After reading many post on Bali, I have to admit to be a bit afraid of visiting the place. Or I should say intimidated, crowds, touts, almost mandatory guides for everything... yet I would like to believe that there is still a hope for us to spend few wonderful days there.
Where would you suggest to go if we would like to get a feel for the culture and nature without worrying too much ..where can we soak it up independently?
#1 boleslav has been a member since 30/8/2009. Posts: 86
Hey, it's not thaaaaat bad!
True parts of it are very congested and heavily touristed, but these areas are straightforward to avoid if you wish. The main challenge is it lacks comfortable and easy to use public transport like say Thailand, and so the easiest way to get around it to hire a motorbike ($6-10 a day) or a car ($20-50 per day).
There are a few things that you have to take a guide for, like climbing a volcano or visiting a Bali Aga village, but these are not really normal cases. For just slumming around, wandering rice fields, hanging out on beaches etc -- the only guide you need is your own nose (and Travelfish of course!)
If you're only coming for a few days (say four), unless you were really determined to tick a few places off, I'd just pick one place and stay there - more than four days, go for two places.
For a low key beachbum place that doesn't score off the charts on the culture scale, I'd recommend Balangan in south Bali (for a great beach) or Yeh Gangga for a pretty beach (not great for swimming though) and a more cultural vibe.
In the hills, I'd recommend either outskirts of Ubud (to dodge the crowds) or Munduk for a real isolated, yet beautiful spot or, lastly Sideman .
For none of these places would you need a guide (though there is possibilities for guided walks etc should you want to),
More questions, ask away!
thank you Somtam,
i keep hoping there are hidden places in Bali where we will not be bumping into others too much
LAst year I had the same worries about THailand and then with the help of the forum here and some great travelers who shared their knowledge, we were able to see wonderful places where people do not go too much like SOppong, Ko Yao Noi, Ko Kradan...
so I am hoping to find similar on Bali.
If you have any suggestions, please, please, share it
we are not into resorts, expensive spas
We plan to arrive in May I have read somewhere that Bali will be busy with tourists from Australia, as they have vacation, is that correct?
#3 boleslav has been a member since 30/8/2009. Posts: 86
Bali is always busy with Australians May is good weather (rainy season is finished) so it will be getting busier, but June/July/August the busiest (EU summer). I'd stick with my suggestions above - how long do you plan to be in Bali?
I will have 4 weeks and was thinking of diving the time between Bali and Sulawesi
we are not really into beach bumming, like to swim and snorkel (hence Sulawesi)
are there any places we can just rent a bike around Ubud and explore ourselves?
where would you suggest we stay since you mentioned outskirts of Ubud?
On Sulawesi note - do you have any recommendations, have you been to Bunaken and Siladan?
#5 boleslav has been a member since 30/8/2009. Posts: 86
Bali can often feeling devoid of tourists when you escape Kuta / Ubud /Sanur. In the European summer, these "other" destinations away from Kuta/Ubud/Sanur jump to life and prices increase. I recently visited many places around Bali that were empty and the local people were waiting for the European summer again.
These places generally require you to find your own way there and they are very relaxing. For the mountains, I choose Munduk. For the ocean, I choose Amed. There are heaps of other places, of course, but Bali gets an undeserved terrible rap when it comes to being overrun with tourists. Kuta is overrun. Ubud can feel like it if you stay in the wrong place or visit the wrong cafes, but I love Ubud anyway. The rest I find to be quite peaceful!
Experiencing Balinese culture is extremely difficult and I recommend going somewhere where there are absolutely no other tourists. Also, you need to be able to strike up conversations with locals and ask about ceremonies to be able to be invited to one. As somtam said, Yeh Gangga is ceremony central as it's where cremated remains are emptied into the ocean. Almost every day, if not every day, you will see a ceremony on the beach. Bali is a top place.
I would definately recommend you to stay away from Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and other beaches in the south if you don't like crowds. Even Ubud can be quite touristy however you can stay on the outskirts of Ubud and it will be quite. Just don't stay on Monkey Forest Rd as it tends to be the busiest.
I would recommend the Amed area. If you visit Taman Tirtagangga, you can stay a few days and do some trekking through rice paddies etc. We really liked our visits to Goa Gajah and Gunung Kawi. If you get your own driver you can arrive very early, before anyone else and you can avoid the crowds associated with visiting them on a tour.
If we go back I would definately spend more time near Tirtagannga and Amed for their beauty and peace and quiet.
#7 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111
Good tips there, I've just finished a motorbike trip around Bali (well finish it this afternoon!) and will be blogging about it. The first couple of entries are up including this onewhich covers the first leg. Might be of interest.
Tirta Gangga (mentioned above) was of of the few places I missed,but gave been there before and agree with amz155 - it is beautiful.
Bali is a big island I've done 994 km so far!
Any suggestions for a driver to take 4 people somewhere nice from UBUD for a half day trip in early June?
#9 paulclose has been a member since 2/1/2011. Posts: 10