The island of Bali is one of the over 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. Located in the south, Bali is 84% Hindu and the country’s primary tourist destination.

Our First Visit to Bali (2018)

We first visited Bali in 2018. We spent the first part of our stay in the jungle hills of Ubud, surrounded by lush green foliage. Our sanctuary was Komaneka at Tanggayuda and it was serene and lovely, with an infinity pool and colorful flowers floating languidly in fountains. We visited the magnificent Tegallalang Rice Terraces, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, the Goa Gajah Temple (Elephant Cave) and Tegenungan Waterfall.

We spent the remainder of our trip lounging in Seminyak, on the western coast, at Alila Seminyak.

Visiting the Goa Gajah Temple (Elephant Cave) in Ubud
Tegenungan Waterfall near Ubud, Bali, indonesia
At Tegenungan Waterfall near Ubud

Our Second Visit to Bali (2023)

We returned to Bali in November 2023 for two days on a cruise, and we did this private tour from Benoa. Hiring a driver/guide for the day is pretty cheap in Bali and they will take you wherever you want to go. The biggest downside is that the traffic on Bali is ferocious and chaotic so expect to spend some time in the car. For this tour on the first day, we saw southern Bali. Our first stop was a traditional Balinese Barong Dance, which represents the eternal struggle between good and evil. It was dramatic and interesting, with fabulous costumes.

Indonesia - Traditional Balinese Barong Dance
Traditional Balinese Barong Dance

We then went to Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park (GWK) to see the tallest statue in all of Asia. Featuring the Hindu god Vishnu and his mount, Garuda, the mythical bird who became his companion, it stands on a hill in the center of the south island – with its pedestal it is 98 ft taller than the Statue of Liberty in NY.

Bali, Indonesia - Garuda Wisnu Kencana
Garuda Wisnu Kencana on Bali

We made a stop at popular Padang Padang Beach near Uluwatu, which is set into rocky cliffs and is very scenic. After a lunch of nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles) at a local restaurant, we went to Uluwatu Temple, dramatically perched on top of a steep cliff with a magnificent view of the coastline below. This temple is the best place in Bali to see the famous Kecak Fire Dance at sunset, so definitely don’t miss that.

Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Temple, Bali

On the second day, we took ship shore excursion, which was a hike near Ubud. Our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable and explained a lot to us about life in Bali. We walked along a road while he pointed out plants, bugs, fruits, temples, bells on houses, and lots of other features. We were able to enter a traditional Balinese home compound and walk around, say hi to the family, and so on.

Then we did a hike along the Campuhan Ridge, one of the most popular treks in Ubud. It starts at the confluence of two rivers and took us past rice fields, temples and deep ravines. After the hike, we had a nice traditional lunch in a nice restaurant in Ubud.

Lush, gorgeous scenery of rice fields near Ubud, Bali

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