A WELLNESS TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO BALI
Dreams are a funny thing. They can be faded visions of visiting a certain place where your imagination goes wild. Unfortunately, images garnered by living vicariously through someone else’s experiences are not reality.
Vacationing in Bali was something I dreamed of for years. I heard and read of others’ experiences and I likened them to my experiences traveling to the Islands of Hawaii. I love the spiritual feeling you get when visiting a new island paradise. I love the green lushness of it all. The flowers, ocean, and cool island vibe just chills me right out. The people and culture are comforting to me.
Rewind to late March 2019. After a quick air transfer in Manila, I was on my way to Denpasar, Indonesia, and the city of Ubud.
My week in Bali was plenty of time to explore. If you have more time and money to play with, I recommend spending as much time as you can exploring the coast and smaller cities.
Here is my categorized wellness itinerary with information on all the best places to go and must-sees!
My Top Reasons to Visit Bali
- Natural Beauty/Lushness: The place is so green! Beautiful flowers of many different colors and elements adorn the city of Ubud. You can’t miss the orange colored marigolds, which are amazingly beautiful in Bali. The Rice paddy fields look like something out of the movies. Fresh fruits and veggies are everywhere filling the air with sweet aromas. I wish I had more time to spend at the beaches. The beach in Canggu was just ok; I discovered a great little beach bar called “Al Boon” to chill and drink at because the popular “Finns Beach Club” was way too loud and crowded. Not the wellness and Zen vibe I was looking to discover.
- Yummy Food/Drink: Healthy Drinks, Healthy food (taste the rainbow), refreshing cocktails and mocktails/shakes/smoothies/wellness shots. Some of my favorite spots to relax and unwind: Clear Café, Laughing Buddha, The Udaya Resort & Spa, Kismet Bar Lounge, Muse Cafe, and Bali Bohemia. There are so many coffee/tea places, and small family owned restaurants (“Warungs” in Indonesian) that it’s hard to choose where to drink and dine. Have fun exploring the city of Ubud and ask around for what the locals, expats, and other travelers have found that they love.
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- Culture/Architecture: The historic temples, the colors, the historical buildings. Live music at Laughing Buddha and Udaya!! You can’t miss the women walking with flower offerings and baskets on their heads during daily rituals and ceremonies. I couldn’t believe all the carvings and handmade work in the traditional Balinese style. So colorful and creative!
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- Massages: I experienced one of the best massages of my life at Sang Spa! This place is a must-see. Get the 90-minute combination massage- I loved my massage therapist Darli. Another favorite and a great spot to relax and indulge is The Udaya Resort and Spa. The 24-hour Kaveri Spa at The Udaya is where I experienced my Om-azing “flower bath.” You will feel like a beauty queen! I loved the flowers, beautiful design, and natural colors surrounding me. Just a total feeling of relaxation.
The yoga community is a huge part of a proper wellness experience in Ubud. There are so many yoga studios! If you are not part of a retreat, not to worry. You can easily practice yoga just about anywhere. The Udaya has a beautiful yoga room- but call ahead for their offer. You can meet lots of new friends in Ubud, or any of the other coastal cities. Bali is known for attracting people from all over the world in search of new experiences and personal growth.
The Best Activities and Experiences
- Bali Swing(s): There are so many to choose from! Ask locals for their favorites or do a google search for reviews. Save time by locating the best swing closest to your location. Vendors are notorious for trying to overcharge tourists so be sure to research the price beforehand. I loved the swing because it built up anticipation and I felt so cool and free like a bird flying through the sky. I was surrounded by beautiful green and lush trees.
- Luwak Coffee Tasting and Tour: Do yourself a favor and visit a tasting room during your trip.
- Monkey Forest Visit: Disclaimer: There are many “Monkey Forest” experiences in Bali, but I recommend visiting the one in Ubud. It was fun to watch the Monkeys interact with each other and run around. This can also be a little intimidating and frightening for younger visitors so be sure to plan ahead. The monkeys come super close to you! I even saw a monkey jump onto someone’s shoulder. You can walk through the whole thing in about 20 minutes.
- Trail Hiking: Campuhan Ridge hike is a must-do as well as at least one waterfall hike. I did Leke waterfall. It was an easy hike and not too far to get to the waterfall. Recommend getting there early because the trail and waterfall can get crowded especially down by the waterfall.
- Temple Exploration: – Temples. Enough said. You could spend hours or even your entire trip enjoying and exploring numerous ancient ruins and Balinese temples.
My Must Try Wellness Tips and Tricks
- Be prepared for the humidity and heat- Bali was one of the hottest places I have ever visited. Depending on the season (I was there end of March into early April) prepare your mind and body for extreme heat and remember to drink plenty of water.
- Bring your Wellness A-Game – Packing your favorite essential oils, packets of Ener-C, and other natural remedies to help you fight off germs is very important. Even before your trip, I recommend dosing yourself with large quantities of Vitamin C and Echinacea. During the long flight remember to drink water and OJ and get up to move around and use the restroom often to keep your body moving). Don’t forget your bug spray for the mosquitos.
It’s also a good idea to bring light and breathable clothing, hats, sunglasses, sunblock- you most likely will NEVER be cold unless it is in your room while sleeping.
- Research Money Exchange/Transportation Hacks – Exchange only enough for the cab ride to your destination (large bills only) at the Denpasar airport. The rest of your money can be exchanged once you reach your destination (find exchange places that say “no commission”). Make sure you go to one with the best rate (compare the rates by reading signs, or ask around), and always negotiate your cab fairs with a driver.
Find a clean car with a good air conditioning system (trust me). The Balinese people are known to be kind, but just like any place, be aware and cautious of driver’s up-charging you. Understand the going rate for taxi cabs, swing rides, etc. and it is OK and common practice to negotiate anywhere you go.
Beware of Motorbikes - Be prepared for the chaos on the streets. There is no fast and set rules to driving (not like America). Locals are used to it, but you will see for yourself how crazy it can be. Take your time and do what makes you happy as far as transportation is concerned.
If I could summarize Bali in a few words, I would say it is a lush and spiritual sanctuary. I am so glad I made the commitment to visit Bali. It is such a beautiful and special island and has so much to offer. My wish for you is that you embrace mindful travel and slow down to enjoy Bali and try out new foods, activities, tours, and beaches. Get outside and meet new people. Make some new friends. Be good to yourself and each other!