Highlights of Bali with We Are Travel Girls
Travel Girls Getaways Blogging Retreat
Bali is a dreamy island in Indonesia filled with natural beauty, wonder and culture. From beaches with pure white sand and glistening blue waters, to mountains filled with tropical forests and breathtaking waterfalls, it is hard to not fall in love with Bali.
I recently attended my first-ever travel blogging retreat with We Are Travel Girls, a global travel community created to inspire, connect, educate and empower female travelers around the world. During the week I was in Bali, I learned new blogging and business skills from one of the founders of We Are Travel Girls, Becky Van Dijk. In addition to the amazing workshops Becky conducted, I connected with fellow like-minded travel blogging women. (Hey, there were even a handful of women from the New York City area!!!)
In addition to educating myself, we stayed in the most beautiful villa, was introduced to the beauty of Balinese culture, savored amazing and healthy Indonesian food, participated in some amazing adventures, caught some of the most breathtaking sunsets and made wonderful memories.
We Are Travel Girls did an amazing job at planning the most memorable adventures in Bali. Below is a list of my favorites that you cannot miss out on during a trip to this enchanting Indonesian island.
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Stay at a Villa: When you plan to visit Bali, it is recommended that you stay in a villa. Most villas in Bali range from mid-budget to 5-star, luxury; are spacious and include kitchen facilities. A lot of villas also include a private pool, work space, yoga studio and fitness rooms.
You could find the best Balinese villas through TripAdvisor and Airbnb. In regards to staying at a hotel in Bali, they are usually more expensive and you do not get the same amenities that you do when you stay at a villa.
The villa I stayed at through We Are Travel Girls was called Villa Malaathina located near the famous Balinese village of Seminyak. This amazing 5-star villa was one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in and it features seven luxurious bedrooms; immaculate tropical gardens; a beautiful pool with some fun peacock and flamingo “floaties”; a yoga studio and gym; massage rooms; a poolside Teppanyaki (Indonesian grilling station) pavilion; a television room; media room; library; wonderful kitchen and dining room (with your own chefs); a bar; views of nearby rice paddies as well as a plethora of different lounging and workspace rooms and corners. It is seriously the perfect place for a blogger to get work done while also relaxing.
Catch a Stunning Sunset: During my week and a half in Bali, I was able to catch some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. From our villa to the oceanside, the colors that came out during sunset were absolutely captivating. There were purple, red, pink, orange and yellow tones in the sky. I have seen some amazing sunsets in Greece, Italy and California, but nothing was as enchanting than the sunsets I witnessed in Bali.
Visit Ulun Danu Temple: Bali is a multi-religious island consisting of Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. The predominant religion is Hinduism, but the Balinese have their own form of it called Agama Hindu Dharma. As you make your way around Bali, you will find the most intricate and beautiful Hindu temples as well as decorative offerings called canang (a small woven basket made from cut coconut leaves and filled with flowers, gifts, snacks and topped with a stick of incense).
One of the most beautiful temples we visited was Ulun Danu Temple in the north of Bali. This picturesque temple complex is located on Beratan Lake and was built in the 17th century in worship of the main Hindu trinity, Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, as well as the lake goddess, Dewi Danu.
Considered as a floating temple complex (especially during high tide), Ulun Danu is comprised of four groups of shrines, including the prominent Lingga Petak. The other three shrines are dedicated to worship the god, Vishnu.
Take Photos at the Famous Handara Gate: Known as the pathway to serenity, Handara Gate is one of the most Instagram-famous spots in Bali. What most people do not know prior to visiting Handara Gate is that is leads into a famous golf course.
Even though you will find these beautiful Balinese gates throughout the island, Handara is the most photographed because there are breathtaking views, lush greenery and beautiful mountains behind it.
Swing Your Heart Out at Wanagiri Hidden Hills: Another spot you cannot miss out on if you want to get the perfect photos for “the gram” is Wanagiri Hidden Hills. Also located in North Bali, Wanagiri Hidden Hills feature nests, swings and bamboo lookouts that will create a visual illusion for all of your friends and followers.
Swings are a popular staple throughout Bali. The first swing started in Ubud’s famous rice terraces, which I talk about below. After attracting many tourists, Balinese locals decided to include more throughout the island, especially at this famous spot.
One thing to note when you visit Wanagiri Hidden Hills is that it is a major tourist attraction, so you will have to wait on some lines to get your photo taken. My favorite attraction of them all was the swing. I truly had an amazing time flying through the air and capturing the gorgeous mountain and lake views from below.
Hike Down to the Hidden Waterfall in Munduk: My favorite place in North Bali was the hidden waterfall at Air Terjun in Munduk. Located off of a windy road in Munduk was a path that led into a luscious rainforest down to a beautiful waterfall. The hike through the rain forest took about 20 minutes and it was a wonderful way to see some authentic Balinese homes, magical nature, balanced rocks and beautiful wildlife.
When we finally got to the waterfall, it was nice to see that we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves (minus the very few tourists that came by here and there). The waterfall was quite chilly, but that didn’t stop us from jumping in and having a good time!
Some helpful suggestions for when you go to the waterfall are to bring water shoes. Before entering the waterfall, there are a lot rocks and pebbles, making it difficult and painful to walk over. I also suggest bringing a pair of eyeglasses or extra contacts if you wear prescription contacts like myself. The waterfall is so powerful that the mist and splash will quickly wash your contacts out of your eyes. Feel free to bring goggles as well if you’re afraid of this happening.
Spend a Beach Day at Sundays Beach Club in Uluwatu: If I had to choose a favorite day in Bali, it had to be the day we went to the Bukit Peninsula in South Bali to Uluwatu. Located at the base of The Ungasan Cliftop Resort, Sundays Beach Club is one of the most pristine private beaches in Bali and includes a crystal blue lagoon with scattered rock pools; gorgeous views of the Indian Ocean; complimentary water sports that will provide you memories for a lifetime; bean bags and bamboo umbrellas to relax; a beachfront restaurant; bon fires and gift shops.
I absolutely loved wandering around the beach and admiring the gorgeous rock formations. I also crossed off a bucket list item of swimming in the Indian Ocean for the first time in my life! (I only have the Arctic left, but will need a lot of guts and a good wetsuit to cross off that goal.) In addition, we all had a great time making memories with each other and sharing stories, laughs and tears all with some amazing tropical beverages. What is great about Sundays Beach Club is that the bartenders will come up to your bean bag area and take your orders from there!
(One thing to note about buying alcohol in Indonesia is that it is fairly expensive. If you are staying at a villa and want to enjoy a glass of wine or alcohol of your choice, it is recommended that you pick up a bottle at the duty free section in the airport. It is also suggested that you get your alcohol at your departure airport (for me, it was JFK) because Bali isn’t known to have the best wine or liquor. There is only one winery in Bali and their only good wine is their Pinot Noir. On the other hand, if you are out at a bar and you like beer, I definitely recommend getting their signature brew called Bintang! It is cheap and tasty. If you are at a beach, like we were, and want to enjoy a tropical drink, I think it is worth splurging a bit on alcohol, but it is all up to you!)
We had such an amazing day at the beach and the most magical part of it all was the sunset in the evening. The beautiful colors that came out behind the cliffs were a site I will never forget. It was also one of the most peaceful moments I experienced in Bali.
After watching the sunset, there was a great bonfire on the beach where we got to roast marshmallows and dip them in a chocolate sauce. It was the best way to end a perfect day!
Wander through the Iconic Rice Terraces: Located in the uplands of Bali, Ubud is known as a center for traditional arts. Not only will you find amazing markets, shops, cafés, restaurants and temples in Ubud, you will also find Bali’s most iconic terraced rice paddies.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces is famous for it’s breathtaking views of rice paddies that involve the subak, which is a traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system. Known as a major tourist attraction, you could wander through the rice terraces, but please note that as you go deeper into the terraces, it will get hotter. You may also need to pay a small fee as you continue to make your way around the paddies. Because the rice terraces are so beautiful and make for great photo opportunities, I think it is worth it to wander around and see the beauty of Tegallalang.
In addition to wandering through the rice terraces, you could also go on one of the swings (similar to the one I went on at Wanagiri Hidden Hills), take photos in front of the cute signs like the “I love Bali” one or cool off with a refreshing coconut or ice cream at the café overlooking all of Tegallalang. There are also a bunch of street vendors and stands outside of the rice terraces that are definitely worth taking a look at.
Say Hello to the Monkeys: Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, also known as Ubud’s Monkey Forest is the primary sanctuary and natural habitat of the Balinese long tailed Monkey (also called macaque). Located within the area of Padangtegal, there are around 750 monkeys living in this spiritual, economic and educational conservation center.
Within the sanctuary, there are five groups of monkeys: infants, which are 0 – 1 year old; juvenile 1 (1 – 2 years old); juvenile 2 (2 – 4 years old); sub adult male (4 -6 years old); adult female (5 years and older) and adult male (7 years and older).
As you wander through the park, you will see monkeys playing, eating, fighting, bathing and nursing. You will also see monkeys hanging out in the trees and wandering through the forest.
A few things to note during your visit to the Monkey Forest are that you can feed them with bananas, but make sure you are extra careful. It is important that you do not feed them other human foods because they could get sick. It is also important to keep your bags securely closed because the monkeys could easily go in and grab your belongings. Parents should also keep an eye on infants and young children! Most of all, respect the sanctuary.
Capture the Beauty at Pura Gunung Lebah Temple: Known as Ubud’s central landmark, Pura Gunug Lebah (also known as the lotus temple to many) is surrounded by bamboo forests and the Campuhan River flowing below it. Leading up to the peaceful temple is a pathway that goes over the river. On this serene river, there are hundreds of lotus flowers and lily pads. In addition, the temple provides pilgrims with a sense of calm during prayer amidst the hustle and bustle of Ubud.
Find Some Gems at the Local Markets: The Ubud Art Market is an artisan and handicraft market located in the center of the city. It is here where you could find local goods made in the surrounding areas such as basket bags (We Are Travel Girls gifted me with one from Lombok when I first arrived at the villa), jewelry, dream catchers (obviously I picked one of these up), crochet clothing and bathing suits, sarongs, elephant pants, shell or beaded chandeliers, embroidered dresses and so much more.
If you have been to Thailand before, like I have, then you have probably mastered the art of bargaining. Well, in Bali, it is time to put those negotiating skills to the test because it is a past time throughout most of Southeast Asia.
Other Facts About Bali: I hope you all enjoyed reading about my favorite adventures during my Bali retreat with We Are Travel Girls. Some things to note before you book your trip there is that the currency is the Indonesian Rupiah and most of Bali is pretty inexpensive.
Since there is a lot of traffic on the island and there are no major highways, please note that it will take you two to three times longer to get somewhere. The best way to get around the island is by taxi (make sure to negotiate the best price and be aware of getting overcharged); renting a scooter (which most people do); getting a private driver, taking the Perama bus or even requesting an Uber. Unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, there are no tuk tuks.
In addition, a lot of international flights will land at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar at midnight. I highly recommend doing what I did by booking a room at the Novotel right next to the airport. It is in walking distance from the arrivals terminal and there are signs that will lead you to the front desk. The rooms at Novotel are really nice and the hotel also has a pool to relax at if you have extra time.
Overall, Bali is a fairly safe island and is also a big nomad destination, making it perfect for solo travelers!
I had an amazing time on my first travel blogging retreat with We Are Travel Girls. I am so thankful for the communities they establish around the globe. They bring women together to make an impact and learn. Click here to learn more about their trips and discover where they are heading next.
If you have any questions about my trip to Bali, please feel free to email me at TAYLORL.DEER@gmail.com, contact me via social media or leave a comment below.
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