Visit a local market early in the morning
Markets in Bali are usually great places to buy cheap souvenirs, like scarfs, dresses and accessories. However, most locals attend these markets early in the morning. Farmers bring their fresh produce to town and set up stalls around 3–4 a.m. To get the best items, visitors should go to the market around 5 a.m. You’ll be mesmerized by the scents, sounds, colors and rhythm of local life.
Join a beach cleanup
As soon as you arrive on the island, you might notice that although Bali’s infrastructure is well-developed, the island has a severe waste management problem. Remember to limit your use of plastic items: Bring your own water bottle that you can refill at various—safe—refill stations. Do not ask for plastic bags at supermarkets and be mindful of your consumption. Several organizations on the island are trying to raise awareness about this issue and taking action. They organize weekly, monthly and yearly cleanups. Check out Trash Hero and One Island One Voice and join a group cleanup if you want to give back to “Mama Bali.”
Go to a kite festival
From May to August, the wind in Bali is ideal for flying a kite. Locals paint Bali’s sky with these colorful, flying shapes. The Bali Kite Festival is held in July, an annual celebration of traditional, Balinese kites. The event summons kite clubs from local villages and showcases their unique—and giant—creations, mixing traditional and contemporary designs.
Sit in a local warung and eat with your hands
Ubud offers a myriad of food choices, with restaurants and cafes featuring cuisine from all over the world. However, in order to experience a real taste of the local food scene, get off the main road, seek out tiny alleys and pop into a local warung, or a small, family-run restaurant. They usually specialize in only a few dishes: basko, or broth with meatballs and noodles, nasi lawar, or rice with chopped jackfruit, coconut, local spices and pig blood (though you can skip the “red” version and ask for the “white”) and nasi campur, which is mixed rice with chicken, vegetables, eggs and tempe (an Indonesian soy product). Your taste buds will be ecstatic. Also, do as the locals do: Forget the cutlery and use your hands—the right hand, according to local etiquette. However, a spoon is allowed for broth.
Make your own batik
Batik is the traditional Indonesian art of decorating textiles with wax dye and liquids, using a precise method. Several places around Ubud hold workshops that offer the opportunity to draw, design and make your own batik shirt. Imagine going back home with a unique piece of art that you designed. You’ll have an ideal souvenir from an unforgettable holiday and a day spent diving deep into the local culture’s art.