When I thought of Bali it immediately screamed ‘honeymoon destination’ to me. Am I the only one who thought this? A few people I know had gone there on their honeymoons and raved about cocktail filled coconuts, romantic resorts and unspoilt beaches with white sand and every one of them had a photo with a frangipani flower tucked behind their ear. Of course, I was jealous. Sticking bits of foliage in my hair and drinking fruity drinks on the beach is kinda my thing. Bali became relegated to my list of mythical places reserved for those with a significant other. Until I realised that’s baloney and I will jolly well visit a ‘honeymoon destination’ on my own if I want to. So, I did.
Let me shatter the honeymoon illusion for you right now. Bali is an equal opportunity holiday hotspot. I am sure you can make Bali as secluded and romantic as you’d like but you don’t need an ‘other’ to soak up what Bali has to offer. I made the most of my week there. That meant beach time, yoga class, monkeys, hiking, waterfalls, UNESCO sites, culture, monkeys, lots of Indonesian food, coconut cocktails, beach clubs, sunsets, fruit smoothies, monkeys. You get the picture. And all of this without a lad on my arm. So buy that ticket, book that villa and print my 10 Single Girl Things To Do In Bali for an ab fab trip for one.
1: Beach Clubs
To be honest, once I arrived I expected to be bombarded with reminders that I was single but that’s not the case. The south-west side of the island is swamped with Australian holiday makers. Kuta to the Aussies is what the Canary Islands is to Irish people, it seems. Lots of themed bars, cocktail deals, holiday tat and souvenirs for sale. You can shop till you drop in the upmarket Seminyak and you, your Midori bikini and pineapple shaped pool floatie can relax the day away in any number of exclusive beach clubs. Might I recommend Potato Head Beach Club? Partly because it’s called Potato Head (!) and partly because it was so much fun.
Pool, beach, chilled music, table service for your fruity drinks fix, a tasty menu of modern nibbles including grilled corn on the cob with cashew nut butter to drizzle over it, pizzas, falafel pitas, burgers, fish dishes, and lobster rolls. What more could you want?
Hmm, well maybe less splashing from the kids in the pool. There is a minimum spend of 300k Indonesian rupiah but lunch and a few drinks will cover that easily.
Top Tip 1: Get.there.early. I know it’s a pain getting up early on your holidays but it is worth it when you score a day bed or lawn lounger. The trick is to get there at least by 10am. Potato Head opens at 11 but I arrived at 10:30 and the poolside day beds were gone. I scored a lawn lounger though, which is rugs and umbrellas on the grassy area which was fine too. Yes, it is pricier than your average bar and it’s not an everyday activity but if you want to #treatyoself roll on down to Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak. Or any number of the clubs dotted along the Seminyak stretch of the beach.
Top tip 2: For fab photo ops my friend went to the W Hotel and said that the tree-lined entrance alone is Instaworthy. They have secluded gardens with chairs perfect for chilling out in or impromptu photo shoots. Go during the day when most people are at the beach or pool and you will have the gardens to yourself.
2: Sunset Traditional Dances
Get your culture fix by checking out some of the traditional Balinese dance shows. Petitenget has dinner theatre style shows and the beautiful, entrancing way these dancers move their hands, and bodies to the music will make you realise how uncoordinated you are and how you should really go back to yoga and sign up for some flexibility workshops. Uluwatu has the traditional, Kecak fire dance at sunset and tickets cost about €8/ 100,000 IDR. Entrance fee for the temple in Uluwatu is 20,000 IDR and the show lasts about an hour. Watch out for monkeys though. They get snatchy. You can get a taxi from your hotel or villa to Uluwatu as it is a popular tourist spot so plenty of other people will be going there too. It starts around 6pm and tickets can be bought form the temple from 4/5pm.
Time to move on to Ubud.
You can Uber a ride from Seminyak to Ubud for about 120k IDR (you can hire a driver but there are so many to choose from that’s up to you). Any taxi driver will offer to be a driver but if you need any recommendations do drop me an email and I can put you in touch with some drivers who won’t charge the earth!
Top tip: Uber is not met with the most positive of receptions in Bali, especially in Ubud. There are signs all over Seminyak and Legian telling tourists not to support Uber or Grab taxi apps and to instead opt for the official taxis. Uber is cheaper and you do get to eliminate the ‘am I being ripped off?’ element but you may be greeted with hassle from locals and your driver may have to excuse you from his car as he is chased from the area. In Ubud it was an absolute no from what I could gather.
I heard that Ubud is closer to the real Bali than the Kuta- Canggu beach stretch. It is still thronged with tourists but they are a different breed to the Kuta crowd. The vibe is more chilled. Everyone (seemed to be) in bed by a reasonable hour and far more focused on body, mind and soul health. It was also a little cloudier in Ubud so that curtailed the sunbathing, somewhat. Ubud is where I indulged in massages and mani/pedis (Carla’s), yoga classes (at the Yoga Barn), clean vegan eating at Down to Earth Café and Clear Café and getting up at dawn o’ clock to see the sights.
Let me give you the top cultural sights I saw and you can choose how to fill your itinerary. But be aware not to fall into the ‘health at any cost’ traps that some places peddle in Ubud. No need for some of the wholly suspicious practices some people are promoting and check the ingredients in your smoothies. Have a look at my Insta friend Kait’s post on some suspicious ‘health’ practices she noted in Ubud.
3: Mount Batur sunrise hike
This was booked a day in advance with one eye on the weather. Sunrise hikes are not usually my thing but when in Bali, amirite? It was cloudy that morning but I didn’t notice because it was 2 A.M and when you hike through the clouds in the dark, do you even care? Despite the fact that I have done 4 hikes in the past year, I maintain my non-hiker status. And this was totally doable for a non-hiker like me. This hike is advertised as moderately difficult. I would upgrade that to ‘most definitely’ moderately difficult. Check out my post for more details about the hike.
I was in a private tour group of 5 with an amazing human goat guide called Madé. He really helped us out and encouraged us as we climbed and held hands when it got slippy and was an all-round ledgepants. If you are lucky enough to get him as your guide, you’re in safe hands. Mount Batur hikes are strictly guided, so no solo efforts allowed (mountain politics, I think). Pick up from accommodation in Ubud is at 2:30 a.m and it is about 1hour and 15 mins drive. The guides meet you and your driver in the carpark where there are toilets and a snack shop. We were all given torches and started our hike about 3:15am. It takes around 2 hours to reach the summit and our group’s fitness levels were varied. It’s a beautiful sight as you reach a few hundred metres and look back at the glowing trail of hikers coming up behind you. We hiked through the clouds and while the terrain is flattish and grassy at the start it gets rocky, steep, shaley and slippy towards the top. You need to clamber over rocks and watch your footing. Don’t think about coming back down just yet. I did and it made me a little nervy. The whole hiking ordeal is worth it for those beautiful summit views. There is the option to stop at a viewpoint about 15 mins from the top if you feel you can’t go on. You will still get a good sunrise view but the tippity top is why you signed up for this so dig deep and finish that last climb.
What to bring: (I wish I had known this before I went)
- Decent hiking shoes or runners
- Bring a backpack for your camera and water (you will need both hands free to climb)
- Layer up. Wear wicking active gear. I hiked in running leggings and a running tank top and stuffed my hoodie back into my bag because the hike up is sweaty work
- Bring a change of top, you will sweat buckets and once you get to the summit it is cold.
- Bring a hat and fleecey neck warmer for the top or scarf or light but warm outer layer.
- Bring a snack for the hike, hiking is hungry work. (the summit breakfast is two boiled eggs, fruit and white bread so if that isn’t your bag, come prepared)
Coming back down is a little crazy. and via a tarmac road half way down so once you make it past the gritty, slippy shale you are home free. If you want to give yourself a physical challenge I would most definitely urge you to sign up. It is a great way to start the day and the feeling of accomplishment after scaling 1717m at dawn activates all your #adventurebod instincts! We paid 450K IDR pp including pick up, guide and breakfast (which is about €28 pp)
4: Tegenungan Waterfall
(plus chuck a few other temples in on the drive back)
This is another ‘get there early’ location. If you want to beat the crowds arrive between 9-10:30. I was there around 11am and it was busy. It just means your Insta photos will require a little patience (or Photoshop to take out the crowds hogging the waterfall in edits). The waterfall is open for visitors from 8am-7pm and an entry fee of 10k IDR is expected at the car park. This is about a 20-minute drive from Ubud (hire a driver for the day but if you are a motorbike/scooter fan jump on one and drive yourself). Swimming at the foot of a waterfall is a new one for me and one you should certainly try. Pop your stuff in a backpack and stash it by the rocks and dive in! There are lots of obliging folks around to take a photo for you if you don’t fancy running your own photo shoot, although there will be PLENTY of girls doing that there too! I also tagged on Tirta Empul Water Temple (bring a towel, a spare sarong and tee if you want to join in the water ritual for yourself) and Goa Gajah Elephant cave for the full cultural whack. Donations of 10-15k IDR are expected at all of the temples and bring a sarong unless you fancy being hounded to buy one by stall owners at the entrance. (Goa Gajah has them for free to borrow btw).
5: Yoga class at the Yoga Barn
Bali is known for its zen vibe and after all the active hikes and exercise, why not treat your body to a yoga class at the Yoga Barn. This beautiful, wooden outdoors-indoors space offers classes for general levels, unless indicated (Level 1 (All Levels/Beginner), Level 1/2 (Intermediate) or Level 2 (Advanced). Classes fill up quickly so you need to register 30 minutes before class, first come first served and there is a coffee shop/café in the Barn for treats afterward. (theyogabarn.com) If yoga isn’t your thing then fear not. Ubud has plenty of pamper pads about to cater for your massage, pedi and mani needs. I preferred Indonesian massage to Thai, to be honest so stockup on your massage fix before you leave.
6: Indulge your inner foodie in Ubud’s many cafes.
Smoothie bowls, dragon bowls, raw and vegan culinary treats all await you. Everyone has their favourite restaurants and cafés from their travels. And I am sure you will be bombarded by suggestions by friends who have been. BUT if you add no other place from my list than this then my work here is done. Clear Café (open 8am-11pm) is one of the prettiest restaurants I have even been in. Their extensive menu has dishes to suit every taste and while you indulge in a raw chocolate torte watch the koi swim in the pool or crazies slide down the fireman’s pole from the first floor. Whatever you do soak up the atmosphere and sleek, decorative interior while you slurp your spirulina smoothie. Also, check out Earth Café (@earthcafebali on Instagram) and commence the drooling…now. Their vegan and healthy eating dishes are so dang tasty you won’t even miss meat. I promise you. They have falafel and hummus plates and vegan tacos and clean living smoothies. You get the picture. Also how about Miro’s Garden or Hujan Locale for dinner. It’s a holiday for your mouth too, after all.
7: Gorge Swing
Children have playgrounds and adults have gorge swings. Bali Swing allows you to swing over the gorge and indulge your inner child for thirty minutes and a fee. Obvs. There is an entry fee just to walk into the place. Messers. And your swing time costs
$20 $35 plus $10 entry fee. There are three swings to choose from and all are available to you to try out during your visit. I got there about 10am and had no wait but by 10:30 when I was leaving there was already a group of about 10 waiting. Edit: Since I went in July 2017 the entrance fee has gone up and is now $35 and a $10 entrance fee. They have added more Instagram photo op spots by the sounds of it; more nests, and a butterfly garden as well as a rocky outcrop. I’m not sure it’s worth $35 if I am honest but it is absolutely made for Insta and these guys are no fools. They know what they are doing.
Top tip: Get there early if you want your photos to be unhurried. I’ve included the address because some taxi drivers weren’t aware exactly where it was since it was new. Might I suggest, ladies, that you wear a bright colour and a flowy skirt or dress to maximise your photos. Greens and neutrals blend into the surrounds in your photo and you want to stand out. The things we do for the Gram, eh!
(Google Bali Swing and watch out for the road signs, it’s not far from the water-rafting base. Address here BALI SWING Jl. Dewi Saraswati, 80352 Bongkasa Pertiwi, Kapubaten Bandung, Bali)
8: Campuhan Ridge walk
Yip, this was another early riser activity, cos I clearly hated my sleep on this trip. Early o’ clock means you get to beat the crowds and feel like you are walking the ridge with just the sweeping hills for company, and maybe the odd local and his cow, plus the heat isn’t too cray at 7am. Start at the Warwick IBAH luxury villas and follow the signs to the ridge walk. Enjoy greenery and jungle and rice fields and coconut trees along the paved path. You will even get to tag in another beautiful Balinese temple, Pura Gunung Lebah Temple. Make sure to bring your camera and lash on the sun cream because you are exposed to the sun on the walk. I walked about 4km to the top and back. Once the road turns to tarmac I turned around so I can’t tell you what’s beyond that but the road isn’t as picturesque and it’s all about the views. There are cafes along the route if you fancy a coconut or coffee on your way. This link gives you more detail and photos on my walk.
9: Pura Lempuyang – Heaven’s Gate
So this may not be everyone’s cup of tea simply because it’s an early wake up for a 2 hour drive and you may not want to stay there too long. I had hired a driver that day for 850k IDR and definitely slept in the car. The reason for the trek is the view from the second temple. Aptly named the Gateway to Heaven/ Heaven’s Gate this stunning view provides for fantastic photos. I got up at 4:30am to make the drive for sunrise at 6am. Google maps says it takes 2 hours but at that hour it takes less, since few others are on the road at that time. My driver was not a big fan of monkeys and warned that at the top temple there were aggressive monkeys and that I should be careful. The monkeys have been known to attack visitors because they are looking for food and many locals bring offerings containing food. Ergo humans = food. You do need to pay an entry donation between 10-20k IDR and you must wear a sarong irrespective of the fact that you may be wearing long trousers or a maxi dress. Heads up. If you fancy making the most of the long drive you can hike up to see all seven temples but the monkey warning was enough to turn me off and temple number 2 was far enough. On a clear day you are rewarded with sunrise and a view of the mountains through the gateway but even when it is shrouded in clouds this impressive sight is worth the visit.
10: Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Last but certainly not least are the stunning rice terraces at Tegalalang. UNESCO says that the entire rice terrace watering system in Bali is heritage site worthy so I popped along to one of the more famous ones, at sunset, to catch the light, soak in the views and sweat like a lunatic, because I clearly haven’t done enough of that on this trip. Rice plays a very important role in Balinese culture, not only is it a food but cultivating rice apparently creates a harmonious relationship with the gods. While it is free to enter you do need to pay a ‘donation’ to cross the bridges in the terraces and if you want to take a photo of any of the farmers at work they suggest a fee for that too. Do watch out because the path around the terraces is narrow and people are going in all directions. Watch your footing so you don’t end up like that one lad I saw who had slipped and ended up ankle deep in mud but still had to walk around the terraces and get in his taxi home.
Bali has a million and one things to see and do and I know I only listed a few but if it helps you to narrow down the list and hit some of the must-sees on your trip then (in Moana and The Rock style) ‘You’re Welcome’! And not once do you need to feel like you are an infiltrator on a honeymoon island. You aren’t!