BALI, Indonesia -- Heading to Bali anytime soon? The tropical island getaway remains Indonesia’s most popular and accessible destination for Filipino travelers, with multiple airlines offering direct flights to Denpasar from Manila.
Known for its beaches, temples, luxury resorts and vibrant nightlife, Bali continues to reinvent itself, finding creative ways to draw in first-time tourists and repeat visitors.
Here are just a few exciting destinations and unique activities that await travelers to Bali.
1. Marvel at the country’s tallest statue in a unique cultural park
Garuda Wisnu Kencana or GWK is a cultural park where you can find Bali’s most iconic landmark -- the GWK Statue. Completed only last July 2018, this massive statue depicting Lord Vishnu (Wisnu), riding the mythical eagle-like mount Garuda is currently the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in the world and the tallest statue in Indonesia.
The statue towers at 120.9 meters (396 feet) high and has a width of 64 meters (209 feet) thanks to Garuda’s wingspan. Visitors can admire this monumental marvel from various points in the park or take a tour inside the statue for an additional fee.
The park also offers a range of traditional and smart rides for a fun and effortless way to explore the 60-hectare grounds. Pedal your way around on a vintage bicycle or hop on board e-scooters, Segways, tandem e-bikes, or golf carts to visit different plazas and picturesque locations around the park.
2. Combine temple-hopping with a lakeside boat tour
Bali is known as the “island of a thousand temples” and Balinese temples called pura can be found everywhere from the top of mountains to the rocky shores. Trying to visit all would be a real challenge, but most fist-time visitors to Bali make it a point to visit the major ones.
Some of the most widely visited temples in Bali for prayer and sightseeing include Pura Luhur Uluwatu (a temple that stands on a rocky cliff overlooking a top surfing area); Pura Tanah Lot (which stands on a rock structure some distance away from the shore and is only accessible during low tide); Pura Taman Ayun (a royal public which features ancient Mengwi architecture); and Pura Tirta Empul (where locals bathe it its sacred spring for blessings).
Those looking for adventurous activities to combine with temple visits can make their way to Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, a lakeside temple that was built to worship the goddess of the lakes and rivers. The architecture of this temple is unique because part of it is located on land while another part looks like its floating because of the lake.
Aside from being a place of worship, boat tours are offered right by the lake. Tourists can find paddleboats, water duck bikes and speedboats available for rent. The lake tours provide a breezy respite from the heat, bringing visitors right up close to misty mountain ranges. Photography enthusiasts can also get stunning vantage points of the temple from the water.
3. Swing over rice paddies
One of the most popular attractions in Bali for modern travelers is the Bali Swing. Imagine soaring over rice fields, jungles or rivers on long swings. Tourists can now find loads of places that offer extreme swing experiences that will leave you with a natural high.
Alas Harum, an agritourism area, now offers different swing types including an Extreme Swing (15 meters), Couple Swing (20 meters) and Super Extreme Swing (25 meters) as well as a flying fox (zip line) and sky bikes.
If you’re afraid of heights or are traveling with kids below 7 yrs old (min. age for extreme activities), the grounds provide a lovely area for sightseeing and photography (with no entrance fee to visit).
You can find walkways through mini rice terraces, a hanging bridge and different bird’s nest-like photo spots here.
4. Get hands-on demos of Balinese arts, crafts and food
Tourism accounts for a majority of Bali’s economy. Educational tours to farms and workshops give visitors a chance to learn more about the industries that give livelihood to locals. Most tours include experiential or hands-on demonstrations as well as a chance to sample different products.
In the local shop Bali Bidadari Batik, visitors can try hand-painting or have their clothes drawn with traditional batik designs by local artists. Those traveling with kids can also try strawberry picking at Dikubu Farm, a popular spot among locals for camping and picnics.
Coffee-lovers can visit coffee farms like Taman Ayun, to learn more about coffee production. Visits to coffee farms usually includes free tastings of unique local coffee and tea flavors like Kintamani coffee, ginseng coffee, rosella coffee, coconut coffee, hot chocolate, ginger tea, and more.
5. Chill out in cozy and creative accommodations
From the usual spa and resort or luxury villas to out-of-the box creative concepts, Bali offers an amazing array of places for tourists to stay, many of which are making an effort to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment.
Indulge in relaxing spa treatments at Sun Island Resort & Spa, a hotel conveniently located near the airport. Their green initiatives include providing guests with glass pitchers and dispensers in hallways instead of plastic bottled water, refillable shampoo and soaps and water instead of giving single-use toiletries and giving out reusable canvas bags for shopping to minimize plastic.
Those who want to spend their time close to nature can try glamping in style in trendy inflatable igloo rooms, sleep under the stars with views of the jungle or beach in transparent “Bubble Hotel,” or chill out in sustainable eco-lodges and bamboo domes nestled among rice paddies.
NOTE: This trip was made possible through a media familiarization tour organized by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for the Philippine market in November 2019. For more information, visit www.indonesia.travel.