Date of travel: November 2016
Recommended Driver: Mano (+62 856 3778 685)
(let him know you got the contact from Jeremy!)
Bali has always been reverently known as the Island of the Gods, aptly so, as almost every corner finds you in a breath-taking landscape you never knew could exist.
Prior to this trip, I have hardly ever been to Bali, except for a few times MANY years ago, staying at Hard Rock Hotel (what a shame to have missed out on the gorgeous villas available everywhere) and travelling no further than the beach down the road. This trip has been quite an eye-opener and I am certain there will be many more trips soon to explore more parts of Bali!
Check out the video here! (Bump the quality up to HD!)
Although we stayed in a villa 30minutes from Ubud, it took us one day to realize that touristy spots weren’t for us. The first driver we used insisted on bringing us to the usual tourist attractions –
- Tegenungan Waterfall
- Tegalalang Rice Terraces
- Mount Batur (sightseeing only)
- Uluwatu Temple
I honestly believe that he was probably getting commissions for it, but as we haven’t had time to do much research, we went along with it. Here are the short & honest reviews of the four places.
#1. Tegenungan Waterfall
According to them, this is one of the highest and “prettiest” waterfalls in the area. It was actually really impressive with its height, and the force of the water flowing down is almost scary (feels like it would hurt if you stood directly underneath it, or that your bikini would totally come off heh).
Costs: IDR10,000 to get in, and they charge you another IDR10,000 to see the waterfall from the top.
The low-down: The water looks murky, slightly dirty (not like some of the others I’ve seen, makes you rethink swimming in them). There are many tourists around trying to get same shot as you, so don’t expect a serene and peaceful experience.
There are also a number of steps to climb down to the waterfall (and up again on your way back). Overall, we weren’t too impressed with it!
#2. Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Again a super-touristy area. It is, however, beautiful to look at and take some iconic photos. I loved the vast greenery of the rice terraces and climbing down to different spots (for different photos) but after a while, that’s pretty all you get!
Costs: IDR10,000 to enter the area.
After looking at the rice terraces, there are a number of shops and restaurant places to grab a bite at. Nothing much fantastic, and prices are not that attractive either. There are many street children there trying to sell you postcards and merchandise, do beware of them, as they will gather and crowd you once you give attention to any of them!
#3. Mount Batur (sightseeing only)
So when we mentioned that we wanted to see Mount Batur, the driver insisted on bringing us to a restaurant that we could see Mount Batur “up close”. Without any much details, he just drove us to a place called “Grand Puncak Sari” where we had buffet and stared out at the view of the volcano from far away. There were many other restaurants along the same stretch selling buffet with a view.
Cost: IDR 125,000 per pax (there is still tax on this)
I was definitely not impressed. The food was average and not at all worth the price (there are much better local food around at a fraction of the price) and to be extremely honest, the view was pretty but too far away to be anything special. Had I known it would be like this (or had enough information to google and research before) I would have decided either to climb Mt Batur or not even visit this place to look at it. Gah.
This was also the deciding factor on changing our driver, as well as his input on the massage place we wanted at the end of the day. (Note: the driver contact listed at the top is our second driver, highly recommended!)
#4. Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu Temple was listed as one of the must-see places on many online forums, and after seeing some gorgeous shots (especially at sunset), we decided to visit as well! Many tours offer this as part of the package, as well as some fire dance and she-bangs after.
The whole area takes about 15 minutes to walk through, which you can look at the cliff and the sea below, as well as some statues and ornaments. However, it was quite packed with large groups of tourists with rude manners (shan’t say where they are from) who will definitely be talking at the top of their voices, pushing people out of their way and preventing you from getting nice pictures.
Costs: IDR30,000 per pax to get in.
*You will need to wrap up with the cloth they provide you as a form of respect, and ladies on their monthly periods will not be allowed up the steps.
There seems to be the actual temple ground further in, but it is not accessible to tourists. So all you will see is the outskirts of it. Is it worth it? I’m not that sure.
**MASSAGE – JAEN SPA
Of course, when in Bali, you must enjoy a massage. Bali is known for amazingly luxurious and very well-priced massages and so, it was a definite must for us! When we first told the driver that we were thinking of getting a massage, he was very insistent on telling us he knew a good place. However, during the day we did our own research and found a gem that we really wanted to try. When we told him the place we wanted to go and the address, he was really reluctant and unhappy to do so. (a big no-no for us!)
But moving on to the good part – Jaen Spa.
By the sheer amount of positive reviews and recommendations we found online, we were totally persuaded to visit Jaen Spa and give it a go. And that was one of the best decisions we made that trip!
PRICING – compared to many other (equivalently luxurious) establishments, Jaen Spa was very reasonably priced.
These were the services we tried-
1 hr Traditional Balinese Massage – USD $12 / IDR 165,000
4 hrs Radja Nenda Spa Package – USD $60 / IDR 720,000
The spa package included a Radja Synchronicity massage (2 therapists work on you at the same time), flower bath, body scrub, facial treatment and hair crème treatment. They also give you a light lunch and drink in the middle! Fwah!
I’ve been to many spas, and this experience was definitely one of the best. The therapists were skilled and able to target sore spots and work on it well, adjusting their pressure to your preference.
For the special Synchronicity massage, although there were 4 hands (2 therapists) working on you at the same time, it is amazing how in synch they were. The strokes blended perfectly – it was literally heaven!
Service was fantastic and the cherry on top of the cake. We felt absolutely pampered and taken care of! At any point of time, there is someone with you making sure you are comfortable and happy.
They also have pick up and drop off services which are cheaper than hiring a driver (you can arrange for a pick up straight from the airport!!) and they were very flexible with letting us explore the town before sending us back, allowing us to maximize our time in the Ubud central.
In conclusion, Jaen Spa is a place you definitely need to visit on your next trip to Bali. Everything was amazing at such an affordable price. Although the 4-hour treatment was a tad too long for me, I enjoyed every minute of the pampering!!
(don’t forget to contact them in advance, they are almost always booked out!)
As for the rest of the touristy spots, feel free to visit them but don’t have high expectations. Also, stay tuned for my next post (soon) where I’ll be sharing with you about the hidden Ungasan Cliff & Green Bowl Beach!
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