Choosing Bali Tour Packages – A Solo Traveler’s Dilemma

Bali was the last stop of my solo backpacking trip around Southeast Asia, and my biggest dilemma when I arrived was choosing among the plethora of Bali tour packages offered. What made it more difficult was that I can’t find any group tours that a solo traveler can join, which means I need to go on a private tour.

With dwindling travel funds, I couldn’t afford to take multiple Bali tour packages and had to settle with just one. But which one? I figured I’d just get the one where I’d get to visit its famous landmarks.

north west bali tour package

The tour I got focused on Bali’s north west side covering sites like Taman Ayun, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, and Tanah Lot.

taman ayun bali 1

The driver picked me up from the hotel at 10:00am, and within an hour, we reached our first destination – Taman Ayun.

Taman Ayun

A few minutes walk from the parking lot, we entered a manicured garden. I then learned from my driver that Taman Ayun literally means ‘temple in a beautiful garden’.

taman ayun bali 2
Taman Ayun is considered a family temple where the ancestors of the Raja of the Mengwi Kingdom and other gods are honored.
taman ayun bali 3
Pura Luhuring Purnama

We walked further and entered an elevated split gate – a distinguishable Balinese doorway – to reach the Pura Luhuring Purnama which is the holiest courtyard in the temple complex.

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It was already lunch time when we left Taman Ayun. And since I haven’t had pork for almost a couple of weeks (I came from Malaysia before coming Indonesia), I asked the driver if we can drop by one of the warungs along the way so I can eat babi guling.

I was expecting it to be similar to our (Philippine) version of lechon, but the spiciness caught me off guard. I’m not a fan of spicy food, so I wasn’t able to finish the meal. 🙁  

Also, I probably got ripped off because I paid IDR50,000. I later learned that babi guling usually only cost around IDR25,000-IDR30,000. -_-

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Moving on, about an hour and a half away from Taman Ayun is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Bali 2

Located 1,231 meters above sea level, it was the perfect respite from Bali’s humidity. It was even a bit foggy when we went.

There’s an expansive and well-maintained park, but I find it quite odd that it looks like a mini zoo (with bats and python you can take a picture with for a fee) within the temple grounds.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Bali
The iconic Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is set on the beautiful Beratan Lake.

On a clear day, the lake is mirror-like; beautifully reflecting the temple and the surrounding hills.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

jatiluwih rice terraces bali

When our car pulled up at a parking space in front of a restaurant overlooking the paddies, I thought to myself “Wait, this is it?” You see, I’m from The Philippines and rice terraces are not exactly a novelty in my country, so I found it quite underwhelming.

I was also kind of expecting that we’d go in the actual Jatiluwih, and not just admire it from afar. Needless to say, there was nothing much to do here, so I asked if we could go to Tanah Lot.

COFFEE TASTING at sari amerta luwak coffee (one bali agro)

Because it was still early, the driver suggested that we drop by a coffee farm first for coffee tasting. He said there was no pressure to purchase.

coffee tasting bali
I can’t exactly remember the correct order, but pictured are: Mangosteen Tea, Red Ginger Tea, Bali Cocoa, Lemongrass Tea, Ginseng Coffee, Coconut Coffee, Ginger Tea, Bali Coffee, Lemon Tea, Cocoa Spices, Rosel Tea, Vanilla Coffee, and Luwak Coffee.

We did a short tour of the coffee farm first before the coffee tasting. Then I was presented with a dozen sampler of their products.

I actually liked a couple from this bunch and was planning to bring home some, but got turned off by the price. I decided to just buy one from the supermarket close to my hotel. :p

tanah lot

Not too far from the coffee farm is Tanah Lot.

tanah lot bali

This Hindu shrine is perched atop an outcrop in the sea, but devotees doesn’t seem to mind the crashing waves and ‘guardian’ sea snakes (according to my driver).

We were supposed to wait for the sun to set, but there were too many people so I asked the driver if he has any suggestions. He said we could go to Seminyak Beach.

seminyak beach

seminyak beach bali

Seminyak Beach is lined with posh hotels and high-end restaurants, so it’s less crowded than the rest of the beaches this side of Bali.

seminyak beach bali 2

While Philippine beaches are far better than Bali’s (yes, I’m biased), there’s no denying that their spirituality, culture, and way of life is unlike any other in the world.

seminyak beach bali 3

I know I’ve barely scratched the surface, so I am aching to see more of what the Island of the Gods have to offer.

I’d probably bring a friend along when I return, so we can fully enjoy other Bali tour packages such as Kintamani Tour, Ubud and Goa Gajah, Uluwatu Temple Sunset and Kecak Fire Dance, and Bali’s East (Tirtagangga) tour.

Have you been to Bali? Which Bali tour packages did you like the most? Please leave a reply below.

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