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Bali over Christmas/New Years

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I know this is last minute
Seems to be my way :) but we are planning a trip somewhere for the holidays and Bali keeps pulling on my heart strings! After reading another post on this forum I did find some reasonably priced nice hotels that actually had availability! The tow mentioned were:
Kominika Resort in Ubud and The Colony ( near Petitenget temple and beach)

Are these the two best areas to go to as a first timer in Bali?

I will be traveling with my husband and 29 year old daughter so we need two rooms or a two bedroom villa. We like spas, culture, architecture, food, spirituality just to name some interests.

We plan on being there from about Dec.21 through Jan 1 Can anyone suggest something interesting/spiritual for New Years?
Are there things we should absolutely not miss? Any great guides or drivers to recommend?
And......from New York is it best to go through Bangkok or Tokyo?
I know this is a lot of questions but your help is always amazing and honest to me!!

Thank you so much!!!
Eva

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    I can definitely recommend Ubud, but I am less certain about the right beach destination for you. But I think splitting your time is a good idea. I did that and really enjoyed it. But I didn't find beaches in Bali to be the absolute best, so being on the water might be as good as being on the beach. I don't really like the Nusa Dua area since it didn't have much of an authentic feel. I know that friends have stayed at the Le Meridien and enjoyed that area.

    As for routing, I'd say that Bangkok is probably not a good choice unless you are also going to Thailand. It takes you many hours west of Indonesia and would add hours to an already long trip. Instead, I think either Tokyo or Hong Kong would be a better choice. Cathay Pacific has nonstop flights from NYC to Hong Kong and then a good same-day connection to Bali. But there may be more options from Tokyo. If you were going to fly business class, then I'd also recommend Singapore Airlines from EWR since it's a nonstop, which might help offset the extra traveling time (and Singapore is closer to Indonesia than Thailand). But if there are connections, Taiwan might also be a decent choice (via China Southern or EVA).

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    Thank you Doug for your great input. Does anyone have any feeling about being in Bali in December? I heard it is rainy and not the best time to go? Also all of the upscale hotels such as Aman resorts, Four seasons etc are all booked...they also are a fortune. I do like a luxury upscale hotel though. Any suggestions that are wonderful but not over the top?

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    I've been to Bali in December several times. You will likely get some afternoon rain storms, generally short but intense. But it never interfered with my enjoyment of Bali.

    I agree that dividing your time between the Ubud area and a beach location is wise. You have gotten good advice from marmot (who now lives in Bali), but if you want to look at other beach options, consider Sanur. There are two beaches I specifically recommend against: Nusa Dua (sterile tourist enclave) and Kuta (party beach for drunk adolescents).

    There are many lovely luxury properties in Bali. You are at a bit of a disadvantage as you are going at Xmas, which is the priciest time of the year and you have left your planning until quite late. I think if those two places have availability, you might want to snap them up now.

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    As Kathie says Christmas to New Years is the busiest time in Bali. Prices are inflated and everything's busy. Already expensive resorts become exorbitant, and it's hard to get dinner reservations. On the plus side, it's a high energy, fun time, and if that's the only period that's available to you I'd go for it.

    You'll find everything you're looking for in the Ubud area, except the ocean. Bali's beaches are lively and get a lot of use. The individual resorts keep their beach fronts cleaned up, but sometimes after public holidays and big storms you'll see a sorry amount of trash, especially in the public access areas.

    I like Seminyak because its long wide sandy beach is great for walking. Sunsets are glorious and some of the best restaurants in Bali are nearby. It's a big wave surfing beach: swimming only for the hearty.

    Desa Seni is a yoga/spiritual center in Canggu, about half an hour north of Seminyak. It also offers accommodations. To get to the beach you'd have to drive.

    The Komen group has three resorts in the Ubud area. They are all good, but slightly different. I'd also look at the Alila and the Samaya.

    I think the Colony is a great value. Nice, clean design, good service. It's quite close to the beach and in the midst of Seminyak's shops, spas and restaurants. Petitenget temple is a 3 minute walk. Ceremonies are hard to predict, but you'll usually find something going on at the beach entrance. Along the beach you can rent chairs, umbrellas, surf boards.

    There are some lovely properties right on Seminyak beach, but prices will be moon level at that time of year. If you're interested in a villa look at http://balihomeparadise.com/ Again, not on the beach, but can be quite luxurious and a better value for two rooms.

    New Year's has become quite raucous in South Bali. Great fireworks though. Ubud would be quieter, but most resorts have their own festivities. Yoga Barn would be a good place to check for something more mindful.

    There are lots of cultural and arts and crafts activities in the Ubud area. I especially like the Mask and Puppet museum and the Green School. Evening dance performances are a must. The ones at Ubud Palace are always good, and there are also venues in other villages. Your resort will have a performance schedule.

    To me, the best activities in Bali are impromptu and always available. There are temples and therefore temple ceremonies everyday all over Bali. Plus many forest, beach and rice paddy walks. Mountains if you're so inclined.

    The key to flying from the East Coast is to limit your stops. It's not the flight time, but the airport time that gets you down. Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong is a good one stop connection.

    You will get rain in December, sometimes quite heavy but not all day. It won't slow you down.

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