Having been to Bali thanks in a year, I wanted to do something different. Why don’t we travel to West Bali? and I asked my partner. He couldn’t have appeared more shocked. This is because apart from water sports enthusiasts, who love the diving scene there, hardly anyone else travels to West Bali, an area with mostly wilderness, a huge national park and government buildings (or so most people would think). The road trip to West Bali is very long, and you will be spending at least three hours on the road before you get anywhere. But what really surprised us was that the main roads were really wide and very developed (much more developed than many areas in central and east Bali actually), so driving there was a cruise – as long as you stay on the main road along the coast .

It’s a mountainous area, so if you veer off the coastal road you’ll be going up the winding hilly paths into the villages (which of course is pretty fun too if you have a good car and driver – really I can’t emphasize on this enough. It really makes a huge difference).
So let me bring you along as I recount our lovely quiet road trip! Recommended for couples or groups of friends who just want to do something different. You’ll enjoy good privacy, peace and awesome bonding time without being harassed by the sight of throughs of tourists in Kuta, Seminyak and even central Ubud.


Find the Banyan Tree with a Hole Bunut Bolong Tree

Nestled in the Manggissari is a strange little phenomenon – a majestic tree that’s worshipped by the locals, as it’s believed to possess supernatural powers. And mind, this is not just a usual tree – it has a hole in the middle of its roots.

But if you’re a newlywed couple, take note. Legend has it that brides and grooms who pass through the tree this way will end up separated. If you just want to be careful (better safe than sorry, no?), you can pass through another road constructed next to it. The road up is not easy, as it’s located in the middle of narrow, winding, hilly roads, and you need to be really careful here when you drive up. Follow the coordinates given below on Google Maps and you should be able to find your way up.

Nevertheless, just in case you lose your way, it’s still very, very important that either your driver or someone in the car knows how to speak and understand a bit of Bahasa to communicate with the villagers. In all honesty, for your own sake, please do not drive up the hilly slopes with a weather-beaten car like this (we do treasure our lives but I must admit we were a little crazy at that point in time – so please don’ t follow in our footsteps, or car tracks to be exact). The locals seem to drive through here on an everyday basis though, We even spotted a truck full of caged chickens (that might lamentably end up as someone’s dinner). It’s a very interesting place to do a photoshoot at though. Just be respectful of their local customs and don’t disturb the offerings around it.

Chance upon crashing waves on deserted quiet beaches

As you drive along the coast, along the Denpasar-Gilimanuk road, you’ll find yourself passing by beautiful coastal areas like this.

Isn’t it such a huge contrast to Kuta beach, where every inch of the sea is covered with surfers? (Not saying that having surfers around is a bad thing though.) No clutter, no hoards of tourists, just a vast expanse of sea crashing on the sand, and there’s no one around at all!

Have a quiet romantic dinner in the jungle

Yes, you can literally dine in the middle of the wilderness.
Nestled in the vast forest of The Menjangan resort, the Bali Tower Restaurant is the place to go if you want some privacy and peace.

The jungle experience is so real, you’ll find yourself in the middle of it before you even get to the restaurant. When we drove into the resort premises at around 7pm, it was pitch dark, and we had to drive our jeep along the dirt roads into the resort (yes there are no proper roads constructed, so you get the full-blown wilderness experience). So you can imagine – it was so bumpy and we had to travel at 10 km/h because the road and darkness just didn’t allow us to go any faster.

And mind, even though there was a road sign indicating that we were driving into the resort from the outside, we had to go on for a good 10 minutes or so in the middle of the jungle (that made us wonder if we had missed a turn – I mean, how can a resort be in the wilderness right? But yes all the undeveloped land really belongs to the resort and they just want you to get a safari experience).
After 10 minutes, we finally reached a crossroad where there are signs and a security guardhouse, which made us feel more assured that we had been traveling in the right direction.
So you’ll need to make a turn at the crossroads, following directions to the Bali Tower Restaurant.
If you don’t drive, you can call and make a reservation at the restaurant and request for them to pick you up. And you’ll be able to ride this really cool two-storey jeep-bus in, safari-style.

The Bali Tower Restaurant is lighted up prettily like a Christmas tree, and you can dine at whichever level you like, depending on availability.
For lunch and dinner, you can go up to the third storey, while the fourth and fifth storeys are for drinks and dessert only.

Almost like glamping Staying in luxury in the wilderness

If you love glamping, you’ll love staying at one of these jungle resorts in West Bali.

We spent two nights at Naya Gawana Resort, and loved it. You get a wonderful view from the pool at the lobby area.

It’s about 8 km away (15 minutes’ drive) from The Menjangan, so if you’re thinking of dining at the Bali Tower Restaurant, it’s pretty convenient. The resort is also a rare find, more affordable than The Menjangan – Naya Gawana Resort costs at least USD 60 for a standard bedroom (which is actually a villa of sorts, so it’s very value-for-money).
In fact, in West Bali, it is very difficult to find affordable stays. Guesthouses are rare, and most resorts or villas cater to the luxury crowd, due to the lack of demand there. The breakfast buffet at our resort was pretty average, but it was nice lazing near the poolside with some toast, waffles and tea. If you love the sun, you’ll love to sunbathe under the pretty blue skies here.

When night falls, go out – that’s when the magic happens.
Make your way to the poolside and look up – constellations scatter across the skies, embroidered on the heavenly landscape so beautifully.
(But lamentably when we were there, it was just too chilly and windy, so after a few failed attempts at night shots, we escaped into our room, where the warmth was too inviting.)
Our short stay in the wilderness was a quiet and restful one – so if a short hideaway with your significant other or close friends is what you’re looking for, maybe it’s time to ditch that Ubud yoga retreat and head west to seek sanctuary instead!
Candice traveled to West Bali in August 2015, a very sunny and crowded season. If you’re looking for lower hotel rates in general, do consider going during non-peak seasons (late April to May, September to November).