Must Visit Attractions in Bali

Are you flying from Hong Kong to Bali? Have you planned your trip yet? Bali is Indonesia’s main tourist destination, a popular island destination rich in natural beauty, culture and history. It is famous for its highly developed arts, dance, sculptures, leather, music and metalwork. The island’s essence is captured in this list of must visit attractions that anyone would enjoy.

1. Ubud Monkey Forest

Ubud Monkey Forest (Mandala Suci Wenara Wana), is in fact a sanctuary and natural habitat of the Balinese long-tailed monkey, named Macaca fascicularis. It is a temple, lush forest and home to about 1049 monkeys. There is no fence in the forest and monkeys are allowed to roam freely. The natural charm, fresh cool air drawn tourists all over the world and enjoy the company of playful monkeys throughout the visit.

2. Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple is nestled at the edge of a cliff high above the sea. It has more cultural value than what you can see. Tourists can learn local culture and customs in one visit. Remember you should respect the local culture – bring some clothes to cover your shoulders and knees if you are a woman; also keep your personal stuff safe as monkeys here are notorious for stealing items! If you are going to the Uluwatu Temple, I recommend arriving just before sunset, find a spot on the far right side of the temple on the wall and get ready for the best sunset of your life.

3. Seminyak

Seminyak is one of the most touristy areas of Bali. Tourists can find everything from small and humble traditional shops to high-end designer boutiques. Seminyak is also famous for its busy and stunning beach, and also a good place if you are a beginner at surfing. The sea can get busy easily but the beach is so big there is plenty of space for everyone to catch their wave. After surfing, sit down at one of the vibrant beach bars, enjoy food and drinks while listening to live music and watching the sunset over the beach.

4. Tegalalang Rice Terraces

Bali is famous for its natural beauties and the terraced rice fields in Tegalalang is one of the most famous and iconic sights you should not miss. It offers tourists a splendid sight of nature and the local’s valuable culture and customs. The rice field is just a short 20-minute drive from Ubud. There is no entry cost but you will find local farmers who ask for a small donation to protect the environment and keep their farm running. Visit in the morning to avoid the crowd, breathe fresh air and explore the location and its neighbourhoods.

5. Besakih Temple

Besakih Temple is also known as the ‘Mother Temple of Bali’. It is not just one temple but more like a complex of temples, set on the slopes of Mount Agung. The complex comprises at least 86 temples but some of them are closed to the public for private occasions. The main temple is called Pura Penataran Agung (the Great Temple of State). Many locals and worshippers actively participate in rituals every day. Each year, numerous religious ceremonies or celebrations are hosted here and attended by Hindu devotees all over the island. This temple is however a bit far from other points of interest, so it may take you some time to get there.

6. Mount Batur

Mount Batur is an active volcano that last erupted in 2000. It is also one of the island’s sacred sites. To best appreciate Mount Batur, sign up for an early morning trek tour, as you will need a registered coach to summit the peak. Excursions usually depart 2 or 3 am in the morning and climbers will then make the 2-hour journey to the top of the volcano while it is still dark. This looks like a tiring activity but your effort will pay off with amazing sunrise views of Mount Agung and the surrounding mountains.

7. Munduk Village

Munduk is a tiny town in northern Bali. It is a great place to visit if you would like some fresh cool air, green environment and charming natural attractions away from the bustling Ubud. The waterfalls and hills in Munduk are world-class, making the village one of the most popular trekking destinations in Bali. It was also the Dutch’s favourite place to retreat during the colonial era, the historic episode decorates the location with European architecture and historical buildings.

8. Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach may not be the best beach in Bali but it is one of the beaches located close to the airport. Many tourists often head there right after they land in Bali. It is not hard to understand why – the beach is a lively spot that offers countless fun activities, from dawn to late at night.It is also one of the favourites for young travellers who surf or would like to learn surfing. The west of the beach makes it one of the best spots to admire sunset and if you are here for a sunset walk or sunset photo shoot.

9. Tirta Empul Temple

Tirta Empul Temple is a traditional spring water temple not far from Ubud and the Tegalalang rice terraces. It is a sacred place for Hindus and locals believe the water flowing at the temple has healing power to cleanse their body and soul and when visiting you should dress in appropriate temple attire. There are several pools in the temple and while soaking in the spring water, you can enjoy the serene and beautiful surroundings. Even if you are not going to bathe in the holy water, it is still a great place to look at the surrounding Hindu temples and architecture to see the traditional side of Bali and the Hindu region, and simply walk around the area and enjoy the serenity and tranquility.

Are you ready to begin your journey in Bali? Book the flight now through Cathay Pacific. Our mission is to make the most out of your travel…this applies when you fly from Hong Kong to Bali. Book your tickets now on http://www.cathaypacific.com

Travel Destinations in Indonesia: Gili Gede

If you mention the Gilis, many people may come back with, “What are the Gilis”? The more enlightened may respond, “Oh the islands to the Northwest of Lombok”. Of course they would not be entirely wrong. Gili translates as “Island”, and the 3 Gilis to the Northwest of Lombok, Trawangan, Meno and Air, are the best known.

There are in fact 26 Gilis in the warm coastal waters of Lombok. To the Southwest there is one of Lombok’s better secrets, Gili Gede. This is probably one of the most natural and still un-spoilt island destination for the explorative traveler. Gili Gede translates as “Big Island” and the pronunciation of Gede is very close to the typical Australian greeting, “G’day”.

Tourism has not spoilt this blue water paradise, in fact Gili Gede is still very much a working island. With its small population still sustaining life through pearl farming and fishing, as it has done for centuries, tourism is very much down played. But the small numbers of explorers that visit the island are made very welcome, the locals are friendly, accommodating and somewhat, attractively, inquisitive towards their visitors.

Why Gili Gede?

Apart from never feeling like and intruder, Gili Gede is about being away from the hustle and bustle, the neon clubs and bars, the thumping music, glitzy shopping malls and high end fashion. Gili Gede is all about enjoying its peaceful natural beauty, both on land and in its warm waters, on and below the surface. At just 4km x 1.6km, the island may be small, but it is a little piece of true paradise, one of the few that remain on our over exploited planet.

For the traveler that is not so worried about their budget, there is a luxury resort on the East coast, Kokomo Resort. The resort sports sea view villas, 1 and 2 bedroomed, with private pools. Its magnificent restaurant is, of course, heavily influenced by local, traditional cuisine, but also embraces that of the wider Asian region, and there are even some Italian nuances which add to its wonderful culinary experience.

There is also the resort’s luxurious spa. To a backdrop of the waves gently lapping at the soft white sand, guests can enjoy manicures, pedicures, or a very self-indulgent traditional Sasak massage. For those that are a little more energetic, the resort has its own fully air conditioned gym. Lifting weights or cardio vascular workouts will help you to keep in trim during your, otherwise, relaxing holiday.

However, most of the visitors to Gili Gede are budget travelers, for which the island is ideal. Many budget travelers opt to rent a traditional Pondok, basic dwellings which are cheap and can be found across the island. A little more comfortable, and still affordable, small rental bungalows are popular, be they sited by the mangroves or the beach front, they are an idyllic and rather enchanting way to reside on the island.

Gili Gede is not for the hedonistic traveler. Apart from within the resort confines, there are no bars or clubs, no high street fashion retail and no ATMS, be ready for that! For the most part, entertainment comes from convivial company and being as close to real, natural living in as beautiful surroundings as it is possible to get.

What to do on Gili Gede?

Apart from feeling at peace with yourself and the environment, the island does have other appeal. Simply walking and exploring the island and the watching the locals go about their daily business, is in itself an enlightening experience. Awakening early is worth the effort to watch the sunrise, and with no light pollution the sunsets, followed by the night sky, is truly transmogrifying.

But what for the more active visitor? Gili Gede is not only a land paradise, beneath its silky blue waters lies an amazing marine world waiting to be explored by diving and snorkeling. There are un-spoilt coral reefs to explore and the plethora of colourful marine life that they support. There are dive sights for the beginner through to advanced divers, and there are numerous instructors operating on the island.

In addition to diving, surfers will not be disappointed. Perhaps not known outside the hardcore surfing world, Gili Gede has the longest left handed wave breaks in the world. Coming in off the East coast of the island, these barrel waves can reach up to 300 meters in length. If you are unable to bring your own board, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of boards for hire, along with expert local knowledge to advise the experienced surfer and instruction for the novice.

Getting to Gili Gede

Bali Ferry services operate fast and regular services to Gili Gede with modern fleets departing from convenient locations in Lombok and Bali. Be it for a day trip or a long stay, for the laid back, or the adventurous explorer, getting to Gili Gede is fast, simple and affordable.

4 Ideal Locations for a Family Vacation in Indonesia

Source: Unsplash | Christopher Alvarenga

Family vacations are great. Family vacations abroad are even better! Not only do you get to bond and create new moments to remember, you also get to explore new places.

That being said, one of the most popular destinations for Southeast Asian families going on vacations abroad is Indonesia. It has ancient monuments, natural wonders, exotic flora and fauna, and, of course, plenty of gorgeous beaches. It doesn’t matter if your family is laid-back or adventurous, or if the children in your group are younger or older. Indonesia is a country where every member of your family can enjoy.

Here are some suggestions for places to see on your next family vacation in Indonesia.

Ocean Park BSD Serpong

If you’re looking for a no-fuss, fun-filled day in the pool with your little kids, Ocean Park BSD Serpong in Tangerang City is the perfect destination. This water park (or waterboom, as they’re called in Indonesia) is more or less just 45 minutes away from Terminal 3 Soekarno Hatta Airport, so you can immediately jump in and have some fun! It’s a little smaller compared to similar attractions in Indonesia, but you’ll get more attentive service in return. What’s more, the place rarely gets crowded so you can enjoy the pools, slides, and rides better. There’s a wave pool, too, if you prefer bouncing with the water. Meanwhile, young children will have lots of fun in the huge splash area. Finally, to satisfy your hunger pangs, there’s a food court with personnel walking around and carrying copies of the menu. You can order directly from the staff, and they’ll “deliver” the food you ordered.

Borobudur Temple

Does your family love touring historical and cultural sites? Then Borobudur Temple is arguably the best place to visit in Indonesia for you. Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Indonesia’s most visited tourist destination. It’s also a popular pilgrimage site during Vesak, drawing thousands of Buddhists from all over Indonesia. Made of volcanic stone, it was built in the 9th century under the Shailendra dynasty. Borobudur has nine platforms and three tiers: the base, body, and superstructure. These three tiers match the spheres of the universe according to Buddhist cosmology: kamadhatu, rupadhatu, and arupadhatu.

On top of the temple is a central dome surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each with their own stupa. Other decorations include 2,672 bas relief panels, considered to be some of the most elegant in ancient Buddhism. These bas reliefs depicting mythical beings in the Buddhist tradition and various facets of daily life in 8th-century Java have all been used as references for research.

Pemuteran Beach

Bali is world-famous for its many beautiful beaches, which means the island can get a little too crowded with tourists at times. Don’t fret, though. There are parts of Bali that aren’t as “touristy” as other beaches. This includes Pemuteran Beach on the northern coast. This black-sand beach is home to the largest artificial Biorock reef project, which aims to help restore coral reefs, protect the seas against global warming, and prevent beach erosion, among others. On the western end, you can climb a small peak to catch a view of the coastal area. Other popular activities in Pemuteran include snorkeling, diving, and even hiking in the nearby hills.

There’s also a Monkey Temple just a couple of kilometres to the east of Pemuteran. The monkeys here are quite friendly and, if you want, you can try feeding them with fruits. Just be careful to hold your bags firmly since the monkeys can be quite naughty and are known to snatch people’s belongings to play with them! Your family may also want to participate in regular clean-ups of the beach, where tourists pick up trash left on the beach. This is a great activity to help instill in your children the value of taking care of nature.

Green Village

For a more educational vacation, you can visit Green Village. Located by the Ayung River in Bali and founded by Canadian artist John Hardy, Green Village is a compound with 13 bamboo houses and villas. All of these are hand-constructed by the IBUKU architectural team using black and white bamboo. Everything in these structures are made from these sustainable materials, from the floors and walls up to the ceilings and roofs. These houses and villas are also designed to withstand both sun and rain and have been treated with boron, a natural chemical element. This makes the bamboo inedible to insects.

While at the Green Village, you can also visit PT. Bamboo Pure or the Bamboo Factory, where you can see how bamboo is prepared to become strong materials for building sustainable houses and furniture. There’s also the John Hardy Jewelry Factory, an open-air workshop where artisans create beautiful jewelry.

As you can see, there’s something for everyone in Indonesia. It’s indeed an ideal location to treat your family to a fun and worthwhile vacation. So what are you waiting for? Book that trip now and have a blast with your family!