Bali has been on my bucket list for more years than I can remember. It has been on all of my vision boards and if there is a YouTube video out there about Bali, I've watched it. I was obsessed with this country before ever going there or knowing anything about it. All I knew was that I needed to go. So when the opportunity of a confidence and wellness retreat came up (that happened to be in Bali) I knew this was the Universe nudging me to go. Before my brain could talk me out of it I jumped at the opportunity and said yes to the solo trip of a lifetime.
I am beyond in love with this magical island and it has changed me forever. I cannot wait to go back soon as I have honestly never felt so myself, anywhere else in the world. If you also have a soul-pull for beautiful Bali then I hope this guide can be of help to you when deciding what to do and where to go when you're there.
I live in the UK so it was a fair old journey from door to door. I flew out from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur (about 12.5 hours) and then had a 5 hour wait in Kuala Lumpur Airport (this wasn't fun but you've gotta do what you've gotta do, right?!). From KL to Bali it was a short 3 hour flight, which was welcomed after the previous long haul flight and tedious stop over. I landed in Denpasar International Airport (Ngurah Rai International Airport) at around 3.30pm (Bali time) and didn't actually get out of the airport until gone 5pm. This was due to the extremely long queue to get through passport control, luckily the wait for my luggage wasn't too bad. I arranged for a driver to pick me up from the airport as I had read (prior to going) that the airport taxis will most likely over charge you and to be honest I just didn't want to be dealing with the hassle of trying to get a taxi at a decent price after almost 24 hours travelling. So I would highly recommend pre-booking your airport transfer either through your accommodation or a private driver. I used Your Man In Bali and couldn't recommend him more. From the airport to Canggu, where I was staying is only a 20km drive which should take 50 mins maximum, but due to Bali traffic (which I speak about later in this blog) it took 90 minutes.
The main way to get around Bali is by scooter/moped. However, as someone that has never ridden a scooter, I decided it was wise I didn't try and learn in Bali. This was a good decision. The roads in Bali are absolutely hectic so be prepared for a lot of traffic, wherever you are heading. This is the reason most of the locals (and a lot of tourists/expats) use scooters to get around as they can whizz in between all the traffic. However, personally I stuck to taxis for short trips and a private driver for day trips and airport transfer.
As mentioned above I used a driver called Putu who runs Your Man In Bali. Putu was recommended to me by someone I follow on Instagram and I am so glad I went with him! When Putu wasn't able to pick me up from the airport himself, he organised another of his staff to meet me which saved me the stress of finding someone else! I went on 2 day trips to explore waterfalls, temples and rice terraces and hired Putu for the day (8 hours) each time. It was 600,000 IDR for the day with him (which is roughly £30), however, on the second day I paid him a little more to show my appreciation for his time and he was extremely grateful. Putu was amazing because of his local knowledge (he knew the best places to take me) and also his friendliness and openness about the culture (he answered my 21 questions as I love learning about new cultures). A lot of the time because I was travelling solo, he not only drove me to each location but also came with me and took lots of photos for me which was amazing.
In most areas you will see signs that say 'please do not use online taxis'. This means they don't like you using Blue Bird Taxi (their version of Uber) as opposed to the local taxi service. The reason for this is because the 'online taxis' are cheaper. Although, you are not supposed to use the online taxis, most people still do and you will see them driving up and down the streets. Before you get in any taxi (local or Blue Bird) always ask them to put the metre on otherwise you will end up paying too much. You can download the Blue Bird Taxi app so you can order a taxi (like you would Uber) but there are so many taxis driving around you can usually just call one down and hop in.
You will see some people hopping on the back of locals scooters instead of getting a taxi. This does tend to be cheaper however, it wasn't;t something I felt comfortable doing. But at the end of the day it is up to you!
Where To Stay:
I stayed in a few different apartments/hotels/guest houses so I will share all of them.
Bima Sakti Guest House - Canggu
The location of this guesthouse was good and close to restaurants and shops. It was fairly basic but it was fine for the one night (12 hours) I stayed there. The bed was massive and the bathroom was okay although not as clean as I am used to in the UK! Price wise it was very cheap (£21 per night) which was great for my first night in Bali before the retreat began the next day. It did also have a pool however, I wasn't there for long enough to use it!
Villa Tirtidari - just outside Canggu
This was the villa we stayed at for the wellness retreat and it was incredible. The rooms were stunning, the open concept living area was beautiful and the garden and pool was nothing short of bliss. It felt like we were in our own magical oasis inside the villa and it was the perfect space for the retreat.
FRii Bali Echo Beach Hotel - Canggu
This was probably my favourite solo accommodation, perhaps because it was more of the hotel style I was used to. The staff were so friendly and helpful, the room was lovely and super clean and the room I had opened directly out onto the pool which was magical. My room was £41 per night but there were other rooms that were cheaper (that didn't have pool access). The location of this hotel was great as it was just off the main street in Canggu. So easy to get to all the shops and restaurants but not super busy or noisy. I would happily stay there again on my next trip.
Budi House Bungalows - Ubud
This was the only place I stayed in Ubud and I stayed there for 4 nights. The staff were very friendly and the room itself was nice enough. My favourite part was the balcony outside my room where I spent every morning journaling, drinking tea and doing yoga. There is also a pool which was really nice after a hot day of walking around exploring. The bed was absolutely massive (all the beds in Bali seemed to be huge?) and I purposely opted for a room with a mosquito net around it as Ubud is more inland (think jungle vibes) so there are more mosquitos. Again this accommodation was really good value at only £24 per night and in a brilliant location just off the busy main streets.
Canggu Beach Apartments - Canggu
This was very different to the previous rooms I'd stayed in as it was more than just a bedroom. It would be perfect for someone staying longer, as it had a little kitchen and living area which was really nice. This apartment was £49 per night and I could have happily stayed there another few nights. The location was fantastic, and close to all the restaurants and not a long walk to the beach. It did have a pool area which was lovely however there were lots of centipedes around and in the pool, so if you are a wimp like me and don't love bugs that was ideal, but something that can't be helped and wouldn't put me off going back. Check out was at 11am and my flight wasn't until 7pm but luckily they let me chill by the pool and held my luggage for me which as really helpful and a big bonus.
What To Do:
Coconuts at The Lawn
This was probably one of my favourite hang out spots in Canggu as it has all the vibes regardless of what time it is! Head here in the day for a laid back afternoon with a coconut and some lunch, a dip in the pool and some sun bathing. Or go with your girls in the evening for a high vibe energy, sunset drinks and a good dance.
Drinks at Old Man's
Great vibe and right next to the beach. They also do food so why not make an evening of it and watch the sunset from here!
Watch a sunset on the beach
This might sound obvious, but it is a must. The sunsets I saw in Bali were some of the most beautiful I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot!).
Workout at Motion Fitness
We did a workout here on the first day of the retreat I was on and man oh man it was tough but so awesome! It was a HIIT and abs class that wiped me out but I felt so awesome afterwards. The studio is really cool and the staff are so friendly. If working out is on your list of things to do in Canggu then highly recommend checking this place out.
I knew Ubud was well known for it's market but I didn't realise there was one in Canggu. It is slightly hidden just off the main road of Batu Balong, not far from Cafe Organic. It is inside and there are loads of stalls selling everything from jewellery to bags to homeware. I found the people a little pushy but if you are up for bartering to grab a bargain then this is well worth checking out.
So I did 2 day trips around Ubud as this is the more traditional area of Bali. I visited temples and waterfalls and hiked up an active volcano.
Day trip 1:
I visited Tegelalang Rice Terraces, Tegalalang Swing and Tubumana Waterfall all on the same day and it made a good combo.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
I had seen so many photos of the infamous rice terraces on social media before heading to Bali and needless to say I wasn't disappointed. Although i was surprised by the location (directly off the main road), these rice terraces were absolutely picturesque and the vibrant greens of the fields and trees is indescribable. Absolutely recommend you head here for a wander around but just be aware it is a bit of a walk especially in the heat and sun so be prepared with water and plenty of suncream and mosquito repellent! There was a small fee of around 15,000 IDR (less than £1) to get in and there was a woman about half way round that insisted we also pay her (it was a minimal amount, maybe 10,000 IDR) although I'm not convinced that was entirely necessary. To my surprise there were several places you could buy a drink as you wandered around including a little cafe with seating overlooking the terraces which was lovely. We did get lost a few times so be sure to stick to the main pathways although they aren't always very clear. I think there is one main entrance to the terraces but there are several exits, so you may not end up coming out the same way you went in!
Just down the road from the rice terraces, this is a beautiful little haven with an added adrenalin rush for anyone that fancies it. I didn't realise prior to going but there are actually a few different options for which swing you can do. There is a solo swing, an extreme swing (I think I did this one), a tandem swing, an air bicycle and a few other options. After you've got your adrenalin hit you can wander down some steps and enjoy the jungle greenery and a few other cool features. On your way back up you can enjoy a hot drink including the famous Luwak Coffee but personally it was far too hot for tea or coffee so we just headed straight back to the car!
This waterfall was beautiful. It is a less well known waterfall which was great because it wasn't as busy so I was able to enjoy a little swim in peace and get a good photo without having to wait too long! There is a small fee of around 15,000 to go down to the waterfall and a bit of a walk but nothing too difficult. If you take your time it only took around 10-15 minutes to get to the fall.
Day trip 2:
I visited Tukad Cepung Waterfall, Tirta Empul Temple and Goa Gajah Temple all on the same day.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
This waterfall was like no other that I have ever seen before. The waterfall itself was obviously incredible however the thing that took my breath away most was the rays of sunlight shining down between rocks and trees giving it a magical God-like look. I would highly recommend trying to get here on a sunny day so you can experience the sun rays as it is truly magical and of course makes an awesome Instagram photo! My advice when visiting this waterfall is to wear water shoes or flip flops because you will have to walk through water to get to the actual waterfall. I would also recommend changing into your swimwear/clothes you don't mind getting wet at the car before you head down as there is no where to change once you are done at the waterfall. It can be quite busy here so be prepared to wait a little to get the perfect insta shot but I couldn't think of anywhere more amazing to wait so soak up the magic and enjoy. There was a small fee of around 15,000 to go down to the waterfall and a fairly steep hike to get down there but it will only take about 10-15 mins to get down and there are a few little stops along the way where you can buy a drink or have a rest. Going down isn't too bad but back up is another story as the steps are quite steep so just take your time!
Tirta Empul Temple
Also known as the Spring Water Temple, this is where many Balinese locals and tourists go for water blessings. However, I wouldn't recommend having a blessing yourself as the water in Bali isn't safe to drink and some people have been known to contract Ecoli from this temple. So enjoy the ritual from the dry sidelines. The spiritual vibe of this temple is absolutely magical and one I would really encourage you not to miss. The entrance fee was 50,000 IDR and you will be provided with a sarong to cover your legs so you are allowed to enter. I would also ensure that you cover your shoulders out of respect.
Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple)
This is another fascinating temple that is well worth a visit. Again the entrance fee is 50,000 IDR and they lend you a sarong if you need one. There are locals inside that will offer to give you a tour and tell you the history (for a price I would assume) but I was happy just wandering around by myself. There is also a beautiful little waterfall and pond if you venture down some steps.
There are an abundance of beautiful shops and cafes along the main streets of Ubud centre, so I would definitely recommend setting aside a day to leisurely stroll around and take it all in, hopping from cafe to cafe and people watching along the way.
This is a beautifully chaotic experience that you should definitely add to your list. Each stall sells sarongs and bags and jewellery, local art and traditional pieces as well as gorgeous homeware. Be prepared to barter but I promise you will go home with some really amazing things.
A friend I met in Bali recommended that I go along to Yoga Barn and try a Tibetan Bowl Meditation Class and wow. I didn't really know what to expect but it was one of the most relaxing and spiritual experiences of my life. If you are into that kind of thing then highly recommend giving that class a go. If not there are several other amazing classes at Yoga Barn as well as a cafe and lovely little community where you can meet lots of people and just hang out.
Ubud Yoga House
I went to a yoga class here on a Saturday morning with Sabi and it was incredible. The studio is actually a little terrace overlooking the stunning rice fields in a less busy side of Ubud (took about 20 mins to walk from the centre). So if you love yoga (or simply feel like you want to try it in Bali which I would highly recommend) then this is probably the most beautiful place I have ever had the pleasure of practicing.
I actually stumbled across the Ubud Palace by accident after a wander through the markets, but was glad I did. It was really amazing to see all the traditional detailing on the statues and just soak up the energy.
Pura Taman Saraswati
This temple is right in the heart of Ubud and just off the busy Monkey Forest Street (next to a Starbucks which I thought was hilarious). Unfortunately, the day I happened to visit the temple it was closed for tourists but the outside was still beautiful.
Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
Although this was completely unplanned and pretty spontaneous, it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I booked the tour through a company called Voyagin who I would recommend. They picked me up from my hotel at 2am on the morning of the trek, drove us to the base where we would start the hike (this took about 1.5 hours) and whilst we waited in a restaurant area for the other people to arrive they offered us free tea and coffee (too early for me but a nice option). We were split into small groups of 5 plus our tour guide, Made, who spoke excellent English. We began the hike in the pitch black at around 4am and made our way up the volcano not being able to see any of our surroundings other than the small patch of light at our feet from our torches. The hike wasn't too tough but it was still quite humid and warm despite it being so early in the morning so I would say you need a basic level of fitness to do it, but overall not too hard. It took just over 2 hours to get to the top and the hike was more than worth it as we got to see the most beautiful sunrise that no photo could do justice. At the top it was slightly cooler so I recommend taking a jumper/coat as you will get chilly whilst you sit down and eat the breakfast that is provided as part of your trip. The breakfast was very basic and although not very vegan friendly it was welcomed after the trek. There was a banana sandwich, 2 boiled eggs, a banana and a chocolate bar. Made took us round the top of the crater and showed us where steam was escaping from inside the volcano (it is very hot so be careful!). The views from the top were simply stunning and we even saw some monkeys that came out just as we were leaving, no doubt to look for any food that had been dropped or left. Note: the monkeys are cute but do not underestimate them. They are very smart and can be vicious so avoid eye contact and don't point at them. I saw a girl point her finger at one and it showed its teeth and snarled at her before jumping on her back and unzipping her backpack helping itself to her stuff. So just be sensible and get a photo from a distance.
Ulu Cliffhouse is a must if you want a chilled pool day in a beach club/restaurant setting with the most amazing vibe. It is on a cliff overlooking the ocean so an amazing spot for dinner and sunset.
Binging Beach is a beautiful beach at Uluwatu if you fancy a chilled beach day with an amazing view. This beach is a little more hidden and involves a pretty steep walk down, which although is a bit of a challenge it is completely worth it especially as it isn't as crowded.
Where To Eat:
This is where I had dinner on my first evening in Bali as a friend recommended it and it was epic. In the day this restaurant is called the Avocado Factory (you guessed it, serving a menu centred around the amazing Avocado) and in the evening it transforms into BB52Burgers (and yeap you guessed it again, serving up some incredible burgers).
Vibe: pink! (see pics below) very chilled.
Dress code: very casual.
I ordered the veggie pasta with fries and it was good - not many vegan options here but the good vibe makes up for it.
Vibe: very casual.
Dress code: anything from denim shorts and a bikini top to a dress. Very laid back.
I only had some fries here one afternoon but they do have a full menu, although I don't think it's super vegan friendly.
Vibe: Chilled in the day, high vibe at night.
Dress code: Bikini in the day and a little more bougie in the evenings.
(Ahhh this cafe is amazing for vegan food. I went a couple of times and had a big nourish bowl and the veggie burger.
Vibe: Laid back, friendly.
Dress code: Casual
This was an amazing little find on the main road in Canggu. There entire menu is plant based, offering heaps of Mexican options and burgers. I had the tacos and they were amazing!
Vibe: Takeaway vibe but there is more seating upstairs.
Dress code: Super casual.
In The Raw
Perfect for a slightly nicer dining experience. I had the jackfruit curry and it was amazing. Highly recommend.
Vibe: Casual in the daytime but I imagine it was slightly higher end in the evening.
Dress code: Casual to bougie.
This cafe is a little further out so you'll need to get a taxi there, but the food and vibe was well worth it. All plant based meals and amazing drinks. I had a veggie burger with fries and salad and a dragonfruit lemonade.
Vibe: Chill, perfect for digital nomads.
Dress code: casual.
Kynd Community Cafe
Beautiful pink cafe offering a great choice of brekkies and delicious drinks. I had a coconut and made up my own breakfast of sourdough toast, avocado, beetroot hummus and a hash brown.
Vibe: Chilled, very instagrammable.
Dress code: casual
Great little fuel stop for after a workout or a tough day sunbathing by the pool. Offers smoothies, brekkie and lunch - I had a chickpea curry from here which was delicious.
Vibe: Very laid back.
Dress code: very casual, swimwear, sweaty workout gear!
Lacalita Bar y Cocina
An amazing Mexican restaurant with an insane vibe in the evening! I ordered the jackfruit tacos and they were so good!
Vibe: chill in the day, high vibe at night.
Dress code: casual in the day, casual/bougie at night.
We ordered takeaway from here a few times and they have some great vegan options. I had tacos from here one time and another I had a nourish bowl. Both great.
Vibe: very casual/takeaway
Dress code: very casual.
Another awesome cafe in Canggu that serves up some delicious bowls, burgers and so much more. I went here for dinner one night and the BBQ Jackfruit Nourish Bowl I had was incredible! Pre-warning, when I went it was cash only so make sure you have cash on you!
Vibe: Fun (there is a slide and fireman's pole inside!)
Dress code: casual
Loved this spot for breakfast. I had dragonfruit pancakes and a smoothie and it was amazing. Lots of plant based options and a lovely vibe.
Vibe: Chilled out
Dress code: casual
Atman Nourish Cafe/Atman Cafe
The best Vegan Nasi Goreng I have had in my life, you have to order it! Also highly recommend the vegan cap cay and vegan mie goreng.
Vibe: I was obsessed with the vibe of these cafes - they also had a little shop that sold crystals, yoga wear and other little things.
Vibe: laid back - runs on Bali Time
Dress code: very casual
I had a delicious nourish bowl here but everything on the menu looked amazing.
Dress code: casual
The dragon smoothie bowl was amazing and so colourful. Perfect after a morning yoga class at Ubud Yoga House.
Vibe: chilled - runs on Bali Time
Dress code: very casual/sweaty workout gear.
I ordered the vegan hotdog with fries followed by the vegan chocolate cake and was not disappointed!
Vibe: laid back - runs on Bali Time
Dress code: very casual
Things You Should Know:
You cannot drink the tap water in Bali! Don not drink it! Even brushing your teeth with the tap water is a no no, unless you want Bali belly (you don't want Bali belly). Also, try to avoid ice in your drinks, unless you know for sure that it is filtered water.
You will see beautiful little offerings on the floor outside almost every shop, home and cafe. Do not stand on them! Sadly, a lot of Westerners trample over them but these little offerings, usually filled with rice, flowers and incense are part of their religion and tradition so do your best to respect that by walking around them.
There are a lot of stray dogs and cats, try to avoid touching them. I know, I know, animals are cute but you don't know if an animal is carrying a disease (such as rabies) and if they bite or scratch you, you're in trouble! So best to just love them from afar!
Everything moves slower in Bali - the locals refer to it as Bali Time. And let me tell you, it's a real thing! In the UK we are used to instant gratification with everything, including service at a restaurant and get angry and impatient when traffic is bad. So if that is you, be prepared to wait a little while for some things such as having your order taken in a cafe or your food coming out. It's no biggie, just relax and enjoy the chilled vibe.
Speaking of traffic...it is awful. Like so bad. I was honestly shocked by just how many cars and scooters were on the roads but even more surprised that despite the heavy congestion there was no road rage. Everyone was so laid back and just accepted that there will be traffic. This is the reason you will see so many scooters around Bali, because it is a lot quicker to zip between the traffic on a scooter than in a car!
Cost: generally the cost of living here is very low. So you can expect to pay on average £5-8 for a meal and drink. Taxis are relatively cheap although you can usually barter with them for a cheaper price. Yoga/fitness classes are around 150,000 IDR (about £7.50). Accommodation tends to be very cheap and you get a lot for your money if you do choose to spend a little more.
Balinese people are super friendly, some of the kindest and most warm hearted people I have ever been lucky enough to meet. Treat them with kindness and respect their traditions and way of life and they will return the love.
Last thing you should know....If you do go to Bali, prepare yourself to never want to come back home! Honestly this island has given me the biggest case of holiday blues ever and I miss this magical island and its incredible vibes so much. You will not regret visiting, it was honestly a trip of a lifetime for me.
I hope you have enjoyed this travel guide and find this information useful for your upcoming trip to Bali! If you use any of my recommendations then I would love to know! Thank you so much for reading!
Love Georgia x