Bali has long been on my travel radar, primarily because of its proximity to Australia. Mate, Bali is cheaper than many domestic holiday options for Aussies.
But since moving to Doha, with Europe and South Asia on my door step, my travel-related attention has been elsewhere.
This trip had been long-planned. When I say “planned”, I mean, AZ and I had blocked the time in our busy calendars and had a vague agreement about the destination.
But then, as always seems to happen with us, events intervened.
After much consternation (I’m going, not going, going, not going), we decided (literally the day before I flew) this would be another solo trip for me. This fact weighed heavily in my choice of accommodation – I need not have worried, Bali is a destination for all – solo travelers, couples, families, big groups, all budgets. I looked at high end, at white washed boutique hotels, villa stays, huge five star hotels. But in the end, I came back to what I know and chose the Intercontinental Bali Resort.
But more about that later! Let’s get to the top five reasons you should choose this island paradise as your next holiday destination.
- The food
It’s inevitable I would start with the food. And the food, well, it’s incredible. On a market tour with the Intercontinental Bali’s Chef Dana, he summed it up perfectly – “Bali is a garden”.
The island is blessed with all types of fresh fruit, vegetables and of course, seafood. Balinese food is a fascinating mix – Indian spices and Asian heat. The Balinese are predominantly Hindu and culinary traditions are distinct with the rest of Indonesia, beef is a rarity in their food as a result. Spices include galangal, shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger and Kaffir lime are used in Balinese cuisine.
I was fortunate to be able to sample many local dishes thanks to the hotel’s broad culinary range, but perhaps the most surprising and memorable dish I tried was lawar (chopped garlic, chili and fresh squid salad). The squid was barely cooked, and fork tender and the “dressing” was lifted by tumeric and lime.
While satay is available throughout Asia, the seafood version I tried for lunch by the pool one day was a revelation. I’m a gal who loves a side dish and the condiments including rice, pickled vegetables and a sour tamarind soup had me mesmerized.
In short, if you are a foodie, or even if you just love a good meal, Bali is a paradise.
2. The people
The Balinese are, in a word, lovely.
Some of the friendliest people you will come across in your travels. They are warm, charming and very proud of their culture as well as their food. I was really struck by how the Balinese intertwined their religion and culture into their every day life. For example, they believe that their gods and goddesses appreciate earthy things such as good food as much as we do. Feasts and festivals are a part of every day life.
Balinese culture is a mix of Balinese Hindu-Buddhist religion and Balinese customs. It is perhaps most known for its colorful dance, drama and sculpture.
If you can, try to catch a traditional dance and misc show, you will find it colorful as well as educational.
3. The sunsets
I love a good sunset (and a sunrise, but I also love my sleep), and Bali sunset can appease even the most cynical among us. The location of the Intercontinental Bali on Jimbaran Bay makes it a prime sunset spotting location.
Perhaps the best part of my “holiday rituals” was my daily walk to the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill for sundowners.
Nothing beats lounging on one of their day beds, cocktail in hand, watching the action on the beach as the sun went down. The bar is not just for guests, all are welcome, it has a relaxed vibe and a menu of comfort food to keep you fed and watered.
4. The shopping
Everyone who knows me know I may have a teensy, tiny shopping habit. My usual targets are bags and shoes. Believe me, Bali is a shopper’s paradise. From unique boutiques in places like Ubud to more commercial shopping centers like the Bali Collection in Nusa Dua, you can find everything to appease the folks back home but also add something interesting to your wardrobe. I picked up a colorful hand-made straw shopping bag for a steal, a statement necklace plus equally funky clutches for my girlfriends. Bali is also a great destination for homewares – carved wood plates and bowls.
For me, choosing this resort was a no brainer. I had a wonderful stay at their sister property in Koh Samui last year, so my expectations were set.
I was not disappointed. From the sprawling grounds to the excellent food and attentive service, this was a near perfect stay for me.
While one of the older hotels in Bali (it’s undergoing a refurb next year), the value for money it offers guests is overwhelming. As a guest in the Club Intercontinental “wing”, my benefits included
- Access to a private, quiet pool area with its own bar.
- Afternoon tea and evening cocktails (with snacks) daily – I can assure you I never went hungry!
- Breakfast daily at one of their FOUR venues
- the option of having afternoon cocktails either in the Club Lounge, by the pool or by the beach (or all three!)
- Free airport transfers (think about that – no hassle!)
- Access to a cool little area called the “Inspiration Zone” which had books, magazines and DVDs to borrow (hello all seven seasons of the West Wing!)
As a member of the Intercontinental’s Ambassador Program, I also scored a room upgrade and a host of other benefits.
I could go on (there is actually another blog post coming), but as a single female traveler, this was a cocoon of perfection for me – the hotel enabled me to do as little (pool, book, lunch) or as much (shopping, sightseeing) as I wanted.
The beauty of Bali is that there’s a diversity of experiences, whether that’s shopping, surfing, lounging, retreating, serenity-seeking, exploring or indulging. It’s an almost perfect destination.
I can’t wait to bring AZ back for another trip later this year.
Keep a look out for the second part in my “Bali Series” (or should I call it, my “Bali Period”) which will drop next week.