The Bali Travel Guide

Where to sleep, eat and visit on this hot and humid island

When your sister asks if you’d like to meet her in Bali as part of her worldwide travel adventures, you say yes. YES! I didn’t play it cool at all when my sister suggested this and booked my flights approximately two minutes after she sent the initial WhatsApp message. We’d been away just the two of us before, however last time it was in Finland and I spent 85% of time trying not to slip on the ice and break my arse. However this time there was no snow, just pure rays of sunshine and a steady temperature of 28 degrees. Heaven.

I knew I’d like Bali, but I didn’t know just how much I would love it. If it was possible I’d go back tomorrow if I could. The people could not have been friendlier, the views were absolutely breath-taking and the weather was B.E.A.U-tiful (turns out that late April was a pretty cracking time to go – rainy season had just ended and the peak tourist months hadn’t kicked in just yet). If you’d like a two-hour PowerPoint presentation as to why I think everyone should visit then I’d be more than happy to oblige, but for today I thought I’d give you the condensed version…

How To Get Around

Ah – getting there from the U.K? That’s the only downside to the whole thing. I flew with sister airlines Etihad and Malaysia Airlines and took three flights (London to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur to Bali) and the flight time total was 26 hours. Ouch. The good thing is that it’s a popular route, so flights are regular and you can time it so that you have short and sweet stopovers. Immigration can be pretty nuts on the other end (it took my sister 90 minutes to get through and me almost 2 hours), so make sure that you have water and snacks to keep up your energy through the queues. Once you’re through that I’d suggest pre-booking a transfer to your destination as public transport isn’t really a thing on the island; most hotels will arrange this for you and prices start around the £20-mark depending on your destination.

In terms of transport throughout the duration of your stay there are three ways to get around; hire a scooter (prices start at around £2 for the day), use an app to order taxis (the GOJEK and Grab apps are the most popular), or hire a private driver. Although the scooter option was the most price effective, I didn’t feel like my road skills were up to the test as the streets can be very busy, especially in the centre of the towns. We stayed in Ubud which has actually banned the taxi apps from stopping there, so those didn’t come in handy for us either. So the only option was to use private drivers which made us feel very boujee indeed. My suggestion would be to ask around as anyone who has visited will be certain to have a recommendation, or if you’re staying in a hotel they’ll be able to sort out all your transport for you. That’s what we did and it couldn’t have been easier and wasn’t as pricey as you’d think it would be. If we we were popping into town for dinner they’d sort us out with a local cab, or if we fancied a day trip out they’d hook us up with one of the hotels drivers and a guide who’d be able to show us the sights (FYI we paid £25 each for a whole days tour of local waterfalls and then a trip to a night market that the hotel had created just for us – with a driver and a guide).

Seeing as I was only on the island for six days, I fancied staying in just one area but the island is small enough that you could move around during your trip if you wanted to switch-up your experience, as from what I’ve heard each town has completely different vibes. Seminyak is a beach resort on the south-west coast of the island that’s good if you fancy a bit of a party (lots of you shouted out the Potato Head Beach Club). Canggu is just north of that and is known for being the slightly more chilled out version; good for surf and beautiful beaches. Ubud is slap bang in the centre of the island and for what it lacks in beaches, it makes up for with lush scenery and amazing views. We settled on Ubud because I’d found a stunning hotel there and it looked like a good central point to see the rest of the island from. We weren’t wrong. The Como Uma Ubud was perhaps the most INCREDIBLE hotel that I’ve ever stayed in (we stayed in na Uma Pool Villa that had it’s own private pool, which was well worth spending the extra dollar for in my opinion). Incredible service, beautiful rooms with the most stunning views, the food – THE FOOD! I’d 100% recommend it and if you’re honeymooning there you have to stay. It would be rude not to. My mates who are getting married this weekend have already booked to go there on theirs.

Where To Eat

Bali is known to have an incredible food scene, brimming with both local fare and a mix of world-class cuisine; so know that you’re going to eat really well during your visit and the prices will blow your mind at how reasonable they are. I had breakfast and brunch recommendations coming out of my ear holes, but the hotel that we stayed in provided a brunch spread that actually took my sister and I 90 minutes to get through on our first morning there, so unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to give any a go but here’s a few that you guys suggested as not to leave you hanging. Just an FYI that these recommendations are all for Ubud, as I knew we wouldn’t be trekking out too far for our food. 9 Angels looks like a pretty chill affair, a buffet-style vegetarian restaurant where you pay for what you feel like is a fair price for what you’ve eaten. Moska came highly recommended too and is a plant-based place, so great for vegans, and The Elephant was so close to our hotel and had a fully vegetarian menu and great views out across the jungle. We didn’t stop in, but Milk & Madu looked like a lovely spot and a good option for breakfast and lunch with an Australian vibe.

‘The place’ for dinner is Locavore. A tasting menu restaurant that is open piped as the best restaurant on the island. BOOK IN. I tried to book about two weeks in advance and they were all out of dinner reservations, so don’t do as I did and do as I say. For traditional dishes the Melting Wok Warung and Naughty Nuri’s came highly recommended (the later looked like a good place to try a Balinese BBQ). Black Beach and Uma Cucina come up top if you’re in the mood for Italian. We didn’t get a chance to visit Pacha Mama, but this vegan Mexican restaurant was recommended by so many of you. We did go to Zest however and it was delicious. Another vegan spot that had both traditional and more off-piste dishes and in such a cool setting. If you fancy a night market, then we went to the Gianyar one and it was brilliant; such an experience and I’d recommend trying out ‘es campur‘ if you have a sweet tooth like me.

If the place where you’re staying is lacking a pool then everyone recommended heading to the Jungle Fish Pool Bar which looks like a great place to relax and unwind and knock back a couple of drinks by the pool. Ubud might not be the most party party destination on the island, but others did say that they Laughing Buddha is one of the few late-night hot-spots in the town if you fancy a post-midnight night-cap.

Where To Explore

There is SO MUCH to see and do in Bali, but let me share our six day itinerary first. On day one we chilled by our pool as it was such a novelty and then headed out into Ubud for dinner. Day two we did a freewheel ‘Mt Batur’ bike ride that was an excursion put on by our hotel. Just my sister and I, a local guide, a driver and three bikes (and the promise that ‘freewheel’ meant that it was all downhill and included minimal peddling). On the way we made a stop off to try the ‘poo’ coffee and see the rice fields, and got a great view of Mt Batur, whilst cycling we travelled through local villages and got to try durian for the first time. Then on the drive home we saw a local artist’s home and how a traditional balinese compound is set up. The next day we chilled and explored Ubud in the evening; getting lost in the streets and markets. For day four we’d decided that we’d like to go and see some local waterfalls and a visit a night market too and so the hotel sorted us out again with a driver and guide and assisted us with making our own customised itinerary. So we took a dip in the Tibumana Waterfall (SO BEAUTIFUL!) and went to see the Kanto Lampo Waterfall too, before having a personal tour around the Gianyar Night Market. Day five was a day of two halves; we began by doing white water rafting down the Ayung river (we booked it through the hotel who used Toekad Rafting to run the service – it’s a little cheaper to book directly with them), which was so much fun, then we rounded the day off with a 90-minute Indonesian massage at the Como Shambhala Retreat back at the hotel, which was honestly the best massage of my LIFE. Firm, but relaxing, Megan and I literally melted back into our beds when we got back to our room. Day six was my last day so we chilled by the pool and pigged out on room service before I caught my flight home. The perfect end to the perfect holiday.

Fancy some more Ubud recommendations? The Monkey Forest was a highly-suggested spot and does exactly what it says on the tin. I would have loved to have done a cooking class and lots of you mentioned the Periuk Cooking Class, which is one to book ahead for. Our hotel put on free daily yoga classes, but The Yoga Barn looked like an incredible spot to whip out your warrior one at. If you wanted a mini-hike then give the Campuhan Ridge a go – a 2km walk that’s best to do at sunrise or sunset so you don’t completely melt. We’d already seen some rice fields thanks to our first tour, but a wander around the Tegalalang Rice Fields looked beautiful and again the advice was to go early. Oh and another massage recommendation because who doesn’t love those? The Shambala Spa – where more than one of you said that you’d had the best massage of your life there. A massage-off to see what massage is better? This one or the one I had in the hotel spa? Who wants to take one for the team? 

Photos by me and taken on a Canon Sure Shot BF on Fujicolor C200 film

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