When one thinks of Bali, the word ‘beach’ comes immediately to mind. Many visitors to Bali never venture beyond the beaches or step out of the beautiful resorts and hotels to explore other parts of the island. Delve deeper and you’ll find that Bali has much to offer beyond the usual sun, sand and sea. From making chocolates to shopping till you drop, these 8 non-beach activities we’ve rounded up will make you want to book the next flight out to Bali:
1. Go padi field-hopping
In Bali, padi fields are aplenty. We rented a car and spent a few hours travelling to two different padi fields – Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in Tabanan town and Tegalalang Rice Terraces in Ubud. The sprawling vistas make for wonderful photos with its dramatic views.
2. Embark on a chocolate tour and make chocolates
You didn’t know Bali can produce chocolates too, did you? We went on a chocolate tour to Pod Chocolate Factory & Cafe, where we learnt how cocoa pods get made into delicious chocolate. Pod Chocolate supports local communities to farm cocoa sustainably. Our visit began with a tour of the factory; we got to taste raw cocoa fruit, watch how beans are roasted and and finally, make our own chocolates! At the end of the visit, you’ll get to bring home a pack of chocolates totally customised by none other than yourself.
3. Shop till you drop
Bali may not be a cosmopolitan city but that doesn’t mean shopping is not great. We simply couldn’t get enough of the streets of Seminyak which are filled with boutiques like Billabong, Roxy, Bamboo Blonde and many other interesting shops. Even after spending a day there, we did not finish covering the entire area. While some of the items may not exactly be cheap, we managed to grab some unique good buys.
4. Visit Balinese temples
The island is full of beautiful temples. Some of the must-visits include the Taman Ayun Temple, Uluwatu Temple, Goa Gajah, Ulun Danu Beratan Temple and Tanah Lot. Among all the temples, Tanah Lot is particularly interesting because the temple sits on a large offshore rock, which has been shaped over the years by the ocean tide. You can only cross over to visit the temple when the tide is low.
5. Make your own perfume
Perfume are readily available, but if you can customise a scent of your own, wouldn’t that be more unique? At L’Atelier Parfums et Créations, you can concoct your very own personalised scent. Set up by French perfumier Nora Gasparini, L’Aterlier Parfums et Créations has two outlets at Ayana Resort and Spa in Jimbaran and the New Ritz Carlton in Nusa Dua. Through a workshop, you will be asked to fill up a questionnaire on your personality and preferences, and go through a series of processes to identify the scents based on your personality traits. At the end of the workshop, you will receive a certificate and of course, your own personalised perfume, with a label of your chosen name no less.
6. Sign up for a Balinese cooking class
If you love the intense flavours of Balinese food, go a step further and learn how to cook it. Balinese cooking classes are gaining popularity, especially among visitors who have been to Bali more than once and are looking for unique experiences. We attended a course at Bumbu Bali, helmed by Heinz von Holzen who is a former five-star resort Executive Chef and author of numerous books on Balinese cuisine. Bumbu Bali offers a fun introduction to Balinese cooking. Unlike a typical cooking course, the one at Bumbu Bali brought us on a morning visit to the Jimbaran fish and village market where we shopped for the ingredients to bring back to the Bumbu Bali class in Tanjung Benoa. The market visit and cooking class are led by Heinz himself, who offers a deep insight into the colourful world of Balinese cuisine.
7. Eat, eat and eat again
Bali is food heaven and there is something for everyone. For a taste of authentic Balinese flavours, head to Bumbu Bali (yes, they have a restaurant too) and try signature local dishes such as Sate Campur (skewered meat), Babi Guling (whole roasted pig) and Bebek Betutu (whole roasted duck).
Not a fan of Indonesian spices? We suggest you make a booking at Cuca at Jimbaran for the most delectable tapas. Cuca is headed by Chef Kevin Cherkas, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants such as the 3-star El Bulli in Catalonia, Spain and the 3-star Arzak Restaurant in San Sebastian. The down-to-earth Chef Cherkas would make it a point to walk to every table to chat with the guests, completing a truly enjoyable dining experience.
If you are staying over the weekend, do yourself a favour and have brunch at Cut Catch Cucina at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua. Their champagne brunch offers a vast array of hearty roasts and fresh seafood. Conde Nast Traveler named it one of the top 10 best brunches in the world, and we can’t agree more with them.
8. Go dolphin-watching at Lovina
Lovina Beach is located at the northern part of Bali, a good three hours’ ride from the southern part where most tourists stay. However, you’ll find the long journey worthwhile as you can hop on a boat out into the sea and watch wild dolphins in their natural habitat. You can book one of the many dolphin tours available. You’ll have to get up very early in the morning for us, but trust us, it’ll be worth it when you are out in the vast sea watching dolphins jump out of the water against a beautiful sunrise backdrop.
For cheap hotels and flights to Bali, check out Traveloka.