Written by Beverley Lennon
Do you often cyber-stalk destinations instead of people? Scrolling through #Bali for hours, tagging your travel partners to give them a hint of where to go next? Does this sound familiar? Welcome to the club!
Oh Bali, we don’t quite know how you do it but you surely do get all of us dreaming! If you dream of having that ‘Ngurah Rai Airport’ stamp in your passport and tick off this island paradise from your bucket list; you’ll need to get prepared prior to that first trip!
Let’s start short – two things you’re guaranteed to have in Bali: Good food and good fun! Regardless of whether you are vegan, gluten-free or fancy seafood with a side of good views or even if you have an impeccable need for an adventurous and cultural scene, Bali is known to suit all tastes and ages!
So for this maiden trip, we have narrowed down the best things to do, places to eat and stay in the main areas!
P.S. This won’t be your last time; you’ll come back for more!
A. Getting to Bali
B. Main areas of Bali (South and Central Bali)
Don’t miss on hanging out at these areas while on your first trip to Bali:
1. South Bali
C. South Bali
For the shopaholics, partygoers, foodies and young-at-heart! (Plus, hot surfers alert!)
1. Iconic Cultural Attractions
Bali has a wealth of enriching cultural experiences on offer and you can find some of them on the South coast. Whether you prefer exploring giant statues and strolling through an expansive cultural park on your own or relishing on a traditional Balinese dance at sunset, these cultural experiences are bound to let you immerse in the local traditions and customs!
a. GWK Cultural Park: Visit the world’s tallest Vishnu statue (Coordinates here)
b. Uluwatu Temple and Kecak Dance: Relish on a dramatic Balinese dance at a mystical sea temple (More info)
2. Best Hidden Beaches
There’s no shortage of gorgeous and unspoiled beaches in South Bali. From the popular ones with groovy beach clubs and fun activities, to the quiet, serene beaches that are almost empty, and one featuring a secret cave — you will be spoilt for choice. Pack your sun lotion, swimsuit and get beach-ready!
a. Nyang Nyang Beach: Look out for the abandoned vessel along this lesser-known beach (More info)
b. Green Bowl Beach: Take a dip in the azure clear waters of this little oasis (More info)
c. Suluban Beach: Explore the secret cave at this beach (More info)
d. Tegal Wangi Beach: Soak in a natural sea jacuzzi (More info)
3. Best Groovy Beach Clubs (Free Entrance!)
If you are looking for something a little more exclusive for your day by the sea, you might want to escape the sand to rent a lounger with waiter service, and enjoy a delicious lunch, and perhaps a dip in a pool at one of Bali’s best beach clubs.
While some provide pure relaxation, others have more of a party vibe, and some change from one to the other as the sun sinks over the horizon. We’ve even tested a few!
a. La Brisa: Here’s where you get to be a hipster pirate by the sea (Website | More info)
b. Byrdhouse Beach Club: Swim up to the pool bar for funky cocktails (Website | More info)
c. Azul Beach Club: Dance all day in a bamboo treehouse (Website | More info)
4. Exciting Water Activities
Besides unique restaurants, beautiful beaches and cultural attractions, there are also fun activities to be enjoyed and the best ones are in the water!
a. Flyboarding in Nusa Dua (Bali Apollo Dive and Water Sport): Get propulsed from sea to sky (Website | More info)
b. Surf Lesson at Kamafari Surf Camp: Stand on your board and catch waves (Website | More info)
c. Waterbom: Dare to slide down the top waterpark in Asia! (Website | More info)
Where to eat
1. Oceanview Beachfront Restaurants
There are plenty of great restaurants in South Bali, catering for those who want a taste of luxury and culture with a backdrop of the glittering waters of the Indian Ocean. Here’s where to settle at for a beachfront dining experience; whether it is atop a cliff or set right on the sand!
a. One Eighty: Soak in a clifftop infinity pool 500 feet high (Website | More info)
b. Soul on the Beach: Healthy eating with toes in the sand (Website | More info)
c. Rock Bar, AYANA Resort and Spa, BALI: Go for an epic sunset cocktail evening (Website | More info)
2. Most Authentic Local Food
Ever wondered where locals go for the most authentic Balinese and Indonesian food in Bali? We know the spots locals swear by (with some of them being super low-key)! Get ready and loosen your belt to explore these neighbourhoods in South Bali for a fabulous local foodie experience!
a. Waroeng Wahaha: Delicious signature pork ribs (Website | Coordinates here)
b. Pork Star Bali: Bali’s pork expert that serve pork-everything! (More info)
c. Babi Guling Sari Kembar: No. 1 Babi Guling (roasted pork) in town (More info)
d. Warung Pantai: Seafood feast by the sea, on bean bags and to groovy vibes (More info)
3. Unique Cafes and Restaurants
You must have heard that “anything is possible in Bali”, so you can find the craziest and most unique places here. Yes, restaurants included!
a. Keramas Aeropark: Dine in an airplane! (Website | More info)
b. Dedari Theory: A quirky treetop restaurant with sunset views (More info)
c. Slippery Stone: Take a Mediterranean culinary trip to the Greece of Bali! (Website | More info)
d. Panama Kitchen and Pool: Santorini dreaming like in the ‘90s! (Website | More info)
Where to stay
1. Favourite Family Beach Resorts
Visiting Bali with children and want to stay by the beach? These beach resorts come with lots of family and kids-friendly facilities that will keep everyone entertained!
a. Padma Resort Legian: This resort is a family-friendly destination in itself! (Website | More info)
b. Bali Dynasty Resort: Enjoy a fun beachside family stay (Website | More info)
c. Prama Sanur: Foodie families’ favourite (Website | More info)
d. Holiday Inn Bali Benoa: Where kids sleep with dolphins and fishes (Website | More info)
2. Romantic One-Bedroom Private Pool Villas under $100
When it comes to Bali, a few things stand out – great food and cute cafes but also amaaaazing villas (and parties like nowhere else!). These villas with private pools will home your bright pink flamingo floaties while you sip on cocktails… #vacationgoals right here for under $100 per night!
a. Paradise Loft Villas Bali: With panoramic views and nearby seafood restaurants! (Agoda | More info)
b. Jimbaran Cliffs Private Hotel & Spa: Relish on spectacular views from your private infinity pool (Website | More info)
c. Taman Sari Bali Villa: Private pool villa in the heart of Seminyak (Website | More info)
d. New Pondok Sara Villas: Unlock the door to this secret little oasis (Website | More info)
3. Impressive Budget Stays (beachfront and more!)
When you’re on a strict budget, it can be difficult to find comfortable places to stay. These affordable budget stays are not only value-for-money but they are also comfortable enough to rest your head after a heavy day exploring! Also, some are even beachfront! Say whaaaat?!
a. Citadines Kuta Beach Bali Aparthotel: Beachfront stay with an exclusive rooftop infinity pool under $50! (Website | More info)
b. The Kuta Beach Heritage Hotel: Stay a few steps away from Bali’s best nightclubs! (Website | More info)
c. Fashion Hotel Legian: Be the star of this vacation in Bali (Website | More info)
d. Fontana Hotel Bali: A modern budget stay with all necessary comforts (Website | More info)
D. Central Bali (areas in and around Ubud)
For the ones looking for an “Eat, Pray, Love” vacation with healthy eating, yoga and meditation amidst untouched nature!
1. Must-go Attractions
Central Bali, especially Ubud, is paradise for people who love the nature and adventure. Be it waterfalls or rice terraces, these attractions are a must-go while visiting Bali for the first time!
a. Tegallalang Rice Terrace: Take a relaxing stroll along Ubud’s most famous attraction (More info)
b. Campuhan Ridge Walk: Take an early morning sunrise walk amidst nature (More info)
c. Tukad Cepung Waterfall: A secret cave hides this untouched waterfall (More info)
2. Fun One-day Workshops
Skip the beaches, temples and waterfalls to connect deeper with the local Balinese culture. Central Bali is home to several workshops and studios where you can get an up-close look at Bali’s traditional artworks, meet master craftsmen, and even learn how to craft some yourself. These are our favorites!
a. Batik class at I Nyoman Warta: Create your own batik masterpiece with local experts! (Website | More info)
b. Silversmithing at Studio Perak: Your silver jewellery will be uniquely designed by YOU! (Website | More info)
c. Cooking class at Green Kitchen Bali: Learn to whip up traditional Balinese cuisine with organic vegetables! (Website | More info)
d. Make organic spa products at Cantika Zest: Mix natural ingredients to make your own spa products (Website | More info)
3. Thrilling Outdoor Activities
Seeking to reconnect with nature, or craving for some adrenaline rush? Central Bali’s varied terrain and diverse attractions make it one of the best places to plan fun activities amidst Mother Nature’s greatest gifts!
a. Bali Safari & Marine Park: Go on a real-life Lion King experience at the safari! (Website | More info)
b. River Rafting at Bali Adventure Rafting: Raft through the river and tour a village (Website | More info)
c. Green Village: Take a green tour through an eco-village (Website | More info)
4. Unique Affordable Luxury Spas
Bali is no stranger to spa therapy (psst.. Balinese massage!!). It’s where you’ll find various traditional treatments to heal your tired body. How about treating yourself to a massage at these heavenly spas?
a. Tjampuhan Spa: Awake all your senses at this riverside spa (Website | More info)
b. Jaens Spa Ubud: One of our favourite affordable luxury pampering (Website | More info)
c. Beji Ayu Spa Ubud: Massage in zen gardens and rice paddy fields (Website | More info)
Where to eat
1. Jungle View Restaurants
Feast your eyes on some of the most incredible views that Bali has to offer at these restaurants with stunning jungle vistas. Who knew your dining destination could be your next vantage point?
a. Jungle Fish: Swim and eat at this open-air restaurant in the jungle (Website | More info)
b. The Sayan House: Dine overlooking the river while surrounded by forest and paddy fields (Website | More info)
c. D’tukad River Club Bali: Swing to a natural waterfall at this river club! (Website)
2. Unique Hangout Cafes
In Bali, cafes have evolved beyond simply places to eat and enjoy coffee. It has become everyone’s hangout spot — where friends meet, couples date, and much more. We’ve found Ubud’s most innovative cafés with a new level of chic with a pool, spectacular views and even super creative decorations!
a. Folk Pool & Gardens: Your all-day hangout spot with pool, cabanas and beautiful gardens (Website | More info)
b. Pomegranate: A restaurant glamping experience in the middle of rice paddy fields (Website | More info)
c. Bali Bohemia: A creative hub where gypsies and artists celebrate (Website | More info)
3. Rare local food experiences
Food is the best way to experience Bali’s local culture. After all, isn’t food known as the universal language? While we love sightseeing and wandering around jungles and beaches, nothing compares to the sight, smell and taste of authentic local food. Here are the best spots to grab a bite like the locals!
a. Laka Leke: Immerse in an authentic Balinese dinner and dance (Website | More info)
b. Warung Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Bu Mangku: This chicken rice is an explosion of flavours (More info)
c. Bubur Mebasa: Hunt for this traditional and rare Balinese breakfast porridge (Coordinates here)
Where to stay
1. Unusual stays with a view
If there’s something to love more about hotel beds, it has to be the view from some of them. Sleeping in dreamy Ubud to wake up to beautiful vistas has to be on everyone’s bucket list while you get to be Tarzan and Jane! Top tip: Always request for the room with the best view!
a. Black Penny Villas Ubud: Private pool villa in a magnificent valley (Website | More info)
b. Royal Pita Maha: For royal treatments during your Bali vacation (Website | More info)
c. Santi Mandala: A stay with your very own waterfall view! (Website | More info)
d. NewEarth Haven Eco Dome: Eco villas set in paddy fields (Website | More info)
2. Budget stays with a view under $50
We know it’s hard to choose between good hotel views and money cutbacks to spend on shopping but guess what, you don’t need to make that choice in Ubud! Treat yourself to spectacular views at these affordable stays!
a. Bliss Bungalow Ubud: Enjoy endless paddy fields views from your wooden bungalow (Website | More info)
b. Firefly Eco Lodge: Sleep under the stars in the skies of lush forests (More info)
c. Sri Bungalows Ubud: Monkeys are your neighbours set in paddy fields (Website | More info)
d. Agung Raka Resort: Go for an infinite swim over rice paddy fields (Website | More info)
E. Best time to travel
Bali has a reliable, warm and tropical climate all year round.
Temperatures generally linger between 26°C and 28°C, except for places located on higher grounds like Ubud and Bedugul (where it would be more chilly!).
The dry season is generally from May to September, and the wet season from October to April.
In May, June, September (non-peak period), you will find that prices of accommodation are 30% to 50% cheaper than peak season rates. Plus, you still get great dry season weather most of the time.
April and October are great if you enjoy watersports, such as surfing, as the waves are good at this time of year. You might have some refreshing rain showers, but you will also see plenty of sunshine. These are also great months to travel with children as most theme parks and attractions are quieter, and getting around would be less crowded and stressful.
Peak season in Bali is July and August, as well as Easter holidays, Christmas and New Year.