GO: If you think you know Bali, think again. The island never fails to surprise with its layers of art, culture and spirituality, which override the touristdriven hedonism that often turns people off. Every cliche you’ve ever heard refers to one district: Kuta. So get exploring. Head to the mountains and east coast, where you’ll be fascinated by the way the Balinese continue to practise their unique Hindu rituals even as the modern world swirls around. The district of Ubud is a must. Enjoy the variety of cuisine. Hire a guide but don’t be stingy when haggling. Visit in winter, which is the dry season.
STAY: The Sayan valley is home to Ubud’s most iconic and architecturally inspiring resorts. There is something hypnotising about watching and listening to the Ayung River roll by. Call me biased, but I have always loved (even before joining the resort) the John Heah-designed Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan and thought it looked like a UFO from a distance, popping out from the forest. It’s perched between two rivers (the UN Heritage-listed Subak that feeds the rice fields, and the sacred Ayung below) and the riverfront villas are the go; fourseasons.com/sayan.
EAT: Embrace the hippie vibe with lunch at Sari Organic, accessed via a 10-minute trek through rice fields. The views and bursting-with-goodness food will have you retracing your footprints every day. It’s a good cure for the hangovers you’ll get from martinis and ribs at Naughty Nuri’s, and the guilt you’ll endure from overdoing it at Room 4 Dessert next door; room4dessert.asia.
DRINK: Did I mention Naughty Nuri’s? It’s an institution. There’s a good reason why.
SHOP: A trip out to John Hardy’s workshop, Bambu Indah, is a must, even if you don’t need new jewellery. It is a privilege to see the artisans at work handcrafting exquisite designs based on the natural environment, in their bamboo “office”; bambuindah.com.
OMMM: You can’t go to Ubud and not do some yoga or meditation. For an extra bit of fun, try Laughing Yoga or Dancing Yoga or even Silent Yoga at The Yoga Barn. Or the new Anti-Gravity Yoga at Dharma Shanti. Don’t forget to breathe; theyogabarn.com
Marian Carroll has lived in Bali since 2003, working as a journalist and public relations executive. She recently joined Four Seasons Resorts Bali as director of PR for properties at Jimbaran Bay and Sayan.
Graham Erbacher Graham.Erbacher@news.com.au