Off the Beaten Path in Bali (but still accessible to that path)
Penestanan, Bali, Indonesia
You've made it to Bali! Perhaps this is a place you've always longed to visit, perhaps you've booked your accommodation/tour/retreat and are ready to hit the ground running, or perhaps you are a jaded traveler like me and are snobbishly viewing it as a stop on the road to more far flung locals. I will be the first to admit that, however I try to keep a level head, I can fall into the mind frame of "Oh, I don't want to go somewhere there will be other tourists. How obnoxious!" Dear Reader, believe me when I say, I fully recognize that this thought is, in fact, the most obnoxious. So imagine my chagrin when I found Bali to be thoroughly worth the hype.
You can absolutely spend your time surrounded by tourists at certain beaches and temples, and Ubud itself (once known as an unspoiled gem of art and culture) is now a warren of foreigners and shops. But there are still places where you can find the small town Balinese life and the quiet magic that makes this Hindu island so special. Although it is becoming more popular as people hear of it, Penestanan is one of those places.
I first discovered Penestanan on a trip to Bali in 2014. My sister and I were looking for somewhere to stay that had the charm and spirituality Ubud used to be known for. There are many amazing things to see and do in Ubud (Monkey Forest, Gamelan music, traditional dance performances, yoga, fantastic food, etc.), but it is a super busy town with tourists busing in from around the island. Penestanan is easily accessible to Ubud (we rented bicycles and leisurely made it into Ubud center in about 20 minutes), but is still a one road town with joglos and other accommodations strewn throughout the rice paddies around the road. It also has its own small collection of restaurants and a lovely yoga center with views of the rice paddies, so you don't ever have to go into Ubud if you don't like. If you are looking for a relaxing, off the beaten track experience in the mountains of Bali, Penestanan is a beautiful option.