Whenever I’m scrolling through social media sites like Instagram or Facebook, there’s never a time when I don’t come across some sort of travel picture or video. I always see posts of tropical places that I thought I would only dream of going to.
Vibrant blue water.
Tropical green plants.
Romantic, sultry sunsets.
Infinity pools flowing into a picture-perfect view.
…I’m sure you can picture the places I’m referring to.
One of the places in particular I’ve always seen was Bali. And just a few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I set off for a week long vacation there.
For those of you who aren’t particularly good at geography—don’t worry, I’m not judging—Bali is an island in Indonesia. Indonesia is made up of a ton of islands, which can get a little confusing if you’re planning a trip to Indonesia without a specific island in mind. I would suggest island-hopping in order to see more Indonesia as a whole. We actually took a day trip to Java (another island), but I’ll get to that in a bit.
For now, I think I’ll just start at the beginning and go day-by-day for you all, starting with the flights first.
For those of you who may not know, my boyfriend and I live in the USA. Indonesia is not only on the other side of the equator, but it’s on the other side of the world as well. So getting there took a little longer than the standard 3-5 hour flight that most people might be used to.
We flew Qatar Airways roundtrip. Our travel time to Bali was 24 hours and 5 minutes (with one stop in Qatar), and then 27 hours and 20 minutes on the way back home from Bali (with one stop in Qatar again). I know that being on planes for that long sounds rough, but honestly it wasn’t too bad. The only flight that really was rough was the final one from Qatar to the United States because it was 14 hours and 45 minutes long—and I feel like the last flight always just seems so much longer.
Qatar Airways was great though. The service was excellent, the flights all seemed to run on time, everyone seemed really nice, and there were no hidden fees for luggage.
P.S. If you ever get to have a layover in Qatar, don’t be afraid at how long the layover is. The Qatar airport is the most amazing airport I’ve ever been to. There is so much to do and see there. There’s even a hotel with a spa and pool inside the airport.
We decided to stay at the Bandha Hotel and Suites in Legian (yes, it’s still in Bali). The Bandha is a luxury hotel in Bali and has two outdoor pool areas, two swim-up bars, a spa, fitness center (so nice!), wifi, laundry, etc. We both absolutely loved the hotel. Everyone was so kind!
When we first got to the hotel, we received jasmine scented hand towels and a complimentary refreshing virgin Ma Tai-like drink while we were checking in.
The breakfast spread at the hotel is incredible. They have it set up buffet style, and have something for everyone. They have tons of vibrant tropical fruits, several fresh juice options, an omelette station, a variety of pastries, and even some Australian, English, and Japanese breakfast favorites. They also have tons of coffee options to choose from. My boyfriend and I both got lattes each morning which were not only delicious, but beautiful too. We loved getting to drink our lattes and look out at the ocean, which is only steps away from the hotel.
While all of the staff at the hotel were kind and helpful, there was one person that really stood out to me; her name is Sorni. She was our server for majority of our breakfasts and was just so sweet and gave us the best service. She knew us by name and was so genuinely nice each morning. We loved getting to see her!
The pools at the Bandha were also really cool. They were both outdoors and one of them was even an infinity pool, with a hot tub and kid pool attached. The water was always at the perfect temperature as well! Another feature of the pools were the swim-up bars. We had a few drinks, but one of the most unique ones I had was an Avocado Espresso (no, it wasn’t alcoholic). It was surprisingly amazing. It sounded really unique and a little weird, so I wanted to try it, and I’m so happy I did. It had espresso, a blended avocado, some chocolate syrup, and was topped with a small scoop of ice cream. If you ever get the chance to try one of these, definitely do it.
Our room was probably one of our favorite features of the hotel. It had a super comfortable bed, a balcony that looked out to the pool, a television, a couch with a table, a closet, a vanity, and a bathroom with a huge walk-in shower. It was such a relaxing and comfortable room, which was perfect for coming back to after going on some excursions.
ACTIVITES & ADVENTURES
Speaking of excursions, we did quite a few while on our vacation. The way that we planned out our time in Indonesia was to balance out the adventure days with relaxing days. Because of the time change and travel time, we basically had Monday through Friday in Indonesia. So we had relaxing days on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and had excursion/adventure days on Tuesday and Thursday.
On our first excursion day (Tuesday), we decided to go to a coffee and tea tasting, visit the Monkey Forest, and walk through the rice fields. Our hotel had several tour options, but we were really set on doing the three activities I just listed, so we basically picked a private tour/driver and asked him to take us to the things we wanted to go to instead of the original tour schedule.
Since the Monkey Forest was up in Ubud, and we were in Legian, we decided to stop and do a tea and coffee tasting on the way there. It was so much fun. They walked us through how they make their coffee, the animals they use to help with the process, and then gave us a flight to try several on (kind of like a beer flight, but with coffee and tea instead). It was a quick 20 minute stop and we were happy we did it.
Our next stop was the Monkey Forest. The only way I can best describe the Monkey Forest is a monkey version of a butterfly house. So you can we walking through the part and all of a sudden, a monkey will jump on you. There are monkeys everywhere and they’re not afraid of people. It’s like a sanctuary. It sounds unsafe, but it actually is. We read a lot about it before going, and it all seemed totally fine. We even fed some monkeys and they jumped onto us to get the bananas. I personally didn’t handle the monkey-jumping-on-me-to-eat-a-banana thing super well (I wasn’t calm at all), but my boyfriend did! He just stood there and two monkeys climbed up him to eat a banana and hangout on his arm and back. It was so much fun!
Our final stop before returning to our hotel was the rice fields. The rice fields were really cool and absolutely stunning in person. One thing to watch out for is the mandatory donations. We had to make a donation/buy tickets to go to the rice fields (which no one checked, by the way), and then were constantly asked to give additional donations for photo ops, or to cross a bridge. If it wasn’t for the constant donation-asking, we would have stayed longer, but it just seemed a little sketchy. I would say to still go and see the rice fields if you have the chance, but either be prepared for constant donation asking, or maybe sit at one of the coffee shops near the rice fields and just admire them.
On Thursday morning, we set off to the airport to catch a flight to Java (another island) to visit the Borobudur Temple. The temple is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and is absolutely stunning.
We flew from Bali to Java and then took a cab up to the temple. There were tours that we could have arranged through our hotel or online, but we found that if we just booked everything on our own without a tour guide, it would cost us more than half of what the tour price is. So that’s what we did, and we’re happy we did it that way. When we got to Java, we had to take an hour and a half taxi ride to the temple.
When we got to the temple, we actually found a tour guide when buying tickets. The tour guide was with us for an hour and explained the history and story behind the temple. It was really fun because he knew each and every story that went with each carving on the temple. After we finished the session with him, we stayed at the temple and took pictures, looked at the views some more, and even had some conversations with some students for their school projects.
After we were done at Borobudur, we debated going to the Prambanan Temple, however, with the distance it was from the Borobudur Temple, and the time it closes, we decided to just head back towards the airport. On our way to the airport, our taxi driver brought us to a place for dinner. It was absolutely incredible. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves and had some of the best food that we did on the entire trip. The area the restaurant looks out to was beautiful as well. Once we finished eating, we headed back on our way to the airport.
All and all, we were so happy we went to the temple, however we would recommend that if you do want to see the temples, you should plan to spend a day or two in Java. For us, we spent 16 hours in total in taxis, on the planes, at the airport, etc. just to spend a few hours at the temple. We decided that maybe doing a two day trip and exploring more of Java might have been a better choice, but hey, it was amazing to see the temple. Traveling is always a learning experience.
SHOPPING & RELAXATION
Near our hotel in Bali, we discovered that we were very much so in a “resort town,” meaning that there were tons of other resorts near us, and by result, a ton of shopping, spas, and restaurants. Personally, when I go on vacation, I like to relax, so being in a resort town didn’t bother me much. It was safe, and super convenient.
The shops around us were mostly pop-ups that were side-by-side. Most of them have the same items, so it’s really just a game of trying to barter and get a good price for whatever you want. The USD is very strong in Bali, so we were able to go the entire week in complete comfort with around $200. And that’s including getting hour-long massages each day.
Which brings me to my next favorite part of our trip: the massages. Usually, for about $4-$6 USD, we were able to get hour-long full-body massages. Luckily for us, all of the places we went to for massages had rooms for couples, so we were able to both get massages in the same room at the same time.
As a price comparison, the massages at the spas on the streets of Legian were about $4-$8 USD, while the massages in the hotel’s spa are about $20-$25 USD. Just something to keep in mind if you find yourself in Bali sometime soon!
Our favorite place we went to for massages was called Luna Spa. They had a ton of different massages like warm stones, Balinese, aroma therapy, aloe vera, Thai, etc. They also offer foot massages, pedicures, hair masks, and other beauty/hair treatments. You’ll find a ton of spas in Legian, so don’t worry if you try one and don’t like it—you literally have dozens of options.
FOOD & DRINKS
The last part that I’ll mention about our trip in this post is about food and drinks in Indonesia. For the most part, I loved the food! I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t eat any meat these days. I can safely say that it was never difficult for me to find vegetarian options on any of the restaurants’ menus we went to. In fact, most of the options were vegetarian and you had the choice to add meat if you want to.
My favorite dish I had was in Java after visiting the temple. It was so simple and I can’t believe I never had it before. It was a peanut sauce in a dish in the middle of the plate, with eggs, cucumbers, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, and some mixed veggies. It was incredibly refreshing and delicious.
I want to say that I remember Dan’s favorite food being soto ayam—which is basically an Indonesian chicken noodle soup. It has lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic, and a ton of other goodies in it. It smelt amazing and seemed to be an Indonesian favorite even among locals. He had it at this restaurant called Chapter 2, which was so fun. Chapter 2 had a menu full of options, great happy hour deals, and even live music (but don’t worry, it wasn’t too loud!). It seemed to be a family friendly restaurant, and we both really enjoyed it. If you come across it, I recommend stopping in for dinner or lunch.
We totally loved Bali. We’ve been back for a couple weeks now and keep joking with each other that we should just go back to Bali. It was beautiful and just a total dream vacation. We got to relax, but also sightsee, which was such a great balance. If there’s anything we regret from the trip, it’s that we didn’t stay longer. If we were to go back, I think we would definitely go for at least two weeks and get some more island-hopping in—or maybe a visit to Australia too!
If you ever get the chance to go to Bali, don’t even hesitate. Book it and prepare yourself for a once in a lifetime trip. Even though it took 22+ hours to get there, it’s worth every second of travel.
If you have any questions or need some recommendations, please let me know. I’m always happy to share my experiences, give my advice, and hear about your travels. Thank you so much for reading! I'll have a video of our trip up soon!
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