Beyond the maddening crowds of Kuta, the cool crew of the ‘Gu and the designer crowds of Seminyak - lies a different Bali. Where traditions and ceremony colour village life, processions, incense and temple chants fill the air and locals smile their days away. Grab a driver and head out of the hustle and bustle - and experience the real deal.
The picturesque Bangli Regency in Central Bali is home to the photo-friendly Penglipuran Village. Just half an hour from Gianyar and 700m metres above sea level means cool breezes on hot days - makes for a great day trip out when visiting Ubud.
Gianyar is also home to Bali’s traditional artisan villages. Desa Celuk is a silver jewellery producing area. Most of the villagers here are gold or silversmiths. Shop or take a class and craft your own.
Batubulan plays host to the traditional dances of Bali. The intricate Barong dance, Kecak, and the beautiful Legong dance. Wander the stonemasons and wood carvers workshops - buy a masterpiece from here - locals say they have mystical powers.
Just 6km out of Ubud nearby Desa Mas is popular for its high-quality Balinese wood carving. An art lovers must do. Then head to Batuan which is famous for its traditional painting done in distinctive Balinese style.
Quaint Nyuh Kuning sits behind Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest and its frangipani lined streets are some of the cleanest and friendliest on the island. Locals and expats have created a traditional haven far enough away from the Ubud’s tourist hordes and hubbub. The village temple plays host to ceremonies, the local football field is the centre of village life - kites fly, people play soccer - the pace is slow. And everyone knows each other.
Tihingan Village in Klungkung is renowned for producing Bali’s unique gamelan instruments. From traditional gongs, drums and all the ritual objects any high priest needs Tihingan is like stepping back in time. Go for a wander and discover local workshops and galleries. Look for each families individual heritage mark on every instrument.
The East is also home to some of the island’s oldest villages. The Aga people of Tenganan Pegringsingan produce one of the rarest textiles in the world. And are also famous for their intricate basketry and weaving.
Written By: Fotini E Douglas