BALI — Pure Well-Being
2 weeks itinerary.
WHAT TO KNOW:
– TERIMA KASI: Thank you
– SAMASAMA: You’re welcome
– SALAMA MALAM: Good night
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
– Insect Repellent;
– Medicine for diarrhea;
– A TransferWise account;
KUTA: Pudak Sari Unizou Hostel
CANGGU: A villa with a pool next to our room.
GILI TRAWANGAN: Pondok Santi Estate
ULUWATU: Sundays Beach Club
WHEN TO VISIT: Balinese festivals.
In winter, the Balinese celebraste Nyepi, the equivalent to New Year’s Eve (dates vary each year). Though it’s a festive celebration, it is also a time of introspection, fasting and meditation. You will never see the island so calm…
The Bali Spirit Festival, held yearly in March and April, is another reason to visit Bali in the spring… a global celebration of world music and well-being!
In June and July, the annual Bali Arts Festival is a must-see for any art lover. Parades and art performances pack the calendar of the Denpasar Arts Center.
Another one of the most popular festivals of summer is the Bali Kite Festival, celebrating the traditional art of Balinese kite making. These are no ordinary nylon kites! Ranging from profound to silly, the kites are a representation of the people of Bali.
Last but not least, is the most important festival of the year in Bali: Galungan! The entire island comes together every year for ten days to celebrate all the Balinese gods descending to earth.
1st – 2nd Day — Acclimatisation
I arrived at Bali airport at about 11pm and checked in for a night in a very nice, clean & new hostel pretty close to the airport called Pudak Sari Unizou Hostel in Kuta area.
After a nice sleep, start your day with a leisurely late breakfast at Sisterfields or Corner House. The very first area I went exploring around was Pura Petitenget (Hindu Temple) which is right in front of Seminyak beach. The price to entry in this temple is: 50.000 Indonesian Rupiah (around £2.70) but you can probably negotiate for a little discount.
To get there…you have two options:
— Walking on the streets, you will notice that EVERYONE stops you for a taxi ride. It is actually very annoying after a while, because you feel overwhelmed by many people calling every step. If you choose to get an unofficial street taxi, it might be more expensive.
— The second option, which was what I did, is to download an app called: GOJEK which is like Uber but in Indonesia, much cheaper taxis than the ones on the road. You can choose to pay cash or through the app, but try to avoid to paying for things online because – talking with some travellers and the Balinese lady from the hostel – people have had their card details swiped and money stolen from their bank accounts. This might be rare, but just in case, go for the CASH option! You can choose to go with a car or motorbike, I choose motorbike because is cheaper, more fun and because it’s very HOT! Keep some extra cash (which you will need to dip into often) and ALWAYS CONFIRM THE PRICE BEFORE you go for the ride (check it is the same as showed in the app) with the driver.
— If you are going to travel in Indonesia the best way to exchange money is with TransferWise. You should set up your profile before you go, but you can still use it on the go. It’s very useful and you can use it everywhere, exchanging any currency in the world. Go, exchange your money and create your own account before you move forward, you will definitely find it useful!
Afterwards, head to a nice restaurant for lunch!
My choice was the stylish Mama San, one of Seminyak’s most popular restaurants. It is set in a warehouse-sized space with photographs hanging from exposed brick walls. The menu has creative Southeast Asian dishes and a long cocktail list.
Bali is popular for its wellbeing, massage & yoga scene… whether you’re after a complete detox for the mind, body and spirit, or simply a quick fix of relaxation, travellers to Bali can happily spend hours (sometimes days) being massaged, scrubbed, perfumed, pampered, bathed and blissed-out. Sometimes this happens on the beach or in a garden, other times in lavish surroundings. Curious to have a massage in the home of spirituality, after my lunch I headed to the highly recommended Prana (SPA).
Prana is a palatial Moorish fantasy that is easily the most lavishly decorated spa in Bali, Prana offers everything from basic hour-long massage to facials and all manner of beauty treatments. How can you not enjoy this!
In the afternoon, after my 90 min massage & spa treatment, I had a nice walk at Seminyak beach and went to a club called KU DE TA teeming with Bali’s beautiful people (including those whose status is purely aspirational). A perfect place for drinks while watching a spectacular sunset.
Another thing: stop by Fat Chow for dinner if you’re hungry! They offer very delicious traditional Balinese food & staff is very friendly.
My day ended going to Canggu from Seminyak by taxi, where I stayed for the following 3 nights!
3rd — 4th Day — Kerobokan & Canggu
The next 3 nights in Canggu were very relaxed. We booked an awesome Airbnb. You must check it out: A villa with a pool next to our room. 5 minutes away on foot from Canggu beach!
There are so many places you can go to eat and explore in the village, although my recommendation is:
Warung Eny, a small, cheap, original Balinese restaurant (don’t expect a posh place, this is the opposite: 100% Balinese). You’ll need to get a taxi to get there, depends where you are staying, but Warung Eny cooks everything herself at this tiny open-front warung nearly hidden behind various potted plants. Look for the roadside sign that captures the vibe: ‘The love cooking.’ The seafood, such as prawns smothered in garlic, is delicious and most ingredients are organic. Ask about Eny’s excellent cooking classes.
At night, you must go to Old Man’s! You’ll have a tough time deciding where to sit down to enjoy your drink at this popular coastal beer garden overlooking Batu Bolong Beach. The self-serve menu is aimed at surfers and surfer-wannabes: burgers, pizza, fish and chips, salad. On Wednesday nights, where we actually spent our first night in Canggu, they put on a massive party with great music. A lot of fun to meet backpackers from all over in the world! You can also spot popular Instagrammer in the crowd, we met @doyoutravel and got a picture together! Fridays (live rock and roll) and Sundays (DJs) are also big.
The next day, we had breakfast in one of the many nice street cafés… delicious, fresh and healthy breakfasts like smashed avocado, eggs, spinach and fresh juices can all be found here in Bali.
Book another massage at Amo SPA, which offers great treatments although, in my opinion not as good as Prana in Seminyak. Price is around 500,000 Rupiah which is about £27. After our treatment, we spent a couple hours walking around the village until we stopped at Deus Ex Machina a surreal venue amid Canggu’s rice fields which is any things rolled into one. If you’re hungry, it’s a restaurant-café-bar; for shoppers it’s a fashion label; if you’re into culture it’s a contemporary art gallery; for music lovers it’s a live punk music gig venue (Sunday afternoon); for bikers it’s a custom-made motorcycle shop; if you want your beard trimmed, it’s a barber…
Finally, our last day in Canggu! We had a surf lesson at the main beach in Canggu (Batu Bolong Beach) – perfect for surfing because of its high waves, although I noticed it has a rocky beach so not the best for beginners. You can opt for a surf lesson at this beach, like we did, or at Finns Beach, which is all sandy with no rocks and also has perfect waves for surfing. It was an amazing experience! Our teachers Bogong & Agil were such characters… good vibes and a lot of laughter! I am sure they will take care of you if you’ve never surfed before. Their stand is called: The Wave Canggu.
It was time for us to pack our stuff and move on in another direction, towards Ubud (a 40 minute taxi ride from Canggu) where we were off to explore more wild places, but on the way we stopped for a delicious lunch in: Moana.
5th – 6th Day — Ubud
When you think about what really sets Bali apart from other beachy destinations, it’s the culture, rice fields and inherent charm of the people – qualities that Ubud has in spades.
Our second Airbnb was Wijaya Garden in Ubud – a wild and beautiful experience! The host, Wayan Wija (Wayan is a very popular name in Bali, it means the first, you’ll meet many people called with this name) became our personal driver: he took us all around the best places and sights of Ubud, explaining us about the culture, tradition & beliefs.
Check out his Airbnb here: Back to Nature. It has its own pool and you will sleep surrounded by animal sounds at night, just AMAZING! Make sure to bring some insect repellent with you for mosquitos, even if the beds are protected with nets. It is an original experience to try, a nice breakfast is included too! It’s also just 20 min walking from a beautiful path, closed off to vehicles, where you can shoot outstanding photos!
We spent our first day hanging around Ubud village, stopping by: Hujon Locale. Try the prawn curry or slow-braised lamb curry…and cocktails!
Wayan, such a nice person (N.B: Indonesian people in general are all extremely helpful, kind and polite, ready to help you at any circumstances!) made our life so easy driving us all around Ubud, like a local! We could not ask any better than this. The price for the whole day was 700k. See below, our destinations day:
– Coffee Plantation
– Rice Field
I recommend to stop in Ubud for 2 days and 2 nights to visit the above destinations, which are pretty much the best of it.
7th – 8th Day — Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan, or Gili T, boasts hip cocktail bars, glitzy hotels, restaurants and dive schools. The feel remains bohemian though, and it is a great place to party, enjoy the beautiful waters and hang out in reggae joints and local eateries.
Wayan the guy from the Ubud Airbnb helped us find a cheaper ticket for the boat to Gili T, and planned everything including the taxi to the harbour for us. We paid a total of: 1,800,00 Rp including a boat to Nusa Penida (our next destination).
Our boat trip was from Padangbai to Gili T & on our way back from Gili T to Padangbai- we had a driver take us to Sah-noor , another harbour really close where we got a boat to Nusa Penida.
Again, I’m sure you will easily find transport, because a lot lots of Indonesian people will ask you all the time if you need a ride somewhere! So don’t worry! Just make sure to not to get ripped off!
The boat trip was nice, easy & smooth. We arrived at Gili T in 1 and an half hour, checked in for 2 nights at Pondok Santi Estate.
Gili T is made for partying and the nightlife vibe here is incomparable! Just be aware that you may hear music from your hotel or hostel… which can be annoying for some!
I don’t want to say much about Gili T, because I think it has to be explored! The only advice I can give is to rent a bike for sure, you will need it. It’s much easier to get around and see the whole island if you want! Try some surfing, snorkelling … try as many activities as you want. This is the right place. And if you have time, visit the other islands next to Gili T. All of them are beautiful.
9th – 10th — Nusa Penida
From Gili T we got the ferry (300k Indonesia Rupiah) with a stopover at Sanur and changed boat to Nusa Penida. It depends how your travel goes, you can always ask your Airbnb host or the hotel/hostel about tickets and taxis.
Nusa Penida was by far my favourite place in Bali. This island literally offers everything you can expect: wild nature, beaches, nice restaurants and beautiful cottages.
We booked our first stay at: Petak Cottage, a new brand hotel, very tidy, organised and an amazing balcony view from our room!
While our second night was at this awesome place, see details below:
Wayan Mokoh – Nusa Penida
Number: +62 821 44099922 (WhatsApp)
This last Airbnb was great, they included a full breakfast with fruits, eggs & juices! It was very quiet, had a clean swimming pool and a relaxed atmosphere! We loved it.
The host Miko found us 2 motocross bikes for the day after at a very good pricel! He was so great with us, helping throughout all our journey.
The day after, we were so excited: Miko’s friend brought us 2 Kawasaki 750cc KPLX ready to go! We were ready to go for our adventure!
So if you decide to rent a motocross, Miko’s will be the right Airbnb & host for you! Nusa penida does not have a city centre, there are many local pubs and small places spread all over the island, so you will need to rent a scooter or motorcycle to go around, this is what we actually did: you can rent scooter at the Airbnb or hostel, they charge you around 70k – 80k per day, fuel is also cheaper and you can find it pretty much everywhere in the little shops on the streets usually inside Vodka or glass bottles.
I highly recommend a few places here for lunch, dinner or just drinks:
Penida Colada, they offer tasty local food and juices and a nice view of the beach. Warung Pondok , right next to Penida Colada, which has live music, friendly staff…. great for relaxing while having a beer with friends. And finally, Sponge Pub, where you will also find live music and many travellers.
N.B: We met two travellers from the Netherlands at Sponge Pub who gave us tips about the main popular attractions in Nusa Penida, which I will tell you in a bit, but before let me tell you a story… One of them got bitten by a mosquito which gave her Dengue Fever. Fortunately, apart from her going to the hospital for a blood test and feeling weak and dizzy all day, nothing really bad happened. Dengue is a very rare fever in Indonesia (15 thousand people get it per year) but it can be dangerous and sometimes you don’t realise or feel any symptoms. Be careful!
In terms of the main attractions in Nusa Penida, there are 4 main places:
So, first tips you need to know, these places ARE NOT easy to reach but NOT impossible of course! Roads here aren’t good, many are very steep and downhill with curves and lots of rocks. We saw many tourists fall down on scooters and get injured. It can be dangerous and tricky go with a scooter, but it is well worth it- you just need to pay attention. If is two or more of you, don’t go just with one but take two, one scooter each. It will be easier this way.
We enjoyed so much driving around all these attractions, riding all the dirt tracks and roads! We also explored a Natural Pool, on the south part of the island and other little villages.
Nusa Penida has so many places to explore…. I will definitely come back. I stayed 2 days and I did quite a lot, but I highly recommend to spend 3 nights at least.
11th – 12th – 13th – 14th Day — Ulu Watu
The surf breaks grouped along the west coast of the Bukit Peninsula draw board riders from across the world. Even if you don’t surf, the little beaches at the base of the cliffs are idyllic. And no visit is complete without a visit to Ulu Watu’s monkey filled-temple.
The first attraction we went to in Ulu Watu was Pura Luhur Ulu Watu Temple
This important Temple is perched precipitously on the southwestern tip of the peninsula. You enter through an unusual arched gateway flanked by statues of Ganesha. Inside, the walls of coral bricks are covered with intricate carvings. Price: 30k IR.
TOP TIP: Pura Luhur Watu Temple is home to scores of grey monkeys. Greedy little buggers, when they’re not energetically fornicating, they might try to snatch your sunglasses, handbags, hats… If you want to start a riot, peel them a banana…
After the temple we drove around on a scooter to explore the city and stopped by at this nice café called: The Loft we had delicious Nachos, and made friends with travellers from Australia and other parts of the world!
Top sights Beaches:
– Balangan Beach;
– Bingin Beach;
– Padang Padang;
Uluwatu is a great peninsula and is very popular for beach clubs. Therefore I highly recommend to spend 1 or 2 days at least in a beach club/hotel. The one we went was: Sundays Beach Club in the south part of Uluwatu. Another place to EAT, DRINK AND MEET TRAVELLERS is a very cool pub called: Single Fin.
That’s all my Bali tips for now – I hope you can take something away from my experience and get inspired! Bali is a truly magical place and somewhere I will definitely be returning.