When you think of Bali, your mind may wander to a gorgeous tropical paradise, complete with monkeys, coconuts, turquoise waters, and more sunshine than you know what to do with.
This lush island, however, is far more than meets the eye. Anything but a simple vacation spot, Bali will pull you in with her intense spiritual energy, captivating culture and community, and absolutely magical serendipities that seem to happen around every turn, if you’re open to them.
For those planning to make the trip, know this: Bali will unearth in you what you need to experience. Spending time on this island can be a massive catalyst for any shifts you need to make in your relationships, work, or any other area of life. Allow yourself to be moved by your time in Bali, and your experience of life may truly never be the same again.
For the location independent lifestyle rebels, digital nomads, yogis, and slow travelers who flock to the island, Bali (and Ubud in particular) is one of the most grounding, spiritually liberating, and vibrant destinations you can choose.
Here are 5 reasons why you may want to cancel that return ticket:
The community of foreigners in Ubud is really interesting. I find that most people there identify with one (or more) of these categories: digital nomad, yogi/spiritual journeyer, and backpacker. The island contains an interesting mix of short and long-term travelers, and local expats who actually call Ubud home. Regardless, the culture of foreigners is rich and diverse, and you’re guaranteed to meet fascinating people around every corner – sipping on green smoothies, practicing their handstands, or cleansing their chakras.
If you’re a digital nomad, entrepreneur, or work online in any capacity – Ubud is your new paradise. Join Hubud, the most popular co-working space in town, and you’ll be immediately welcomed into the “office” – a gorgeous, airy bamboo space with monkeys literally popping around and people from all over the world working on all sorts of interesting projects.
There are always cool meetups going on, communal work groups, events, and the fastest Wi-Fi in the area – which is especially helpful since the Wi-Fi at the cafes and homestays in Ubud generally leaves much to be desired. Luckily, Hubud has your back, and will embrace you with an entrepreneurial community straight away.
The other great thing about Ubud is just how friendly and open everyone seems to be. You can hardly sit down at a cafe anywhere without the traveler at the next table chatting you up to hear your story. Outside of Hubud, there isn’t much of a “work” vibe – people are here to connect, reflect, practice yoga and enjoy life! There are literally millions (not exaggerating by much!) of interesting events going on all the time, and if you pop into a cafe with a friendly smile and willingness to meet new people, guaranteed you’ll come out with an invitation to a sound bath, ecstatic dance class, or cacao ceremony out in the jungle somewhere.
The Nature and Energy
Those who are “woo-woo” averse, avert your eyes… Bali is a place with an indescribable spiritual energy to it. Essentially, you get what you need when you come here. There’s no hiding from yourself in Bali, this lush island with abundant feminine energy and a surprisingly intense charge.
There are plenty of stories from people who came here for a relaxing holiday and got just that – while many others reflect on the intense inner journeys they experienced, massive emotional shifts, spiritual openings, and profound, life-changing insights.
Many reflect that the energy of Bali is quite “yin” – or feminine in nature. This makes it a fantastic place to connect with nature, meditate, reflect, and work on inner healing and emotional processes. It’s also a great place to work and connect with a digital nomad community, but I have personally found it far easier to work on creative visioning and “big picture” types of projects, or creative work like art or writing, than more “masculine” type of work like sales, marketing, or hustling out a new business venture.
No matter where you are on the island, you’ll thrive in the vibes of the lush jungles, waterfalls, beaches, and mountains. There is literally something for everyone here, whether you love surfing, hiking, sunbathing, snorkeling, or trekking a volcano to watch the sun rise. Spending time in Bali just has this really unique way of making you feel indescribably, vibrantly, extra-alive.
As a personal growth junkie, I am personally biased towards any place that offers such a plethora of fascinating ways to strengthen the spiritual and self-development muscle! What I can say is this: you’d be hard-pressed to come to Bali and not grow yourself in some way.
If you’re a yogi, or interested in becoming one, you couldn’t possibly be in a better place.
Yogis come from all over the world to practice in Bali, participate in yoga teacher trainings, retreats, and all sorts of other yoga and healing-related events.
My personal experience diving into yoga in Bali was absolutely life-changing. After going through a breakup just days after arriving to Ubud, I joined Radiantly Alive studio for an unlimited class pass and threw myself into two or three classes per day. Not only did I become “addicted” to yoga – but I had somehow shifted into a place of radical self-love, emotional release, and embracing of beautiful uncertainty. That month inspired me to deepen my practice, pursue my own yoga teacher training in India later that year, and aspire to incorporate yoga into every aspect of my life, business, and connections in the world.
Needless to say, I highly recommend that Radiantly Alive top your list for yoga venues to explore when you’re in town. However, The Yoga Barn is another big favorite within the spiritual traveler tribe.
And if yoga isn’t your jam – or you need a break from all those downward dogs – you can hardly walk 5 feet without running into a chakra meditation class, juice healing workshop, sound healing or Qi Gong session, cacao ceremony, or “conscious” pool party. If you explore Bali, and especially Ubud, with an open mind – you’ll leave with so many new insights, fascinating friends, and personal growth opportunities!
And in March or April of each year, the Bali Spirit Festival comes to life with a week’s worth of yoga, healing, and mystical workshops of all kinds, along with world music at night and a totally loving hippie vibe – it’s a must-do to fully experience Ubud culture to the max!
The Balinese Culture
Spending time amidst the Balinese culture feels like a true gift. The local people of Ubud are absolutely welcoming to foreigners, opening their hearts and homes to those with an open mind and spirit. Bali is a country with a beautiful Hindu holiday seemingly every week, so you’ll constantly be surrounded by parades, glittering bamboo arches decorated with colorful flowers and streamers, and drum beats and music filling the streets.
One beautiful tradition of this reverent Hindu culture is to place gorgeous flower offerings out every single morning, lit with aromatic incense, only to sweep them away each evening and repeat the process daily. If you’re up early enough, you’ll see the Balinese carefully setting out and blessing their offerings, as the incense wafts through the morning air. It’s a common occurence to return to your bicycle or motorbike and find it sweetly blessed with a Balinese offering.
When you book accommodations in Ubud, most often you’ll actually be staying in a “homestay”, which is a room in the middle of a Balinese family compound. Here, you’ll get to experience firsthand the Balinese ceremonies at their unique family temple right there in the compound, even getting dressed up by the family to participate right along with them. They normally prepare your breakfast and coffee each morning, and will set it out for you at your individual room, or offer you to join the communal breakfast table.
A few recommended homestays in Ubud:
- Sandat Bali – http://www.sandatbaliubud.com
- Den Den Mushi Homestay – http://www.booking.com/hotel/id/den-den-mushi.html
- Jati Homestay – http://www.jatihs.com/
- Nirwa Ubud Homestay – http://www.nirwaubudhomestay.com/
- Puri Bayu Homestay – http://puri-bayu.com/
The Organic Healthiness
Bali is an absolute mecca for organic, gluten-free, vegan, raw deliciousness. For healthy travelers and yogis, there’s hardly a better destination to fuel up for those acro-yoga workshops, meditation classes, and sound bowl healing sessions. Ubud is filled with juice bars, raw dessert shops, and salad cafes where you can stay energized on museli bowls topped with luscious dragonfruit, decadent coconut mango smoothies, and raw buckwheat pesto noodles.
Everywhere you turn, you’ll find a new kind of raw cheesecake, acai smoothie, or soy ice cream to satisfy your healthy appetite. People come from all over the world to Ubud just to do juice cleaning retreats or raw food workshops, so take advantage here and cleanse your body as you cleanse your mind and spirit through all the yoga and healing workshops in town.
And because all of this healthy indulgence is about half the cost that you would pay back in the West, there’s no excuse to leave here feeling your absolute best and most detoxified. That is, if you ever decide to leave at all!