I will be going to visit Bali in April with my gf and some friends. We're interested in everything, so please let me know of everything touristy or not to do / see / experience.
1. I was told of Balinese cooking lessons - are they any good?
2. Also swimming with dolphins? Are they kept captive or its in the open sea ? Any places to recommend?
3. Is lulur a thing to try?
4. Some typical ceremonies / dances to see?
5. Rent a car advice? Do's vs. Don'ts?
Thanks in advance!
I've been to Bali more times than I care to count. The number one thing for me is the surfing but that experience is limited to those who can surf!
Your average visitor goes to Bali for the following:
Stuff is cheap in Bali, a wander around Kuta and Legian yields an amazing array of stuff to buy from fashion to souvenirs and jewellery. Barter like crazy or you'll get ripped off. Seminyak is my preferred place to shop (and stay), it’s a little more expensive but classier, better quality shops in my opinion.
Again cheap, most resorts and hotels have their own masseurs where you'll pay a little more than on the street. I recommend Bodyworks in Seminyak. They do all kinds of massage and scrubs and relaxation in a beautiful setting, they do the Lulur thing you mentioned. Balinese masseurs a generally very good and tread the fine line between pleasure and pain! But you'll always walk out feeling better for it.
Hang by your pool and do nothing. We all dream of it but it gets boring pretty quickly!
Ubud - Monkey forest & cooking schools
Ubud is worth a visit, it’s a town in the mountains that offers a change from the beach tourist setting. I did an excellent cooking school there that took you on a tour of the markets and then we made some delicious food in a nice house in the rice paddies. The Balinese cuisine is fantastic. They also have a kind of theatre area in the centre of town where you can see the Balinese ceremony and dancing. I find it boring as hell personally but you should experience it yourself and make your own opinion. Most hotels/resorts on Bali offer evening tours/dinners that feature the dancing as well.
Tourist buses go there at sunset where you can jostle to get a photo of the temple in the sea.
This is a little island near Bali. You can book all kinds of nature and adventure tours as part of a trip here including swimming with dolphins, manta rays and snorkelling. Book a day trip to Nusa Lembongan for adventure fun activities, get a fast boat so you don't waste time in transit. I haven't done the dolphin thing myself so I can't recommend anyone for that.
Probably the most awesome setting of a bar I have ever seen. Go there for some overpriced cocktails at sunset and soak up the amazing surroundings.
If you wanna party, Bali delivers. Lots of drunk Aussies on Stag/Bucks/Hens nights in Kuta. Head to Seminyak for some of the nicer venues. KU DE TA BALI and Potato Head Beach Club Bali come to mind and are worth an afternoon/evening.
I strongly advise against hiring a car in Bali. The traffic is disasterously busy all the time in the tourist areas, driving anywhere by car is slow and frustrating. There is a high chance you'll have an accident, the road rules are virtually non-existent, it's crazy stuff. You have two better options. Get bemos (taxis) everywhere, they're very very cheap and the drivers know how to navigate the crazy traffic, just make sure they put their meter on and don't make up a price. Alternatively arrange a price with a driver BEFORE you leave with them. Your other transport option is to hire a moped (motorbike). Motorbikes are a far more practical way to get around because you can get around the traffic. They're also cheap to hire and fun. Just be careful, it's a motorbike and they can be dangerous, but they're far more easy to get around in than a car. Beware of police trying to trick you into paying them for breaking a road rule. Bali cops can be crooked so don't take any crap from them.
Indonesia is a developing country and Bali is no different, it can be a bit rough around the edges in places but the people are wonderful, the culture is fascinating and there is much beauty beyond the busy tourist areas. You’ll have a great time!
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