Bali ranks among the world’s most legendary islands—an impressive feat when you consider that Indonesia alone has more than 18,000 islands. Yet it’s entirely different from its neighbors. In the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Bali’s residents are Hindu. In contrast to the bustle of Jakarta, it offers timeless temples, vibrant green rice terraces, gorgeous beaches, and volcanic peaks.
The island is also legendary for the luxury of its resorts. Whether you want to stay in a villa overlooking the sea or one surrounded by tropical rainforest, you have an array of options. Michael Holtz of SmartFlyer has designed this trip to include two of his favorites, though an itinerary can be customized to include many other choices. Wherever you stay, your trip to Bali promises to be at once serene, spiritual, and sensual; it’s easy to combine beach time, spa treatments, temple visits, and sunrise treks. Consider it your opportunity to relax and rejuvenate.
The first step is to board your flight to Bali on Korean Air. With service from 16 gateways in North America, the airline offers the comfort of spacious cabins and the convenience of service to destinations throughout Asia, with a seamless transfer at Incheon airport near Seoul. When you land in Bali, you’ll arrive ready to experience all that this island gem offers.
Itinerary / 6 DAYS
DAY 1Fly to Bali
When you arrive at Incheon airport, the airline’s seamless service makes transferring to your Bali flight a breeze. Enjoy the many Korean Air lounges if you are traveling in First or Prestige or through your status on either Korean Air’s SKYPASS program or as a SkyTeam Elite Plus member.
After you arrive at your final destination, you’ll be met at the airport for your transfer to Amankila, one of Bali’s iconic beach resorts on the east coast of the island overlooking the Lombok Strait. With only 34 suites inspired by Balinese architecture, Amankila offers an atmosphere of quiet serenity. The resort’s centerpiece is a series of infinity pools along the lower slope of Mount Agung that make their way down to the sea.
After you’ve upped your surfing skills, have lunch at the resort before an appointment at the spa. Choose from a variety of spots for your treatment—the massage pavilion, a beachfront bale, or an open-air area under a tropical canopy. The Amankila spa uses local herbs and other ingredients in its scrubs and wraps, while incorporating traditional Balinese techniques in many of its treatments.
You’ll arrive glowing for dinner tonight—a private candlelit dinner prepared by your own chef assisted by a server. If you want to enjoy a bonfire, Amankila is ready to provide that as well.
DAY 3Amankila to Ubud
The contrast between the black-sand beaches of the east coast of Bali and the emerald-green rice terraces around Ubud is striking. The town is often described as the cultural capital of the island, known for its traditional crafts, dance, and music. It’s also a magnet for writers and artists from around the world—if you’re tempted to cancel your return ticket and find a home overlooking a rice paddy, you won’t be the first visitor to have been seduced by Ubud.
Your home for the next three nights will be Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, where you’ll be surrounded by rolling hills and rice terraces. Every element of Mandapa celebrates Balinese culture, from the traditional décor of the suites and villas to healing ceremonies and cocktails that feature Balinese ingredients and flavors.
The peak of Mount Batur rises to 5,633 feet and sits in the middle of two concentric calderas, which are also home to a number of small villages you’ll pass on your trek. Don’t be intimidated by this physical challenge—the trek is roughly two hours at a moderate pace and not too challenging, even if you aren’t a hardcore hiker at home. And when you get to the summit, you’ll be rewarded by seeing the colors of Bali reemerge under the morning sun.
Next, visit the Pura Taman Saraswati temple in the heart of Ubud. Dedicated to the Hindu goddess Sarasvati, the temple combines the beauty of traditional Balinese architecture with a calm and quiet atmosphere and a famous lotus pond.
Then head back to Mandapa, where you may want to take a nap poolside before lunch at the hotel. Choose from some sushi at the pool bar or perhaps Balinese curries overlooking the rice paddies at the Sawah Terrace.
In the afternoon, head into town to shop for gifts for friends back home—or items for your own home. Ubud is home to many of Bali’s artist studios and workshops, making it an ideal place to shop for itak and batik fabrics, baskets, jewelry, wood carvings, and more. Simply walk the length of the pedestrian-only street Jalan Karna, stopping in stores that look appealing. If you’re looking for any items in particular, ask the Mandapa concierges for recommendations before going into town.
DAY 5COMO Shambhala
The schedule of activities changes every day, but typically you’ll be able to choose from bike rides in the area, walks around the grounds or through nearby rice fields, Pilates classes, and hydrotherapy circuits. If possible, attend one of the cooking or juicing sessions, so that even after you arrive back home you can continue to enjoy the healthy flavors of Bali. If you’re interested in an Ayurvedic consultation, one can be arranged subject to availability.
End your day with sunset yoga before returning to Mandapa for your last dinner on Bali. The riverside bamboo cocoons at the resort’s Kubu restaurant are at once surprising, whimsical, and romantic.
The airline’s crews share a certain spirit with Bali, as seen in the mindful and gracious service they extend to passengers. The farm-to-flight philosophy of its culinary program, with many ingredients grown on the airline’s own farm on Jeju Island, is evidence that seasonal and sustainable cuisine doesn’t have to be limited to resorts. And if you ever feel like you’re starting to forget the lessons that Bali taught you, Korean Air makes it easy to return for a refresher visit.