I can’t believe our Bali adventure was four months ago already! It has taken me a bit of time to edit all of our video footage from our drone, Go Pro and camera, but I finally finished going through it all and have created a video filled with highlights from our trip. Ciaran and I spent twelve full days in Bali, travelling from the North in Munduk, down South to the Gili Islands. It was a full on few weeks, but we enjoyed every minute of it. We purposely decided to steer clear of super touristy areas, with the exception of Ubud for a couple of days. We wanted to experience less populated areas and see the “real” Bali as much as we could. Of course, this was sprinkled with visiting temples, waterfalls and rice fields, which you can’t miss when you’re visiting. We covered a lot of ground and for anyone planning a trip, I wanted to share our full itinerary with you.
Days 1 – 4: Munduk
We flew from Singapore to Denpasar and had our hotel, Munduk Moding Plantation, arrange a car to pick us up and drive us three hours to the Northern countryside. Whilst Bali is best known for its beautiful beaches, the mountains in the North are well worth exploring and turned out to be our favourite part of the trip. The climate is a lot cooler than near the coastline so be sure to pack warm clothes for the chiller evenings! There are loads of Things to see in Denpasar and it’s a great place to visit.
Our hotel was incredibly special and I wrote all about it here! Munduk Moding Plantation has a breathtaking infinity pool that looks out over the mountainside with the coastline down below. In the evenings, we’d jump in the hot tub, sip on Bintang’s and watch the sunset over the horizon.
There’s a lot to do during the day in Munduk and I felt like we saw a very authentic part of Bali. During our stay, the hotel arranged a car to take us to waterfalls and hidden temples high in the hills. It was a truly magical experience and one that we won’t forget!
There are two waterfalls located in the Munduk area. The Banyumala Twin Waterfall and Munduk Waterfall are just a 30-minute drive away from each other. We visited both on different days and I was blown away by the sheer beauty of them. When it comes to countries with the best waterfalls, Bali is definitely in with a shout. I know Iceland supposedly has the best waterfalls, but I think Bali runs it a close second. So if you are a fan of waterfalls, you probably need to figure out the best time to visit Iceland (I would follow the advice on https://www.rent.is/blog/best-time-of-year-to-visit-iceland/). As for Bali, it’s between April and October, the island’s dry season. If you visit these waterfalls, be sure to wear trainers that have a good grip and clothes you don’t care about getting wet! I’d wear a bathing suit and a pair of shorts + bring a spare change of clothes in a backpack as you’ll want to be comfortable for the rest of the day. Bring a spare towel as well to dry yourself off.
During our tour of the waterfalls, our driver stopped at the Twin Lake, which is surrounded by majestic mountains. Luckily we got to see it when the sun was shining! There are various viewpoints along where you can get some incredible photos on swings like the above. Just ask your driver to take you to the best ones.
The majority of Bali is Hindu and there are hundreds of stunning temples to explore. On our way to Ubud, we visited the famous Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. It was built in the 17th century in the worship of the lake goddess, Dewi Danu. Best known as the ‘floating temple,’ there are four groups of shrines throughout the grounds. We spent a few hours walking around and soaking it all in.
The rest of our time in Munduk, we relaxed by the incredible infinity pool at the hotel, got massages, went on a coffee plantation tour around the grounds and ate the most delicious food we had on our entire trip! The Chicken Satay at Munduk Moding Plantation was the best.
Days 5 & 6: Ubud
Our time in Ubud was short and sweet. We stayed at Bali Bohemia Huts, at the entrance of the Ubud Monkey Forest. We thought it would be really cool to see all of the monkeys surrounding our hotel, but in hindsight, we would have booked something a bit further afield as it turned out to be quite scary!
On our first day in Ubud, we got out and explored the town! We visited the famous Bali Art Market, which is great if you want to find a unique souvenir to bring home. We also visited the Saraswati Temple right in the centre of Ubud. Be sure to visit the whole of Saraswati Temple as there is a beautiful floating garden in the back that we didn’t know about and wish we would have seen!
Ciaran and I were both pretty exhausted from the road trip from Munduk to Ubud, so we decided to enjoy some time at the pool before our dinner! Ubud is filled with fantastic restaurants, bars and cafes and is much more modernised that a lot of other areas of Bali. We ate at Locavore, a small and cosy restaurant with impressive food made with locally sourced seasonal ingredients. All of the dishes were so thoughtfully presented and absolutely delicious. Full review coming soon!
On our second day in Ubud, we hired an awesome driver named Gung. Our friend Steph met him a few years ago when she was on a yoga retreat in Bali and gave us his number. He took us to all of the best spots to visit including the temples and rice paddies. He was so proud of his culture and taught us a lot about the Balinese way of life. If you’re on the lookout for a trustworthy driver to take you around when you’re in Bali, shoot me a message and I’ll give you Gung’s details.
The temples Gung took us to include: Tirta Empul, my personal favourite to visit during our trip. The famous water temple was built in 926 AD and is dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu god of water. I will do a full blog post about our purification experience at Tirta Empul, but I highly recommend doing it. I was sceptical at first but felt amazing afterwards. What a once in a lifetime experience!
Other temples Gung took us to include: Goa Gojah, best known as the Elephant Cave, built in the 9th century and Gunnung Kawi, an 11th-century temple just northeast of Ubud, which is beautiful.
You can’t leave Bali without visiting a rice field! Gung took us to one of the most popular and beautiful rice paddies in Ubud called the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. We were blown away by how vast the rice paddy was and had a great time walking through the winding fields and taking in the breathtaking scenery.
We packed a lot of sightseeing into one day! Gung dropped us back off to Bali Bohemia Huts and we said our goodbyes. We thought we had our fix of monkeys but decided we couldn’t leave Ubud without visiting the Monkey Sanctuary. The guards helped me get over my newfound fear of the little guys. The sanctuary is a very beautiful and peaceful place, just be sure to stay aware and watch where you’re walking so you don’t disturb the monkeys. Check out my post about all the things to know before visiting the Monkey Forest!
Days 7-11: The Gili Islands
At the crack of dawn, we slipped out of our hotel in Ubud and met Gung as the sun was rising to make our way to Padang Bai to catch our boat to the Gili Islands. Half a day later and we ended up in paradise. Imagine swimming with turtles in the clearest, warmest water and digging your toes into the pure white sand. We stayed at Seri Meno resort, which was fabulous. The hotel boasts beachfront villas where you can watch the sunrise and set every day and enjoy a pristine beach right at your doorstep.
Gili Meno is known for its turtle population and its ecosystem. We swam with sea turtles and saw a colourful array of marine life – it’s a magical experience. Be sure to go diving to find the underwater sculpture a beautiful place below the surface that is slowly becoming a coral reef. Go in the morning to avoid the crowds in the afternoon and be sure to bring your Go Pro or underwater camera to capture it! Ideally, you would want a 360-degree view camera for this to capture everything. According to chouprojects.com, there are quite a few good ones which are waterproof. Gili Meno has a very slow pace of life and it’s the perfect place to relax, do yoga, meditate and unwind. Rent bikes from your hotel and cycle around the island or walk along the beach and take in the scenery.
There is a little turtle sanctuary on the island that is also well worth a visit. You can donate a few ££ to help maintain the sanctuary and save the baby turtles. A little goes a long way here on Gili Meno! The centre of the island has a native population of 5,000. You can walk through the village, but be respectful, avoid taking photos and cover up as it’s a Muslim community. It’s an eye-opening experience to see how the natives live.
We mostly ate at the resort, but there are a lot of local warungs to visit. On our last night, we ate at Pojok No 5 Star, a no-frills, tiny little warung that served up incredible Balinese cuisine. There’s only six seats and it’s only open for dinner. Go during lunch to place your order for dinner as they start to prepare the food earlier on in the day and will have it ready for you by the time you arrive. It’s a cool expeirence.
Day 12: Padang Bai
On our last day in Bali, we said goodbye to Gili Meno and got the boat back to Padang Bai for our final day and night of the trip. We stayed at Bloo Lagoon Eco-Resort and our villa overlooked the ocean with 360-degree views! It was the most unique hotel I’ve stayed at as it didn’t have any walls. On our very last day, it rained a bit, so we didn’t do much other than admiring the sweeping ocean views from our room and relax before heading back to Singapore. The hotel does have complimentary yoga in the morning and they can arrange a few day tours for you as well. There is a small beach at the bottom of the cliff where you can go snorkelling, but there is quite a bit of rubbish, which is disappointing. While I loved our hotel in Padang Bai, I would recommend staying another day in the Gilis or exploring a different area of Bali closer to the airport, such as Seminyak as there wasn’t much to do in Padang Bai.
Our trip to Bali was all we could have asked for and more and we came home with a lot of amazing memories. It’s a part of the world I’ve always wanted to see and I am forever grateful Ciaran and I got to experience it together! I’ll be writing more in-depth blog posts about the hotels we stayed at, restaurants I’d recommend visiting, and more information about the sites we saw, so stay tuned…