When I first booked this trip to Bali, I wanted to get to knwo the whole island, north and south, east and west, and even add a few extra islands to the plan, if possible. These plans fell apart the first few hours I stepped a foot on the island. The truth is, I was fast-paced and wanted to do a zillion things, but as I arrived to Bali and started to relax and slow down, I realized that this trip would be all about resting, stopping, thinking and enjoying.
As always, I have no idea if I saw the most touristic spots and I travelled just the way I like to: as someone living there. One day at a time, feeling the energy fo the place, not making any plans really and soaking it all in, as much as I could. Buying fruit at the market, resting at home when I felt like I needed, going to the beach with no further plans. Dolce fare niente.
Here I’ll be sharing the answers to the most common questions you guys asked me (on Instagram) and all my favourite spots. Let’s get to it?
The easiest flight, from Portugal where I live, is with Emirates, Lisbon – Dubai – Denpasar.
I did a few stopovers which made the whole journey far more tiring and stressful but also a bit more affordable.
I searched flights to Indonesia departuring from Europe’s main capitals (easier to get a deal cause you’ve got more options!) and ended up leaving from Paris with Eva Air. It was my first time flying with Eva and I enjoyed it. Let’s just say nice-scented moisturizer + face mists & being able to choose vegan meals were two details I find important!
I took only one backpack (36lt) with me and it was enough because I enjoy traveling light and usually don’t care a lot about wearing different outfits everyday.
I left home in Portugal with only the first 4 nights booked and chose to organize the accomodation as the days passed by.
I made some friends right away and we ended up sharing nice villas through Airbnb.
All around the island you’ll find pretty cheap options (starting from 9€!) so you only need to choose what type of room you want and which comforts you can’t live without.
Option vary from hostels, homestays (usually your hosts will live there too or close by), hotels or appartments/villas where you can rent the whole house or just the rooms you’ll need.
GET AROUND THE ISLAND
The best way to get to know the island and run away from traffic really is to ride a motorbike. For less than € 4.00 a day you rent a scooter and, believe me, it’s an investment you want to make. Driving on the road can be chaotic, especially on the main roads connecting cities and towns, but it’s a matter of habit and all about losing fear: no one has the interest of having an accident!
You can download an app (Uber, GoJek or Grab) and have taxi service (motorbike or car) at any time.
Taxis are available in many places and it is advisable to bargain for the price, they will always charge more to tourists.
You may want to use a taxi or hire a driver when you need to move from one city to another. With suitcases or backpacks, the bike becomes a hamper and you can always rent another one at the next destination.
For those who asked, yes, I went by myself. No, it’s not dangerous!
Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country but in Bali, Balinese Hinduism is practiced. You’ll witness a blend of Indian influences with centuries-old island traditions that are very beautiful to see.
All in all: They are lovely people, always wanting to help and always, always with a smile to share with whoever they meet.
I ended up spending most of my days in Canggu. Canggu is “the end” of the most developed part of the island (Kuta, Krobogan, Seminyak), it is still growing and is a nice blend of beach life, surf and relaxed bars with good yoga schools, interesting cafes, organic shops and affordable accommodation. It’s a bit “westernized”, true, but you still get the Balinese hospitality.
In Canggu I did a lot of yoga, tons of massages, lots of beach and ate very well but very little Balinese. My tips reflect that.
I truly loved Samadi Bali, a shala where I practiced Ashtanga yoga daily with Damien, an authorized teacher who was a wonderful help in my practice. The school also has a café serving breakfast and lunch where everything is organic, healthy and delicious. The smoothie bowls are generous and the Indian choices a delight. My favorite drink was the Yogi Cooler.
Other school to visit is The Practice. A simple visit to their instagram shows us a beautiful shala, built in bamboo, ample and inspiring where Hatha and other types of yoga classes are offered every day. There are several activities on the calendar and I recommend the movie sessions, I loved going and watching an interesting movie, super comfortable full of cushions and blankets.
Serenity should be a category on its own because, in addition to offering many yoga classes, it also offers accommodation as well as a wide range of body treatments, an organic shop with dry groceries, homemade creams and sportswear. And of course, there’s also a restaurant with a vegetarian menu with several raw and cooked options of drinks, snacks, meals and desserts.
One of the things to do in Bali and, I dare to say, in Asia, is to get a massage. The prices are so cheap that you can try out several different sites until you find the one you like best.
I really enjoyed and can recommend the Balinese massage at Serenity.
The moment I tried Tranquility Spa I became a fan and didn’t go anywhere else. It is a modest and tiny space with three rooms, managed by Lili who works with two other ladies. I recommend the hydrating facial, the body scrub that I repeated whenever I could, the relaxation massage and the back + shoulder massage. A friend did reflexology several times and loved it. You can say Joana sent you, they probably won’t have a clue but I bet they will be even nicer. Haha!
- Beach and Surf
I enjoyed a lot the beaches in Canggu and usually stayed at Echo Beach, known for its waves and with less people.
There are several warungs and almost all offer surf lessons or surfboards for rent.
To spend a few hours on the beach, I recommend Warung Ketut, almost at the end of the beach, where Ketut and Wayan are super loving and always gave me a coconut without straw because they already knew that I was carrying my bamboo one (go green guys!!)
I always prefer empty beaches and I have explored the west coast, always with almost nobody and with very calm beaches. The sand is always black (but sparkly) and the sea tends to be rough. If you are looking for paradisiacal beaches with calm sea and white sand, it is not here.
- Holistic treatments
Throughout the island there are offers of holistic treatments at good prices and for those who stay more than a few days in one place it is worth experimenting. In Canggu, I recommend the The Detox Room for cupping and hydrotherapy.
- Shady Shack
I do not know how many times I went to Shady Shack, it really is one of Canggu’s best spots! It has more and less healthy vegetarian options, with many “sins” to make you go crazy and addicted. My favorite dishes? Crispy mushrooms and fresh garden rolls. There are breakfast and lunch options and a list of delicious drinks. Ideal decoration for a tropical cafe from where you do not feel like leaving.
The Peloton and Shady are my two favourites around this area. Here all the dishes are vegan, beautiful, the decor is simple and the menu amazing. My favourites? The stawberries & coconut cream, team taco, Bali tour (nasi campur) and potato hash stack.
- Café Vida, Kynd, Organic Café
There are several healthy options in Canggu and any tiny cafe already has a smoothie bowl. Vida has the most instagrammable smoothie bowls ever (and the best health shot of mushrooms and cacao!), Kynd is beautiful but sits in the middle of the chaos of Seminyak and Organic has great breakfast choices (icy smoothie bowls, delicious chia pudding and good savoury options) and it was where I would always buy vegan ice lollies.
I’m going to be a part of it by developing a healthy, delicious, plant-based and Balinese-inspired meal plan. I will also be responsible for the choice of all the restaurants where we will go as a group and I’ll share my experience in a workshop on healthier routines, completely adapted to each person.
You will have the opportunity to include the practice of Kundalini Yoga in your days and you will still be able to get to know the inspiring magic of the temples and rice fields of Ubud, take part on local ceremonies, visit the most emblematic markets and spots.
Ask for more information to Alexandra and she gives you the scoop on everything!