Top 10 Places to Visit In Bali, IndonesiaThe pull of Southeast Asia is undeniable. From beaches and tropical weather to discounted souvenirs and primitive cultures, we have been given a pretty paradisiacal image of the region. When people hear "Bali" their minds wander to white sand beaches, palm trees, surfing, and rice paddies. Since the book and movie Eat, Pray, Love came out, that image has been reinforced and now people might think they have a good idea of where to go and what to expect on this tiny Indonesian island, but the romanticized Hollywood story doesn't give an accurate picture.
Throngs of travelers arrive in Bali every day and have their bubble burst once they leave the airport. Some places, particularly those depicted in the books/movies, are overrun by tourists trying to experience the quiet paradise they've been promised. Instead of a primitive, spiritual retreat, if you follow the local's advice, you'll end up in a maze of expensive tourist traps aimed at selling you cheap throw-away goods and dime-a-dozen panoramas.
Here are the places to go if you want to see the best of Bali without fighting off the hawkers and tour buses. You'll still have to dodge some traps common to Southeast Asia but overall you CAN avoid the crowds without going over budget.
The Top Ten
This small mountain town is the home of artists. From wooden carvings to stone sculptures, you can wander for days without feeling like you've seen it all. However, unless you are staying in town, all drivers hired to take you there will drop you at "The Market" in the center of town. While it is an easy landmark, once there you need to run as fast as you can out of it so you don't waste any time. Head east to Hanoman street and walk that instead. Boutiques, yoga studios, cafes, local artists... The other option is to head west down Raya Ubud (most likely the street you are dropped on) past the bulk of town to the smaller shops on the northwest part of the street.
I'm 25% from Bali and I highly recommended this place It's amazing, I promise.
These are the rice paddies you've seen pictures of but they still remain pretty quiet considering the hustle and bustle of the other tourist areas. Have your camera ready and some shoe that can get dirty/muddy.
Now known as the New Kuta Beach, it isn't your beach to swim unless you know what you're doing and visit at low tide. It is a surfer's paradise and the beaches and water are clean and soft. You'll have massage ladies buzzing by every hour or so trying to trick you into a massage - and charging you for shade/beach chairs - but as far as being crowded and easy to get to, this is the beach for lounging/playing in the surf.
Beautiful Botanical Gardens. You have lakes, mountains, and gorgeous meadows all within an hour drive of the second largest city in Bali (Singaraja). I'd recommend avoiding that city and head into the mountains.
While it's more of a tourist attraction than a "monkey Preserve" as it's toted, this will still be your best place to observe the monkeys of Bali without fear of being attacked. There are guides in the forest (more of a park really) that will keep the monkeys from misbehaving.
There isn't really much around Lovina Beach other than the beach. You've got some shops and such but the main attraction to this beach is that it is great for swimming as well as diving. It has lost some of its charm from the "quiet beach you've dreamed of" but overall still worth going for a relaxing few days.
While not technically Bali, these islands are directly east of Bali and, depending on how much you want to spend, either a short flight, a 2 hour fast boat ride, or a 5 hour regular boat ride away. Still, despite their distance, they are the remote island experience you'll want. Go on a weekday though as the weekends are already getting tourist-heavy.
This is the thing to do if you feel like renting a scooter for the day but want to survive till nightfall (meaning: do not even attempt to ride a scooter through any towns or cities). It's home to mostly small villages and locals. You'll be sandwiched right between the mountains and the black, volcanic sanded beaches. The waves are mellow and the coastline lazy. You'll have everything from fresh cloves being dried in the sun to sea salt harvesting.
This small village is home to the Balinese Salt Farmers. Go check out the process and see what a tradition dating back over a thousand years looks like.
This is the place to go if you want to look under the waves. The diving is spectacular. Enough Said.