Ubud, Bali

Places to See and Things to do in Bali

No trip to Indonesia would be complete without visiting Bali, the most well-known of all the country’s 17,000 islands. We spent more than half our six-week trip to Indonesia in Bali exploring the beaches, rice paddies, volcanoes and temples. We ate tasty vegetarian meals, trekked and cycled in Ubud, experienced the bright lights of Kuta and chilled out in Kerobokan – here’s the story of our trip to Bali.

Touchdown in Kuta

We’ve made no secret about it; we had a pretty rough time in Java. One of the things that kept us going during the first week of our trip to Indonesia was knowing that we were going to visit Bali next, home of beautiful beaches, cheap massages and elaborate temples. We weren’t however, too excited about our first stop on the island: Indonesia’s version of Benidorm; the place where Australians go to party – Kuta.

Kuta Beach

So what did we make of it? Yes, Kuta was full of western fast-food restaurants, shops selling knock-off watches and handbags and touts hassling you at every turn. The beaches were crowded and the streets full of more tourists than locals, the centre was crammed with noisy bars and clubs packed with drunken revellers and you couldn’t walk for five minutes without being offered drugs.

Dinner in Kuta, Bali

Dinner with my brother Ben in Kuta

Somehow, though, we didn’t mind Kuta. After feeling so out of place in Java where we hardly saw any other travellers and had locals asking if they could take pictures of us all the time, we were happy to blend in for a while and become one of the faceless tourist crowd. We found a cheap, nice place to stay (minus the cockroaches that came out of the bathroom drain) and spent a lot of time working and resting, it was just what we needed. I even got to catch up with my little brother, who is on his own five month trip around Asia, Australia and New Zealand; it was great to see a familiar face and compare travel stories.

Exploring Ubud

Made famous as the place Liz Gilbert lived in Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud was the first spot in Indonesia to really steal our hearts. Although it’s only a couple of hours away from Kuta, Ubud might as well be in an entirely different island; the temperature is much cooler, green forests and rice paddies replace the beaches and there’s less of a party atmosphere. Ubud is known as the cultural hub of Bali and is packed with independent restaurants, cafes, markets and shops – there’s not a McDonalds in sight.

Ubud, Bali

We loved the laid-back, bohemian atmosphere in Ubud and spent a couple of weeks there gorging on vegetarian dishes, hiking through forests and rice paddies and visiting temples. We also spent a day on a cycling tour in Northern Bali, visiting Mount Batur, coffee plantations and a traditional Balinese family compound. Aside from a terrifying experience at the Monkey Forest, we had a great time in Ubud and found it hard to drag ourselves away.

Ubud Market, Bali

Chilling out in Kerobokan

If you’re looking for things to do in Bali and want to get away from the tourist crowds, head to Kerobokan. The town lies only forty minutes away from Kuta and is great if you want to experience a quieter vibe and streets that aren’t choked with bars and party-goers. If you’re into surfing, one of the best spots in Bali to catch waves is the nearby Echo Beach. We headed there one afternoon for lunch and to watch suffers tackle the giant waves; you can rent surf boards if you want to have a go or opt for a body board instead for something a bit more tame.

Andrew on Echo Beach, Bali

There aren’t many tourist focused bars and restaurants in Kerobokan, however, my brother did tip us off about a place he found when he stayed there: the Plumbers Arms. We headed to this British pub a couple of times to unashamedly stuff our faces with cheese and pickle sandwiches, baked potatoes and burgers; a little taste of home was just what we needed after more than three months away.

The Plumbers Arms, Kerobokan

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  • Mig
    Posted at 19:43h, 25 June Reply

    It’s always nice to get a little comfort of home on the road. I found a Hooters.. don’t judget 🙂 in Guatemala and had craving for hot wings. While I paid the same price I would back at home, it was a nice treat from being on the road for so long. I’d love to go to Bali one day. Is Andrew learning how to surf there? I took my first lesson here in Costa Rica a few weeks ago and stood up!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 04:01h, 26 June Reply

      I think the less said about Hooters the better Mig. It’s so good to get a little taste of home every now and then, even if you have to pay a little over the local prices. I haven’t tried surfing yet, I will give it a go at some point but since it’s about the same price in Bali as it is in Australia I didn’t think it was really worth it at this time. Well done for standing up though, we were watching some lessons on Manly beach in Australia and some of the students were finding it really difficult!

  • Patti
    Posted at 20:02h, 25 June Reply

    Cheese and pickle sandwiches?! From various blogs I read Bali seems to be a land of either loving it or can’t way to leave it. Good to know that you enjoyed your stay.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 04:09h, 26 June Reply

      Patti, these were cheddar cheese and homemade pickle sandwiches, on good hearty fresh bread, they were brilliant. We had some mixed feelings about Bali, places like Kuta were not so desirable but we had great accommodation. Whereas we really liked Ubud, and went back for a second visit. It has such a mix of places to suit everyone so long as you go to the right place.

  • Charlie
    Posted at 04:08h, 27 June Reply

    Haha, a British in Bali sounds pretty funny! Must have been great to meet up with your brother and have some good British-style pub grub. It really is nice to have reminders of home occasionally when away for a long time, especially after the bad time you guys had in Java!

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:43h, 27 June Reply

      We were overjoyed to find the Plumbers Arms; especially since we’d just used the last of our Australian Marmite supplies too! Do they have British pubs in Montreal Charlie?

  • Claire
    Posted at 17:47h, 30 June Reply

    Has it really been over 3 months already?? That’s crazy! Also, Andy did you go for a surf in the huge waves??

    • Andrew
      Posted at 05:10h, 03 July Reply

      It’s been over 4 months Claire! Even crazier hey?! I didn’t go for a surf, no, it was really expensive to have lessons or to even rent a board so I thought I’d wait till I had a cheaper opportunity. Maybe you can teach me one day! Chris & Carl have boards right? Do you have one too?

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