Skyscanner – I love that I can choose “to” destination “flexible”. It helps me to find the cheapest destination from Europe to Asia (no matter Thailand, Malaysia or other, from there to go to Indonesia simpler).
Momondo – If my travel dates are flexible it’s great to see all the prices in the chart by dates and choose the cheapest date to fly.
Nusatrip – here I find sometimes the cheapest flights inside Asia.
Tiket – one of the websites that you can find well cheapest flight tickets inside Asia. As well you can buy train tickets, rent a car, book a hotel in Indonesia.
Traveloka – here you can find flights, hotels, train tickets, and much more.
Thorn Tree – many travel advice from local travelers and not only. I like that people most of the time give exhaustive answers to questions.
Couchsurfing – people not only host you but share their experiences, advice. Often organize meetings with travelers and local people.
FB groups – you can find many travel groups by different regions, traveling types and etc.
Darmasiswa scholarship – possibility to study Indonesian culture, live here for 6-12 months. I was selected for this program.
Internship in Indonesia– another possibility to stay in Indonesia and share your academic and cultural knowledge with Indonesian students.
Work away – voluntary program around the world and many possibilities for Asia as well. I already have several projects in my mind that would like to attend.
GoAbroad– providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel resource. You can find a study, internship, volunteering programs, and more.
Easy book – largest booking website in SE Asia: bus, train, car, ferry, and local tours in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and more. Often suggest discounts for online tickets.
Klook – car with a driver’s rental, pick up/drop off from the airport, and much more. All around Southeast Asia and other countries. The prices are really good.
12goAsia – boat and other transportations tickets around Southeast Asia.
Tiket – train tickets, car rentals in Indonesia. Easier to buy Indonesian train tickets here.
Go-jek – works like Uber in Indonesia. You can book not only a ride but as well as food delivery and much more.
Grab– similar to Go-jek but works not only in Indonesia but as well in other Southeast countries.
Blue Bird taxi– official taxi in Indonesia that you can order in Jakarta, Bali, Bandung, Banten, Batam, Lombok, Manado, Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Semarang, Solo, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. Very easy to use their app “MyBlueBird”.
I believe you have seen how picturesque Bali island is? But only through Bali beaches, landscapes, nature spots you won’t see all the beauty of this island. A little knowledge and participation in Bali ceremonies, festivals (cultural or religious) can give more ineffable memories for your holidays in Bali. Like Indian writer, Siddharth Katragadda said, “The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals”.
The best if you could attend any of Balinese family celebrations like Gedong-gedongan (ceremony in the 8th month of pregnancy), Menek kelih (puberty), teenagers transition to the adult’s world (tooth filling), wedding and etc. But if you will be in Bali island only for short period – I believe it’s not so easy to become close friends with local people and be invited to such sacred family ceremonies.
But in Bali, there are many public celebrations that you can attend. Almost every month you can enter different Bali ceremonies, festivals. For example, well-known monsters parade Ogoh-Ogoh, Nyepi (silent day – Bali’s Lunar New Year), Galungan (Balinese Hindus commemorate the legendary battle of good versus evil), art or villages festivals, temples anniversaries and etc.
During my 1st year of living in Bali I have participated in the above-mentioned (and others) Bali ceremonies, rituals, so this year I’m more interested to attend unique, unusual, less known among travelers Bali ceremonies. Maybe you will be interested to take a part in any of these Bali ceremonies, during your trip to Bali?
Bali ceremonies, festivals, rituals – my bucketlist
Kissing ceremony that helps to find beloved – “Omed-Omedan”
I don’t know whether believe the legend, but around 100 years ago king Puri Oka was sick. Outside his place, the youngsters were playing the game Omed Omed (boys pulled the random boy to the side, girls pulled the random girl to the side too). When pulled boy and girl were close to each other, by accident – they kissed. And this event caused a lot of noise from youngsters. King was angry and get outside to stop this noisy game. But after he gets out he didn’t feel ill anymore. After such “magic” the King announced that this Omed Omed (that literally means “pull-pull”) should be held each year after Nyepi celebration (Balinese New Year).
Nowadays in this ceremony can participate only unmarried Sesetan village youth (17-30 years old). People say, that through this ceremony many couples met and build families. As well such ritual brings good luck and prosperity to those who are taking part in it. Not enough that participants may not know each other and will kiss strangers, village priests throw water over participants to douse the flames of passion. Maybe this ceremony not so special but for sure can give good vibes. More about this Bali festival.
Place: Banjar Kaja Sesetan in Denpasar, Bali
The best place to stay near Denpasar would be the Sanur area (I doubt you would really enjoy staying in the capital of Bali, during your holidays). I have stayed in Sanur in these places:
Sudamala Suites & Villas – I love this place. It’s like a small oasis near the main Sanur area. So many unique details inside. Inspiring, peaceful, spacious surroundings, delicious food, and very friendly staff.
Puri Santrian – quite a big hotel but has straight access to the beach. You can choose from many different types of rooms. I enjoy their buffet type breakfast with a big assortment, live Gamelan music, green surrounding, and helpful staff.
As well can be an option to stay in Kuta (from ceremony place the distance almost the same to go to Sanur or Kuta). You can check options in Airbnb too: Kuta or Sanur. And if you are new to Airbnb you can get FREE credits for first your booking.
Full moon ceremony to ask God’s grace
“Purnama” the day of the full moon is a special day for Balinese people. Every month on the full moon extra offerings “sesajen” are made in family temples. As well such offerings are taken to the village temple. Depending on the full moon time usually, many temples will have special events for villagers, like dancing, shadow puppet theater wayang, other performances. Such full moon ceremony takes all day long activities from preparation offering, cooking, going to the temples and etc. Every 10th full moon (called “Purnama Kadas”) even more special. Unique rituals you can see not only in the main island temples but as well in smaller ones. For example on this special day, the mother temple, Besakih, holds a special ceremony known as “Betara Turun Kabeh”, inviting the gods and deified ancestors for their blessings. More about this ceremony from fellow travel blogger you can find here.
Place: island-wide in major temples.
Note: during such ceremonies, the temples are crowded with prayers.
The best place to stay in Bali during this ceremony is the Ubud area. Because you can easily reach main temples like Besakih, Tirta Empul, Pura Goa Lawah, and others. You can check an Airbnb listing. I have stayed in Ubud in these places:
Tjampuhan Ubud & Spa – cozy, beautiful place with a view to a temple and just a couple minute walk from Campuhan Ridge Walk, not far from the center. Breakfast was very delicious.
Manyi Village Ubud – a place surrounded by rice paddies but further from the Ubud center (they have a shuttle bus). It’s not a big place, quiet, intimate. From the balcony, you can see the sunrise, from bathroom window paddies. Breakfast buffet type with several options.
Ubud Wana Resort – city type hotel, not too big, with spacious rooms, couple swimming pools, not far from Ubud Monkey forest. Stuff very flexible and helpful. Breakfast buffet type with several options.
Sanggingan Villa and Permana Cottages – Ubud – both places are not too far from Ubud center. Rooms are spacious but the interior of Bali in 80’s (some rooms only with fan, some rooms needs improvement). Very simple served breakfast.
Self-stabbing ritual that brings people closer to God – “Ngerebong”
This ritual, more than 100 years old, for sure not for everyone. I have seen some trance rituals on Java island, so I’m a bit curious to see it in Bali too. Balinese believe that stabbing themselves in the neck and chest with a dagger called “keris” without drawing a drop of blood (can you imagine that it’s possible?) helps to achieve harmony between humans, nature, and God. The ritual not only brings villagers closer to God, it also helps give them a sense of community. All preparation, ceremonies, and ritual itself take all day long. Find out more about this Balinese ritual or take a look at this video.
Place: Petilan Pengerebongan temple, Kesiman, Denpasar, Bali
Time: Every 210 days (on the eight-day after Kuningan)
The best place to stay near Denpasar would be the Sanur area (to stay in the capital of the island, not the best choice). I have stayed in a couple of hotels in Sanur – you can check above my experience there.
Kid’s transition to the adult’s world sacred ceremony – “Usaba Dangsil”
When I saw girl’s pictures from Bungaya village (one of the oldest villages in Bali) during the Usaba Dangsil ceremony – I understood that it is something that I haven’t seen yet in Bali. It’s not only about different local people’s ritual clothing but as well about activities they do for this ceremony. Boys and girls (hundreds of them) have to follow many rituals, which shows that they became grownups. Beside all rituals are built 7 giant pillars (which symbolize welfare and protection) and with all villagers help transported to a certain place. This unique main ritual held only every 12-14 years! The last time it was in August 2016. You can read more about this ceremony here and watch a short video from the event in 2016.
Place: Bungaya village in Karangasem, Bali
Time: Every 12-14 years, every full and dark moon from 10 am you can see special performances.
Best hotels in Bali, Karangasem area you can find here or check Airbnb places. I have stayed in Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa. Honestly, it is one of my favorite places to stay in Bali – the hotel is in front of the sea (even if it’s not possible to swim there), interior nicely mixed between Balinese and modern style, spacious and green surrounding, breakfast is buffet type with big assortment and staff very helpful.
Sacred ceremony to neutralize 288 evil spirits – “Ngerebeg”
Locals believe that at least 288 different kind of demons lives along Tegelalang’s river. To neutralize these spirits Balinese from Tegalalang village every 6 months organize a parade that is in conjunction with Duur Bingin temple anniversary. It requires villagers to dress up like a demon. This traditional ceremony, sacred Grebeg ritual, in Tegalalang village known from the 13th century.
There is no gender restriction but mainly in such a parade participate hundreds of 3-15 years old boys (as well as teenagers). As well they prepare 288 meal offerings at any major religious festival to appease these spirits. This ritual purifies the village through the noisy parade of scary-looking kids (reminds a bit Ogoh Ogoh before Nyepy day). People believe that supernatural beings will be pacified so they won’t disturb temple ceremonies. In the morning kids deliver offerings and in the evening – they participate in a parade. I think it’s quite fun to watch this parade, see kids’ creativity. More about this Bali ceremony here.
Place: Duur Bingin temple, Tegalalang village, Gyanair, Bali
Best Bali hotels to stay in around Tegalalang. Or you can stay in Ubud. My experiences staying in Ubud you can check above.
Blood offering ritual to the Gods to appease the spirits – “Mekare-kare”
In ancient Balinese village Tenganan (where people still follow prie-Hindu culture and traditions) once a year, men participate in a theatrical fight “Mekare kare” (as well known as “Perang Pandan”, “Pandan war” or “Megeret Pandan”). The aim of such battle is to draw blood, to spill a few drops on the bare earth to appease the spirits and keep them at peace. Other people say that this ceremony nowadays is about to impress the village’s unmarried women. In any case, this ritual quite interesting because man’s fights with sharp pandanus leaves, bamboo shield and accompanied by native gamelan music “Selonding” (playing only in this village). Each fight lasts only a couple of minutes. Even if you won’t see a battle, during this event you will enjoy this Balinese ceremony because women will be dressed in traditional, only for this village common clothes, you will see traditional performances and hear Selonding music. It’s a time when you can be a witness to the most beautiful village. More about this ritual you can read here and watch the video.
Place: Tenganan Pegringsingan and Tenganan Dauh Tukad villages in Karangasem, Bali
Best Bali accommodation in Karangasem area you can find here. I have stayed in Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa. Honestly, it is one of my favorite places to stay in Bali – the hotel is in front of the sea (even if it’s not possible to swim there), interior nicely mixed between Balinese and modern style, spacious and green surrounding, breakfast is buffet type with big assortment and staff very helpful.
Harvest celebration – “Makepung” water buffalo’s races
Agrarian scenes are part of Balinese daily life. And to uphold agriculture traditions each year in some parts of the island is an organized unique festival – buffaloes race. It‘s a colorful agriculture spectacle-race (known from ~1930) which symbolizes the mutual help of farmers carrying their harvest using a carriage that pulls by two buffaloes. Balinese participate in such a race for honor, pride, and trophy. Race tradition originally came from Madura island in Indonesia. Such an event was so inspiring that in 1984 was created special traditional dance “Makepung”. This dance is performed by 7 to 9 males, females and depicts riders, the buffaloes themselves. One of the unique features of the dance is that it is accompanied by the Jegog bamboo orchestra, which is also typical of the regency. Find out more about this race and you can check this video.
Place: Kaliakah village, Perancak (close to Negara) in Jembrana, Bali
Best hotels in Bali Jembrana area you can see here or Negara here. But maybe you can find something suitable on Airbnb?
ALL YEAR LONG
Temple ceremonies – temple “birthday”
Every temple and shrine in Bali (there are more than ~4539 temples) has an annual ceremony called “Odalan”. The word “Odalan” is believed to have come from the root word “Wedal” which means “birth”. This is usually the day when the temple buildings are blessed for the first time or the day where Balinese Hindus commence to bring offerings and pray in the temple. Temple festival may come once in 210 days following the “Wuku” Balinese calendar (twice in a Gregorian calendar), thus a semi-annual celebration, or maybe an annual ceremony, if villagers follow the lunar calendar. Bali ceremonies for temples are very colorful, people are making special decorations, offerings as well you can see exclusive performances.
Since every village has at least three major temples (and often many more than that), there is always some kind of community religious activity going on. So I believe you could join any such event during your holidays in Bali.
Notice that during temple ceremony, not allow:
Enter such festival if you have an open wound, bring food inside, if you are mentally or physically ill, being in a state of mourning (for the Balinese this lasts 42 days or one month + 7 days of Balinese calendar), and having given birth within the past 42 days.
Time: every 210 days. Temple ceremony usually lasts for 1-3 days, but larger ones (which occur every 5, 10, 30 or 100 years) can last for 7-11 days or longer.
As well maybe you can be interested to see cockfights? Legal fights you can see usually during temple ceremonies almost all around the island but many people organize it illegally too. I have seen such fights in the Karangasem area, it’s quite common there but it’s hard to know from before when it will be held.
Furthermore, I participated in a Balinese sacred purification ritual which aimed to purify a human body and soul in order to prevent havoc, bad luck, and sickness (also achieve self-purification). If you would be interested to experience it too, before going to any water temple talk with local people who will explain the meaning, sequence and etc. The main thing – do it not for entertainment but with understanding why you do it and how to do it right.
I believe you don’t want to become an annoying tourist. Some tips for visiting Bali ceremonies, festivals, rituals (especially religious):
Always wear sarong and sash (you can bring your own or rent in the temple).
Don’t wear a bikini, too transparent clothes.
Never sit higher than the priest, on the offerings.
Don’t walk in front of people when they are praying or further than the prayers are.
Women are not allowed to enter temples during menstruations.
Don’t use flash or point camera at the priest’s face.
Be polite if making pictures of people – don’t disturb them if they are preparing for a ceremony, praying. Would be nice if you ask their permission to take photos of them.
Moreover, you should know that during the main religious, national celebrations can be a bit difficult to travel in Bali or another Indonesian island like people will have holidays. You can check the Indonesian holiday calendar of yearly events to plan your trip at the right time.
It’s only Bali celebrations that I want to visit this year (those that I didn’t mention here I already visited or will leave for next year too). Indonesia has more than 17 000 islands, each of them has different own celebrations. So you can imagine that in Indonesia you can feel like in never-ending celebration place.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Which Bali ceremonies, festivals, or rituals you would like to attend?
In which of these or other Bali ceremonies you already participated?
Do you have any similar to Bali ceremonies celebrations in your country?
First of all, I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of cooking. While living in Lithuania, I used to cook (simple dishes) mainly at home, because it was cheaper than eating out and I didn’t have enough free time to go to restaurants. However, since I’ve moved to Indonesia, I stopped cooking almost completely. It is often much cheaper to eat out at local places than prepare meals at home (especially because I know a number of cheap places that serve delicious food), and it is more convenient: you avoid shopping, preparing and washing dishes. Also, I am one of those people who follow a recipe to the letter and who will not start cooking until I carefully prepare all ingredients which takes a really long time. Also, I can only look after one pot at a time! I was always really envious of people who possess that magic touch, who can open their fridge, have a quick look round, and effortlessly create culinary masterpieces.
This long introduction is to show that cooking and I often go our separate ways. And I really wouldn’t have believed that one day I will be the one who not only takes part in cooking classes but also recommends them to others. I’ve discovered that, even for somebody who is not a natural chef, cooking classes in Bali are not only a great pastime, but also an opportunity to get to know Bali and its everyday life.
I’ve taken part in a few different cooking classes and want to bust some of the false myths about them. Do any of these seem familiar and is a reason why you haven’t yet chosen this activity while in Bali?
Cooking Classes in Bali – False Myths
“I cook loads at home already and don’t want to make food while on holiday”
Believe me, you won’t need to cook as much as you do at home. Everything is done much simpler, easier, and quicker. Chefs have their assistants, who will gladly take over from you if you had enough of cooking. You will be able to observe the remaining process and eat delicious food at the end.
“It’s not worth it because I won’t be able to make this at home”
After the lesson, all participants receive recipes with a clear descriptions of the ingredients, exact measurements, and cooking process. During the lesson, chefs also advise which local ingredients can be swapped for products that are easier to come by in Europe.
“I don’t know how to cook, so there will be nothing for me to do”
If you know how to use a knife and can distinguish between a chopping board and a bowl – it’s more than enough. You don’t have to be a master chef. Chefs and their assistants will always be around to show the best way to chop ingredients, etc. Also, cooking classes in Bali are not only about learning how to make traditional food, but also a deeper knowledge of Bali and the opportunity to taste real authentic dishes.
“It will be too hot”
Almost all cooking classes in Bali happen in an outdoor gazebo with perfect natural air circulation. These tents even have powerful fans (although you shouldn’t expect them to have air conditioning). I never felt too hot during the lessons I’ve attended so far.
Do you have some other doubts about cooking classes in Bali or reasons why you wouldn’t try them? Share your thoughts and I’m sure I’ll manage to prove you wrong.
Why attending cooking classes in Bali is a great idea?
It’s a chance to see everyday life in Bali and to know more about local delicacies. Before the class, many chefs offer a trip to local markets where you can get to know Balinese/Indonesian spices, fruit, vegetables, and seafood. Chefs tell you everything you need to know about any unfamiliar products, so you won’t need to stand there guessing “what on earth is this?”.
During one class, you will taste 5-9 different local dishes. So later, when you are at a local restaurant, you will be able to either order something new or go for your favorite dish tasted during the cooking class.
It is very easy to include these classes in your trip. They are often organized twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon, nearly every day. So, you can choose a time that suits you best. Cooking classes and tasting the dishes (that you have made) takes around 2-4 hours, so you can easily spend the rest of the day doing other things.
Making food will be pretty simple. Chefs and their assistants are always on hand telling you what, when, and how to chop, etc. You will never be left on your own with an unfamiliar recipe and ingredients. And if you ever get too tired, the assistants will happily take over and finish making the dish.
The menu will be adjusted to your needs. If you are vegetarian, vegan, have food allergies, or avoid certain foods – chefs will always offer alternative ingredients or dishes suitable for your eating habits.
With whom I had the cooking classes in Bali?
With chef Ketut (Ubud)
He is the most positive person on earth. Ketut will make sure you have a great time during your cooking class. Before opening his own cooking studio where he employs his relatives and friends, this chef spent quite a few years working in different restaurants. His studio praises itself for its hygienic environment, everybody works with disposable gloves. The space is very simple (as you can see from my photos), but this shouldn’t deter you from cooking with Ketut. Two people share one workspace. What you make together, that’s what you eat at the end. You can add stuff to your own dish if you like it to be more spicy or salty.
The place: 10 min. driving from Ubud center Time: morning classes (8.30 am-1.00 pm) and evening classes (3 pm – 7.30 pm). Monday to Saturday Menu: you will learn how to cook 9 Balinese dishes. There is a separate vegetarian menu. Number of participants: at one time can participate up to 30 people Language: English Advantage: free transportation to/from the lesson to your hotel in Ubud (possible pick-up/drop-off from other places but for an additional cost). Includes a visit to the local market. Price: 350 000 Rp (~ 22 EUR)/person. Minimum 2 people.
With chef Mudana (Sanur)
This Balinese chef is very attentive and helpful. Previously he worked abroad and in a few restaurants in Indonesia, and now, together with his family, he opened a small, but very cozy cooking studio at his home. The food is kept and made following strict hygienic standards. They also have a small corner where you can get various cooking souvenirs. Two people share one workspace, but, at the end of class, all food is put on individual plates and shared amongst all the participants.
The place: 10 min. driving from Sanur center Time: morning classes (7 am-2.00 pm) and evening classes (5 pm – 9 pm). On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays – Indonesian dishes. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – Balinese dishes. Menu: you will learn how to cook 7 dishes. There is a separate vegetarian menu. Number of participants: at one time can participate up to 12 people Language: English Advantage: free transportation to/from the lesson to your hotel in Sanur (possible pick-up/drop-off from other places but for an additional cost). Includes a visit to the local Jimbaran fish market (not possible during evening classes). Price: 750 000 Rp (~ 47 EUR)/person, morning class. 500 000 Rp (~ 31 EUR)/person, evening class. Minimum 2 people.
With chef Wayan (Bangli)
Wayan is a very experienced chef. He is quiet but very professional and friendly. He’s established his cooking studio in a rice field. It is a perfect environment for cooking and then eating the food, you simply don’t what to leave there afterward. Everything is also very hygienic. I especially liked that he donates some of the takings to the local community in his village: to fix the roads, help those in need, etc. Two people share one workspace and, after the class, all food is put on individual plates and shared amongst all the participants.
The place: 40 min. driving from Ubud center Time: morning classes (9 am-1.30 pm) and evening classes (2 pm – 6.30 pm). Monday to Sunday. Menu: you will learn how to cook 7 Balinese dishes. There is a separate vegetarian menu. Number of participants: at one time can participate up to 27 people Language: English Advantage: includes the local market visit. You can watch or even participate in the rice planting process. Near the cooking class, you can also visit traditional Balinese homes, spend half of the day with Balinese people, and help them with their daily activities (but this is a separate service for additional fees). Price: 680 000 Rp (~ 43 EUR)/person (transportation not included). Minimum 2 people.
There are other chefs who also organize cooking classes in Bali. I haven’t tried them myself but heard some good things about them. Here are a few of them:
The cost of cooking classes in Bali differs. So, before booking, check if the cost includes free travel to and from the cooking studio and free water (you will have to pay extra for any other drinks). Also, ask what else is included in the price.
I would strongly advise attending a cooking class during your first days in Bali. It will make it easier to choose meals from restaurant menus because you’ll be all ready familiar with the dishes, or choose to taste something new.
I would recommend going to the morning cooking class. In the mornings, markets are busier and the stalls offer more varied products. Also, in the morning you will have more energy and after a great lunch will be able to continue with your exploration of Bali.
Before coming to cooking class, don’t eat at least for a few hours. Believe me, there will be enough food to not only have while you are there but also plenty of leftovers to take home with you.
If you choose to have your cooking class at the hotel, double-check if it is happening somewhere else or at the hotel itself. Unfortunately, not all hotels have cozy spaces for cooking.
If you enjoyed your class, you can always leave a tip (but it’s not obligatory).
You know, even I, who clearly has a very conflicted relationship with cooking, really enjoyed moving around the kitchen during the cooking class in Bali. And I got to taste new dishes. Maybe I should rediscover my love of cooking also here, in Indonesia?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Do you think a cooking class in Bali will make it onto your wish list now?
Maybe you have already attended cooking classes in Bali and would like to share your experience and thoughts?
Have you participated in any cooking classes in other countries? How was it?
If you haven't decided where to stay in Bali, here are some places I've stayed (click to read):
Manyi Village Ubud– a place surrounded by rice paddies but further from the main streets. It’s not a big place, quiet, intimate. From the balcony, you can see the sunrise, from bathroom window paddies. Other travelers reviews.
Ubud Wana Resort– city type hotel, not too big, with spacious rooms, couple swimming pools, not far from Ubud Monkey forest. Stuff very flexible and helpful. Breakfast buffet type with several options. Other travelers reviews.
Sanggingan Villa and Permana Cottages – Ubud– both places are not too far from Ubud center. Rooms are spacious but the interior of Bali in 80’s (some rooms only with fan, some rooms needs improvement). Very simple served breakfast.