I fell in love with Bali during my backpacking years and return as often as I can. Back then my days spent exploring the island turned into weeks. Watching the surf roll in at Uluwatu, come sundown surfboards silhouetted against a crimson sky, arak cocktail in hand; whizzing noisily along bumpy dirt tracks on the back of a motorbike, past paddy fields just outside of Ubud. And it’s here you’ll find my most favourite place, COMO Shambhala Estate. A world-renowned spa; villas that are stylish and grand with the most splashable private pools; there are even tucked away spa beds in the thick of the forest, like stepping onto the set of Avatar. But best of all, step away from under the pillar-and-thatch-cover of the Estate’s teahouse, and you’ll find one bench, set apart. Down below is a deep cut – a valley gorge carpeted with tree after tree. Swallows swoop overhead fluttering through the air like kites. Sitting there feels like you have the whole of Bali’s wilderness at your feet. And it is blissful.
Blessed with pristine beaches and suffused with spirituality, Indonesia offers a perfect mystical balance. Mystical and enchanting, Indonesia offers a spiritual mix of natural wonders, local colour and centuries old tradition. In Bali, where the rice paddies trip down hillsides like giant steps, there are intriguing Buddhist temples to discover, local crafts to bargain for in the artistic hub of Ubud and the stunning golden beaches of Seminyak, Uluwatu, Legian and Jimbaran on which to relax. Retreat to Ubud to explore the villages, ancient temples and rivers whilst exploring the back streets, courtyards and soaking up the art and culture. Get into the creative flow by joining a local painting class before taking the short hop over to the pristine beaches of Lombok where many take the opportunity to join a tour to the sacred volcano of Mount Rinjani. Sail out with the divers who are heading across to the Gili Islands – turtle capital of the world – where water temperatures remain wonderfully warm all year round. Dynamic Singapore is a sleek metropolis boasting designer chic and cosmopolitan class. Spend the afternoon seeking out Gucci and Prada on Orchard Road before dining on an explosion of fusion cuisine and unwinding with an obligatory Singapore Sling at Raffles. Marvel at the riot of orchids in the 150 year old Botanic Garden, visit a market in Chinatown and hop across to Sentosa Island – a leisure playground blessed by white sand beaches. A Singapore stopover en route to other destinations or as part of a Far East multi centre itinerary leaves the traveller thirsting for more.
Bali and Lombok have a hot, tropical climate year round, with May to September being the most popular months to visit when there is less humidity. Bintan Island is best visited during the dry season, March to November.
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