coffee are served up at Juice Ja Café (+62 (0) 361 971056; Jl Dewi Sita). Take a seat on one of the two balconies from where you can watch the action on the street.

Looking for a decent espresso-style coffee in Ubud? Warung Kopi Tatmuk (+62 (0)361 975 754; Jl Dewi Sita) roasts the beans it sources from around Bali and knows how to make a decent cup. Downstairs, you can recline cross-legged on the floor cushions or head upstairs to sit at tables on the shaded balcony.

Bali with the Kids

Bali is a Paradise not only for adults, but also for kids. In Balinese culture, children are kings and queens and the Balinese always make families welcome.

Bali is a magical, tropical wonderland for kids, an exotic setting of temples out if an Indiana Jones' movie, monkeys rambling through the jungles, colorful local cultures, and multitude of pool, beach, and ocean adventures. Activities with the kids include exploring the Monkey Forest where children will delight feeding monkeys close up (below).

At Pirates Bay in Nusa Dua, children can enjoy dinner in a tree house or pirate ship with other activities including flying by zipline and treasure hunting.

Traditional puppet theater, as in Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma), is still practiced for entertainment as well as ritual purposes in Bali. In Bali, often called "shadow puppets," Wayang means traditional puppet. and it is also spread over most of Indonesia as a theater show since ancient times. Based on old manuscripts in Bali, Wayang has been performed since around the 9th century.

Children may also learn traditional painting and wood carving, hands-on with local artisans or playing the Gamelan with instruction from a musician. Children from a local village may also come to the teach your children Legong dance lessons, a delightful experience.

 

Family biking in Bali is a must with gentle to more moderate rides through the magnificent scenery on small, quiet roads, dirt paths, passing palm fringed rice villages, terraced fields and jungle canopy. During our bike trip, stop to visit a local chocolate factory!

At Pondok Pekak children can learn learn traditional crafts and arts, including wood carving, batik painting, and Balinese style dancing. The aqua park Aqualoop in Waterbom boasts 17 water slides (best on weekdays to avoid crowds).

Whether diving in Sanur, Nusa Lembongan, Tulamben, Pemuteran or with giant turtles in Gili Trawangan, if you want your kids to start to share your diving experience with you, there are diving programs from 8 years of age, and can take their Open Water Diving license from 10 years of age.

Animals abound at Bali's Elephant Park, Safari Park, Bird Park, and Reptile Park. At the Elephant Park, get up close and personal with these incredible animals in a beautiful tropical park setting. Elephants can be seen immersing themselves in the park lake, in between riding, painting or other activities. Hand feed them, touch them, take photos with them, then learn more about the elephants ancestry and diversity at the Park's historical and graphic displays. Location Map A 200-seat restaurant over looking the lake, ideal for large groups or wedding, features an international menu, and the park Gift Shop offers an extensive range of elephant-theme products, including elephant paintings, elephant ivory, mammoth ivory, carvings, clothing, souvenirs and jewelry. Displays of elephant intelligence and their capabilities can be viewed at the Park Arena and elephants can also be seen painting at selected times daily.

 

Surf's up. Bali is legendary on the world surfing circuit, and one look at the ever-changing seas below will tell you why. The world-famous Bukit Peninsula boasts over 20 top-quality breaks on the southwest and southeast coasts of the island.

Some of these, like Padang Padang and Bingin, are world-class reef-breaks. Lessons are provided for those who want to give this thrilling sport a try for the first time. Like Hawaii, Bali offers many gentle waves to learn surfing or to challenge you and you children on bigger sets.

Recommended Private, Custom Family Tours

family cycling tour in Bali

Village Cycling, Fun Factory & Chocolate Making

A fun cycling trip on the scenic back roads outside of Canangsari village which winds through the lush countryside on quiet footpaths. During our ride, pause to visit the wonderful Elephant camp, where we can see a baby elephant or two.

Afterwards, spending time at the fun factory where we will sample chocolate and cocoa treats while learning about how chocolate is made. Children will also create chocolate elephants.

After the Fun Factory, continue cycling through farms and local villages to reach the Sangeh Monkey Forest. After playing with the monkeys, enjoying lunch overlooking the picturesque Ayung River. (1/2 day)

Elephant trekking and horseback riding can also be arranged for a differing experience.

Off The Beaten Trek and School Visit

This family trek heads into secluded and picturesque highlands of Bali's countryside, where the village life remains unaffected by mass tourism elsewhere on the island. At the beginning of the trek, visiting an elementary school in an isolated remote village, watching in the classrooms and speaking with the teachers and children. Here, your children are welcome to give an informal English lesson.

The trail hiked features both highland dry and wet agriculture, which your children will learn about while passing crops and plantations of vegetables, coffee, oranges, clove, vanilla beans, cacao, and more. We will enjoy beautiful views of the old city and northern coast of Bali, before descending through the jungle to visit Bali's largest waterfall, rarely visited by both locals and tourists.

The trek then continues to a vantage point for one of the most stunning views in Bali—the vaulting and intricate rice field terraces, one of the most sophisticated and oldest irrigation systems in Bali that have been used by Balinese farmers for thousands of years. At trek's end , enjoying lunch in a local restaurant. (1/2 day)

Balinese Village Day

Spend a day in a real Balinese village! A full day once in a lifetime experience of mingling with famously friendly Balinese villagers, sharing their daily routines. Activities include farming fields, herding armies of ducks, planting crops, and harvesting greens and other crops for a delicious lunch. Share time with local children and understand their lifestyle while they will be curious to discover more about your.

Where else to experience such a day but on Bali’s most fertile soil of Tabanan below majestic Mount Batukaru, an area that for hundreds of years has been the island’s main producer of finest varieties of rice. (1/2 day)

Rainforest Trek

An exciting trek suitable for all ages and abilities through a protected Rainforest Nature Reserve on the slopes of Mount Batukaru. A trained guide will lead this two-hour trek, sharing information about the diverse topical flora & fauna of the island, while passing giant bamboo, tall ferns, strangling trees, wild orchids, spiky rattans and more.

After exploring Bali's nature, enjoying a delicious BBQ lunch at The Giri, a deluxe rainforest camp where we can shower after the trek.  On the drive back, pausing to admire terraced rice fields in the area with time for photos and a short walk.

Balinese Art School

Not far from Ubud, this quiet art school and studio in a pleasant setting where we can meet with the artists and watch them painting, meticulously creating art depicting Balinese Hindu gods, as well as agricultural and cultural themes. Small pieces may take a few days to complete and larger works will take several months.

After touring the studio, meeting with young artists children will learn to paint their own small artwork with hands-on instruction. (3 hours)

Summer Bali Arts Festival

Balinese festivals are exciting and colorful events, including celebrants of all ages. The Balinese Arts Festival is every June and July (above). Have your children be a guest of honor in this delightful cultural celebration. The festival features hundreds of national and international cultural groups with daily performances of dance and music as well as numerous activities, during which literally the whole of Bali will be drawn to Denpasar to present their offerings of dance, music, and friendship. Ancient forms of classical Balinese dances will be resurrected during the festival. Also featured are culinary exhibitions, competitions, fashion shows, flower shows and displays of traditional handicrafts.

Calendar

March 

Well being enthusiasts, plenty of whom come to Ubud, might like to check out the four-day Bali Spirit Festival (www.balispiritfestival.com). With yoga and healing workshops, massage, a Dharma market and music in the evening, it attracts some of the best teachers and spiritualists from around the globe. March or April The whole of the island closes down for 24 hours on Nyepi, the last day of the Hindu saka calendar, so avoid arriving or departing at this time. For the Balinese it’s a day of introspection and no one is allowed on the street. It’s believed evil spirits will think everyone has deserted the island and will move on. Use it as a day to catch up on sleep or reading. The night before though, there are street parades as well as people banging on drums and letting off firecrackers to scare off any demons. October Emerging and established authors from around the world descend for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (www.ubudwritersfestival.com) to share stories and ideas with one another and festival guests.

June/July

The Bali Arts Festival runs approximately mid-June to mid-July with performances, exhibits, crafts such as jewelry, paintings and fabrics on display and for sale. At the Art Center in Denpasar and elsewhere around the island.

October

The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Held annually in Ubud, Bali’s artistic and cultural heartland, the UWRF has become South East Asia’s largest and most renowned cultural and literary festival.

Leading writers, thinkers, artists and performers from across Indonesia and all corners of the globe will come together over five full days of events to celebrate knowledge and the arts, education, wisdom and science. An innovative program of arts and music, panel discussions, workshops, literary lunches and dinners, book launches and much more will be revealed in mid-2014. Website: http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com

Beyond Bali

Boroburdur

A short one and half hour flight to Yogyakarta in Java lies the symbol of Indonesia—the eighth-century Buddhist temple complex built in the form of a mandala, or sacred diagram. Now a World Heritage, Borobudur is astonishingly impressive as are the landscapes surrounding the temple. After Borobudur, visiting Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia with towers resembling Angkor Wat.

Gili Islands

Lying a mere couple of miles off the west coast of Lombok just north of Senggigi beach are three isles no more than one or two miles in circumference surrounded by crystal clear blue waters. These isles are special for the diversity and abundance of marine life in the extensive coral waters that around each of the them.

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