Bali Travel Guide

10 Ways the Most Beautiful Place on Earth Will Make You Beautiful, Too

PHOTO: IRIT/Shutterstock

An exquisite place can transform you into your best self.

The most beautiful things on earth are more than just dazzling spectacles. The idea that true beauty extends deep beneath the surface level is applicable to things beyond our personal appearance. A place, for example, can be appealing to behold, but what makes it really special is the significance it brings beyond its incredible landscapes. Bali is one such place. The Pacific Ocean meets the Indian in ombre shades of blue, the tropical beaches creep up to lush, flowering jungles or verdant rice steppes. But Bali has more to offer than just gorgeous scenery, so much in fact, that its effect extends to all who visit. Bali, with its emphasis on self-care, incredible aesthetics, and transformative energy will make you beautiful, too.

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Open Your Mind

Shirodhara, from the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (flow), is a type of Ayurveda therapy used to clear, calm, and treat your troubled mind. Various liquids not limited to coconut water, oil, or milk are warmed and gently poured over the forehead. Combined with a head massage, Shirodhara relaxes the hypothalamus, and its calming effect can treat all your modern anxieties as well as (potentially) a variety of neurological and sleep disorders. As the liquid pours over your Third Eye chakra, allow yourself to awaken your intuition, activate your concentration, and calm your tension. Often offered in Bali’s spas, come away from this treatment with a serenity that radiates beyond your person.

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Unwind Your Body

Balinese massage is a mainstay of local culture, and the traditional service is offered affordably and widely throughout the island–you can even come across practitioners offering their services as you relax on the beach. The Hindu influence mingled with Chinese-Buddhist acupuncture techniques and beauty treatments developed for the royals of Java to create a unique style of massage which places emphasis on stretching, reflexology (including kneading, tapping, rolling, and sliding), essential oil aromatherapy, and oftentimes, hot stones. This combination of sensations can help to relax knotted tissues and muscle damage, improving circulation, relieving tension, and loosening uptightness.

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Smooth Your Skin

Just south of the equator where the Pacific meets the Indian Ocean, Bali’s perfect mesh of sun and surf will do wonders for your skin. Not to mention the island’s wide variety of skin tonics–everything from tropical fruit masks, turmeric and yogurt body scrubs, ginger exfoliants, and milk baths. The dedication to hydration is a serious one on an island that averages mainly 80- degree sunny days, and that comes from a combination of thirst- and skin-quenching routines.

To really incorporate Balinese culture into your skincare refresher, opt for the Batu Kali Riverstone Bathing Ritual offered by Four Seasons Spa at Sayan. River bathing is an age-old ritual for Balinese farmers, who use river stones to scrub their skin and soothe their muscles from a long day of labor. Combined with coconut oil and freshly grated ginger paste, this warm and invigorating custom will revitalize your skin.

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Soothe Your Soul

“Beauty is only skin-deep” says the expression, but in Balinese culture, what happens inside affects the exterior. A Balinese priest or healer (Mangku) can lead you through a Melukat, a ritual meant to cleanse your spirit and body. Melukat serves to wash away the negative karma that has acquired in this life as well as past. But Melukat isn’t a passive reception. A partnership in meditation between the participant and the priest can open chakras, connect with gods or spirits, or manifest intention. A dosing of holy water and sacred flowers begins the purification of psychic mind, and the consumption of the water culminates to fully purify spirit and body. The sensation of washing away impurities from the soul is uplifting, invigorating, and wholly cleansing.

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Clear Your Face

Eyes, lips, cheeks, brows, complexion, chin–so many pieces of a puzzle that make up the focal point of our physical being. Your face is basically the welcoming center to your entire self, so if you want to make an impression that receives others gladly, it’s worth taking care of. With so many delicate components making up a masterpiece, each feature needs unique treatments. A Balinese facial incorporates fresh local ingredients to maximize both effectiveness and sustainability. After a milk cleansing, products like avocado, lemon, ginger, honey, cucumber, and flowers are used to scrub, soothe, and tone the skin. A mask finish seals in the effects.

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Cleanse Your Gut

Balinese cuisine is a unique blend of Indonesian, South Asian, Indian, and Chinese influence. Rice is the staple grain, and the gorgeous stepped plantations across the island offer visual proof of its organic quality. Pork, chicken, and seafood comprise the main proteins, but tropical fruits and vegetables are mainstays at every meal. With a focus on not only local and sustainable ingredients but extremely fresh meal preparations–a member of a Balinese household will daily purchase fresh ingredients from a local market for that day’s meals–food not only tastes better in Bali but is actually more nourishing for your digestive system. In season fruits and vegetables are harvested according to nature’s schedule without pesticides or fertilizers, meaning they provide peak nutrients. And a well-functioning, healthy gut–one that properly absorbs said nutrients–translates directly into glowing skin. Amino acids can reduce under-eye circles, vitamin C can prevent wrinkles, and vitamin E can brighten skin tone.

No matter what you eat in Bali, whether its traditional Babi guling (roasted suckling pig) or sambal seafood (hot and spicy) fresh from Jimbaran Bay, ingredients are organic and local, and with shopping habits dictating the demand, exceptionally fresh.

Vegetarians can eat happy with a variety of tahu (tofu) and tempe preparations, as well as a wide range of vegetables, and you’re bound to sample basa gede, the Balinese spice paste that adds big flavor (a mosaic of ground ginger, shallots, garlic, chiles, turmeric, coriander, candlenuts, lemongrass, palm oil as the base), serving a punch of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects.

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Moisturize Your Hair

A traditional Balinese hair cream bath is a moisturizing treatment your locks have never seen the likes of. A mask concocted of avocado, aloe vera, or candlenut help nourish, enrich, and restore shine. The cream is then massaged and wrapped into sections and left to soak. For full saturation, hair is usually put under a steamer. The result is a silky-soft mane that’s good to go in the sun and sea. The residual shine is dazzling.

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Brighten Your Scent

Bali is as fragrant as it is colorful, and that affects inhabitants and visitors in tangible ways. Incense permeates the entire island, its spicy smoke mingling with the freshness of the sea or the jungle air. Incense serves the Balinese to further connection to the universe, carrying wishes and offerings to the gods. Constant immersion in olfactory sensation can influence mood and mind, often relaxing tension from the face.

Frangipani (or plumeria) is Bali’s signature flower, used in religious offerings, decorations, accessories, and more. Extremely fragrant, these flowers are tucked behind the right ear of men and women alike, believed to bring enlightenment and goodness. A gorgeous white and yellow flower, they make a lovely adornment on your person or decoration in your space. But it is their scent that marks an individual with a pleasantly efflorescent perfume.

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PHOTO: Four Seasons Sayan
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Revive Your Energy

More so than any physical improvement that Bali can bestow on travelers is the transformative effect it has on almost everyone who visits. The openness and relaxing mindset of its inhabitants translates to a pervasive philosophy that boils down to good energy.

The Balinese harness good energy and defend against negative energy in all sorts of ways, and those protections extend themselves to all of us. From the construction of walled family compounds to ward off bad vibrations to the active focus on meditation and self-inquiry, daily practices and spirited measures are encouraged for anyone visiting the island. This is a time to sit quietly and reflect, to rediscover the self. Religiously inclusive processes and uplifting secular ceremonies will rejuvenate and deepen even the grumpiest cynic. If active pursuit of transformation seems too much trouble on vacation, try an activity like a Sacred Nap offered by Four Seasons Spa at Sayan. Allow a wellness mentor to cocoon you in a silk hammock and be gently rocked into repose. More than just a refreshing nap, the swaddled experience and soothing accompaniment can promote mental and spiritual healing that won’t fade with your tan.

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Change Your Outlook

Though a majority of Balinese people are religiously Hindu and family oriented, the most traditionally common Balinese life philosophy is called “Tri Hita Karana,” or “three causes of goodness.” These are harmony among people, harmony with nature, and harmony with god.

Harmony among people is promoted through communal cooperation and promoting compassion. These egalitarian farming practices that have allowed Balinese farmers to become prolific rice growers despite rapidly changing agrarian and economic circumstances. The terraced rice paddies, as well as the ingenious means of irrigation, have promoted harmony within the population, who are supported by the unique watershed with water supplies democratically managed by water temples. Balinese dedication to the sustainability of their island reflects their value of harmony with nature. Harmony with god comes from the awareness that a person is a part of god, and that god is inside them. Wisdom comes through this meditation on mind and emotion.

Tri Hita Karana can be experienced through traditional rice planting. An experience in community, environmental, and godly connection can be achieved through the meditative process of traditional, sustainable growing and harvesting. Across Bali, the opportunity to work in the sowing or reaping of rice brings the farmer closer to a desired “goodness” and their connection to each other. The wisdom and humility imparted by carrying out humble tasks is not only priceless but immutable.