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Thu 20 Apr 2017 06:01 PM

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An insider's guide to Bali

Brand View: Boasting serene beaches, volcanic mountains and scenic rice paddies, the isle east of Java is not only a visual treat, it also presents visitors with a buzzing art scene

An insider's guide to Bali
A ferry carries passengers headed for Java island from the port of Gilimanuk in Jembrana on the majority Hindu island of Bali. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images)

Bali, the Indonesian island with picture-perfect natural landscapes and rich culture is a favourite amongst travellers from all over the world for a reason.

Boasting serene beaches, volcanic mountains and scenic rice paddies, the isle east of Java is not only a visual treat, it also presents visitors with a buzzing art scene, delectable cuisine and recreation like no place else.

Far off from the tourist hotspots in the entertainment capital of Kuta, where backpackers join forces with party tourists from all over the globe to dance the night away in one of the many bars and clubs, Bali offers tranquility, rejuvenation, and indulgence of the most appetising kind.

Flights to Bali are affordable these days and available as a direct connection for convenient travel and with a plethora of hotel options to choose from, ranging from five-star luxury accommodations to boutique bungalows surrounded by lush greenery, Bali presents itself as a destination to suit any traveller’s budget and preference.

If you have planned a trip to the island of peace, check out the following insider tips to make your stay even more memorable.

Shop for art at the smaller markets

It seems like every Balinese is an artist if you explore the famous art scene on the island. Featuring everything from hand carved wooden statues to impressive oil paintings, the options to take home an artistic souvenir are aplenty.

Although the art markets in Ubud and Sukawati are the most well known, they are also the ones on the itinerary of almost every island tour, making them perfect tourist traps when it comes to the vendors’ pricing policy. Go for one of the smaller markets, such as the Guwang Art Market, locally known as ‘Pasar Seni Guwang’, a great alternative to its crowded competitors.

Haggling is definitely accepted but with prices for an original oil painting around AED 200, you will definitely find something worth taking home. Our tip: Get the painting canvas rolled up and frame the artwork when you get home, this way it will survive the journey and get the full attention it deserves in your home.

Dine at Naughty Nuri’s Grill in Ubud

Serving up the most succulent ribs your taste buds will ever come across, Naughty Nuri’s Warung is an iconic little joint in the heart of Ubud. So when you are doing the obligatory tour to see the rice terraces and Ubud’s monkey forest, be sure to include a pit stop at the local restaurant that appears rather unremarkable from the outside. But once you smell, and later taste the unmistakable flavour of their homemade barbecue sauce, you will never want to leave. Good thing travellers who stop for a bite at Naughty Nuri’s are usually mingling with other guests over handcrafted concoctions, so you have plenty of time to sit, socialise, and get hungry for a second round.

Barbecue ribs at Naughty Nuri’s

Skip the hotel spa for a day spa

If you have ever had the pleasure of indulging in a Balinese massage, you know that the islanders are on the forefront when it comes to tension relieving techniques.

Relaxation is a big deal on Bali and the locals take spa time seriously. Almost every hotel will have their own spa that comes equipped with beautifully decorated therapy rooms and trained technicians to cater to your sore muscles and beauty needs, but these spas also charge steep prices compared to the day spas spread all over the island.

On almost every corner, you will find a stand-alone spa that can offer you the same level of indulgence for less.

With plenty of options to choose from, the day spas do not fall short in the quality department and offer their services for up to 40% less compared to the spas located within hotels. So be sure to ask around for the best day spa around to save some money on pure bliss.

Beach spa in Bali

Pop the question or get hitched

Getting married is very easy on Bali, with minimal required paperwork and wedding companies offering all-encompassing services for nuptials on the island. Be it a beach ceremony or a wedding surrounded by rainforest, Bali offers locations in abundance and the whole event can end up costing you a fraction of the price you would pay back home.

If you’re travelling with the potential future spouse, you will find equally as many places to pop the question in style: At a temple overlooking the sea or amongst the picturesque rice plantations, getting engaged on the island will be a memory to last a lifetime.

Our favourite spot to propose is located deep within the monkey forest, on a plateau near a soft stream, where getting down on one knee might be a little muddy, but well worth the effort.

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