Our Far East experts have hand-picked unique experiences offered by our top resorts that will have you entranced by the magic of Asia’s Island of the Gods, where volcanic mountains are blanketed by emerald forests and rice paddies are dotted with mysterious temples.
Retreat for Change
As part of their commitment to 360-degree wellbeing, this 9-hectare estate near Ubud hosts resident yoga teachers, Ayurvedic doctors and dieticians who assist guests seeking a Balinese ‘retreat for change’. They include spiritual as well as physical and emotional wellbeing, including Chakra Healing, an ancient ritual important to Hindu philosophy which focusses on energy points in the body. Embarking on one of these traditional ceremonies at COMO Shambhala Estate consists of a Balinese healer, Pak Dewa, energetically ‘scanning’ the body to locate problem areas, balancing these Chakras, and delivering insight to provide opportunity for self-healing.
A sacred day in the Balinese Hindu calendar is the Purnama, when a full moon is at its most powerful, therefore spiritual ceremonies and rituals held on these days are truly extraordinary. Experience the wonder of a full moon celebration at The Oberoi’s temple, where guests are invited to join a traditional Balinese blessing ceremony conducted by a Hindu priest, the Pemangku. Here, you’ll observe the ancient Sanskrit recitals accompanied by musicians; you’ll also be offered fruit and flowers as a symbol of prosperity and happiness. After the ceremony, a romantic dinner served al fresco on the beach concludes this 3-hour moonlit event.
Mandi Lulur Journey
Originating in the royal palaces of central Java, the Mandi Lulur ritual was traditionally reserved for Javanese women leading up to their marriage. Now, it has become popular in Bali as a purifying beauty treatment to soften and enhance the skin. The Oberoi Lombok offers a 2-hour therapy following the techniques and ingredients of the Javanese, blending herbal scrub to exfoliate, before relaxing the body with a deep pressure Balinese massage. Following this, you’ll feel refreshed and cleansed as yoghurt is applied and washed off with an exotic floral bathing ritual. Although not technically a Bali resort, the Oberoi overlooks the island from neighbouring Lombok and was simply too stunning to leave out of our list.
Food in an integral part of Balinese culture, demonstrating indigenous traditions and playing a prevalent role in religious celebrations and festivals, so it makes sense that visitors savour local cuisine at its finest. The Legian’s Restaurant offers a weekly-changing, wine-paired Discovery menu with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients and native flavours. Expect Lombok sashimi, Indonesian lamb rack gulai, and Bali berries and cream, accompanied by ocean vistas and live piano melodies.
Traditional Balinese artists are integral to the island, not only as they played a pivotal role in enticing travellers since the 1930s, but because art preserves Bali’s heritage as Indonesia’s only remaining Hindu civilisation. Four Seasons Resort, Jimbaran Bay, celebrates this with their Ganesha Cultural Centre, inviting local artists to exhibit their art, music and crafts to an international audience. Guests may join in with Balinese dancing, wood carving, or mastering the art of Ngulat Tipat (rice cake) weaving.
Simple, soothing and sincere; the Day in the Life of a Balinese Farmer experience at the Four Seasons Resort at Sayan satisfies the senses as you embark on a rural journey through the meandering jungle paths, in rice fields and along the Ayung River. You’ll join local farmers planting rice in the beautiful paddies, sip fresh coconut water, learn from their tales, and admire the scenery as you go. After all this, you’ll have chance to relax with a traditional river-stone scrub and massage, as well as an authentic Nasi Campur lunch of rice accompanied by small portions of meats, authentically prepared by the farmers.
Tirta Gangga Ujung
Tucked into the treetops, Amankila is a Balinese treasure in itself, with a magnificent design inspired by Ujung (floating palaces) built by the monarchs of Karangasem. The resort offers a trip to the Tirta Gangga water palace, a majestic former royal palace in the east of Bali, the centrepiece of which is an 11-tiered cascading fountain. Scattered with statues of gods, mortals and demons, walking around the gardens of this iconic landmark alone is an enchanting experience, but some visitors also choose to bathe in the pools here, which is believed to wash your sins away.
Conquer Mount Batur
Mount Batur is one of four sacred mountains which divide the north and south of Bali and are believed to be home of the Gods. Hiking this hazy mountain – which is still an active volcano we should add! - has become extremely popular with visitors, who set off in the early hours of the day to catch glimpse of its mesmerising sunrise. Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, encourages guests to encounter the island’s natural landscape, offering Mount Batur treks, Ayung River raft rides and elephant walks through the gently rolling hills.
This is just a small selection of experiences which attract our travellers to Bali, and have kept them returning, enthralled by its spirit, culture and outstanding beauty. We invite you to come and be captivated by it yourself - we’d be happy arrange your unique Indonesian escape!