Bali is becoming one of the most visited places in the world. With this being said, it’s being overran by tourist from western countries flocking to have a cheap, but crazy holiday. The corporate world is getting a hold of this beautiful place and turning it into an upscale tourist destination and stripping it from its original roots and culture. However, there are still places on this island that you can go to get away from all the koas that Kuta and Seminyak have to offer. Places where you can get to see the real Balinese culture all without being surround by a thousand of other tourists wanting to get as wasted as possible off Bintang and dance the night away at Sky Garden.
When I flew into Bali I stayed down in the Bucket. In the Nusa Dua area. It was very quiet and more upscale than what I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, staying in a 4 star resort or about $70-$80 less than what it would be in the states was nice. The only exception is that all the nicer resorts down here are in their own community. So it’s very secluded and pretty far away from the rest of the action. If you’re looking to stay in Bali and get pampered your entire trip. This is where I would suggest.
I soon worked my was to Seminyak. This was explained to me that it was less busier and crazier than Kuta and had more laid back bars and restaurants. I saw none of this. Seminyak to me was just like Kuta. Maybe a little fewer people, but couldn’t really tell the difference. All of the fancy beach clubs are located here, but still doesn’t get you away from the madness. Although its pretty crazy, some of the beach clubs are a must do. You can get a day bed and pay around $70-$80 all day long and eat and drink like you’re in a hot spot in Vegas. Check out the “W” Potato Head, and Mosaic Beach Club are some of my favorites.
The real Balinese culture that I found was in an area called Canggu. I fell in love with this place. In the next 3 years this area will be over ran just like Kuta and Seminyak. So enjoy it while you can. Here I found that the beaches aren’t over crowded, the roads aren’t stop and go traffic, and everyone knows everyone. It also has some of the best places to eat. Warung Heboh is a little “champur” style local place. Like a buffet style. they charge you for what you get. You can fill your plate with all kinds of local dishes for around $3. The same thing goes for Warung Bu Mi. This one is very popular with local and expats. Milk and Madu was one of my favorite breakfast spots. The eggs Benedict is to die for. And don’t forget to get the iced vanilla tea! Belenute Cafe has a summertime burrito that gets me everytime. This place is more on the healthier side and is very popular for vegans. Nalu Bowls was my favorite spot to get a healthy fruit bowl. There are two locations in Canggu now. They take blended fruit smoothie bowls to a whole new level. It’s a must try!
Every Wednesday and Sunday Canggu is the place to be in Bali. Theres a bar right on the beach called Old Mans and they host a beer pong tournament every Wednesday. This place gets so packed and crazy it’s almost too much for me to even go. After the bar closes down at midnight, everyone walks to Echo Beach and parties until the sun comes up. On Sundays, the famous Dues Exchange hosts live local music in their backyard area. It’s mostly a very laid back chilled environment, but it can get a little crazy and pretty much everyone in Canggu and surrounding areas are there. After midnight, everyone once again makes their way to Echo Beach until 4am. Nyoman Bagus is a hidden gem in Canggu. Its location is away from all the action which makes it even better to relax. It is very rare you will catch more than a couple of people up on the roof of this restaurant hanging out in the infinity pool right on the beach. You really wouldn’t even know it existed if you didn’t actually knew about it.
What I enjoyed the most about Bali is watching the sunset every night on the beach. Grab a bean bag and a beer and enjoy the picture perfect moment every time.
If you really want to indulge yourself with food and relaxation, every Saturday and Sunday the Sofitel down in Nusa Dua offers all you can eat and drink at a 5 star resort. This buffet is insane. And if you don’t like what they have to offer, no worries, they also have a menu where you can order unlimited amounts of food. If you don’t want to drink wine, bloody marry’s, or champagne, they offer the same deal with unlimited non alcoholic drinks for a lesser price. After your finished eating and getting fat, you allowed to use their pool all day long. And this pool is for the books. It wraps around their entire complex with little rivers leading to every single room on the bottom floor. You can almost get lost! Try to make a reservation, this place gets pretty busy being the best all you can eat buffet in Bali. Hours are from 11:00-15:00 and prices range from $35-$90 depending on which package you choose.
If a buffet isn’t what you’re looking for, and you want more of a private beach club with a view that is one of the best in Bali. Head East to El Kabaron. One of my favorite secluded places. I made a full day out of this. There is a really nice beach called Padang Padang Beach located down in the Bukit. Definitely worth making a trip to. And afterwards, make your way up north to El Kabaron to end your day. This Spanish restaurant sets up on a cliff overlooking the ocean with a really nice infinity pool. The price during the week differs than on weekends. Their policy is that you pay 300,000/500,000 rupee and they give you a voucher. That voucher can be used inside to buy cocktails and or some of their well renowned food. Spend the last bit of your day lounging in the pool setting over a cliff watching the sunset. You won’t regret it.
For another real Balinese experience head down to Jimbaran. Here every single night they clear off the beach and all the restaurants put tables and chairs pretty much directly in the water. You can have a nice dinner and even pick put your freshly caught lobster or fish. If that doesn’t suit you, a lot of the restaurants have a set menu of normally 3-4 course. You can eat some amazing food and literally be setting in the water.
If you can drive motorbike. this makes you have the real experience. You can drive around for hours and just get lost. Don’t worry, every single person is friendly you will come across. Driving through the little villages and seeing the way real Balinese people live is a must do here. It so relaxing and beautiful. I took a big road trip all the way to Candidasa. I heard there was a really nice secret beach over this way. It took me about 2 hours to get there and actually find it. But well worth it in the end. I pretty much had the entire beach to myself. And one of the best beaches in Bali I have seen. Its called Hidden Beach (Virgin Beach).
Ubud is home to the hippies of Bali. Very relaxed and very chill. It also flooded with tourists as well. There are tons of yoga retreat camps here with lots of vegan and healthy foods to choose from. But what I really like about Ubud is the nature. I drove around for hours looking at all the rice fields and waterfalls. It so relaxing driving down the road on a bike not knowing exactly where your going.
If you get tired and worn out from exploring and want to have some good comedy in your life. Head to Y Sports Bar in Legain. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 7pm they hold Midget fun Boxing. It’s hilarious and always a good time. Get there an hour before time to get your tickets and a good table. You won’t be dissappointed!
The real Balinese experience and a must do is heading over to the Gili Islands. If you go to Bali and don’t go, your pretty much the only person that skipped out on this. With that being said, don’t expect much on Gili T. This is the big party island. Mostly all the accomodatmtion is shit and everyone here is on mushrooms since they grow legal here. The beaches weren’t that great and covered with trash and tons of coral. The only great things about this island is heading out west to catch the sunset in some pretty relax swings and hammocks.
There isn’t any other transportation other than horse and buggy and bicycles just because the island is so small. Gili Air and Gili Meno are very beautiful. I went diving off of Gili Air and is was crystal clear water and some pretty nice beaches. Very quiet compared to Gili T. So depending on what you’re looking for, a huge party, or nice calm retreat, the choice is yours.
Theres so much to do and explore in Bali. Being there for 2.5months I felt like I didn’t even see as much as I wanted to. There so much more to this island than cheap drinks and parties. The culture itself is what makes this place amazing. If you want a real Balinese experience, make your own and do what every other person isn’t. That is what makes it great!