Bali is one of the most magical places I have ever been. Overrated?? Absolutely NOT. I would visit there 100 times. I hope to live there long term at some point in my wild ride of a life. I’ve been promising this Bali blog since March and I currently have about four friends waiting from advice from me. So- I think it’s time. Here is my ultimate advice on Bali- what do, where to stay, what to eat, etc.
I’ve been twice. The first time with three American single girlfriends and myself (at the time also single) and the second time with my partner. Needless to say the trips were very different but the magic about Bali was the same. You want to talk about vibes- Bali has the best vibes of any place I have ever experienced. It feels like the energy levels are sky high and you’re floating in a dream. I’ll write this with the thought that you haven’t already visited South East Asia so some things might be what you already know.
Airport: Stay somewhere where the airport shuttle is included. The nicer hotels are cheap enough that you can stay there for the first few nights (or the whole time depending on your budget) and save yourself the hassle of getting ripped off by the taxi drivers. They will be waiting for you at the airport with a sign and it just eliminates initial culture shock.
Taxis: Speaking of taxis, this is one of the worst parts about Bali. The incessant hounding for people to give you a taxi or motorbike ride or tour. This is an amazing way to see a lot in one day- we did it. But you have to make sure it’s someone you trust. Shop around and BARTER. Do not just pay the first amount they say- even if it seems cheap when you convert it. Your safest bet is using Blue Bird taxis and making sure they have the meter on. Some taxis pretend to be Blue Bird and even have a fake similar logo but you can spot the real from the fake. By far the cheapest route is to rent a motorbike- but just make sure you take photos of it before so they don’t try to charge you for damages and that you are confident driving in the crazy Bali traffic.
Places to go:
Canggu– This is an up and coming area! I think in a few years it will be much more crowded- so get there now. It’s really peaceful and relaxed and there is a beach close by(which is good for surfing I don’t surf but my boyfriend enjoyed it.) The variety of restaurants is amazing and lots of fun nightlife. The town is mixed right in with rice fields and you don’t feel like you’re overrun by tourists but there are still people about. I would recommend 4 nights in Canggu or longer if you aim is to chill out and have a more relaxed Bali vacation.
Accommodation: We stayed at The Apartments at Canggu- highly recommend. We had our own private villa and pool. Very clean and helpful staff. Great location.
Food & Nightlife: Nalu Bowls, Crate Cafe (MUST GO) , Finn’s Beach Club
We took an all day taxi van from our hotel in Canggu- all the way to Ubud but we made many stops along the way. I would highly suggest doing this. We got to our next destination and crammed about 10 tourist activites into one day.
Visiting Tanah Lot temple, a Balinese coffee and tea plantation, traditional Indonesian lunch at a stand on the side of the road (yes, this food is the best) , Pemerintah Kabupaten Nias Barat (lesser known Monkey temple than the one in Ubud- had the place to ourselves and a personal Balinese tour guide) and another gorgeous temple Pemerintah Kabupaten Badung.
Ubud– My favorite place in Bali. Highly UNDERRATED! Most people want to spend time at the beach in Bali which I totally GET. But spending two days in Ubud is not enough! There is so much culture, delicious food, yoga, and close by adventures to have. I would recommend at least 4 days but we stayed closer to a week and I don’t regret a second of it. Luckily, we were able to stay with my friend I met through an online travel group and we were right in the heart of Ubud. It was a homestay with a Balinese family that was absolutely wonderful to us. Martini, her host, took me to a Balinese “laughing yoga” class and gave Harry and I a personal trip to the morning market and Balinese cooking class.
Food & Nighlife: The Seeds of Life (amazing Vegan place), Lazy Cats Cafe, Earth Cafe, Bali Buda Cafe
Things to do
Shop at the night markets- heart of Ubud- great place to get souvenirs- a lot of the same stuff but worth the experience- expect to get hassled to buy but just keep your eye on what you want! And always barter!!
Pura Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple- One of the most spiritual experiences of my life- rented a motorbike- easy 30 minute drive from Central Ubud- Balinese man gave us a tour and explained how we were to bless ourselves with the holy water- wear a swimsuit and get ready to get wet! You don’t have to but it was a very moving experience.
Yoga at Radiantly Alive and The Yoga Barn- Highly suggest both of these studios! Some of my favorite yoga classes ever with even better locations.
Sunrise Hike at Mount Batur- Set it up with a company (usually can through your hotel) all day event- hard hike need proper sneakers or boots and active wear but the view is unbelievable. Need to be physically fit.
Don Antonio Blanco Museum- Such an amazing spot. Right next to the Monkey Forest. It was empty but the art-work and the actual buildings and architecture is mind-blowing.
Pura Dalem Agung- Monkey Forest- I visited here on my first trip. Definitely a lot of tourists. The monkeys can be vicious so be careful. Put everything away in your bag, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.
Spend the day relaxing at the infinity pool at Jungle Fish- This is one of the best pools I’ve ever been too. Only 10 USD and you can stay for the day. Go early to get loungers. Great music, food and drinks. Not cheap food but worth it.
Early morning Balinese Market- If you can get up at 6 am- I highly suggest going down to the food market run by the locals. Our host mother took us and it was so cool to see everyone hard at work and bartering. If you are a photographer this would be a goldmine for capturing culture.
Gili Islands- We took a van from Legian to a small town( I have no idea what it’s called) and then took the ferry over to Gili Meno. The ferries go to all the Gili Islands and Legion. You can book with a travel agency or your hotel. Always barter the price and shop around.
The beaches in Canggu did not impress me. I have also been living in Australia where the beaches are all like something out of a postcards. But the Gili islands are something to write home about. My first trip I went to Gili Trawangan referred to as “Gili T” but since then it has been overrun with tourists and backpackers. It was under construction when our friends went and they said we should skip and go to Gili Meno. If you’re looking to party go to Gili T. but if you want actual paradise- go to Gili Meno- I think Gili Air is somewhere in between.
Gili Meno– It’s tiny hard to give advice because you will literally see all there is to offer. We just relaxed on the beaches, posted up on the beach huts with Bintangs and authentic Balinese cuisine (Get urap- urap and thank me later) , rented snorkel gear, went for walks around the island, watched a movie on a big screen projector at Karma Reef hotel, went to yoga class at Seri Resort Gili Meno and soaked up every second on the island. I would go back there in a heartbeat.
Uluwatu– The furthest South you can get and some of the most stunning views. We took a day trip from where we stayed in Legian but if I could do it again I would stay in Uluwatu. There are some serious must sees.
Single Fin Beach Club- This is the coolest bar I’ve ever been to. Especially on a Sunday. Head there in the morning and walk down the winding steps to a little secret cave beach. It’s only a beach when the tide is low. You can spend all day at Single Fin drinking, eating and soaking in the views. It turns into quite the party spot mid afternoon and evening. I would spend every day of my life there if I could.
Uluwatu Temple- We didn’t make it here but I’ve heard it’s amazing! It’s definitely on the list for next time.
Seminyak- This is the nicer luxury tourist area and if you’re looking for shopping, food and going out– this is your spot. It’s next to the famous Kuta beach which is very popular for going out but probably the most seedy area in Bali. I felt very unsafe in Kuta and everywhere else I felt perfectly fine. Seminyak is worth the trip though and you can stay there if you are wanting a nice five star villa. We stayed in Legian which is a short motorbike ride away but I wouldn’t stay there again.
Food and Nightlife: Sea Circus, Potato Head Beach club (amazing place to spend all day at the infinity pool and watch the sunset. Really fun but expensive cocktails), La Favela, La Plancha.
Lesser known areas like Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, and Sanur are all worth a search. But basically you can’t go wrong in Bali. I think the more time you spend in Canggu, Ubud and the Gilis the better your trip will be. What were your favorite parts about Bali? What questions do you still have? I would love to help you in any way I can!! Bali is my favorite place (so far) on earth so I always enjoy helping people plan a trip there! Until next time Bali… I’ll keep the memories. If you’re headed there soak up every single moment! A lot of places can’t live up to their hype… but I assure you Bali will (especially if you take my advice)