Throwback Thursday Treat: 2016 New Year in Singapore

Another Thursday is here! It only means one thing – it’s time for a Throwback Thursday Treat! This time, I will take you to a small & progressive country named Singapore 🇸🇬. Late December 2015, my family & I flew to Singapore for a year-end trip. It was my sister & dad’s first out of the country trip so this family excursion was memorable. This trip marked my 4th time (2011, 2012 & same year, but in August 2015) in Singapore so I wasn’t really pressured to go to so many places.

View of the Marina Bay from the Helix Bridge entrance

I can’t remember what came into our minds why we chose Singapore but I think it was the best place for an ‘out of the country’ experience for first timers. We spent 5 days & 5 nights in the country. Let me share with you some details of this overseas family trip.

Colorful murals of Haji Lane

Plane Ticket

Christmas / New Year holiday season is one of the most expensive seasons to fly to all domestic & international destinations. It happens not just here in the Philippines but pretty much all over the world. Most people spend the holidays with their families in their hometowns or in popular tourist destinations.

View from my sister’s window seat on our flight to Singapore

We booked our tickets 4 months before & we paid around ₱6,300 each round-trip. This rate is already cheap considering we flew out of Manila during the December 30 holiday & we flew back Monday morning after the new year. We flew with Cebu Pacific Air; both flights utilized their Airbus A330 wide-body, twin-engine & mono-class (all economy) jet airliner.

Where We Stayed

Looking for the best accommodation during the holiday season was a bit stressful. We were a group of 8 so we had limited choices. Initially, we booked a 3-bedroom apartment near Orchard Road via Airbnb. The host cancelled our reservation 6 days before our trip due to some maintenance works in the unit. Almost all 3-bedroom apartments were fully booked. Luckily, there were still a few rooms available in Plush Pods Hostel.

My sisters & I while waiting for our turn in the Shrek 4D Adventure USS

This hostel has private & dormitory rooms. The kids stayed in a quadruple room while the adults got 2 double rooms. Each room had private shower & en suite. They also offered free Wi-Fi & free, simple breakfast of coffee, tea & toast. The hostel’s rates were still cheap (even during the holiday season) compared to the hotel / hostels nearby. Location was a plus – it’s just located at the back of the Bugis Junction Mall. It is also located near Bugis MRT Station on the East West (Green) Line & Downtown (Blue) Line.

Met with my friend, Lord of LordAroundTheWorld, who’s now based in SG

This hostel used to be really good when we were there. I checked the recent TripAdvisor reviews; looks like it hasn’t been maintained really well. Sad.

Where We Welcomed 2016

Singapore, just like any other major city in the world, has its own New Year Countdown. People gather around the Marina Bay Area & wait for 12 midnight to welcome the new year. The highlights, as always, are the light projections in the Fullerton Hotel facade & the grand fireworks display from Marina Bay. The family already agreed to welcome 2016 in Marina Bay area.

View from Concourse Skyline

Everything changed when we saw a family friend of ours after the New Year’s Eve Mass in St. Joseph’s Church in Bugis. They invited us to welcome the new year with them in their flat in Concourse Skyline. Their place had a very nice view of the Marina Bay fireworks. All of us enjoyed good food & company that night!

Happy New Year!! 🎆

How We Went Around Singapore

Singapore is a tourist-friendly country. Public transportation – train lines & bus routes – take you pretty much everywhere in the country, from one end to the other end. The airport is 30 minutes away from the city center.

Shrek’s Castle in Universal Studios Singapore

There are various tourist passes available for people visiting for 2-3 days. We opted for the EZ-Link Card because we stayed for 5 days. This is the country’s contact-less stored value card similar to Japan’s IC Card, Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, Taipei’s Easy Card & South Korea’s T-Money Pass. Basically, you load up credit in the card & just tap every time you go in & out of a train station & every time you take the bus. This card can also be used in convenience stores & some establishments.

We used the EZ-Link Card in all train rides within Singapore. It was very handy & easy to use.

Where We Went In Singapore

I’ve been to Singapore a number of times & I keep coming back to the same places / areas for sightseeing & shopping.

Bugis

Formerly a trading area of Bugis people from South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Bugis is now a known shopping area in Singapore. The Bugis Street Market & Bugis Junction Shopping Mall are two of the most visited shopping places in the area. This is one of the best places to get your souvenirs when in Singapore.

Access: Bugis MRT Station – East West (Green) & Downtown (Blue) Lines

Haji Lane

Haji Lane is a tiny alley composed of shop houses, cafes & bars (at night). It is usually the hang out & shopping area of the ‘fashionista’ young people – both locals & tourists. You will see specialty shops, cafes & restaurants in this small lane. The famous colorful mural can also be found here.

Access: Bugis MRT Station – East West (Green) & Downtown (Blue) Lines

Little India

From its name, Little India is an ethnic district where you can find the Singaporean-Indian community. The area also has some nice shops (with cheap finds) & cheap hawker centers.

Access: Little India MRT Station – North East (Purple) & Downtown (Blue) Lines

Chinatown

Chinatown is the ethnic district for the Chinese community. This area is characterized by boutique cafes & Chinese restaurants. This is also a good place to go shopping for souvenirs; prices in this area are relatively cheaper.

Access: Chinatown MRT Station – North East (Purple) & Downtown (Blue) Lines

Merlion Park

The Merlion is Singapore’s national icon. This half lion & half fish statue is found in Merlion Park facing the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. According to the Visit Singapore website, the fish body symbolizes Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village called ‘Temasek‘ (meaning sea town in Old Javaese); & the lion head represent’s the country’s original name ‘Singapura,’ meaning lion city in Malay.

Access: Raffles Place MRT Station – North South (Red) & East West (Green) Lines

The Helix Bridge

The Helix Bridge is an architecturally designed pedestrian bridge that eases the access to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands & the Marina Bay Hotel itself from the Marina Center area. It was also in this area where we found the S$ 1.20 ice cream sandwich.

Access: Promenade MRT Station – Circle (Orange) & Downtown (Blue) Lines; This can also be accessed by a few minutes walk from Marina Bay MRT Station – North South (Red) & Circle (Orange) Lines

Marina Bay Sands Hotel & The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

The Helix Bridge ends at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. This is one of Singapore’s biggest & most luxurious shopping malls. You can find mid to high end clothing, accessories & footwear brands here. This shopping mall is connected to one of Singapore’s iconic landmarks – The Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This hotel is composed of 3 tall hotel buildings & a boat-like structure on top (connecting the 3 buildings) which contains the a spectacular infinity pool & a sky park. Visitors can pass by the hotel buildings if they are going to the Gardens By The Bay from the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

Access: Marina Bay MRT Station – North South (Red) & Circle (Orange) Lines

Gardens By The Bay

Gardens By The Bay is a man-made nature park located in a reclaimed area in Marina Bay. This 101-hectare park consists of 3 waterpark gardens – Bay South, Bay East & Bay Central. Each garden has its own set of attractions. We only visited the part that is directly behind Marina Bay Sands Hotel due to time limitations. If you want to explore the whole place, I recommend spending one whole day in this amazing place.

Access: Marina Bay MRT Station – North South (Red) & Circle (Orange) Lines

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is one of the country’s main tourist attractions for kids & kids at heart who grew up watching movies & shows created by Universal Studios. The theme park is located within Resort World Sentosa in Sentosa Island. One should spend the whole day here from morning until the evening & make sure to try all possible rides. My favorite rides are Battlestar Galactica – Human & Cylon, Transformers 4D & Revenge of the Mummy. Make sure to buy the Express Pass if you want to “skip” the long queue in these rides.

Access: Click here to see all options of transportation to Resorts World Sentosa

Orchard Road

Orchard Road is Singapore retail & entertainment heaven. This is the best place to splurge on clothes, bags & shoes. This 2.2 km long road features a number of affordable to luxury retail shops & shopping malls. You can also find a number of famous hotel brands in this area. This is the go-to place for everyone who wants to go shopping in Singapore. I suggest that you spend at least half a day here to go around.

Access: Orchard MRT Station – North South (Red) & Thomson-East Coast (Brown) Lines

What We Missed Visiting

We only had a few days in Singapore so it was not possible to visit all nice places. Sad to say we missed a few good ones like the Singapore Botanic Gardens, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Zoo & Night Safari, Singapore Art Museum, Clarke Quay & Boat Quay. I’ll definitely check out these places when I get the chance to go back to Singapore in the future.

Got these cute toys for free in Singapore’s Changi Airport

PS. I would consider Singapore’s Changi Airport as another must-explore in Singapore. This airport was voted the World’s Best Airport for 5th year in a row in last year’s Skytrax World Airport Awards. The airport recently opened it’s Terminal 4 featuring world class design & amenities. Make sure to go to the airport earlier to explore the airport before checking in for your flight.


Looking back, this year-end / new year trip was fun & memorable. You always don’t get the chance to welcome the new year with your family in a different country. We had endless laughs & good memories to cherish for the rest of our lives. I don’t travel with my family that much (I always go alone lol) but I think these trips are good to have once in a while. I’m already looking forward to our next family trip. Where will it be? Stay tuned.

I can stare at this view all day. Beautiful view from The Helix Bridge! 😍

Have you been to Singapore? 🇸🇬  do you think of the country? What are the other must-see places that I missed out mentioning above? Feel free to share them by posting a comment below. You can also send an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

PS. Photos were taken using my HTC Re.

 

The Wonderful Indonesia Series: NUSA PENIDA – Hidden Paradise Off Bali

After spending 3 days in Ubud, I decided to go down & spend the next 2 full days in the islands. There are 3 known islands off Bali – Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan & Nusa Penida. Most tourists & travelers go to the 2 small islands – Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan because of the beaches. I decided to the less-visited Nusa Penida. Vlogs of Thomas Alex Norman & Christian LeBlanc (Lost LeBlanc) have urged me to visit this beautiful island.

Kelingking Secret Point – one of Nusa Penida’s highlights 😍

Nusa Penida is the southern most & the biggest island off Bali. Part of Klungkung Regency, the island is characterized by beautiful rock formations & untouched nature. The island is slowly becoming popular because of its stunning landscapes but everything about the island is still basic.

Another highlight of the island – Atuh Beach 😍

Nusa Penida may not be a popular destination for Filipinos but I will show you below why you should include this place in your list of go-to places. Believe me, the photos of places you see on Instagram really exist on this island!

How I Went To Nusa Penida

I booked my boat transfers to & from Nusa Penida with Maruti Express. Normal ferry rates from Sanur to Nusa Penida costs 75,000 IDR for locals & 125,000 IDR for foreigners. I don’t know the reason behind the different rates but I guess the locals get a ‘discount’ or maybe that is the actual rate.

Stunning view from Angel’s Billabong 😍

I saw from Maruti Express’ website that they offer a pick-up & drop off service + round-trip tickets to Nusa Penida for 550,000 IDR. However, they have a promotion until 31 December 2017 that sheds 20% of the rate, making it only 440,000 IDR. I took this offer. It still looks expensive if you try to compare it with the usual 125,000 IDR x 2 = 250,000 IDR. If you are to add your taxi / Grab or Uber ride from the hostel to Sanur & back to the hostel from Sanur, you will most likely pay the same amount.

The Maruti fast boat to Nusa Penida

The Maruti Express staff picked me up from Lokal Bali Hostel at 7:00 am & then we went straight to the office to get my tickets then to the waiting area by the beach. The fast boat left late (a little past 9:00 am; supposed to be 8:30 am). The trip to the island took us about an hour. Upon arrival in the port, I waited for my free shuttle to the hostel.

Accommodation

Nusa Penida is an island that is yet to be developed. The island has limited choices of places to stay. I was travelling on budget but then again as mentioned in my Ubud post, I wanted to have a private room for my stays for the trip (well except the 2 nights in Lokal Bali Hostel). A friend recommended that I stay in Full Moon Bungalows. It is one of the few budget accommodations in the island.

My private room in Full Moon Bungalows

View outside my room

Full Moon Bungalows have dormitory rooms for a cheaper price but I opted to stay in a private air-conditioned double room with toilet. I got the room for 300,000 IDR per night (600,000 IDR for 2 nights) on Booking.com. The rate includes a breakfast meal & free shuttle services to & from the ports. The hostel also has free Wi-Fi in the rooms & in the common areas (probably the most decent connection I had on the island). The rooms were made of bamboo walls & aren’t soundproof. You will hear what is happening in the other room & vice versa.

Hostel’s free breakfast – nasi goreng!! 😋

I think the accommodation I got on the island is a bit expensive but I think it was okay. I am in island with very limited choices of accommodations. This is also what you need to pay when you want privacy & an air-conditioned room. C’mon, I’m on vacation. 😉

Hostel’s pet cat – super cute one! 🐱

How I Went Around Nusa Penida

The only means of transportation around Nusa Penida is by car or motorbike. Cars are usually used by tour agencies while backpackers rent out & drive motorcycles. I was not 100% confident about my motorbike skills (plus a friend warned me about the dangerous bumpy roads in the island) so I hired a motorbike with a guide. It cost me 300,000 IDR for the whole day (petrol included). I know it was a bit expensive, but I didn’t want to risk my safety. It’s still way cheaper than paying 700,000 IDR for a car & a driver.

Where I Went In Nusa Penida

With Nusa Penida being untouched & undeveloped, access to the unique places to visit is hard. It usually takes an hour or so from one beautiful beach to the next bay. People also go to the island to go diving with the mantas & snorkeling. I don’t dive & I didn’t feel like snorkeling so I decide to pass on those 2 activities. Instead, I went to the following beautiful scenery:

Angel’s Billabong

Angel’s Billabong is a beautiful rock formation with a natural infinity pool in it. One can go to the infinity pool by climbing down the challenging rocks. Visitors are not advised to go down during high tide as people can be washed away to the sea due to strong water current.

Broken Beach

From its name, this place is a beach that was formed because of a broken part of a cliff. The circular form is about a hundred meters in diameter. What’s nice is you can actually walk around it.

Kelingking Secret Point

Kelingking Beach is my favorite place in Nusa Penida. You won’t believe this place exists until you see it in person. It only looks like a small finger attached to the mainland when you see it in the photos but it’s really huge in person. The limestone cliff & white sand blend well with big waves & blue waters. This stunning view point is out of this world; definitely a must-visit in Nusa Penida.

Crystal Bay Beach

After a long day of going around places, my guide took me to Crystal Bay Beach for some sunbathing & relaxation. It was a perfect sunny afternoon to enjoy the beautiful views of the bay & the rock formations.

Goa Giri Putri

Goa Giri Putri is a holy temple cave located in Suana, Nusa Penida. The entrance to the temple cave can be reached after climbing a hundred steps up. All guests are required to sign up in the guestbook & give a small donation to the temple. Everyone then has to go through a very small hole to make it to the cave temple. The temple has a number of worship areas & shrines inside. You will see a big opening at the end of the temple – this serves as the temple exit.

Atuh Beach

Atuh Beach is a hidden place characterized by scenic cliffs, beautiful but dangerous rock formations, untouched green nature, turquoise waters, white fine sand & big waves. Very few people visit this beach every single day so it’s a perfect place to relax, sunbathe & watch the beach. I spent my entire last day in Nusa Penida in this beach. You don’t need to worry about getting hungry whilst on the beach; there are small shops & restaurants in the beach selling food & drinks.

Most daily tours to Nusa Penida (from Bali) don’t include Atuh Beach in the itinerary so make sure to always check with your guide / tour office. You should not miss this beautiful untouched gem.

Another Day & Night In Kuta

Back in my favorite hostel in Kuta – Lokal Bali Hostel

After spending 48 hours in Nusa Penida, I boarded the same boat back to Sanur in Bali. I went back to Lokal Bali Hostel, stayed & relaxed there for the whole afternoon. I went swimming in the pool & had a quick nap. In the afternoon, I went to Kuta Beach for the sunset & met friends for dinner.

The famous Kuta Sunset 😍

Journey Back To Manila

The following morning, I went to the Ngurah Rai International Airport to fly back to Manila via Kuala Lumpur. I boarded the late morning Malindo Air flight to Kuala Lumpur. Upon arrival in KLIA, I immediately transferred to KLIA2 for my next flight. I dropped by the supermarket in Gateway@KLIA2 to get some treats before boarding my Cebu Pacific Air flight back to Manila.

Stopover in a random beach 🌞

Trip Verdict

That’s me enjoying the superb view of the Broken Beach 😍 Trip was a success!

I had an awesome 7-day (or maybe 6 full days not including the last day) trip around Ubud & Nusa Penida in Bali, Indonesia. It was nice visiting Ubud & rediscovering what this little cultural town has to offer. I didn’t have any regrets taking a side trip to Nusa Penida. The island offered some of the most beautiful & stunning landscapes I’ve seen in my entire life. The Paon Bali Cooking Class, Kelingking Secret Point, Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach & Atuh Beach were the highlights of this trip. I may not have seen everything Bali has to offer but I am happy with the places I went to this time. I look forward to returning in the returning in the future – I just don’t know yet when will that be.

Jaw-dropping beauty of Angel’s Billabong 😃


Do you have any questions about Nusa Penida? Feel free to ask you questions & share your thoughts by posting a comment below. You can also send an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Thank you for reading. Make sure to watch out for my Komodo blog post!

PS. Photos were taken using my HTC Re & HTC U11.

The Wonderful Indonesia Series: UBUD – From Temples To Rice Paddies

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.

Tickets

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

Transportation

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

Accommodation

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

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

Tegenungan Waterfall

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 contact@thewkndtravel.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!

PS. Photos were taken using my HTC Re & HTC U11.