The very name Bali evokes a vision of paradise – of bountiful beaches, virgin rainforests and romantic temples in scenic spots. This five-day round-trip from Denspasar Airport explores every corner of the island, taking you to sights and attractions such as Klungkung Palace, the Goa Lawah Bat Cave, the Tirta Gangga Water Palace and the Mother Temple of Besakih as well as a beguiling barong and kris dance. Throughout your odyssey, the generous and friendly Balinese people will ensure you will always hold a special place in your heart for them and their beautiful island.
The face of Bali: Ubud’s art market is the place to go to for a Barong mask – just remember to barter with the stall holders
Babi guling: One of Bali’s signature dishes has to be tasted to be believed – roast suckling pig stuffed with spices and served with rice and vegetables
Massage: Make the most of your downtime with a traditional Balinese massage, which involves lots of long, gentle strokes, stretching and acupressure
Batubulan: Witness a colourful and exciting barong and kris dance performance
Arts and crafts: Admire the famous wood carvings of Mas and the dazzling silverware of Celuk
Klungkung kingdom: Visit the ruins of the former royal palace and the famous ‘Bat Cave’ of Goa Lawah
Candidasa: Visit the wonderful Water Palace of Tirta Gangga, which is a holy site for Balinese Hindus
Volcanic heaven: Behold the smouldering beauty of the Batur and Agung volcanos, with the latter lurking menacingly over the magnificent Mother Temple of Besakih
Lovina: Enjoy an early morning boat ride in the Bali Sea to observe playful dolphins frolicking in the water
Banjar temple: Cleanse the soul in the hot springs of the largest Buddhist temple in Bali
Upon arrival in Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, your guide will be ready to meet you. You will be taken to your hotel to relax and rest after your trip. During the transfer, your guide will brief you on the programme and pick up time the following morning.
After breakfast at the hotel, your guide will pick you up from the lobby at a pre-arranged time. Head straight to the village of Batubulan to watch the colourful and exciting barong and kris dance, performed by locals dressed in impressive costumes. This traditional Balinese dance tells the story of the eternal fight between good and evil. It is based on a Hindu epic from the Mahabrata story where Barong (a mythological animal) represents a good spirit and Rangda (a mythological monster) represents an evil one. In Balinese culture, it is all about the balance between good and evil. After the performance, continue to Celuk, which is renowned for the quality of its gold and silverware in particular, and Mas to admire its most famous product, wood carvings. The ‘Mas style’ has been praised for encapsulating the synergy between humanism and naturalism. Return to Ubud, which is without doubt Bali’s pre-eminent cultural centre and has been a colony for artists from all over the world for more than half a century. Visit the galleries of prominent Balinese, Indonesian and European artists. There will also be ample time to browse around the local art market and shops.
Free morning to relax after breakfast at the hotel with pick-up at midday, heading east to Klungkung. This region was considered the most powerful kingdom in Bali before the Dutch colonisation and the Klungkung Royal Palace in the capital, Semarapura – now mostly in ruins as a result of the Dutch conquest – is testament to that golden age. Visit the complex and admire the Kerta Gosa pavilion, where justice was dispensed, is the best preserved section. Its ceiling features illustrations portraying visions of heaven and hell. Continue to the traditional fishing village of Kusamba to visit the eerie ‘Bat Cave’ of Goa Lawah temple. The cave’s walls are thick with thousands of free-tailed bats, who, according to legend, are devoured by the mythological serpent Basuki, which resides deep in the cave. The views over the Badung Strait and, weather permitting, the island of Nusa Penida are another attraction. Proceed to Tenganan, a village inhabited by the Bali Aga people, the remnants of the original inhabitants of the island who did not assimilate following the Javanese Hindu conquest in the 14th century. To this day, the Bali Aga have preserved their culture and speak isolated dialects despite totalling just a few thousands. Until relatively recently, the Bali Aga lived primitively in remote areas and with little contact with the outside world. Take to the road again for the brief drive to Candidasa for check-in.
Check out after breakfast at the hotel, heading to Lovina in the north coast. The first stop is at the famous Tirta Gangga Water Palace. The royal bathing pools of the palace are believed to be pure and sacred, and to stroll among the beautifully laid out ponds and gardens is a soothing experience. The name means ‘water from the Ganges’, which is the holiest river in Hinduism, thus giving an indication of the palace’s importance to the locals. Continue through the remote hamlets of Bebandem and Selat, which lie amid the rice terraces of a volcanic range, towards the slopes of the Agung volcano, where the Pura Besakih temple, the largest and holiest Hindu temple in Bali, is located. It is popularly known as the Mother Temple, and you will be able to appreciate just why when you stand in its shadow of this eight-century-old complex. There are 22 different temples on layered ridges, with each ascension offering ever-more magnificent views of the valley below. This is a truly majestic spiritual experience. Proceed to Kintamani in the centre of the island to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Batur volcano and the crater lake below before arriving in the early evening at Lovina and its black lava beaches.
Rise early to head out into the Bali Sea aboard a traditional fishing outrigger for dolphin watching before returning to the hotel for breakfast and check out. Depart Lovina, stopping just outside the resort to visit the hot springs and brahma Vihara Temple at Banjar, which is the largest Buddhist temple in Bali. They are located on a hill overlooking Lovina beach and the sulphuric waters average temperatures of 37C. Continue the journey southwards through the picturesque rice paddies of Papuan before reaching Denpasar Airport for your onward flight or for drop off at a hotel. Breakfast included.