Squeezed between Java and Lombok in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is a relatively small province, which is quick and easy to traverse.
Most holiday makers gravitate towards Kuta, the most populated area in the southern tip of the island, enticed by a 5km-long sandy beach and non-stop entertainment venues. It has the reputation of a party place, so getting out of Kuta for the day will help you recharge the batteries and unwind. Otherwise you may need another holiday after your holiday. Here are a number of experiences within a few hours’ drive of Kuta we think you will enjoy.
Visit a Traditional Village
One of only three traditional Balinese villages left in Bali, Tenganan Pegringsingan on the east coast of the province is only an hour and ten minutes’ drive from Kuta. Here you can see what life was life in Bali before tourism erupted. The community is fiercely traditional, adhering to ancient customs and strict martial practices – anyone wanting to marry outside the village must leave, so the community remains secluded. However, they do welcome visitors and enjoy showcasing their arts, crafts and ceremonies.
Learn the Fine Art of Balinese Cooking
If you’re as fond of cooking food as eating it, then why not take some time out to perfect the culinary delights of the country. Bumbu Bali Cooking School near Nusa Dua offers lessons daily, in conjunction with a tour to Jimbaran Village Market to purchase fresh ingredients for the day. Learn how to whip up your favourite Balinese dish before sitting down in the wonderfully tranquil home to enjoy lunch with fellow cooks.
Trek to the Mouth of Mount Agung for Sunrise
Sitting just over 3,000 metres above sea level, Mount Agung is the highest point in Bali and is an active volcano, with a large, deep crater, which occasionally spurts ash and smoke. It is possible to trek to the mouth of the volcano along two well-carved out routes, either with a tour group or self-guided. Many walkers prefer to do the ascent just before dawn to enjoy the sunrise and incredible views of Bali and over to neighbouring Lombok island.
Tour Besakih Mother Temple
Located on the slopes of Mount Agung, Besakih Mother Temple is regarded as the holiest temple in Bali. Climb the steps and meander through this vast complex of 23 temples with intricately carved stone gateways and tranquil courtyards. The largest and most central temple Pura Penataran Agung consists of six levels and is a great example of old Balinese architecture and a wonderful place to soak up the atmosphere of this most sacred space.
Sail to Nusa Lembongan
Leave the hustle and bustle of Kuta behind and board ship for the quiet island of Nusa Lembongan, just off the southeast coast of Bali. Enjoy the day snorkelling in the beautiful clear waters abundant with sea life. Go scuba diving, examine the reefs through a semi-submersible or just lie back on the beach and enjoy a slower pace of life. Seaweed farming is the primary livelihood of those who live on the island, so if you’re starved of culture in Kuta take some time to meet the locals here.
Cycle through the Rice Fields
Before the tourism boom in Bali, green swathes of rice fields covered much of the country. Landowners charmed with high prices offered by developers sold their land, leading to the concrete jungle south of the island. However, once you leave the city limits, it’s easy to find beautiful terraces of rice paddies and easily traversed fields. Take a walking or cycling tour through the fields to get a glimpse of farming life on the island.
Discover your Spiritual Side
Known as the spiritual and creative heartland of Bali, Ubud is a collection of small villages surrounding the central market area. Only about an hour’s drive from Kuta, it reveals a relaxed vibe, drawing a crowd keen to connect with mind, body and soul. Spas and health retreats abound, alongside an ever-increasing artisan community, demonstrating there are still plenty of people who prefer a more sedate pace of life to the cacophony of Kuta. Leaving the beach and bright lights of Kuta behind – even for a day – will show you a different side to Bali, one that is more like the ‘old’ Bali. Soak it up, enjoy the ceremonies, history and culture before heading back for more fun in the sun.