TRAVEL GUIDE TO BALI by Eva D.
Eva D. is an Urban Explorer, Fellow Foodie and Art Aficionado and loves music, wellness and yoga :) She likes to be out and about and can't really sit still for too long. She'd definitely compromise sleep to see even more of a new place! If you recognise yourself in that description, Eva's travel diary will help you decide where to stay, eat, hang out, and play.
I recently returned from a week in Bali with lots of divine memories. I would however recommend to go for a minimum of 12-14 days, especially if you - like me - like to move around and explore. I started off in Canggu, followed by a couple of days in Ubud, a short flight to Flores to go scuba diving, and back to Bali to the enjoy a couple more days in the south of island, around Uluwatu.
Scooters are the way to get around, especially within the different hubs. If you know how to drive, rent one. If you haven’t driven before, download the GOJEK app to hire scooter taxis. If you want to go to somewhere that’s further than a 30 min drive though, take a car with AC. Also beware that traffic jams are the norm and it’s easy to underestimate distances.
You will find that most of your drivers are called Wayan. It’s a result of Bali’s naming convention: independently of gender, the firstborn is called Wayan, Putu or Gede, the second child Made or Kadek, baby #3 is either Nyoman or Konami, and the 4th is always Ketut. If you happen to have 5 kids or more, you start all over again. Oh and by the way, Bali has 4.2 million inhabitants.
Canggu is the spot where most digital nomads live these days. Join them for breakfast at Nalu Bowls or Koi, lunch at Shady Shack and dinner at Mason or at the restaurant of suave boutique hotel, The Slow. If you want a more local experience, go to a Warung, a small family-run restaurant.
I can highly recommend the picturesque Dandelion or Give, which is a 100% plant based cafe that gives all of its profit to local charities. If you crave fresh seafood, hit surfers’ favourite Echo Beach Club for their seafood BBQ and treat yourself to a Tuna Steak or the seafood platter, or head over to the sustainability obsessed Fishbone Local.
Sustainability and education (of predominantly locals) of the harms of environmental pollution and plastic is a big topic on the island, which has seen piles of garbage building up on the beaches. You can do your part to help and take part in an organised Beach Clean Up.
Walking isn’t particularly great in Canggu as there aren’t many proper sidewalks, and crossing the road by foot can be quite the adventure. But if you want to go shopping, it’s the best way to explore the many boutiques and markets alongside Pantai Batu Balong or Batu Mejan. On Sundays, check out Samadi market, and on the last Saturday of each month, go to the market at Old Man's. And wherever you shop: if there’s no price tags, ALWAYS bargain.
To get your daily dose of zen, head over to eco-guesthouse Serenity or Samadi for yoga, a gong bath or some ecstatic dancing. No evening in Bali is complete without a massage - get a Deep Tissue Massage at Chillax. If they are fully booked, you can find plenty of alternatives in walking distance.
Ubud is known for temples, rice fields and jungle. So when in Rome: stay in a homestay, which is basically a family’s house, the entrance often a temple, like Nick’s Hidden Cottages, sleep surrounded by the tropical forest like at the Hanging Gardens of Bali or Bambu Indah, or dwell in the middle of rice fields like in the Firefly Villa or Pajar House Ubud.
Everything within the centre of Ubud is walkable, and you’ll find countless shops in and around the art market - I recommend hunting for silk garments and jewellery. Get a meal and a juice at The Seeds of Life cafe (remember to check out the dessert counter!), Clear Cafe (don’t be put off by the logo, I promise the food & interior are amazing), Zest, Alchemy or stock up on some snacks at Bali Buda for any of your day trips.
Then hit the road to the rice fields of Tegalalang. You can wander between the fields, stop at one of the strategically positioned selfie stations or one of the many swings along the way. Make sure to apply sunscreen as it takes a while to maneuver round the windy walkways. If you want to buy anything for your house, stop at one of the many artisan shops on the long road from Tegalalang back to Ubud town.
If you have enough time, go and spend a day exploring the temples of East Bali - like the “gate to heaven” of Pura Lempunyan Luhur and the stunning water place Tirta Gangga. Personally, sadly, I did not have enough time to trek all the way East, but found a picturesque alternative in the lesser known Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple. You are only allowed in if you cover your legs - if you rock up in a short beach dress or trunks, most temples will be prepared to equip you with a Balinese sarong.
If walking around rice paddies and sun salutations are not enough exercise for you, consider hiking one of the volcanos - this means a punchy 2AM start in order to get to the top for a rewarding sunrise. If you’re based in Ubud, chose Mount Batur - if you’re based in Canggu, consider heading to Java to admire Kawah Ijen’s blue lava streams up close. Waterfalls are another highlight of Bali’s nature, and there’s no shortage of them. Tukad Cepung is close-ish to Ubud, and if you make it to the North of the island, check out Aling Aling and Banyu Wana Amertha.
Uluwatu is known for spectacular sunsets and cliffs. If you want to surf, hit the beach. If you want to sunbathe, I recommend driving to the Karang Boma cliffs instead and chill or walk along the cliffs to Malini Agro Park.
Start your day with morning light yoga at Uluwatu Surf villas followed by brunch with a view at their Mana Restaurant. Alternatively, stay at the slightly tucked away Kampung Jimba and have food at their delicious restaurant, or head to nearby Bukit Cafe or The Loft. If you want to try something different, consider the Bubble Hotel - certainly a room with a view. For more traditional views, head over the Ulu Cliff House and make sure to check out their event schedule. If you want to admire the sunset, you’ll have to find the hidden area down the stairs on the left of the pool. On Sunday nights head to Single Finn.
For more amazing views, check our Rock Bar or the Bulgari Resort.
If like me, you like scuba diving, see if you can carve out a few days to head over to Flores. You can access the area either by boat, or you jump on a plane for 45 minutes. Remember though that national flights definitely operate on “Bali time,” meaning that planes leave 1-2 hours later than scheduled… or earlier.
In Flores, I stayed in what was probably the most basic accommodation I have ever stayed in - Xpirates Dive Camp Komodo. It is in fact housed on an island 1.5 hours boat ride away from Flores, the only man-made structure on that piece of land. While it’s very bare, it’s all you need on a diving trip, since you’ll spend all day long on a boat or underwater, looking at fish, sharks, turtles and manta rays. Since the water is crystal clear, you can see all of the above when snorkeling too.
Since you need to let 24 hours pass in between your last dive and your onwards flight, head over to Rinca island to see the Komodo dragons en natural. There’ll be plenty of them lingering around the kitchen area of the National Park, and for the more adventurous travellers (not me!) there is the option to do a 1- or 2-hour hike to see them in their natural habitat. You’ll be accompanied by a ranger with a wooden stick, which they will use to lift one of the dragons legs in case of an attack. Good luck!
Safe travels, ICBRKRs!
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