It’s fair to say that with the rise of Instagram, Bali has upped its international reputation for stunning scenery and natural beauty. With so much online hype (and heavily filtered viral photography), it could have easily been a disappointment in real life. Thankfully, it wasn’t. It is probably the most visually captivating destination I’ve ever visited, at least in Asia(!)
So, for those also on a time-budget, here’s a quick outline of our Bali highlights and how we spent 10 days this little corner of heaven:
Day 1-3: Seminyak and Uluwatu – Beach Clubs and Party Nights
Seminyak is an upmarket beach resort, brimming with designer shops and luxury hotels. Feeling a need to experience a five-star lifestyle, we stayed at the Club Villas – a huge 2 bedroom villa, complete with private pool and traditional outdoor Balinese bathrooms.
Arriving in the morning the first thing on our agenda was food… so, we visited the best Australian-style brunch place in town – Sisterfields cafe for some ‘healthy’ breakfast bowls and fresh iced coffee. It was just what we needed to start our day of exploring (read: relaxing by our pool!)
After an afternoon of pool-side playing, mooching around the boutiques for new bikinis and strolling along Seminyak’s long sandy beach – we were ready for some fun! With an appetite for fish tacos, we headed to Motel Mexicola for dinner in a party atmosphere. This place gets really busy, so best to book a table in advance and be prepared for some raucous dancing to 90s hits.
Taking our first evening on, we moved to Seminyak’s no.1 club – La Fevela. Set over 3 stories, this huge club has a Brazilian vibe (as its name would suggest) complete with water features, jungle plants and mini Christ The Redeemer statue. It is the busiest after-dark venue in town, plays all the hits well into the night and is well worth a visit if you want to let your hair down!
While Seminyak’s beaches are good, there are others that others that are better, and we wanted to get the most from the brilliant beach clubs on this part of the island. Days 2 and 3 were spent soaking up the rays at the prettiest clubs on the island.
Sundays Beach Club – a cliff walk and an elevator down to the shoreline brings you to Sunday’s. The water is brilliant turquoise blue, the sand is white and the club surroundings are top-notch. Day-bed prices can be used against all food and drink, so it provides good value for this exclusive resort. Get here early to guarantee a spot and slather on the suncream! Stay for a couple of hours and then get on an explore Uluwatu’s cliff-top temples, before heading to Single Fin bar for a stunning sunset drink overlooking the sea.
Finn’s Beach Club – this in the opposite driving direction to Seminyak, in a place called Canggu. This is much more of a ‘club’ vibe, with live DJ on decks above the pool and again, daybed prices are also redeemable against food, drink and their spa, making it all the more reasonable. This club is less relaxed than Sunday’s and where mostly 20-aged somethings come to party during the day.
Day 4-6: Ubud
After a busy couple of days exploring the party side of the island, it was time to head inland for some rice fields, temples, massage and yoga. On the way up to Ubud, we stopped off at the huge Tegenungan Waterfall – where you can dip in the natural pools should you wish to take on the climb down (and up again!)
Staying at the Sungu Resort – the hotel was a serene world of calm away from the main streets of Ubud. We used it as a base for exploring some of the must-see places in the middle of the island and again, having a driver really helped us get the most of our time here.
Some of the stunning temples we visited included: Elephant Cave temple (Gunung Kawi), Taman Ayun, Tirta Empul – where you can bathe in the pools, and the temple on the lake – Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Be warned though – traffic can be bad, so the drives can take a while so best pack snacks and be sure to bring cover ups for your knees and shoulders.
If you are after a bit more adventure after wandering around countless temples – you could take in the jungle sights in a slightly less usual way – on a giant swing! We headed to Bali Swing for a shot of adrenalin and it didn’t disappoint! Head over to my Instagram (@nomefromhome) to see the video of us in action.
In the centre of Bali is also where you can find the island’s famous rice paddies. We went to two places to check these out – the busiest and most touristy is the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, a short drive outside Ubud. The next – and much larger, is Jatiluwih in the shadow of one of Bali’s magnificent mountains. Jatiluwih is a place for photography, cycling or walks and is a further drive (though can fit into a day’s temple seeing) and well worth it for the 360 views of real rice fields. But, if you are in a time crunch, then Tegallalang will give you the perfect Balinese rural Instagram shots you want!
For food in Ubud, duck is a must, as is BBQ, and so we ate at Bebek Bengil for the best crispy duck in town, since 1990.
To get some zen and throw in some relaxation into our hectic sight-seeing we also did a spot on sunrise yoga at the Ubud Yoga House and had a lovely facial at one of the many spas in the town, but soon enough it was time to head to real relaxing destination of our trip – the island of Gilly Trawangan.
Day 6-10: Gilly T
The Gili Islands are a group of 3 tiny islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air just off the northeast coast of Bali and easily accessible by ferry boat. None of the islands allow cars or buses, so the only way to get around is on cycle, horse and cart, or foot. Though given their size, this is not a problem and the island can easily be covered by bike in less than 2 hours.
We stayed at a dive resort and spent our days renting cycles, snorkelling in the turtle-teaming waters, relaxing in the spar and eating at the delicious and perfect date-night restaurant of Kokomo. For breakfast, try The Banyan Tree for a huge choice brunch options under the shade of some trees on the beach!
Bali is a destination with the perfect mix of activities, parties, beaches, and relaxation spots. I had a fantastic trip and can’t wait to go back soon. For more places-to-see inspiration, head over to my maps page where you can find all my Bali planning on Google Maps!
Notes: Our driver was a fantastic help to us (turning photographer and restaurant guide whenever we needed) and charged roughly £20.00 per day (£10 each). With a short time-frame, I would recommend splashing out on a driver to get the most out of your time. I would be more than happy to recommend him – just leave me a message and I’ll send you his contact details – he really did make our trip.
Happy Travels! x