Bali has become quite popular over the last decade. Most westerners associate Bali with the film Eat Pray Love, which showcased its cultural power over the body and mind. However, to those that have not been, the film does not even begin to do this Indonesian island justice. Depending on which part of the island you are on, your experience will change drastically.
Canggu and Seminyak are bustling with tourists, but also entrepreneurs that have arrived to take part in the budding fashion and design industry. Hang for a month or two off as little as twenty USD a night, and start your business in a centrally located part of the world. Or party it up at one of many beach clubs, and wake up for a hangover brunch at a boho cafe filled with smoothie bowls and coconuts.
These two cities have a number of western style restaurants and cafes that have popped up in recent years, most started by Australians, and most phenomenally decorated, with tasty locally sourced ingredients.
Make your way to Uluwatu and Bingin Beach, and you’ll be awestruck by the killer surf, and gorgeous bikini clad ladies. The beaches are well kept, which can be challenging to come by in some Asian countries, but they can be rather rocky with treacherous waves. Step up to the cliffside and enjoy a quick meditation session at one of many temples.
And then there is the infamous Ubud, which promises to balance your spirits and bring your mind peace. It does that, and so much more, so long as you escape the busy city center. Only twenty miles away from Canggu, it can take nearly two hours to get to Ubud because of traffic. If you can, reserve a room deep in the jungle amongst the monkeys and the silence.
Enjoy a quiet and slow way of life, until a monkey steals your juice while you’re reading by the infinity pool. Partake in a local cooking class, or spend a day in a Balinese spa to lather in an avocado and coconut hair mask.
Bali is simple, despite it’s buzzing mopeds and busy streets. When you visit it will demand relaxation, and if you don’t practice yoga today, you are sure to be a yoga fanatic soon.
Please note that this guide only includes Canggu, Seminyak, Uluwatu, and Ubud.
If you've read the latest resort we stayed in here, then you're probably aware I'm a huge fan of the Alila brand.
Alila Uluwatu is a minimalistic resort secluded on limestone cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. The Alila Seminyak is a beachfront property overlooking the pristine white sand and golden sunsets, and closer to the energy of Seminyak proper.
Soori Bali sits between Mount Batukara and rice fields, and was designed by world-renowned architect Soo K. Chan and his wife Ling Fu. The Asian architecture was crafted out of local material.
The Slow is the hottest new hotel in Canggu, and one I have yet to stay at. If you go, you better let us know! It's a sort of new-age-cool meets industrial jungle... if there was such a thing.
A couple other fave's .. Anatara Seminyak and Katamama.
Ubud is filled with incredible hotels and villas. We stayed at the Alila Ubud this time around.
However, It's imperative during your stay in Ubud that you rest your head in the jungle.
Some of my other favorite spots to do that...
Como Uma Ubud and Viceroy Ubud.
At the Viceroy, if you're feeling rather fancy, take a helicopter ride (launched from their in-house heli pad) over the jungle. That's one way to see it...
Oh, the choices. It's easy to get caught up in the western style cuisine near the coast, but enjoy it now, because in Ubud you'll be dining Balinese style.
A few mellow spots in Seminyak and Canggu...
Nude Canggu, is just that, nude. Simple ingredients and even simpler decor.
Cafe Organic is a bohemian wonderland with the most colorful dishes! Order the Taro Latte (pictured below), if nothing else.
Sisterfields in Seminyak will likely be packed, but it's worth the wait. Just grab a coffee next door from their sister cafe, Expat. Be sure to pay the bathroom a visit at Sisterfields, so creative!
If you're under the age of twenty-five... or want to feel like you're twenty-five again... have dinner at Motel Mexicola, and once you've sipped on enough tequila, get up and dance!
A few fun spots for pictures, and having a drink...
Sal Secret Spot
The Lawn Canggu
Balinese cooking classes are a great way to immerse yourself into the culture of Bali, especially with the mass of Western style restaurants in Canggu & Seminyak.
If you're not up for cooking try a few of these dinner spots...
Batik for traditional Balinese cuisine, and a fun atmosphere.
Tiger Palm for a mix of Thai, Malaysian and Balinese dishes.
Barbacoa for Latin-American and a solid tile game. #ihavethisthingwithtiles (look it up).
Dinner in Ubud requires an empty stomach, and a full heart...
Bridges and Cafe Lotus are quite popular among tourists, but pretty tasty. You can't really go wrong in Ubud!
Hujan Locale is a charming spot in town for local food.
Kubu, which stands for hut, is located at the Ritz, and will literally have you dining in a bamboo cocoon. Great wine list, and perfect if you are craving a fine dining experience.
Indus Restaurant is traditional Balinese with great food, but an even better view! In the heart of Ubud, dine with a valley view and yet another incredible sunset.
Pay a visit to The Kayon Resort, and have a picnic lunch or dinner in the middle of the rainforest overlooking a waterfall.
Now that you have a full stomach from all the incredible breakfast, lunch and dinner spots in Canggu, Seminyak & Ubud... It's party time.
Spend the day (or night) at one of these fabulous beach clubs in Canggu or Seminyak...
Potato Head, which has locations in Singapore, Jakarta and Hong Kong, has their flagship property beachfront in Seminyak. International DJs and party-goers unite here to rage the day away in the pool, watch the sunset, and keep the party going all night.
Finns Beach Club has a younger vibe, but a dance party that never ends!
KU DE TA (pictured here) is a more mellow beach club, with awesome food! Hang out, watch the sunset, and sip on champagne!
Wake up at 3a.m. and drive to Ubud for a hike in darkness up Mount Batur to view the sunrise. Cook eggs in the heat of the volcano, and then hike back in time for an early morning coffee.
Relax over lunch at Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud, and then head over to Monkey Forest to get a real taste for monkey life!
By that time you'll be exhausted, but the shopping in Ubud is not to be missed!
The Ubud Art Market has a selection of awesome interior decor. Haggle the crap out of everything though! They mark up the price 3 or 4 times the norm!
While there is so much to do in Bali, it is quite crowded just about anywhere you go. We escaped for a day trip to Nusa Penida, a beautiful little island just a thirty minute boat ride away from Bali.
Take an inexpensive private boat ride around the uninhabited island, and hop off at Manta Point to view the massive manta rays.
Venture out to Uluwatu, closer to the coast, and hike to Pecatu temple. It offers wonderful views of the ocean, and a number of monkeys who are likely to snatch your phone if you're not careful!
Relax the rest of the afternoon at a surfers paradise, Bingin Beach. There's a number of boutique, hostel-like, spots perched on the cliff serving smoothies and drinks while you watch the surfers work their magic!
I could literally make an entire guide to the shopping in Bali. Basically, the shopping is so phenomenal that you can get a shipping crate for a flat rate of $5,000 USD and pack it full of boho decor regardless of weight.
We had the opportunity to work with some local brands like Nico Nico Swimwear, Wild Collection Clothing, Sancerre while we were in Bali.
As for shops near the coast...
I made the mistake of packing too much for my trip. Do not pack a thing! Bali has brands like Faithful the Brand for a quarter of the price you'd pay in the USA. Shop till you drop!
Come with an empty suitcase, and leave with with two full ones!
Give us a shout if you think we missed anything in this guide, but most importantly, enjoy your time in Bali.
And remember, during your trip take some time to breath, meditate, practice yoga, or absorb the silence around you. It does wonders for the mind!