This itinerary covers our stay in Ubud, Legian and Sanur over 8 days – however it is easy to do this itinerary in about 5-6 days if time is tighter. We had other business in Bali, and a bout of food poisoning which ate into good holiday time! Hence the following is our general trajectory for the stay – rather than giving you all the gory details…
Ubud – 3 nights
We flew Garuda to Denpasar airport – as it is a relatively quick flight from Perth we would go with our cheapest option, and a few of these have now opened up with Air Asia also flying direct to Bali, as does Jetstar.
From the airport it is a bit of a hike to Ubud – so we arranged a taxi from the pre-paid booth to take us to the Honeymoon Guesthouse, a fairly traditional style of hotel with beautiful grounds which is run by a couple with a number of restaurants around the town and who also organise the Ubud Writers Festival. Our room was delightful - large and airy, with an intricately carved bed and lovely balcony where a delicious breakfast was served every morning.
The Guesthouse is easy walking distance to the main ‘centre’ of the town and a number of lovely restaurants that we enjoyed, including Casa Luna and Café Des Artistes. We also tried the very famous 'Babi Guling' - roast suckling pig with all the trimmings - at Ibu Oka, opposite Ubud Palace. Something of an institution, with the crowds to prove it - you need to get in quick, because everybody knows about it and wants a piece of the action.
We stretched our legs at some of the local shops in Ubud - easy to find along the circuit formed by the main drags of Jl Hanoman, Monkey Forest Road and Jl Raya Ubud. There are some lovely things to be found - high quality silk sarongs and pretty batik, as well as souvenirs.
In the evening we went to a dance performance at the Pura Taman Saraswati - a temple surrounded by lotus filled ponds, where Balinese dancers enacted scenes from the Hindu epic Mahabarata - a lovely start to our Bali holiday.
The next day we found a driver who took us out of town to a number of local sights in the areas of Bedugul and Candikuning. Among them was the spectacular, but slippery Munduk Waterfall where local kids were hanging out after school and the expansive Bali Botanical Gardens. But the highlight was a visit to the incredible Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Photographs of this spectacular temple are on many a guidebook and rightly so - it seems to magically 'float' on Lake Bratan. There were hundreds of worshippers at the temple when we visited - but few tourists. An absolute must see.
On a separate day trip we also went to some hot springs overlooking a volcano which was ok - we were the only ones there - but somehow hot springs in a hot climate doesn't quite work for me. The views over the lake and volcano were lovely though.
More temples were also on the agenda - including the Royal Temple of Mengwi, otherwise known as Pura Taman Ayun and Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave temple.
Back in Ubud the Monkey Forest was beckoning - impossibly green thick forest, filled with yet more temples and of course, monkeys.
On our last morning in Ubud we visited the home and gallery of the eccentric artist Antonio Blanco - who seemed to style himself as a bit of a cross between Dali and Gauguin. Not our favourite thing in Ubud, but interesting enough.
We used our rather mouldy and unmentionable digs in Legian to explore the south west of the island, and do a bit of shopping around Kuta and Seminyak. For bargains, the area around the Discovery Shopping Centre in South Kuta was our best bet.
We headed to Jimbaran Bay to try out some of the famous seafood restaurants directly on the beach. Our chosen restaurant had great food and even better entertainment, with a wandering Balinese band playing requests for diners. Although slightly embarrassed by the serenade - their renditions of 'Brown Eyed Girl' and 'Three Little Birds' were pretty special!
One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to Uluwatu temple for the Kecak dance. Before reaching the small amphitheatre for this incredible dance, you wend your way along the cliff top path, past the temple and run the gauntlet of some of Bali's most aggressive monkeys.
We were duly warned not to wear glasses when passing through the 'monkey zone' - but as I couldn't see without mine I decided to take a chance, but hold on to them. Wrong decision. My monkey mugger pounced and took them off my face before I knew what was happening - retrieved only when some bananas were thrown up after them. A few scratches and a little fur on them, but otherwise unharmed!
We took our seats for the Kecak dance - the setting itself is quite lovely - the sun was setting over the cliffs and the temple, and the small amphitheatre became pretty packed with tourists.
If you see one dance in Bali - it probably should be the Kecak, or fire dance. It is unlike other Balinese dances that are accompanied by gamelan instruments - the Kecak is accompanied by the rhythmic, almost stuttering a capella sounds of all male singers who sit around the dancers as they perform parts of the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Sanur – 2 nights
For our final two days we decamped to Sanur, staying at the budget friendly Tropical Bali Hotel. Although not on the beach, the hotel had a lovely pool and the rooms were pleasant.
A taxi took us to the main 'strip' of Sanur's shopping and lovely white sand beach. This was probably as close to a relaxing Bali holiday as we got - spending our last couple of days between the beach and the lovely Cafe Batu Jimbar, and a day spa.