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How to Make Your Stay in Bali More Affordable and Memorable

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It is no secret that Bali’s south coast is beaming with activities, such as the beaches and the nightlife. It is also no secret that it could get a little bit pricey. With premium hotels, bars and restaurants, it could leave quite a dent on your wallets. Why not try to venture off the beaten path?

If you crave to be nearer to nature and experience authentic Balinese culture, then you can go to these places to stay in bungalows with undisturbed views of rice paddies, full-moon ceremonies with your Balinese hosts and many more.

Ubud
Bali (4)

Ubud’s central is swarmed with tourists but as long as you stay on the quiet side street or in the surrounding villages, you will discover more about the Balinese culture. You might even receive impromptu lessons in palm-leaf offerings while you have your morning tea in a warung or a small street shop.

You can get a Spice bath at the Ubud Bodyworks Centre. Get massaged with sandalwood oil, exfoliated with grainy mixture of herbs, rinsed and then immersed in a warm tub with frangipani flowers—so hedonistic they feel illegal.

East Bali

The opulent landscape of Sideman and Trita Gangga is quintessential Bali. Filled with flowers and trees of all kinds, it makes a scenic view perfect for a postcard. On the coast, you can go snorkelling and have excursions to ancient villages and temples in Candidasa. Amed, a coastal strip of fishing villages, is also a popular place for freediving and yoga retreats.

Shopping on your way to the eastern side of Bali could also be a breeze. Passing by the main roads of Singapadu and Ubud, the roads are lined with locally produced products which are mostly made on-site.

North Bali
Bali (3)
Image credit: Lakshmi Sawitri

Ditch the neon lights and inflated prices of south Bali and head to the North. Despite the small resorts, it is peaceful and affordable. Other than the black sand beaches of Lovina, some of the other beaches can be narrow and rocky.

Other than that, you can take a boat ride from Labuan Lalang to the uninhabited Menjangan Island to snorkel. The coral reefs are packed with vibrant orange and electric blue fishes that are much more tantalizing than the neon lights.

West Bali
Bali (1)
Image credit: zakki-style

If you’re looking to catch a wave, then the west of Bali may be perfect for you. Some of the islands most beautiful beaches can be found in the west. If you’re up to surf on some big waves, Medewi is the place to go. Medewi is not only home for big waves, it also has gorgeous views with traditional boats that sail along the coast, making it an even better place to surf and relax.

While you’re there, try to catch some performances of West Balinese music. Their energetic performances of their bamboo gamelan jegog will leave you breathless and inspired.

5 Spots to Visit For An Amazing Adventure in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta (also ‘Jogjakarta’ or ‘Jogja’ in short) is a city on the island of Java in Indonesia. Renowned for its classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows, Yogyakarta is without a doubt the soul of Java. Yogyakarta is fiercely independent and protective of its customs which date back to centuries ago as the city is governed independently by a traditional Sultanate system. Despite that, it is not stopping the city from evolving in to a metropolitan city decked with new malls and fast-food chains while at the same time staying true to Javanese arts, culture and traditions of batik, gamelan and ritual.

From well-known historical and cultural landmarks to breathtaking natural landscapes, Yogyakarta provides a perfect dose of balance for today’s travellers. You can get started on your Jogja adventure with this list:

1. Go on a Gondola Ride at Timang Beach
Timang Beach
Image credit: Pandora Voon

Home to beautiful beaches of Yogyakarta, the Gunungkidul Region has plenty to offer. This includes Timang Beach, where travellers can catch a glimpse of white waves crashing into cliffs and coral stones in the distance.

Plus, if you’re a thrill seeker, put your limits to a test by crossing onto the nearby Watu Panjang Island via a wooden gondola that’s held together by fabric rope on pulleys. You’d find yourselves crossing strong currents and treacherous waves beneath you. The gondola was originally used as a mode of transportation by the local lobster fishermen.

Address: Tepus, Gunung Kidul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55881

2. Hike Up Mount Merapi
Mount Merapi

Mount Merapi (or Gunung Merapi), which literally translates to Fire Mountain in Indonesian and Javanese, is the most active stratovolcano in Indonesia. Situated on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces, the volcano has erupted regularly since 1548.

If you’re both an adventurer as well as an early riser, try catching the sunrise from the peak of Mount Merapi and take in the breathtaking panoramic vistas at the same time as the sun’s rays unfold across the horizon. Alternatively, sign yourselves up for the Merapi Lava tour. Get on board a jeep to visit areas such as the Museum Sisa Hartaku and learn more about the volcano’s 2010 eruption.

3. Catch the Sunrise at Borobudur
Borobudur
Image credit: Justine Hong

A 9th century architectural marvel, Borobudur is a Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang Regency. Did you know that the temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the world’s largest Buddhist temple consisting of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular and topped off with a central dome. The temple is also decorated with over 2,600 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.

There’s no better way to experience the temple than to catch the sun rise over the temple grounds with the mesmerizing views of the surrounding nature in the backdrop.

Address: Borobudur Park, Magelang, Central Java

4. Visit Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple is a 9th century Hindu temple compound in the Special Region of Yogyakarta dedicated to Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The temple compound has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia.

Catch the daily Ramayana Ballet Performance from 7.30pm – 9.30pm, a traditional dance based on a Hindu epic of King Rama. Take this opportunity to learn more about the local Javanese culture, style and music.

Address: Kranggan, Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

5. Have a Go at Cave Tubing
Goa Pindul
Image credit: Cave Tubing Goa Pindul Website

Take a break from the usual waterparks and get yourselves onto a tube at Goa Pindul. Here you can drift across the river while admiring the natural stalactite and stalagmite rock formations carved on the walls centuries ago.

Combine both your love for nature and your thirst for adventure by exploring the caves on a rubber tube along the water channels within the cave. Keep a lookout for the resident bats while you’re floating by!

Address: Dusun Gelaran 1, Desa Bejiharjo, Karangmojo, Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta

Getting There
The Yogyakarta Adisucipto International Airport (JOG) lies northwest to the city, 10km away from the town centre.

There are direct international flights twice a day from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and once a day from Singapore with AirAsia, and five times a week from Singapore with Silk Air. Alternatively, Garuda, AirAsia and Lion Air operate the domestic routes from Jakarta and Bali to Yogyakarta as well.

Home of the Dragons, Komodo National Park

Home of real life dinosaurs—or dragons to be exact, Komodo National Park is nestled between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the center of Indonesia. The park’s main purpose was initially to protect the unique Komodo Dragons and its habitat but as the years pass, the goal of the park was expanded to protecting its biodiversity, terrestrial and marine.

Komodo National Park
Image credit: Charlie Marchant

There are a number of ways to get to Komodo National Park, but you will still end up taking a three-hour ferry to the dragon inhabited island. Since the island is surrounded by Komodo Dragons, it is advised you trek the island with a park ranger, which will cost about 250,000 Rupiah. The park rangers will take you along the dirt path lined with bushes and towering trees. The dragon-like lizard can grow up to 10-feet long and is able to take down a deer or even an adult water buffalo, hence there’s a need to be extra careful and alert when trekking the island.

The best times to visit the park is during the middle of the year during its dry season when it is not too hot and little to no rain is expected. During the month of June, it is the mating season for the dragons, providing you with the opportunity to spot both male and female Komodo dragons out in the open.

Komodo Dragon

Despite the island being named after the Komodo dragon, Komodo National Park serves as refuge to many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, the Timor deer and many other animals. Moreover, the park is also one of the richest marine ecosystems which includes coral reefs, mangroves and semi-enclosed bays. Komodo National Park is also home to hundreds to sea creatures such as reef-building corals, Dugongs, manta-rays and dolphins.

Komodo National Park

The rich diversity of the terrestrial and marine ecosystem is protected under the declaration of the World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Despite this, the biodiversity of the island continues to degrade as there is an increase of pressure in forest cover and water resources. Efforts to save the park and its residents are continuous and environmental activists work hard to keep these dinosaurs—dragons, live another million or so years.