Bali | A Mini Guide
Oh sweet Bali!!! So many of you have asked me to put together our recommendations for Bali, I’ve kept my “Bali” highlight on my Instagram profile, with most places we’ve been to, that are all listed down below. We had the most magical time there, Bali will always have a special place in my heart! I’ll start working on my Lombok guide too..!
If you’re here for the food, you’re in for a treat! Michael and I are real foodies, and we LOVE to explore new places by discovering new cuisines, finding cool spots to eat at, and visit food markets. It’s what we do wherever we go, and oh boy Bali did not disappoint. We had some of the best vegan food here we’ve ever had. This is obviously a short list, and only the places we managed to go to in our 5 or 6 days here. I would highly recommend anyone who’s veggie and vegan to download the app called “Happy Cow” it’s been a blessing wherever we’ve been in the world, finding new spots in the most remote places. From Italy, to Germany, to Indonesia.. so let’s go!
We spent the first 5 days of our trip in the cool surfer town called Canggu, and then moved up in the mountains up to Ubud for 3 days before we took a boat off to Lombok for the following 10 days (more on Lombok soon!)
Betelnut Cafe : This is the first place we went to, on our first morning as we woke up from our LONG journey! I found it via Janni Olsson Deler’s blog and it was a hit, we had turmeric shots, a fresh ice cold coconut (assume that I have one of those at every place we went, and a minimum of two a day..!) and I had a dragon fruit smoothie bowl which was delicious, and actually one of my favourite of the whole trip (maybe because it was the first one!) Michael had a scrambled tofu burrito which was also delicious. We always sat at the top on their terrace, and made friends with their resident doggo!
The Slow : a beautiful boutique hotel, which has a restaurant downstairs. Very cool design! I’ve heard amazing things about the hotel itself too. We only came here post swim for a drink and some snacks though, so I can’t vouch for the rest of the menu. Definitely have the beautiful and refreshing butterfly flower kombucha though!
The Shady Shack : THIS place was definitely one of the highlight of our entire trip! The food was incredible!!! So fresh and tasty. We had two of their buddha bowls, and their green juices which were so so good. I wish we had gone back many times to sample the menu! We did come back one night to grab a piece of cake for dessert which we had with our toes in the pool back at our villa. It’s also beautiful and nestled between the rice fields not too far from our airbnb and central Canggu.
La Baracca : I wouldn’t say this was a highlight, but if you crave some comforting Italian food one night, then this is a good fun spot! Very fun atmostphere - it is actually on the same road as Shady Shack..!
Nude : Very Instagrammable, but as I’ve come to learn, the ones that have gone above and beyond to look cool, often miss substance when it comes to the food! We had breakfast here, and shared smoothie bowls and I must say it was average, good but average. Still a fun spot if you’re down that end of Canggu!
Quince : Opposite Nude a bit further up the street is Quince, which in my opinion is far better! Also attached to the cafe is this amazingly beautiful design/ceramic shop.. I wanted to buy it all! The food here was fresh and amazing.
The Lawn Beach Club : On one of the nights we wanted to have a fun cocktail and watch the sunset! We had tried to go to the La Brisa beach club, but they had an event there and it was packed! Not exactly my kind of crowd but still fun for a drink or three… (also highly overpriced in comparison to Bali prices..!)
Plant Cartel : A fun all plant based new restaurant, it was good but not mind-blowing, I would however recommend the baja tacos!! So delicious!
Nalu Bowls : The branch that EVERYONE told us to go to, and that’s all over Instagram. which quite frankly I was very disappointed with… but perhaps it was just the branch we went to which was the one in Kuta which is below Shelter Cafe. Not generous with their portions, and the produce was not very fresh but I’d love to try the one in Uluwatu which has apparently a killer view over the sea! (Shelter Cafe has an amazing little boutique down below that you go through and it had so many goodies in there!)
Giridhari Vegan & Vegetarian : This was our best “Happy Cow” find of the trip. We were driving back on our scooter to our airbnb from spending the day at Sundays Beach Club and we were so hungry! Happy Cow saved the day. This is literally a shack on the side of the road, but had stellar reviews. I still dream of their crispy tofu with the peanut sauce - it was also incredibly cheap most dishes were £1,50……!
Peloton Supershop : (pictured above) Another MUST go when you’re in Canggu. I’ve known about these guys for so many years, and despite their high Instagram status, the food is as good or better than you’d expect it to be! We LOVED it and was up there with our meal from The Shady Shack as top favourites. We shared the marathon brekky, the AMAZING pancakes and a smoothie bowl as well as the fresh coconut and lime juice, and a trio of amazing superfood shots.
El Passo : We stopped quickly at El Passo on our last day, it’s not vegan but has a bunch of options, and like anywhere you go you can ask to take things out and swap for something plant-based. We had their simple but good nasi campur with no egg but tempeh instead (tip: you can easily veganise all Nasi Campur anywhere!) when we went they were building a bigger terrace with a pool.. so I’m sure if you go there soon it will be ready and amazing to eat and have a dip over the ricefields!
Clear Cafe : A magical jungle oasis hidden away on the side of a busy Ubud street. First you take your shoes off and step through what looks like a door straight from Lord of the Rings. The interior design is a bit tacky (think random colour pairings, fake leather and weird black furniture), I kept dreaming of what I’d do with this place, because the set up is straight out of a movie! We only came here for a snack as we arrived tired and hot from our journey from Canggu, so only had vegan nachos which were SO good and some amazing juices. Wish we had explored more of the menu..! It’s so peaceful in there, I’d happily spend a few hours just staying out of the hustle and bustle of Ubud during the day!
Zest : A real gem. Brand new, I think it opened earlier this year or late last year! It’s a magical spot on top of a hill in what feels like a sacred temple. Very cool place. Some of the most out there and adventurous food we had, all 100% plant-based, so many flavours and crazy ingredients we had never heard of. The chefs there are so creative, and again, we first went for dinner and came back for brunch the next day.. their Nasi Campur was my favourite of the whole trip!
Moksa : Possibly my top one recommendation from Bali. It’s a MUST! They are an incredible restaurant, I would say 90% raw (don’t let that stop you, it’s AMAZING) they have their own permaculture garden, the place is hidden away behind some rice paddies.. We went for lunch and came back for dinner the next day. I’d come back again for lunch, so you can walk around the garden, and have the place to yourself. Also BEST young coconuts! Everything was incredible.
Warung Legong : not in Ubud, but about half an hour away, we went there when we stayed in our last accommodation - our hosts recommended it. It’s a small family run restaurant, with a vegan menu, so friendly, simple delicious food, and SO cheap! definitely ask for the vegan banana pancakes for dessert!!
I booked our accomodations a couple of months before we flew out there, and solely through Airbnb. They have SO many incredible options, and despite having had a look at some boutique hotels, and other fun places I had found through Instagram, not much compared in terms of price/quality.. and staying in Airbnb’s generally meant that it felt more like a home and we met incredible people, who were always there to help, and give recommendations.
Canggu : we stayed in this perfect little private bungalow, on this property that had 4 bungalows in total all around a beautiful garden and dipping pool. The bungalows are traditional wooden Bali houses, but with a modern bathroom at the back. All fitted with Aircon for those first few nights while you’re trying to adjust to the heat!
This is the link to the one we got! It’s called “ Boutique Cottage Deluxe #1 Canggu“ The girl who was running it when we were there was so friendly and gave us so many recommendations! We also rented a scooter from them (they have them parked by the entrance) Scooters are 60K IDR per day which is about £3 - this was the same price wherever we went! Same in Lombok.
This airbnb was situated slightly outside of town, but only a short scooter ride away - in a very quiet (if there weren’t any Hindu coming of age ceremonies!) neighbourhood which was so nice to come back to at the end of the day. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not planning on using scooters (seriously don’t be scared to use scooters, the traffic isn’t really that bad, it’s going to allow you to see SO much more and have a totally different experience than if you have to rely on taxis.. also making it much cheaper. Not once did I feel unsafe, we drove up and down the island, it got intense because of the heat and pollution at times but it was so worth it for the freedom we had!)
Blahbatuh : On our way back from Lombok at the end of our trip, we needed to stay somewhere not far from the fast boat drop off point and the airport. I found this place which was exactly at the half way point. Laurent and his family were incredibly welcoming and accommodating. They helped us find some local markets and restaurants for our 24h stay..! The place is a little bit more aged than the photos make it look, but it was still a wonderful spot to be at!
Funnily enough it was the world surf league Corona Bali Protected competition while were were there..! We missed the actual surfing part, but it was fun to be in the middle of the action.
This was the airbnb we stayed at! It was also only a 35 min drive to Ubud.. which might be useful to some of you!
Ubud : in Ubud, once again we chose to stay a little bit outside of town, further up near the rice paddies. You’ll definitely want to do that. Ubud gets crazy busy during the day, bus loads of tourists which means you want to avoid the centre of town during the day! It gets better in the evenings and early mornings - surprisingly Ubud is often just a one day stop for some tourists and they don’t choose to stay longer. I’d recommend staying 2/3 nights max. It’s enough time to visit a few sites, go to the Monkey Forest and chase some waterfalls..!
This is the Airbnb we stayed at, it’s called “Ganesh Villa 2” and if you search you can also find “Ganesh Villa 1” which was the one opposite us but I believe was smaller and didn’t have the outdoor bathroom! and we loved it! Our room had an outdoor bathroom, open over the forest with a stream down below. It was pure magic, and very private. You share the dipping pool with the people staying in the other room/bungalow opposite, but we never saw them to be honest!
They didn’t have their own scooters to rent so we just walked down the main road towards town and found a nice guy who could rent us a “scoopy” scooter, which I had found out after 5 days of scooter riding in Canggu was one of the most comfortable ones with a larger seat for the passenger… needed for those long drives. (you will have buns of steel though at the end of 2 weeks of scooter riding)
Slight warning, for anyone with blonde hair… do NOT wet your hair in any of the pools, I arrived at Ganesh villas with green hair… which has happened to me once before in the Caribbean (it’s a problem with the copper levels in the pool.. apparently not the chlorine..) I remedied it with lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda rubbed in and kept on for 10/15 min and them shampooed it off and conditioned like crazy..! If this happens to you don’t panic!
This is just a small list of the things we did and loved, but we also had a very chilled holiday and didn’t go out and explore the whole island! It would take weeks to do so. We chose to have a very chilled holiday where we would surf and eat and repeat, and that’s what we did! I had visited Bali 5 years prior which meant I had visited a few of the sites and temples already. Which are a must! But I won’t add them into this list because there are so many and it really depends where you’re staying on the island.
Sundays beach club : This was one of my favourite days last time I was in Bali, and again it didn’t disappoint!! Bali isn’t known for it’s beautiful turquoise blue water beaches.. a lot of beaches are black sand beaches or more surfer beaches. Apart from the ones in the south of the island… one of them being the private beach at Sunday’s beach club!
We drove our scooter from Canggu all the way down, which was an experience in itself! We left at sunrise, which meant we avoided a lot of traffic and arrived at Sundays at around 10AM which is when the tide is at its highest. I’d highly recommend spending the day there, to experience the beach during high and low tide, it transforms the place completely!
You have to pay an entrance fee (I think it was the equivalent of £15-£20 not much more) , which includes money you can redeem on drinks and food once you’re down at the beach. This gets you all the goods, like fluffy towels, cosy sunbeds, snorkels, kayaks, and later on a camp fire with I’ve heard… s’mores.
Something to be mindful is that if you’re vegan, they surprisingly do not cater for anyone choosing to eat plants…. they were not helpful when it came to finding things that we could have from the menu. and even when we did find a few options, some things still came with cream, which is a shame because this place has it all, and Bali is SO plant forward, everywhere has so many vegan options, so this came as a surprise to us from such a popular spot, but this place is all about the location, not the food. I just drunk a whole lot of young coconuts..!
Shops : When you’re in Canggu, you’ll be spoiled for choice with amazing Balinese and Aussie brands to shop from, my two absolute favourite are Yoli & Otis (did you see my last post about it?) & Indigo Luna (I got a really nice linen playsuit from them!)
Monkey Forest : we are obviously against any zoos or any place that keeps animals in cages against their will, but the monkey forest is a spot in the middle of Ubud where a few families of monkeys live. They are looked after, and fed in that spot, but they are free to go wherever they go. I don’t know the whole story, and I’m not 100% sure they are completely ethical, but our experience was positive and I’d let you call the shots on that one!!
Waterfalls : there are SO many to go to.. Bali is full of amazing fresh water waterfalls deep in it's beautiful rainforest. We personally went to Tibumana (first photo on this post!) and then KantoLampo. I’d recommend going there as early as you can, look it up but most of them open up at 6 or 7AM. We were one of the first at Tibumana and that was magical and allowed us to get some cool shots too!! Kanto Lampo was next and much more busy by the time we arrived.
A few other on our list were : Tegenungan, Pengempu, Leke Leke, NungNung, Banyumala Twin waterfall. A lot of those were too far away from Ubud for us to go with our scooter and for it to be worth the day trip, but promise me you’ll go to at least ONE waterfall while you’re there..! Remember to wear non-toxic sunscreen (important to protect the coral but also fresh water wildflife)
Markets : there are so many amazing food markets, art markets, sculpture markets.. any kind of market you want! We went to Sukawati market, and then the Bali Art market. We got so many beautiful wooden pieces, and some beautiful presents for friends and family back home. We also went through the food market which was an experience in itself! Definitely recommend to get a real taste of Bali. There are many many markets though, especially around Ubud if you’re interested in Art and furniture. Check out the ones in your area!
Ahhh Bali! What a dream you are! We are already planning to go back in a few years, perhaps when we have a baby as our sidekick - we saw SO many families out there, with babies and toddlers driving around on scooters, beach hopping and having the best time. It inspired us to do the same..! The balinese are obsessed with babies, and are the friendliest!! It will always hold a special place in our hearts and will for sure be somewhere we will come back to in our lifetime. If you go to any of these places after reading this, please let me know! Would love to hear about your experience.