4 places to visit (and EAT) in Bali

November 08, 2018

So, I returned from Bali approximately 10 weeks ago (not that I'm, like, counting or anything) and the nostalgia is still STRONG. Especially now that the nights are drawing in and it's just about time to put on that piumino...

Obviously, being the dedicated blogger that I am, I haven't yet written a post about Bali. Between moving to Rome and the consequential early-life crisis that followed, I just haven't managed to get round to it. Fortunately I've now found a break in my busy working week (jk, Italians work about two hours a day then pop off for lunch - the key to working here, it seems, is the more you complain about all the work that needs doing and do absolutely none of it, the bigger your stipendio will be at the end of the month. I'm adapting.) 

So, here we are: a Bali post.

Initial thoughts


Having spent a couple of months in Asia previously, I'd expected it to be pretty similar. In reality, it's not, which has both its upsides and downsides. It is:

a) more expensive. Whilst in Asia if you're backpacking international restaurants are fairly limited, and it's cheaper, tastier and easier to go for local cuisine, Bali is different. There are loads of international food places that, more importantly, do food well - they were so tempting that obviously we ended up trying lots of them and eating less local food that I have done on previous trips. Inevitably we spent more - around £7 a meal (!!) - but still much cheaper than the UK and IMO, well worth it.

b) easier to get around! Thank god. No 12 hour night buses or delayed/cancelled flights. Just a quick little taxi and you can get anywhere you want, thanks to Bali's small size.

c) more touristy - or rather, more holiday-style touristy. Obviously Asia is touristy, but in a backpacker way - in Bali it is much harder to avoid resorts and five star hotels. That said, if you're looking for a holiday, it's perfect. 

We were there for nearly a month so got to see a lot of Bali beyond the Seminyak/Kuta trail. Our itinerary was Canggu > Munduk > Lovina > Ubud > Nusa Ceningan > Nusa Penida > Canggu (again!) > Seminyak > Home, which was the perfect itinerary for 3.5 weeks. We had wanted to fit in the Gilis and Lombok, but due to the earthquakes that took place three days before we left, we swapped them up for Nusa Penida (wouldn't recommend) and Canggu again. 

Canggu


We LOVED Canggu so much we went back again at the end of the trip! Very close to Seminyak but with a much more lowkey, chilled out vibe. Big beaches perfect for surfing - instead of Canggu's main beach, I'd recommend the hidden beach (I think it's Berawa?) down a little track - there are a ton of beach shack bars selling great food and cocktails for a fraction of the price of Seminyak. As with most of the places in Bali, renting a moped is almost inevitable if you want to get around and see everything - although if you're not experienced maybe get some practise in first before trying the infamous Canggu 'shortcut'!

Go to:
Crate (all plates are the same, super reasonable prices and DELICIOUS for brunch) 
Warung Dandelion (candlelit dinner, Alice in Wonderland style) 
Old Mans for sunset drinks
Petit Gourmet for build your own salads and sandwiches
Milk & Madu (brunch/dinner/pizza/cocktails)
Bali Bowls & Smoothies 
La Laguna - for the ultimate boho beach bar experience. Pick a day when there's a party on, go for some cocktails first then head to the club on the beach until dawn. 
Yoga - I looked at a few places before going to Oasis, because the guy there was so nice and a trial lesson was around £5. I'd advise checking the class first though as we ended up doing a more meditative class - Power Yoga is more my thing - but you can hang out there after and use the pool, wifi and cafe, so it makes for a nice experience. 


La Laguna 
Crate's amazing brunch - above ^ and below!!
Bali Bowls - solid breakfast choice


Munduk


Most people give this a miss because it's right in the middle of Bali and it's not a super famous spot, but it's well worth stopping at. We just stayed one night at a homestay in the mountains and took a road trip to see the surrounding waterfalls, lakes and viewpoints. 

We stayed at Rayahu which had an infinity pool and a great traditional Balinese restaurant - the ultimate peaceful weekend. 

Lovina 

Initially, our first impressions of this beachfront town weren't great. After the metropolitan vibes of Canggu it was a real step back - but after adjusting, we began to love it. Get accommodation right on the waterfront so you can wake up to the amazing breakfast views. 

Where to eat:
Tanjung Alam - A bit out of town on the main road, this place is full of Balinese people. Right on the beach, go up and choose your fish or order from the menu - the grilled prawns and scampi are amazing. It's not fancy, but the fish is soooo fresh and they give you a side of the most unreal chilli sauce to go with. 
Warung Dolphin - candlelit restaurant with not-bad-for-Bali wine and an amazing fish platter

From here we visited the Banjar hot springs & had a massage  - 100 percent recommend, three different pools of hot n holy water. We also headed up to the Aling Aling waterfalls (a total immersive experience where you can slide down them and jump in from up to 30ft!!!) 

Would recommend hiring a moped for these trips as the rounds are fairly safe, it's loads cheaper and the views are gorgeous.

Warung Dolphin fish platter

Ubud 


Ubud is as close as Bali gets to a sprawling metropolis - the traffic is dreadful but the food and shopping opportunities more than make up for it!

One of my favourite outings of the whole trip was a visit to the Tirta Empul temple, where you can bath in the holy water with *alarmingly* large fish. We also rented a scooter to do this which I recommend because the views of the rice fields are fantastic and we stopped at an organic cafe in the middle of nowhere on the way back - but its a good 40 minute drive and the roads are rough going if you're not used to riding a moped.


Definitely visit the market but beware buying jewellery there - for a similar price, go to a shop instead where you can be sure its real and avoid getting scammed like us!
Tacos at Bali Buda in Ubud 

Nusa Ceningan 


Our second favourite stop of the whole trip! A short boat right from Sanur takes you to Nusa Lembongan, but don't stay there. Cross the Yellow Bridge and stay on the coast overlooking it on the adjoining island, Nusa Ceningan - the sunsets and cocktail bars are unbeatable. Three days of *total* relaxation. 

Where to go: 
Le Pirate - the island's closest thing to a chic beach club, with a great pool and 10/10 views (although, just like everywhere on this side of the island)
Agung Beach Club - this is actually on the other side of Nusa Lembongan, about a 25 min ride away. It's set amongst the mangroves and offers the BEST bbq fish selection, with a choice of satay or lemon sauce...
The Island - sunset and cocktails
The Sand - the ULTIMATE sunset view 
Sea Breeze - very relaxed restaurant/bar with a swim up bar and great food & drinks. Very slow service and always packed, so get there early!


The famous Blue Lagoon
View from The Sand beach bar
Nusa Ceningan's 'secret beach'

BBQ fish platter of DREAMS at Agung beach club

Iced coffee at Le Pirate









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