Bali: beaches, spas, nightlife and Shahrukh Khan

For me, getting to Bali was a traveler’s delight. Nothing could beat travel fatigue better than friendly, smiling Balinese faces at Customs and Immigration at Denpasar airport and the ‘Visa on Arrival’ stamped on my passport for 10 USD in 15 minutes flat!

I had heard that Bali was an island of ancient temples, dances and rituals; with more than 95 percent of the 3 million people practicing a form of Hinduism. But nothing prepared me for my taxi driver’s recital of ‘Gayatri Mantra’, followed by a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai song at the same time. I was blown away by the Bollywood craze in this Far Eastern city, so much so that I was immediately labeled ‘from the country of Shah Rukh Khan’ by all the taxi drivers and locals I met.

Upon arrival at the airport, most tourists head straight for the beach areas of Kuta, Sanur, Jimbaran or Nusa Dua. I chose Kuta simply because it is still possibly the center of nightlife along with a wide variety of shops, boutiques and galleries. What more could ask!

Bali offers a wide selection of hotels for all budgets, from simple budget accommodation for backpackers to five-star hotels with indulgent spas for those seeking pure luxury. I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, a stone’s throw from Kuta Beach.

At sunset, Kuta Beach comes alive, with people wanting to enjoy the stunning scenery. Crowds of tourists, locals selling colorful sarongs and batiks and a Balinese dance performance somewhere on the endless expanse of beach… and if you want to dance until the wee hours, you won’t be disappointed: the pubs in Kuta are amazing. , with a wide range of pubs and clubs that offer a lively nightlife.

The best way to enjoy Kuta is simply by asking the locals, who are very friendly and always willing to help you. I was lucky enough to have a very successful Indian friend in Indonesia, Kishore Pridhnani, who along with his wife Radha took me on a night tour of all the fancy places in Kuta. The one that left a lasting impression on my mind was Ku De Ta, an elegant restaurant overlooking the beach. I loved the atmosphere in the evening and would recommend this restaurant to anyone.

However, if kick-back and relaxation is your kind of vacation, head to the southern peninsula, with world-class self-contained luxury hotels located on quiet stretches of Sanur and Nusa Dua beach, as well as Jimbaran Bay. (which is also very popular for its very reasonable seafood) These white sand beaches dotted with thousands of mangrove and coconut palms and protected by coral reefs, create an ideal retreat for honeymooners or those who prefer solitude.

To take a break from the hustle and bustle of Kuta, I headed to Ubud, which I must say has retained the feel of a cozy village retreat, despite a growing tourist industry. Ubud is the arts and crafts capital of Bali, so as well as streets lined with shops and workshops specializing in traditional crafts, there are a number of different art galleries and museums to visit.

The next I headed for a day cruise from Benoa port that took me to Lembongan Island, a popular spot for surfers and divers. (at about $60 and up for the day cruise including lunch, I think it’s worth a visit). Arriving at the white sand beaches of Lembongan Bay, you can take guided snorkeling tours and glass-bottom boat cruises or simply walk among the native Balinese villages.

If you want to take a break from the beach scene, I suggest a trip to the cool mountains of Kintamani with its verdant rice fields, placid Lake Batur resting in a huge crater, and the impressive Gunung Batur volcano dominating the landscape. Nights tend to be cooler, so pack a warm sweater or shawl and make sure you have a camera to capture the spectacular view of Mount Batur.

Bali is one of the spa capitals of the world where you can enjoy a spa treatment at very reasonable prices. If you want to pamper yourself, you can try an elaborate menu of lulur massages, rice paste scrubs, flower petal aroma baths and indulgent cream baths. I suggest you check out some of the local spas that include spa therapies in their daily vacation schedule. And don’t forget the traditional herbal and root drinks: ‘jamu’, a local Balinese remedy for fatigue, headaches, bone pain or chills.

For the adventurous and sporty, Bali offers a plethora of adrenaline-pumping water sports, both above and below the water. Surfing, diving, banana boats, snorkeling, parasailing, jet skiing, bungee jumping, Bali offers it all.

Try rafting on the Ayung River in the middle of a wild tropical forest. Ride down the mighty Ayung River as it weaves its way through numerous hairpin bends and swirling rapids. A full day program would only set you back around $35 and up and I found the experience completely exhilarating.

For those who love the underwater world and have always wanted to dive, there is spectacular diving and snorkeling in the pristine coral reefs around the island, with the most amazing and colorful underwater life. There are even beginner courses taught by qualified professional instructors for hobbyists (you can take a one-day course for less than $100)

And while you’re on the beach enjoying the water sports, enjoy the locals cajoling you into trying your hand at braiding your hair, getting a tattoo, or even enjoying a relaxing massage.

If you’re traveling with your children, be sure to take them to Waterboom Park. My kids and I enjoyed a day of water slides and pools of all sizes with restaurants and cafes close at hand…good family fun for kids of all ages!

When you feel like venturing out to eat, there are many breezy bamboo cafes serving authentic Balinese food, as well as a range of sumptuous international cuisine. But for those missing Indian food, I suggest trying a delicious meal at Queen’s Tandoor in Seminyak, where owners Puneet and Neeta Malhotra go out of their way to pamper you with personalized attention.

Another great hobby here is shopping!

For those who don’t want to stray too far from the beach, Sanur, Kuta and Ubud have more than enough to appease any shopper, from sarongs and sandals to wooden statues, stone carvings and iron and bronze work. But if you are interested in shopping, you can buy brand name items in malls like Mahatari or also look for Brand Clothing Factory Sales.

You’ll find the ultimate in outdoor shopping in South Bali, where traditional Asian-style shopping still thrives. Take a look at local painting styles. I suggest that you always enter at less than a third of the price and even walk away, until you get the price you want. .

And before you leave Bali, don’t forget to buy their cold sauce called Sambal (it’s unique and you can even pick it up at the Bali airport duty free shop).

From locals raving about Shah Rukh Khan to the colorful Balinese-Hindu culture, this tropical paradise attracts Indians not only for its natural lusciousness but more importantly for its culture and the warmth of the Balinese people.

With Bali becoming more accessible and affordable, with cheap extension packages from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and great deals from Garuda Indonesia Airlines that have daily flights connecting the island for as low as USD 160 for a return ticket, I would definitely recommend this island getaway. as your next travel itinerary!

Copyright (C) Manoj Gursahani

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