Last but not least, today I want to tell you everything about Bali and my personal favorite places where to stay, eat, shop as well as what to see and do in this beautiful tropical paradise. Some say this island is overrated, a paradise that has lost its way and getting dirtier every year. But really it has just devopleped transforming from a low-key hippie haven to a enormous soulful place, where you can stay smart but still find a barefoot vibe.
This magical island has lost none of its vibrancy, from private villas to five-star resorts offering mind-blowing new levels of comfort and sophistication. With its beaches, palm trees and warm, blue waters, it delivers on all the tourist expectations of a tropical island. It also provides spiritual culture, even the humblest offerings of rice and petals by roadside shrines look exquisite. The island of Bali is covered in temples. There are at least three to every city and they are considered to be the best-known attractions. The most prominent temples are the nine directional temples and The Mother Temple. The island’s varied landscape of beach and volcanic land; for others the appeal lies in the spiritual culture a vibrant pinprick of Hinduism in the midst of the world’s largest Muslim country. Now, get ready for an XXXL guide and lot of information about Bali.
WHAT TO DO IN BALI
NORTH AND WEST COASTS
Also called as ‘the other side of Bali’, North Bali is an interesting destination for those who love authentic culture and seamless nature with tranquil and rural surroundings. Though the north and west coasts of Bali are not as visited as the south of the island, you’ll still find some luxury hideaways and plenty to see and do, from exploring local villages to dolphin spotting of the coast of Lovina and snorkeling off the coast of Java. As well as the Bali Barat National Park, a mountainous area of natural rainforest, mangrove forest, savannah and coral islands.
HEART OF THE ISLAND AND UBUD
If you visit Bali, you must go to Ubud. Here you’ll find the best traditional Balinese architecture, with its courtyard concept. The heart of Bali is a volcanic area of abundant vegetation and brilliant flowers, where hills are seared with terraced rice fields. In this fertile environment it seems no coincidence that culture and art have flourished.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Ubud’s royal family invited a number of guests to visit, and in doing so kick-started the town’s development as an international art centre. There were many influential visitors like artists, painters etc. who lived ub and around Ubud for years. I loved the positive vibes of Ubud and streets full of art galleries, craft shops and cafés. Besides art museums and perhaps stroll around the small Monkey Forest Sanctuary with its temples and resident long-tailed macaques, you can also go mountain-biking or water rafting along the Ayung River.
You should definitely visit the Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud, which is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak (traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system), which according to history, was passed down by a revered holy man named Rsi Markandeya in the eighth century. I recommend you to go early in the morning, because around noon it will be filled with lot of tourists and you won’t be able to enjoy the views or take nice pictures.
Breathtaking Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud.
There are many different waterfalls in Bali, we just managed to visit the Tibumana, where this picture was taken here below. Tibumana is quite nice and is also very good for photos, but it’s a small waterfall and not so spectacular. On my personal bucket list is still the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls – which looks super beautiful and breathtaking. But I hope next time I can visit Banyumala and Tegenungan waterfalls.
They say that time stands still in the east of Bali. Quiet roads wind past rice fields bordered by coconut and banana trees. Ancient villages, beautiful temples and the island’s biggest volcano. Footpaths run along pineapple-clad hills to temples, streams and waterfalls. The big attraction of the east is the unspoilt rural life. Its beaches lack conventional appeal: it is said that the further east you go, the more lava-black the sand becomes, as you can see it on the picture below. The most well known places in East Bali are Tulamben, Amed, Pura Besakih Tirtagangga, Amlapura, Padang Bai, Candi Dasa, Klungkung.
The beautiful and quiet East.
South Bali is without doubt the most popular destination of Bali for tourists from all over the world. The capital Denpasar is widely considered to offer Bali’s best beaches. So it is no coincidence that hotels have been popping up in every place. Local say that there are nearly as many hotels in the area as there are temples, but even the largest of them are low-rise and relatively low-key.
The South of Bali is the most popular destination for tourists from all over the world but especially for the Australians and Japanese. And the most popular areas are: Seminyak, Kuta, Legian, Jimbaran, Uluwatu, Mengwi.
Take a trip to Nusa Lembongan
Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to Nusa Lembongan and to the Gilli Islands, but this is on my bucket list for the next time. Located right off the coast of Bali, this little island is a good alternative to the craziness that Bali is.
FAQ: WHEN TO GO
The dry season, from April to September, is also when humidity is at its lowest. Be warned that prices will rise between July and September.
WHERE TO STAY
- Komaneka at Bisma
- Komaneka Rasa Sayang
- Komaneka at Tanggayuda
- Ulun Ubud Resort
- Maya Ubud Resort & Spa
- The Udaya Resorts and Spa
- Villa Naga Putih
- hu’u Villas Seminyak
- Double – Six, Luxury Hotel
- Amarin Seminyak
- The Colony Hotel Bali
- W Hotel Bali
- Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
- Kupu Kupu Jimbaran
- Keraton Jimbaran Beach Resort
- Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort
- Alila Villas Uluwatu
- Suarga Padang Padang
- Karma Kandara Resort
- Villa Azcoyen Bali
- THE HAVEN SUITES
- Own Villa
- Komaneka at Keramas Beach
- Mara River Safari Lodg
- Komune Resort & Beach Club Bali
- Conrad Bali
- Grand Hyatt Bali
- Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort
- The Mulia, Mulia Resort & Villas
WHERE TO EAT
In Bali you can have the best fresh and organic food ever. Especially when it comes to breakfast, Bali is heaven on earth. Looking for the best food hotspots? Here you will find my top favorite places.
CAFÉS (BREAKFAST & LUNCH)
This cafe was made for Instagram and addicted Instagrammers. 🙂 On the second level of Coffee Cartel is a quaint, home-like space with couch seats and an outdoor small balcony. The menu is definitely one to love. Lots of healthy Aussie-food-style selection. You can expect a whole range of fresh juices and smoothie bowls, coffee and flavoured lattes, salads and brunch mains, as well as interesting Indonesia-influenced dishes. You have to go for the smoothie bowl. We tried the Pink Smoothie Bowl and it was fresh and refreshing. And very photogenic; that’s what we all care about too, right? 😉
Address: Jl. Lb. Sari No.8, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
MILK & MADU
The perfect place to start your day with a delicious breakfast. In addition to amazing bowls, egg dishes, shakes, smoothies and pancakes, there is also à la carte lunch and stone oven pizza. For dinner you can find from “hipster food” to “Italian dishes” such as pizza, pasta, salads and small tapas. For breakfast I can definitely recommend the pancakes (mind-blowing!) and the bowls too. For dinner I can recommend the different tapas and especially the corn sticks and meatballs.
Address: Jl. Raya Pantai Berawa No.52, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
BUNGALOW LIVING CAFÉ
I was very impressed by the Bungalow Living Café! Here you can find everything delicious, light cuisine with beautiful interior. I would say first shopping and then relaxed having food or the other way around. My favorite food: the salads and juices and oh and the the warm cinnamon bun. 🙂
Address: Jr. Pantai Berawa No.35, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Bali, 80361, Indonesia
Satu Satu Coffee Company is on the same street as Bungalow Café. Remember: you need to be there quiet early, because the café is often completely full. What’s special? Its modern, cozy interior and the food was delicious. Although the bowls here are not quite as “fancy” prepared as, for example, in the Café Organic, but they taste at least as good.
Address: Jl. Pantai Berawa No.31, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
A place where you can have the pure Bali feeling: surfers, freelancers, visitors from all over the world are the regular visitors of this café. Due to its popularity, the café has two locations in Bali (Canggu and Seminyak), but you should be a little patient and probably wait for a table, but when you get in, oh you will love the fruit bowls that look like artwork, as well as the vegan and vegetarian dishes, raw food, salads, delicious bagels and fresh juices are amazing.
Address: Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia & Canggu, Jln Batu Bolong
The Sea Circus Café is a unique cafe with its colorful wall design (very Instagrammable!). On the menu you will find the typical Bali trend dishes such as acai bows, pancakes, bagels, juices and smoothies. I had a bowl and pancakes and both were very good. Adelina had the bagels and they were also very good.
Address: Jalan Kayu Aya No. 22, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Definitely my favorite place in Seminyak. What attracts the great throngs of visitors to Kim Soo is the remarkable range of homewares sourced across the Indonesian Archipelago and works of art that are manufactured by the brand itself. Kim Soo is one place to note down for your next Bali itinerary. Food selection is kept simple and you can expect to see Fruit Bowls, French Toast, Pumpkin and Garlic Quiches and a range of cakes as part of the menu.
Address: Jl Kayu Aya 21, Seminyak, Bali. Open: Daily: 9am – 10pm
THE SAVAGE KITCHEN
The best breakfast ever, where I could go everyday! Just try as much as possible for the breakfast or lunch – it was just awesome.
Address: Jang Canggu Club, Canggu Plaza, Canggu 80361, Indonesia
Just one of the best coffee in Bali with major #interiorgoals. Offering mostly organic food made from both local and imported ingredients, one can expect to see Asian and Mediterranean cuisines on the menu. Look forward to a range of nutritious vegetarian delights that will keep you coming back for more. You have to try their Avocado toast or Quinoa Porridge, it’s delicious.
Address: Jalan Raya Pantai Berawa No.51, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
BEST CAFÉS FOR BREAKFAST & LUNCH IN UBUD
Alchemy is almost considered as an institution in The Island of Gods. In fact, this one-stop destination comprises an organic health food store, holistic clinic, raw vegan cafe and juice bar. Alchemy strives to be environmentally friendly whenever possible – for instance, the furniture at Alchemy are made from old recycled wood and no plastic straws are used here.
Address: Jl. Penestanan Klod No.75 Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
It’s impossible to miss Tukies Cafe when strolling down the main road of Ubud. The mini cafe – also known as The Coconut Shop – displays many coconuts at its shopfront and yes, coconut is what it is known for. Grab a fresh whole coconut or beat the heat with a cup of coconut ice cream.
Address: Jl. Raya Ubud No.14, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Bali Buda was founded in 1994 with a simple philosophy of delivering homemade nutritious food to its customers. Fast forward to two decades later, the humble bakery still sticks to its belief and bakes over 500 loaves of bread before sunrise daily. A large variety of other tasty items such as salads and Indonesian classics are up for grabs too.
Address: Jalan Jembawan No. 1, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Casa Luna first opened some 24 years ago and has since become a must-visit for food lovers. The menu is comprehensive and affordable; it includes breakfast items, organic salads, homemade pastas, Balinese food, bread and pastries. The baristas here are trained by the people behind Australian coffee roaster Five Senses, so the coffee is really good.
Address: Jalan Raya Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
For the best beach clubs click here.
FOR THE TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN RESTAURANT
Biku—known for its traditional Indonesian classics and afternoon tea—is everyone’s favorite Indonesian restaurants in Seminyak, Bali. The food and ambience are excellent. Opened throughout the day, the restaurant is also a tea lounge during the day where you can have afternoon tea with cakes and a wide array of tea selections from China, India and Indonesia. Their lunch and dinner menus are primarily inspired by Indonesian flavors but Biku has also an international culinary influence. Order Indonesian classics from the a la carte menu, like the Nasi Campur A’la Biku. The filling dish comes with rice, two types of vegetables, shredded spicy chicken, spicy egg, beef rendang, satay lilit chicken, tofu and tempe. The Nasi Goreng Special is also great.
Address: Jl. Petitenget No.888, Seminyak, Kuta Utara
WHAT TO SEE IN BALI
Tanah Lot Temple
I think Tanah Lot is the island’s most iconic temple. This temple is loacted on top of a huge rock, and surrounded by the sea with waves constantly crashing on to its base. As among Bali’s most important sea temples, Tanah Lot pays homage to the guardian spirits of the sea. The temple serves as foreground to the most picturesque sunsets. So it’s beautiful for pictures too!
I love Bali for so many reasons; its beautiful beach clubs, serene rice paddies, mouthwatering fresh and organic food, therapeutic body massages and more. But the highlight is the nature and I must confess that I haven’t had so much time to visit all places. However, it’s also a positive thing, because I have some places to go and still explore on my next trip. What I really want to do next time, is to hike up Mount Batur – an active volcano located 1,717 meters above sea level, where you can caught the most gorgeous sunrise in your entire lifetime. Surely it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are not suffering from scotophobia and acrophobia – you’d also love to experience it.
After Tanah Lot, Uluwatu is among the Bali’s most important sea temples, perched on a cliff edge in the southwestern Bukit peninsula. Here you can catch dramatic sunsets also features an open amphitheatre close by, where sunset kecak fire dances can be enjoyed.
Besakih Temple (East Bali)
Besakih Temple, also known as the ‘mother temple’ of Bali sits on the slopes of Mount Agung, at a lofty 1,000m. Besakih is the largest of all the Balinese temples. Eighteen separate sanctuaries belonging to different caste groups surround the three main temples dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Ubud is famous for its rice fields, and the paddies with the best historical point are just up north from the main Ubud centre, along the road of Tegallalang (picture above). To enjoy the views and stroll around, you have to be there around 8 am.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Ubud Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, is one of Ubud’s most popular attractions; a natural forest sanctuary that is home to a horde of grey long-tailed macaques. Be aware of some aggressive monkeys and don’t wear jewelry or carry something that would attract the monkeys.
Tirta Empul Temple (Central Bali)
I loved visiting Tirta Empul, which is a national cultural heritage site. It dates to 960 AD during the old Balinese kingdom rule of the Warmadewa Dynasty. Its name means ‘holy water spring’ and is actually the name of a water source located within the temple (picture above and below). This spring flows into various purification baths, pools and fish ponds. The water then flows into the Tukad Pakerisan River nearby.
Lempuyang Temple (East Bali)
Lempuyang Temple is one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples. It’s on par with Besakih Temple. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it this time to visit this temple but it’s on my list for the next time. This temple is also believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island. It’s a great addition to any travel plans for the fit and adventurous. The main temple lies at 1,175m above sea level, up on the peak of the namesake Mount Lempuyang in East Bali. Meanwhile, the more grander Penataran Agung temple at the slope of the mountain is highlight for photos. If you wish to reach the temple at the peak, it’s a steep climb up over 1,700 steps. At the top, the prize view is a sweeping panorama over East Bali’s lush topography.
Luwak Coffee Farm
Kopi Luwak before, is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling in New York and London for up to $100.00 a cup. So we entered the gates and were led along a pathway meandering down the hillside, where the process for making the coffee was explained. The civet cat is a nocturnal tree cat in Indonesia which snacks on the ripest coffee beans in the field. The civet cat eats the coffee berry but doesn’t digest the hard stone, which is the coffee bean, which is then excreted in it’s poop.
The story is that the process “lowers the bitterness of the coffee imparting a musky smoothness”. The poop is collected, the beans are washed, roasted and then ground up.
Luwak Coffee Farm
Lovely Villa Sipo in Seminyak
SHOP FOR LIFESTYLE PRODUCTS AND HOMEWARES AT KIM SOO
A gorgeous lifestyle and retail space, what attracts the great throngs of visitors to Kim Soo is the remarkable range of homewares sourced across the Indonesian Archipelago and works of art that are manufactured by the brand itself.
Address: Jl Kayu Aya 21, Seminyak, Bali. Open Daily: 9am – 10pm
YOLI AND OTIS
Pure fibres, timeless style and handmade clothes for women and children.
Address: Jl. Pantai Berawa No.12a, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Reflecting an urban vintage mind with a French flair, Magali favors the use of luxurious silks, laces and organic fabrics. Easy-to-wear pieces that embodies French elegance in its high-end design. Inspired by the Parisian “Bourgeois Boheme” effortless chic spirit, her collections are recognizable in their feminine, vintage aesthetic and the earthy color palettes.
Jl. Raya Seminyak No.62, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
All photos (c) DisiCouture
*This post is not sponsored