As you may know, a few weeks ago I arrived back home after spending 11 days in the beautiful Ubud in Bali. This was my third trip to Bali but my first to Ubud and I now am even more in love with this little island than I already was.
Ubud has this incredible spiritual vibe and has become a mecca for yogis, health nuts and spiritual seekers. The abundance of organic / raw food cafes, alternative healers, spiritual book shops, crystals and yoga studios in the lively town centre contrasted with the tranquility of the lush rice fields just behind the bustling main street made me think I'd found heaven on earth.
Photos: Exploring the Rice Fields; Motorbikes parked on the main street Jalan Raya Ubud
I have always had an adventurous spirit and I consider myself a traveler (as opposed to a tourist). But this trip was not about sightseeing and exploring (although I couldn't help myself so there was a little of that), it was about taking time to reconnect and go within.
Since Elizabeth Gilbert's bestseller Eat Pray Love, loads of health, spiritual and yoga retreats have popped up in Ubud. However they can be rather pricey. Not wanting to spend that kind of money I decided to create my own Ubud retreat for a fraction of the price.
All together the trip cost me AU$2 500. That includes everything from flights to accommodation to food to spending money.
So how did I create my own Bali DIY Yoga Retreat? Keep on reading.
Full Disclosure:I am not affiliated with any of the below organisations and am not getting paid for writing this post. All prices are as at August 2014.
Flights are relative inexpensive when flying from Sydney, or anywhere else in Aus. We picked up a Jetstar return flight for AU$550. This price excluded checked luggage and you can find out how I traveled only with carry on here.
You could probably pick up a cheaper deal depending on the time of year you fly. We were travelling during peak season which is in July and August. Prices also increase during the school holidays.
There are 2 main cheap accommodation options in Ubud. You can stay in a boutique guesthouse/hotel or you can go the home-stay route. Home-stay accommodation is where a Balinese family rent out a room in their home (compound) for accommodation. They are generally the cheapest starting from as little as AU$10 per night.
When choosing accommodation also take into consideration the location. Where are the restaurants, yoga studios and day spas you want to go to? Try to find accommodation that is within walking distance to the places that you know you will be frequenting.
We stayed in the gorgeous Kunang Kunang Guesthouse. Because we were staying for a longer period we got a twin room for 450,000 IDR per night. For the 11 nights that equated to approximately $230 each. This price included a basic breakfast each morning.
The accommodation was basic yet comfortable. The rooms were clean, the grounds, complete with a swimming pool, were gorgeous, the staff were friendly and it was well located within walking distance of the Yoga Barn and the main street.
Photos: Kunung Kunung Guesthouse; View over the pool and rice field from our balcony; Our twin room at Kunang Kunang Guesthouse
Omg the food in Bali is amazing! Ubud is bursting with cafe's, restaurants and juice bars where you can enjoy every kind of healthy cuisine from organic, raw, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, dairy free, gluten free. You name it, you'll find it.
Not to mention it's also pretty cheap. On average I was paying AU$6 to $10 a meal including drinks*. And we were eating at the best organic/wholefoods places. If you are not so fussy on eating healthy food you can find even cheaper eats.
*In Bali the prices listed on the menu usually exclude the service charge and government tax. You will be charged and extra 21% (11% service, 10%tax) on the total of you bill.
With so many healthy places to eat I didn't get to them all but my favourites were:
Dayu's Warung - was my top fav. After the owner, Dayu, healed herself and her daughter she opened her own healthy warung in Jalan Sugriwa to share her passion for healthy food. You'll find everything from fresh juices and smoothies, vegetarian, non-vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes as well as traditional Balinese dishes with a healthy twist. The entire menu is also gluten and MSG free. To top it all off Dayu's was the cheapest healthy eat we found in Ubud. Drinks were between 12,000 and 20,000 IDR (AU$1 - 2) and meals on average were 30,000 IDR (AU$3)
Photos: Aloe Detox Drink and Banana Juice; Coconut Gomasio Salad
Kafe + Garden Kafe - Both are owned by the same people and serve a delicious range of whole healthy foods, smoothies and juices. You can find something to suit every dietary requirement, whether you are a meat and grain eater or a raw vegan. Kafe was right across the road from our accommodation on Jalan Hanoman and Garden Kafe is located in the luscious grounds of The Yoga Barn. The menus vary slightly between the two locations to cater for the pre and post yoga appetites at Garden Kafe.
Photos: Green Smoothies + Raw Desserts; Weekly Sunday Vegetarian Buffet Lunch
Bali Buda - located in the quiet street Jalan Jembawan opposite the Ubud Post Office, Bali Buda is the slow food restaurant in Bali. With locations in Ubud, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua, Bali Buda serves fresh, tasty, homemade food prepared with sustainable, organic and chemical free produce to satisfy every dietary requirement. Aside from their food, I really loved their dedication to protecting the local environment and culture. I also liked that they didn't provide wifi because they believe that meals are a time for connection.
Photo: Pesto Pizza + Kombucha
Down To Earth Cafe - We didn't get to this one until our second last day and I only wish we'd gotten there sooner. This place serves of the most amazing organic vegetarian food. The Raw Chocolate Mousse Cup Cake I had was to die for. Down to Earth Cafe is located above* the Down to Earth Market on Jalan Goutama Selatan where you can also buy a range of holistic health products and foods.
*The cafe is accessed via the stairs at the back of the shop
Photo: Raw Chocolate Mousse Cup Cake and Coconut Goddess Drink
Clear Cafe - another popular healthy restaurant located on Jalan Hanoman that serves organic, natural and clean foods. Their extensive menu offers something to satisfy every diet. When you walk into this modern sanctuary you leave your shoes at the door and are adorned with a frangipani behind your ear.
Photo: Diamond Detox Drink + Rabbit Paradise Salad
There are plenty of places to do yoga in Ubud. Most of the yoga studios offer a variety of different styles of yoga, meditation, Qi Gong, Pilates and Tai Chi.
If you are creating your own retreat the best and most economical way to do yoga is to buy a class pass. Most of the studios either offer a certain number of classes pack (e.g. 10 classes valid for 30 days) or a certain number of days pass (e.g. 14 day unlimited class pass).
Additionally the benefit of buying a pass upfront is that you will be more motivated to go since you'll have already paid for it. That's right. No slacking!
I bought a 10 class pass at The Yoga Barn for 750,000 IDR (AU$75) which gave me access to all their classes which range from traditional yoga styles of Classical Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Power, Pranayama, Restorative, Iyengar, Yin & Anusara to Meditation, Pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi Sound Medicine, Kirtan and Ecstatic Dance.
The Yoga Barn is the most beautiful place I've ever done yoga. Although they call it a barn it's more like a tropical oasis. The main yoga studio is in a large open traditional Indonesian building set in the midst of a tropical landscape and small rice paddy.
Photos: Yoga Studio Sign; Yoga Barn Main Studio
Although The Yoga Barn was the only place that I did yoga, there are many other studios. The most popular ones include
Radiantly Alive in Jalan Jembewan (opposite Bali Buda)
Taksu in Jalan Goutama Selatan (near Down To Earth)
White Lotus Yoga + Meditation Centre in Jalan Kajeng
Ubud Bodyworks Centerin Jalan Hanoman
Alternative healers from all over the world seem to flock to Ubud. Whether you are looking for naturopathy, Chinese/herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Reiki, Psychics, Mediums, Crystals, Energy Work, Colour Therapy, Sound Medicine, you will find it all in Ubud.
By creating your own DIY retreat you can customise your treatments and tailor it to your budget. The easiest way to find a healer is through the yoga studios.
Photos: Yoga Barn's Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Centre
The Yoga Barn offers a whole ranger of holistic healing treatments including CranioSacral, Kinesiology, Chinese Medicine + Acupuncture, Ayurveda Customized Consultations, Naturopathy + Allergy Elimination, Reiki, Shiatsu, Pranic Healing + Chakra Balancing, Deeksha Blessings, Indian Sound Healing, Sound Medicine, Thai Yoga Massage and Esalen Massage. Click here to find out more.
Radiantly Alive also has a good range of similar Holistic Therapies.
The other added benefit of DIY'ing your yoga retreat is that you have the flexibility to add a bit of sightseeing into your retreat.
I actually think that experiencing the local culture is an important part of going on a retreat. It opens your eyes to different ways of living and being which helps you reflect on what is truly important in your own life.
I find travelling to be one of the easiest way to get into the present moment.
You are so immersed in the new sights, sounds, smells and tastes that your worries seem to drop away. That relaxed, holiday mode feeling is actually you connecting to your true self.
Now I'm not suggesting that you need to be doing something everyday. Experiencing the local culture also doesn't mean that you have to do loads of day tours and sightseeing trips. It can be as simple as going for a walk in a quieter street where there are less tourists. The beauty of creating your own DIY Bali retreat is that you get to choose the things you want to do and set your own pace.
Photos: Balinese Offerings to the Gods, Ancestors + Demons; Balinese woman carrying wood in the rice fields; Balinese men fighting their roosters in a side street of Ubud
The hard part is going to be choosing. There are tons of great things to see and do in Bali that it deserves a blog post of it's own. Stay tuned!
Now it's over to you.
Have you been on a DIY retreat in Bali or elsewhere? Let me know about your experiences, tips and recommendations below. And of course if you have any questions relating to my DIY retreat don't be afraid to ask :)
P.S. Are any of your friends planning a retreat in Bali? Then don't forget to share this post with them.