Defined by its stunning shoreline, endless blue oceans, laid-back lifestyle and bohemian charm, Bali (also known by locals as ‘Island of the Gods’) has always been high on my travel bucket list.
With just under 3 hours of flight time between Singapore and Bali I have found the Asian equivalent of La Dolce Vita and it has fast become my favourite holiday destination that continues to draw you in long after you have boarded your return flight home.
Some of my favourite things in Bali include; endless bounties of fresh fruit, banana pancakes, satay, tropical rain, sunsets, exploring on scooters, the people, the laid-back, calm feel that absorbs every corner after spending a few days there (I think Kuta may be a little different)and the daily gift offerings meant to appease and please the various gods and demons of Balinese Hinduism.
Because of Phil’s love of surf, we spend most of our time on the Bukit Peninsula but have visited a few other spots in Bali too. The island really does have something for everyone, foodies, shoppers, surfers, yogis, artists – those looking for a festive night life or those just looking for a quiet retreat. I simply can’t get enough of Bali so I will keep adding to this post and would strongly recommend visiting this island gem when you get a chance.
In the last year I’ve been able to visit 4 times with special friends and family, my dad, my mom, my brother and Em, Phil’s brother Jamie and his Sarah and our dear friends Mark and Tammy Copson.
Arriving in Bali, immigration can be quite lengthy depending on your arrival time and other planes coming in. Make sure you get off the plane and move through the airport quickly just in case – it has taken us an hour to clear passport control and customs on one or two occasions whereas other times you can breeze through. Be sure to check the visa requirements.
The official taxi counter is outside the arrivals hall (exit arrivals turn right). Tell them your destination and they will give you a rate (rates are quite standard but there is some room for negotiation). We normally always pre-arrange a transfer with our hotel which is easier and the fare can then be given to you in advance.
The Bukit Peninsula is famous for its surf, an hour or so from the airport, this is the southern point of the island and to me the best areas are Uluwatu and Bingin.
Where to stay
- Temple Lodge (one of my favourite spots in the entire world)
- Sal’s Secret Spot for shabby chic and unbeatable views from the cliffside villa
- Micks Place, again for the rim flow pool and spectacular views
- Uluwatu surf villas for private villas and walking distance to Uluwatu
- Alila Uluwatu for a chic stay
Where to eat
- Cashew Tree for delicious local flavours, catch their live music Thursdays
- Kelly’s Warung for local dishes and healthy smoothies, Bingin Beach
- Single Fin for delicious pizzas and the best views for sundowners – great vibe on a Sunday
- Drifters – next door to a great surf shop
- Nalu bowls – for healthy smoothie bowls
Beaches and surf spots
The Bukit’s beautiful shoreline is bordered by limestone cliffs towering over the blue waters, some have steep cliff access while others like Dreamlands are flatter.
- Padang Padang
What to do/see
- Start your day off with some yoga at one of the many spots along the Peninsula, Temple Lodge being my favourite
- Visit the Uluwatu Temple, or Puru Luhur Uluwatu. It’s location is unbeatable perched on a cliff top above the sea below. It’s best visited at sunset where you can catch the daily Kecak dance performances. You will need to arrange your own transport eg: scooter or pre-arrange a taxi as there is no public transport. You can pre-purchase tickets as part of a tour or buy at the ticket booth, walks ins range from IDR 70,000 and 100,000 depending on low and peak season.
- Hire a scooter and explore the peninsula, helmets are recommended.
- Spend the day at Sundays beach club, a laid back but stylish place to soak up the Bali sun. Or try new Ulu Cliffhouse.
- Catch a surf lesson at Bingin beach
- Visit the famous Rock Bar for sundowners (quite busy and can be touristy with queues but rather a unique setting)
- Get a driver you are comfortable with, it really helps for airport trips or getting around if you have a driver you can call and can trust
- If you are staying in Bingin, there is a lady at the boom who demands money each time you pass. If you explain you are staying at Bingin she is more likely to let you through otherwise you will have to pay whatever her going rate is on the day
- If like me, you are often left to your own devices while your other half surfs there is a great spot at Uluwatu called Blue Point Resort where you can pay a day rate and this gives you access to the pool area and a complimentary drink – not a bad spot to while away some time before popping down to Single Fin for sundowners. Day passes in Bali are commonplace so wherever you staying take a look at what is available eg: Jungle Fish in Ubud.
Ubud is best known as the cultural and spiritual centre of Bali with a thriving culinary scene, art, music and yoga galore. This is the place to pick up handmade traditional textiles, ceramics, silver, wood and skull carvings or try your hand at making your own from the many workshops. I was lucky enough to spend some time here with my mom – it is such a calming, healing place I can’t wait to return for longer or perhaps a retreat.
Where to stay
- Cloud Nine Estate – where I stayed with my mom, heaven on earth
- Passiflora Villa – airbnb villa just outside of Ubud
- Bamboo Indah Ubud
- For more luxurious options; Como Uma Ubud, Hanging Villas of Bali and Five Elements
- Bisma Eight
- Villa Awang Awang
Where to eat
- Locavore (advance bookings required)
- Copper Pot at Bisma Eight
What to do/see
- Walk the Campuhan Ridge Walk or part of it surrounded by dense tropical bush and rice paddy views.
- Enjoy a guided tour or get the help of a driver to see all that Ubud and its surrounds has to offer. We arranged this with our hotel, letting them know what we wanted to do and asking for their recommendations.
- Visit the Luwak coffee plantation and sip on the most expensive coffee in the world, Luwak coffee is made from Civit poop – yes that’s right. This is a little bit touristy and a bit sad seeing the animals looking less than happy with life but it was a novelty and unique to Bali.
- Relax and take in the rice paddies. Rice fields can be seen throughout Ubud but the more famous viewpoint is the Tegalalang Rice Terrace set against a cliff.
- Get creative with crafts. Ubud is the creative hub of Bali, from silver making and masks to Batak and cooking, you will find a workshop to suit your interests. My mom and I did a wonderful silver making workshop. After doing some research on TripAdvisor we went with Craft workshop and I’m so glad we did. We arrived to a private lesson with our own tutor smoking on his pipe, we were served strong black coffee and delicious banana fritters and guided through making our own creations. My mom made an intricate tree of life and I made a map of Bali with a hammered effect.
- Pick up Balinese artefacts, decor and trinkets at the Ubud art market
- Soar high above the greenery on a swing above a gorge – we didn’t have time for this but on a girls trip would love to find it
- Visit one of the many temples in and around Ubud. We visited Tirta Empul otherwise known as the Holy Spring Water temple with spring water used as holy water for various religious ceremonies. Tourists can visit and partake in the water cleansing but take note of the rules and etiquette (sarongs are provided) – the water is said to cleanse your body and mind of evil spirits, bring prosperity and purify.
- If you haven’t already, catch a dance at the Fire Dance
- My favourite place in Ubud and best yoga class to date was at The Yoga Barn. Yoga is to Ubud what surf is to the Bukit Peninsula and you can’t help but be drawn into the serenity of The Yoga Barn and all it has to offer. Apart from, they also offer a variety of treatments, in true Eat, Pray, Love style, my mom visited a natal chart reader and stills talks about it to this day. Take a look at their wide range of classes and practices.
- Contrary to the famous song, Bali is the perfect place to chase waterfalls and I would recommend it such as; Tegenungan Waterfall
- Spend a day of pampering at Five Elements
- Visit nearby attractions/temples like the Monkey Forest
Seminyak is completely opposite to the quiet and slow pace Bukit peninsula. It is fast becoming a style and foodie Mecca. The streets are busy and traffic is heavy so if you want some peace and quiet, a villa slightly outside of Seminyak can be better to get away from the hustle and bustle. That being said, the atmosphere, shopping and no shortage of trendy eateries make this a great place to visit. The beaches in Seminyak are not the best of Bali so if beautiful beaches are what you are after, you’ll need to look further.
Where to stay
- Dash hotel – affordable option in town
- One Eleven Villas – I was lucky enough to be treated to a stay here by my Dad, luxury like no other
- The Colony hotel for a chic stay
- The Island houses
Where to eat
- Sea Circus for laid back Mexican
- Sisterfields trendy brunch/lunch spot
- Barbocoa – South American flavours
- Kilo – stylish decor
- Motel Mexicola – I would visit Seminyak for this place alone – great atmosphere, drinks and food
- Biku – traditional Indonesian fare at reasonable prices
What to do
- Visit nearby Canggu (see more info below)
- Spend the day at Potatoe Head Beach Club
- Shop at the stylish boutiques – if I could just shop at Kim Soo for the rest of my life I’d be a happy lady and on a recent trip, I squeezed my suitcase full to the brim with Indonesian inspired homewares
We have yet to spend time in Canggu but I have only heard good things about this place – perhaps what Seminyak was a few years ago – trendy but low key, I look forward to visiting soon. Only a short drive from Seminyak but with a more casual vibe, surf and cool restaurants, you can also find spacious private villas at decent prices. Eat at Shady shack, Old Mans and Loft Bali and stay at The Slow and Kalapa Resort and visit La Brisa.
People have asked me before what a good itinerary would be and it really depends on what you are looking for an how much time you have. My recommendation would be to roughly split your time evenly between the Bukit Peninsula (Bingin), Ubud, Seminyak/Canggu (Seminyak if you want a bit more buzz, shopping etc.) and then an island either Gili Islands (I look forward to trying Crusoe House) or Nusa Lembognan (see my post on this). This will give you a taste of everything and the perfect Bali balance.
We have yet to explore the East side of the island but I have heard good things about Nusa Dua and my brother highly rated Candidasa. People also rave about Komodo island.
Be careful with of credit card fraud and ATM skimming. I recently had a fraud experience. It is best to use cash where possible and when drawing from an ATM, try to use the ones inside banks rather than those in supermarkets etc.
For more information and inspiration, take a look at
- Lost guides – my absolute go to travel guide for all things Bali
- Honeycombers, Bali
- Sale in our hair blog
- The Bali Bible
- Lots of travel guides on Instagram to follow
“Maybe we could sleep in
Make you banana pancakes
Pretend like its the weekend now
We could pretend it all the time” – Banana Pancakes, Jack Johnson