Now that I’ve been back in Canada for awhile, I’ve had some much needed time to reflect on my recent travels overseas. To celebrate graduating university, my friends and I decided to go on our own grad trip. However, the trip didn’t go exactly as planned…
We started our trip exploring the island of Bali for five days. We flew Cathay Pacific from Vancouver to Hong Kong to Denpasar (Ngurah Rai Airport) in Bali. It was the longest travel time I had ever experienced, as this was the furthest East I have traveled thus far. I was already not feeling well when we left Vancouver and wasn’t looking forward to the long journey to get to Bali… but, the flights on Cathay Pacific were pleasant and we eventually made it to Denpasar. Getting out of the airport and through security was a bit of a nightmare though, it was SO busy and we were standing in line for multiple hours. Thankfully, the driver we had arranged to pick us up was very patient. We checked in to our Airbnb in our first destination: Seminyak.
Seminyak was an exciting place to explore. It captures a lot of the cultural flavour of Bali. Unfortunately, we were not staying directly in Seminyak Village, so we had to drive or walk if we wanted to get to the centre of the village. If you are looking to visit Seminyak, I would recommend staying directly in the village centre because everything is accessible by foot from there. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to check out all throughout the village. And trust me, you’ll need to drop in to multiple stores to keep your cool – it was so hot in Seminyak that we tried to get in to air-conditioned settings as much as possible!
Apart from checking out the bustling village centre, there are also a lot of nice beaches near Seminyak. In particular, we checked out a beach club near Double Six Beach called La Plancha and LOVED it. La Plancha is located right on the beach and has a restaurant and bar, and in the late afternoon, they set up bean bag chairs on the beach where you can sit and watch the ocean waves and the sunset. It was so incredible to be there and get the chance to swim in the Indian Ocean! This was truthfully one of the only times I actually felt good in Bali, and I am so glad I got to experience it. The sunset and waves crashing on the shore were breathtaking. I would highly recommend checking La Plancha out if you get the chance.
One negative thing we noticed while at La Plancha was the amount of garbage in the ocean washing up on the beach. Literally every wave that crashed on to the shore was filled with garbage. It was so sad to see the ocean that polluted, especially when we were so excited to be at the edge of the Indian Ocean! It served as a reminder that we have to be so careful of the waste we produce, especially the waste that winds up in our oceans. We should all do as much as we can to keep our oceans clean!
After our evening at La Plancha, we decided to go out for the night. As I already wasn’t feeling well, I probably shouldn’t have gone out – but we were so excited to be reunited together in a new place, so I decided to go for it. We visited Motel Mexicola, a really neat Mexican-inspired restaurant and bar that features an elevated dance floor. It was really fun and they also serve some bomb tacos.
After that, we REALLY should have called it a night, but my friend wanted to show us another place she had visited the other night, which she referred to as the jungle. I truthfully don’t know the real name of the club, but it literally feels like you are in a jungle once you step into the building. There are trees everywhere and tons of different rooms and levels of the building to explore. It was massive, so make sure you bring a friend with you and don’t get lost! It was quite the experience and I’m glad we got to check it out.
We had another adventure going home that night. We were taking a taxi back to our Airbnb and our taxi driver agreed on one rate when we initially got in the cab, but tried to charge double when we arrived. Things escalated quickly and I’ll spare the details of what happened, but if you are planning to take a taxi (especially in the middle of the night), make sure they fully agree to the rate BEFORE you get in the cab, otherwise they will try to charge you an insane amount when you arrive. Better yet, I would recommend booking a driver ahead of time instead of using taxis. We used drivers for the majority of our time in Seminyak and they are a lot safer, and the rates are more realistic. All of the drivers I communicated with use Whatsapp, which is really convenient because you don’t need a phone plan, just access to the internet!
The next day we were headed to our next destination, Ubud. Our driver took us there and we picked up one of our friends along the way, who went quading in the rice fields near Ubud. She had a blast, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, I would recommend checking it out! Unfortunately, the car ride from Seminyak to Ubud was extremely windy, and I got really car sick. Even worse, my health continued to decline from there. I was feeling very unwell for the majority of our time in Ubud, but we were lucky to be staying in a really nice Airbnb with a pool, which helped to cool off and relax from the heat. I spent most of my time there while my friends explored Ubud.
Our Airbnb was in the middle of the rice fields in Ubud, only accessible via scooter or walking. That was really neat, and we had the chance to scooter around Ubud a little bit – my friends much more than I. My friends also went to check out the Tegallalang Rice Terraces nearby, which are one of the most popular areas of the rice fields where you can see the tiered rice paddies. They also visited the swing in the rice terraces, where you can swing out overlooking the rice fields. I personally don’t think I would have been able to do the swing, but they looked like they had an amazing time. I would definitely recommend checking out the rice terraces and the swing if you’re in the Ubud region!
Ubud also has a lot of really interesting shops, restaurants, and markets to check out in the centre of the village. Though I didn’t do much exploring, my friends visited the centre quite extensively and found a lot of great finds. I believe there are also temples nearby to check out. Exploring the centre of Ubud is definitely worthwhile to get a better feel of the area.
There are also many yoga studios and yoga retreats in Ubud. I think they are quite popular all throughout Bali, but Ubud seems to be the centre of it all. There was a studio quite close to our Airbnb, which was really nice. I would definitely recommend taking in a yoga class if you’re into it! My friends really enjoyed theirs! There is tons of healthy food available in Bali also, for really cheap, which is super nice. Getting massages at the many spa facilities are also super cheap, and I would definitely recommend taking advantage of this relaxation if you have the chance.
One of the last activities we did before we left Ubud, and Bali altogether, was visiting the Monkey Forest in Ubud. It is a sanctuary for many varieties of monkeys and a really unique place to visit. I was a bit skeptical about whether or not we should go, as there are conflicting reports online about how safe it is. There is the possibility you can get bit by a monkey and consequently have to get a rabies shot afterwards. However, as long as you are careful in the forest and don’t bring in anything they would want to take from you (such as food), and don’t make direct eye contact, you should be fine. Both of my friends went in and enjoyed their visit. Just make sure to keep your eyes out, but it’s worth the trip!
Here’s a condensed version of our top highlights from visiting Bali, in no particular order:
- Seminyak Village
- Beach club(s) near the ocean
- Tegallalang Rice Terraces/the rice fields in Ubud in general
- Ubud Monkey Forest
- Ubud Village
Bali was definitely a whirlwind. I was quite unwell at the end of our time there and ready to get out of the country for sure, but I wish I had the chance to explore it under different circumstances. The one good thing is that I can officially vouch for the health care system in Bali – they were extremely helpful in all of my interactions with them and I had no communication problems at all. The kindness of everyone that assisted me while I was sick was immensely appreciated, and regardless, I’m still glad I had the opportunity to be there. Bali is a beautiful place and I would definitely recommend checking it out if you have the chance. As long as you are prepared before you go, you should have a great time!
Here are some of the top safety precautions to keep in mind if you are planning a visit to Bali:
- Use drivers instead of taxis – some Airbnb’s have drivers that they can arrange for you, I would highly recommend doing so!
- Bring bug spray (you need something strong with DEET) and make sure you use it and continue to re-apply throughout the day and night
- Be prepared for the intense humidity and make sure you drink lots of water, and try to cool down in a pool or the ocean if necessary
- Make sure you are vaccinated properly before you go – discuss vaccines with your doctor before you depart because what you need may depend on what area of Bali you are visiting
- Get traveler’s insurance!! You never know what could happen, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
All in all, Bali was a unique experience and I’m sure you will enjoy it if you get the chance to visit – hopefully free of health issues, unlike me! For more about Bali, you can check out #chiaragoesglobal on Instagram, and I’ll be sharing more details about the rest of our trip soon 🙂