A yoga retreat to Bali had been on my Want-to-do list for the longest time. Just think: endless rice paddy fields, greeneries, being close to nature, blue sky, and #yogaeverydamnday. Most important of all, I get to be away from the hectic city life back home. Downtime to myself always recharges and rejuvenates the Introvert in me. My soul badly craves for a break.
A yoga retreat in Bali sounds like a good idea.
Generally, there are these overseas yoga retreat options:
- Overseas yoga retreat led by your local yoga teacher. You’ll fly overseas on your own and arrive at the yoga venue. Over the next few days, the plan is a few yoga classes a day. During break time, you’ll settle your meals at the venue. If time allows, you can even do half-day trips exploring the vicinity.
- Fully immersive yoga program organized by an overseas yoga studio. You’ll get to the destination on your own. During the program, take a few classes led by an influencer yoga teacher, or different yoga teachers a day. Your meals will be probably nutritious meals arranged by the organizer. You’ll make new friends in the form of fellow retreat students.
- One yoga retreat fully customized by yourself. You’ll buy daily/weekly/monthly passes at one or more overseas yoga studios. During pockets of time to yourself, you can explore the city as a tourist.
5 Reasons to Customize Your Own Yoga Retreat in Bali (Ubud)
- With the right planning, you still get to do a yoga retreat in Bali on a budget. A DIY yoga retreat is more affordable than a pre-organized yoga retreat.
- Ubud is filled with many yoga studios, offering flexible passes for your needs. Customizing your own yoga retreat allows you to try the different styles at the yoga studios.
- You get to choose what kind of classes to attend, how many a day, and what time of classes.
- You’re not limited by a fixed program. Your schedule is flexible, making the best of your roles as a yoga student and tourist. If there’s no yoga for the next few hours, you can go sightseeing or do other Balinese activities like massages, white-water rafting, hiking Mt Batur for sunrise, etc.
- Vegan, meat-eater or whichever, you decide your own meals. Foreigners visiting Bali for yoga retreats like to eat ‘nutritious things’ like salad bowls or fruit bowls, I don’t eat those as a personal health choice.
For my birthday this year, I decided to gift a yoga retreat in Bali to myself.
However, yoga retreats, even in Bali or Thailand, can be really expensive, due to the idea of yoga being over-commercialized. 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?
Solution: Create & Customize My Own Yoga Retreat
Btw, I actually intended to do this solo trip and yoga retreat on my own. But my girlfriend decided to join me at the last minute, so the hotel helped me change the King bed to Twin beds and off we went! My other friend Elissa had done this exact DIY yoga retreat and had recommended the yoga studio and hotel, which both turned out fab.
Customizing a Yoga Retreat will turn 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 to DIY Your Own Yoga Retreat in Ubud, Bali
1. Decide your yoga retreat 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
2. Choose the yoga studio(s).
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 students in one class.
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.
| Read my full review of Radiantly Alive yoga studio! |
Update: Radiantly Alive has since changed studio-owners & class pricing after my trip.
3. Check Bali accommodation options.
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 1 minute away from the main road (Jln Raya Ubud) and a 5-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 I cannot recommend another hotel more suitable if you’re gonna have a few days of practice at Radiantly Alive.
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 couldn’t find fault with the buffet breakfast too. Would love to stay for an extended period at SenS hotel!
| Check rates for SenS Hotel or more Ubud hotel prices |
Tip: Arrange for airport transfer.
Ubud is about 1.5 hours away by car from Denpasar airport. An airport taxi from the airport to Ubud will be 300,000 rupiah (S$31) one-way. But I have to tell you. I hate taking taxis at Bali’s airport. It’s stressful & really annoying. This part is my top pet peeve about Bali.
SenS Hotel quoted me 847,000 rupiah (S$89) for a private car, 2-way airport transfer. For peace of mind (as mentioned, because the initial plan was #solotravel), I went ahead with SenS’ transport.
The hotel sent different drivers and different cars for the trip, but they were comfortable cars, punctual and polite drivers.
Meals in Ubud
If you’re interested to know, we ate at Clear Cafe (every day, because it’s so nice there!), Putu’s Wild Ginger (so-so food & do check for operational hours cos it’s a dark road deep inside), Tamarilo Mexican, Melting Wok, Warung Siam. Sometimes, I can’t really agree with TripAdvisor’s food recommendations, hur hur.
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 filled with digital nomads; you’ll see them working on their laptops 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.
Other Things to Do in Ubud
I didn’t do much during the 5 days except go for Balinese massages, chill a lot at Clear Cafe, explore Ubud Centre and Art Market, and also hike Campuhan Ridge Walk, which you should visit!
| Check out how to do this easy and beautiful hike: Campuhan Ridge Walk! |
Ubud feels like a safe haven to me and I can’t wait to go back and do this all over again!
How much my DIY yoga retreat in Bali cost:
Jetstar airfare (SG to Bali) 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.
Will you consider DIY-ing your own yoga retreat next time?
Visited: Nov 2016
Yoga studio: Radiantly Alive
Hotel of choice: SenS Hotel | or check more Ubud hotel prices
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