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A yoga retreat to Bali has been on my Want-to-do list for the longest time. Think: endless rice paddy fields, greeneries, being close to nature and insect sounds, the blue sky, and #yogaeverydamnday. Most important of all, I get to be away from the hectic city life back home in Singapore. Downtime always recharges and rejuvenates the Introvert in me, and my soul badly craves to go away.
However, yoga retreats can be really expensive stuff due to it being over-commercialized, and I don’t really believe in blowing a big amount of money for a holistic, spiritual kind of activity. So what was I to do?
For my birthday this year, I decided to
gift a customized yoga retreat in Ubud to myself.
It was actually intended to be a solo trip, but my friend decided to join me at the last minute, so the hotel changed the King bed to Twin beds and off we went! My friend Elissa had done this DIY yoga retreat and recommended me the yoga studio and hotel, which both turned out fab. Thanks, Liss! Customizing a Yoga Retreat turned out to be more straightforward than you think.
Step 1: Check out air-fare for your preferred dates.
Step 2: Find the studio you want to practise at. (Or even 2 or 3 studios.)
Step 3: Find available accommodation nearby, as well as airport transfer options. Google Maps was helpful because you can see the distance and estimate how much walking is required.
Ps: For steps 1 & 3, as I already knew my dates and airline and preferred hotel, Expedia had a wonderful package which costs about S$545 for the airfare + hotel.
How I Customized My Own Yoga Retreat in Bali
Step 1: Dates and flight
Since the yoga retreat is a birthday gift to myself, my dates were planned around it. November also happened to be low-season in Bali, great! It’s my 3rd time in Bali – I can deal with gloomy weather as I won’t be going to the tourist spots much. Low-season is my top choice for trips these days, like the one I went in Santorini.
I decided 5 days in Bali will be quite perfect, with 4-5 days of yoga-filled days.
Jetstar is my preferred budget airline to Bali as I’ve never experienced problems with them before. My airfare worked out to be around S$203 without any check-in baggage. Not checking in baggage turned out to be a huge challenge! I mean, have you seen my toiletries?!? My fingers were sore from trying to seal the small ziplock bag, lol. #woesofagirl
Step 2: Yoga studio
There are plenty of yoga studios in Ubud, Bali. The Yoga Barn is one of the most well-known yoga studios around there. However, I’ve read some negative reviews and saw that its classes have 50-60 students each time. I wasn’t very keen on practise at places with a lot of people.
Radiantly Alive is also a popular yoga studio in Ubud. I didn’t find any negative reviews about it, wow! Usually, there’s a maximum of 30-40 students for the main classes. Radiantly Alive has 3-4 rooms, including one for aerial classes. You don’t have to book slots ahead. Just turn up and register before the class, grab a mat, grab a spot, wipe down your mat, get ready.
For my first class on a Sunday early morning, I have to be honest: The mat was incredibly smelly. I could smell it even when my face wasn’t near the mat. It was as if 10,000 people had left their sweat on it and over time, the smells have combined and mutated with the mat to produce a uniquely pungent smell on its own. I asked my friend if hers was very smelly too and she said yes. The studio provides water-flasks and cloths that everyone’s supposed to wipe down before and after class, which we had done so. But the smell lingered, and even stayed on my yoga attire long after I’d left. In fact, we had intended to go for more classes in the afternoon, but the smelly experience turned us off and we decided to skip.
The next day, we went for classes again and this time, for some reason, the mats didn’t smell that bad, thankfully!
I purchased a one-week pass for the duration of my 5 days’ stay in Bali. Radiantly Alive has various classes in their schedule so it was fun to attend different ones. We went for 1–4 classes a day, each was 90min. The teachers are professional and attentive. There’s no aircon, but the ceiling’s high and there are fans (the teachers might want them switched off). You’ll definitely work up a sweat for each class! The rates for Radiantly Alive are reasonable, whether you’re going for one class, one day, one week or one month.
Step 3: Accommodation
My choice: SenS Hotel
There’re many affordable homestays in Ubud, but because my initial plan was going solo, I chose a hotel for comfort and security reasons. Since I’ll be attending a few yoga lessons each day, it’s important that the accommodation is nearby, comfortable, and convenient. For cities like Bali or Hanoi with no convenient public transport, I want to minimize having to get drivers or cabs cos it can get pretty stressful and is an affair I hate to do.
SenS Hotel is 2 minutes away from the main road (Jln Raya Ubud) and a max of 10-min walk from Radiantly Alive. Ubud Centre is about 20-30 minutes’ walk away from the hotel too. The hotel is also near Jln Hanoman – a busy road with plenty of traffic and little shops.
SenS Hotel turned out to be very delightful. Staff was always warm, helpful and professional. Room amenities were sufficient, you can work with your laptop at the desk, or even pack meals to eat as the room has utensils too. Breakfast spread was more than good enough to kick off your day.
SenS Hotel also provides free shuttle service if you’re going out to Ubud Centre or nearby! All thanks to this service, we didn’t have to go through the trouble of getting a driver early morning to go for a hike at Campuhan Ridge. If I have to nitpick, the only tiny flaw that I could find was the little curtain for the shower/bathroom didn’t offer 100% privacy. Other than that, everything about SenS Hotel was perfect =D
After a hot day out in Bali’s heat, I always look forward to returning to the hotel for aircon or a shower or a dip in the pool. There are iced drinks at the lobby that you can help yourself to. The staff will also always warmly greet you when you go out or when you return.I would love to stay for an extended period at this hotel!
I couldn’t find fault with the buffet breakfast too. Would love to stay for an extended period at SenS hotel!
Ubud is about 1.5 hours away by car from the airport at Denpasar. An airport taxi from the airport to Ubud will be 300,000 rupiah (S$31) one-way. SenS Hotel quoted me 847,000 rupiah (S$89) for a private car, 2-way. For peace of mind (as mentioned, because the initial plan was #solotravel), I went ahead with SenS.
The hotel sent different drivers and different cars for the trip, but they were comfortable cars and polite drivers.
Meals in Ubud
If you’re interested to know, we ate at Clear Cafe (everyday), Putu’s Wild Ginger, Tamarilo Mexican, Melting Wok, Warung Siam.
Here’s a map to help you orientate locations better!
Safety in Ubud
You’ll see many solo travellers of all ages in Ubud, slowly exploring Ubud on foot, tote bags slung freely on one side of the shoulders. I take note of this because it’s a good hint whether there are bag-snatchers in a city (although you should always be careful no matter where you are). Ubud is also full of expats, you’ll see them working at cafes.
We didn’t get harassed by anyone. There are those female beggars carrying a baby or a small kid each sitting alongside the road, but they won’t disturb you if you reject donating. There will be drivers along the road offering “Taxi?” services to you, but if you shake your head or wave a no, they’ll also leave you alone.
Ubud feels like a safe haven to me and I can’t wait to go back and do this all over again!
Airfare without check-in, without meals: S$203
Hotel including breakfast: (S$545-S$203) / 2 = S$171
Airport transfer: IDR847,000 = S$90 / 2 = S$45
1-week Pass at Radiantly Alive: S$58
Total per pax for the airfare + airport transfer + hotel + yoga: S$477
Meals at decent cafes in Ubud cost on average S$10/pax.
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