"Koryyyyyyyyn! Good news! I get to take two blogger friends with me on a free trip to Bali!"
It was a Monday afternoon when I received that call from my friend, Jen. Like I said in my previous post, despite all the hype about the Indonesian island, Bali was never on my bucket list, mainly for three reasons:
1) I've been told more than once that Bali beaches don't come close to the beauty of the Philippine beaches;2) Bali is a very expensive place. Hotel and resort rates are sky high; and
But who would resist an all expense paid trip, right? And, of course, the chance to finally find out if the popular beach destination will live up to its reputation. So what ensued after were four days of exchanging details, emails, and harried packing.3) There are no direct flights from Manila to Bali. Prior to Philippine Airlines's inaugural flight to the island last April 28, anyone from Manila who wants to go there would have to take a plane either to Jakarta or Singapore and then book another one to Bali. With all the promo fares left and right, Filipinos could fly to available Asian destinations for as low as USD70. So if you're a practical traveler like me, you'd think twice knowing you'd spend less on other countries or traveling around the Philippines.
And finally, come Saturday night, we found ourselves on-board the plane bound for Bali, Indonesia.
|Destination paradise? Curiosity at its peak: We left Manila eager to find out if there is some truth to all the hype about Bali, Indonesia.|
The truth about Bali. During the trip, we found out that we were joining a group of travel agents who were on a familiarization tour.
"A familiarization tour is a free (or low cost) trip for travel agents or consultants provided by a travel operation or airline as a means of promoting their service."
That meant four days of hotel hopping--from the most expensive five star resorts to the more affordable three star hotels--with some sightseeing in between. (During our last day, Jen and I opted out of the hotel hopping and had the chance to explore the Kuta area on our own.)
While it's not my usual style of traveling, it gave me a clear sense of how it is to enjoy Bali (and why it caters to a small Filipino market). In a nutshell, Bali is about the beach, culture, and resort living.
Tourists go to Bali for the resorts as much as they do for the beaches. The most expensive hotels are located at the Nusa Dua area. And for our first two nights, we were lucky to have been roomed in one of them--the Nikko Bali Resort and Spa.
In resorts like the Nikko Bali, you can either enjoy their huge pools...
Or lounge by the beach.
Coincidentally, the finer beaches are in Nusa Dua. The rates in the five-star hotel compound usually start at USD200/night for the lowest category room. (And a bottle of Coke costs USD3.15. Ouch!) No wonder majority of the tourists in Bali are Caucasians who would barely cringe at the amount. But as steep as the prices are, you'll definitely be wowed by the high class amenities.
|The chapel inside the Nikko Bali Resort and Spa.|
|Vows and a view to die for. It must be said: I WANNA GET MARRIED HERE! Haha.|
NIKKO BALI RESORT AND SPA
Nusa Dua 80363, Bali, Indonesia
T: +62 361 773 377, F: +62 361 773 388
The other hotels we went to offer equally fine amenities.
|The Furama Villas and Spa in Ubud, Bali.|
|Room with a view. Taken from a balcony at the Ayana Resort and Spa.|
|The Pullman Hotel. Located at the more rugged Kuta area, this five star hotel offers amenities comparable to the resorts in Nusa Dua .|
Lively Kuta. But while we were awed by all the fine resorts, we were happy to get a taste of the more lively Kuta area during our third and fourth day.
The restaurant strip in Kuta reminded me of Siem Reap's Pub Street and our very own Boracay (minus the sand).
|A strip reminiscent of Boracay's D'Mall.|
|Surf's up! The Kuta beach is known for its waves perfect for surfing.|
Bali deux? Like I always say in all my travel posts, I know I had a good trip if, even before I get home, I already feel like going back to that place.
So will I be going back to Bali?
I will. But only when the airfare becomes more affordable (as of posting time, a round trip ticket from Manila to Bali via PAL costs around USD355) and I find reasonably priced hotels.
So with that said, I'll now be on the lookout for those promo fares ;)
Want to read more about our Nikko Bali Resort and Spa experience? Read Sexynomad's blog here :)
Contact Person: Febrina Budiman
Mobile No.: +6287860627502