Something you'll "matur suksma" me for...
Say hello to my first post in this new year! Well, how's the first month of the year been to you so far? If you couldn't already tell from the main image of this post, it's been wonderful to me. Because after more than 10 years, I finally got the chance to be back to Bali! Basically it's a five-day escape with 15 destinations and countless hours of photo-taking on every Instagrammable corner. Me and some friends from high school absolutely had all the joy and fun.
However, besides sharing some (awesome) photos and stories here, I think it might be very thoughtful to also sum up the trip with some tips and suggestions about traveling to Bali. I know that there's already a sea of Bali travel guide posts out there, but maybe this post can save you hours of planning or Googling about where to go. All the places and activities mentioned here are exactly straight outta the ultimate itinerary made by my close friend Ayu, apparently one of the travel itinerary and organizer masters out there. And without further a do, please roll the drum...
How to Explore
There are lots of local and international airlines that provide flights to Denpasar, Bali. But we got a great deal by flying with AirAsia. Thanks to its newsletter promo, we got our round-trip Jakarta-Denpasar tickets AND a one-night stay at Seminyak Townhouse for only Rp 1,3k per person! In my experience, low-cost airlines like AirAsia, TigerAir/Scoot, and Jetstar often have the best deals for flights to Denpasar. For local airlines, opt for Citylink (Garuda Indonesia) or Sriwijaya Air.
To get around Bali, it’s recommended to rent a car or motorbike—by all means whichever one that suits your need—as it’s the most affordable option. We rented a car and a driver for our whole trip in Bali for around Rp 500k per person, and all we had to do was just telling the driver where we wanted to go. Since our driver is Balinese, he often gave us recommendations on where to go, what to do, and where to eat. You can use app-based transportation like Grab and GO-JEK, but those ride-hailing apps were mostly banned by customary law in some areas (Seminyak, Ubud).
Where to Go
Tegenungan Waterfall. Since it's raining prior to my arrival, the waterfall apparently became all brown and definitely didn't look pleasing to the eyes. And a lot of steps to hike down and up to reach the spot made it to be not really worth our time (and long trip!). The steps would give those who physically challenged a hard time. However, I hope next time I could get the chance to visit this place again. With clearer sky and waterfall, of course.
Penglipuran Village (Desa Penglipuran). This little village in East Bali is best known for its beautiful traditional Bali village layout. The stone road is very clean and paved beautifully, with manicured gardens on the outer side of the road. I also admire its architecture, with all the arched entrance gates and walls that somehow hide the local houses within. And not far away from there is the Penglipuran Bamboo Forest, where huge thick bamboo trees act like a natural canopy and shield the roads from direct sunlight, making the area feels so peaceful, calm, and cool.
Wanagiri Peak. Wanagiri is a newly-hyped destination in Bali, claimed as one of those Insta-worthy places. But the rain and the thick fog made it impossible for us to get down to the waterfall, or even try to get on the famous swing.
Motel Mexicola. It's around 11pm when we arrived and the place was already turned into a party scene, with people dancing on the tables and some 80's, 90's, and even 00's songs playing. We spent the rest of the night here dancing and singing, and our night in Motel Mexicola just becomes the big highlight of my trip to Bali! I had the greatest time there thanks to the vibrant ambiance and the music! Will do visit this place again if I have the chance to be back in Bali.
Melasti Beach. This rather unspoiled beach is one of the hidden gems in Bali. It's still clean and not crowded with people, so you better pay a visit ASAP before it gets famous. The rock cliffs and white sand make everything Insta-worthy here. My friends and I weren't really exploring the beach area much, but I can tell that an hour isn't enough.
Berawa Beach. A good place to surf (lots of professional surfer can be found here), but when it comes to cleanliness... nah. It has dark ashy sand, though. The beach area is mostly dominated by the Finn's Beach Club, so it's definitely busier than the Melasti Beach. However, I have a fine day here up until a sudden rainstorm hit. Complete chaos followed. Overall, it's a nice place to chill out, especially to find and play with beach dogs!
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple + Bali Handara Golf & Country Club. Driving down from the Wanagiri Peak, you'll find the golf club just before you reach the temple. The huge arch gate of the golf club will win Instagram, trust me. Too bad it’s raining quite heavily at the time we arrived, so no pictures. But the rain calmed down when we got to the gorgeous temple.
Where to Eat
Warung Cahaya. Up until now, I'm still dreaming of its fried pork with raw chilli and rice (nasi putih babi goreng sambal matah). Warung Cahaya isn't really crowded on weekdays. But its sambal matah is definitely not for the faint-hearted, so you will need extra space to sweat everything off! And, please, do not leave Bali without a visit to this little restaurant.
Seniman Coffee Studio. Ordered a cup of latte and loved it. The place has a nice quiet ambiance and all things are served aesthetically. I'm not really a coffee expert, but Seniman Coffee Studio has been bragged as one of the best coffee shops in Bali. They even have classes for barista and other coffee-related workshops! However, my friends and I went here because we were planning to have lunch at Cafe Pomegranate, Ubud, but rain changed our mind.
Pork Cottage Mrs. Agus (Pondok Genyol Bu Agus). For nasi babi fans out there, this place is a must. More familiar with the name "Be Genyol Bu Agus", the eatery is recommended by locals. Its nasi babi is tasty and cheap (only Rp 20k or $1.4 for the complete menu, drink not included). If you're a spicy food lover, this could be da one!
Roti Canai Street Kitchen. This is an accidental discovery. We actually planned to visit Pablo's on the upper floor, but suddenly we thought the roti canai looks yum. Turned out we’re right! The roti is tasty and freshly made, with reasonable price. The place is also a very cozy place to hang out.
Titik Temu Coffee. Checking out the place just to see what's the hype with it. The drink is just average and quite affordable. But the ambiance is great and the place is very photogenic. Photography-wise, the place is one of those hidden gems in Seminyak. However, the coffee shop is rather muggy at day, so it's best to come in the morning, brunch time, or in the evening.
Nook. This is like a hidden paradise. Great food with wonderful paddy fields view. Nook offers various menu of Western and Balinese dishes: all of them are recommended to try! The restaurant is often crowded, but the service's satisfying. It's a perfect place to hang out and spend hours chatting with friends, or take insta-worthy photos inside the rustic decorated restaurant. The fresh air and the panoramic view literally give a nice ambiance.
Cabina Bali. A cafe and pool bar with great relaxing ambiance in Canggu. It's tropical-themed and every corner of it is so Instagrammable. They have great food too (Rp 100k minimum purchase per person if you bring a camera)! Try the signature smoothies: Mango Tango and Ba-Na Na-Na Na are my faves.
Where to Shop
We went to Krisna on our first day in Bali, right after arriving at Ngurah Rai Airport, Denpasar. To be honest, shopping for souvenirs on the first day of holiday isn't typically me. But, this is a total exception. Buying souvenirs on holiday had always been a big job for me, until I found this place. Krisna is literally the place where all the holiday souvenirs in affordable price gather. No hassle and haggle needed. Recommended to visit the biggest outlet in Sunset Road, Kuta. Really great for a good hour shopping and be done with everything. On the third day, our days mostly spent at a friend's wedding party (who is a total babe for sponsoring our stay in Bali!). So after the morning wedding ceremony, we decided to spend the day doing a little more shopping. Well, turns out we got some long lists of things to buy in our hands. Erlangga 2 is much like Krisna, but not as big as Krisna, I must say. However, Erlangga also offers souvenirs in affordable price.
Where to Stay
During my stay in Bali, there were two accomodations that became my home away from home. For the first day, my friends and I picked Seminyak Townhouse as it was the closest to most popular restaurants, attractions, and entertainment in Seminyak. It's a good value, with very spacious rooms and great view of the outdoor pool (which looks so picturesque with a garden) from the living room. The private bathrooms weren't really as clean as expected, but overall the lodge's okay for a two-star hotel. Legian Sunset Residence is rather looked small, but the room is satisfyingly big. It's a condo hotel, complete with small kitchen, desk, and flat-screen TV. The only problems are the bathroom (only one for four beds?) and Wi-Fi connection. However, the service was great and the staffs were friendly and helpful in many ways. Overall, it's satisfying to stay here!