Bali is the ultimate paradise. Conjuring screensaver images of beaches, centuries-old temples, pampering villas, and even healers, the Hindu-driven island nation within the country of Indonesia has rich culture and centuries-old rituals still practiced today. Temples are ubiquitous, as are moss-covered stone shrines.
The Balinese people are some of the friendliest people on this planet. Indonesian food–if you’re a fan of spice–gets high marks. And some of the world’s best resorts have set up camp here. Many people visit and never leave, as evidenced by the wealth of ex-pats. From the cultural point of Ubud to the sublime coast of Nusa Dua, each of Bali’s 8 regencies are unique, pleasing those who like diversity in their one-stop destinations.
Seminyak is the hub of luxury hotels and villas, nightlife, local boutique designer shops, miles of beach, and easy access from the airport (about ten minutes). Small streets are cramped with traffic and speedy motorbikes and wandering dogs are everywhere in this popular region. That said, Seminyak harbors some of the island’s best sunsets, $5 massage spas, and a handful of fantastic restaurants.
One such fantastic restaurant is Sarong, a modern eatery with stylish decor and Asian cuisine. While it’s considered one of the more modern restaurants on the island, it doesn’t break the bank (compared to the abundance of cheap eats). A more casual environment is Cafe Bali just down the street on the main strip. It looks almost like a colonial doll house from the front with bright lights, contemporary décor, and an old-world feel.
Romance gets completely amped up at Jimbaran Bay on the southern peninsula, only a twenty-minute drive from Seminyak. While they share the same coast, Jimbaran Bay beaches are substantially nicer, dotted with seafood restaurants and boasting commanding sunsets. In fact, those are the two highlights here, as there’s a shortage of healers, nightlife, rice paddies, and jungle treks. It’s a compact paradise luring foodies to the morning fish markets and surfers to the great waves, giving a more “retro” feel to the Balinese coast. Even the two luxury resorts here are attractions in themselves, for both locals and visitors alike.
If you want to feel the “old-school” atmosphere of Bali, head to Balangan Beach, a hedonistic strip of sandy beach and home to surfer competitions, $20-a-room hotels on stilts, and not much more. The more famous Aluwatu is home of one of Bali’s biggest and most important shrines, and a traditional choreographed dance at sunset is idyllic.
Ubud is the heart of Bali–it’s everything you imagined the exotic island to be. It’s always been known to inspire artists, writers, hippies, and spiritual seekers. Cultural centers, retreats, and ancient temples abound. Small winding roads are lined with art studios and vendors while large, stringy vines hang from leafy trees. Most villas and resorts perch along the Ayung River, harboring some sublime views of jungle, rice terraces, and gorges. 14th century temples in the Sacred Monkey Forest are home to hundreds of free-roaming, Balinese Macaques monkeys, known to be sacred in this neck of the woods. Those who want to see a healer should make an appointment with Puri Negari, an 80-something guru who has that magic touch.
Culinary treats of all kinds–fresh juice concoctions, Indonesian dishes, BBQ, and even suckling pig–make Ubud a fascinating foodie destination. Make a beeline to Ibu Oka, where Anthony Bourdain claimed to find his favorite suckling pig ever. Get there early as seats fill up fast. An institution in Ubud is Naughty Nuri’s, a smoked BBQ roadside “shack” where all locals and visitors get their ribs fix. While these restaurants will run you approximately $10 max on a full dinner, Mozaic marches to a more fine-dining beat. It’s a Bali favorite, thanks to chef Chris Salans (graduate of French Laundry), who opened ten years ago and features a six-course tasting menu in a stylish, outdoor venue in the jungle.
Read full article, here
This piece was originally published at huffingtonpost.com / Author: Fodor’s Travel