For our Bali adventure, we grabbed Dana Guesthouse Bali’s deal on Hostelworld. The deal included accommodation, breakfast, an English-speaking driver/guide, and private transportation. All we had to do was make a draft itinerary and the driver would take us to the places we wanted to see.
The Balinese have incorporated historic structures and Hindu statues in their homes and buildings in order to preserve their heritage. At almost every intersection, there is an ornate monument — either of a historic figure (such as Captain Ngurah Rai, for whom the airport is named after) or one of the Hindu dieties. Our driver was surprised to hear that in the Philippines, our roofs are mostly made of yero [YE-ro] or galvanized iron sheets because their houses are topped with clay tile roofs, which are very cheap in Bali. Bali is a melting pot of art and culture. Even their street art is aesthetically pleasing.
The effect of all those elements put together is both amazing and so, so pretty. If I were to choose a place I could return to for a vacation, I would choose Bali.
Putu Martika, Dana Guesthouse Bali’s owner/manager as well as our gracious host, driver, and guide took us to almost all the places on our list, regardless of how far apart they were from each other. Below you will find our itinerary, notes, map route, expenses, and some photos.
Where: Bali, IDN
When: October 14-18, 2014
Length of stay: 5 days; 4 nights
Bajra Sandhi Monument
On our way to Pura Gunung Kawi, we passed by the Bajra Sandhi Monument. We didn’t get out of the car because the heat was impossible, but I was able to snap a photo.
Putu recommended that we make a few stops along the way — to see the villages where they make original batik and silver items. We love artsy things and new experiences, so we agreed.
Sari Amerta has a batik collection so beautiful, I wanted to cry. Everything is so expensive, but the designs are really, really amazing. Picture-taking is not allowed inside the store, but there are women demonstrating the craft right outside. After a while of staring longingly at an array of sarongs, bags, shirts, dresses, paintings, and more, we decided to move on.
Yan Yan Silver
Our next stop was Yan Yan Silver at Celuk Village. According to Putu, this village is well-known for their skilled silversmiths.
From Celuk Village, we headed to Gunung Kawi in Tampaksiring. Visitors have to wear a sarong with a belt before entering the complex. A must-bring in Bali: sarong. Read more about Gunung Kawi here.
After Gunung Kawi, our temple thirst had been satiated, but we continued on to Tirtha Empul. This temple is built around a spring. So the running water is clean. Here, Hindu devotees and visitors bathe in the waters while praying. Read more about Tirtha Empul here.
Ubud Art Market
Our last stop was the Ubud Art Market. It is recommended that you shop here instead of any other market. In general, vendors in Bali are very aggressive, but a little less so in Ubud Art Market. Any time you want to buy something, put forth your best bargaining skills and persuasive powers, so you can get at most a 60% discount, which is actually the reasonable price for whatever it is they are selling.
Kunti III: Sushi Bar
We finished exploring the market at around past six. On the way back to Dana Guesthouse Bali, we stopped by Kunti III: Sushi Bar for dinner.
Barong and Keris Dance
If you want to watch a cultural show in Bali, the Barong and Keris Dance should definitely be on your list. It’s about an hour and 30 minutes long. The production leaflet needs serious proofreading because you need it as a guide to know exactly what’s happening, but the play is relatively easy to follow if you pay attention. The dancers’ movements are graceful and mesmerizing. Read more about the Barong and Keris dance here.
On the way to our next destination, we did a quick stop at Tegenungan Village to see the waterfalls. According to Putu, it had not rained for quite a while, so the water wasn’t that strong.
We didn’t know what to expect when Putu stopped the car at a restaurant and told us we should try the buffet lunch there. What awaited us was a pleasant surprise: the view from the restaurant is the majestic Mt. Batur, an active volcano; I thought seeing Mt. Batur actually involved a hike.
The lunch was a variety of delicious local cuisine. I must say, the restaurant is a great date place. It was a bit foggy, so the photos of Mt. Batur are not so sharp. We stayed there for a while, just taking in the fresh air and the view. We didn’t really want to leave yet, but it was a long drive back to the guesthouse.
Laksmi Bali Agro Tourism
On the way back to the guesthouse, we stopped at Laksmi Bali Agro Tourism to look at the luwak and coffee plantation. A guide met us at the parking lot and offered a tour for free. Read more about Laksmi Bali Agro Tourism here.
Don Antonio Blanco Museum
Our final stop for the day was Don Antonio Blanco Museum. We asked Putu to drop us off there and told him we would commute back to the guesthouse after. The Don Antonio Blanco Museum is another must-see for art-lovers. Read more about Don Antonio Blanco Museum here.
Nusa Dua Beach
Originally, we were supposed to spend the day at Nusa Dua Beach, but when we got there, the place wasn’t really for chillax swimming, but for extreme water sports. So we thought about doing some water sports. When we asked for the price list, the cheapest is the banana boat for $30. Their snorkeling is at $40. All in all, their price range is $30 to $250. That’s around ₱1,500.00 to ₱12,000.00, so it’s no-go for us.
Next, Putu took us to Pandawa Beach. It’s still under construction, but we had to pay a small fee. We had lunch at one of the stalls. We tried their chicken and pork sate along with nasi goreng. Bali has one of the best-tasting sate I’ve ever had.
Padang Padang Beach
The sun was scorching hot, so after lunch, we climbed back into the cool confines of the car. The third beach Putu took us to was the best. It’s a small, “hidden” beach called Padang Padang. We love Padang Padang Beach. Read more about Padang Padang Beach here.
After we had our fill of frolicking on the beach, we headed to Uluwatu to see the temple and watch the Kecak Dance. It was too early when we got there, so we had some snacks while passing the time. To our embarrassment and surprise, Putu offered to buy us some sate. We offered to pay for him instead, but he insisted to treat us.
The sate was extremely spicy, but good. By the time we finished eating, it was almost time for the show. Visitors are required to wear a sarong with belt if their legs are showing. If not, only the belt is needed. Read more about Uluwatu here.
The Kecak Dance at Uluwatu is a must-see in Bali. The setting of the fire dance is breathtaking. It overlooks the waters, the sunset, and the Uluwatu Temple. Read more about the Kecak Dance here.
We were almost out of cash at this point, so we decided to visit the markets to see what we could buy for our families and friends. I wanted to buy some fruits. We went to Kumbasari Market. Denpasar Market is right across from it.
A warning to visitors: do not ask for the price of anything in Kumbasari Market unless you really, really, really want it and have the money to buy it. At one of the stalls, we asked a lady the price of her sarongs; she told us 250.000 IDR each. Since we couldn’t afford it, we said no, but thank you. She would not stop harassing us. She followed us up two flights of stairs, down three floors, and out the market, yelling, “How much? Too expensive? How much? 200.000 IDR! I give discount for two! Hey! Hello! Hello!” Once we were in the parking lot, waiting for the driver, we assumed safety. But she appeared out of nowhere, insisting that we buy the sarong for 180.000 IDR each. It was a little terrifying. Luckily, we found our driver and got the hell out of there.
Bali Buda Café & Health Food Shops
We were so frustrated with the market. We asked the driver to drop us off at Bali Buda, a shop we discovered near Kunti III: Sushi Bar. The quiet and calm atmosphere of Bali Buda was so relaxing. We de-stressed there. Read more about Bali Buda here.
Ngurah Rai International Airport
We left Dana Guesthouse Bali early in the morning, at around 5:30 a.m., because our flight was at half past eight. The staff gave us a packed breakfast, we said goodbye to our Bali home, and were off.
Since we had about two hours of waiting time, I went around taking pictures of the airport. The architecture is so impressive. I have only been to two other airports; Ngurah Rai International Airport is the most beautiful and clean so far.
Around noon, we were flying over Philippine territory; our Bali adventure was done.
During our stay, the exchange rate was 1 PHP = 230 IDR, 44.00 PHP = 1 USD, and 1 USD = 12.170 IDR. We exchanged our PHP to USD before leaving the country; we got a better rate in Bali.
For transportation, here are some options: renting from private transportation companies and renting a motorcycle. I checked the rates of various private transportation companies. On average, their asking price is 500.000 IDR for 10 hours.
Riding a taxi is the main means of commuting in Bali, but motorcycles seem to be the popular choice of locals for getting around. And since it is cheaper to rent a scooter/motorcycle, there are hordes of motorcycle drivers speeding on the road. Almost everyone has a motorcycle/scooter. Balinese drive on the left side of the road, so if you’re not used to that, be careful when crossing the street. For more information on renting a motorcycle/scooter in Bali, click here.
According to Putu, you can also hire a policeman to drive you if you want to avoid traffic, but their rates are very expensive. They also have buses for tourists, but I’m not sure how they work. I think the best way to travel is via private transportation, so you can tour at your own pace. If ever you need a taxi, it’s best to ride one of the Blue Bird taxis because they have flat rates.
Filipinos are at an advantage because they have similar features as Indonesians. In some places, such as the Kintamani border, policemen ask foreigners to pay before they can pass.
Don’t forget to bring a sarong, sunblock, and a camera. You’ll need the sarong to enter temples, the sunblock if you plan to walk around, and of course, the camera to document your adventure. When in the market, haggle if the price is too high for you. Also, be careful where you step if you’re going out in the morning because Balinese lay out offerings outside their doors.