Trish Griffiths on 02 February 2009
For our trip to Bali we decided to stay in Sanur, and chose the Bali Hyatt. We felt that Sanur would give us the most chance to see the “real” Bali, without it being too touristy, or remote. There were lots of restaurants and bars in the locality, but it still had a distinctly Balinese village feel, with plenty of local life around. The other advantage of Sanur is the coastal path that runs the entire length of the resort, great for hiring a bike and exploring the beautiful beach and the many restaurants and local shops on the beach front.

We experienced a Kecak dance show at the hotel; this was a fascinating introduction into the Hindu art and dance of Bali, and was typically energetic and colourful. The art and architecture is probably the island’s greatest virtue, so do try to take in some of the unique examples of the Balinese Hindu culture, if you can drag yourself away from the lovely beaches.

We visited the resort of Nusa Dua, courtesy of the Hyatt, which offered a free shuttle bus to its sister resort the Grand Bali Hyatt. Nusa Dua is a purpose built tourist area, south of Denpasar airport, and is a collection of luxurious 5 star properties, ideal for seclusion and relaxation, but be aware that you’ll need transport to see anything of Balinese life.

We then started our tour of the island with our guide Gusty, who is extremely knowledgeable about the place. We started out and headed north towards the interior of the island, and very quickly left behind the tourist areas of the south. Our first stop was at Besikhar temple, the Mother Temple, in the centre of Bali. As these temples are in constant use, there is always something going on, and we saw preparations for a festival, as well as a group of villagers bringing offerings. The black volcanic rock is a fantastic looking material, and adds an extra quality to the striking architecture of the temple complexes. We then made our way to Lake Batur, and had lunch overlooking the old lava flows from Mount Batur’s last eruption. Finally we went to Goa Gajah, the cave temple of Ganesha, the Hindu Elephant God.

We continued our cultural tour the next day with a visit to Tanah Lot, the temple perched on a rock in the Indian Ocean. Don’t miss the holy snake in the cave opposite the temple, it’s considered good luck to touch it! We also visited Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Kuta is very popular with young Australian tourists and is VERY commercial, with many, many bars, restaurants and nightclubs, probably on a par with the Spanish Costas for the British. Legian and Seminyak tend to be smaller versions of this theme. From here we again headed inland and went to visit the rice terraces. We would recommend a visit to this area as it is a very attractive area. The views are stunning, and it’s fascinating to watch the farmers going about their business in what looks like complete harmony with their surroundings. Finally we made our way to the picturesque Lake Temple at Bedugul. We also visited Ubud, the cultural heart of the island. It’s definitely worth considering a few days here, not just to soak up the artistic ambience, but also it’s a good base for exploring the North of the island, something we’ll do when we come back! Whilst in Ubud, make sure to have Babi Guling, the local speciality of suckling pig; it’s delicious (the most famous shop is opposite the market in Ubud, near the old palace, and it’s cheap as well, just follow the crowds!). If you’re feeling adventurous, also try Nasi Jingo, it’s a local snack of rice, chilli sauce and a few other bits served in a pandanus leaf. Again, really cheap, great taste, and you’ll really impress your guide/taxi driver with it! One other local speciality is the Padang restaurants. They have their wares on show in the window, and will bring out one of each dish for you when you sit down. You’re then only charged for what you eat, a great way to sample a range of local dishes.

If you are thinking of going to Bali, do consider a twin centre, and most definitely drag yourself away from the beach - the island’s interior is simply stunning. The best time to visit Bali is April - October, we visited in Feb and saw rain on a few days.