Arriving in Bali, Ubud; Petanu River Villa

I booked a return flight to Bali for $252, flying with Air Asia – inclusive of tax and 15kg check-in baggage for each trip – just one week before embarkment. I’ve come across fares as low as $150 inclusive of tax so do keep a lookout for sales fares and book early in advance.

Arriving in Bali

Upon landing, hot and humid weather greeted us.

Wet season begins November to March, while the flow is reserved from April to October.

Our aircraft was unable to park at the terminal for disembarkation (this situation depends on the arrival times and airlines, and this is usually the case for budget airlines), thus we were herded onto a bus that took us to the terminal.

It was a pretty short ride. How nice of them not to make us walk.

I’ve heard so much about Bali being a wonderful exotic holiday retreat, where temples and shrines are aplenty, but I never expected the airport to sport the architecture of a temple.

That totally sets the tone for our vacation and stimulated our anticipation.

The arrival hall isn’t huge, so finding your way around will not be a problem.

Visa On Arrival (not applicable for Singaporeans)

‘Visa On Arrival’ costs US$25 per person and is valid for 30 days. The 30-day visa may be extended for a further 30 days by paying an additional US$25.

You’re advised to change your money into US$ prior to arriving in Bali to pay for VOA. Alternatively, there’s a moneychanger if you do not have US currency on hand.

Countries that do not require a Visa to enter Bali & Indonesia: Brunei, Darussalam, Chile, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Do note that there are two different immigration counters – for those who’ve purchased Visa On Arrival and for those who are not required to – so check that you’re at the right queue.

Remember to fill out the immigration card and customs declaration forms.

For more information about Bali Airport (Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar), check out their website

Even Starbucks is on a vacation at Bali. The vibe is so chill and resort-like!

As we exit the building, we spotted someone holding up a sign with our names. Our villa has arranged for a complimentary airport transfer.

If you haven’t arranged for one, plenty of taxis are available.

Many will approach you but the safest bet is to head to the counter on the right side of the exit to purchase your taxi ticket at fixed rates to various suburbs.

Our destination, Ubud, is 35km northeast of Bali’s International Airport.

On our way to Ubud (a one-and-a-half-hour drive away), we passed by numerous statues and artefacts, which are meticulously hand carved with intricate details, each with its own mystical and enchanting story behind them.

Our destination, Petanu River Villa, is a 10-minute drive, South East, from the bustling centre of Ubud.

Roads leading to the villa lined are with villages. Perched on a hill, Petanu River Villa is situated at the sleepy end of a wood carvers’ village that overlooks the scenic Petanu River.

We arrived in front of a bulky wooden gate that does not reveal any sneak peeks of what is behind the gate; with no signboard bearing huge fonts of the name “Petanu River Villa” except for a tiny sign at the side that leads to “Petanu River Studio”.

The unassuming entrance confounded my phantasm of the well-appointed villa I was anticipating.

That promising figment of my imagination faded off to a slight disappointment –until the gates opened.

I wasn’t exactly prepared for the series of unforeseen surprises. Every step into the premises never ceases to amaze, entice, beguile and excite me.

It was a short stroll along the stone path from the entrance before we spotted a house that stood out amongst the massive greenery.

Shrines are a common sight in Balinese homes. In the villa, a shrine is set in the midst of well-manicured grounds.

The villa is built in a modern purist style combining elements of Bauhaus, Indonesian and Japanese design, providing a contemporary space in a traditional Balinese environment.

Spot Balinese ornaments in every corner of the villa; coexisting with art pieces that adorn white walls.

Friendly villagers – who keep the villa clean and proper – welcomed us with genuine and broad smiles.

Eight villagers are hired to take care of guests’ needs, mainly housekeeping and cooking. They are available in the day from 8am to 5pm.

Santi, the manager, helps to arrange all requests. She is fluent in English as well as two native languages, Balinese and Indonesian.

In the evenings, security remains outside the villa but are available in case of emergency. They will personally open the gates for you when you return from a late night out.

Wayan, the villa’s driver who picked us up from the airport, charges Rp.75,000 (about SGD$11) for each trip around Ubud.

For day trips, generally a car and driver including petrol, costs Rp.450,000 (about SGD$64) for 8 hours. A group of 4 will only pay SGD$16 each for a day tour.

Extra hours are charged at Rp.50,000 per hour.

The villa is equipped with a modern kitchen, complete with gas stove and a conventional oven. Their cook will whip up delicious Balinese, Indonesia, Asian or Continental dishes should you prefer to dine in.

Breakfast is provided daily.

Sweet and friendly staffs make you feel at home, and are always glad to pose for the camera.

Breakfast includes a choice of fresh fruit juice, accompanying an item of your choice: eggs (done in your desired preferences), sausages, pancakes or vegetable omelette.

Lunch and dinner options are available upon request. You just have to pay for the cost of food and an additional 20% service charge.

Dinner choices include Balinese family style cooking made with the most localised ingredients: Ayam Sambal Matah (Shredded roast chicken with Balinese spices and pure coconut oil), Bebek or Ayam Betutu (Smoked duck or chicken with Balinese spices), Yum Ayam (Spiced chicken mince, steamed in banana leaves), Ayam Goreng (Deep fried chicken with Balinese spices), Kare Ayam or fish (Balinese coconut curry chicken/fish), Beef or Chicken Rendang, Fried fish served with salsa sauce, Satay, Pepes Ikan (Spiced tuna fish fillet wrapped in banana leaves) and more.

Black rice pudding with coconut milk, Banana fritters and Balinese coconut crepes are some desserts available.

There is a communal-style dining table, indoor and outdoor.

On balmy days, dine at the outdoor breakfast terrace for a step closer to nature, and enjoy a panoramic view of the vast forest.

Fresh floral greet you daily, where the natural perfume is soft as a lullaby.

Sip on fresh silky papaya juice while immersing in nature, with sounds of nature keeping your ears busy.

Complimentary high-speed WI-FI is available throughout the entire villa.

Enjoy the enchanting view of nature in the comforts of air-conditioning through full-length windows, in the study room equipped with a PC and satellite TV.

Guests can utilise the computer at no additional charge, or browse through the huge collection of DVDs and laze the day away.

Other facilities include phone calls or fax upon request.

With the villa perched on the edge of the forest on the green hills, the open plan lounge offers a spectacular view – in absence of wall obstruction – of distant mountain over the river, undulating valley, swaying palms, and virgin forests as far as they eye can see.

The villa has 3 double bedrooms, each with its own hot/cold bathroom and a private balcony that offers a spectacular view: one bedroom downstairs and two upstairs.

The bedroom on the first floor is connected to an outdoor bathroom with a large terrazzo bathtub.

The first bedroom upstairs comes with a private balcony with a mesmerising view.

Mosquito-net canopy adds charm to the room and protects you from insects and flying bugs.

A private bathroom with rainshower is adjacent to the room.

I stayed in the other room on the second floor.

With Beanie, my favourite travelling companion. Beanie has seen the world more than the other soft toys that I have.

Imagine waking up to an enchanting view of the vast forest and the sounds of birds singing.

The en-suite bathroom comes with a bathtub and shower hose. The sliding door opens up to nature, allowing natural light to cascade in.

In the early mornings, you can see rising mist from the river and sunrays peeking through the trees.

The tower observation room gives a good view of Mount Agong, the volcano in the north, on good days when clouds don’t conceal it.

The quiet and private space is ideal for engaging in your favourite book.

A few steps away from the living room, you reach a bale (pavilion) overlooking the river and pool –the perfect peaceful spot for meditation or yoga.

Wander around aimlessly and you’ll find yourself at the secluded infinity pool with a magnificent view amongst lush greenery.

Beat the warm and humid weather with a dip in the pool. It is clean and well maintained.

Soak up the sun on poolside chaise lounges.

Grab a book and laze away the day.

Petanu River Studio

Across the house positions a studio within the compound, where more guests can stay at.

This studio also doubles up as a massage room, where spa treatments are available for booking.

A bed and wardrobe sit on the second storey of the studio.

Petanu River

The villa has many private areas for exploration and retreat.

If you’re feeling adventurous, a steep flight of stairs leads to the river from the villa.

Embarking down to the riverside is less exhausting than the way back up, but it is certainly good exercise.

There is a plunge pool by the river, filled with natural spring water. You can skinny dip here, albeit a little cold.

Around the villa

Despite its secluded location, there are local warungs (family-owned cafés or convenience stores selling snacks, drinks and household items) a short walk from the villa, a supermarket 10 minutes away by foot or few minutes away by motorbike, and restaurants 8 minutes away by car.

Ubud is tranquil, serene, and green, more than the other parts of Bali; it is characterised by an artistic ambience, where galleries and wood carvers’ are ubiquitous.

Petanu River Villa makes a wonderful retreat, tucked away from boisterous bars and rowdy backpackers that are omnipresent in Kuta, a more touristy part of Bali.

The entire villa costs about USD$330 per night including breakfast and airport transfers, sleeping up to 6 people.

Check out their website for more information.

In my next Bali post, I’ll be sharing my Balinese Cooking Class experience, replete with recipes. Click here to view.

Check out my other Bali posts here:
Bali, Ubud; a heartwarming experience; an unplanned adventure:
Payuk Balinese Cooking Class (Part 1: 4 recipes included)
Payuk Bali Cooking Class (Part 2: 4 more recipes included)