One Day in Bali
"When you get there...you feel something final. There is an arrival.”
Is Bali spoiled? Is it yet another example of a tropical island turned into Times Square? Westerners have called Bali a lost Eden since 1930, but record-setting years for foreign tourist arrivals –nine million plus in 2015 and 2016 –makes you wonder if Eden is in fact lost forever.
Don't worry... it's not. Eden is just about having the right travel itinerary.
D.H. Lawrence said that certain places exert power and exude a kind of otherworldly significance.
"When you get there,” said Lawrence, “you feel something final. There is an arrival.”
With its centuries-old Hindu temples, radiant green rice fields, and wild, uninterrupted beaches, Bali exudes that kind of otherworldly significance. Experiencing the wonder of one day in Bali might require dodging a few motorbikes and avoiding beaches colonized by behemoth resorts. But, if you have one day in Bali, skip tourist traps such as Ubad, Kuta and Seminayak. Head to where the charm and mellow bliss of Old Bali is alive and well.
It’s often said that Bali, a place famous for its beaches, has no great beaches. If you’re looking for the sort of soft-sand white beaches that dot the Caribbean, most of the ones in Bali been have claimed by hotels, deckchairs and umbrellas. But Bali offers something different. It offers wild, raw beaches that have spectacular views of temples, emerald terraced rice paddies, and volcanic rock headlands.
Bali is located on the Ring of Fire. Many of its "less traveled” beaches are streaked with silver, hum with deep gray hues, or feature black volcanic sand (Pantai Kelating, Rambut Siwi). Bali has some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world, so put down the paperback and grab a pair of goggles.
Eat at Roadside Food Stands
When you're on vacation in Bali, forget about spending a fortune at one of the island's trendy Asian-French fusion restaurants. The real flavors of Bali are found at its many street-side food vendors –known as warungs.
Many of these no-frills cafes are nothing more than a roadside counter or a modest shack built from rattan and corrugated metal. They offer traditional dishes like roast pig (babi guling), sashimi, fish satay, and spicy fried rice and chicken. Order the babi guling, which was celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s favorite culinary experience in an episode of No Reservations, and you not only get a heaping pile of pork parts, rice, veggies, spicy sauce, and crispy pig skin, but you get it all for the deliciously low price of $3-$5.
Bali is where backpacking Siddharthas go on pilgrimages of spiritual enlightenment. It's also where surfers prowl the beaches in search of the perfect wave ("vaya con dios, brah"). And there’s no better place to capture that mystical, laid-back, bohemian vibe than Canggu. This is where you go to Eat, Pray, Love, and chill.
Wake up early to beat the heat, order a naga bowl (a refreshing mix of tropical fruit, shredded coconut, goji berries, bee pollen, chia seeds and granola) at Betelnut Cafe, and then head over to Hotel Tugu to view some art.
Opened by Javanese art collector Anhar Setjadibrata in 1998, Hotel Tugu features a vast showcase of Indonesian fine art and cultural antiquities. It also has a world-class restaurant, cocktail bar, and spa.
At the end of the day, have a seat at one of the communal tables at Old Man’s, a popular beachside bar, order a cold Bintang beer, turn to one of the many Australian expats, local fishermen, or shaggy-haired surfers and make a witty remark about the bar and Ernest Hemingway’s TheOld Man and the Sea.
If you only have one day in Bali, live a little.