I won’t lie; I wasn’t originally keen on the idea of visiting Bali. I wasn’t interested in nightlife or beach parties, and mistakenly believed that Bali’s fun was limited to the beer cans of the Australian party travelers.
And it’s true that Bali is not exactly a secret paradise – it’s one of the world’s most popular island destinations, and while fifty years ago there were only a very small handful of hotels available, nowadays there are over 5,000 to choose from.
So imagine my surprise when I was told adamantly that being packed into a hotel or resort with a large number of tourists isn’t what Bali is about; when I was told that Bali is actually rich with culture and pristine landscapes that are worlds away from the hectic nightlife and commercialism I had assumed all of the island had become.
Surely we were talking about two different Bali’s. Because what she was describing wasn’t anything close to the drunken Facebook photos I had seen.
But we were. And there are in fact, two very different worlds available for tourists to Bali.
Reasons to Book a Villa For Your Next Trip to Bali
Where to Find True Paradise in Bali
Despite being one of the world’s most popular hotspots, paradise still exists in Bali – at least for those who know where to find it. And it’s actually not difficult to carve out your own private slice of paradise.
It may be a small island, but Bali offers the traveller a world of different destinations that are sure to suit any tastes. For those willing to lay down their towels and leave the resort scene behind, the volcanic island has an exceptional range of outdoor reaction, beautiful rice fields, and fascinating ancient monuments.
The island’s cultural capital, Ubud is worlds away from the chaos of Kuta, and it is here where you find an authenticity that I never thought to hope was still alive; festivals and musical performances of joyfully garbed locals as they march through the streets towards elaborate temples; galleries selling woodcarving, textiles, painting and sculpture, where you can actually shake the hands that made it.
And to escape the tourists that had originally deterred me from wanting to visit? There may well be over 5,000 hotels and resorts across the island but that doesn’t mean that you should feel boxed into that type of experience.
True paradise is actually found in booking a private luxury Bali villa. Often costing less than I’m used to paying for a 4-5 star hotel, luxury villas provide all the comforts of home along with privacy that no hotel could ever match.
The Privacy of Staying in a Luxury Villa
In truth it was the idea of having my own private space that really tipped my decision in favour of finally giving Bali a chance.
I didn’t fully yet believe that Bali would actually live up to the quiet oasis my friends had sworn black and blue existed, but figured if it was as crowded as I expected I could at least escape the obnoxious tourism by booking into a villa.
It was appealing knowing that I wouldn’t have to deal with noisy neighbours or raucous resort pool parties, in fact, the villa experience is so private that no-one would know if you had your own pool party in the nude! (Not saying I did, or didn’t!).
A private infinity pool overlooking the ocean, where you can swim at any hour and enjoy the tropical views; this was my idea of a paradise vacation.
Ideal Locations for a Bali Villa
I’m more than happy to admit when I’ve jumped to conclusions, and it would appear that this was the case with my original feelings about Bali.
Because in fact only a small part of the island is worth avoiding (unless you’re actually travelling for the raucous parties!), and the remainder is varied with dramatic landscapes of beaches and volcanoes, and a rich diversity of people, customs, cultures, and food.
And the even better news? Whether you are looking to stay in Seminyak, Ubud, Nusa Dua, or Sanur, you can rest assured that you will find a luxury villa that is perfect for your own unique tastes.
Search for a villa in Seminyak if you favour the southern end of Bali, where you will find high-end shopping and restaurants. Enjoy lively bars if you wish to get social or simply hit the wide west-facing stretches of Indian Ocean shoreline that is perfect for surfing.
This is one of Bali’s most upscale and stylish regions, and the beaches here offer a more secluded atmosphere than that of Kuta or Legian further south.
You can jump into scuba diving, or ride horses across a pretty beach, though don’t miss Pura Petitenget which is one of six important sea temples in Bali, and one of the best reasons to visit Seminyak.
Once you’ve sat through an awe-inspiring sunset over the ocean, there is a thriving nightlife scene, though it’s nothing like the wild, brash party scene of Kuta. Rather, chic hotels host DJ’s, and international chefs grace the kitchen of high class restaurants and bars.
That said, the private villa experience usually comes with a private butler / chef, so don’t miss the opportunity to have them create delicious locally inspired meals for you, even if there are a wide range of restaurants in Seminyak. You won’t regret it!
Part of Bali’s scenic south-west, Nusa Dua offers an 18-hole golf course, temples, a museum full of art and cultural artefacts from Indonesia and the Pacific, and numerous natural attractions.
It is another of Bali’s more upscale districts, and a world away from the rest of the island. Most travellers who set themselves up in a villa here have come for a relaxing beach holiday, and spend their days swimming, enjoying the scenic water vistas, and take advantage of multi-bedroom villas for group travel with family or friends.
But there are also a range cultural activities in Nusa Dua, and you can take camels (yes, camels) across the beach, visit hidden temples such as Pura Gegar, or take a boat to Serangan Island to encounter Balinese wildlife, and watch as injured turtles are released back into the wild.
Ubud is my personal choice for finding a villa in Bali; the cultural heart of the island, Ubud represents the very essence of what I imagined a Balinese holiday should be.
Ubud is more of a traditional country town where you can visit the majestic palace of the royal family. You can also search for local handicraft such as woodcarvings, textiles, art, and jewellery from talented local artisans.
And while private villas will come with incredible amenities like libraries, cinemas, and even a fully equipped gym, you’ll arguably find more enchanting entertainment in exploring the regions natural surrounds.
I’m confident that Campuhan Ridge Walk will become one of your favourite walks in Ubud. Free of traffic, with stunning views over the hills down across iconic rice fields, this is a peaceful one hour walk (there’s not a lot of shade, so make sure you travel early morning or towards dusk).
You can also walk through the rice fields if not satisfied with looking down on them from above, visit temples, the tegenungan waterfall, enrol in yoga (this is the spiritual centre of Bali), or join a local cooking class.
Renting a motorbike is one of the best ways to explore the countryside surrounding Ubud (and it’s cheap), and if this is something you would love, most villas will include space for parking.
I Left My Heart in Bali
For a destination I had once written off, I’m glad to have given Bali a chance.
Glad that such a unique paradise still exists despite the mass tourism, and glad that the option to book a private villa allows anyone seeking authenticity an experience that goes deeper than fun in the sun and sand.
I left my heart in Bali, among the waterfalls, temples, smiling locals, and rice fields.
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