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They may not be the staple attraction in Bali, but paddy fields are still one of the most calming experiences you can have under the sun.
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(CNN)Many would argue that Bali is a paradise lost.
It isn't. It's just evolved.
If you want to know what to do in Bali, remember first that the island has transformed itself from a laid back surfer hangout into one of the world's most popular holiday destinations.
It now offers as many experiences as the varying hues of green found in a plot of terraced rice paddy.
Whether you're a hardcore partygoer determined to eat, drink and not sleep your way through Seminyak; a yoga devotee seeking peace and tranquility in Ubud's tropical rainforest setting; a die-hard surfer whose only agenda is to paddle out and catch the monster swells at Padang Padang; or a curious traveler charmed by Bali's sacred temples in Manggis -- you can do it all (or do nothing at all) in Bali.
The best of Bali has everything, the good, the downright ugly (braided, Bintang tank-top-wearing hordes in insufferable Kuta) and the sublimely beautiful.
Here's what to do in Bali.
W Retreat & Spa Bali -- Seminyak
Despite the double-glazed windows, you'll still hear the roar of the ocean.
The new rock star on the island, there's no denying the high-octane glamour that comes with this beachfront property.
It's large by Bali standards, but exudes its own sense of cool and calm.
A room in the main building gets you close to the action.
Back from the beach are the hotel's brilliant, and affordable, private villas and pools.
Very useful is the best of Bali AWAY spa, which remains open 24/7.
That's great news for late-night revelers in need of a foot massage after stumbling in from a night at Woo Bar -- Bali's newest hot spot.
Equally useful is the hidden sliding door that conceals and reveals bathroom and bedroom areas, and the three-tier main swimming pool for ample lounging and photo opportunities.
The hotel is far enough from the main array of hotels to keep the beach quiet, while further north is the even quieter Canggu beach.
The hotel can arrange a motorbike rental for US$5 a day.
W Retreat & Spa Bali - Seminyak, Jl. Petitenget, Seminyak, Kerobokan, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia; +62 361 4738106
The Colony Hotel
The Colony Hotel: For adults only.
There's one big plus point about staying at The Colony Hotel: no children under the age of 16 allowed.
Another bonus is the on-site Jari Menari massage facility.
Not to be overlooked are the 20 rooms done up in a pretty but minimalist decor.
The junior suite comes with a spacious balcony that overlooks the 16-meter pool.
The Colony Hotel Bali, Jalan Laksmana 22, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia; +62 361 736160
Amankila's signature three-tiered pool. You'll never look at swimming the same.
Located on a headland in Candidasa, high heels are not recommended while staying at the Amankila, as there are plenty of stairs to navigate.
Luckily, golf carts are readily available to transport you down to the beach club where a generous strip of black sand beach remains tout-free.
If you're tired of the sand and wanting to know what to do in Bali come sunset, try watching the changing color of the sky from the hotel's signature triple-stepped swimming pool.
Early bookers, try to get upgraded to villa 37 -- reportedly the resort's most requested villa -- which enjoys the best view of the ocean.
Amankila, Manggis PO Box 33, Manggis, Bali 80871 Indonesia; +62 361 341333
Anantara Resort Seminyak
The penthouse suite at Anantara Resort Seminyak puts you at eye-level with the coconut trees.
Bali has a quirky local rule stating that buildings should not be higher than a palm tree.
This five-story property just makes the cut.
Sitting front and center on Seminyak beach, all 59 suites (and one penthouse) come with ocean views.
Penthouse suites come with attached outdoor lounge space and a terrazzo bath, so you can fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort, Jl Abimanyu (Dhyana Pura), Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia; +62 361 737773
Ubud is where artists flock, so if you're staying here, it makes sense to put up at a property with artistic inclinations.
Michi is a work in progress, and its creator, the septuagenarian Professor Kung, calls himself a nomad.
Hence, the resort near Jukut Paku is an eclectic collection of rooms that are always changing.
Adding another dimension to the experience are mosaic grottos that overlook a particularly spectacular stretch of the River Wos.
Catch the sunset on Seminyak beach in comfort at S.O.S.
If you prefer your sunsets unobstructed, and like to enjoy them without grains of sand stuck in hard-to-reach crevices, S.O.S. is your spot.
The rooftop bar offers one of the best views of the Seminyak sunset slowly melting behind the horizon.
Service is swift and the drinks icy cold.
This is where to be and what to do in Bali come happy hour.
SOS Rooftop Lounge & Bar, Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa, Seminyak, Bali Indonesia; +62 361 737773
While most other beach bars roll out designer cocktails and fancy finger food, La Plancha keeps it simple with laid-back reggae beats, a selection of beer, oversized beanbags and jugs of potent sangria.
It also helps that the bar has an uninterrupted view of the pink-to-red-to-orange sky.
La Plancha, Mesari Beach, between JL Double Six and Jl Dhyanapura, Seminyak, Bali Indonesia; +62 361 8900000
There's rarely any room for women in Bali Joe, except for those that get up on the bar and lip-synch to Beyoncé anthems.
The bar is popular for its energetic vibe and nightly drag shows that feature plenty of audience participation.
Performers can be persuaded to extend a few private DIY diva tips.
Bali Joe Bar, Jl. Camplung Tanduk (Ex Dhyana Pura) no. 8, Seminyak, Bali Indonesia;
Rock Bar: Now this is a drink with a view.
Rock Bar's mixologists pour creative cocktails set to the beats spun from a DJ booth carved into the stone -- although some nights are devoted to live music.
Designed by Yasuhiro Koichi of Japan's Design Studio SPIN, this is one of the best, and most crowded, places to watch the sunset in Bali.
A word of warning: wear suitable clothes.
No board shorts or sleeveless tops for guys. T
hursday to Saturday nights are extremely busy, so be prepared for a long wait.
A scooter from the main Kuta/Seminyak stretch will take 30 minutes-plus to reach the bar.
Rock Bar at AYANA Resort and Spa BALI, AYANA Resort and Spa BALI Jl Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali Indonesia; +62 361 702222
Ku De Ta
No trip to Bali is complete without catching a sunset at this local institution.
Arrive early or you'll have to sprawl out on the lawn.
Drinks are pricy, but the mojito, raspberry and lemongrass cocktail and Kuve Margarita made with lemon sorbet is worth the coin.
KU DE TA, Jalan Kayu Aya No.9, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia; +62 361 736969
Potato Head Beach Club
Bali's newest, hippest beach bar is housed in an impressive geometric facade that you won't miss.
It's the best place to be seen drinking and partying.
Celebrity DJs often play weekend gigs.
Other nights see island residents streaming in at sunset for cocktails and tapas.
The kookaburra is a popular order, a curious concoction made of lemongrass gin, passion fruit and mint, and topped by the club's signature vanilla foam.
Potato Head Beach Club, Jalan Petitenget 51 B Seminyak, Kerobokan, Bali 80361 Indonesia; +62 361 4737979
Shopping / Attractions
There's plenty of shopping to do in Bali, and few visitors are able to resist the urge to take home a full 24-piece set of Jenggala crockery in pale green jade or plain white.
What started in 1976 as a small, experimental cottage industry has become a global ceramic force.
The high quality, handcrafted ceramic decorated with painstaking detail is a pretty addition -- and nicer reminder of Bali -- to any home.
Jenggala, Jalan Uluwatu II, Jimbaran, Bali 80361 Indonesia; +62 361 703311
Simple Konsep Store
This store is anything but simple.
At this concept space that fuses Bali's traditional artisan skills with modern European designs, you'll find everything from origami folding leather bags, Melissa shoes, commissioned ceramics objects by Gaja Gallery, jewelry by local and European designers and unique batik print apparel.
Simple Konsep Store, 40 Jalan Lesmana-Oberoi, Seminyak; +62 361 730393
Mount Agung gets you closer to the gods.
What to do in Bali after you've seen all the beaches, sampled all the menus and hit all the bars?
Scaling the majestic Mount Agung -- at 3,142 meters the highest point on the island -- makes for a worthy challenge.
A strato-volcano that last erupted in 1963, locals believe it's a replica of Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe.
There are two routes to the top.
Both take up to four hours.
And while you can scale it without a guide -- they can be found lingering at the start of the trek -- employing one is highly recommended.
Mount Agung, Bali Indonesia;
Supposedly the work of the 15th-century priest, Tanah Lot is one of Bali's most holy, and touristy, sites.
Located in Tabanan, the sacred Hindu temple sits on a large rock out in the ocean and is said to be guarded by sea snakes.
Head toward the footpath leading to the raised cliff area where the view of the sun setting behind the temple is outstanding.
Tanah Lot Temple, Desa Beraban, Kecamatan Kediri, Beraban, Bali Indonesia;
Only in Bali
OK, they're not only in Bali, but terraced rice fields in varying shades of brown, gold and green make for one of Bali's most calming and beautiful sights.
Keep Walking Tours runs daily excursions, but you can also head off exploring on your own.
Start at Ubud Palace, head west on Jalan Raya Ubud and follow signs that bring you past the River Wos, Campuan Ridge and the village of Penestanan.
Ubud Palace, junction of Jalan Suweta and Jalan Raya Campuan
Balinese avant garde
Balinese art is more than topless women and rice-paddy landscapes.
The artist-run Sika Gallery in Campuan, Ubud, condemns commercial art and seeks to push Bali's visual arts envelope.
Ask after artist-curator I Wayan Sika and see if you can coax out the story of his artistic journey, during which a coma-like state inspired him to produce some of his best works.
Balinese avant garde, Jalan Raya Campuhan, Ubud, Gianyar; +62 36 1975084
Poor Ketut Liyer.
The elderly medicine man has been kept busy all hours of the day since "Eat, Pray, Love" catapulted him to global fame.
Consultations on your life and love prospects don't come easy or cheap.
Expect all tickets -- yes, there's a docket system -- to be snapped up by 9 a.m.
Prices vary, but often start from US$25.
10 minutes' walk south of Pengoseken, follow the signs; +62 361 974092
Babi guling at Ibu Oka
Oh mama, that is a whole lot of pig.
When in Bali, a meal of babi guling (roast suckling pig) is a must.
It's essentially a whole roasted pig stuffed with spices, carved up and served with rice and vegetables.
While there are many places to get it around Bali, Ubud's Ibu Oka is a famed institution serving up platefuls of the stuff daily till mid-afternoon, when the food runs out.
This is a meal that works your jaw.
You'll need to chew hard till all the flavors are released from the succulent meat.
Around noon, staff usually carve up another pig.
It's a great photo op.
Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3, Jl. Suweta sidestreet, Bali Indonesia; +62 361 976 435
Jari Menari massage
There are massages and then there's a Jari Menari massage.
The name means "dancing fingers" and your body parts will be in perfect harmony at the end of the treatment.
The all-male staff employs a mixture of techniques (Swedish, deep tissue, Balinese) and emphasizes the rhythm and movements of your body.
Book well in advance to ensure a spot.
There's another branch at Nusa Dua, and a one-masseur facility at The Colony Hotel.
Introductory massages classes are held on Tuesdays.
Jari Menari, Jalan Raya Basangkasa 47, Seminyak, Bali Indonesia; +62 361 736740