How to have a merry Kuta Kristmas

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If you’re up for some fun over the festive season, it doesn’t get much better than Bali!

With Bali practically on our doorstep, and flights inexpensive and easy to come by, booking a last-minute getaway over Christmas is hard to resist. And why would you want to? Bali has long been an Aussie favourite when it comes to holiday destinations, and the recent travel hiatus means we’ve never been more welcome there.

Although Bali is largely Hindu, Christmas is still a time of celebration, and the streets, bars and beaches are full of life over the festive season. The Balinese will light up the sky with fireworks for occasions of all kinds (Independence Day, Chinese New Year, you name it), and Christmas is no exception. Settle in for the evening on Kuta beach – it’s a great spot to watch the sun go down and to ooh and aah at the fireworks.

What to do in Bali over Christmas

Kuta is the most popular beach in Bali for travellers, along with nearby Legian. By all means, get amongst it in these happening areas, but be sure to venture further afield to get the most out of your getaway.

Go shopping for presents

Specials abound at this time of year, and not just if you’re in the market for a surfing Santa t-shirt. Whatever you do, don’t do your Christmas shopping before you leave home, as there are bargains to be had on everything from finely crafted jewellery to homewares and handicrafts. Take a bus or taxi to Seminyak, just 15 minutes along the coast from Kuta, to browse some of the island’s best boutiques, galleries and surfwear shops. Keen to extend your shopping spree? We’ve got you covered. Ubud Art Market is the place to go for silver jewellery, souvenirs and locally made baskets, bags, bowls and other treasures.

Wash your worries away

Ubud is about an hour’s drive from Kuta, but shopping isn’t the only reason to make the trip. A visit to the Tirta Empul water temple is an absolute must. Submerging yourself in the clean temple waters and taking part in a purification ritual is an amazing way to power down and remember all you have to be grateful for. Our tip is to spend an hour or two after leaving the water to soak up the temple ambience – this place is nothing short of magical.

Get into some monkey business

While you’re in Ubud, head to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and buy a bunch of bananas as you go in. These cheeky little primates are well used to tourists and more than a little bold. If you spot one running towards you, throw a banana its way to avoid an encounter that’s a little too close for comfort. A visit here is otherwise peaceful, and an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

Food and Drink

It’s called the silly season for a reason, and this is the place to cut loose and get into the Christmas spirit. Bars, clubs and eateries line the streets of Kuta, and there’s no need to miss out on a traditional feast if you’re spending Christmas here. Many restaurants prepare special menus and buffets for Christmas Day, dishing up roast turkey and all the trimmings. Special Indonesian cuisine is on offer too, if you’d rather embrace local fare, but it pays to book ahead at a hotel or restaurant advertising any kind of Christmas Day menu.

Head for Uluwatu

All partied out? It might be time to get in touch with your spiritual side. Take a shuttle bus from Kuta to Uluwatu, on the south-western tip of Bali, where one of the island’s most beautiful temples awaits. Perched high on a cliff, Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a peaceful spot to wander around and the ocean views from the temple at sunset are nothing short of spectacular.

Don a sarong when visiting the temple, and cover any bare shoulders with a scarf or long shirt. And watch out for those pesky monkeys! The signs warning visitors to hang onto their sunglasses are there for a reason – a grabby little monkey hand might just snatch them off your face when you’re least expecting it, never to be seen again (you got it, I’m speaking from experience!).

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I grew up in the US, Germany and Australia, so it feels more foreign for me to stay in one place than to move around. Since then, I’ve called Boston, London, Seattle, Brisbane, Madison and Sydney home for study and work as a journalist, travel writer and photographer. I specialize in adventure travel, social issues and interiors/architecture. Home is now an 1890s cottage in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. I traveled to my seventh continent last year – an action-packed expedition to Antarctica – and have memories galore of my travels. Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, galloping with gauchos in Chilean Patagonia, trekking through Japan, and camel riding in Jordan are among the most memorable. My least favourite travel hiccup was being stranded in Cameroon when I should have been winging my way to Paris for a little me-time. You win some, you lose some.


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