(SPOT.ph) Just a four-hour flight from Manila, Bali is teeming with affordable accommodations and activities. Despite the high tourist influx, it has maintained its rich culture and traditional architecture. If you’re planning a solo trip to this Indonesian province, know that there’s more to Bali than Monkey Forest, rattan bags, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir.
Here are 10 places in Bali if you’re flying solo:
It started with one jungle swing set against the backdrop of the lush jungle. Now it’s evolved into several Instagram parks where influencers dressed in a flowy dress scream at their IG boyfriends to snap that perfect photo or video. Whether you secretly want to do the same or you’re just curious and want to watch the Instagram Olympics, head to the original Bali Swing in Ubud, where you can ride on a swing or human-sized bird’s nest hundreds of feet up in the air. If you’re flying solo, the operators (the guys in charge of pushing the swing) will take your photo.
Bali Swing is at Jalan Dewi Saraswati, Bongkasa Pertiwi, Kabupaten Bandung, Bali.
The Balinese version of the carinderia, a warung is a simple wooden kiosk or mom-and-pop restaurant that serves traditional Indonesian food. You’ll find one in almost every corner in Ubud and Kuta. Good news for vegetarians and flexitarians: many warungs serve a fresh selection of vegetarian to vegan dishes, with prices so affordable that you’ll wonder why they’re expensive in Manila.
Yoga Barn in Ubud is worth a visit, even if it’s just to see why countless soul-searching travelers are drawn to this place. From Sanskrit-tattooed yoginis practicing their lifts under the sun to floral-crowned bohemians getting a power smoothie at The Juice Bar, you’ll find many interesting characters in Yoga Barn. But before you swipe your credit card for a class pass, check out many other picturesque yoga studios and retreat centers around Ubud, Seminyak, and Canggu.
Yoga Barn is at Jalan Hanoman, Pengosekan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali.
Infinity pools and cliffside resorts abound in Bali, so the struggle is real when you have to choose just one. If it’s your first time and budget is not an issue, book a room in Padma Resort, Ubud. The backdrop of many an influencer, Padma is nestled in a river valley overlooking Payangan's bamboo forests. Catch the sunset or sunrise while wading in their famous infinity pool with a floating breakfast or afternoon tea set. If you’re on a backpacker budget, look for infinity pools that offer day passes.
Padma Resort Ubud is at Banjar Carik, Desa, Puhu, Payangan, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali.
Ryoshi House of Jazz
Forget the fist-pumping, body-bumping nightclubs of Kuta. If the likes of Sky Garden don’t impress you, you can explore Bali's underground jazz scene. Start at Ryoshi House of Jazz in Seminyak, where you can eat Japanese food on the ground floor and then head to the second floor for live music from Bali’s smoothest vocalists and musicians every Monday and Friday. Mingle with the friendly regulars and ask them where you can catch more jazz shows.
Ryoshi House of Jazz is at Jalan Sunset Road, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung. Restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., while the Jazz House is open until midnight every Monday and Friday.
Flea markets may be the best spots to haggle for souvenirs and that ubiquitous rattan bag, but if you’re looking to mingle with surfers and artsy travelers in a chill setting, Canggu is the place to be. Check out Love Anchor Canggu’s daily bazaar, or Samadi Market near Echo Beach that’s set up every Sunday. Both bazaars support local producers and independent craftsmen.
Love Anchor Boutique Complex is at Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Samadi Sunday Market is at Jalan Padang Linjong, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung. It is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Seminyak, Ubud, and Canggu have plenty of artsy cafés and restaurants that will have you taking photos to your heart’s content, but if you’re passing by Nusa Dua, look for the hidden café that serves breakfast all day. While it’s not so secret anymore, Secret Café is a favorite escape of travelers who booked the nearby swanky hotels. You can’t go wrong with their cakes, coffee, fresh fruit shakes, and comfort food that won’t break the bank.
Secret Café is at Jalan Siligita, Benoa, South Kuta, Kabupaten Badung.
If you didn’t take a photo of yourself holding the prettiest smoothie bowl, did you really go to Bali? Aside from Indonesian cuisine and vegetarian dishes, smoothie bowls are must-try treats. You’ll find them in almost every menu, but there are shacks like Nalu Bowls dedicated to arranging the most colorful and delicious smoothie bowls for your sweet tooth and IG feed.
Nalu Bowls is at Jalan Drupadi, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
There are lots of rice paddies around Bali, but if you’re looking for large paddies that aren’t as commercialized as Tegalalang, Jatiluwih is over an hour away from Ubud. Rent a scooter, hire a driver, or join a day tour to stop by other sights like museums and waterfalls before seeing the jaw-dropping 600-hectare Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. As you explore the lush paddies, see if you can spot Mt. Agung volcano in the backdrop.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces is at Jalan Jatiluwih Kawan, Desa, Jatiluwih, Penebel, Kabupaten Tabanan.
When the Kuta crowd gets overwhelming, a road trip down south is in order. Rent a car or scooter and drive for about an hour to Uluwatu, where you’ll find white beaches like Jimbaran, Balangan, Green Bowl, Pandawa, and Suluban. Surf, swim and sunbathe all you want sans the crowd. Catch the sunset at Uluwatu Temple, perched on top of a cliff about 70 meters above the waves—a more peaceful alternative to Tanah Lot.