Bali sightseeing road trip

Bali has truly a lot of noteworthy sightseeing options to offer, so it is easy to get lost between the various temples and street carts claiming to know the best spots for the lowest prices. We ended up purchasing a day of sightseeing from a random cart down the street, and we had the chance to choose the attractions we were most interested in.

To get an idea, we paid 400k (~£25) for a guy to drive us around the whole day, including petrol. The entry fees you have to pay separately, but your driver should be able to get in everywhere for free. Expect to start early, around 8-9am and be back by 7-8pm. Below you'll find a list of all the things we did in a single day and some of the things you might want to skip and opt for something more exciting.

1. Traditional Dance

The first time I saw the performance I was quite fascinated - it really feels authentic! The costumes are cool, the dance moves are unique (albeit minimalistic) and the story line is easy to follow. The last time we watched it, it was actually aimed at the school students, so we were in a packed theatre full of noisy students far at the back. The performance was filled with sexual jokes and lots of audience participation, which made it a little awkward for us, the only tourists there. Overall it's definitely worth seeing once, but make sure to leave early enough to beat the traffic (and get better seats)! Entry is 50k and it's in the open air, so prepare to soak in sweat.

2. Batuan Temple

It's a comparatively small temple and while there were a couple nice corners, I found it quite underwhelming. If you are looking to squeeze in another spot to visit, I would sacrifice this temple first. On the other hand, it is perfectly on the way, so stop by if time permits! Entrance is a donation of 5k or more.

3. Coffee plantation

Bali has numerous showroom coffee plantations, some more authentic than others, so don't be surprised if you get taken to a different one. They are all famous for their Luwak coffee which is produced by collecting coffee beans after they've been eaten and fermented in the guts of a cute little animal. All those plantations offer to sample various coffees and teas for free, but you will be asked for a donation in the end. Also, ask for unsweetened samples, because it's almost impossible to taste anything through the sweetness. Final piece of advice: don't buy the teas they offer in the gift shops - you'll be disappointed to find a mix of powder and sugar that doesn't resemble anything "natural" or "organic".

4. Monkey sanctuary

This park is an absolute must! Firstly, if you want to see monkeys in the wild - you'll see more than enough of them. They are not in any way "locked" into the park, they roam freely and you can feed and touch them. Careful though, they may bite and certainly avoid making an eye contact with them or else they'll get very angry and will chase you away. Secondly, this park has some remarkable sculptures littered all over the place well worth seeing. As an added extra, they are nicely aged which makes them perfect for a cute photo. Finally, the the nature itself is beautiful with a little river at the far bottom and some ancient trees with long stringy lianas. Make sure to walk everywhere - there are lots of little hidden corners.

5. Ubud

The walk around Ubud was more of a spontaneous idea, but it felt like a great opportunity to explore a new town. I had friends who stayed here for a few days just to see the place, but I think this 1 hour walk around can easily do the job! We did the loop from the monkey sanctuary to the palace and back on a busy pedestrian shopping street. It's a cute little city with a lot of hand crafts and local markets. There are also plenty hidden small temples and nice cafes and restaurants if you feel like stopping for a drink.

6. Rice paddies

One of the top 3 stops on this trip! The driver took us to a nice little restaurant on the side of the hill with magnificent views of the rice paddies and the hard working people down below. After the meal you'll have a chance to run down the hill to the other side to see the fields up close. We managed to be there at a time when they were taking off the harvest and some new fields were starting to grow with rice, but most of it was empty and free to explore. Be prepared to be pestered for money for every single picture you take of the workers - we did wonder if those fields are actually used for growing rice or more of a showcase... Nevertheless, the views are great and it's cool to know where your supermarket rice might be coming from!

7. Pura Tirta Empul Temple

This is our favourite temple out of all that we've seen. It's a pretty large complex and the main focus is a big basin with spring water coming out of the ground, which you can see from the sand getting lifted up like grey smoke. This holly water gets channelled through the big taps in the picture that people use to wash themselves - you are welcome to join the ritual, and there are saris provided if you want to get wet. Finally, the water with your sins gets washed out into another pool with gigantic gold fishes. There are plenty other areas to walk around, and you might even come across an active prayer. Be careful when you head out - there is, what seems like, a never ending maze of stalls selling random stuff. Don't take anything even if they offer it for free - or else you'll pay the price for it later!

8. Tegenungan Waterfall

Finally, we ended up visiting a waterfal. There isn't anything extraordinary about it, but it had a nice view from the top, and it was nice to see the setting sun from here. Make sure to be on time, as the hike to the top closes to visitors at 6pm. Be careful when taking selfies - it's slippery and there are no safety railings; we witnessed a girl almost get washed off with the stream! And be prepared for a sweaty climb up the hundreds of stairs...

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