This story was originally published in the West Australian newspaper.
Escape crazy Kuta and head up to Ubud for some relaxation, Bali style. Here's 9 ways how:
Have an Ayurvedic consultation: If you want to take your relaxing seriously, you might want to start with a full consultation. Ayurveda has been around for about 5000 years or so and is all about finding balance in your life. The therapists at the Kush wellness centre can recommend the best ways to go about de-stressing, covering everything from diet to meditation to exercise. But if you don’t have the time or money for a consultation, you can book a range of massages and therapies which use soothing warm oils containing medicinal herbs selected just for you.
Do a yoga class: One of the most beautiful places in Ubud for yoga is the Yoga Barn. The rooms are open on two sides, giving you an inspiring view over lush green rice fields. Around 7 classes a day are taught by teachers from Bali and around the world. The most relaxing are the restorative and early bird classes. Another great studio is Radiantly Alive, which has an extensive timetable and a lovely vibe.
Try meditation: There are dozens of meditation classes and retreats on offer in Ubud. At the Yoga Barn, try the Tibetan Bowl class in which Tibetan singing bowls are played, making a gentle ringing sound, and transporting you to the deepest recesses of your mind.
Visit a day spa: There are hundreds of places in Ubud where you can be wrapped in everything from avocado to aloe vera. One of my favourites is the Taksu spa, which is set far back from the road on a huge property featuring jungle scenery with a stream running through the middle. The therapists are exceptionally well trained, and my favourite massage is the Eselen, in which the therapist links the timing of their breath to yours.
Take a cooking class: A number of restaurants around town advertise cooking classes, which generally start with a trip to the local food market, where the chef points out different spices and vegetables. Each class makes a snack, appetiser, soup, main course and dessert, which you get to eat at the end of the lesson. Most restaurants offer vegetarian classes also.
Have a long meal: In the relaxing restaurant stakes, it’s hard to go past Murni’s Warung. Cut into a sheer cliff face, the restaurant has three beautifully decorated levels all looking out over lush tropical jungle and a flowing river. For food so fresh you actually get to pick it out of their gardens, go to Sari Organik, one of the only restaurants in the middle of the rice fields. If you’ve got the budget for it, try Bridges, which is opposite Murni’s. You get the same spectacular scenery, with food and service that are absolutely five star.
Wander around the museums: Considered the artistic centre of Bali, there’s an amazing range of museums and private galleries in Ubud. Start at the private Neka museum, which has one of the most complete collections of paintings in Indonesia, with more than 400 traditional and contemporary artworks. For a completely different experience, there’s the European style Blanco Renaissance Museum which is by all accounts as bizarre as its founder, the eccentric Spanish artist Don Antonio Blanco. For a more traditional art experience, there’s the Museum Puri Lukisan, which is the oldest museum in the area and has four buildings which each house a different time period. Also a must see is the Arma Museum, set on five hectares of beautifully landscaped grounds. The museum also functions as a cultural centre, offering a wide range of two hour courses including wood carving, Balinese dancing, offering making and basket weaving. It’s also added accommodation to the mix, so you can enjoy the property for as long as you like.
Take a downhill cycling tour: On this tour, you’ll spend more time eating than pedaling! The day starts with breakfast overlooking Mt Batur followed by a visit to a Balinese plantation where you’ll taste local fruits, teas and coffees. You’ll then cruise downhill through Balinese villages and rice fields, making many stops along the way to see traditional family compounds and artists at work. At the end of the downhill part of the tour, guests are given a choice: take the van or cycle uphill to lunch, a bit of a no brainer!
Watch the sun rise from Mt Batur: Getting up at 2am and walking up a mountain may not be your idea of relaxing, but seeing the incredible sun rise from the top will make it worth it. About an hour’s drive from Ubud, Mt Batur is a pretty easy two hour trek, but you’ll need a guide. Sitting at the top, watching the sun slide up from behind Mt Agung is truly a breathtaking experience. The walk down is very pleasant and a lot easier when you can actually see where you’re going! After the early start, you might then find you want to do the most relaxing thing of all in Ubud – have a little nap!
Ubud is about about an hour and a half's drive from Denpasar airport (depending on traffic)
Check out www.balispirit.com