The Ultimate Bali Travel Guide – 2019
Bali bound and wondering what you can’t miss? This island paradise is one of my absolute favorite destinations right now for its vibrant culture, delicious food, UNREAL sunsets and of course, its beaches. I love it so much that I’m actually based there when I’m not traveling! I’ve made this amazing island my home-away-from-home because it’s not only un-bali-evably beautiful, but Bali is awesomely affordable. What you spend up front on airfare you’ll easily make back with savings on hotels, meals and transportation.
One of the best things about Bali is despite being fairly small, it has something for everyone. The yogis will flock to zen Ubud, the beach bums to dreamy Uluwatu, and the surfers to laid-back Canggu. The spring breakers will seek out Gili T for its island nightlife and Bali honeymooners will seek out dreamy Nusa Lembongan or secluded Gili Air. The families will hang seaside in Seminyak, and the adventurous will conquer Nusa Penida. Whether you want waterfalls, beaches, jungles, monkeys, surfing, shopping, snorkeling with manta rays, or just relaxing on a bean bag in the sand with a piña colada in hand, Bali is your paradise.
Where to eat + drink in Ubud:
This Japanese-Latin-Fusion restaurant serves up some of the best sunset views in all of Ubud. You can even see the Four Seasons Sayan across the way – which was recently ranked the #1 hotel in the world by Travel & Leisure! Watch the sunset colors paint the jungle as you sip on one of their delicious cocktails & munch on their sushi and innovative gourmet tacos. This is my very favorite date night spot in Ubud.
Famous for their ice-cold martinis and barbecue pork ribs, Naughty Nuri’s is a must-stop for meat lovers in Ubud. One of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite Bali spots, Nuri’s will be sure to be a highlight of your trip. The restaurant casual, with a huge smokey charcoal grill outside flaming up some of the best ribs you’ll ever taste. Nuri’s comes with a lot of hype (and sometimes, a long wait) but I promise you, it’s worth it.
This gorgeous Ubud hotel is an ideal spot to stay in in Ubud or to just enjoy brunch or lunch at! Bambu Indah is eco-luxe, green, tranquil, and embodies Ubud zen.
La Pacha Mama
La Pacha Mama is the bottom floor of Penestanan’s La Cevicheria. The menu is full of delicious vegetarian Mexican food that even meat-eaters will be craving.
Think of Alchemy as Ubud’s hippy mecca. This raw food cafe and salad bar has been the healthy-eating hot–spot in Bali for years. Whether or not you’re a vegan, their juices and delicious healthy salad bar (and smoothie bowl bar in the mornings) is worth checking out.
If you’re looking for the best breakfast burrito in Bali, you’ve found it. Milk + Madu and their healthy-meets-comfort-food vibe is just what you want as an expat living in Bali. It’s my go-to for all-day breakfasts, and killer avo toast! They also have great burgers, pizzas and wraps as well.
La Cevicheria is one of the best restaurants in the Penestanan neighborhood of Ubud for its fresh ceviche, delicious shrimp tacos, wines, outdoor seating and great music.
This resort was just ranked Travel & Leisure’s number one resort in the world and it’s easy to see why. It’s hard to beat the Four Seasons’ sixty-room stunning setting – a complete sanctuary cocooned in Ubud’s Ayung valley. Each villa is adorned in dark teak and Indonesian stone and many of the villas boast a private pool and outdoor living rooms. In the restaurant, you can dine on contemporary Indonesian cuisine on a picture-perfect terrace, or sip a passion fruit martini overlooking the valley at Jati Bar. Staying here is once-in-a-lifetime – perfect for a Bali honeymoon.
The Viceroy is a jungle retreat high up in the mountains of Ubud. Each of its luxury villas comes with a picturesque private infinity pool looking out into the jungle and a super-spacious sanctuary-of-a-room that you’ll never want to leave.
Hanging Gardens is tucked away deep into the hillsides Ubud, and has one of the world’s most spectacular infinity pools suspended high above the jungle, the “7-star” Hanging Gardens is a dream for those traveling to Bali and looking for luxury.
This quiet eco-lifestyle hotel tucked in Ubud defines modern jungle luxe. Bambu Indah is the perfect choice for the yogi couple or group of girlfriends looking for their zen in the jungle for a couple nights. It’s lush & green and its uniquely Ubud-calm defines serenity. Even if you don’t stay here, the restaurant is worth a brunch or lunch to check out the gorgeous hotel.
What to do in Ubud:
Tegalalang Rice Fields
The Tegalalang rice terraces and their sweeping panoramic views of lush Ubud make for a perfect Bali exploration day.
The Monkey Forest
A beautiful jungle filled with wild monkeys that will climb all over you for a banana – The Monkey Forest is an adventure, to say the least.
Get a Balinese massage
Balinese massages are the best part of any vacation to Bali – they’re relaxing, incredible, and super affordable compared to usual spa prices. And there’s no better place to have a spa day than in zen Ubud. I recommend you get your hotel front desk to call ahead.
Cantika is an oasis of flower baths, Balinese massage treatments, and the most tranquil setting imaginable. It’s my favorite place to go every time I’m in Ubud. Did I mention an hour massage & flower bath treatment is only about $20? Welcome to Bali.
This gorgeous waterfall located just outside of Ubud is the perfect spot to head to cool off on a hot day. This is a must-do for first-timers to Bali, and somewhere I always go when showing visitors around the island. Check out my blog post on how to get there, what other waterfalls to go to, and how to do Tegenguan and The Tegallalang Rice Fields in the same day here.
JETSET TIP: It gets crowded, so go early in the morning and you’ll have the waterfall to yourself!
Kanto Lampo Waterfall
This less-discovered waterfall (also outside of Ubud) is one of my favorites to visit when I’m in Bali. It’s cascading rocks make for an incredible experience & one of the most fun ways to cool off on a hot day (not to mention laying on the rocks is an amazing back massage!!)
This locals-only “secret beach” in Uluwatu is hands down one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to, and a must-do on any trip to Bali.
Sundays Beach Club
Sundays Beach Club is a part of the Ungasan hotel but you can also get a day pass to swim, eat, relax, paddleboard and enjoy their gorgeous beach and water activities. They also do fun bonfires at sunset!
Bingin Beach has unrivaled views of the Indian Ocean and fabulous waves that make it one of the most demanded surfing spots in Bali and the world. I recommend posting up at Kelly’s Warung for a perfect beach day.
The new Omnia Bali Dayclub by Hakkasan Group is an extravagant, luxurious day club perched on the limestone cliffs of the Bukit Peninsula in Uluwatu. It’s the first adults-only day club to hit the island, and features a swim up bar, a delicious restaurant, and VIP cabanas with their own glittering plunge pools. It’s the perfect place for a group of friends to spend the day.
Omnia Bali has even already started to feature world-famous DJ’s on certain days for parties. But, if the idea of a super rowdy pool party scares you a little bit – don’t worry – the vibe is less Las Vegas, and more Saint Tropez. Read: It’s the perfect spot to get elegantly wasted poolside.
Where to eat + drink in Uluwatu:
Rock Bar at the Ayana resort Bali reigns as “the best bar in Bali”, The Rock Bar is a bar unlike any other. Candle-lit tables, comfy lounges, signature cocktails, and a backdrop of waves crashing, and splashing, around you as you watch the sun set the sky on fire.
Seeing a sunset at Single Fin is a MUST on any trip to Bali. It’s beautiful for sunset and dinner any day of the week, but if you’re looking for the best party in Bali – Sunday nights at Single Fin are world-famous – pretty much the whole island comes to Single Fin for a late night dance party every Sunday.
Would you like a side of paradise with your smoothie bowl? Kelly’s Warung, a cafe on the best stretch of Bingin Beach in Uluwatu, is the dreamiest place to have a Bali bowl. Their frozen dragonfruit bowl is to-die-for, as are the views and general laid-back Ulu vibes of this place.
Where to stay in Uluwatu:
The Anantara, with it’s picture-perfect setting on the cliffs of Uluwatu overlooking the surf, is such a perfect hotel. Its cascading infinity pools overlook the Indian Ocean, the delicious oceanfront restaurant has some of the best seafood in Bali and its increeeedible spa is the perfect way to relax after a late night at Single Fin. It’s tough to beat this hotel, price and location.
This luxurious cliff-edge resort in Uluwatu is set 150m above the Indian Ocean, affording stunning views and direct access (via funicular) to their private beachfront – Sundays Beach Club – which many people pay to come to just for the day (it’s gorgeous! And has everything from a beach restaurant to activities like paddleboarding and kayaking!).
If you’re looking for a chic villa – this is easily the best place to rent on Bingin Beach. This gorgeous villa perched on the cliffs of Uluwatu is a total dream, I’ve been back 3 times!!!
Where to eat, drink and party in Seminyak:
Fiesta vibes in Bali? Yes please. This spacious restaurant is my favorite spot for a group dinner in Bali. It has gooooorgeous colorful decor, delicious mexican food, to-die-for margaritas and lively mexican music on weekend nights. If you’re looking for a quiet dinner in Seminyak, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for Cabo-meets-Bali, welcome to your new favorite spot.
If going out all night in one of Bali’s trendiest clubs is what you’re after, La Favela is your spot. This beautiful four-floor, Brazilian-themed indoor/outdoor club starts to get good around 11pm and the dancing doesn’t stop until 5am. It’s always a good time.
Sea Circus Bali
The most colorful brunch spot in all of Bali!
Shelter & Nalu Bowls
Shelter is an adorable cafe connected to my favorite smoothie bowl shop in all of Bali… Making it the absolute perfect place to start your day, or work from all day. Nalu bowls invented the smoothie bowl game, and they are the best smoothie bowls in Bali. They were the first on the scene and their delicious bowls use fresh Bali ingredients and homemade granola that they bake every day (and for all you that are traveling southeast asia with a nut allergy like me- it’s completely nut free!). Nalu now has locations in Seminyak, Kuta, Canggu, Uluwatu and Berawa, so you can pretty much get them anywhere you go in Bali, but I love the breezy Seminyak Shelter rooftop garden location.
This is my go-to date night restaurant in Bali. Da Maria has Bali’s BEST Italian food. The delicious pizzas, homemade pastas, amazing apps (YES…. BURRATA IN BALI!!!) and amazing wine list make this such a perfect modern italian restaurant in Seminyak.
Boss Man’s Burgers
My fave burgers (or late night) in Bali. BO$$ MAN is SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. Their burgers are handmade made with the best ingredients in house from 60-day dry-aged chuck steaks, premium quality pork cooked low and slow over 18 hours until juicy and tender, as well as 100% homemade sauces. This place is seriously to-die-for. My go to is the Kim ‘Chi’ Un and the Loaded Fries.
Potato Head Beach Club
Potato Head’s beachfront bar and 500-square meter emerald lawn leads to a gooorgeous infinity pool right on the beach, making it the perfect spot for a sunset drink. The beach club is all housed inside a state-of-the-art amphitheater, with a giant lawn that often hosts festivals, concerts, and more.
La Plancha Beach bar
If you’re into a casual, no-frills sunset sesh on colorful beanbags, La Plancha is your spot.
Where to stay in Seminyak:
The Legian is laid-back Balinese luxury at its finest. The Legian features three tiers of infinity pools looking over Seminyak’s white sand beach, unparalleled 5-star service, and stunning, traditional Balinese decor. It’s one of my very favorite places to stay in Bali!
This beautiful hotel is located a few blocks from the beach, right next to Sea Circus Bali and just down the street from Motel Mexicola. It’s charming colonial architecture and chic poolside make it an ideal spot to base for a few days in Seminyak.
If a private villa is more your style, Sahana Villas feature gorgeous pool villas right in the middle of hip-and-happening Seminyak.
Having a private villa in busy and bustling Seminyak is a perfect way to enjoy Bali. Check out Bali Villa Escapes to search all kinds of luxury Seminyak villas – all with their own private pool!
What to do in Seminyak:
Get the best Massage of your life at Jari Menari
Jari Menari, which translates to “Dancing Fingers”, has won so many awards and accolades for their world-renowned massage technique, and you can only get the experience at their spa in Seminyak. Jari Menari’s all-male staff is trained in unique rhythmic, long-flowing strokes with firm and consistent pressure and their massages are unlike anything else in the world! My favorite treatment is the “4 Hands Massage” – two gifted practitioners working together in harmony! With their life-changing massage technique and valuable spa prices, you’ll want to go to Jari Menari every day of your vacation in Bali!
Shop at Bali Boat Shed
The cutest clothing boutique in Bali, Bali Boat Shed has pretty islandey prints and adorable swimwear. Just try to go in and not walk out with a full bag of Bali goodies.
*SPONSORED* For an afternoon away from the crowd along the beaches, head to Waterbom Bali. Considered one of the best and cleanest water parks in the world, Waterbom Bali is a great family activity if you’re traveling with kids to Bali! The park features private gazebos, rides, lazy rivers, and lots of waterslides! You can also get a Bali massage by their onsite masseuses, which we know if you’re traveling with kids you’re going to need 🙂
Where to eat + drink in Canggu:
The Lawn is one of my favorite places in Bali to watch the sun set! Go to the Lawn on Friday Nights for sunset and stay for their 7-10pm 2-for-1 drink specials. It’s LA-meets-Bali and it’s a vibe.
Bali’s newest beach club in Canggu is sunset heaven and instagram candy. It’s a vintage-inspired beach club that feels a little like boarding a pirate ship to Neverland. With views of rolling waves and surfers shredding into the sunset, there’s no better place to go in Canggu.
Canggu’s staple beachfront bar has live and international band & DJs every night in the week. It’s fun every night, but Wednesday’s are their biggest nights of the week.
La Laguna is a hip secluded beachfront sunset bar and restaurant with rustic-chic, gypsy-inspired decor. It’s my favorite spot to grab a frozen strawberry margarita and order some bomb apps with friends.
This cute, vibrant vegan cafe is technically in Berawa (very close to Canggu) but it’s worth the trek – especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan visiting Bali! I absolutely love their smoothie bowls and their dinner options as well! PRO TIP: save some room because right next door is Secret Spot Frozen Yogurt (also vegan and dairy free!).
Ji Restaurant at Hotel Tugu
One of my favorite places for a fun group dinner in Bali! Hotel Tugu is an awesome place to stay if you’re in Canggu, or just go to their restaurant and order some sushi and some coco sexos before heading to Old Man’s or the Lawn!
This place is AMAZING. A must-do in Canggu. It’s a big, bright space and is ALWAYS packed with all of Canggu’s trendiest insta-models and surfers. Order the brekky burrito and a juice. So good.
Where to Stay in Canggu
If you’re looking for the best deal in the best location in Canggu – it’s the brand new super-chic Canggu Village. This place is the perfect combo of being affordable, but has nice rooms, A/C, free breakfast & GREAT food (get their avo toast in the morning!), and an awesome pool area (it even has a waterslide!)
The hotel is also connected to Kos one hostel, too, if that’s more your vibe. The central pool area is called Alternative Beach and is a super fun, open to the public beach area that becomes a buzzing gathering for digital nomads and 20-somethings day and night. It’s not too loud though by the rooms, if it’s not your scene – usually the music shuts off by 9pm on nights.
All in all I loved the price, the location, the vibe, the crowd, and the FOOD the most about this place. It’s a perfect place to base from while exploring Canggu – and definitely a great spot if you’re looking for a longer stay or are a solo traveler wanting to meet people!
This chic boutique hotel in Canggu just opened last year and is one of my favorite spots for a vacation in Bali. There’s a beautiful lagoon, a chic beach club, a ultra-zen Bali spa, and stunning seaside views. The hotel is also collaborated with TropicSurf, so guests can take surf lessons!!
If you’re traveling with a big group to Bali and looking for the ultimate place to stay – Villa Melissa is IT. With 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, a to-die-for beachfront location, and a double-layered infinity pool, Villa Melissa is the epitome of luxe. 3 of its 5 luxurious en-suite bedrooms overlook the ocean, and the whole villa is decorated in a blend of contemporary and antique Balinese furniture, making you feel at home and on vacation all at once.
You can get $100 off on all The Luxe Nomad’s villas, including Villa Melissa, with code JETSETWITHTLN, valid until March 15, 2020!
Nusa Lembongan island is located a quick 45 minute boat ride from Sanur and offers beautiful beaches, gorgeous views of the Mount Agung volcano, snorkeling with manta rays, and a seemingly undiscovered laid-back island that feels like Bali 30 years ago.
Where to Stay on Nusa Lembongan
353 Degrees North, Nusa Lembongan
With views of the ocean and the volcano, 353 Degrees North is a stunning clifftop villa in Nusa Lembongan, and is one of my very favorite places I’ve stayed in Bali. It is secluded, quiet, tucked away, and a wonderful choice for a honeymoon. You can read more about my experience there in this blog post on Nusa Lembongan.
Just a five-minute walk from the beach in arguably the best location in all of Nusa Lembongan, these villas may just have the best views in all of Bali, and make for a perfect honeymoon oasis.
Located only a 10 minute boat ride away from Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida is such a fun Bali adventure. The roads are rough, the town is sleepy, and the whole island feels unfound. Even its most famous beaches and viewpoints are accessed only by climbing through steeeeeep hillsides and crazy rocks. Nusa Penida is everything your adventurous deserted island dreams are made of & definitely a must-see in Bali!
Broken Beach This was our first stop in Nusa Penida and our minds were immediately blown. It is even more beautiful in person than you could ever imagine.
Angels Billabong Located in the same area as broken beach, you can climb down the rocks to a beautiful natural infinity pool to cool off after hiking around the island all day. It’s surreal and so, so beautiful.
Kelingking Beach This instagram-famous viewpoint is famous for it’s stunning sweeping views of the rugged coast of Nusa Penida. The hike down to the viewpoint, however, is definitely not for the weary or anyone afraid of heights! This was a tough trek, but well worth it for the best coastal views in Indonesia.
Crystal Bay Named for its crystal-clear waters, Crystal Bay is a calm diver’s paradise and a pretty beach. A great stop in Nusa Penida. You can get there by land or by boat.
The Gili Islands
Floating off of the coast of Bali are three tiny islands adorned with white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise water, swaying palms, horse-drawn carraiges (yup, there are no cars or motorbikes!), and UNBALI-EVABLE sunsets. With a very relaxing sunny island atmosphere combining with a very lively party scene, the Gili Islands are the perfect paradise blend of buzz and bliss, and are a must-do if you have enough time to explore!
Gili Meno – Only 2km long and 1km wide, Gili Meno is arguably the most peaceful and remote of the islands. Home to far fewer accomodations and restaurants, this island is most popular among those looking for a very remote escape.
Gili Air – If a quiet bungalow, a chill beach bar, and remote relaxation is what you’re after, Gili Air is the island for you. It’s known as the more laid-back Gili island and is a haven for ex-pats, honeymooners and those wishing for a contrast to Gili T’s wild reputation. My favorite place to stay is Mowie’s on the Beach.
Gili Trawangan – Often dubbed “Gili T”, Gili Trawangan has some of the best partying in Bali, giving the island a Spring Break feel all year-round. With plenty of hotels and resorts, countless beach bars and delicious seafood shacks, this island is the most hopping of the three– paradise for sun-seekers looking for a good time.
What to do on the Gili Islands
Where to Stay on Gili Trawangan
I stayed at Hotel Ombak Sunset on Gili T and it is a simple and wonderful relaxed island resort. From the huge pool (complete with amazing pillow floaties that made it hard to ever leave the hotel), to the amazing beach seafood buffets, to, of course, the famous sunset swings on the beach outside, this hotel is great for families, couples or groups of friends. The service was fabulous as well, with every member of the staff knowing us by name and saying hello at every corner. ( Hotel Ombak Sunset, Gili Trawangan )
Where to stay on Gili Air
By far and away the best place to stay on Gili Air’s paradise island. Each villa is 2 stories and gorgeous, and a 2 minute walk from the beach.
Where to eat and watch the sunset on Gili Air
How to get around Bali & how to hire a driver in Bali
The main modes of transportation in Bali are cars and motorbikes. While I’m way too scared to drive a motorbike on the windy Bali roads (but will gladly ride on the back of @KennyHaisfield‘s!), a ton of people do and love it when they’re visiting Bali. If you have luggage or a big group, however, it’s essential you have a driver to get around! (Especially if you’re trying to see Ubud, Uluwatu, Canggu, the Gilis, and more all in one trip!) You can book a driver ahead of time, for a super affordable rate here, or organize one while in Bali through your hotel.
Check out my full post on What to Pack for Bali here, but I’ll summarize the key things:
Medicines & vitamins
- Mosquito-repellant spray ( I like using Repel – it’s super-strength!)
- Any medicine you take in original packaging
- Any vitamins you take in original packaging
- Activated charcoal (I love bringing activated charcoal to Bali to help fight against “Bali Belly” & any indigestion/stomach issues that come up while traveling! This is the brand that I always buy, I’ll take a pill anytime my stomach isn’t feeling 100% and it instantly makes it feel so much better)
- Melatonin! I always travel with melatonin gummies to fight jet lag. I’ll take them to sleep on the plane and then to adjust to the new time zone once I’m in Bali.
If you’re coming from the US, you’ll need a power converter and adapter! I like this one by Travel Smart by Conair because it also works for all my hair tools, and is a power converter and wattage adapter in one… and it comes with plugs for use all over the world!
Lots of swimwear!
You’ll be surfing, beaching, sunset lounging, and taking lots of instagrams. Such a perfect excuse for grabbing a bikini for each day of the trip! Here are some of my favorites:
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& Check out my other posts on Bali!