#gtcotravels – Bali

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Image from The Jakarta Post

It’s time for sun, sand, and strawberry margaritas! Our first ever #gtcotravels blog post features the beautiful island of Bali! Yes, Bali may seem to be overcrowded and too commercialised due to the influx of tourism over the years, but this little gem of an island still boasts of a thriving yoga scene, a growing community of organic and fair trade brands and of course, delicious food and drinks!

Before heading to Bali, it’s best to do some research on which area in Bali you would like to stay in. The island is pretty large with more than 15 cities/villages to explore. More well-known villages to stay in include Ubud, Seminyak, Kuta and more recently, Canggu. Airbnb is a popular option for travellers looking for an “authentic” experience whilst living in Bali.

Alternatively, there’s an endless number of hotels and hostels to choose from in every village. Once your accommodation is settled, the fun begins! Make sure to carve out time to chill at one of Bali’s famous beaches. If you prefer to avoid the massive crowds at Kuta beach, head over to Echo beach or Balangan beach to catch some waves or just get a drink and enjoy the sun.

To get a bunch of instagrammable shots and make your friends jealous, head to Bali Swing. Take gorgeous photos at one of the several jungle swings as you sweep through the air at heights of more than 10m, or take a seat in a nest and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the surrounding jungle. For a more grounded experience, there are tons of cafes in Bali that boast of having both Instagrammable feature walls and the prettiest of food!

For something a little different, why not opt for a beach club hangout? Make a trip down to Tropicola for colourful retro vibes, Finns Beach Club for drinks by the infinity pool, or the ever popular Potato Head Beach Club to see and be seen.

For a rejuvenating experience, head to one of Bali’s many yoga studios. Be fully immersed in the serenity and calmness surrounding you as you perform each pose and enjoy the surrounding peaceful scenery. We love Yoga Barn and Samadi Bali for their stellar views and great yoga instructors.

If you are craving a little shopping spree, head over to the centre of Seminyak for some name brands and smaller boutique labels. If not, Ubud is a great place to source for some crafts and artwork to take home. Bali also has a growing number of homeware shops that carry locally made products or feature local artisans. Make a trip down to Kim Soo for stylish decorative pieces with a bohemian vibe, or Natural Concept for a curation of pieces made from organic materials. Feeling tired after shopping? Drop by any spa/massage parlour for a traditional Balinese massage.

And lastly, don’t leave Bali without trying all the local foods. Eat to your hearts content at roadside Warungs hawking everything from nasi goreng to babi guling and bebek betutu. If you have the chance, spend some time in a café, watching the world go by over a nice cup of tea and snacks.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some dining/chill spots in Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu and Ubud we love:

Kuta

Kuta is well known as surfer’s paradise, often the first place tourists head to once they touch down. It’s famous beach and nightlife have been over-commercialised due to over tourism. But, fret not, there are still several places to enjoy in Kuta.

Milk Espresso

Image of Milk Espresso by @wanderlustblog

A great place for good coffee, brunch and café vibes. Their coffee is sourced from local institution – Expat. Roasters. Other than serving up delectable Instagrammable dishes, Milk Espresso also features a Swedish Spa! Be sure to grab a cuppa before your spa session and refuel with a great selection of salads, mains and desserts after.

Babi Guling Pak Malen

Image from The Bali Bible

No trip to Bali is complete without trying Babi Guling. Arguably the most famous dish served on the island, and also the most competitive. Walk along the streets and you will see every other Warung sells the “best babi guling” in Bali. Though there are several famous purveyors of Babi Guling, we really like Pak Malen. Servings are small with not a lot of meat, but the crispy cracking skin paired with juicy meat and spicy sambal sure makes up for it.

Sate Babi Bawah Pohon

Image of a staff at Sate Babi Bawah Pohon cooking the satay from Pegi Pegi

Another crowd favourite: pork satay (meat skewers). Originally started as a makeshift roadside stall by one lady, the business has become so popular that it has transformed into a proper stall with seating and a whole crew. Be sure to dip your satay in the famous spicy sambals available as well for a spicy kick!

Seminyak

Arguably the heart of Bali, this village is chockful of both touristy places and hidden gems. There’s a certain something about Seminyak that makes it a charming place to visit despite the hordes of people constantly around you.

Merah Putih

Image from Merah Putih

Inspired by traditional Nasi Padang, in which many small plates are laid out on the table filled with delicious goodies, Merah Putih does a stunning job offering mouth-watering Indonesian cuisine in a restaurant setting.

Barbacoa Restaurant

Image from Barbacoa Restaurant

Situated in a large warehouse complete with high ceilings and mid-western styled interiors, this Mexican restaurant serves up delicious BBQ and charcoal wood-fired meats. Get your meat cravings satisfied with their 8-hour wood fired pork or charcoal grilled black angus sirloin.

Mamasan

Image from Indonesia Expat

Mamsan hits the spot with their popular pho bo – twice cooked beef with rice noodles in a delicious homemade broth. They also offer a selection of Asian inspired dishes from curries to roast duck noodles and Thai stir fried basil chicken. Be sure to pair your main course with a signature cocktail too!

Canggu

Lesser known sibling to sister villages Ubud and Seminyak, Canggu is a small surf village located southwest on Bali island. Think quaint thatched roof huts, kitschy yoga studios and a plethora of organic cafes. It’s definitely a place for those looking for more peace and quiet in Bali, a little known Bohemian getaway.

Shady Shack

Image from Shady Shack

Think colourful fruit smoothies, vegan salads bowls and of course acai bowls. Probably the most popular café in Canggu, a perfect chill-out spot overlooking the rice fields.

Peloton Supershop


Image from Peloton Supershop

A plant-based cafe and artisan bicycle shop in one. Get your daily fix of smoothie bowls, avo toast and salads as you browse their collection of lifestyle items as well.

Nude

Image from @nudeincanggu

If you prefer meat with your meals, Nude is the place to go. Serving up healthy salads alongside hamburgers and poke bowls, this place is one to remember. Plus, their colourful patterned walls make for a great Instagram moment!

Ubud

Well known for being an art village, Ubud is fondly remembered as the cultural heart of Bali. This place is where many craftsmen and artists sell handicrafts, wood carvings, textiles and paintings. This is the best place to take home a little piece of Bali.

Gaya Gelato

Image from Gaya Gelato

Beat the heat in Bali with artisanal gelato made with the freshest ingredients. They don’t believe in using GMO produce or artificial preservatives so you can be rest assured that every scoop is chockful with natural goodness! Think creamy, flavourful scoops of gelato nestled perfectly in a cone or cup.

Bebek Bengil

Image from Bebek Bengil

This place is the institution for Bebek Betutu in Bali. Try their signature Crispy Duck with rice, and have it with their homemade sambal for an extra kick. You will not regret it.

Naughty Nuri’s Warung

Image of Naughty Nuri’s from Hotels.com

Famous for their barbequed pork ribs, featuring its smoky, sticky and tender meat, these are some ribs you will want to save your stomach for. They also serve up a great selection of other main courses made with their homemade sauces too!

So, if you are looking for a short getaway to relax and unwind, Bali’s tropical climate and uber chill vibes hits the nail on the head. There’s nothing better than being able to watch the sunset on a lounge chair with a drink in your hand. Wouldn’t it be cool if that drink was a bottle of ice cold sparkling tea too 😉?