I came to the Bali Silent Retreat with high expectations, ready to love that place as much as many of my friends seem to do. I heard only raving reviews and the bar has been set high. And I’m happy to report that the Bali Silent Retreat didn’t disappoint. There were a feeeew things that could’ve been different, but aren’t there always?
What is the Bali Silent Retreat?
First things first, in case you’ve never heard about the Bali Silent Retreat. It’s a retreat center in Bali where you can come to do yoga, meditate and eat delicious healthy food all in silence. It’s a bit like a much more relaxed and luxurious version of a Vipassana retreat.
Where is the Bali Silent Retreat?
The Bali Silent Retreat is located around 1 hour west of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia, surrounded by jungle and rice fields. The place is beautiful! You feel the love that went into everything. The Bali Silent Retreat started as the vision from one women, Patricia, and opened in 2013. I love stories like this, when a woman (or man) made their dream come true through hard work and insistence. They recommend booking their driver to get there as it’s a bit tricky to find. Through I drove there myself with the help of Google maps and got there with no problems.
Accommodation at the Bali Silent Retreat
They offer different accommodation options to choose from, from a female dorm to single rooms and luxury bungalows. I stayed in one of the ground level single rooms. To tell the truth, it was perfectly fine but a bit more basic than I expected. It’s not as basic as real ashram life (click here to read about my experience about a Vipassana retreat in an ashram in Ko Phangan, Thailand), but the prices are significantly higher than in an ashram and you’ll get much more for your bang elsewhere in Bali, so I guess I’m a bit spoilt here. Though the room looked exactly as the pictures on their website and they sell it as minimalist simplicity, so there definitely was no false advertising.
Everything was very clean and I loved the little extra touches, like a kimono, the solar-powered bed light and the little tea bar next to the rooms. Prices start at $25 for a bed in the dormitory and go up to $120 for a deluxe bungalow (fits 2 persons). My room was $40 per night.
The food! The FOOD!!!
Everybody I know who went to the Bali Silent Retreat has been raving about the food. And now I’m raving right with them. If there would be a march proclaiming the amazing yumminess of the food at the Bali Silent Retreat, I would march right in the front.
It was that good. 3 buffets a day with a myriad of yummy and healthy choices. Warm banana bread fresh out of the oven. Fresh tropical fruits. Duck egg omelets. Garlicky tomatoes. Red rice porridge with mango. And that was just breakfast…
Everything’s fresh and locally produced – either from the own garden, the neighboring farms or the rest of Bali. Simon, the chef, is a true artist in my opinion.
I also loved the little tea bar to make your own ginger and herb concoction and that you could leave your favorite recipe on a post it note on the wall. Oh, and don’t forget the cookies that are available all day long, sooo good!
There are no fixed days to start and finish your retreat, you can come any day of the week and stay as long as you want. You are also free to follow the offered schedule or to just relax, read and eat.
Here is the daily schedule:
6:00am – 6:45am Silent Meditation
7:00am – 8:30am Gentle Yoga
8:30am – 10:00am Breakfast
11:30am – 3:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 3:15pm Yoga
3:30pm – 4:30pm Guided Meditation
4:30pm – 6:00pm Dinner
They also offer weekly events like a visit to the hot springs, a garden tour, rice terrace walks and more.
The yoga teachers are volunteers so there’s no real consistency, it’s always someone new. You could have a really great teacher – or a not so great one. I don’t really understand why they don’t pay their yoga teachers. I mean this is a money-making operation, not an ashram based on donations. So I think they should definitely pay their teachers and maybe even hire an Indonesian local teacher – there are quite a few now teaching in Bali since it became so difficult to get a work visa for foreigners. Their chef gets paid – why not the yoga teacher? It’s just a pet peeve of me, that it’s totally normal that yoga teachers work for free food and accommodation… not happy with that.
And then this happened…. Starting at 10am there was loud party music from somewhere in the neighborhood. This got tired pretty fast, especially because we didn’t know why it happened or when it would end. Not very conductive to meditation and silent reflection… It wasn’t the fault of the Bali Silent Retreat obviously but after a few hours of this I decided to check out one day early because I had a perfectly quiet house in Ubud to return to. I was very pleasantly surprised that they offered me a refund for the night and I even got an apology email the next day with some further explanations. It seems some local kids decided to start celebrating the new year early… let’s hope they’ll figure this situation out with the help of the local authorities and the Bali Silent Retreat is silent again soon. 10 points for their customer service in any case!
I used my time at the Bali Silent Retreat to read, reflect on the last year and make plans for the new year and had a great time doing this. But I actually think 2 days are too short. When you do something kind of extreme like being in silence or fasting the second and third days are always the hardest and only after 3 days it gets easier and you get this amazing high. I would recommend staying at least 4 days, better 6 days, to get the most out of such a retreat and a lasting effect.
I would also love it if they would offer retreats with fixed start and end dates, where you could meet the other retreaters before the silence starts and then break the silence together. When I did a Vipassana retreat the silent support by the other participants and the opportunity to talk about and share the experience at the end was unforgettable. It’s been a much deeper experience. I would love it if they would offer this kind of retreat a few times a year and that would be a reason for me to come back. Just for 2 or 3 days – I’m not so sure it’s really worth it.