We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do on the “Island of the Gods” to help travelers plan their dream vacations now that Bali is open. The pandemic has changed how people across the globe work, live, plan for the future and travel. As nations and tourism-centric regions re-open, it’s important for travelers to know what has changes and what is the same.
After over 2 years of pandemic-induced pause, Bali is more beautiful than ever. While some places have closed, others have opened and still more have changed into something new. Let us introduce you to some of the exquisite places and incredible experiences that you can enjoy as Bali re-opens.
The reefs near Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are more beautiful now that Bali is open than in pre-Covid times. The lack of tourists visiting these picturesque islands off the coast has greatly impacted the tourism industry and local peoples’ livelihoods, but it has also given the frequently visited reefs a much-needed period of recuperation.
It’s a great time to visit popular snorkeling locations such as Crystal Bay where visitors have the chance to see Moray Eels, Angel Fish, multicolored corals, electric Mandarin Fish and even a sea turtle. For the more adventurous, a trip to Manta Point in search of the majestic Manta Rays is a must.
Samanvaya Tip – Book a day trip with Siren Diving Lembongan and let a gentle current carry you past walls of coral and brightly colored fish near Toya Pakeh Harbor.
Imagine sipping a cup of strong Bali coffee while watching the sun chase away the mist in the farm lands and then slowly rise over the ocean, Mount Abang and Mount Agung. Taking between 1.5 and 3 hours, the sunrise hike up Mount Batur is one of the most popular activities in Bali and accessible to individuals of various fitness levels.
Although Mount Batur is an active volcano, it hasn’t erupted since 2000. While domestic tourists often visit Mount Batur on the weekends, few hike the trails on the weekdays, allowing the adventurous to take in views of the entire island of Bali, Lombok and Java. Located approximately 2-2.5 hours from Seminyak and 1.5 hours from Sidemen, Mount Batur is accessible from many parts of the island.
Samanvaya Tip – After finishing the hike, visit the hot springs at Batur Natural Hot Spring or Toya Devasya. These hot spring parks offer expansive lake views, open spaces to relax and many pools. The temperature of the water varies day to day as it comes from the earth, but, no matter what, it will be a relaxing experience.
Now that Bali is open guests can take pictures in front of the famous Gates of Heaven without waiting in line for three hours in the hot sun. Before the pandemic, lines snaked around the entire complex, leading to guests feeling crowded, overwhelmed or simply frustrated.
This famous temple quickly adapted to Bali’s new normal, yet its location far from tourist hotspots, such as Seminyak or Kuta, leave it relatively empty, especially compared to pre-pandemic days. Sitting high above the surrounding jungle, visitors can watch the clouds roll by, while admiring the temple’s exquisite stone carvings and towering staircases.
Samanvaya Tip – It’s best to come earlier in the morning to avoid the heat and increase your chances of getting a picture at the gates with Mount Agung unobscured by clouds.
Ranging from Indonesia’s assorted nasi campur, spicy Bangkok-style Thai food, Japanese fusion, high-end modern Australian plates to Mediterranean sea-to-table cuisine, there is ample good food to sample and without the wait.
Pre-pandemic Bali was so busy that it was often challenging to get a table at many famous restaurants without serious planning. However, as tourist numbers still remain low, many restaurants are uncrowded. For those seeking a night of sumptuous luxury, we recommend booking a seating for one of the tasting menus at Aperitif and enjoying a 1920s inspired cocktail at the bar.
For those craving a kick of spice, Seeds Eatery offers authentic Thai dishes, but is currently popular mostly with domestic tourists. Other restaurants guaranteed to tantalize your tastebuds include Sensorium, Cabanon and Nook.
Samanvaya Tip – Reserve a table at Asri Dining and sample our nasi campur, a delicious Balinese specialty comprising a scoop of rice topped with various curries, stewed meat dishes, seasoned vegetables, tempeh and, of course, spicy sambal.
Many local artists and craftsmen suffered greatly during the pandemic due to lack of business, but now that Bali is open visitors have the chance to learn a skill or artform while on holiday.
There are many classes on offer for adults and children, including batik printing, eco-dyeing using native plants, pottery, Latin dance (salsa, bachata, kizomba and zouk), Balinese cooking, macrame and weaving, traditional Balinese dance, acrylic painting and silversmithing.
Taking a class while in Bali is a great way to learn something new, while supporting local artists who contribute so greatly to Bali’s modern and traditional cultures.
Samanvaya Tip – While visiting Sidemen, book a silver jewelry making class with Master Agung at Agung Silver. Guests come from all over the world to make rings, earrings and necklaces, while learning about Balinese culture in Master Agung’s homey studio.
While many beach clubs closed during the pandemic, now that Bali is open sun-seekers can enjoy incredible views of Bali’s white sand beaches, mouth-watering seafood plates, cool sea breezes and pools that beg to be jumped into on hot afternoons.
In order to encourage guests to visit, many beach clubs offer lower minimum spends than during pre-pandemic days and excellent promotions. For those seeking an elegant “Robinson Crusoe” feel, La Brisa in Canggu checks all the boxes, featuring treehouse cabanas, driftwood-inspired furnishings and sea glass blue accents.
Located on the rugged cliffs of Uluwatu, El Kabron is an intimate beach club, combining Mediterranean chic, Spanish culinary delights and Bali’s endless sunsets. Regardless of which beach club you choose, you will not be disappointed.
Even though Bali is open, many resorts and luxury accommodations remain uncrowded, providing guests the chance to experience incredible stays without the crush. While there are many 5-star resorts, quirky accommodations and wild treehouses, staying in a Balinese private pool villa is a truly luxurious experience and best enjoyed by two.
Couples seeking a romantic escape into the jungle can indulge in a tropical flower bath, while listening to birds and the rush of the breeze though the tree branches. Those who crave the sea can swim in complete privacy with the scent of salt on the wind and the soft crash of waves below.
Samanvaya Tip – Enjoy panoramic sunset views of the Sidemen Valley from the comfort of a private plunge pool or sink into a warm bath in a luxurious copper bathtub at Rice Barn Private Pool Villa.
Experience breathtaking views of Leke Leke Waterfall, one of the most famous and dramatic waterfalls in Bali, without pushing through the crowds. Often featured on travel brochures and famous among Instagram aficionados, Leke Leke Waterfall is as beautiful as its pictures proclaim.
After following a well-maintained 3-kilometer path, lined with weaving vines and lush ferns, visitors will be rewarded by a thin yet impressive waterfall that plummets into a shallow pool. Instead of waiting for lines of people to take pictures, guests can enjoy the area’s natural beauty on their own time.
For those traveling to Munduk or Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Bali’s most famous lakeside temple, visiting Leke Leke Waterfall is an easy stop on the way.
Samanvaya Tip – We highly recommend taking mosquito spray because even during the day the pesky insects can be vicious.
Campuhan Ridge Walk is the most famous tourist destination in Ubud and available to International visitors again now that Bali is open. Although the walk is only 2 kilometers, hikers can extend their adventure by walking the sleepy village roads or along trails through the rice fields.
Elevated above the surrounding jungle and separated by two rushing rivers, the Campuhan Ridge Walk provides expansive views of Ubud, a winding path through the grasses and a cool breeze that rustles the palm fronds. Before the pandemic, the ridge walk was so popular it was often difficult to walk the trail because of all the people, but all that changed seemingly over night. As Bali slowly begins to open, lucky visitors can experience this beautiful place in all its natural glory.
Samanvaya Tip – We recommend bringing a headlamp so you can watch dusk unfold from the ridge walk and then walk back to your car or motorbike safely.
Located in North Bali, Lovina has been forgotten for much of the pandemic, but now that Bali is open this peaceful fishing region cannot be missed. While many fishermen complain that the dolphins steal the mackerel from their nets, fishermen in Lovina have learned to live with these clever mammals by offering dolphin watching expeditions and following the pods to schools of fish.
Imagine wearing a snorkeling mask as your boat driver slowly pulls you through the water, giving you the chance to see dolphins swimming and hunting fish below without disturbing these magnificent creatures. With fewer boats in the waters, visitors report seeing many more dolphins in their natural habitat.
Samanvaya Tip – If you want to increase your chances of being alone on the water, ask your boat driver to begin the tour at 10:00am.
These places are a few of the many gems that can be found in Bali and that you can experience in a new way now that Bali is open. From towering volcanoes to peaceful lagoons to rugged cliffs standing against the pounding waves, Bali will take your breath away. We sincerely welcome you to beautiful Bali and hope you enjoy all that “the Island of the Gods” has to offer.
For more information about off-the-beaten-path Sidemen and Samanvaya Adults Only Resort and Spa as well as our exclusive private pool villas, please follow the link provided: Samanvaya Resort.
Sampai jumpa (see you)!
BY EVA JOHNSTONE