Bali is unique. Unless you are highly insured, and perhaps a bit reckless, Bali is not a place you want to drive yourself, either in a car or on a motorbike. The roads are very narrow, traffic is hectic, and there are everything from dogs, to bicycles, to motorbikes, to cars and trucks speeding along the pothole filled pavements. Because of this, we decided that hiring a driver was the best option for us. Randomly we came across Norman when looking to get a taxi to our hotel. We immediately clicked with Norman’s charismatic personality and joyful persona, so when he suggested that he’d like to be our driver the next day, we took him up on his offer.
We left our hotel at 9am, which is a good time to start in order to miss the masses of visitors to some of the sites. Throughout the day we took our time and never felt rushed along. Our driver Nyoman (Norman) was friendly, helpful and patient throughout the day. Here is the order Norman suggested we do the tour in, taking into account the traffic and the amount of tourists at each location.
Goa Gajah (aka Elephant Cave)
This temple dates back to the 9th century and served as a sanctuary for Hindu priests. The cave here was very ornate and resembles a haunted house entrance. Walking around the grounds was so peaceful with its beautiful banyan tree, waterfall, and moss covered temples.
Insider Tip: Be sure to have a sarong for the temples for both males and females. Some places provide free ones, but it is easy and cheap enough to buy your own. A low quality one can range from $1-2 so don’t over pay.
Pura Gunubg Kawi (The Angkor Wat of Bali)
Also known as the Angkor Wat of Bali, Pura Gunubg Kawi is an 11th century temple complex. This site is filled with shrines carved into the rock face, as well as a holy temple. Gunung Kawi is located in the Tampaksiring Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tirta Empul Temple (Holy Springs)
This Temple was very busy and popular with the locals. It’s famous for its holy water and where Hindu people go for purification. This temple was built in 962 AD. The purification ceremony is open to anyone, truly a unique experience.
Insider Tip: Be sure to walk the grounds and then do the local purification tradition. The reason for this is that they won’t let you visit parts of the area due to being wet.
We actually drank coffee made from an animal’s poop. Yes, you read that right, an animal’s poop. It also happens to be the most expensive coffee in the world. Kopi Luwak refers to the seeds of coffee berries that are ingested and defecated by the Asian Palm Civet (a fox/cat looking animal), then the remains brewed into coffee. Along with trying a cup of this gourmet coffee, we also did a coffee and tea tasting made from regular coffee beans and it was delicious.
Famous Rice Terraces (Talagang)
We ended the day at Tegallalang to view and photograph one of the oldest and most famous rice terraces in Bali. This area is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you are looking for a driver in Ubud, we highly recommend, Nyoman Budiasa. We found him to be fair, as well as a safe driver, and fun to be in the car with during our tour days (we used his services on multiple days). Norman can be reached at: 081337477186