A little while ago I was on the plane to Bali, about to embark on my biggest and most far away travel destination! It was a wonderful vacation filled with a lot of firsts, magnificent views, good food and a lot of fun. Everyone on Instagram – that’s you guys! – were so enthusiastic and eager to know my tips on Bali. And even though we haven’t seen everything (we stayed in Ubud and Legian and did daytrips across the island) I’ve got a bunch of tips to share!
If you want to check out the travel vlog of Bali first, click on the video at the top or click here.
My mom and I stayed in two hotels, respectively in Ubud and then Legian. We visited both cities and did some day tripping with a personal driver and guide in between. I can really recommend getting a driver if you’re going to Bali for the very first time. They often know the best spots and if you’re lucky, your driver is just as allergic to herds of tourists as you are and gets you to still popular spots, but not the dead beaten track a lot of tourists seem to do. We were extremely lucky, especially since we were in Bali during low season (mid-March). Often it was just us and a handful of other tourists, so I had plenty of photo opportunities where it’s just me and nature – and of course enjoy the views and peacefulness. Divine!
Bali Activities: Temples
Pura Besakih: Of course I’m starting with the biggest (and the first!) temple in Bali, the Pure Besakih or also known as the Mother Temple. You can easily spend a few hours wandering this temple; just make sure you stay out of the clearly marked spaces where the people come to pray. A good tip to do on your first day in Bali: buy a sarong! It makes a nice but mostly a handy souvenir.
Pura Tirta Empul: One of my favourite temples is the Pura Tirta Empul or the Holy Water Temple. The Balinese come here to pray and to perform the Melukat; a cleansing ritual. They pass each fountain to physically and mentally cleanse themselves. I think this is a wonderful ritual to watch – although it feels a bit private when you see people bathing and praying. You also have a pond with lots of koi’s. It’s truly a peaceful and quiet place in the sometimes busy temple.
Pura Saraswati: This temple is close to the Royal Palace in Ubud, so make sure you have a little stop over there as well. I call this the Lotus temple, because on both sides of the temple you’ll find a pond filled with lotuses. I was there during the day, but go check out this beautifully lit up temple by night as well!
Bali Food Spots
Three Monkeys: Past the Monkey Forest you can find an oasis of peace at Three Monkeys. This was one of the restaurants that was recommended via Instagram (thanks for all the tips again, guys!) The food was so so good! You can sit inside, at the koi pond or outside with a view on the rice fields. I had a really nice Nasi Goreng and the dessert – a pancake filled with sweet fruit – was just divine.
Poppies: This restaurant was recommended by a Belgian couple we met at our hotel. “Definitely ask for the house cocktail,” they said with a mischievous smile. You don’t have to ask me twice – if there’s anything special to get at a restaurant I’d like to try it! It turned out the house cocktail was a simple piña colada… But it was served in a coconut that was made into what looked like the wooden masks the Balinese people sell everywhere. Really fun!
Made’s Warung: This spot was recommended by our driver. Made’s Warung is a chain of restaurants and we ended up eating a Balinese curry (hot!hot!hot!!) with rice and veggies while we watched a traditional dance. The lady who served us was incredibly sweet! I asked her if the curry was really hot or not (they definitely have another concept of ‘not hot’) and she told me to wait. A few minutes later, she came with a little cup with a spoon of the curry sauce in it! She wanted me to try it first, so I would be satisfied with my curry should I order it. WOW. How’s that for service?! I thought it was the cutest thing.
The Bistrot: After I had bought some goodies at Gooseberry Intimates we came outside and it was pouring rain! We quickly fled into what we thought was a little lunch place, but it turned out to be a real time capsule to the French 50’s. I had a watermelon salad with spinach and a green smoothie and had never felt so healthy ;-) A little cool backstory: the owners are Swiss/Moroccan and Belgian!
The Lawn Canggu: We found The Lawn by accident while we were walking along the beach in Canggu. The Lawn is perfect to relax, have something to eat and just enjoy the sea! It’s a really cool place where you can go in the sea or jump in the pool, have a great meal and – not unimportant – a clean bathroom and a place for you to change your clothes. There’s a dj there to entertain you with the newest music. In the evening you can often find the party people doing what they love best: partying ;-)
Yogurt Republic: We stumbled into this frozen yoghurt chain called Yogurt Republic. They didn’t even have to do a lot of effort to get us in – it was scorching hot that day and we were desperate for some refreshment! Delicious frozen yoghurt with a gazillion toppings to choose from. You simply weigh your froyo and pay. Easy peasy!
La Plancha: Keywords: cool, beachy, popular bar for finger food and drinks and the best sunset I’ve seen in a while!
Swich: The perfect hangout for a quick bite. They have smoothies, juices, sandwiches, toasts, milkshakes and other goodies! I went twice for the brown toast with chicken, avocado and sweet chili. Oh man, I want one right now! ;)
Bali Activities: Waterfalls
Tukad Cepung waterfall: The first waterfall we visited was the Tukad Cepung. We had to walk a few steep stairs and wade through a little stream (nothing too big, the water covers only your feet). Definitely bring your water shoes ;-) It’s all worth the mini hike because when you reach the end, you’ll find the waterfall in an open cave. Check out the view in my travel vlog or click the video on top of this post!
Banyumala Twin waterfalls: Sadly we only visited two waterfalls on this vacation but the second one, Banyumala Twin waterfalls, was equally beautiful! This hike is a lot longer and steeper but again: it’s worth it. Especially because you get two big waterfalls for the hike of one ;-) The twins are the big ones, but if you turn around and walk a few metres you’ll find two mini’s as well. Good views!
Bali Activities: Relax
Yoga Barn: Bali is the place to be for a yoga class. The Yoga Barn is the most famous yoga centre in Bali where we followed a Power Yoga class (level 2). But you could have said it was a hot yoga class because it was so hot that day!
You don’t have to bring your own yoga equipment, just yourself and a good mood! ;-) Make sure you’re there at least 30 mins in advance to book your class, so you can safeguard your spot. We payed around € 7,80 for one class. Afterwards you can shower but you’ll need to be quick because there’s only three showers. Don’t lug around a big towel btw, just get a microfiber mini towel from Decathlon.They take up a lot less space in your backpack than your fave beach towel and I brought one to every waterfall trip too.
Chillax Spa: Of course we also went for massages as these are dirt-cheap in Bali. At the Chillax Spa we went for a special anti-aging/detoxing facial and Balinese massage. We payed € 30 in total, for two persons. The facial was one of the best I’ve ever had and my skin was SO GLOWY afterwards! Friendly staff and all smiles :-)
The Organic Spa: Close to our hotel was The Organic Spa, where we went the second last day. I went all out and had a facial, massage and a foot scrub/massage for € 27. The place was very hygienic, the only downside could be that if the salon is really busy, you can hear the people talking in the background while you’re having your massage. No worries, your massage is in a separate space, it’s just that the walls/curtains are quite thin. Anyways, we had our treatments around 17:00 so it wasn’t too busy. I felt so peaceful and was totally relaxed to take our flight back home the next day!
Bali Other Fun Activities:
Tegallalang Rice Fields: Tegallalang is the most famous rice field, but there are plenty of others that are just as beautiful. Try asking your private guide if he knows any (better/non touristy) spots and you’d be surprised! At the entrance we had to make a donation to enter the rice fields. It’s a true ocean of green so be prepared for some Instaworthy views! But honestly, Bali is just so photogenic so if you’re hunting for some Instagram pictures, literally anywhere will do ;-)
Uma Papel Swing: I really wanted to get a photo on the uberfamous Bali Swing and when I suggested it to our driver, he said: “I have something way cheaper and just as good views!” We followed our driver to Uma Papel Swing and lo and behold, it was half the price, they have multiple photo locations at the premises and I had really nice photos!
Satria Coffee plantation (Luwak Coffee): I had heard multiple times about the infamous “poop coffee” aka Luwak coffee and had seen people try it on Youtube as well. I was just too curious and our driver took us to a coffee plantation close to the swing. Check out the vlog to see me cuddle with a baby Luwak (#hearteyes) and drink the “Cat Poo Cino” as they call it ;)
Handara Golf & Country Club: You’ll laugh, but I was dead set on having a picture with one of those beautiful gates they have in Bali. The most picture worthy – according to Instagram – is the one at a golf club. Side note: I did have to bribe the security agent at the gate to let us take pictures there. I think in high season there’s too much of a crowd to start asking for money but in low season there’s a bigger opportunity for the locals to make occasional money of course ;) I didn’t mind, it was only 30,000 rupiah (€ 2). We were completely alone too – hooray for low season!
Padang Bai – Blue Lagoon: Enough about Instagram pictures! ;) The last place I want to talk about is Padang Bai. In the meantime I’ve kinda developed a little scare with diving, so I’m keeping it with snorkeling. It’s one of the nice diving/snorkeling places in the East of Bali – it’s also where the boats leave for the Gili islands etc! As you can see in the vlog, there’s plenty of fish to look at. A shame most of the coral is dead (colourless) but with the mass tourism I’m not surprised. However, I think it was a good sign that the people we went snorkeling with were constantly grabbing the floating trash in a bucket to dispose of later on the shore. They really make the effort to keep the bay clean and enjoyable. Make your contribution and pick up the trash you find along your snorkeling session. It’s really appreciated :) !
Would I go back to Bali?
I mean, is this even a question?! Bali is just so great with their immensely friendly people, beautiful sights and tropical weather. I definitely plan on going back, but maybe I’ll go a bit more “local” style in different small hotels (hostels ain’t my thing) and move around. This time we stayed for two weeks and in only two luxury hotels but I definitely want to stay longer next time! I also want to see more of the north and west. So yeah – guess I’ll have to go back! ;)
Have you ever been to Bali before? Do you have any cool spots or tips to share? Leave them in the comments!