I never fail to get asked this question. Fortunately, I love answering it. Go up the road, turn left and you may find a secret waterfall. Drive 300 metres more and head down the cliff to find a secluded and pristine beach. Just walk out of your villa and you'll probably find a warung on the street where a Balinese ibu (lady) is busy marinading fresh fish with sambal matah (yummy chilli paste made with shallots and coconut oil) while her husband chops coconut husks to grill a customer's Balinese BBQ lunch. But my most favourite answer of all is ''if you have the time, rent a car, and drive all the way to the east".
Perhaps I'm a little biased coz d'Sawah Amed is in the east. But hold on, there is the amazingly gorgeous Pura Lempuyang, one of the six holiest places of worship in Bali, which sits 600 metres (2,000 ft) high above sea level. There is much more about east Bali which charms travellers. Perhaps it is the serenity and rustic, coastal village life. From Singaraja, past Tulamben, all the way (south-east) to Candidasa, with Amed in the middle, just cruising on a scooter would bring many great adventures. There is a textile weaving house somewhere on the cliffs after Bunutan, a few villages after Amed. Then there is the fruits and vegetables market at Seraya village. Whenever you need a break, just park the scooter and head down to the beachside for some snacks or even a massage. Sprinkled along the coasts are various types of beaches: black sand beach, pebble beach, coral beach...The best thing is that all of the beaches at East Bali are snorkel-friendly. In fact, you're spoilt for choices as the Bali sea---home to fishing villages Amed, Jemeluk and Lipah--- is perfect for diving and snorkelling. East Bali beach spots like Amed are a little different from Seminyak, Uluwatu or Ubud. The most distinct thing about beach-hopping from Tulamben to Amed is the lack of cliffs! Well, you do go up and down the hills on your scooter but unlike the beaches in the south of Bali where you have to climb hundreds of stairs down (and then up again!), the beaches in the east of Bali are easily accessible right from the parking areas.
It is also in the east of Bali where you encounter native Karangasem natives working in hotels or owning their own home-stays. It's a completely different vibe in the east of Bali. The locals and tourists are more cordial and hospitable. Food and drinks are definitely cheaper than those in Kuta or Sanur. So, load up on as much fruit juices and pisang goreng (banana fritters)! For an Indiana Jones kind of experience, visit Tenganan, a village called Bali Aga where original Bali inhabitants still live according to their ancient Siwa-Buda traditions.
All in all, if you are escaping work, you might as well escape the hustle and bustle of city-beach life of Seminyak. But there are some secret spots in the south of Bali worth retreating to. I'll save those for my next post. Another question my AirBnB co-host and I hear often is "Are four days enough (for Bali)?" Hahahahahahahahahaha. Sorry, no. If it's your first time, make your trip to Bali at least 2 weeks long. And if you're a European or coming from much further away like America, North, South or Central, please don't forget a layover in Singapore and it is worthwhile to add four days for Siem Reap. See ya next time!