Exploring Bali

After spending one week in Bali, I realized one week is not enough to experience the island (and nearby islands accessible by boats).

First of all, this island is HUGE (I mean, compared to Oahu). To get anywhere from our hotel, it took about 30-40 minutes (with endless traffic). To get to Ubud from the beach area, it took about 3 hours! And Ubud isn’t even located on the other end of the island.

Second of all, waterfalls. Waterfalls & hidden waterfalls everywhere! But of course, you have to drive long distance & hike a bit to find these hidden waterfalls, meaning, dedicating a whole day for one waterfall.

Third, beaches, beach clubs, and amazing restaurants with beautiful sceneries all over the island.

Fourth, unforgettable sunsets. You will want to witness these sunsets in so many different areas. (cliffs, beaches, restaurants with a view, beach clubs, etc.)

But, we were ready to make the best of the 7 days.

Bali is famous for luxury villas so I had to stay in one with a private pool. Traveling with my mom, I made Seminyak our first destination.


We stayed 4 nights in Aleva Villa located about 10 minutes away from the beach. The best part about this villa besides the private pool, this tub, and super comfortable bed? Breakfast (included in hotel fee) served to our room every morning! They also had the option of “floating breakfast” where you can eat your breakfast in the pool (like the photos you see on Instagram), but honestly, August mornings in Bali is actually a bit chilly. I highly doubt these Instagrammers actually ate their breakfast in that freezing ass pool. #doitforthegram


After a full belly, we set out on our first adventure! Shopping & beach!


We walked around the Beachwalk Shopping Center for sceneries & good deals. But it’s actually filled with American shops and the prices are about the same. We didn’t buy anything, but it was still interesting to walk around a Bali outdoor mall. After, we crossed the street and headed towards the beach.


Second stop: Kuta beach!

Asking for a friend: Are the waves like this year round?! The surf was huge with breaks all over the place, including shore breaks. After experiencing Waimea (Oahu North Shore) in the wintertime, I knew better than to submerge myself completely in that water. But I was in photographing and surfer-watching mood– and we were able to score two beach beds with shades for ~$7 / 2 hours!



Once our two hours was up, we wandered around Seminyak/Kuta streets and shopped our butts off. I mean, ~$5 for shorts? ~$7 for an oversized beach bag? ~$8 for comfy/cute shoes?! We shopped/walked around for so long that we were STARVING by the time it was dinnertime. I decided to splurge a bit by looking up a fancy Italian restaurant- Ultimo Italian Restaurant. Two margaritas, one appetizer, and two pastas– the damage? $20. And the food was SO good. Highly recommended!

Second day in Bali calls for a full spa day! There are so many spas in Bali that it took me forever to pick a place. If I could, I would spend a week trying out different spas- because those Balinese massages are the bomb.com. I chose a spot that came with a flower bath after the massage / scrub.


MAJOR tip if you plan on visiting Bali:

Listen carefully.

Do not. DO NOT spend a whole day at a spa if you plan on seeing the sunset at the Rock Bar (cliff top bar/restaurant). The spa ended at 430, we caught an Uber at 5, and after spending 1.5 hours in traffic, we did NOT make the sunset. We drank wine in the dark. It was not ideal.

Here’s what I was expecting:

(photo via TripCanvas)

Here’s what I got:


Haha! Just kidding. I couldn’t even take a photo because it was so dark. They literally put ONE candle per table and no other lights. I didn’t want to endure another 1.5 hour drive to the Rock Bar, so I decided to visit the Rock Bar the next time I travel to Bali. 🙂

I wasn’t going to give up on sunsets like that though. Third day sunset attempt at Finns Beach Club was underway!


Pool, swim up bar, live DJ, gorgeous sunsets— Finns Beach Club definitely delivered. I highly recommend you visit this place with friends! Perfect place to get wasted. Just sayin’.

This particular Beach Club was located in Canggu Beach, another popular beach for surfers.




The next day, we were prepared to stay 3 days in Ubud. But before checkout time, we decided to enjoy the private pool one last time:


And the hammock. 😉

After 3 hours driving through traffic, we finally arrived at our next hotel: Anumana Ubud Hotel. Located about 3 minute walk away from the Monkey Sanctuary, this was an affordable/decent hotel with a pool (not private 😦 ), but nice pool & pool service!


Next morning, we were ready for our first Ubud experience. Campuhan Ridge Walk.


This was a perfect walk along beautiful sceneries, and it’s so easy that my mom was able to hike this with a breeze. This ended up being one of my mom’s favorite walk/hike. 🙂 So for those of you traveling with your parents/families, this ridge walk is highly recommended.

After the long walk, we visited the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.


These monkeys roam the small streets of Ubud, people watch right outside of the sanctuary entrance, and chase each other on rooftops as people eat breakfast across the street, so it was refreshing to see animals not kept in cages for people’s entertainment.

I’ve heard horror stories regarding these animals. Rabies is very prevalent in Bali, and some of these monkeys may carry the disease. The monkeys are very aggressive, that’s true. But they will only engage you if you’re carrying food (and even water bottles, full or empty), if you have food in your bag (even if they’re an unopened bag of peanuts), or carrying a small item in your hand/pocket/anywhere other than inside your bag (wallet, phone, sunglasses). YES, they can open bags- I witnessed a monkey jump from a tree on top of man’s back, open his bag, and take a plastic bag full of unopened food. Impressive, if you ask me. But the guy was not happy. This could be you- don’t bring food.

BUT, my mom and I were prepared. No food, one tiny crossover bag, no sunglasses, no nothing. I did carry my heavy Canon camera, I figured they wouldn’t be interested in that. And I was right, they were not interested in us AT ALL. We walked through the entire sanctuary and watched hundreds of these monkeys play in trees, snatch food from other tourists, fight with each other (which was actually scary), and my favorite- so many baby monkeys playing in trees and clinging to their mommas.



Since we didn’t have any food throughout this exploration.. we were hungry by the time we returned to the hotel. I wanted to try a local flavor: Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice).


There’s different kinds- so I tried the seafood. It was SO good! Flavors were on point- and the shrimp tempura was perfectly crispy. Make sure you try the Nasi Goreng when in Bali!

Since I was traveling with my mom, I didn’t want to attempt a strenuous hike to one of the hidden waterfalls. I will save that for next time. 😉


About 100 stair steps away, tucked away in a green jungle, we spotted the powerful waterfall, Tegenungan. After climbing down the stairs (which was completely doable for my mom), we got to stand next to this waterfall & take this photo! This is one for the family album, for sure! ❤



After spending few minutes taking photos and watching people swim in these cold (not very clear) water (haha), we ventured on to our next spot:

Tegallalang Rice Terrace




Here’s a fun fact: In Bali, rice is harvested three times a year!

We loved seeing this huge rice field and impressed by the irrigation system. I was blown away by how well kept this field was, even though countless tourists roll through everyday.

After wandering through the rice field, we headed back to the hotel and lounged by the pool while we mentally prepared to return home the following day.

I usually leave on a good note- but I wanted to share stories you may not want to read:


Bali was wonderful, trust me. I can’t wait to return and explore the deeper parts of the island. However, one obvious sad truth: homeless dogs. They are everywhere. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen- There were at least 5 dogs in my sight at all times when I was wandering the streets (some with collars, some without). I witnessed many injured dogs, possibly hit by cars/mopeds, limping away from me as I tried to approach. But here’s the good news: I learned about Bali Animal Welfare Association. You can call the hotline, open 24/7 to report any abuse/injuries. I realized that homeless dogs are a HUGE problem in Bali. Sadly, many of the local people are too busy to make ends meet to care for these animals.

Here’s the second truth: Luwak coffee. I didn’t know much about this coffee- until I came to Bali. Civet (small cat-like nocturnal mammal) is captured, kept in unsanitary cages, forced-fed only coffee cherries, and people collect the beans they defecate to make the most expensive coffee in the world: Luwak coffee (poop coffee). It’s a popular tourist attraction, but after reading about the Luwak coffee, I realized it’s an inhumane practice in Indonesia. If you want to read more, here’s an article from the National Geographic: The Disturbing Secret Behind the World’s Most Expensive Coffee

And of course, as always, I refuse to partake in “elephant riding” or “Bali Safari”, as these animals are completely mistreated and abused for your few hours of entertainment.

Now that you’re completely informed (good and the bad), book your ticket to Bali and see these majestic sunsets for yourself.


6 Replies to “Exploring Bali”

  1. Jin, the pictures are beautiful!! …especially of the spa 😁. I didn’t realize Bali was so big and it took that long to get to each of those spots.

    Really disheartening to hear about the dogs and that coffee 😞, but good for people to know and be aware of it.


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