It's peak winter and the cold feels like an icy wet blanket has been wrapped over us. A vacation is long due and with the wedding season clashing, we are tired of seeing honeymoon couples posting their photos, along with choodas, all over our social media timeline. Is there any place left for you and your girlfriends to visit sans the crowd? If you are looking for a beach holiday, we are sure Bali comes to the mind almost immediately. Instagram and Facebook may show Bali as sagged and burdened with over-tourism and honeymoon couples; but honestly, Bali can be a brilliant destination to explore with friends or even solo.
A recent trip to Bali revealed that the exotic Indonesian island is given way less credit than it actually deserves. It is undeniable that Bali is a favourite among honeymooners but how often do we get to hear of the cultural essence of Bali beyond its beaches and temples? Bali sings of a harmonious blend of culture and nature, food and people, green and blue. So if you need reasons to visit this beautiful island nation, we put down seven:
Bali looks like a world very different from ours. Apart from the Denpasar Airport, there is no grand steel structures that obstruct our view of the clear blue sky. Local men and women, whether in the towns of Ubud, Kuta or in villages, walk around in their traditional sarong skirt, sabuk and semaya - giving the foreign tourist a colourful visual treat on the streets. A paradise island on the Indian Ocean, Bali is an unforgettable getaway that is wonderfully light on the pocket!
There's art everywhere you look in Bali. From streets to common structures to regular houses, Bali will surprise you at every turn with some beautiful exotic art and architecture that is so very intrinsic to their culture. Globally recognised for their a distinctive style, Balinese architecture, be it religious or domestic, is rooted in ancient traditional influences. Every Balinese traditional structure is aimed to create a sacred space to balance the energy required for spirits and cosmos. Streets in Bali are often characterised with interesting mandala paintings and designs, and so are the stairs in most Balinese homes. Every Balinese house has a family temple inside the campus, built is the traditional method that makes the surrounding area look mesmerising. Also abundantly found in Bali is the candi bentar, which resembles a gateway that is commonly found at religious areas and even cemeteries and house entrances. Such a passage, usually elevated with a flight of stairs, signifies the transition between the outside worlds into a pious one.
Bali is a spectacular island full of a myriad landscapes ranging from volcanoes to lush green plantations to mighty hills to sparkling golden beaches and clear, blue ocean. Mount Agung and Batur are two volcanoes in Bali that will arrest anyone's attention. Many rice and coffee plantations in Bali villages are promoting ecotourism for us to explore their green fields along with certain activities like zip-lining, high-altitude swinging, coffee tasting, coffee making, etc. Amidst everything, let's not forget how beautiful the beaches are.
Just near Bali, the sister islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan offer the tourists a marvellous time at its natural wonders and pristine beaches. Southeast of mainland Bali, Penida and Lemobongan can be visited by ferries and boats. Unlike Kuta or Ubud, these islands are devoid of snazzy clubs or trendy restaurants. Two purely raw islands with a few lovely hotels, Airbnbs and hostels, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan offer a rustic experience full of white sand, blue ocean and some unparalleled views.
Bali offers some luxurious premium hotels at an unbelievable price range. Some of these stays are grand and located at the heart of the island, presenting you with the best accessibility to temples, beaches and the local markets. The Ramayana Suites & Resorts in Kuta and Sol House Bali in Legian are two such hotels worth mentioning. Try Hotel Star Semabu in Nusa Penida and the Mahagiri Resort in Nusa Lembongan, which are also lovely island resorts perfect for a young group.
Foreign island locations often get expensive due to the local transportation cost. When in Bali, use local transport anywhere and everywhere and it will always be cheap and fit in your budget. Inexpensive ferry service will take you to different islands where one can avail e-rickshaws that you can book for a whole group for a day or two. Buses in the mainland operate in heavy frequencies that take you to different locations within the island.
Food is a huge part of the traditional Balinese culture. The exotic Balinese food is not just inexpensive, but wonderfully delectable. One could survive just on Nasi Goreng, Sambal Matah, Satay and Nasi Tepeng for their entire stay.
I can say it with certainty that Bali is the ideal place for shopping. From exquisite art to clothes to bags and shoes - shopping in Bali will probably result in exceeded baggage limit. Everything is surreally cheap and to be honest, absolutely beautiful. Stone carvings and woodwork are famous as well as batik clothing material. They are colourful, handmade and sustainable. Plus, batik looks very tropical and funky. The macramé wall hangings could be that perfect dream catcher you've been looking for. Round bags made of straw, available everywhere, makes for a trendy fashion accessory and the list goes on. Also, silver jewellery in Bali is pretty inexpensive, so stock up on some while you're there. The best markets in Bali are in Kuta and Ubud. However, the shopping centre Krishna Oleh Oleh offers fantastic items in unbelievable prices.
Kuta is a populous area and quite frenzied, in a good way. Known as Bali's party destination, Kuta is snazzy and more polished than the rest of the island. There are some hard-to-resist offers going on at every other shop that you will be lured into by a cajoling salesman. Open bars, rooftop restaurants, loud music and a tropical vibe set the mood right for any group of friends. The perfect vacation for your girl gang must begin and end at Kuta in Bali. Do not forget to get some chilled bottles of Bali's most famous beer, Bintang, which is sold just for 200 INR. And with the yellow takshi cabs blinking and the night lights glistening all over the town, enjoy the tropical paradise with your friends while you soak in some culture, great food, and lots of sun.
About the author: Always on the go, Sayantani Chakrabarti is the kind of traveller who never longs for the destination, but craves for a memorable journey. When she's not travelling, Sayantani likes to lounge with a pacy book and some Sinatra in the background. Her blog called I Chronicle is testament to her unyielding passion.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.