You searched for bali - Bruised Passports https://www.bruisedpassports.com/ Offbeat Travel and Fashion Blog Wed, 28 Feb 2024 14:37:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why you MUST plan a city break to Kigali, Rwanda – Visa Free For Indians! https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/gorilla-tracking-safari-kigali-rwanda-guide-itinerary https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/gorilla-tracking-safari-kigali-rwanda-guide-itinerary#respond Wed, 28 Feb 2024 14:36:34 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=19913 From its bustling markets and cultural landmarks to its thriving coffee culture, Kigali offers visitors a captivating blend of tradition,...

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From its bustling markets and cultural landmarks to its thriving coffee culture, Kigali offers visitors a captivating blend of tradition, innovation, and natural beauty that is the perfect follow up to East Africa after our amazing Kenya Safari trip. Kigali is one of the cleanest and most organised cities of East Africa and here’s why we think you should consider exploring the vibrant streets and hidden gems of Rwanda’s capital city.

gorilla family in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda kigali
Hello Mister 🙂

Getting to Rwanda and Where to Stay in Kigali

Rwand Air offers direct flights (with a “technical stop” in either Entebbe or Mombasa) from Mumbai to Kigali making it easily accessible for Indians. In addition to this, Rwanda is visa free for Indians (Yayy!), making it ideal if you want an unusual destination without the hassle of visas. The local currency of Rwanda is Rwandan Franc (RWF). 1 INR is roughly equal to 15 RWF.  You can download Yego or Move app for booking taxis. On the day you land, it’s probably best to arrange a pick-up from the hotel you’re staying at. It’s usually around USD 30 (total) for this service.

Kigali is a modern and bustling city, and offers accommodation of all types. It’s best to stay in the downtown area as most of the attractions and restaurants/cafes are in walking distance. We stayed at the Marriott Kigali and had a very comfortable stay. Some other options are Radisson Blu, Four Points By Sheraton, and Park Inn By Radisson. As always, best to compare prices and book here.

flight to rwanda kigali from india
Lush greenery everywhere
Clean and well maintained streets everywhere

Gorilla Tracking – Must Do experience in Kigali

Kigali is the gateway to the iconic gorilla tracking safaris of East Africa. Gorilla tracking is undoubtedly the highlight of a trip to Rwanda and thousands of tourists from around the world fly in to Rwanda for this experience. It is possible to do this safari in Uganda as well but if you’re flying into Entebbe, then in all probability it will be a 3 day trip from Entebbe to do this safari! However if you decide to go gorilla tracking from Kigali, this is a day trip. Permits for this safari are extremely limited and cost an eye-watering $1500 per person! But having done it, we can safely say it is worth it!

We were a little worried about who to book this experience with as it has a 4 am start but upon a friend’s recommendation, we booked our Gorilla tracking tour with Hermosa Life Tours and Travels and it was a great decision. It is a super safe and reliable company and ensured we had the experience of a lifetime! They came to our hotel and took all documents needed for the permit, and ensured that everything went swimmingly.

We started early morning from Kigali, drove to Volcanoes National Park (you get a private vehicle) and began our hike through dense jungles and misty mountains to encounter majestic mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Each group gets an experienced guide at Volcanoes National Park and the opportunity to observe these incredible creatures up close. You can witness entire gorilla families and babies going about their daily life (once you track a family, you get 1 hour to spend around them)! This experience is so exhilarating that it cannot be summed up in words – an adventure that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

forest view near Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
Gorgeous sunrise views on our way to Volcanoes National Park
John regaling us with tales from the jungle
gorilla family in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda kigali
The Silverback – head of the family. What an experience coming face to face with these creatures
Cutest family 🙂

Things to Do and Where To Eat in Kigali

Mount Kigali: For panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside, hike to the top of Mount Kigali. Whether you choose to trek at sunrise or sunset, the breathtaking vistas from the summit are sure to leave a lasting impression. You can also take a taxi to a point from where the trek to this view point is short.

Kigali Genocide Memorial: Start your journey with a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a poignant tribute to the victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The memorial offers a somber yet essential reflection on Rwanda’s tragic history and the resilience of its people.

Kimironko Market: Dive into the vibrant atmosphere of Kimironko Market, where bustling stalls offer an array of fresh produce, spices, and artisan crafts. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and aromas of this bustling marketplace, and don’t forget to haggle for souvenirs to take home.

Nyamirambo District: Explore the colorful streets of Nyamirambo, Kigali’s oldest and most diverse neighborhood. Known for its lively atmosphere, eclectic architecture, and vibrant street art, Nyamirambo offers a fascinating glimpse into Rwanda’s cultural melting pot.

Inema Arts Center: Discover Rwanda’s burgeoning contemporary art scene at the Inema Arts Center, a dynamic hub showcasing the work of local artists. Explore galleries filled with vibrant paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media installations that reflect Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage and modern identity

Question Coffee: Rwanda has some of the best coffee in the world! If you’re a coffee aficionado, you must visit Question Coffee, a cozy cafe dedicated to promoting sustainable coffee farming and empowering local growers. Savour a freshly brewed cup of single-origin coffee or sample a selection of espresso-based drinks, all sourced directly from Rwandan farmers. You can read more about the initiative here.

Bourbon Coffee: You can also visit Bourbon Coffee, a popular cafe chain with several locations across Kigali. Relax in the stylish surroundings and enjoy a wide range of specialty coffees, teas, and light bites while soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.

Indabo Cafe Kiyovu: If you want outdoor seating in a very Bali like setting, head to Indabo in Kiyovu. We loved the ambience, the food, and the smoothies.

Rooftop Rendezvous Bar at Ubumwe Grande Hotel: More than the food, this is the restaurant to visit for the views! The food is mediocre but this rooftop restaurant offers an amazing view of the city of Kigali. Go around sunset and enjoy the view over a couple of beers, followed by dinner.

Explore the local markets and admire the colourful clothing. Locals are always smiling 🙂
Unending views of Kigali and the mountains from Rooftop Rendezvous bar and grill
One of the coolest cities we have been to in a while
question coffee in kigali rwanda
Question coffee – we fell in love with the coffee and cafes in Rwanda

I hope we’ve given you enough reasons to put Kigali on your travel bucket-list – make sure you visit this unique city and tell us what you thought of it! Any questions – just ask below and we will get back asap 🙂

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A slow week in Luang Prabang, Laos + Why you should visit Laos https://www.bruisedpassports.com/asia/one-week-guide-luang-prabang-laos-laos https://www.bruisedpassports.com/asia/one-week-guide-luang-prabang-laos-laos#comments Mon, 10 Jul 2023 11:51:53 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=17882 Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. While its neighbouring countries, such...

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Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. While its neighbouring countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam get so much hype on social media, Laos is still relatively under-rated! However with its lush landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and serene atmosphere, Laos offers a unique and authentic travel experience.

Instead of packing our itinerary and making it hectic, we decided to spend a slow week in Luang Prabang. We based ourselves in Luang Prabang and spent our time exploring new things everyday. The city boasts of French influences and has some of the best cafés and bakeries in the country.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore a 7-day itinerary for visiting Laos from India, with a focus on the enchanting city of Luang Prabang. From accommodation options and must-visit attractions to delightful culinary experiences, let’s dive into why Luang Prabang needs to be on your travel bucketlist

Laos is an offbeat gem

Flights and visa information

Luang Prabang is well connected to most major cities. If you are flying from Delhi, there are convenient flights to Laos while Thailand. If you have an Indian Passport, Laos offers an easy e-visa. Apply a week before you leave and make sure you carry a print out of your e-visa to the airport as well.

Best Restaurants in Luang Prabang

  1. Tamarind is well known for its authentic Lao cuisine. You can also take cooking classes and learn local recipes here.
  2. Manda de Laos offers an elegant setting and traditional Lao dishes with a modern twist.
  3. Night Market Food Stalls in Luang Prabang are in a league all their own. Sample a variety of local street food, including grilled meats, noodle soups, and a really cute hotdog lady who has a fan club of her own 😉
  4. Saffron Coffee brew a great cup of coffee. Try their falafel wraps and lattes – thank us later!
  5. Joma Bakery Café also has decent coffee. The pass is a mixed bunch – their breakfast burritos are great but we would suggest avoiding their burgers!
  6. Due to the lasting French legacy, Luang Prabang is home to the cutest bakeries – try fresh baguettes and pastries at the likes of La Banneton Café
You must explore the dining scene of Laos – whether it be the small cafés or the night markets

 

Saffron Coffee in Luang Prabang is perfect for a cuppa

Day 1- Arrival in Luang Prabang

Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, settle into your chosen accommodation. For a blend of luxury and traditional charm, consider staying in one of the city’s boutique hotels, such as Maison Dalabua or 3 Nagas Luang Prabang MGallery. Take a leisurely stroll along the quaint streets of the UNESCO-listed Old Town, soaking in the French colonial architecture and vibrant markets. Make sure you acquaint yourself with all the landmarks of Luang Prabang such as Sunset Point, Bamboo Bridge, and Big Bridge.

In the evening, visit the bustling Luang Prabang Night Market, a vibrant display of local handicrafts, textiles, and street food. This is the perfect place to taste small portions of local foods and also acquaint yourself with the rhythm of Luang Prabang.

 

Day 2: Exploring the Temples and Kuang Si Falls

Start your day with a visit to the sacred Wat Xieng Thong temple, known for its ornate golden stupa and intricate carvings. Continue to the Royal Palace Museum, which showcases the country’s rich history. In the afternoon, head to the stunning Kuang Si Falls, a series of cascading turquoise pools amidst lush forests. Take a refreshing swim or simply enjoy the serene beauty of the falls. You can opt for a guided day tour with a local company or rent your own scooty and drive to Kuang Si Falls

One of the must-visit destinations in Laos is the stunning Kuang Si Waterfall. Located near Luang Prabang, this multi-tiered waterfall cascades down into azure blue pools, creating a picturesque and refreshing oasis. Visitors can take a dip in the cool waters, surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing sound of nature. The site also includes a rescue center for Asiatic black bears, allowing visitors to observe these magnificent creatures up close.

Kuang Si Falls is a perfect day trip from Luang Prabang

 

Day 3: Alms Giving and Mekong River Cruise

Witness the ancient Buddhist tradition of alms giving as saffron-clad monks make their morning procession through the streets of Luang Prabang. Afterward, embark on a scenic Mekong River cruise, where you can admire the picturesque landscapes and visit the sacred Pak Ou Caves, home to thousands of Buddha statues.

You can rent a scooter, walk, or hail a tuk tuk to explore Luang Prabang

 

Day 4: Pak Ou Caves and Traditional Arts

Start the day with a trip to the local morning market to experience the vibrant local culture. Then, venture to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, where you can learn about the diverse ethnic groups of Laos. In the evening, indulge in a traditional Lao dance and music performance at the Royal Ballet Theatre.

Day 5: Mount Phousi

Climb the 328 steps of Mount Phousi to catch a breathtaking sunrise or sunset panorama of Luang Prabang. Explore the hill’s sacred temples and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.

Day 6: Cooking Class and UXO Museum

We love taking cooking classes and learning new cuisines when we travel, whether it be in Cambodia or in Peru. And Luang Prabang was no different. If you have an extra afternoon, you can immerse yourself in Lao cuisine with a cooking class where you can learn to prepare traditional dishes like sticky rice, laap, and green papaya salad. Afterward, visit the UXO Museum to understand the lasting impact of the Vietnam War and the history of the area

Day 7: Morning Alms Giving and Departure

Experience the morning alms giving ritual once again if you want before bidding farewell to Luang Prabang. Take a final stroll through the town’s vibrant streets, collecting souvenirs and memories, before heading to the airport for your return journey.

Luang Prabang is ideal for slow travel and you will not want to leave

Extending your stay in Laos

Laos is often known as the “Land of a Million Elephants” and it truly has it all – from serene waterfalls to mystical caves and charming traditional villages. Slow travel in Laos is a unique and enriching travel experience but if you want to pack your itinerary, then here are a few offbeat scenic spots in Laos that you must visit:

  •  Kong Lor Cave in central Laos is a hidden wonder. This 7.5-kilometer-long cave system stretches through limestone mountains, and exploring it by boat offers a truly otherworldly experience. As you navigate through the dark and surreal caves, you’ll come across stunning stalagmites and stalactites, underground rivers, and hidden chambers. The cave is steeped in folklore, adding to its mystique and allure.
  • The Plain of Jars, located in the northeastern part of the country, is another unique attraction. This vast archaeological landscape is dotted with thousands of ancient stone jars, believed to be burial sites dating back thousands of years. The purpose and origin of these jars remain a mystery, creating an air of intrigue and fascination. The surrounding countryside offers stunning vistas, with rolling hills and rice paddies providing a serene backdrop.
  • If you enjoy homestays or traditional village life, a visit to Muang Ngoi Neua is highly recommended. This remote village, nestled on the banks of the Nam Ou River, offers an authentic glimpse into rural Laos. With no roads and limited electricity, Muang Ngoi Neua exudes a peaceful ambiance. Visitors can embark on scenic hikes through the surrounding mountains, explore nearby caves, or simply relax and soak up the tranquility of the village.
  • Another unique experience in Laos is the Bolaven Plateau. Located in southern Laos, this fertile highland is known for its coffee plantations, waterfalls, and ethnic villages. Trekking through the lush greenery, you’ll encounter thunderous waterfalls like Tad Fane and Tad Lo, where you can take a refreshing dip or simply enjoy the awe-inspiring natural beauty. The plateau is also famous for its coffee, offering opportunities to visit coffee plantations and learn about the traditional production methods.
  • If you love experiential travel, then one of the most unique festivals in Laos is the Boun Bang Fai, or the Rocket Festival. Held annually in various villages across the country, this vibrant event celebrates the arrival of the rainy season. Locals construct giant rockets and launch them into the sky, accompanied by music, dancing, and colourful parades and parties everywhere. The festival is not only a spectacle to behold but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and traditions.
Luang Prabang is under rated and absolutely gorgeous

That’s it – everything you need to entice you into planning a trip to Laos – we promise you the country will offer a wealth of experiences that promise an unforgettable Asian vacation. Whether it’s exploring mystical caves, immersing yourself in traditional village life, or witnessing unique festivals, Laos has something for everyone. With its untouched natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, this lesser-known destination is waiting to be discovered and appreciated by intrepid travellers seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures. Hope you make it there soon 🙂

 

If you have any questions about planning a trip to Laos, don’t forget to leave them below. We will try to answer them asap 🙂

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Planning a Unique and Offbeat Road Trip In Tunisia https://www.bruisedpassports.com/tunisia/planning-unique-offbeat-road-trip-tunisia https://www.bruisedpassports.com/tunisia/planning-unique-offbeat-road-trip-tunisia#comments Thu, 27 Apr 2023 13:10:19 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=18179 A road trip in Tunisia is probably one of the most laid-back and unique road trips you will take in...

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A road trip in Tunisia is probably one of the most laid-back and unique road trips you will take in your lifetime

There’s nowhere like Tunisia. Sure its souks reminded us of Morocco, its villages reminded us of Greece, its food has both African and Middle Eastern influences, but the country is a unique mix all its own. It is easy to plan a road trip lasting anywhere between a 7-14 days in Tunisia. You can choose locations depending on whether you enjoy history, culture, or beaches. One thing is for sure – you can expect beautiful views and good food wherever you go!

The tourism sector isn’t too developed (just yet), so you just have to work that little bit harder to plan your trip. But we did all the research and got you covered. Read on for all our tips about Tunisia.

Pros of a road trip in Tunisia

Tunisia is a beautiful country with lots to see. It is also super affordable, has amazing food, and friendly locals.

Lots of smiles 🙂

Cons of a road trip in Tunisia

The country is chaotic and you need to choose services such as day trips and car rentals with care as everyone is out to make a quick buck at the expense of tourists. However we have included lots of tips below that will help you avoid this.

Visa For Tunisia

While before the pandemic there was no visa needed for Indian passport holders to visit Tunisia, post pandemic you must apply for a visa at your nearest consulate. More information can be found at the embassy’s facebook page.

Getting a mobile SIM upon arrival in Tunisia

Whether you’re planning a road trip or not, we would highly recommend getting a sim card for your phone upon arrival in Tunisia at Tunis Carthage airport. It will help you with directions, navigation, and prevent you from getting lost in a new country. This is convenient and cheap. We purchased one from Orange.

Where to stay on a roadtrip in Tunisia

Tunisia offers a range of accommodation, ranging from small boutique hotels to luxury resorts. The most popular category of hotels is all-inclusive resorts with a beach. We stayed at La Royal Hammamet after reading quite a few reviews. This is advertised as a 5 Star Hotel but to be honest, we didn’t enjoy it at all. We really wouldn’t recommend it. The rooms were passable but the shower in our room wasn’t working and the toilet was grubby. Moreover the food tasted like cardboard on most days – it was so bad that even though our meals were included we ended up eating out most days. This one is a no from us!

But the area of Hammamet makes for a great base to explore the country. For accommodation, we would suggest looking for an alternate hotel in Hammamet such as Royal Azur Thalassa or Hotel Bel Azur. You can also look at a unique like Hotel Bou Fares in a village like Sidi Bou Said which is gorgeous. Choose with care and read reviews thoroughly. And if you’re getting a deal that’s too good to be true it probably is! Sorry to sound like a negative Nancy, but I wanted to share our experience so all of you reading can have an excellent holiday without these problems.

Most properties in Hammammet come with beach access for enjoying these views 🙂

Car rental for a road trip in Tunisia

Another logistic arrangement you must approach with caution are car bookings for your roadtrip in Tunisia. We compared car rental rates here and booked online with Camel Car and the process was seamless. They have a car rental booth at the airport, so it was easy to collect the car. We received a Hyundai Accent. The car was alright – no problem there. But it wasn’t in the best of shapes. Here’s a photo of the seat:

So if you are picky about the kind of car you need on your roadtrip in Tunisia, then we would highly recommend clearing these things when you make the booking. It is hard to make changes upon arrival as English is not widely understood!

 

Things to see and do on a road trip in Tunisia

girl at cafe in Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia
Get ready for views like these 🙂

Despite these mixed experiences with the hotel and car rental, we ended up having a great time on our road trip in Tunisia. That’s because there is so much to see and do on your road trip in the country. If you’re staying in Hammamet as we suggested, then you can just venture out in a different direction each day. There are dozens of things to do in the area but here are a few things we would definitely recommend

  • Start with the colourful souk in Hammamet. Explore the little alleyways and sit down for a meal at one of the cute cafés lining the Kasbah walls. They offer great views of the waterfront

 

  • Head to Nabeul for an offbeat day trip. Nabeul’s souk is ideal for a bit of shopping as it is a lot cheaper than places like Hammamet.

 

  • You must not miss a visit to El jem – the world’s second-largest colosseum, second only to Rome’s iconic colosseum. Unlike Rome, there are very few people here which makes it incredible for a visit. Try to go early if you want to get the entire historical amphitheatre to yourself.

 

  • If you enjoy history, then don’t forget to plan another day trip to the sprawling Roman ruins at Dougga. This is a UNESCO Heritage Site and it is easy to see why – these are some of the most impressive Roman ruins in Africa.

 

  • If you enjoy history and culture you must plan a day trip to visit the mosque and medina at Kairouan – the architecture will leave you spellbound. It also makes for some stuffing photographs.

 

  • If you want to feel like you have walked into a picture postcard, then you must visit the immensely popular yet gorgeous village of Sidi Bou Saïd. It boasts of bright blue doors and white walls, dripping with pink bougainvillea. You can drink in some of the best views of the coast from a cafe called Cafe del delice in Sidi Bou Said. However do beware – the café might have the best view but be very careful about what you order. Food and drinks are overpriced and you might be charged extortionate rates for things like cookies and breads that are kept on the table in addition to your order!

 

  • If you’re in the mood to laze at a beach, you will find plenty of them in Hammamet itself. However if you want to venture out on yet another day trip, then Monastir has some nice beaches too

 

  • If you enjoy long drives and gorgeous mountain views, then visit Jebel raseel – you can go hiking in the area. If you’re in the mood for something more leisurely, combine it with a visit to the vineyards and olive groves of Grombalia

 

  • You could also opt for a short or long desert Safari in case you have a day or two to spare. We skipped this as we had recently been on a desert safari in Abu Dhabi, but you might want to consider it if you want to spend a night under the stars or witness another facet of Tunisia.
The beautiful village of Sidi Bou Said
El Jem – WHAT a gem 😉
The Kasbah Walls at Hammammet
LOTS of colour all around 🙂

I hope this gave you some ideas for a planning a truly unique road trip in Tunisia. If you have any questions or comments, don’t forget to leave them down below! We love hearing from you 🙂

 

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Alila Diwa Goa: An intimate Balinese experience in South Goa https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/alila-diwa-goa-an-intimate-balinese-experience-in-south-goa https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/alila-diwa-goa-an-intimate-balinese-experience-in-south-goa#comments Sun, 15 Dec 2019 18:10:09 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=18612 There’s something special about Goa. Many places in India offer incredible sightseeing opportunities for travellers but what makes Goa special...

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There’s something special about Goa. Many places in India offer incredible sightseeing opportunities for travellers but what makes Goa special is the fact that it lends itself well to many different kinds of holidays! There’s a Goa for you whether you’re backpacking with friends, craving a luxury retreat with your family, or planning a honeymoon. That’s what makes it fun and challenging to pick an itinerary that’s just right for you in Goa. And it all starts with picking the right hotel.

Goa offers everything from sprawling beachside resorts to intimate boutique hotels nestled in the interiors. But this year we discovered a little gem that is surrounded by rice paddies on all sides but just five minutes away from the nearest beach. Alila Diwa Goa is a sprawling property but it is laid-out in such a way that it feels truly intimate.

Alila diwa goa marjoda aerial drone view with paddy fields
All the Bali feels!!

 

Getting to Alila Diwa Goa

Goa Dabolim International Airport is well connected to most major cities. The hotel is situated in South Goa and is a 20 minute drive from the airport

 

Rooms 

The hotel offers a variety of rooms, ideal for families and couples. Tropical luxury describes the ambience of the main building – rooms are spacious, boast of large balconies, modern shower cubicles, and luxurious toiletries.

If you want to amp up the experience up a notch, consider opting for a room in the famous Diwa Club. Diwa Club is a separate entity, so this set of rooms is relegated to a different wing altogether. Here rooms are even bigger, they boast of sleek bath-tubs, and walk-in-wardrobes. In addition to this, sundowners are included in the cost of the room. But the best part is that complimentary breakfast is available all-day – ideal if you like waking up at noon on your holiday. The rooms in this wing also have a separate pool with a jacuzzi. This exclusive pool is much less crowded than the main infinity pool, so it’s ideal if you value your privacy.

The more private pool for the Diwa Club
Spacious rooms and massive bath tubs at Diwa club. Always a yes 🙂

 

Tips for your stay at Alila Diwa Goa

If you want to elevate your stay to the next level, then make sure you look into the hotel’s Diwa By Design program. For a fixed fee, you can upgrade your package to include unlimited spa treatments (yes, you read that right!), in-room dining, drinks, and meals at all the restaurants on the hotel premises. This is especially handy if you’re in Goa for your honeymoon or to celebrate a special occasion and want to spend most of your time in the hotel.

Cosy chilling areas in the hotel
Opt for a romantic dinner by the pool if you’re celebrating a special occasion

 

Leisure at Alila Diwa Goa

The iconic infinity pool at the property has made this hotel famous on Instagram and we don’t blame the guests! The pool is surrounded by rice paddies and coconut trees on all sides, lending this corner of the hotel a distinctly Balinese vibe. Sunken sun-loungers ensure you can sip on those cocktails in absolute comfort after your swim. Make sure you drop by the pool for sunset on a clear day – it is absolutely spectacular. You can follow up this fiery sunset with live music and cocktails in the hotel’s courtyard. We loved it so 🙂

If you’re in the mood to relax on holiday, then head to the Alila Spa. This haven of peace is bound to put your mind at ease. Calming music welcomes guests to Alila Spa and white walls, covered with fresh plants and flowers, seduce one further. There is a variety of treatments on offer but we suggest sampling their Ayruvedic or Balinese massages – these use the choicest natural ingredients, coupled with expert massaging techniques, to rejuvenate guests. Don’t blame us if you leave entranced!

infinity pool at Alila Diwa Goa
This is where we spent a LOT of our time 🙂
And it’s equally gorgeous at sunset!
Off for our relaxing massage

 

Dining at Alila Diwa Goa

The hotel has 4 different restaurants. The Edge is  an aptly-named cocktail bar by the pool – drop by for a drink and linger around as you read a book or catch up with friends. Vivo has standard buffet fare that includes Indian delicacies, Oriental and Continental dishes, and a large array of desserts at every meal.

The Bistro is exclusively for Diwa Club members but serves one of the best breakfasts in town. This all-day breakfast is truly unique. A portable trolley offers selection of cereals, milk shakes, yogurts, fresh fruits, and cold cuts to guests at their tables itself. And one can pick hot meals off the a-la-carte menu, which is one of the most well-curated breakfast menus we’ve encountered on our travels. If you dine here, we INSIST you try the Goan Ros Omlette and their keema parantha if you eat meat. You can thank us later!

Another gem in this hotel that is acessible to all guests is Spice Studio. It opens only for dinner. It would be no exaggeration to say that a meal here is a truly sensory experience. The ambience is reminiscent of Goan bungalows. Lovingly-restored vintage furniture is laid-out under dozens of flickering lanterns. The menu boasts of Goan specialities and caters well to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Try the chef’s signature prawns balchao and fish curry with a side of assorted Goan breads. We would recommend dropping by Spice Studio for a meal even if you aren’t staying the hotel.

 

Perfect breakfast/brunch spot at The Bistro 🙂

 

 

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Things to do in South Goa

South Goa is one of the most underrated parts of Goa. It has several gems, some in the immediate vicinity of Alila Diwa Goa. Here are a few things we would recommend in the area

  • Drive to Dudhsagar Waterfalls, especially if you’re in South Goa during monsoon season. The waterfalls are at their best between July and September
  • Explore some of the lesser-known beaches of Goa including Cola Beach, Varca Beach, and Gonsua Beach. You could also indulge in a variety of watersports such as waterskiing and parasailing here.
  • Attend a full moon party at Colva Beach, one of the craziest parties in town
  • Visit a local poder (bakery) and sample Goan breads fresh out of the over
  • Head to Cabo De Rama for a short hike that promises incredible views.
  • Go looking for the heart-shaped lake in Chicolna – It gets quite windy at this view-point, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothes

 

Beautiful sunset at Gonsua beach 🙂

 

Fact File

  • Alila Diwa Goa is ideal for families and couples
  • If you’re travelling as a couple and enjoy luxury, then we would recommend choosing a room in the Diwa Club
  • The hotel has a kids club and frequently arranges free classes and movie screenings for kids
  • The hotel is disabled friendly and has 1 room for guests with limited mobility
  • South Goa is the least touristy and under-rated part of Goa
  • Room prices start at INR 9000 (£100).
  • You can compare prices and book your room here

 

Planning on exploring India? Don’t forget to read all our articles on India

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Best destinations to travel with kids : 5 child-friendly holiday ideas https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/best-travel-destinations-child-friendly https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/best-travel-destinations-child-friendly#comments Tue, 17 Sep 2019 14:26:22 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=18274   Travelling with kids! It’s a question we get asked pretty frequently, so we thought it was high time we...

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Travelling with kids! It’s a question we get asked pretty frequently, so we thought it was high time we devote an entire article to it.

Travelling with young kids seems scary. But as many parents will agree, travelling with kids is not as intimidating as it is often made out to be! We have learnt this from close friends who travel frequently with kids. We’ve also met travellers in remote areas of Scandinavia, Canada, or the German countryside having the time of their life with their kids. And every week we get photos from our readers, who go on Bruised Passports inspired trips with their kids.

While you can literally go anywhere from Seychelles to Iceland with kids and so many of our readers have done that, there are a few countries that are just ideal for travelling with kids. Amenities such as kids clubs, kid-friendly attractions, wide variety of food for the fussiest of little travellers, and stroller-friendly walkways are just some of the things that make these countries more attractive than others. Here are our top 5 picks if you’re travelling with young kids. Pick one that suits your budget and we promise you will love it to bits 🙂

1) Singapore

Singapore is the ideal place for a first trip with a very young child. This is for various reasons

  • The country is extremely safe
  • Cabs are plentiful and affordable
  • It is easy to explore within 4-5 days
  • It has plenty of child-friendly attractions such as the iconic Singapore Zoo and Sentosa Island

Check out this super cute photo one of our readers shared from Singapore and read this article for a detailed guide to Singapore 

 

2) Meet Santa in Lapland

If you want to take your holiday up a notch and your kids are over 5 years of age, there is no better place for a holiday than Lapland often known as Santa Claus’ home town. Finnish Lapland is literally like a real life fairy-tale. We love it because there is so much for kids to do – they can go meet the ‘real’ Santa Claus, marvel at snow-laden forests, and feed baby reindeer. The best part is that parents have plenty to do as well – stay in an igloo, watch the Northern Lights, and enjoy this  amazing part of the world.

Read all our articles about Finnish Lapland here to plan an amazing trip for your kids

Lapland Itinerary Santa Claus Village Rovaniemi
Kids love the reindeer sleigh ride at Santa Claus Village

 

3) Go on a cruise

It’s no secret – we love cruises and have been on several of them. Cruises are an easy and convenient way to travel to scenic destinations. But cruises also offer incredible value-for-money if you’re travelling with kids. Cruises have kids clubs, activities for both young kids and teenagers, and extensive buffet spreads for the fussiest of eaters – all included in the daily price of the cruise. This makes them ideal for both young kids & teenagers – it’s hard to argue with an unlimited supply of pizzas and ice-creams right?

Some cruises that we would specially recommend with kids include Caribbean cruises and Alaskan cruises – if you like a bit of adventure. Choose a cost-effective cruise line such as Royal Caribbean or MSC Cruises if it’s your first time on a cruise ship and go, go, go. You can read all our articles on cruises here

And here’s a gorgeous photograph one of our readers shared of her family on an Alaskan cruise. She told us her daughter loved the experience:

 

4) A beach break of dreams

If you’re a family of beach lovers, then plan a trip that involves entire days spent relaxing by the beach. Here are a couple of things to look out for when traveling with kids to beaches

  • Kids’ Clubs: The most important thing to look out for when you’re booking a beach holiday with young kids or toddlers are hotels equipped with kids clubs. But don’t just stop there – make sure you research a bit about the staff to child ratio at the kids club as well. This way you can ensure your child will be looked after well even if you are relaxing in another part of the hotel.
  • Food: If your child is too young or too old for a kids club, then consider renting an apartment where you can cook meals that you know your child enjoys eating. If you prefer staying at a hotel, then try to opt for buffet meals as that way your child can pick and choose the food they like.
  • Destinations: If you’re looking for an affordable beach holiday with kids then Bali is a great option. If you want something a bit more luxurious, Seychelles and Maldives have amazing properties that cater to kids. If your kids are frequent travellers and don’t mind exploring new places with their parents, then Gold Coast (Australia) is a great option

You will find detailed guides for each place on our website. Here are a few photos shared by our readers who planned amazing holidays for themselves following our tips 🙂

 

 

5) A city-break in Europe

This is probably the most confusing of them all- the very thought of planning a city break in Europe with kids can be exhausting thanks to visions of strollers on cobbled streets, overpriced taxis, or walking miles to get to a restaurant. But you can plan an amazing holiday if you choose the destination smartly.

There are some obvious winners with kids. Such as Disneyland Paris. But it’s hard to spend more than 2-3 days in such places. So here are a few European cities we would recommend if you’re travelling with kids:

  • Barcelona and Lisbon because both cities have a large selection of family-friendly hotels. A number of restaurants have kids’ corners and The Lisbon Oceanarium is a big hit with kids
  • Copenhagen isn’t just a big hit with adults. Kids love it too. Visit The Blue Planet and the iconic Tivoli Gardens amusement park. Read our guide to Copenhagen here
  • Reykjavik is an amazing option with kids because it is extremely safe and well-developed, so kid-friendly facilities are everywhere. Rent a large apartment in the city and enjoy your time here. Read all our articles on Iceland here 
Tunnel at Aquarium in Copenhagen
Kids love The Blue Planet in Copenhagen

 

We hope this article gave you some fun ideas for your next holiday with kids. Let us know in the comments below if you would like a Part 2 of this post with more kid-friendly holiday ideas. Till then, it’s your friendly travel experts signing off with bear hugs and warm fuzzies! 🙂

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A Culinary and Wellness Journey: Our unique Hilton Honors Experience In Maharashtra https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/hilton-honors-experience-pune-shillim-wellness https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/hilton-honors-experience-pune-shillim-wellness#comments Sun, 26 May 2019 20:34:54 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=18028 Tucked away in the Western Ghats, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, boasts of being one of India’s premier eco...

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Tucked away in the Western Ghats, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, boasts of being one of India’s premier eco wellness retreats, paving the way for detox and wellness programs premised on Ayurveda and science.

Hilton Shillim peak trek yoga
Peaceful Haven!

Over the last few years, we have loved exploring everything that India has to offer. From an adventurous road trip in the North to the gorgeous backwaters in the South, we have had some great experiences.  However, this summer we sampled something we have never tried before – a Hilton Honors experience that can only be described as a unique culinary and wellness journey. We flew from Delhi to Pune and kickstarted our time in Maharashtra by spending a couple of  nights at the lavish Conrad Pune. The hotel prides itself on its dining options, so we just had to try a couple of restaurants out for ourselves. First on the list – Koji, the Japanese restaurant at Conrad Pune. Sushi is my undoing, so I might have gone overboard. As a result of that, I couldn’t try much else. But Savi testified to the fact that the pumpkin curry at Koji was exceptional – it’s creamy and hits just the right spot. Our day-long culinary feast continued with Conrad’s signature breakfast at The Coriander Kitchen. So many of our readers messaged us about the breakfast spread here and it sure lived up to the hype. There is a large array of continental and Indian specialities, but we really enjoyed the fresh breads that were doing the rounds, straight out of the oven. It’s a small touch but a special one!

Room at Conrad Pune
Luxurious room at Conrad Pune
sushi platter at Koji
THAT sushi platter at Koji was EVERYTHING 🙂

 

Even though we weren’t planning on spending too long in Pune, we went out for a couple of hours to check out the gorgeous Aga Khan Palace and Shaniwar Wada (free wifi here so don’t be surprised if you see LOTS of young kids sat outside ;-)). These places can get crowded so we recommend being there as soon as the gates open. As soon as you get back to the hotel, you have all the leisure time in the world – read a book by the pool, snooze in your room, or go for a relaxing massage at the luxurious spa. No prizes for guessing what we chose 🙂 We enjoyed a languorous Balinese massage and ended the day with some refreshing cocktails at Masu. Now if everyday could be as relaxed as this one!

This gluttony in Pune was followed by something completely unique (and much-needed) – a strict detox program. Tucked away in the Western Ghats, 3 hours away from Pune, Hilton Shillim Estate Resort & Spa, boasts of being one of India’s premier wellness retreats, paving the way for detox and wellness programs premised on Ayurveda and science.  As we drove past the entrance, we were greeted by the cheerful staff, who would then go on to welcome us with a soothing foot ritual while the flutist serenaded us with calming tunes. We looked around at the lush green rolling hills and could not believe that this peaceful haven is just a few hours from the busy metropolis. Here’s a little video:

 

We’ve been to our fair share of trendy wellness retreats where the concept of wellness is limited to instagrammable smoothie bowls or a scenic session of morning yoga. But this was our first time at a wellness retreat that prides itself on a scientific and result-driven approach. There are plenty of programs to choose from – ranging from easy detoxes to 28 day detoxes with results that range from weight loss and increased metabolism to lowered cholesterol and stress. No wonder it is a favourite with celebrities and film stars in India!

 

We were at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa only for 3 nights but we decided to dive into the deep end and sample their holistic Dharana program – a wellness program that starts with a detailed private consultation with a doctor. Expect to spend a couple of hours with the team who’ll run you through the concept of Ayurveda, ask you to answer a detailed questionnaire, and do a thorough physical check-up. This is followed by personalised diet charts, fitness rituals, and daily therapies, all based on the analysis from the detailed consultation. We’re healthy eaters and love exercising on the daily – so I have to admit I was excited at the prospect of devouring nutritious wholesome food and getting some exercise! However the thought of cutting out caffeine (no coffee here!) and sugar (no desserts!) completely seemed a bit daunting but I was willing to give it a go!

We spent our first afternoon walking around the sprawling retreat that spans 320 acres. Yes you heard that right – it is huge! There is a scenic yogshala, gorgeous wellness and healing spaces(more on that later!), a tasteful tea room that offers a range of herbal teas, and plenty of landscaped corners to help you feel like your miles away from the maddening crowds. Villas are dotted at a generous distance from each other. This guarantees complete privacy if you’re travelling as a couple, but it might be something to keep in mind if you are travelling as a family and book more than 1 villa. There are small electric cars to take you around the resort, but we suggest walking – it’s a good way to get some exercise snuck in!

Hilton Shillim Retreat bedroom overlooking hills
Waking up to this amazing view!
Couple at wellness retreat India
And walking around the gorgeous property in white 🙂
In villa pool at Hilton Shillim Retreat and Spa
Each welnness Villa comes with its own pool 🙂

My favourite part of the retreat was the calming restaurant dedicated to the wellness wing of the retreat, The Green Table. As the name suggests, the restaurant specialises in organic food made in compliance with the wellness programs at the hotel. All ingredients are sourced from local farms, and it shows! One bite and you can tell the food is top notch. We dined at The Green Table at every meal and really enjoyed our meals. The customised meal plan ensured we got different menus each day but most of our three-course meals comprised of healthy salads, nutritious soups, and wholesome main courses such as rotis (indian flatbread) and a vegetable curry, vegetable cutlets on a bed of quinoa, or a porridge and chickpea stew. I must admit I was still missing my coffee at the end of Day 2 but this simple food left me thoroughly satisfied and I didn’t miss dessert at all! In fact, we dropped by Terazzo Bar for its stunning views over the Western Ghats and while the other guests enjoyed coffee and desserts, we happily sipped on our green juices and turmeric lattes.

wellness restaurant at Hilton Shillim
Enjoying scrumptious meals by the pond
healthy meals with quinoa and bitter gourd at Hilton Shillim
Goodness!!
Sunset view at Valley Bar Hilton Shillim
Well we’d never give up on a view like that 😉

These carefully-planned meals were complimented by daily fitness rituals. There is a bunch of activities to choose from. But I would highly recommend waking up early and attending the morning Yoga sessions . Aqua aerobics is another option, specially alluring because of the hotel’s scenic infinity pool overlooking gorgeous mountain ranges bathing in glimmering rays of the rising sun. If you enjoy walks and hikes, then I would also recommend a stunning sunrise hike to the Shillim Peak. The hotel’s staff will take you on this guided hike and while the scheduled departure is 7 a.m., I’d strongly suggest starting much earlier so that you can witness one of the most spectacular sunrises from the top. It takes around 30 minutes to go up and the climb is quite steep in parts, but nothing too difficult. Once you’re at the top, walk around, take in the 360 degree view and just savour the experience. You could also spend some time doing Yoga at the top. This trekking experience was definitely one of the highlights for us on this trip. If you’re not into trekking or would like to take a morning off heavy exercise, there’s plenty of other experiences to choose from here. You could choose from different types of meditation, pottery, or just reading a book while sipping on some herbal tea at the gorgeous tea house overlooking the rolling hills.

Tea!!!
pottery lessons at Hilton Shillim
There’s pottery lessons too 🙂
Oh HOW much I loved this trek

Each day we relaxed those aching muscles with Ayurveda therapies and treatments curated for our individual body types. We sampled everything from leisurely body therapies to detoxifying treatments. But my favourite would have to be the traditional Ayurvedic shiro-dhara therapy. Excuse me for being a bit hyperbolic, but this experience was life changing. A steady stream of warm oil on my forehead, followed by a gentle head massage lasting well over an hour! It was my first time getting this treatment, but I will definitely be opting for it every time I see it on a spa menu in the future.

One of the Ayurveda therapy rooms
Plenty of light, plenty of positive energy everywhere 🙂

At the end of our three days at the Dharana program, both of us felt incredibly relaxed. Even though I wasn’t there for weight management, I lost 2 kilos. More importantly, I felt de-stressed, full of energy, and completely ready to take on the world. I remember meeting an American lady who enrolled herself for a 28 day holistic program on our first day at Hilton Shillim Estate Resort & Spa. At the time, I wondered why anyone would choose such a long program. But at the end of our 3 days there I could understand why! We’d love to go back and enrol on a longer program for sure 🙂

If you are a Hilton Honors member, you can actually auction for this wellness experience at Hilton Shillim  – including hotel stay, meals, activities, and experiences) and if you win the bid, you can use your Hilton Honors points to savour this entire wellness experience without spending a penny from your pocket. There are plenty of other amazing experiences from around the world that you can auction for or redeem using your points – do check them out here. If you’re not a Hilton Honors member yet, we strongly encourage you to sign-up (it’s free to do so) and start accumulating points.

Here’s a video summing up our beautiful experience at Hilton Shillim:

 

Disclaimer: We have been Hilton Honors members for over 11 years now, much before we had a website or social media was even a thing! But this year we got the chance to work with them for the first time as digital ambassadors. We are so proud of this association with a program we’ve loved using so much during the last decade! You can read our detailed Disclaimer Policy here

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A Romantic Island Getaway in Koh Samui https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/a-romantic-island-getaway-in-koh-samui https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/a-romantic-island-getaway-in-koh-samui#comments Wed, 06 Feb 2019 12:02:29 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=17821 A palm-fringed island dotted with luxury resorts, white sandy beaches, and majestic temples, Koh Samui makes for the perfect destination,...

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A palm-fringed island dotted with luxury resorts, white sandy beaches, and majestic temples, Koh Samui makes for the perfect destination, irrespective of whether you’re on your honeymoon, a romantic getaway, or a group trip with friends and family.

Savi in infinity pool at Conrad Koh Samui
The views that await!

 

How to get there

Bangkok is well connected to most major cities around the world. Koh Samui is a short flight away from Bangkok. Koh Samui airport is really pretty and surprisingly well-equipped for an island airport. You will find everything from wifi to snack bars here. Visa for Thailand can be obtained on arrival at Bangkok or Koh Samui airport (if you’re flying in from Singapore or any other country directly).

Packing for Koh Samui

While you might be inclined to pack beachy clothes for Koh Samui, I would urge you to pause and rethink. Yes you will need shorts and bikinis. But you will also need a couple of evening dresses and a pair of nice shoes if you intend to dine at a nice restaurant or celebrate an occasion. Most importantly you will need clothes that cover your knees and elbows in order to visit some of the magnificent Thai temples in Koh Samui. Lastly don’t forget to pack your toiletries (especially sunscreen!) because they are marked up significantly in Koh Samui.
Girl in a Flowing dress at Giant Buddha in Koh Samui
Flowy and covered dresses for the win 🙂

Where To Stay In Koh Samui and our favourite experiences

Conrad Koh Samui is one of the most famed properties in Koh Samui and over the years, many of our readers recommended the hotel to us because they know we love ourselves a scenic hotel. And scenic it is. Individual villas come equipped with huge bath tubs and plunge pools that provide unending views of the turquoise water and distant islands.  There are hammocks and loungers in the middle of the water. Kayaks are provided to all guests in order to make the most of its beach side location. Even the breakfast area provides panoramic views of the Gulf Of Thailand.
But that’s not all. Every room is spacious and well-equipped with rain-showers, indulgent toiletries, and luxurious beds. The resort, located on a hill, offers privacy to its guests and its idyllic environs provide a perfect excuse to disconnect from ‘real life’. And Jahn, their contemporary Thai restaurant is definitely the crown jewel of this hotel. If you enjoy Thai food, I would urge you to have a meal here during your stay at Conrad Koh Samui. The restaurant has won several accolades and culinary awards, but its unique and contemporary take on Thai food makes it truly special.
At this point, I should point out that if you’re a Hilton Honors member you can actually book most of these experiences and stay at Hilton properties using just your reward points! Irrespective of whether you travel frequently or once a year, we would highly recommend enrolling yourself as a Hilton Honors member (we’ve been members for over 11 years now!). You can enrol yourself for free here and start enjoying little perks. With every point you accumulate, you get closer to getting free nights at the hotel and/or experiences such as a special dinner set up on your anniversary or a spa treatment.
But the best part of this rewards program is, you can actually auction for Hilton Honors Experiences such as this entire Conrad Koh Samui experience (including hotel stay, activities, and experiences we experienced) and if you win the bid, you can use reward points to pay for the entire experience without spending a penny from your pocket. Money saved is money earned right? 😀
Ocean view villa at Conrad Koh Samui
Our spacious villa at Conrad Koh Samui

And the rainy weather did not stop us from enjoying our private pool and the rainbow that put quite a show for us:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BreaIJDgKd9/

 

signature bath experience at Conrad Koh Samui Thailand
Bathtub and infinity pool goals?
But holidays are all about the experiences that make them special. This Hilton Honors experience included a rich mix of cultural and scenic activities, some of which ended up being a highlight of our time at Conrad Koh Samui. Here are a few highlights of our experience in Koh Samui:
  • Dining to the sound of the waves

This is an experience like no other. Our experience included an indulgent 3 course meal by the beach and had our own little table, completely enveloped by twinkling fairy lights and music. Make sure you opt for an early dinner so you can relish starters and drinks as the sun sets, leaving the sky pink and orange. This one is perfect if you’re on your honeymoon!

dinner by the beach at Conrad Koh Samui
An unforgettable evening 🙂

 

  • Sandbar Excursion

If you want to take your island getaway to the next level, then this one is for you. It is possible to book a picnic on a remote sandbar at Conrad Koh Samui. Hop on a boat and head to the sandbar for an afternoon of relaxation. Of course this is dependent on the vagaries of weather, so do check with the hotel before booking a tour!

  • A cooking class

No holiday is complete without an experiential activity right? Our experience included a cooking class at our hotel and the chef taught us how to make Thai staples such as Tom Yum Soup and Pad Thai. Savi even made her own portion of mango sticky rice. Learning about local flavours is always our favourite part of visiting new countries. We’ve taken cooking classes in so many countries including Cambodia, Vietnam, and Peru and this will be filed under those cherished memories too.

thai cooking class at Conrad Koh Samui
Enjoying our Thai cooking class 😀

 

  • A rejuvenating spa treatment to wrap up your holiday.

We even had a romantic couples treatment including in our experience! There are dozens of treatments available at the spa  – make sure you choose a treatment with care as Thai massages don’t use oil and can be quite harsh for people who like soft oil massages. Conrad Koh Samui has one of the most scenic spas we’ve visited. Don’t believe us? Check this out!

view from Spa at Conrad Koh Samui
One of the most gorgeous Spa rooms 🙂

 

  • Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary

Another unique experience we booked at our hotel included spending a day meeting, feeding, and hugging the most gorgeous elephants at the Samui Elephant sanctuary, Koh Samui’s first ethical sanctuary. Each of the elephants here has been exploited, blinded, hit by circus acrobats, or been cut by their owners in the past! But they’ve been rescued and given a new lease of life here! The volunteers protect and pamper them like their babies and the bond they share with the elephants is the cutest! The volunteers look after them ever so well and don’t leave any stone unturned to pamper them. On this note, I’d like to say – please make responsible choices regarding animals when you travel. Do your research and don’t visit places that exploit animals as extreme exploitation of animals is extremely widespread in Asia.

 

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More Things To Do & See In Koh Samui : Suggestions & Tips

  • Fisherman’s Wharf Walking Street in Bophut is a lively street packed with shops, restaurants, and cafés. It comes alive in the evening and is the ideal place to grab a drink or two. It is also home to a couple of nice eateries including Fisherman House and Coco Tam. But both eateries and shops here tend to be overpriced for what they offer. If you’re hungry and have a car or scooter on you, we’d suggest driving just outside Fisherman’s Wharf Walking Street for much more reasonable and tastier options.  Try Malee Restaurant for a scrumptious Thai meal at competitive prices.
  • If you’ve relaxed to your heart’s content at your hotel’s beach and want to steer clear of over-crowded beaches in Koh Samui, then head to Mae Nam beach or Choeng Mon beach. You can reach Mae Nam beach via the main entrance of W Hotel but entrance is free and you don’t need to be a hotel guest to visit as this is a public beach. Expect great panoramas and fewer people – this is a gorgeous stretch of beach not many know about. Choeng Mon on the other hand is easily accessible and can be combined with a visit to Wat Plai Laem complex.
  • Of course you cannot leave Koh Samui without visiting some of its stunning temples. There are dozens of temples – small and big – but we suggest visiting the incredible Big Buddha and the expansive Wat Plai Laem complex. Both temples are close to each other and it is easy to spend half a day just admiring the intricate architecture, swooning over the colourful details, and photographing the huge murals.
  • No visit to any Thai island can be complete without seeing its night markets. Chaweng is the focal point of several small night markets. It is also the ideal place to party the night away. Make sure you relish the food at the night market outside Central Festival Mall and sample local beers as you walk around Chaweng checking out the bars and nightlife.
  • Admittedly Koh Samui’s waterfalls are not the best you would’ve seen. Places like Bali and Luang Prabang have better waterfalls. But if you have an extra day, you can use it to check out the cascading Na Muang Waterfall or Hinlad Waterfall. There are also several smaller waterfalls you might spot along the way. Entry is usually free although local ‘guides’ try and extort money from tourists in the name of admission fees
  • If you have 2-3 days to spare, we’d suggest heading out to a neighbouring island such as Koh Phangan or Koh Tao. Despite their proximity, these islands provide a different experience from Koh Samui as they are much smaller and in general, more party oriented. This makes them ideal if you’re travelling in a group with friends. So do include them in your itinerary if you have some time.
Giant Buddha Koh Samui Thailand
The Big Buddha in Koh Samui
Choeng mon beach secluded beach in Koh Samui Thailand
Choeng Mon beach in the North East of Koh Samui
Malee Thai Restaurant in Bo Phut
The gorgeous Wat Plai Laem complex

 

That’s it.  Everything you need to know to plan an epic trip to Koh Samui. Leave us a comment below with your favourite experience from Koh Samui or if you have any questions and we’ll try and help you out 🙂 Do read all our articles on Asia if you want to experience other amazing places. Here’s a video from our time in Koh Samui:

 

Disclaimer: We have been Hilton Honors members for over 11 years now, much before we had a website or social media was even a thing! But this year we got the chance to work with them for the first time as digital ambassadors. We are so proud of this association with a program we’ve loved using so much during the last decade! You can read our detailed Disclaimer Policy here

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Two Week Bali Itinerary – Tips For Planning A Trip To The Island Of Gods https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/bali-two-week-itinerary-planning https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/bali-two-week-itinerary-planning#comments Wed, 10 Oct 2018 13:51:33 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=17645 Oh Bali – where do I start?! As most of you know, Bali is like second home for us. We’ve...

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Oh Bali – where do I start?! As most of you know, Bali is like second home for us. We’ve spent a few months here every year for the past few years. We come here to enjoy a slow pace of life, take advantage of its wellness retreats and healthy cafés, and of course fast wifi! But Bali is a popular holiday destination in its own right. We get so many queries and questions about Bali on a daily basis, so we’ve decided to put together The Ultimate Two Week Itinerary For Bali – based on everything we’ve learnt from all the months (years?) we’ve spent staying here. Let’s go!

 

Where in Bali Should I go and what should I avoid?

Bali has plenty of gorgeous areas. If you enjoy scenic beaches, then you should definitely consider staying at Uluwatu. If you want a mix of beaches and hip cafés by the dozen, then choose Canggu. If you love yoga or want a wellness getaway, then choose Ubud. If you want to stay in the midst of nature and love really quiet and offbeat places, then choose Sidemen.

The two areas of Bali we don’t like at all are Kuta and Seminyak. They are commercial, crowded, and in our opinion, quite unsavoury! If you’re visiting to enjoy partying or nightlife in Kuta or Seminyak, then we’d highly recommend choosing a different destination – like Koh Phangan (Thailand) – instead!! Having said that, both Kuta and Seminyak have some great hotels that work like sanctuaries of peace – so you could choose a nice hotel if you’d like to stay in either of those areas.

 

Which hotels and villas should I book?

Once you’ve shortlisted the areas where you want to stay, you can start narrowing down the hotels you want to spend your time at. Now if you’re spending less than 3 days in 1 area or you’re in Bali on your honeymoon, then we’d recommend choosing a gorgeous hotel (we’ve left the names of our favourites below!).

But if you’re staying in a place for longer than 4 days, then we’d highly recommend renting a private villa in Bali on AirBnB. Of all the places we’ve visited, Bali is one that offers some of the most scenic and experiential villas and apartment stays – you can choose one based on your budget and preferences. They start from as little as $20 per night. However make sure you go via a reputed website instead of individual villa websites as there are a lot of scams floating around. If you are new to renting apartments and want some help, check out our guide to renting apartments while travelling here:

 

Should I rent a car or scooter in Bali?

Should I rent a car in Bali? The answer to that is a resounding no! Lanes are narrow, hard to navigate, and it can take a long time to reach from one place to another if you’re using a car. Rent a scooter (costs anywhere between $3-$7 per day) for daily explorations.

For transfers from the airport, day trips, and excursions, just rent a car with a driver. This costs anywhere between $30-$50 per day depending on where you’re going. We usually rent a car with driver (including airport transfers) from Wayan or Bali Bliss Tours. Both are safe and reliable and we’ve been using their services for more than 3 years now.

 

What’s the best time to visit Bali?

Bali is truly an year round destination. However prices and crowds go up during July, August, and Christmas-New Year. We’d recommend avoiding these peak times for both those reasons. The end of September and October is a great time to visit because paddy fields are in full bloom and sunsets are gorgeous.

Other than that, most other months work too. Of course summer months get quite hot, January and February can get quite wet, and all the rice fields are barren during the end of August and first two weeks of September. But these little niggles shouldn’t stop you from visiting the island – there are always plenty of things to see and do even during those months.

 

Shopping in Bali

We have a detailed video on shopping in Bali  – here you will find all information including our favourite shops, how much to pay for items, where to bargain and where not to bargain, and what snacks to pick for friends and family back home. Here it is:

 

 

An itinerary for 2 weeks in Bali

Now that the logistics are out of the way, here is our itinerary for a week in Bali. You can modify it based on your preferences.

Day 1 Arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar and drive to Uluwatu

All flights to Bali arrive at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar. Pre-book a transfer so that your cab is waiting at the airport when you get there. Drive to Uluwatu, your first stop in Bali.

Welcome to Bali – gorgeous rice fields everywhere!

 

Days 1-3 Relax in peaceful Uluwatu

Uluwatu provides access to some of the most scenic beaches and panoramas in Bali. Relish the peace and explore the area in your first 3 days in Bali. Some of the things you must check out in the area include

  • Uluwatu Temple
  • Rent a scooter and explore the beaches especially Pandawa Beach, Dreamland Beach and Suluban Beach (aka Blue Point Beach)
  • Attend the Saturday party at Padang Padang Beach
  • Drop by Single Finn Club for a drink and an amazing view of Uluwatu Beach

There is no dearth of accommodation in Uluwatu. We would recommend booking a beach-facing apartment or villa on Air BnB. If you’re in the mood for a splurge, then book a stay at The Edge (they have the most gorgeous infinity pool) or Alila Villas (the best in classic luxury!)

Ready for tropical breakfasts? Welcome to Bali!

 

Days 3-6 Explore hip Canggu

It’s time to explore one of the most hep areas of Bali. Canggu boasts of some of the most instagrammable smoothie bars, yoga studios, and hipster cafés in Bali. It is also one of the prime surfing hubs in Bali. If that is not your thing, you can easily skip Canguu as your stay in Uluwatu would have given you enough time at the beaches of Bali. If you DO choose to visit Canguu, then make sure you

  • Witness sunset at Batu Bolong Beach
  • Stop by a weekend market such as Love Anchor Market or Samadi Central Market
  • Take a trip to Tanah Lot Temple – the iconic temple is always crowded but worth a visit
  • Grab a smoothie bowl or vegan brunch at a cafe such as Nalu Bowls, Avocado Cafe, or In the Raw

Once again we would recommend booking a scenic apartment or villa on Air BnB. If you’re on a special holiday in Bali, then book a stay at Como Uma Canggu.

 

Sunset at Tanah Lot temple, an easy day trip from Canggu

 

Days 6-9 Rejuvinate in Ubud

My heart beats that little bit fast upon hearing the word Ubud. This little area of Bali, packed with smoothie bars, wellness retreats, and spas – has my heart. Here is some stuff you must tick off your list in Ubud

  • Indulge in a bit of bohemian street shopping
  • Take a day trip to North Bali – Witness sunrise at Ulan Danu Bratan temple and combine that with a visit to ‘selfie’ spots at Wanagiri Hidden Hill and Banyumala Waterfall
  • Rent a scooter and drive to Tegalalang Rice Terraces
  • Make friends with monkeys at Monkey forest
  • Explore waterfalls such as Tegenungan Waterfall, Tibumana Waterfall, Pengempu Waterfall, and Kanto Lampo Waterfall
  • Book a decadent spa session. Follow it up with a Balinese flower bath. You’ll find all our favourites and (un)favourites spas to suit all budgets in our detailed guide to Ubud linked below.

We usually rent a villa on a monthly basis in Ubud via AirBnB. However Ubud has a number of experiential hotels with gorgeous rooms. If you’re on a honeymoon check out Kayon Resort. It has gorgeous villas with private pools and you can dine by a waterfall here. You could also check out Desa Visesa, which is surrounded by paddy fields and offers private pools, floating breakfasts and a scrumptious picnic by paddy fields. Maya Ubud is another good option with spacious rooms, private pools, and a stunning spa overlooking a flowing river. Most luxury hotels in Ubud have similar layouts and comparable amenities, so we would suggest comparing prices for the dates you have in mind and booking the most cost-effective option instead of narrowing down on one hotel in advance.

If you’re going to spend time in Ubud, then you have to read our detailed guide to Ubud here (opens in new tab) for our favourite spas, restaurants, and cafés.

 

Tegalalang Rice Terraces in Ubud
Sunrise at Ulu Danu Bratan in North Bali day trip from Ubud
Beautiful light at Ulu Danu Bratan
The Tegenungan waterfall Ubud Bali
Morning walks at The Tegenungan waterfall in Ubud
Bali swing at wanagiri hill near Danu Bratan
One of the many “selfie” spots in Wanagiri Hill area in North Bali
Pengempu Waterfall – not yet discovered by too many tourists 🙂
Waking up amidst paddy fields in Ubud 🙂

 

Days 9-12 Go offbeat in Sidemen

Sidemen is one of the least crowded and least touristy parts of Bali and boy, it’s gorgeous! If you enjoy peace and quiet, we would highly recommend staying here for at least 2-3 days on your trip to Bali. Here’s what you should be doing in Sidemen

  • No need to rent a scooter here but do explore the rice terraces around your hotel.
  • Book a day trip or two. We highly recommend a sunrise trek to Mount Batur if you like a bit of activity on holiday
  • Another day trip we would recommend is to Lempuyang Temple
  • Marvel at the views of Mt. Agung, a majestic active volcano that you can see from a number of places in Sidemen
  • Spend a morning at Tukad Cepung waterfalls and prepare to be amazed by the dazzling sunbeams. Go around 9 a.m. for the best lighting.

There is a paucity of good hotels in the Sidemen area as it is still up and coming. We have two suggestions depending on what you’re after:

  1. If you want a luxurious stay in Sidemen, then we would highly recommend Wapa Di Ume Sidemen. This is actually one of our favourite hotels in all of Bali. The scenic hotel is located in the middle of rice paddies. Rooms are spacious and they are equipped with bath tubs, indulgent toiletries, and large balconies. Some of them even have private pools, But it is the little touches such as cotton bathrobes to beat the heat, a yoga studio overlooking the hills, a scenic spa, and restaurants overlooking the rice paddies that make Wapa di Ume special. You can compare prices and book here.
  2. Villa Sidemen – If you want to go the private villa route, then here’s a villa run by a family. Search for Villa Sidemen on AirBnB and you’ll spot it right there. The villa itself is spacious but quite basic in terms of furnishing – nothing fancy. However the pièce de résistence here is the infinity pool overlooking Mt. Agung. If you’re willing to pay a premium for the view, then this is a good option. However you must book Villa Sidemen well in advance as it tends to get booked out quickly.
Ume Suite at Wapa Di Ume Sidemen
Luxurious rooms at Wapa Di Ume Sidemen
Pool with view at Wapa Di Ume Sidement
We spent most of our time here 🙂 Look at that view
View at Villa Sidemen
A sunrise trek to the top of Mount Batur is exciting
A visit to Lempuyang Temple at sunrise, with Mt. Agung in the backdrop

 

Days 12-14 Optional Kuta/Seminyak/Gili Islands

Your last couple of  days in Bali could be spent in a place that suits your taste best. If you enjoy beaches and you’re craving some more beach time, we’d recommend escaping to the Gili Islands for a few days or Nusa Penida for a day. If all you want is a bit of partying and shopping, then book a stay at Kuta or Seminyak before you fly out of Bali.

Bali two week itinerary sunset
Hope you have the best time in Bali. Enjoy it’s fiery sunsets

 

That’s it! A perfect itinerary for 2 weeks in Bali. We’ve tried to answer all your questions in this article. But if you have any other questions or comments, do leave them down below. We love hearing from you 🙂

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5 Best Luxury Hotels In Bali For Your Honeymoon(with pros and cons!) https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/5-best-hotels-bali-honeymoon https://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/5-best-hotels-bali-honeymoon#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2018 16:14:21 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=17773 We’ve spent many months living and working in Bali over the last couple of years. As a result our website...

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We’ve spent many months living and working in Bali over the last couple of years. As a result our website is fast turning into an encyclopaedia for Bali. We always recommend renting a villa or apartment if you are travelling to Bali for over a week but that’s not always suitable, especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion or you want a luxurious holiday where everything is catered for!

Handara golf club and resort gates in Bali
Oh HOW We Love Bali!!

So when Expedia asked us to suggest our favourite romantic hotels in Bali, we knew we had to pick the most luxurious finds in Bali – perfect if you’re celebrating a special occasion or you’re in Bali for your honeymoon. From intimate to spacious, Expedia offers great hotel options in Bali for all getaways.

Here are 5 of our favourite hotels in Bali. We’ve tried to include pros and cons in each case, so it’s easy for you to make an informed decision for your special romantic getaway in Bali.

1) The Kayon Resort in Ubud

Think of this little gem as a small luxury hotel. Tucked away in the highlands of Bali in Ubud, Kayon Resort offers spacious rooms, many of which come with their own bath tubs and private pools. If you book a honeymoon at Kayon Resort, make sure you have a special meal at their al-fresco restaurant, which overlooks a waterfall. This location elevates even the simplest of meals to another level altogether. Despite being located in the heart of nature, The Kayon Resort is close to Ubud’s centre, so you have lots of local restaurants and markets at your disposal. Ubud’s rice terraces and a number of waterfalls are in the vicinity as well.

The only con here is that rooms at The Kayon tend to get sold out in advance, so you need to plan your trip and make your bookings well in advance. Secondly the prices tend to inflate a lot around peak periods – if that is the case, we’d suggest looking for a similar, yet better priced, hotel in the vicinity instead of dishing out a crazy sum for your room at The Kayon Resort. Some alternatives include Desa Visesa (gorgeous villas with private pools and floating breakfasts) and Maya Ubud (stunning spa and great rooms, but the vibe is more family-friendly than romantic)

Couple dining by a private waterfall in Bali
Gorgeous alfresco setting by a waterfall

2) The Edge in Uluwatu

If you want a mix of nature and beaches, then Uluwatu is the ideal area for you. There are several luxurious hotels that provide stunning views, with the beach at a stone’s throw and The Edge is one of the very best in the area. I’m sure you’ve seen photographs of the fabulous pool, perched over a cliff, at The Edge In Bali. It’s a gorgeous hotel, with modern architecture and a view to boot. Rooms are spacious, well-equipped, and have everything you could possibly need for your holiday. The hotel is adorned in shades of white, which automatically induces a sense of calm. Service is truly exceptional at The Edge and you’ll be wowed by the staff.

Drawbacks? If you enjoy partying and nightlife, then do beware The Edge is quite far from it all. In addition to this, its insta-famous pool is rarely ever empty! Everywhere you go, you’ll find guests scrambling to take photographs. So while it is amazing for photographs, it’s a downer if you’re looking for a relaxed swim. If relaxing or swimming in the pool is a priority for you, make sure you choose a villa with a personal pool.

Right on the Edge (photo courtesy theedgebali.com)

3) The W Hotel in Seminyak

Personally Seminyak and Kuta are our least favourite areas in Bali. However if you want to stay right in the midst of all the action – nightlife, partying, shopping – then Seminyak would be a good bet for you! There are a number of luxury hotels that provide respite from the packed streets and rowdy bars in Seminyak. The W Hotel is one of the best in the area. Excellent amenities and a large variety of dining and relaxing areas makes The W Hotel ideal for a honeymoon. It manages to provide a rare mix of easy accessibility and complete privacy, thanks to its spacious and gorgeous villas.

Cons? It’s quite a large hotel, so if you enjoy smaller and intimate properties, then The W Hotel is not for you. In addition to this, it tends to get really overcrowded and overpriced, especially during holidays and peak periods. If this is the case, we’d suggest looking for another hotel in the vicinity that provides better value for money. Two other luxurious hotels in the area that we would recommend are Ziva Boutique Hotel (intimate and perfect for couples) and Hotel Indigo (large hotel with excellent amenities).

The W Bali – right at the beach in Seminyak (photo: marriott.com)

4) The Mulia Suites in Nusa Dua

No list of best hotels in Bali would be complete without a mention of The Mulia Suites. If you want a thoroughly extravagant holiday (price no bar!), then this is for you. It is located in Nusa Dua, so you’re close to everything from shops and restaurants to bars and spas. But let me tell you, you will not feel like leaving The Mulia Suites for anything at all. This all-suite hotel is seductive, to say the very least. Its 111 rooms are spacious and equipped with everything you could possibly need. You will also have a butler on call. This carries onto most other aspects of the hotel, so you can expect indulgent luxury and excellent service everywhere you go at The Mulia Suites.

Do be careful not to book a room at The Mulia Resort, the sprawling counter part of The Mulia Suites as it lacks the intimate boutique feel that makes The Mulia Suites ideal for a honeymoon or romantic getaway. Drawbacks? We’ve seen better butler service at comparable resorts around the world. Also despite being the more intimate counterpart of The Mulia Resort, the hotel lacks that Indonesian character which makes boutique properties in Bali so special.

Mulia Resorts: Perfect if you’re after a super indulgent and luxurious honeymoon (photo courtesy themulia.com)

5) Wapa Di Ume Sidemen

This little gem is one of my favourite finds in Bali. If you want to go offbeat and are truly craving a peaceful honeymoon, then Wapa Di Ume in Sidemen is ideal for you. The gorgeous hotel is located in one of the quietest part of Bali. Rooms are spacious and overlook the highlands of Bali – you will wake up to paddy fields, mountains and chirping birds each day. The restaurant serves scrumptious grub. Wapa Di Ume Sidemen also has one of the most stunning spas in Bali – their massages aren’t my favourite but they do a great flower bath.

Their hit-n-miss massages bring me to the only other con of this hotel. Because Sidemen is one of the quietest areas of Bali, you’ll struggle to find local restaurants, bars, or markets here. So Wapa Di Ume isn’t for you if you like some hustle bustle during evenings but it is ideal if you want a true escape in the lap of Mother Nature.

Pool with view at Wapa Di Ume Sidement
We spent most of our time here 🙂 Look at that view

You can find this hotel on Expedia.

If you’re headed to Bali anytime soon, you must read our guide to Bali.

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Best Day Trips and Excursions in Bali https://www.bruisedpassports.com/indonesia/best-day-trips-excursions-in-bali https://www.bruisedpassports.com/indonesia/best-day-trips-excursions-in-bali#comments Thu, 01 Feb 2018 02:59:35 +0000 https://www.bruisedpassports.com/?p=16253   We’ve spent over 6 months in Bali in the past 3 years or so. Over the time we’ve grown...

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We’ve spent over 6 months in Bali in the past 3 years or so. Over the time we’ve grown to love the island to bits. The daily rhythm of life in Bali is seductive but if you want to head out for a few day trips and excursions around the island, here are a few of our favourites.

 

Getting Around in Bali and planning your day trips

Renting a car and driving it yourself isn’t ideal in Bali as rental cars are expensive, roads can frequently be narrow, and the traffic manic. However if you’re confident driving a scooter, we’d definitely recommend getting one in Bali. A rental scooter costs anything between $3 – $5 per day, so it’s extremely cost effective. If you’re quoted a higher price, just bargain. Scooters are ideal for outings in your immediate vicinity or slightly further afield.

However if you are planning to visit a place which is over 30 minutes away from your hotel, we’d suggest booking either a guided tour or renting a car with a driver. We have booked a few of our excursions and day trips in Bali with Bali Bliss Tours – We first booked a sunrise trek with them in 2015 after reading glowing reviews online. Truth be told, we were apprehensive about a cab picking us up at in the dead of the night (at 2 am). But everything went seamlessly and we’ve just stuck to booking all our tours or renting a car with a driver with them ever since.

Now that the logistics are out of the way, let us tell you about some of our favourite day trips and excursions in Bali

 

  • I) Tegalalang rice terraces

A number of panoramic balconies and cafés close to Tegalalang village offer panoramic views of Ubud’s iconic rice terraces. You could stare at the terraces and marvel at the unique irrigation system as you sip on a coffee or you could get down and dirty and go for a walk on the terraces and prance amidst paddies. You know which one we opted for don’t you? 😉 The walk is free but locals request a donation.   The drive to Tegalalang village is dotted with numerous shops full of tie & dye goodies, tribal jewellery, and ethereal dreamcatchers (of course I bought a few, you know my love for dreamcatchers!).

Beautiful sight at the rice terrace!
Beautiful sight at the rice terrace!

 

Couple in rice terraces bali
We went for a walk through the terraces and came out with soiled shoes 🙂

 

  • II) Mount Batur

Let’s be honest – how many times do you get to hike an active volcano in the dead of the night, reach the summit and stare at one of the prettiest sunrises in the world, examine black lava rocks lining the slopes after the last eruption, and boil an egg using the steam from the volcano?   Those are just a couple of reasons why you might want to head to Mt. Batur when you’re in Bali.

We booked our excursion with Bali Bliss Tours as I said above. We were picked up at our villa at 2:30 a.m. and driven to the starting point of the hike. We started the hike at 4 am. A 2 hour hike through rock and rubble led us to the summit just in time for sunrise. Mt. Batur is said to be one of the best sunrise spots in the world and it’s true – we couldn’t get enough of the clouds suspended over the lake.   We coupled this with a visit to a coffee plantation where we sampled 9 types of Indonesia tea and coffee, including the (in)famous Civet Coffee. The entire excursion (cab, hike, guide, and breakfast) cost USD55/£37 per person. Of course you need to be fit to tackle the hike because it gets quite steep and rough in parts. Other than that, it’s highly recommended!

Mt. Batur in all its glory
Mt. Batur in all its glory

 

The perfect sunrise? We think so :)
The perfect sunrise? We think so 🙂

 

Coffee plantation bali Kintamani
A visit to one of the coffee plantations is a must when in Bali!

 

  • III) Danu Bratan and North Bali

Bali has temples by the dozen. But few are more scenic than Danu Bratan, situated in the middle of a lake. It is even possible to take a boat ride in the lake surrounding the temple. Danu Bratan is gorgeous to catch sunrise but do keep in mind that it’s covered with clouds more often than not. Go early and you’ll be the only one – it gets SUPER crowded after 8 am.

Combine a trip to Danu Bratan with a quick stop at one of the famous gates in Bali – the entrance gate of Handara Golf Club and Resort. It’s so popular now that you’ll have to pay a fees of IDR 30,000 per person to take a photograph. Well, all thanks to social media 😉

You should also drive further up to Lake Tamblingan and check out the floating temple there. It’s really gorgeous and in all probability you’ll have the place to yourself. There is an entrance fees but there was a lot of confusion regarding how much it was – they asked for  IDR per person 100,000 but Gede (our driver) told them we didn’t want to go for a hike and they then asked for IDR 50,000 for both of us.

And to end this trip, we suggest visiting a playground for adults – when you drive back from Tamblingan, you’ll see many hoardings with swings, nests, and what not in an area called Wanagiri Hill – all claiming to have that perfect selfie spot. Just enter whichever looks good to you, pay the entrance fees (IDR 50,000 per person) and shoot away. They even provide reflectors to make sure that the lighting for the photographs is ideal – talk about providing a good service 🙂

We booked this day trip with Nyoman from Bali Bliss Tours and were picked up from our guest house in Ubud at 4:30 a.m. and dropped off at noon. Gede, our driver, spoke good english and was knowledgeable about the area 🙂

Sunrise at Ulu Danu Bratan in North Bali day trip from Ubud
Beautiful morning light at Ulu Danu Bratan

 

Handara golf club and resort gates in Bali
Beautiful gates – love the clouds in the backdrop

 

Drone shot of Tamblingan temple in the north of bali
An aerial shot of Ulu Danu Tamblingan

 

Bali swing at wanagiri hill near Danu Bratan
One of the many “selfie” spots in Wanagiri Hill area

 

  • IV) Lempuyang Temple

The sacred Lempuyang temple is one of the most spiritual sites for Balinese locals. But the gates of the temple also make for a gorgeous photograph with the Mt Agung standing tall in the backdrop. We suggest combining this outing with a stop at the surrounding villages when you can see Mt Agung stretching out beyond the paddies in all it’s glory. You could also visit the Jemaluk Viewpoint, a scenic point overlooking Jemeluk Bay, on that day itself. This is a gorgeous spot for sunset.  Do consult the weather forecast before planning this trip as it makes sense to plan this road trip only on a clear day when Mt Agung is not covered with clouds and the sea at Jemeluk is sparkling blue.

It will take you a good couple of hours to get to this area from Ubud. We suggest starting from your hotel at around 4 a.m. to reach the temple at the crack of dawn. We went with Bali Bliss Tours as always and Nyoman was accommodating to send a driver at that odd time to pick us up.

 

Couple standing at Heaven's gate at Lempuyang Temple in East Bali
“Heaven’s Gate” at Lempuyang Temple

 

  • V) Taman Ayun

The temple of Taman Ayun is a pleasant 30 minute drive away from Ubud. It’s a small temple, worth visiting if you’re there for a longer time in Bali.   Let me warn you. You’ll spot this sign outside Taman Ayun and many other temples in Bali. We’re all for respecting cultural idiosyncrasies and despite being atheists, we love visiting religious sites when we travel (purely out of anthropological curiosity!). But this kind of stigmatisation of bodily fluids in the name of religion really annoys us. It reinforces sexist mores and gender inequality, something both of us oppose strongly. If you look past that, Taman Ayun offers a pleasant enough walk around the temple complex.   Entry is USD 1/£0.70 per person. Expect to spend 30-40 minutes looking around the temple – it’s a pleasant enough walk but not unmissable

Taman Ayun temple
Taman Ayun temple

 

Not impressed!
Not impressed!

 

  • VI) Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot is an hour’s drive away from Ubud. It’s famous for the gorgeous sunsets. The temple, perched atop a cliff makes for a pretty sight. But it can get very crowded. We didn’t enjoy it as much as we thought we would but we’d recommend giving it a go if you are in Bali for a week or more. Entry is USD 3/£2 per person.

Holidays are for relaxation and staring at sunsets :)
Holidays are for staring at sunsets and Bali has plenty of them 🙂

 

  • VII) Tegenungan waterfall

A 30 minute drive from Ubud will bring you to one of the area’s beautiful waterfalls: The Tegenungan waterfall is a bit of a local secret and locals love dropping by for a relaxing swim. Try going early in the morning – it’s absolutely spectacular in the magic morning sun. Entry is 1.5 USD/£1 and there is ample parking available on site.

The Tegenungan waterfall Ubud Bali
Morning walks at The Tegenungan waterfall in Ubud

 

  • VIII) Small waterfalls surrounding Ubud

Ubud is home to lots of other cascading waterfalls as well. If you are staying in Bali for longer, try visiting the little known Pengempul Waterfall, Nung nung waterfall, Tibumana Waterfall, Kanto Lampo Waterfall, or Tukad Cepung Waterfall. They’re all little gems in their own right. But do beware – they’re at their best during monsoon months and thin down considerably during summer months. Also, always try to visit these waterfalls first thing in the morning as they tend to get crowded after 9 a.m.

 

Couple standing at Tibumana waterfall near Ubud in BAli
Us at Tibumana Waterfall

 

Pengempul waterfall near Ubud in BAli
Savi at Pengempul waterfall near Ubud

Watch out for more updates from us in the coming weeks and months – we are always on a mission to find the best excursions in Bali 🙂

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