We're a family of travellers. We love to see new places and we love spending time together. The result is an annual ritual — a family trip which includes a mom, a granddaughter and two daughters and their spouses. We plan to keep doing this, even as the family grows. Travel is what keeps us sane and keeps us together.
We picked Bali as our destination because we had an in-house expert travelling with us and because we heard the INR would be worth millions (1 Indian rupee = 195.30 Indonesian rupiah). We just wanted to feel very, very rich.
Pro-tip: Local SIM cards and money exchange shops are quite easily available as you step out of the airport. You should be good to last about IDR 50,000 (₹250) for a week.
We settled on 6 days there and our itinerary, finalised with the consensus of each and every enthusiastic member of the family, covered both North and South Bali. It was hectic. Here's what our itinerary looked like:
Day 1: Ubud | Arrival, check-in, chill
After a long day of travel (New Delhi – Kuala Lumpur – Denpasar [Bali]), and a low-cost airline (Malindo), we definitely needed a rest day. Pro-tip: If you're travelling by Malindo, carry your headphones unless you want to read the subtitles! We reached Bali by afternoon and drove to our hotel in Ubud. We were on the road for two hours but didn't mind as we ooh-d and aah-d at the newness of it all. There were barely any modern buildings. Most had thatch roofs with red tiles and a crown-like structure placed on top. Intricate stone- and wood-carvings were casually placed outside every home.
Day 2: Ubud | Mt Batur & Night Safari
Ubud is situated towards the south of Bali and more in the mainland. It is green and everywhere you look, you'll find paddy fields. Our hotel, Tjampuhan, was like a luxurious treehouse placed in the middle of the rainforest. Step out of the hotel and you're in the middle of some of the hippest cafes, clubs and boutiques. There was a Starbucks there too! And yet, none of it seemed to obstruct the distinctly rustic and earthy feel of Ubud.
On the night of day one, we prepared to trek Mt Batur (1,717 m above sea level) for what promised to be the most stunning sunrise we had ever seen. At 1.30 am, we set off on a two-hour drive to the camp where the trek was to begin. By the time we reached it was still dark out there and pretty chilly — much to our surprise.
Pro tip: Remember to carry a warm jacket for Mt Batur — there is a nip in the air and as dawn approaches it gets quite windy on top. You also get jackets for rent there, for around IDR 25,000-30,000 each (about ₹150).
This trek wasn't really a walk in the park. My mother and niece decided to stay back at the midway point, which was a good idea because the last 30 minutes are quite steep. The trek is rocky and slippery, so best to be prepared for that.
We reached the top at around 6.30 am and I want to say it was worth it. The sun had risen, but the clouds had hidden it. We, along with 400 other trekkers (yup, that many!), waited for glimpses of the sun, as we munched on goodies prepared by our guides. The way down was steep, but there was a proper road and the view of the Batur Lake was totally worth it.
At 4 pm the same day we left for the Night Safari at the Bali Zoo. The experience was unique, as we stepped into a cage and were driven out into the wild. Various animals — elephants, zebras, lions and tigers — came to the cage to be fed or even climbed up on it! This was followed by a mediocre sound-and-fire show and a dinner at the Sabo restaurant inside the park. Here, you dine with a view of lions lounging about.
Day 3: Lovina | Check-in, chill
We checked out of our lovely hotel and drove towards Singaraja in North Bali. The drive was two hours long and hilly. You wouldn't imagine Bali to look like this. We were driving through clouds and coffee plantations. We stopped for a bit to pick up some Kopi Luwak, the popular coffee from Bali.
Our resort, the Puri Bagus, was gorgeous. The pool overlooked the waters of the Bali Sea. This part of Bali is not haunted much by Indian tourist but we were here for the dolphins! There wasn't much to do outside the villa, but the hotels are built so you never want to leave.
Pro-tip: Most hotels and cafes have wi-fi, and a pretty decent network at that, so if you don't want to disconnect with the world, you don't have to!
Day 4: Lovina | Dolphin-watching
Our holiday had an unreasonable number of early morning plans, so far. At about 5.30 am, we made our way to Lovina beach and set out into the horizon on the lookout for dolphins. As the sun rose, they made an appearance. Playfully, they jumped out of the water in groups of two and three, only to vanish again. We were delighted and my four-year-old niece insisted she wanted to see mermaids next.
On a side note: You will find little baskets made of leaves with flowers and incense at various places in Bali — even on the road. The locals offer prayers everywhere as they believe god is omnipresent.
Day 5: Seminyak | Check-in, chill
We got up at a reasonable hour on day five, ate a scrumptious buffet breakfast and bid adieu to our dreamy beach resort in Lovina. We were off to Seminyak in South Bali — the more happening and buzzing part of town.
We checked into Peppers Villa, Seminyak and were booked in a three-bedroom private pool villa. I would never leave, I decided. They'd have to remove me from there.
Seminyak was like a more posh version of Thailand. There were boutiques, cafes galore and nightclubs — not shacks. Cabs are easily available, but we chose to walk about. Cafes and restaurants served Italian, Vietnamese and of course Balinese cuisine. Big signs saying "Babi Guling" with pictures of pigs roasting could be found at every other corner and the sound of live music filled the buzzing street.
Day 6&7: Seminyak & Kuta | Shop, spa, swim
We finally slept the way one should on a vacation and spent most of our time in the water. In the evenings, we set out to explore the fashionable streets of Seminyak and drink a mojito or two. We dined at Ginger Moon and loved it — the food was delicious and the atmosphere, electric. Another place to try is La Favela, which turns into a buzzing nightclub after 10 pm. Try gelato and frozen yogurt at Frozen Yogi.
Pro tip: Five of us ate rather well and most of our meals cost IDR 1 million (₹5,000) per meal.
Kuta is about 40 minutes away, though it may take an hour because of traffic. You'll see a lot of people here. Head out to Centro mall, like we did, or check out the art market (which we found rather unimpressive). Dine at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. inspired by Forrest Gump, if you're looking for an air-conditioned restaurant that serves great seafood.
Pro tip: Most restaurants in Bali have a kids' menu and they'll even get you colours and an activity sheet to keep young ones busy.
Hope this quick travel guide helped. Share your Bali adventure and tips and tricks in the comments section!
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