Travel Log: Bali, Indonesia

   If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen a peek at my winter Japan and Bali trip. This trip was a pandemic reschedule centered around the destination wedding of two of my longtime dear friends. I was over the moon to be invited to their rescheduled wedding, be able to attend, and plan out a two week Asia trip around it. Our itinerary included time in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Bali. You can read my Tokyo travel log here, my Kyoto Travel Log here, and my What I Packed and Wore in Japan post here.

Our Bali itinerary included a full seven days on this island based at one resort in Ubud. We planned a couple of excursion days to see more of the island, several afternoons and evenings exploring and dining downtown Ubud, and plenty of time laying poolside and enjoying our resort. It was a great mix of adventure and relaxation! We flew roundtrip between Tokyo and Bali on Delta partner airline Garuda Indonesia, booking direct flights that run once per week on Wednesdays with a travel time of ~7.5 hours each way. For accommodations, we chose Komaneka at Tanggayuda Resort located roughly a 15-20 minute drive from downtown Ubud and approximately 2 hours from Denpasar airport with traffic. We booked our airport transfers directly through the resort, our driver met us and escorted us both ways comfortably in a large air conditioned van and made the experience seamless. We also arranged our excursions through the same driver for a reasonable rate. Please continue reading to see more photos and details of our week on the beautiful island of Bali.


As I mentioned above, we chose Komaneka at Tanggayuda as our home base for our seven days in Bali. This resort is located in a tropical forest with views of Mount Batur, and is thoughtfully designed to feel secluded in its location set back from the main road. While Komaneka at Tanggayuda is only about 15 minutes from downtown Ubud by car, it felt like a world away. We booked a beautiful, spacious villa with our own large private pool and a delicious menu of breakfast options was included with our stay at the on-site restaurant a few steps away. In addition to the regular sit-down breakfast, guests can also order a floating breakfast for a small incremental fee and of course I had to do that one morning during our visit even though eating in the pool is highly unpractical! This resort has multiple pools, an on-site spa (we enjoyed relaxing massages), a gift shop with local clothing, jewelry, and accessories, and a free shuttle to downtown Ubud and back on a timetable throughout the day. The pickup point is their sister resort, Komaneka at Monkey Forest, which also looked lovely and is more centrally located downtown Ubud. We were very satisfied with our choice and would happily recommend.




Since our resort offered a free shuttle to downtown Ubud, we took advantage of the ability to walk around and explore downtown Ubud during the cooler early evening hours and booked dinner reservations at a handful of top rated restaurants: Nusantara by Locovore (Award winning Locovore was closed for renovations during our visit), Honey and Smoke, Hujan Locale, and Mozaic. Every meal we had was unique and wonderful in its own way, and we very much enjoyed trying both traditional Indonesian dishes and more modern takes. It is worth noting that while Uber/Lyft do not exist in Bali, there is a similar app called Grab that serves the same rideshare function at competitive prices and we used the app several times when the free shuttle was not convenient.








I mentioned in the beginning that we booked a drive/guide for two excursion days during our week in Bali. Day 1 excursion itinerary included a visit to the Instagram famous Handara Gate (approximately 1.5 hour drive from our resort), then the scenic Ulun Danu Beratan Temple located on Lake Beratan (5-10 minute drive from Handara Gate), a stop for Kopi Luwak coffee at nearby Kop Luwak Baturiti, then a walk through the UNESCO World Heritage protected Jatiluwih Rice Terraces (40-45 minutes from Lake Beratan), then back to Ubud. Day 1 excursion was almost eight hours from point of pickup to dropoff back at our resort.

The process to take photos at Handara Gate feels extremely touristy, but it makes sense considering its social media popularity and the fact that the gate is located at the entrance to a golf resort. You purchase a numbered ticket for 30,000 IDR per person (~$2 USD at the time of our November 2023 visit) at the entry booth, then wait for your number to be called. We waited about 40 minutes for our turn, because we arrived at a point in time late morning where a tourist bus was midway through the group's photos. Our driver told us that at times the wait can be several hours long! There are shaded areas and rocks you can sit on, so it really was not too bad. Three employees were rotating taking photos and videos, being kind to take as many photos as each person or group needed to get their desired result, and the whole process was very orderly. We left a small cash tip for the employees as we left, but of course that is not required.


Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a Hindu Temple located on Lake Beratan, a peaceful place to walk around with a number of photogenic locations including a large traditional gate. The entrance fee is 50,000 IDR per person (~$3.50 USD as of our November 2023 visit) and you could easily spend an hour exploring the area. We saw some people boating on the lake as well!





After our first two stops, we were ready for a pick-me-up and our driver took us to Kopi Luwak Baturiti for a coffee tasting experience that included the famous kopi luwak coffee. The team here walked us through their garden pointing out the different types of coffee trees (arabica, robusta, and bali hybrid) and explained the coffee making process including a laborious manual grinding exercise. They also have a civet that lives on the property, roams the grounds at night, eats coffee beans, and poops out the partially digested beans that are then thoroughly cleaned and processed to make the ultra exclusive kopi luwak coffee. We had a tasting of various coffees and teas from the property and I even had a little photo op in a "birds nest" that had been constructed just for photos (as is common all over Bali). I don't recall how much we paid for the coffee/tea tasting, but it was minimal and we also picked up a couple of bags of coffee for gifts. All in all a great little break during our half day excursion!





The fourth and last stop of our day was the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site located about 1.5 hours from our resort and from downtown Ubud. These rice fields are a protected site due to the traditional subak irrigation system that has been passed down for centuries and ensures that these rice fields stay lush and green. The entrance fee is paid on the way in and was 40,000 IDR per person (~$3 USD as of our November 2023 visit). There are two entrances to these terraces and several walking paths. Our driver dropped us off on one end, recommended that we walk through and picked us up on the other end. It worked out perfectly and gave us plenty of time to explore and take photos. Then we settled in for the 1.5 hour drive back to our resort with dinner and a relaxing evening after a busy day.



Our second excursion day was a few days after the first, toward the end of our week in Bali, and intentionally had fewer stops. We booked a half day with a more relaxed schedule and time built in to shop for artwork and jewelry. Our itinerary included a stop at one of the many Bali swing locations, then a short waterfall hike, and then adequate time for shopping.

There are many companies/locations that offer Bali swing photos, but I took our driver's recommendation to visit Swing Heaven approximately 30 minutes from our resort. This location has a whole bunch of photo opportunities, in my humble opinion it is a bit excessive, and they encourage visitors to rent dresses that are similar but not the same experience as the "flying dress" experience I did in Santorini, Greece. It is up to visitors as to how you want to complete your experience, but I was very firm that I only wanted to take photos on the swing and I brought my own floaty train kimono that could emulate the "flying" look. I paid ~$35 USD (approx 545,000 IDR at the time of my visit) for the ability to walk through the property and take photos with a bottle of water included. Most of the visitors were apparently willing to wait and slowly progress through the multi-hour experience, but that did not work for our timeframe and I politely made it very clear that I only wanted to take photos on the swings. All in all we spent maybe 45 minutes waiting for and capturing the regular Bali swing, a larger Bali "adventure' swing, and an indulgent floral swing photo in between before moving on to our waterfall hike. 





After the Bali swing photos, our driver took us to Tibumana Waterfall with a travel time of approximately 50 minutes by car. I had a hard time choosing only one waterfall this trip, but this one has an easy walk from the parking area (less than 15 minutes) each way and is very photogenic. The entrance fee is 10,000 IDR per person (~$.60 USD per person at the time of our visit in November 2023), and there are a couple of cafes/stores on the way where you can purchase water or snacks on the way in or out. When we visited, this particular waterfall was not crowded and we were able to spend plenty of time taking photos, relaxing on the rocks, and enjoying the scene. After our hike, we rounded out excursion day number two by visiting a local artist's collective and a local jewelry workshop where we purchased several unique pieces that we are so happy to display in our home and several pieces of beautiful jewelry. All in all a great day!



We thoroughly enjoyed our week in Bali, and while our initial seven days was the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation we decided we would absolutely return at a future date to see more of the island. Is Bali on your travel bucket list? If you have visited Bali, what were your favorite moments? Please be sure to leave me a comment below to let me know. Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

Comments

  1. It looks amazing there! I would love to visit!

    Jennifer
    Curated by Jennifer

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  2. First up, you look incredible in this swimsuit! Secondly, that swing shoot is awesome. You always seem to find the coolest way to take photos. Thirdly, yes Bali is on my bucket list. It looks amazing!

    https://www.kathrineeldridge.com

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    1. Thank you, Kathrine! The Bali swing photoshoot was indeed a lot of fun!

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  3. Wow! What an incredible trip! I love that you got some fun swing photos but exactly the way you wanted them and were firm in what you wanted. They turned out well!

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    1. Thank you, Laura! I hope my experience and advice can help others ensure they have the experience they want as well!

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  4. Bali looks incredible! The food looks amazing and those swing photos are so cool!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

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    1. Thank you so much, Jill! The food was SO good!

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  5. It looks like you had a great time there. :)

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    1. We did and thank you so much for visiting my blog!

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  6. What a trip of a lifetime! I love all the photos and tips on what to see (and what it costs- so helpful!).

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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    1. Thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind note, Ashley! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

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  7. Looks like such an incredible trip!

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    1. Thank you kindly for visiting my blog and it was indeed an incredible trip!

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  8. One word - wow! It’s so beautiful there and you look amazing. I also love the variety of food that was available there. I can’t wait to try them out myself! Bali is one destination that’s on my top three to visit. Definitely keeping all of your tips in mind.

    Maureen | www.littlemisscasual.com

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    1. Thank you for your kind note, Maureen! The food was amazing and I would definitely recommend visiting Bali when you have the opportunity. =)

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