During our time in Bali, we managed to see quite a bit, which made for a lengthy blog. So, I've decided to separate it into 4 sections: Southern Bali, Central Bali, Northern Bali, and Diving in Bali. At the end of each I'll include my do's and don'ts. This is Part 3, North Bali. Enjoy!
We spent our time in Northern Bali in Lovina
, a beachside city with black sand and a much more relaxing atmosphere than beaches in southern Bali. Ask the driver to take you to central Lovina, where you’ll find plenty of hotels to choose from. The waterfront is reminiscent of the waterfront in Seminyak, but much less developed and even less overrun with tourists. I highly suggest saving northern Bali for the end of your trip so you can come here to unwind, relax, and decompress.
A quick note on food in Lovina: As a foodie, I find that I judge restaurants quite harshly. With that said, many restaurants in Lovina did not excite me. With the exception of two: Jasmine Thai Restaurant and Akar, a vegetarian restaurant with quality as its top priority. We ate either breakfast, lunch, or dinner (sometimes more than just
one) at Akar every day. The food was fantastic, crafted with healthy, high quality ingredients. My favorites were the beet root lasagna and the quiches. I highly recommend trying this place, or making it your regular restaurant while in Lovina. As for Jasmine, the food was superb! The chicken sate was some of the best I’ve ever had. Go there!
Most of our time in Lovina was spent relaxing on the beach, swimming (there are no waves here, which makes it a perfect place for swimming), and eating fruit on the beach. I found the street vendors to be much pushier than those in other parts ofBali. There were times I felt myself ready to explode! As soon as one person walks away from you, another approaches, trying to sell something different. That bit can be a little frustrating, but overall Lovina is a very relaxing place.
During our time in Lovina, I decided to get my Open Water Diving Certification. I chose Malibu Dive, on the main road in Lovina. I highly recommend them for any and all diving needs you may have. Look for the “diving in Bali” article for more details.
Another activity that
is popular in Lovina is snorkeling and dolphin watching. In order to see the dolphins, you have to be up with the sunrise, but apparently you see quite a bit of them. We opted out of this activity, being from Southern California we have seen our fair share of dolphins. We did, however, take a morning to go snorkeling. The water was warm and clear, but there isn’t a ton of sea life to be seen. After the superior snorkeling and diving we experienced in the Philippines, this was a bit of a disappointment. Regardless, it was still nice to drift in the water and see schools of fish swarming around you.
In the evenings, after you’ve had dinner, stroll down the café street perpendicular to the beach. You’ll see bars and cafes, each offering a fun place to have drinks and watch some live music. We spent our evenings relaxing on the second floor of Zigiz Bar, listening to their cover bands and enjoying the view.
One of the days, we hired a driver to take us to some sights in Northern Bali, so here they are: Pura Agung Jagatnatha:
This is the largest temple in
Northern Bali, and the most important temple in Singaraja. Although we were told that non-Hindus are generally not allowed to enter, we had the opposite experience. A wonderful, quirky, and friendly monk welcomed us in and showed us around the temple grounds. This temple is small compared to those seen in central Bali, but it is still impressive nonetheless. As with most Balinese temples, the architecture is remarkable and the grounds are well kept with lush, green trees and flowers. Pura Beji:
This is a marvelous pink sandstone temple dedicated to the goddess of rice. The temple buildings are clustered in such a way that allows the carvings to look even more intricate than if they were spread out. As always, beautiful gardens are a wonderful landscape to highlight the beauty of Balinese temple architecture. Pura meduwe Karang:
Another gorgeous temple in Northern Bali, this one remarkable in that it has the original carving of the Dutch cyclist who is said to have cycled through Bali over 100 years ago. Bali Dos and Don’ts Do
hire a driver if you can spare the money. We hired a driver several times during our trip and it made
thing so much more enjoyable. We were able to choose where we wanted to stop, what we wanted to see, and the pace at which we wanted to travel. The price ranged from $30-$50 for a full day (10-12 hours), which I think is totally worth it. Do
haggle! This is my tip for any destination in Southeast Asia. Haggle to your heart’s content! It may seem awkward at first but it is definitely worth it. Start by asking the price, and follow with a counteroffer of 50% of that price. What will follow is a back and forth, at which point you can decide if the item is worth it. If you leave without purchasing the item in question, chances are the store owner will follow you with a dramatically lower price. Haggle for beach chairs, haggle for souvenirs, haggle for basically everything. Do
beware of the monkeys, especially at Uluwatu Temple. These crafty monkeys will steal your belongings and offer to exchange them for food. Of course, in order to do this successfully, you will need the help of a “guide,” who will generously offer to help you, in exchange for money. The monkey forest is
also home to some clever monkeys, one even stole my chocolate croissant as we were walking on the street outside
of the forest! Don’t
shy away from trying local food specialties. I cannot stress this enough. So much of the cultural experience is tied into the food. Many Balinese people speak English, so if you have dietary restrictions or can’t handle spicy food, you can be accommodated. Don’t
miss out on seeing a traditional Balinese dance performance. I highly recommend seeing it in central Bali, as the performances in Southern Bali are geared towards tourist and tend to have much less authenticity. Don’t
forget to make time for diving. Even if you have no prior experience, many dive shops will take you on an “introductory dive” at a calm dive site. Even there, the sea life will be beautiful and varied. At the very least, take a snorkeling trip to Tulamben and swim through a WWI-era shipwreck with swarms of sliver fish. Top 3 “Keep on you at all times” Items:
1. Sarong: All temples will require you to wear one upon entry. It’s better to have your own and save on sarong rental
2. Sunblock: I cannot stress this enough, the sun inBali is harsh and strong, reapply regularly.
3. Bug spray. I have never been so covered in bug bites as I was inBali. Even worse was that I had allergic reaction to them, requiring me to get antihistamines at the local pharmacy. So yes, bug spray, use it often!
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