Last summer I traveled with some girlfriends to Indonesia to explore all the beautiful things Bali has to offer. Here I share what we did in Uluwatu, Ubud, Gili Trawangan, and Canggu.
Before you start reading, I need to mention some very helpful tips for finding places to stay and getting around Bali. www.agoda.com and www.airbnb.com were so crucial to us finding our gorgeous villas. I could only remember the name of the place we stayed in Uluwatu but everywhere we stayed was absolutely stunning and above and beyond our expectations thanks to these two sites. I believe staying in a villa is the only way to visit Bali. We did not stay in one hotel on this trip and it was the best decision we made.
Also, it is pivotal that you hire a full time driver. Our driver, Yande was amazing. Without him, our trip would have been very stressful and chaotic. It also felt like he doubled as security too. We felt very safe with him and he looked after us our entire stay. If you would like his info, please e-mail me under my contact page.
Where we stayed: Canang Sari Villas
We booked Villa Melati and it was a dream come true. It’s a beautiful 3 bedroom with the best view on site. This villa had 24 hour security and butler service included. Fresh breakfast was prepared in the kitchen every morning. What a way to wake up! This is the perfect villa if you have a larger group. It’s great for entertaining as it has a huge backyard with a large patio and a gorgeous infinity pool. The best part of all, it’s very affordable!
Explored Pura Luhur Temple – also called Uluwatu Temple
This temple is known for its stunning location. The temple sits on top of a cliff 70 meters above sea level. It is believed to be one of the six spiritual pillars of Bali. Beware of sneaky monkeys here! They are known to grab sunglasses, phones, and other objects when you least expect it.
Enjoyed a night out at Single Fin
This is THE bar in Uluwatu. Be sure to get here early and reserve a table. It’s a pretty mellow place until the sun goes down and then everything changes. The DJ arrives and it’s totally transformed into a party central. It’s especially packed on Sunday nights due to their ‘Sunday Sessions’ event.
Sunrise hike up Mount Batur
This has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve done. We were picked up at 2AM for our sunrise hike up Mount Batur. It was about a hour drive from where we stayed in Ubud. We arrived at 3:30AM and after a quick safety briefing we were on our way up the Volcano. It’s about a 2 – 3 hour hike and most of it is in pitch black. You are supplied with a flash light but if I were to go again I would pack my own since these were not the brightest.
The hike is no joke. It starts off pretty light but towards the last 45 minutes it gets very steep and you’re basically crawling on your hands and knees the rest of the way up. However, the hike is well worth it when you arrive at the summit crater just as the sun is coming up. It is absolutely stunning. We spent a couple more hours at the submit taking it all it’s beauty. Side note: be extra careful on the way down. It’s very slick and I still have a scare from falling on some rocks. Ouch!
Played with monkeys at Monkey Forest
I loved my experience at Monkey Forest. It is a natural reserve and Hindu temple. There are over 700 monkeys that live here! I loved this because they all have little personalities and are so fun to watch. My suggestion is to go as soon as it opens. This way you can beat most of the crowd. Hours are 8:30 AM – 6 PM. You need to buy a ticket to enter but it will only cost you IDR 50,000 which equals about $3.50 USD.
It is very important to not be afraid of the monkeys. They will jump on you! As long as you remain calm and still, you will be fine. Its pretty crazy at first, but you get use to it. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll love it. Not all the monkeys are nice so use your best judgement and don’t approach them. Let them come to you. Also, they will steal anything you have! Purses, sunglasses, phones, wallets etc… so be EXTRA careful and avoid taking these things with you.
Walked Through Tegallaland Rice Terraces
When I think of Ubud this is what comes to mind. An endless sight of beautiful rice fields. Here is where the rice paddies are grown on slopes that dip down into a valley. It was such a surreal experience to walk through. There is no fee for access, however you will come across several huts asking for donations to enter some parts of the fields. A small price to pay for this beautiful scene. One of my favorite memories was meeting a couple local kids that showed us how to navigate through the field. It’s always cool when you have locals showing ya the ropes.
Tested my Bargaining Skills
Right above the rice fields along the roadside are tons of markets. This is a great place for souvenirs or clothing.
I bought a beautiful dress I still wear often. I bargained for it and bought it at the price of $1.50. Now that’s a deal!
GILI TRAWANGAN – “Gili-T”
How we got there:
We were driven to the ferry port in Padang Bai. This was about a 1.5 hour drive from where we stayed. We then booked a ferry to Gili Trawangan. I do not remember which company we used but it was about a 2 hour ferry to the island. The only transportation on the island is by horse-drawn carts and bicycles. The streets are not paved, so hold on tight, because it will be a bumpy ride to your villa or hotel.
Side note: This Muslim island has no “official” police force yet is able to keep the island (mostly) peaceful and beautiful by taking matters into their own hands. If you break any “law” you are to walk around town with a sign stating what you did. Your photo is taken, hung around tow, and you are not allowed back for 3 years or more depending on the crime committed.
Boat Ride and Snorkel at Gili Air
Gili Air is another island outside of Gili T. We rented a boat with snorkels and gear for about $20 USD per person. They took us to a gorgeous snorkeling location with crystal blue water. We saw coral reefs, sea turtles, and an assortment of colorful fish. We then had delicious lunch and cocktails on the beach at Scallywags.
Enjoyed Ice Cold Bintangs at The Exile
This bar is a 15 minute bike ride from central Gili T on the west side of the island. Here you will find the coldest Bintangs Indonesia has to offer. This is the best place on the island to crack a beer and watch the sunset. It is also famous for its photo worthy swing and hammock in the ocean.
Eat, eat, and eat some more
The food everywhere in Bali is great, but Canggu really ups the game. Our meals were so fresh and delicious! Here are some of my favorites in Canggu:
Crate Café – This place is such a gem! Here you will find an assortment of healthy eats, including breakfast (served all day) delicious coffee and smoothies. Crate has a very unique and special way of how they create their food. Every dish and drink is like a piece of art. This is an absolute must when visiting Canggu. helpful tip: Crate is cash only.
Shady Shack – Tucked away in the rice fields will you find this cozy vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Now, I’m from Texas, so you know I love my meat, but this place is so yummy you wont feel like you’re missing out at all. Yet another great place for a healthy meal and refreshing smoothie.
Deus Café – Deus is not your typical restaurant/bar. It is inside Deus Ex Machina which is a motorcycle and surfboard workshop, art gallery, and store. This is the perfect place to have a great dinner and if you are there on a Sunday be sure to head to the “backyard” where they have a live bands and delightful cocktails.
Spent the day at Potato Head Beach Club in Semiyak
Potato Head Beach Club is the place you go to be seen. It is located in Semiyak which is about a 25 minute drive from Canggu. This is a very chill but cosmopolitan style beach club. Here there is no shortage of fabulous cocktails, food, and beautiful people. There is a large lawn and sunbeds around the pool. Be sure to come early as seats go very quickly. It is noteworthy to mention that it can be pretty pricey here so don’t let the bill be a shock to you.
View Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Temple is a very well known temple in Bali. It is unique because it sits on a rock offshore with waves constantly crashing against it. Although you cannot go into the temple itself, during low-tide you can cross onto other rocks for a closer look. There is an admission fee of IDR 60.000 about $4.00 USD. On the walk to the temple you will first have to go through a small market. There locals are selling souvenirs, clothes, and food.
Something we came across on our walk to the temple that I will never forget was a Luwak coffee shop. This is the most interesting and expensive coffee in the world. Why you ask? It is made by coffee beans that have been fed to luwaks (these are cat-like animals) that then digest the beans, and for lack of a better term, poop them out. It is then collected and grinded up to make coffee. Yes, this is a real thing! And we even got to feed some of the luwaks, Apparently they like bananas too. If you’re wondering if I had a cup of this coffee, the answer is absolutely not.
If you ever get the chance to visit Bali do not turn it down. I grew so much from my experience there and cannot wait to go back to explore even more!