By Entice Travel client, Lorna Monaghan
I first visited Bali as a 21-year-old in 1986 with a group of girlfriends and did not return for another 32 years. To be honest, I was not sure how I’d feel about visiting Bali the second time around because usually your first time is the best. But that wasn’t the case. Bali may be more developed now than it was 32 years ago, but it’s still just as magical a place as ever.
I returned with my husband, Tom, who had never visited before. Both Tom and I love the beach, we decided to split our time between Seminyak and Ubud. In Seminyak we stayed at the Courtyard By Marriott, a resort close to the beach, restaurants and shops. Unfortunately, our luggage did not arrive with us. Not to worry, I now had the perfect excuse to hit the shops for once! The best thing about shopping in Seminyak is each shop offers something different, I haven’t seen so many crazy beautiful stores next each othe that are still affordable! Our amazing travel agent Stel, came to our rescue, finding our stranded luggage at Sydney Airport and arranged to have it sent directly to our hotel.
There were many options around Seminyak to stay but on the recommendation of my cousin we chose the Coutyard by Marriott Resort. Although being a little outdated in the terms of décor than some other hotels in the area, it was located within a short walk to the beach and excellent proximity to restaurants. The hotel was clean, and our bed was comfortable, and it had a lovely pool area, plus the service was exceptional.
We used a private transfer service for our road trip from Seminyak to Ubud. It was late at night when we arrived, and I’ll never forget the feeling I had when we first drove into town. We turned the corner past the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary to find a collection of colourful lanterns hanging from trees and quaint shopfronts on either side of the road. We both released a combined “wow”! It was such a beautiful sight, and one we didn’t expect knowing so little about this town. Stel recommended we stay at Ptia Maha Resort in Ubud for just under a week and we fell in love with every facet of this inland retreat, from its artsy shops to its Balinese bungalows to its Hindu temples and its delicious food. Oh, and did I mention the most wonderful spa treatments in the most serene environment dedicated to delivering clients a sense of wellness and relaxation? I wish I could have transported all of them back to Canberra with me.
Ubud is a town in the central foothills of Bali island in Indonesia. Located inland about an hour and a half north of the airport, it’s known as a quieter and more cultural destination compared to the fun but often raucous atmosphere of Seminyak and Kuta in southern Bali. Being inland, there are no beaches in Ubud. Instead, you’ll be enveloped by grassy rice paddies and a dense tropical jungle. Hindu temples abound here, as do art galleries, museums, and one-off boutiques selling handcrafted goods like jewellery, soft furnishings, and woodcarvings.
A trip to the Ubud Art Market should be on the list. Neighbouring villages make most of the goods and here you will find beautiful silk scarfs, handmade woven bags, hats, statues and many other handicrafts and souvenirs. The market is located opposite the Royal Palace, which is the centre point of Ubud.
On a visit to one of the many art galleries, we fell in love with an original painting by a local artist that we purchased for a very reasonable price. This is a tradition that we do on most holidays, scouting for that special something that catches our eye to take home rather than buying trinkets.
We were glad we visited Ubud and unlike my trip 30 years ago, this time around I got to experience a closeness to nature and the Balinese spirituality. The place is overflowing with yoga studios, wellness retreats, and vegetarian/vegan restaurants, which is why many people regard Ubud as the cultural capital of Bali. Name a holistic therapy and Ubud’s got it. Throw in beautiful scenery, mystic traditions and the warmth and friendliness of the Balinese and you have all the ingredients for the ultimate relaxed holiday.