For last years secret santa, I was lucky enough to receive a backpack, travel towel and a Lonely Planet guide to South East Asia. All before I had even handed in my notice….
With all the gear and no ticket, I had no choice but to pack in London life to channel my inner gypsy in search of Nemo.
A year later, I have travelled Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, visited San Sebastian, Biarritz and spent the rest of my summer living between Nice and Hossegor in the South of France. Not to mention all the amazing people I have met along the way, I think it’s safe to say, I have no regrets and the next stop on my bucket list is Sri Lanka.
As excited as I am to explore a new place, I thought I would share a place close to my heart, Bali.
I loved Indonesia on the whole but had a particular affliction with Bali. The intricate temples, colour and crystal clear waters that surround it are appealing enough, but the people really make it something special.
Bali is mostly Hindu which adds to it’s charm as there are colourful offerings scattered across the place adding to the magic.
With just a 30 day visa, I spent 2 weeks in Bali, returning for a further week in my last week of travels.
There is so much more to Bali, I’m definitely going to take a longer stint here to explore but here are a few of my favourite things to see, eat, drink and do if your visiting or backpacking in Bali.
One of the best hostels I have stayed in, dorm rooms and private rooms available. This was a central hub for my stay in Bali and I met some amazing travel buddies here. The staff are incredible and so attentive. Aside the modern aesthetics and delicious cocktails served up by DeeDee, they organise trips, taxis and generally assist with everything you might need. So ideal when backpacking as a solo traveller.
Whilst staying in Seminyak, I met the loveliest travel companion and friend who introduced me to this place. I would recommend the Bumbu Rujak Chicken... it’s literally out of this world.
Not typical balinese cuisine but SO delicious. A little mix of East meets West and also just around the corner from Potato Head, so you could sneak off for a cheaper bite to eat!
If your not drinking Dee Dee’s infamous cocktails at Capsule Hostel, you could also visit;
OK, so it’s not entirely backpacker friendly but sipping cocktails in a pool with a water bar and a view of the beach… I mean, seriously. If your on a real budget I recommend the ‘nursing a drink’ method. You can also leave your stuff poolside in a basket and hide in the pool.
This was a highlight from my time in Bali, learning a little more about the culture of Balinese families and food. Bagus, our cooking class Chef taught us a wealth of dishes and flavours. See my full blog post on the cooking school here, and if your feeling peckish you can try my recipe for Balinese style chicken skewers here, thanks Bagus!
IN DA LODGE – jalan Raya ubud, kampung sari
I visited Ubud for 2 days and returned for a week on my final stint of Asia travels. In da lodge hostel seemed to be a popular choice, I met a lot of friends I’d met in Seminyak staying there too. The facilities are clean anr relatively basic with some of the rooms built in temple style blocks. The pool looks over a rice field and the breakfast on offer is delicious. Close to the main attractions in Ubud its a great location and perfect to meet other like minded travellers.
I am so glad I was visiting Bali with my dutch friend who alerted me to this place. It’s a charity which has a restaurant serving local Balinese and favoured Dutch cuisine. All proceeds go toward the charity which help with free healthcare and work with youg adults between 15-20 in the hope of earning a job. When I visited, the volunteers playing basketball with younger children with learning difficulties. As well as it being a great cause, the food was delicious. I will thank the Dutch for fries, mayo and satay sauce forever!
Possibly one of the most delicious things I ate in Bali, due to the Hindu religion, pork is allowed on the menu. I was lucky enough to have a lovely taxi driver from the airport take me here, the restaurant belongs to one of his family members but is a favoured place for this dish in Ubud. This place offers a Balinese favourite with slow roasted pork, sausage and crackling. It’s quite simply delicious and served with rice and a lovely green bean and coconut side. You can only find this is Bali so make sure you add it to the list!
Something about Ubud makes you channel your inner hippy. Of course the night owl in me was in search of a cocktail by night, but basking in the sun I really enjoyed the abundance on healthy food on offer. With the amazing variety of fruit and vegetables on offer in Indonesia, healthy food has never looked so good! This little place was on one of my favourite streets and is the perfect spot to chill and people watch, especially when the rain eventually falls.
I must admit, I didn’t really drink a whole lot in Ubud. Perhaps it’s all the zen wellbeing vibes it dishes out on every corner, however, we had a few drinks at Cafe Havana which were delicious. It has a Cuban style and lovely little porch you can sip a Margarita and watch the world go by.
Being a creative little thing, I was super excited when my friend recommended a silver making course. Sadly the course she recommended was full but I managed to find this place. As I just turned 27 I thought this would be an ideal gift to myself. The course was just for half a day and around £20 so a complete bargain. To this day I have my silver ring on my finger with no signs of wear. You can design either a ring, necklace or earings with a choice of gem stones. The staff help you in creating your design, it’s good to have some idea before hand. Here are the labours of my hard work, a sort of feathery, lotus flower look…..
Before you rule this out because you love the deliciousness that is meat ( sorry vegan / veggies) hear me out. I like a bit of balance in my diet, but regardless, this is an awesome cinematic experience where you can cosy yourself up on a sofa and receive a delicious vegan meal at the same time. PLUS, the cost of your ticket is redeemed against food. Perfect. Although my film choice was a little crappy, I had a great time and it was a welcome change to the usual hostel drinking scene I had become accustomed too.
I’m sure most people will tell you to visit the Monkey Forest, and by all means do. But if you want to hold on to your belongings and gain some for friends and family, use your time to shop in the markets. It’s filled with beautiful crafted kitchen and homewares and fabrics as well as some cheap and cheerful clothes. Initial prices are pretty cheap anyway but if your on a real budget and need to think of the pennies, my top tip is to go around 5pm when the market is near closing as you can be sure to get the best price.
Scattered across Bali, it’s hard to miss the beautiful temples. Ubud in particular has some amazing offerings with a lot of the statues made in Ubud. It’s amazing to see the intricacy that goes into them and scattered with colourful offerings you don’t need to be spiritual to appreciate the beauty.
I had some friends here so we decided to stay, sadly no room but the staff were great and helped us organise private rooms just next door. We were still able to use all the facilities at Lay Day. The location is a little further from the beach but it has an awesome atmosphere and most people tend to hire scooters to get around Canggu.
There is SO much food to choose from in Canggu, it’s difficult to pin the best places but here are a couple I visited which were delicious!
This was a magical eating experience with little bunnies running around! Heaven…I ended up eating here 3 times! The food was delicious and it’s super tranquil. location is a litter further from the beach but a walkable distance.
If your looking for a place on the seafront with fresh fish cooked to order and a view of the Surfers, this is great place to go. Obviously a popular choice it was packed when I visited, perks of being a solo traveller is I managed to grab a small table with
Punchy vegan food packed will colour and flavour. There seems to be a lot of Vegan food available in Bali, this particular place was a favourite. Everything is so vibrant, you don’t need to be a Vegan to eat here and enjoy! The Jackfruit tacos were delicious!
I’m pretty sure everyone who visits Canggu will have visited Old Mans. It’s location next to Echo Beach and delicious happy hour cocktails make it a perfect place to go after a day at the beach. Happy hour makes the drinks pretty reasonable even for a backpacker budget.
I never got the chance to eat here but we came for drinks. On the night we came a DJ was playing out the back and the heavens royally opened. Drenched but drunk, it was a really good night. Deus also do custom bikes and boards so it’s definitely worth paying a visit.
When I visited Canggu, I time it well. Some family friends were in the area so we went to Black Shores for the launch of their app in Bali, Jam Jar. Serving tasty tipples, the bar man has some delicious cocktails on the menu… definitely worth a visit.
Echo beach is famous for surf, although not for the faint hearted. I wouldn’t say this is beginner friendly so if your a serving novice like me, sit back with a cocktail on one of the many beach bars and watch instead!
There are loads of gorgeous shops in Canggu, although not particularly back packer friendly in terms of prices there is so much beautiful stuff to drape yourself in. I was super chuffed to find a Shakuhachi, one my favourite brands which hasn’t yet made it to the UK.