I spent two weeks in Bali at the beginning of September and visited 3 different places (Seminyak, Ubud and Lovina). I by no means did everything or ate everywhere but I do have some general tips and suggestions for yummy places to eat, great things to do and things to maybe not bother with!
- If you want to visit the temples you will need to cover your knees – you can wear something which covers your knees or bring your own sarong to wrap around your waist or when you get there they will provide you with one when you enter at no extra cost. You do not need to buy one outside the temple from one of the many sellers unless you really want to!
- Book excursions when you arrive in a town – it can be a lot cheaper and also easier. Although a lot of places will offer specific excursions (to see certain sights) you can talk to them to organise your own excursion (you can replace one temple for another for example). If you don’t have much time in a place you can still book one evening for the next day with most place.
- Barter – particularly with taxis. Taxis seem to charge extortionate amounts – predominantly because they are not licensed and anyone with a car is a taxi driver. So, haggle the price down and make sure you ask the price before you do the journey!!
A short drive away from the airport, Seminyak is a popular place for tourists to visit. Beautiful beaches, delicious food and vibrant nightlife make this a great place to relax and let your hair down but aside from that there’s not really much else. If you want to get out and adventure you’ll need to go further afield.
As with everywhere in Bali, the roads are crazy, if you need to get anywhere you need to hire a scooter or get a taxi. I recommend the later. There will be people everywhere offering you transport (cars drive by and toot their horn to indicate they are free in Seminyak) but the cheapest, safest way to get a taxi is to download the Bluebird app and book your journey on there. The app is so easy to use (like Uber) and there are loads of Bluebird taxis in the Seminyak area.
Things to do:
- Potato Head Beach Club
After a couple of long flights, we spent our first day chilling at Potato Head Beach Club. It was costly but a great way to get over jet lag! It opens at 10am and you need to be there by about 10.20am to make sure you get a cabana. The cabanas are big bed structures you can lounge in with up to 4 people; there is a minimum spend of 500k IDR but this is easily spent with on a couple of drinks and a snack. There are other beach clubs which might be cheaper/less busy such as KU DE TA and Mrs Sippy but we didn’t visit these.
- La Favela
If you’re looking for a pre-dinner drink, this is a great bar to go to. It’s just stunning. A lot of it is outside with trees and lights and bikes on the roof. We loved sitting watching it get dark and the lights come on with a couple of drinks before heading off to a yummy meal.
The beach stretches on for miles and, if it’s not too busy, it can be really relaxing to just wander along the water’s edge for an hour or two.
Things to avoid:
- Masceti Temple
This temple was being renovated when I was there so a lot of it was a building site but apparently a lot of the temple is for private worship so not accessible to the public anyway. There are plenty of other temples in Bali to visit which may be more worth your while.
Places to eat:
Beautiful little café out of the main town with views over rice paddies as you eat. Great smoothie bowls!
When we went they had just moved to bigger premises, it is a very popular place. Great food for breakfast or lunch. Huge variety of food and drinks. Very yummy too.
Similar to KYND, this is also a very modern, yummy eatery. Less choice than KYND but still plenty of options both vegetarian and vegan. Wanted to eat here again but didn’t have the time!
A good restaurant for lunch or dinner – not the best but had some great options.
Taco Beach Grill
Tacos – always good. Not vegan or vegetarian but there are plenty of options and the vegetarian options can easily be made vegan by removing the cheese!
A fancy restaurant for dinner. Reservations are a must. The food did not blow me away but the décor of the restaurant did!
The heart of Bali – I feel like everyone goes here but it’s for good reason. Lots of yoga, well located to explore the surroundings and lots of gorgeous restaurants and cafes. Definitely try to have enough time here, at least 3-4 days to make sure you can fit everything in that you will want to do!
It can get super busy in the centre of Ubud, if you don’t have to travel by car through the main monkey forest area then don’t. Having said that, Ubud is quite big and lacks decent pavements out of the centre so you will want transport – taxi, car, scooter, etc., to get anywhere! If you want to fit in a lot of things in a short amount of time you can book a driver for a day to drive you to lots of different places. It is not too expensive and a great way to get from place to place as the driver waits for you at each place for as long as you want to spend there.
Things to do:
- Mt Batur Sunrise Hike
A must do. Not too physically demanding. It takes less than 2 hours to get to the top and there are some really rubbly bits near the peak so you do need to have a certain degree of fitness and physical ability but it would be ok for most people. You can book this with loads of different companies – you will get picked up between 1-2.30am and driven to the site. You do the hike and get to the summit before the where you get to watch and enjoy the sunrise (often with a breakfast provided for you). It is cold up the top of the mountain so bring extra layers but it is so beautiful. I really, really recommend this.
- Monkey Forest
In amongst the busy roads there’s a forest which seems a million miles away. Although it has been altered for tourism, it’s not too bad, the monkeys are left to roam freely and do their thing. They’re used to the tourists which means they will happily come up to you and try to get in your bag or take anything they can! They will bite if you wind them up so be respectful. It is amazing to get to wander around with the monkeys and they are apparently left semi-wild, however, I did see an employee wander around and when he went near one of the monkeys it flinched and moved away which made me think maybe the monkeys aren’t so well treated. You can never be certain.
- Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Absolutely beautiful. Rice terraces in Bali are hugely abundant, they’re everywhere but the Tegallalang Rice Terraces are pretty epic. These terraces are enormous, they go on so far and you’re allowed to walk among the terraces here – a great photo opportunity. Unfortunately, like a lot of places, it has been made super touristy with swings and a zipline ruining the view a little but if you wander down away from these it’s lovely.
- Tegenungan Waterfall
A gorgeous waterfall you can go for a paddle in – not great for swimming as it’s not particularly deep but you can have a dip if you want. As with a lot of places there are lots of areas where hearts and decorations have been put up for you to stop and take selfies if that’s your thing. If it’s not you can avoid these and just enjoy the beauty of the waterfall. There are a couple of little falls aswell.
- Campuhan Ridge Walk
This ridge walk is a 9km hill walk – it’s not too steep, once you get to the top of the hill it’s mostly flat walking along the ridge. You don’t have to do the whole 9km. The first 2 km are beautiful looking out over green, lush valleys. After that you have some buildings blocking any views so it’s quite a nice short walk to the 2km point and back again. The start point is in the Warwick Ibah Hotel entrance way. It is well signposted.
- Pura Gunung Kawi – Rocky Temple
A truly stunning temple complex. Lots of stairs makes this a little bit physically demanding but it is so worth it. You feel like you’ve stepped into something out of Tomb Raider walking around this temple. It is so beautiful with quite a lot of areas to wander around and explore.
- Tirta Empul Temple – Holy Spring Temple
Another temple worth visiting. This place has some beautiful structures but its main attraction is the holy springs which you can go in yourself. It gets super busy but as long as you have enough time and don’t mind waiting it’s not too bad; other wise you can just watch others going through the ritual. When you exit you go through a maze of locals selling ‘souvenirs’ this maze goes on for a long time and each person is selling the same thing. Do not worry you will eventually resurface into the outside world even though it will feel like you never will!!
Things to avoid:
- Goa Gajah – Elephant Cave
The cave itself is beautiful – the carvings outside are amazing the cave is very small with 3 alters for worship. The temple complex is quite small with nothing out of the ordinary there to see. If you have the time you could visit but if you’re lacking on time or have done too must exploring this is one you could easily give a miss.
- Coffee Plantation
If you book a trip, excursion or driver they will always try to take you to the coffee plantation. This is to try the Luwak coffee which is the coffee taken from beans which are part-digested by Civits. You get a small tour (not of the plantation but of a few plants and you get to see a Civit. Then there is a tasting but to taste the Luwak coffee you have to pay extra and at the end they want you to buy lots of stuff from the gift shop. The coffee tasting was more tea than coffee and was not worth it. I didn’t partake in the Luwak coffee because I don’t believe in exploiting animals for human gain and didn’t want to buy coffee I wouldn’t drink and didn’t want to support. As much as I want to help the local economy when travelling this is one thing I would not want to support or encourage.
Places to eat:
A very popular eatery and for good reason. Amazing vegan food something for any time of day with so much variety you could eat here every meal for a week and not be disappointed. Cannot recommend this highly enough. We did go here about 3 times!!
We stumbled across this place by complete chance. We went in for a drink and ended up staying for dinner. It is not a vegan or even vegetarian place but they have lots of options. The food was incredible and the portion sizes were huge! Located really centrally, right by Earth Café, it’s an easy one to get to too.
A great breakfast spot. You go up to the counter, pick your smoothie, pick your fruits and pick your toppings. Lots to choose from and it’s all incredible. The juices are also very yummy.
A great lunch/dinner spot. Lots of choice and great food. Nothing phenomenal, just a decent restaurant.
Like Atman, a good restaurant with lots of choice. Food is delicious. Service was good. No complaints!
A fancy restaurant with beautiful surroundings but super affordable. Love this place. The food was all vegan and the ice cream was incredible. They do a really cheap fixed menu where you get a starter main and desert which I highly recommend because you will want a bit of everything. The portion sizes were not too big which means you can enjoy all 3 courses.
A really random restaurant – you have to remove your shoes to enter and then walk through a huge circular door where you sit in a half inside, half outside restaurant with a fish pond running down one side. The food was really good, the service was lacking but I would still recommend. They have great vegan options of local food.
In the centre of the north side of the island, Lovina is a beach town. Although there’s not a ton to do in Lovina itself, it can be a good base to explore the areas around the north of Bali. It’s also a great place to enjoy watching sunsets over the water and enjoying a ridiculously cheap pint!
You do not need transport to get around Lovina itself as it is pretty small, but to see anything or visit anywhere while you’re in the north you will need to get a taxi or hire a driver – if you are staying in a hotel they’ll be able to organise this for you easily and relatively cheaply. The food is very oily and greasy which can be a lot for your gut to deal with – it was for me!!
Things to do:
It is a beautiful beach which you can wander along for quite some time. There are some bits which are quite heavily polluted – a great opportunity to do a beach clean. But as it is a less touristy place you will have the beach pretty much to yourself when you get out of the centre of Lovina.
- Sekumpul Waterfall
A short drive from Lovina, this is more than just one waterfall. A guide will walk you through to see a few waterfalls and you can stop and each for a dip. The main waterfall is best for a swim – it is quite cold as it is out of the sunshine but it incredible and I would definitely recommend. The walk is not difficult but there are a lot of steps and you have to get down into the valley to get there and it can be slippery in places walking through streams.
- Air Panas Banjar – Hot Spring
This and the Buddhist Temple can be done in the same day they’re super close to each other. The Hot springs are really refreshing and a great place to just chill for a bit and soak your muscles. You need to go in the morning before it gets too busy and too hot as the sun comes up and warms the water even more!
- Brahma Vihara Arama – Buddhist Temple
After the hot springs, get yourself round the corner to the Buddhist Temple. It is the only Buddhist Temple on Bali. When you enter you get such a feeling of tranquillity and serenity. It is a beautiful temple complex and definitely worth a visit!
- Spice Beach Club
We didn’t actually spend time here but did wander past. If you want a day to just relax, have a drink and some snacks while you chill on the beach this is a nice little beach club.
- Enjoy Happy Hour
Happy hour or hours are everywhere in Lovina, at 5pm happy hour starts at Bintang Bali, a bar by the beach. Get there, settle in get yourself a Bintang (local beer) and watch a volley ball game while the sun sets. A great pre-dinner ritual in Lovina. Also there are super cute local cats which will wander into the bar looking for scraps.
Things to avoid:
- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
No doubt you will have seen a picture of this temple if you have looked at pictures of Bali – it is a beautiful temple on a lake. We visited on our way between Ubud and Lovina the temple itself is surround by people taking selfies and the rest of the complex is just touristy attraction stuff. It was a more expensive entrance fee than other temples and really wasn’t worth it. If you really want that picture then visit but otherwise just don’t bother! Save yourself the time and money.
Places to eat:
A stunning hotel with a couple of restaurants. We booked in to go to their Heliconia restaurant and were seated upstairs in a beautiful area looking out over Lovina. I highly recommend their pizza – I just got the veggie one and swapped the cheese for spinach. It was so good. It is expensive but one of the best options as the other restaurants were super greasy.
The Global Village Café
Good variety of food for dinner, some really nice starters just a bit oily. They also have a good little shop which sells natural insect repellent cheaply.
A great little café for lunch. Don’t go out the back – lots of mosquitoes and insects – sit out the front instead and enjoy a juice and a wrap.
Have you been to Bali – do you have any recommendations or agree/disagree with any of mine? I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below!