Bali is such an incredible country filled with culture, delicious food, good weather and plenty of beautiful sights. After spending 10 days with good mates I’ve fallen in love with the place, it’s an absolute dream.
Here are my highlights, some of the most memorable places and some hot tips if you’re planning a holiday there anytime soon.
First up, the weather in September was perfect, hot but not too sticky with only light sprinkling of rain. Most mornings were overcast but quickly became blue skies in time for a lunchtime swim and work on our tan and indulge in a salad bowl.
I’m lucky enough that one of my gorgeous besties is living over there starting her own business so we got a taste of what it could be like to be a local, while still exploring the sights. Her place is just on the outskirts of Canggu, surrounded by rice fields and with a pool, a Bali must in my books.
For those who are going to skim this article here are my top tips:
- Learn how to ride a scooter or use ‘GoJeks’ when possible to get around
- Explore a few different areas even if just for a night or two, especially Nusa Penida or Uluwatu for breathtaking views
- Be sure to try a smoothie bowl, the fruity ones (like Dragon Fruit) are amazing!
- Spend a day relaxing poolside at one of the many beach clubs
- Learn the exchange rate (food is cheap, clothes are expensive)
Of all the places we visited, Canggu was by far my favourite with a balance of tourist and local we quickly found ourselves at home. Canggu is a beachfront town and home to many the barefoot hippies and digital nomads. Its surfy vibe is complete with an abundance of trendy cafes, cute shops and beach clubs.
The first thing to do in Canggu is to find yourself a cafe and fuel yourself with endless options; smoothie bowls, chia seed puddings, salad bowls, curries the list goes on. All of the food we had whilst in Bali was fresh, well-plated, delicious and dare I say it, instagramable. Better yet, it’s cheap by New Zealand standards, you can get smoothie bowls for Rp 60k (about $6 NZD), or a tofu buddy bowl for Rp 750k (about $7.50 NZD).
One of my favourites is Nook by Milu, which has the best view overlooking the rice fields and has some of the best Teriyaki Tofu I’ve had to date. Some of the others we ate at include; Koloni, The Shady Shack, Nook by Milu, Peloton Supershop, Cafe Organic, Nude, Crate Cafe and these are only the ones I can remember!
Next stop is some of the gorgeous Aussie owned shops to burn up a sweat before spending the afternoon poolside. Both Canguu and Seminyak are full of beach/pool clubs to cater to all needs; from party vibes at Finns Beach Club or Potato Head through to a relaxed day at La Brisa or even enjoying a floating Brunch at Cabina.
We absolutely loved La Brisa and were blown away by the decor, vibes and sustainably sourced food. La Brisa which translates to The Sea Breeze in Spanish was exactly that; easy, breezy and beautiful. The second you step foot through the door you are transported into a Balinese Fishermans home, complete with fishing nets, antique buoys, straw baskets and more. This beach club is more than just a pool, it’s a magical experience and the perfect spot to pull up with a book and park yourself for the day. Plus it’s much cheaper than the others, quieter and if you get there before 11 am its free entry.
To finish any day in Bali a sunset is a must-do and with Canguu being beachfront what better way to spend it. We parked up on Buta Bolong Beach and relaxed as the day turned to night. The vibe here was perfect, the sand on our feet, the soft tunes from Finns Beach Club, the crisp ocean spray and a soft sunset as we reflected on the day we had.
As well as indulging in the Aussie-Bali fusion it wouldn’t be a true Bali experience without sampling traditional Indonesian food at a local warung (small family owned restaurants).
We went to the girls favourite, Warung Bu Mi which is constantly packed with locals and tourists alike. Its buffet style and you can select from a smorgasbord of goodies including my favourites; yellow rice, crispy tempeh, tofu, curries and plenty of leafy greens all for under 40k (about $4NZD). We also went to another one a few blocks down Varuna which had both a buffet and off the menu local including some of the must-haves Nasi Goreng and Cap Cay.
Of all the places we went to, Ubud felt the most touristy and had a very hippie vibe, the main city was small and busy and it was my least favourite town. We jumped on the back of some local Go-Jeks and headed to Tegenungan Waterfall, situated on the outskirts of Ubud, and about 45 minutes on a scooter from Canggu.
This place was an absolute gem although not hidden at all. It was much more touristy than waterfalls back home; complete with an entry fee and a strip of local warungs and stalls selling ice cream and coconuts. The waterfall itself is surrounded by a lush forest and sits at in a large gully. It’s a short 10-minute walk from the top down a hundred or so stairs to get down to the base of the falls. Here there where many were soaking up the sun. Instead, we went on this cute swing ($2NZD) and up to the top of the falls to gain another perspective. On top of the falls, there is a cafe and pool with some cute instagramable spots as well as epic views of the falls.
Another must-do whilst in Ubud is to pop in and say hi to the monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest. Here there are over 700 monkeys roaming freely across 12/5 hectares of forest and temples in the centre of Ubud. You can purchase bananas and coconut from the front entrance to feed to the monkeys and if you are game let them climb up on you. Be sure to remove earrings, necklaces and have phones and cameras secured before doing so – we witnessed a few unfortunate events where the monkeys came out on top.
Whilst in Ubud we joined in on the hippie vibes with a beautiful 7am yoga class at The Yoga Barn and a matcha latte from Milk & Madu …because when in Ubud right? This class was exactly what I needed to get me back into yoga, and what better place to fall back in love with it than Bali itself, a place known for its yoga retreats and meditation.
We stayed about 15 minutes out of town in a beautiful villa surrounded by rice fields which was magical. Since we woke up in rice fields in Ubud and Amy’s villa is among more we didn’t end up having time to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, one of the most famous tourist attractions.
Nusa Pineda has some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. The island is located an hour or so ferry from the mainland on the East coast and is known for its sights.
You can easily do this as a day trip and tick off the key sights or pack your bags and spend a night or two and explore off the beaten track if I was you I’d do the latter. We did an overnight and saw the main sights and spent a day relaxing at the beach near our accommodation.
Getting around here is pretty easy, although the roads are some of the worst I’ve seen in Bali. Think steep, one lane hills, dirt roads and loads of potholes. You can easily hire a driver for Rh 500-600k (which is what we did) or if you are a confident scooter driver, hire a scooter on arrival and zoom around.
I’ll warn you now the tourist spots are pretty packed. Our first stop was Angel’s Billabong and Broken beach. The cliffs and coastline here are something else and the broken beach was so much more stunning that I had thought. Next, we headed to the famous Kelingking point, aka T-Rex which you’ve surely seen the photos of. Ironically enough, in Balinese, this point translates to little pinky. We really wanted to head down to the beach below although this takes time and alas time is of the essence. Our last stop before the fery home was Crystal beach where we had an hour or so to relax in the sun before jetting off home. You can read more about some of the awesome places which we didn’t have time to visit here… I already have a few on my bucket list for next time including; Nusa Penida Treehouse, Peguyangan Waterfall and Atuh Beach.
We woke up in our gorgeous villa to a beautiful local Bali breakfast of fresh fruit and fruit juices which we sprinkled with some of the best granola ever – the infamous East Bali Cashews Granola. This granola is to die for, say so naturally I brought a few packets back home with me. I’m working on perfecting this granola so I can live Bali Style all year…as soon as I work out how!
Uluwatu is the home of surfer babes, beach bums, killer waves and beaches that you’d expect to see on Instagram. We only spent an afternoon here in Uluwatu before I flew back home but we had multiple beautiful meals at The Cashew Tree (it was so good we had to go back for dinner). Much like Canggu this place has hippie vibes although as it’s on a cliff edge the beach vibes are that much more rewarding after the climb down. We spent a few hours bumming on a beach, watching surfers and exploring the coastline before enjoying cocktails and watching the sunset at Single Fin and saying my goodbyes to Bali.
Getting around Bali
There are a few ways to get around Bali depending on how far you’re trying to get, how much luggage you have with you and how many of you. If you’re using taxis be wary that there are issues with the local drivers and ‘turf’ so in some areas like Ubud it might be harder.
The best way to get around is via scooter, if you are confident rent one if you’ve never ridden one before* like us, use GoJek. It’s like uber, but for scooters and was super cheap and easy to get around Canguu and Seminyak (we didn’t have much luck in Ubud).
The other way if you’ve got luggage or going a fair distance is to hire a driver and get them to drive you around for the day. There are plenty of drivers in Bali with large air-conditioned cars, however, driving by car will take longer to get around than on the nimble scooters.
For all those foodies out there reading this here are my must-try meals whilst you’re in town;
- Go to Tukies for coconut ice cream if you’re in Ubud – best coconut ice-cream!
- Yellow rice and crispy Tempeh at a local warung
- Gado-gado (vegetables in peanut sauce)
- Nasi Goreng / Mie Goreng / Nasi Campur
- Cap Cay (vegetables in broth with rice)
- Dragonfruit smoothie bowl
- Sate Chicken / Beef
Those are some of the highlights of Bali…and there are many more which I haven’t written about. In all Bali’s beauty, there were a few lowlights like getting a bad case of Bali’s belly and fainting from dehydration. These things happen, so remember to drink lots of water over there because it’s hot hot hot and washing teeth with local water isn’t worth it!
I would highly recommend Bali for all occasions and anyone on a budget, whether for a girls trip, foodie mission or a romantic getaway. Feel free to leave a comment if you’ve got any questions or follow more of the adventure over on my personal instagram