Hey you, I hope you’re having a great day so far. It’s been a while since I talked about my recent trips; I think the last post was about my Siquijor weekend in July. Fret not, I am here again to talk about my recent trips to the wonderful country of Indonesia. I went on a week-long trip to Bali last August & just a few weeks ago, I went on a 5-day trip to Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara Province. I will talk about these trips in 3 posts; these posts will be under a series called The Wonderful Indonesia Series.
This year, I went to Bali, Indonesia for my annual birthday trip!
For the past years, I’ve always celebrated my birthdays in different places, far from the busy metro life. The trips don’t have to fall on my birthday but at least it has to be within the month of August. So far, I’ve celebrated my birthday in Boracay, El Nido (twice) & Krabi, Thailand & recently in Bali, Indonesia. 🇮🇩
I’ve been to Bali in 2015 with N9 (my college blockmates) but the island is so big we only went to the usual touristy places. We didn’t have enough time to explore Ubud (only the Ubud Monkey Forest & our villa); primarily the reason I decided to go back. Ubud is Bali’s center of traditional arts & culture. Located in the mountains, this town features the iconic rice paddies, beautiful traditional shrines & temples & untouched rain forests.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces – one of the places I missed last time I was in Bali
I spent the 1st 3 days going around Ubud area. My colleague, Mary Ann, was also Bali when I arrived. We decided to explore Ubud together for a day before we headed to our respective hotels. I will tell you more about what I did & where I went below.
My plan was to take a 10-day trip from 19 August to 28 August, putting the 2 long weekends in one trip. The ticket prices were super expensive on these dates; thus I had to push it back to 17 August to 23 August (7 days). The ticket I got arrives in Bali but leaves for Manila from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Cebu Pacific Air ticket cost me ₱4,065.23. Still affordable, right?
My ticket from Manila to Bali & Kuala Lumpur to Manila
Cebu Pacific Air doesn’t offer Bali to Manila flights during Wednesdays so I had to drop by Kuala Lumpur on my way back home. Normally, I would go with Air Asia or Malaysia Airlines but their flight schedules don’t coincide with my KUL-MNL flight. I decided to try Malindo Air, a Malaysia-based boutique airline which is part of the Lion Air Group. I got my one way ticket for 799,999 IDR which was around ₱3,200++. I still got a good deal with Malindo considering it included 30 kg baggage allowance, in flight entertainment & lunch. The check-in process wasn’t that organized (they only had 2 counters for 150++ passengers) but the flight itself was OK. I was so happy we arrived in Kuala Lumpur on time.
Malindo Air flight details from Bali to Kuala Lumpur
I mentioned in my earlier Bali blog that the island does not have an organized public transportation system. It doesn’t have a subway / train system. It’s public buses run only a few times a day. The only convenient way to go around the island is via organized tours, private cars & motorcycles.
Private car hires booked with Klook
On our 1st day, my friends & I decided to rent a car from Klook for ₱1,675. This 10-hour car rental included petrol, driver & parking fees. This car took us from Kuta to Ubud & around Ubud that day. On the 3rd day, I also got another car from Klook but this time for only ₱1,463 (cheaper because of discounts & vouchers). I used this car to fetch me in Ubud, bring me to different temples & shrines then to Mount Kintamani & back to my hostel in Kuta.
Met up with Mary Ann & Lyza who were also in Bali
It’s been a while since I stayed in a private room during trips. I was on my birthday trip & I thought I deserved a treat; I got myself a private room in Ubud for 2 nights. I booked my stay in The Jero Ubud through Booking.com.
My double bed in The Jeru Ubud
The accommodation is along one of the busy streets in Ubud – Jalan Hanoman. I got the 2 nights for 522,500 IDR; that’s 261,250 IDR per night. The rate includes a double room with a spacious bed, private toilet & own balcony. It also includes breakfast & free Wi-Fi access. Service was top-notch; they may not have a tour desk but they helped me with all the information I need. The staff were super nice as well; they never fail to greet me every time I pass by the reception.
Location was perfect; the surroundings were quiet considering the accommodation is in a very busy street. It is near to almost everything in Ubud Centre. The monkey forest, Ubud temple & market were a few meters walk from The Jero Ubud. There is also a nearby supermarket in case you need some goods / personal stuff.
Beautiful external designs of the rooms in The Jero Ubud
The buildings showcase intricate Balinese architectural designs & the area is surrounded by landscaped grounds. I didn’t stay in a 5-star accommodation but the service & hospitality I got was for a 5-star one. The amount I paid for my 2-night stay was super worth it. I will definitely stay here again when I decide to go back to Ubud.
Where I Went & What I Did
Ubud is a small town in the heart of Bali. It’s not as big as Denpasar or as developed as Kuta / Seminyak, this town has some unique places to visit & experiences to offer. Let me tell you where I went & what I did in my 3 day stay in Ubud.
Bali Swing is a small place off Ubud where you get into a swing (of choice) & have an amazing view of the forest, rice fields & mountains in front of you. There is an entrance fee of $2 which includes unlimited drinks (water & soda) & traditional snack (Balinese cake). If you want to try the swing, you need to pay another $20. The facility has 5 swings of different heights. I did not try the swing because I thought it was expensive; I just watched my friends try it. They say the experience was superb! Make sure to go here in the morning; it tends to get crowded in the afternoon. The queue to try the swing could take longer than expected.
Lunch at Bebek Bengil Crispy Duck Restaurant
We ordered the famous crispy duck, some vegetables & rolls
We had lunch at the famous Bebek Bengil Restaurant in Ubud. This place is famous for its dirty duck dish. The food is a little expensive for those travelling on budget but I believe it was worth the try. The crispy duck (& the other dishes we ordered) were really good. Food servings were bigger than we expected. The restaurant has a very relaxing ambiance – with gardens, ponds & rice fields within the place.
Rice plantation at rear of the restaurant
Located 30 minutes from Ubud centre, the Tegenungan Waterfall is a hidden village gem in Tegenungan Kemenuh town in Gianyiar. The first thing you need to do upon arriving is to pay 10,000 IDR entrance fee per person. Then you take a few steps down to a natural stream where you can have a dip (the water is so clear but very cold). You can go down further to see the waterfall.
The water current is strong; people were not advised to go near the waterfall. Many people visit this waterfall so you need to plan the time you’ll go. There was a rainbow in the waterfall during our visit. Cool stuff.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
There are 2 famous rice terraces off Ubud – Tegallalang Rice Terraces & Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. I wanted to visit both terraces but the latter is about 1.5-2 hours from Ubud (really far!!). I decided to just visit the accessible one. The Tegallalang Rice Terraces offers a panoramic view of the famous rice paddies. Visitors are also allowed to go down, walk around & take pictures of the rice paddies. Entrance to the rice terraces is free.
Paon Bali Cooking Class (includes Ubud Market Tour)
I didn’t have anything planned for my 2nd day in Ubud so I checked TripAdvisor for recommendations. Puspa’s Paon Bali Cooking Class is the number 1 to-do in Ubud. Without hesitations, I booked the morning cooking class including a market tour. The whole cooking class, including pick-up & drop off in the hotel, costs 350,000 IDR. I know it’s a bit expensive but the experience was amazing.
Ubud Market tour
Puspa, the owner of Paon Bali, telling us how they started the cooking class
It all started with the Ubud Market tour. They showed us the ingredients that will be used later in the class. We then took a 30-minute ride to the rice paddies then to Paon Bali’s facility. We were about 20+ in the class. They taught us to cook 6 traditional dishes & 1 dessert. Everyone had the chance to cook portions of each dish. All small portions were then mixed up to make one big dish.
Some of the dishes we prepared – tempeh, mixed vegetables & gado-gado
Such a good lunch! Everything was made from scratch.
They organized everything for us. We cooked a lot of food (we even had leftovers). All the dishes were so good. The experience was authentic. Shout out to Puspa for this wonderful experience. I definitely recommend taking this cooking class when in Ubud – you’ll surely have a great time.
Walk Around Ubud Town
One of the many nice Balinese designs you’ll see when you walk around the town
After eating a lot in the cooking class, I decided to go for a walk around the Ubud town. Aside from seeing shops, restaurants & tour agencies, you will see different private temples all over the town. I think almost each house has its own temple. You will meet random locals & visitors along the way. I had a nice walk around the town.
Pura Gunung Kawi
Rock cut shrines surrounding the temple
I decided to go up northeast to Kintamani area on my last day in Ubud. Our first stop was Pura Gunung Kawi. It is an ancient temple located along the Pakerisan River in the town of Tampaksiring. The unique feature of this temple is the 10-rock cut shrines carved in the cliffs. There are also rice paddies at the eastern part of the temeple complex, just before the big shrines.
Pura Tirta Empul
People taking a bath in the natural spring
Natural spring from the mountain
Pura Tirta Empul is a temple complex & holy mountain spring also located along the Pakerisan River. This temple is famous for the purification baths, pools & fish ponds. The water from the mountains flow through this temple then down to Pura Gunun Kawi.
Segara Windhu Coffee Plantation
Free coffee & tea!!
A big portion of Mount Kintamani is used for coffee production. This is why one will see a number of coffee plantations along the main road. I decided to stop by Segara Windhu Coffee Plantation. Upon entering the place, a staff welcomed me & explained the coffee production process in Mount Kintamani. She also showed me different flavors of coffee & tea plus the famous civet coffee. I tried the coffee & tea flavors they produce (for free). After finishing up the free taste, visitors can drop by the shop if they want to buy some homegrown products. Note that these products are expensive.
View from the coffee plantation’s tasting area
Lunch in Mount Kintamani
View of Mount Batur from Mount Kintamani
I didn’t have the time to take the Mount Batur sunrise trek so I told my driver I’d like to see the volcano even from afar. He brought me to a local buffet restaurant overlooking Mount Batur. The buffet lunch cost 110,0000 IDR per person. I was there right before Mount Batur was covered with clouds. The perfect time to visit the area is before lunch up to around 1:00 pm.
Indonesian lunch buffet while watching Mount Batur being covered with clouds
One Night in Kuta
After having lunch in Mount Kintamani, I decided to go to my hostel in Kuta. The long drive took us about 2 hours (including traffic). I stayed in Lokal Bali Hostel, a relatively newly opened hostel near the Ngurah Rai International Airport. I stayed in this hostel because of its outstanding reviews. I also needed a place to stay before I head to Nusa Penida the following day.
The best hostel in Bali. Hands down!
I paid 158,760 IDR for a night’s stay (I know it’s a little expensive) in a 6-bed dormitory room. The rate includes free Wi-Fi access, access to the hostel’s swimming pool, toiletries & a bottle of water. The hostel staff were super nice & helpful. It felt like home when I was there. The hostel owners also hosted a free taco dinner & a bottle of tequila during my stay. I met some amazing people from all over the world & spent some good times with them up until midnight. The following morning, I left the hostel for my next destination, Nusa Penida.
A hostel with a pool? Yes!
Watch out for the next post about my 48-hour stay in the beautiful island of Nusa Penida!
More of Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Have you been to Ubud in Bali? How was your experience? What was your favorite spot or experience? Feel free to share your thoughts & experiences to me & to all the readers by posting a comment below. You can also send an email to email@example.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.
Thank you for reading & see you in Nusa Penida!