Bali has always been at the top of my list of places to visit, and on a free weekend while I was living in Kuala Lumpur, James and I booked a last minute three-day trip. His family is from Indonesia, and he’s spent a fair amount of time on the Island. Since it was my first visit, he wanted to show me everything he loved about the island in the hopes that I would fall in love with it, too.
When we arrived, we hired a driver for the weekend, which cost roughly $30 a day (including tips, gas and meals) and planned to see the entire island in 72 hours. We drove immediately to Ubud to start our adventure.
We started our day in Ubud on an herb walk
through the rice patties. We saw first-hand how rice farming works (did you know there are different kinds of rice? Because that was news to me) and learned how locals have been using herbs for different medicinal and cosmetic purposes for centuries.
After the herb walk, we wandered around the Ubud town. We got coffee at Tukies Coconut Shop
, and checked out some of the randmo temples along the street. There are temples everywhere
in Bali, so you don’t need to plan any sort of special acitivty to see them. We stopped for a photo opp at the outside of some random temple at the Lotus Cafe, on one of the main strips in town.
We opted to skip the monkey forest, which everyone else is obsessed with, to visit James’ uncle at one of the oldest properties in Ubud which houses a hotel called Svarga Loka. The property sits on top of a hill overlooking a river and waterfall. It’s one of the few remaining non-relgious pieces of original Balinese architecture, and is worth a visit (for a spa treatment, a meal or a martial arts class) if not a stay. Plus, they have all of these amazing outdoor bathtubs, which I could not get enough of.
From there, we went to the Ubud market and shopped for traditional Balinese Sarongs. They had lots of clothing, jewelry, wood crafts and souvenirs… most of which was Batik pattern I ended up buying a silk dress for $15, which is now officially one of my favorite things I own. When we ran out of Rupia (Indonesian $$$), we drove north to Jungle Fish
for lunch (yes, we did all of that before lunch time.). The hotel has a beautiful pool area that overlooks a valley, and delicious healthy Asian food and smoothies.
After lunch, we went to the Tegalalang Rice Fields, which you probably recognize from every “Most Beautiful Places in The World” list on the Internet. We hiked for about an hour, and had to pay a dollar every few levels, but it was worth it for the views.
The area is a UNESCO world heritage site, and really, really is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Plus, it makes for some pretty rad Insta-opportunities.
After the rice fields, we drove to Canggu, a hip surfer’s paradise with a bit of Brooklyn flare. We walked to dinner down the street from our $30 Airbnb (which had no electricity, but whatever) at Finn’s Beach Club,
where we laid on a beach bed overlooking the ocean drinking mojitos and eating tacos. The vibes were awesome, and people were raging
at the pool (…. it seemed like most people had been there drinking all day).
We planned to head over to Old Man’s Bar to finish out the night, but we were exhausted (now that I’m re-writing what we did all day I understand why) so got some to go Gelato and called it a night.
The next morning, we woke up and headed over to grab a healthy breakfast at Nude Cafe. The food was delicious (we ordered pretty much the entire menu to try) and the restaurant overlooks a rice patty so the views were pretty amazing, too.
Then, we headed over to the beach and watched the surfers. I tried to get in the water, but got completely taken out by a wave and pretty beaten up by the undertow. If you’re looking to get in the ocean in Bali, I wouldn’t recommend doing it in Canggu unless you’re Michael Phelps.
After my near-drowning, we walked up to The Lawn Cafe
to hydrate with some fresh coconuts and watch the surfers. The restaurant has a super relaxed atmosphere with a bar, a pool and great views. Plus, it’s right on the beach.
From there, we walked around the nearby market and treated ourselves to trucker hats from Bali-based surf brand Deus. There were a lot of really cool local designers selling everything from bikinis to bracelets with cool Bali vibes. Next came the tourist-y portion of the trip. First, we went to see the Tanah Lot Temple, which is on an island and only accessible during certain parts of the day because of the tides. It was crowded AF, but still really, really beautiful.
Then, we drove down to Seminyak, the area of the island with the best resorts and beaches. The vibes here were a lot
different than they were in Canggu, and it was definitely my least favorite place we saw. We stopped at Potatohead Beach Club
for lunch, which was similar to Finn’s (where we’d gone the night before) but a lot more crowded.
After Seminyak, we drove to Bingin beach in Uluwatu. It was very relaxed, full of small hotels, restaurants and secret surfer hangout spots.
Our hotel, Sal’s Secret Spot
, was hidden in the cliffs overlooking the beach. We could see — and hear — the ocean from our bed.
For dinner and sunset, we got a ride from a local to a bar called Single Fin
, which is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. The place was packed, but still a lot of fun, and the sunset was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
After breakfast (the most delicious pancakes ever, while looking over the ocean, care of Sal’s), I headed into town to get a spa treatment at The Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa
. The spa itself was super affordable and clean with a very friendly staff, and has a range of traditional Indonesian treatments including massages, facials and, my treatment of choice, a vagina steaming.
Then, we drove back to Sanur and checked into the Tandjung Sari Hotel
, another one of the oldest properties on the island. Every building was made out of what looked like carved ancient stone, and our room had a four-poster bed, enormous bathtub and outdoor shower, as well as a private day bed.
We spent the afternoon lounging and working at the pool and beach (it was Monday, after all) and there was surprisingly decent WiFi all over the place.
James was scheduled to stick around for a few more days and I was supposed to leave that night, but I ended up changing my flight to the next morning. And then changed it again to the next afternoon.
… Safe to say I fell just as in love with the island as he wanted me to.