The beautiful Bali. Whats not to love. The beach, the surf, the food, the shops, the nightlife, I could go on and on. Theres so much to do and so much to see, you honestly feel like you could explore forever.
People often ask me the best places to stay in Bali, best accom and best things to do, and from my experience, I’ve found the best way to do it is by staying in different places across the island. I’ve stayed in Legian, Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Uluwatu and on Gilli T island and its safe to say you see the best parts of Bali from these areas. Theres also Ubud, although I’ve never stayed there, I’ve travelled there twice and its definitely another place in Bali you want to explore.
Got 2 weeks to travel? Well I’d say, to see the best of it all, you’d really only need to go to 3 or 4 spots: Seminyak (can easily access Kuta and Legian from there), Uluwatu, Ubud and Gilli T and I’ll talk about each place a little more in depth:
The newest, hippest, trendiest and all around most vibing place in the whole of Bali is Canggu. On my first 3 visits to Bali, Canggu wasn’t even a thing but now…BOOM. A foodie lovers heaven and I don’t say that with even a hint exaggeration, literally a heaven. The ideal place for all the shaka surfers out there (for you learners Canggu is PERFECT), a shopaholics dream with so many cute shops to buy a new wardrobe or in my case a million new bikinis, a place to find yourself unwinding at the many day spas and of course…the nightlife and social vibes.
So let’s dig a little deeper. Here’s a list of the best restaurants & cafes (though honestly…they’re all AMAZING)
- The Shady Shack – our fav so far! A fresh vegetarian based menu with many vegan options also
- Crate Cafe – always busy and for good reason. Well priced yummy food.
- The Loft – this one Bali cafe of the year so its bound to be bad ass.
- Motion – healthy AF
- Gypsy – gotta try the Tuna Poke bowl WOW
- Cafe Organic – name speaks for itself really
- Leroys Vietnamese – cant beat Vietnamese street food in a cool joint
- Bahn Mi & Beans – perfect for a quick lunch & a coffee before a surf
- Betelnut Cafe – The bowls are the goods
- Deux – Cool as vibes with yummy food too
I honestly could chuck in a hundred more but when you get to Canggu yourself, you’ll quickly realise that every single eatery looks and is delicious. Have we missed any of the absolute bests? Let us know!
And the beach clubs too:
- La Brisa – Spend a day here soaking up the sun and feeling like one of the coolest kids in Bali
- The Lawn – Epic epic vibes and too much fun on a Friday night
- Finns Beach Club – Expensive but if you’re on holiday (unlike us backpackers) then go for it yo!
- Pretty Poison – Gnarly skate bowl which goes off on a Thursday night
- Old Mans – Perfect for an after surf beer and a place that gets super rowdy too!
Best surf spots:
- Batu Bolong Beach (out front of Old Mans) – Best place for beginner & intermediate surfers. Easy waves nothing too heavy, you’ll be ripping in no time.
- Echo Beach – More of an experienced spot which works well on high tide
- Berawa Beach – A goodie too!!
- In between all these spots are surfers dotted throughout the ocean too so plenty of waves to be had!
Best day spas:
- Spring spa – still far cheaper than spa rates you’d pay in NZ but a little on the expensive side in Bali terms but this place is amazing. A super modern and beautiful building, you feel relaxed from the moment you walk in.
- Amo – this place has ice cold baths, himalayan salt plunge pools, saunas, jacuzzis and sun loungers so a day spent here is the perfect way to unwind. Massages, facials, hair and nail treatments too, AMO is the gift that keeps on giving
- Chillax – Far cheaper but still bloody good bang for you buck hence why this place is our local
What a place Canggu is – keep an eye out on a guide to Canggu coming soon on zee blog!
The hustle and bustle of Kuta. A big city with lots to see and do, its here where you really feel like you’re in a third world country. The streets are dirty, each shop is stacked almost on top of each other, its overcrowded and the locals are doing all they can to sell things to tourists like you and me.
The shopping and markets in Kuta are where you can get your fake Chanel handbags, Nike shoes, Adidas sports gear and Ray Bans. But prepare for an intense experience. The shop owners come at you with “for you $2, I give you good price mam, come come to my shop it is the best one, ok ok cheap price for you” and if you’re not firm with them, you’ll get stuck in a shop buying everything. Sure its fun for half a day but I would recommend hitting the markets with a specific list of things you want. Whether it be a bob marley poster, a crop top or some fake sunnies, trust me they can tell when someone doesn’t know exactly what they’re after, then boom you’ve brought the lot.
In amongst the hectic shops of Kuta you’ll find suit tailoring shops and if you want, get a leather jacket made. SOOOOOO much cheaper then NZ for a real leather jacket and you can literally walk in, show them a pic of a jacket you like, get measured then pick it up a few days later! You can do this with any other clothes too.
The beach in Kuta isn’t as clean as the other beaches around Bali, there’s people walking around selling things, ladies offering massages and rubbish scattered from place to place…however thats the whole atmosphere of Kuta so it’s deffs an experience. The surf is good for learners, not as daunting, as lets say, Uluwatu. So if your up for it, hire a board and get out there.
The nightlife and clubbing scene in Kuta is pretty insane too. Theres so much going on at night, huge 7 story clubs like Sky Garden have music pumping out and onto the streets, where Kiwis and Aussies are running around going mental.
In a nut shell, Kuta is super busy, hectic and maybe even a little dirty and overrated. However its got a cool culture thats deffs not a miss when travelling Bali.
Just 25 mins away from Kuta, you come to Seminyak. This used to be my favourite place in Bali but Canggu has overtaken by a mile.
Seminyak is still a perfect place to stay because there’s so much going on, so how better than booking your own private villa. Most villas have private pools and are absolutely gorgeous with a really authentic Bali feel with open walls, huge bath tubs, fans on the ceilings and an amazing indoor outdoor flow. You can book these through Airbnb, or through many other booking websites. Even hotels have their own private villas you can book. Careful though…read the airbnb reviews before booking your villa. We ended up in a different villa to the ones in the pictures when booking. After reading the reviews, a lot of other people had complained about the same thing! Sneaky sneaky.
I gotta say, Seminyak was the bomb for its cafes and restaurants… Heres a list of the best (my faves anyway)
- Motel Mexicola – mexican food, awesome atmosphere, becomes a bit of a party at night
- Sisterfields – AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING, cafe owned and run by Aussies and its super fresh, super healthy and super amazing (always a bit of a wait so be prepared for that)
- Sea Circus – another yummy cafe to try. Really cute building and interior also – make sure to check out the bathrooms haha
- Ginger moon – modern asian eatery – more expensive than the 3 above but very tasty
- La Favela – this restaurant looks like you have entered the Brazilian Rainforest. The eye for detail is unique and sets it apart from everywhere else!
Shit I really could go on and on…those were just the places we ate and really enjoyed. But I recommend downloading the app THE BALI BIBLE and going through the amazing other places to eat in Seminyak.
Side note: THE BALI BIBLE is literally a bible or guide for Bali. It has EVERYTHING you need to know about Bali and I used this heaps when I was there. Especially to find amazing places to eat.
The beach clubs in and around Seminyak are also one of the best parts of Bali and again I’ll list my faves:
- Potato Head Beach Club – I was lucky enough to see Fat Boy Slim here! So keep an eye out for events here because its epic! Also this is a great place to lounge around, drinking cocktails and vibing to the music. Food here is also AMAZING!
- Ku De Ta – Expect loud music and some awesome food. Another great place to lounge around.
- La Plancha – a vibrant spanish bar on the beach. Super comfortable layout with big colourful umbrellas and bean bags lined up down the beach. An amazing place to watch the sunset and have a cocktail or 5
- Rock Bar, Ayana Resort – If your up for it, travel from Seminyak to Ayana Resort. Probably one of the hottest instagram spots in Bali. Located 15km from Seminyak, this drive can take over an hour in the Bali traffic but its worth it. The most amazing place to watch the Bali sunset! And it has an amazing pool to get the perfect shot. It has been heralded as one of the world’s best bars – See more at: http://balibible.guide/details/rock-bar-ayana-resort#sthash.5LIe7DWu.dpuf
The beauty of Seminyak is that I could sit here and tell you the best places to go but theres honestly so much to see, you’ll find gems that become your favs. Theres so much I didn’t see, that hopefully you will get to, so enjoy every part of this beautiful spot in Bali. Its amazing.
Uluwatu is a large peninsula that is rugged, dry but absolutely beautiful. Home to the best beaches in Bali, Uluwatu provides the goods when it comes to surf. The beaches Balangin, Dreamland, Bingin and Padang Padang are just a few that my brother got the surf while we were in Bali. I however, just sat on the beach because Ulus level of surf is deffs more the advanced level! Surfers: prepare for a long walk over the reef to get to the waves! But once you get out there, you have long lines of waves to shred and enjoy!
We stayed in an airbnb on Bingin beach which I would highly recommend. There are so many little bungalow apartments and bali style homes to stay in for a totally affordable price and if you can, get one with a pool. Uluwatu is situated on such a high cliff and the accom is set up sort of like Greece, with little steps leading the way back up to the road and all the way down to the beach below. To walk down for a swim can be pretty damn tiring and by the time you walk back up, you’re ready for another swim! Check out all the ones on booking.com HERE
While you’re there, you can’t miss the famous Single Fin Beach Club. Easy to get there via taxi or by hiring a scooter and if you can, go twice. Once for breaky to have an EPIC acai bowl and to overlook the surfers below…the view is UNREAL! Then go again for a night out, it absolutely pumps and is really fun (especially on a Sunday)
Also if you can, head to the Uluwatu Cliff Temple, renowned for its amazing locations, perched up on the cliffs approximately 70 metres above sea level. The views by day are insane, but is also a stunning sunset backdrop for those romantic ones out there, so theres lots of amazingness to go around! There are monkeys too, but I wouldn’t call it a monkey forrest, I saw 2 and they were not having a bar of me…They did however, happily take my water bottle.
To be honest I’m not familiar with Ubuds accommodation, as I’ve never stayed there, however check out the big list on booking.com, there’s almost 2000 places to stay! All looks amazing and when I go back, I’ll search through here to find the perfect accom!
Activities in Ubud include going to the monkey forrest, Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary – read a bit more about it here http://monkeyforestubud.com. There are a shit ton of cheeky monkeys here and make sure you have nothing on you they can steel because they will! I.e hide your sunnies, phones and jewelry!
We also did the Bali Cycling Eco Tour, through Ubud which included hotel pickup, a buffet breakfast on the top of an active volcano, and a 3 hour downhill mountain bike ride through local villages, rice fields and lush scenic landscapes of Bali. This was a lot of fun and although it is a full day adventure (around 6 hours), its worth it! Its something different and good for the family or with friends. You also stop off at lots of little places in between and taste Balinese coffee, go through the home of a Balinese family and learn a lot about the Bali way of life. Its super authentic if you want to learn a bit more about the culture.
Last but not least we have Gilli T. One of three islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. You get there via speedboat – but be warned…they are in no way speedy! Takes a good 2-3 hours by boat from Bali so once you arrive make sure you have at least 2 days + on the island to really enjoy it.
The bar and nightlife scene here is vibrant and fun – lots of beach bars and reggae clubs with live bands playing. Lots of people dancing around on magic mushrooms too, so if thats a bit of you, Gilli T is the place to do it.
There are no cars, dogs or bikes on the island which is unique and almost luxury after being in Bali for a while. The taxis are horse and cart which can take up to 4 people + luggage and surfboards too! Everything is super close to each other, accom, restaurants, bars, as the island is small. You can hire bikes and bike around the whole island in about half an hour! We stayed in an AMAZING villa right on the beach and right on the main footpath, we didn’t even book, we just rocked up and it was available but I think this was a fluke. There are many hostels, hotels and villas on the island so just check out the ones HERE on booking.com
- Go to sunset point to have a cocktail and watch the sunset!
- On your way out to Sunset point you will see the instagram famous swing sets which set the backdrop for an amazing pic! Go at low-medium tide :]
- Go snorkeling! We had an epic day snorkeling at Gilli T – swam with turtles which was sooooooo sick!
- Sit down and smoke shisha at one of the beach front shisha bars (not sure what its called but its s small island and you’ll come across it)
- Get dinner at the local night markets. Located in the main square just up from where you arrive on the boat. Something different and authentic
- Have a massive night out! Seriously just do it, get shitfaced and party your way from bar to bar!
Well…thats Bali in a 2306 word nutshell. Thanks for reading guys ☺
Leah | free & addicted