Bali, peppered with its volcanic hillsides, sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and ancient temples has always conjured up an exotic getaway image for travellers worldwide. If you’re done getting a tan and surfing up the waves, here are a few of my favourite places to go…
What to See
1. The sacred springs at Tirtha Empul (Tampak Siring Village, Gianyar) is believed to possess magical healing powers. According to Balinese belief, this 10th century hot spring was created by Lord Indra – God of Rain. Its streams and waterfalls represent the Ganges of India. Devotees take a dip in the pool after prayers . The devout take back holy water in bottles.
2. Built in the 11th Century, the Balinese Mother Temple of Besakih (Besakih Village, Rendang Sub-district, Karangasem) is the most important temple on the island. With over 22 structures in its complex, the temple sits on the slopes of Mt. Agung, a stratovolcano. It is home to the Trinity shrines dedicated to the Gods Shiva (the destroyer), Brahma (the creator) and Vishnu (the sustainer). Only Hindus or those wanting to pray are allowed into the main temple. Travellers can explore the paths leading up to a smaller temple atop the mountain. The views from here are breathtakingly beautiful.
Where to Shop
1. For great bargains, shop at the Sukawati Art Market (Jl. Raya Sukawati, Gianyar). Considered the biggest market in Bali , it has a wide range of clothes, leather puppets, wind chimes and jewellery selections. If you don’t like haggling, then stop by for some fine Balinese crafts at Daun (Jl. Bakung Sari Kuta Blok E26-2). One can find a variety of home decorations from abstract art to traditional figurines.
2. For artwork, shop at Dewa Putu Toris Art Studio (Br. Tengah Bantuan, Sukawati). The studio carries both Kamasan and traditional Balinese paintings. Visit the Ganesha Bookshop (on the corner of Jl. Raya and Jl. Jembawan) for new, used or out of print books. It’s a treasure house for booklovers.
Where to Eat and Drink
1. Menega Café, located in the middle of Jimbaran’s beach stretch (Jalan Four Seasons, Muaya Beach, +62361705888) has fantastic seafood. Offering reasonably good service, great pricing and a beautiful view, grilled seafood comes in two styles based on authentic Balinese seasoning and sauces. Getting to choose your own fresh seafood at the entrance is a unique experience.
2. Built in 2009 and situated on natural rocks 14 metres above Jimbaran Bay, the iconic ocean-front Rock Bar at Ayana Resort & Spa (Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran) is the ultimate way to party in style. This innovative open-top bar is perched at the base of Ayana’s towering cliffs and is definitely Bali’s most glamorous sunset and after-dark destination. Access to the bar is via an inclinator or stairs.
If you have favourite places of your own that you discovered on the island of the Gods, do share them in the comments below.