it just felt great to be in bali... people smiled at you, my indian currency was respected (finally!! 100000rph = inr 420), the weather was good, the sea-food amazing, tons of things to shop, loads of places to see, mind-blowing architecture, pretty faces, amazing dances, great arak, easy to commute, crystal-clear waters, great dive/snorkelling sites, a reptile park, komodo dragon, submarine trips for the non-swimmers, temples that amaze you, sunsets that enthrall you, active volcanoes that thankfully stay quiet, handicrafts, always open for some great bargaining, nice local bintang beer, rocking local cuisine (babi guling!!!)... ok so you get the picture... it's one of the places where one must visit... be a tourist in bali... we are meant to be that way...
My first surprise in Bali: Indian currency rocks!!! locals always greet you courteously and smile... and if you are Indian, then expect bigger smiles... reason: Bali's majority population is Hindu... yes, same gods, same religious backgrounds - The Ramayana & The Mahabharata... heck, in Goa, as an indian (in my own country), we dont get smiles from locals!!! and here in Bali it always began with -"u from India?" "hindu?" affirmative answer and the smiles widened, the prices got cheaper with endless tales of how they all love worship shahrukh khan... so i always ensured that the bollywood superstar contributed to me getting some great discounts - "the special shshrukh khan price" is what i asked for.
things to do in bali - temples
i was on a time-share holiday so was staying at The Royal Bali Beach Resort at Jimbaran Bay... great location as i was half hours drive away from Nusa Dua (the southern Bali beach = water sports), and Kuta (the bustling tourist haven = Baga if you are familiar with goa). I was travelling with my wife and 4 yr old son. And i had a week. Some of the temples we went to were gorgeous to say the least. Balinese architecture just blew me away. The temple on the cliff at Uluwattu is a great place to visit to watch the kechak dance and soak in a gorgeous sunset. the tanah lot temple is a delight with it becoming inaccessible during high tides, and the route getting revealed during low tides. every house had gorgeous sculpted gates, and many small temples in their compounds in memory of their loved ones. Its a must for visitors to the temples to cover their legs with sarongs (available at most temples for wearing & returning). most places are accessible if you ride bikes... you can hire scooters/bikes, or just hire cars with/without drivers... avg rate is around US$30-35 (for 6 hours), us$40 for 8 hours... so you are free then to decide your itinirary and not do package tours. but i did find that the rates were pretty reasonable in these package daily trips. there are hundreds of agencies that offer diving trips, sight-seeing trips, water-sports packages... and most daily packages on offer range from a half-day tour to full day and more
TIP: as soon as you land at the Bali airport, pick up the literature available on all the goods on offer... it really helped me to do comparative study before deciding what to see and how to see...
ok so here is a list of temples you can visit...
uluwatu: sunset+kechak dance+notorious monkeys (one snatched a pair of oakleys from a tourist and chewed the lenses off)... great view...
holy spring temple: the pools here are said to have miraclous powers
tanah lot: great architecture+great sunset+accessible in low tides
besakih temple: the biggest temple in bali
goa gajah temple: the elephant cave temple
the monkey forest temple
taman ayun: the 17th century royal temple
activities other than snorkelling / diving
ok so i dont know how to swim... loser=me!!! and i was in bali!!! yes it was frustrating. the dive sites at nusa penida & manta point are said to be the best. other places where one can dive are at Nusa Dua, Padang Bay, Tulamben... most companies offer dive packages that range from $55 to $100 & this includes hotel transfers, lunch, equipment, instructors, insurance. so its a great deal. snorkelling comes in at $15/hr...
Nusa Dua which is located on the southern part of the island is a great place for water/adventure sports... snorkelling, parasailing, banana-boats, jet-skis, flying fish (this one was brilliant... you literally fly 50-60ft up as you get pulled by a boat), fishing tours, turtle islands to visit.
you can do biking tours, you can do treks, white water rafting (ayung/telaga waja river), elephant safari ride/tour.
there is a great reptile & bird park where you can see snakes, touch iguanas, turtles, and come to face to face with the Komodo dragon (the one in the reptile park is bigger)
in the tips section i will put up some website urls, tel nos to make your search easier.
my kid just loved the reptile park, the turtle islands off nusa dua (kind of sad the conditions the turtles are kept in) but at least someone is conserving them...
you can trek up to either batur/kintamani or mt agung to get closer to the 2 active volcanoes of Bali.
you can also go off for cruises, dolphin sightings north of the island (lovina beach) where they come during sunrise... so travel time starts at 3:00 am to reach the place.