Bali Temple

Just a few miles away from the more touristic, developed areas of the Indonesian island of Bali one can find tradition, rustic beauty and a more peaceful, easy-going way of life.

If your tastes are less on the side of luxurious resorts and throbbing nightlife and more geared toward nature, quaint villages and experiencing the authentic Balinese way of life you may prefer to spend your time off of Bali’s established tourist track and experience the thriving and fascinating culture this tropical island has to offer.

Where to find the genuine Bali

Bali’s interior and coastal villages are where the real Bali exists: relaxed farming and fishing communities, where local life is not driven by tourism, but other industries like harvesting and drying seaweed for use in cosmetic products or growing coffee.

There is also currently a ‘bamboo boom’ taking place in Bali. Seen as a green and sustainable building material, bamboo structures, such as a 3-story chocolate factory or ‘bamboo cathedral’ are the result of an innovative and environmentally minded trend in Balinese architecture.

From a report by the Associated Press:

Bali is leading the charge, attracting carpenters, architects and designers from across the globe to use bamboo in building everything from a school and luxury villas to exclusive resorts.

Of course, Bali’s nature is what draws most people away from the beach resorts and nightclubs of Kuta. Scuba diving in coastal waters, trekking through lush jungles, bathing in waterfalls and of course surfing Bali’s world-famous waves. And it is in the Balinese countryside where travellers can witness the unique and rich ecology this tropical island has to offer – on land and in the air and sea.

Aerial view of rice fields in Ubud
Fishermans in Bali

The ‘genuine Bali’ – off the beaten tourist track, away from the pulsating nightlife and shopping, is a fascinating paradise of traditional culture and natural wonder. The ‘real Bali’, if you like.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald delves deeper into where and how to see the real Bali (nature’s gift) and comes up with the beaches around Rapture Surfcamps, located right on the Bukit peninsula.

The author found it to be heaven, for both surfers and non-surfers alike:

My cousin, who was surfing on the Bukit Peninsula, south of the airport, urged me to get down there. I told him I didn’t surf. He said it didn’t matter. He was right. A handful of gorgeous, quiet, sandy beaches studded the western coastline. Padang Padang and Bingin were secluded little charmers, where surfers paddled out to catch board-crunching breaks, non-surfers dozed under colourful umbrellas and down-to-earth Balinese cooked up satay, nasi goreng and mi goreng by the shore.

Sounds pretty good, huh? And the author isn’t even a surfer.

Ubud: Bali’s cultural capital

A Reuters article entitled ‘48 hours in Bali’ cuts to the chase (I guess they have to if they’ve only got 48 hours) by spending most of the time in Ubud:

Take in a traditional dance performance. There are about six different offerings each night, both in Ubud and in surrounding villages. Notable performances include dance troupe Semara Ratih, known for expressiveness, and Suara Sakti, a bamboo gamelan group that invites viewers up on stage at the end to feel the thunder of the giant instruments in their bodies.


One of Ubud’s most characteristic places is the Tirta Empul Temple (Holy Spring in Balinese), a Hindu temple near the town of Tampaksiring. The temple is famous for its holy water, which draws both tourists and Balinese Hindus to this place for purification. There is a pond inside the temple which produces fresh water from a spring.

Dedicated to Vishnu, a Hindu god, the temple has been there since 962 A.D. It is open to the public but because it is a Hindu spiritual site, intended for holy cleansing, visitors are encouraged to be aware of the hallowed reverence Hindu’s feel for the temple.

People visit the place for the healing powers believed to exist in the holy water collected in a large rectangular pond where 13 spouts of spring water endlessly flow into the stone pond.

Uluwatu: a premier surfing spot on Bali’s southern coast

Uluwatu Beach Bali

Uluwatu is famous for its cliff-top temple, its traditional Balinese Hindu culture, and mischievous monkeys. Leave it to Ross Halfin to wax poetic about Uluwatu. From a New York Times interview with the ‘celebrity photographer’:

Q. How do you compose a good travel photo?
A. You have to try and shoot things in a different way. Uluwatu Temple in Bali is on the edge of the sea. It’s on a cliff, actually, a thousand-foot drop. This way you’re looking at the sea dead-on, from above, and you get these amazing textures and colors; the ocean crashing into the shore; all these layers. I could go there and get different pictures every time.

Entrance into Uluwatu now costs a whopping $2.22 US dollars for visitors. That’s around €1.69. OK, it’s a price hike of 200% from before, but that’s a 200% increase on practically nothing. If any backpacker from a rich country wants to whine about that they deserve to get their glasses stolen by monkeys and maybe even tossed into the sea from atop those majestic cliffs. The view is amazing and worth the price alone.

Surfer at Uluwatu
That’s not all, the surfing on the Bukit is beyond compare! ULUWATU

Uluwatu is a top surf spot with 6 sections and big swells

Uluwatu is normally considered a place suitable for highly experienced surfers, but beginners need not fear if they are accompanied by certified instructors. Read more about Bali’s best surf breaks here.