The Jakarta Post
Tanah Lot Temple, Bali. (Shutterstock/File)
In the last five years, a powerful force has reshaped the way the majority of people experience life. That force is produced by the union of two things: the proliferation of camera-enabled smartphones and the rise of social media, particularly photo sharing application Instagram.
The tourist industry is not immune to that phenomenon as an increasing number of travelers, particularly millennials, pack selfie sticks and power banks instead of books in their backpacks and suitcases.
Visiting new places and feasting on new dishes have ceased to solely be a physical and personal experience. They have become a digital and communal one. A patron who takes pictures of the dishes and share them on Instagram — often before he or she taste them — is a common sight nowadays. As a country with 76 million social media users, including 45 million Instagram users as of last year, the phenomenon is taking Indonesia by storm, spurring the birth of thousands upon thousands of travel oriented Instagram accounts featuring a regular feed of gorgeous pictures of the country’s well-known as well as newfound destinations.
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Travelers, who manage these accounts, soon turn into noted influencers whose words and recommendations are treated with awe and reverence by their millennial counterparts.
The tourist industry has responded in kind, with hotels and restaurants increasing their social media presence as well as carrying out renovation projects to make their establishments more Instagrammable.
Fortunately for Bali, the island is a natural Instagrammable hot spot. Its natural beauty — idyllic lakes, beautiful beaches, majestic peaks and breathtaking waterfalls — and rich culture — rustic temples, colorful rituals, mesmerizing dances — are the visual feast any photographer, amateur and professional, would love to partake in.
The fact that Bali is a tiny island — a return trip from its southernmost to northernmost points takes less than 10 hours — is another added bonus for the Instagram-addicted traveler.
The distance enables them to travel in the morning to the hilly region of Bedugul and Gitgit, where the stunning twin lakes Buyan and Tamblingan as well as scores of pristine waterfalls are located, and enjoy a captivating sunset in Kuta at the end of the day.
Sunrises and sunsets are arguably the most photographed and uploaded natural events on Instagram and Bali has some of the best spots to capture them. Songan, a village in the hilly region of Kintamani is one such place. An ancient village mentioned in a 10th century scripture as a Buddhist hermitage, Songan offers a breathtaking sunrise vista featuring misty hills, a tranquil lake and sunrises between the peaks of three mountains. Sanur Beach is another good option with its tranquil sea, rows of brightly colored jukung (canoe) outriggers and, weather permitting, the towering Mount Agung in the background.
For sunsets, Tanah Lot Beach is always a good choice. There the sun will descend slowly behind a major 15th century Hindu temple built on a rock formation in the shallow part of the beach. The temple, which was constructed by the great sage Nirartha, is one of the most iconic representations of Bali in the visual realm.
Another man-made construction that has gained popularity among millennial travelers is Garuda Wisnu Kencana in Ungasan. Initiated by renowned Bali-born Bandung-based sculptor Nyoman Nuarta, the statue of Lord Wisnu sitting on the mythical beast Garuda will be the tallest statue in Indonesia. The 75-meter tall and 65-m wide statue sits atop a lofty pedestal that will give it a height of 121 m, nearly 30 m taller than the Statue of Liberty in the United States. It will be officially inaugurated on Aug. 8.
The towering monument will provide an awesome spot for Instagram wizards, particularly those who have drone-mounted cameras.
Street murals are another visual element that would make visiting Bali an Instagram-worthy trip. The hip neighborhoods of Canggu and Seminyak do not only boast luxurious hotels, plush restaurants and
glitzy night clubs, they also have captivating murals and graffiti. Painted by international and local street artists, the murals reflect the ongoing struggle of the island as it tries to balance modernity with its traditional legacy.
Those who want to capture the work of Bali’s master street artists, such as Slinat, Komunitas Djamur, Komunitas Pojoks, Kuncir, Swoofone, WAP, UncleJoy and WD, should explore the streets of Denpasar. Their murals, ranging from political pieces to decorative ones, provide a colorful background for a unique selfie. Roaming in the vicinity of Denpasar’s Gajah Mada old town will be an additional bonus for the selfie fanatics, a chance to pose in Bhinneka Djaja, the city’s oldest coffee house and roaster. Its brews are fantastic too.
Natural beauty, rustic temples, man-made mega structures and murals are some of the attractions Bali has to offer to the millennial tourists. These young vacationers never travel alone. They have always brought with them their digital followers as they constantly seek the picture-perfect vacation.