Bali was the first stop on my trip! I chose this because I thought it would be an easier transition from my old life. I spent most of the time in Ubud, and totally fell in love with the spiritual offerings and the food! Wow, the food. SO many vegan and vegetarian options. I stayed there for the first month of my travels, but after moving on, becoming depressed in my solo endeavor through Singapore and Malaysia, so abruptly decided to fly back to Bali for 3 more weeks to gain some clarity. So I spent nearly 2 months total in Ubud.
Ubud is in the center of Bali. Ubud is known for its spirituality, self discovery, yoga and all that. LOTS of stuff there – healers, cacao ceremonies, rebirths, women’s circles, ecstatic dances, sound healing, meditations, whatever you can think of. I loved being there. It’s full of tourists and ex-pats, but it’s just an easy and safe place to be. If you stay in the center of town, you can get everywhere in walking distance. I spent a lot of time at the Yoga Barn doing yoga and attending their free community classes which are really good. Kundalini yoga is life changing…not to oversell it or anything! I also highly suggest trying the Ecstatic Dance at the yoga barn on Friday nights. It’s worth the experience.
Where to Stay
Most people stay in a homestay there. Balinese people open up their homes which are basically tiny communes with a temple that the whole family lives at. I stayed here for over a month and loved the family, location, and all their amenities. You can learn a lot about the Hindu customs and traditional Balinese lifestyles by staying at the homestays. Airbnb is a wonderful resource for finding great homestay. If you are looking for a cheaper place, I also stayed here, and the family was really wonderful!
Getting around in Ubud mostly is done by foot. There is a public bus called Kura-Kura that can take you to a few places (including taking you almost all the way back to the airport for a fraction of the cost of a taxi). Or there’s taxis which are the main mode of transportation. They look down upon taxi apps but people still use them. GrabCar and GoJek are the best. GrabCar you can use in pretty much all of SE Asia. Otherwise, there’s taxi drivers everywhere constantly asking if you need a taxi. Definitely don’t accept their first price. You can hire a car or a scooter driver. Scooter drivers are cheaper and more fun. Just please wear a helmet!
Arriving on the Island
When you fly into Denpasar (southern part of the island), you can expect to pay about 300,000 Indonesia Rupiah ($21) to get to Ubud. Where a GrabCar or GoJek will be closer to 270,000. So generally, the apps are cheaper. If you land at the airport, you can always look for other obvious tourists and see if they’ll split a cab with you to Ubud or wherever you are starting.
One of my favorite places to eat was Bali Buda the restaurant (not the grocery, although it also has delicious offerings). I love all their food, but especially the tacos and the pumpkin pasta, and the free peanut butter cookies you get when you pay. Green Key makes the best smoothie bowls that I could find. I loved their chocolate protein one. Warung Sopa is a nice local place with really good sugar cane juice and food. Happy Falafel makes the best falafels I’ve ever had! Overall the food in Bali is super delicious and healthy and reasonably priced. A satisfying meal will cost $3-$6. CP Lounge is a fun place for dancing if you want to get cray one night.
What to Do
Popular things to do in Ubud are the monkey forest (so fun), visiting waterfalls, seeing the rice terraces, walking the Campuhan Ridge, and anything spiritual. As mentioned, the Yoga Barn is really lovely, and another spiritual place to check out is the Pyramids of Chi. I also did the Mount Batur sunrise hike (pictured above) and really enjoyed that. It was beautiful and there were a ton of monkeys vying for our leftover breakfast boxes.
The only other place I went to in Bali was Canggu, which is on the west coast. This is a party beach town, but not as insanely party as Kuta or Seminyak. I personally wasn’t impressed with Canggu except for the food, and they have super beautiful cafes that really cater to the digital nomad crowd. It’s bigger than Ubud and sidewalks aren’t really a thing so you really need a scooter to succeed there. Or be constantly hiring a taxi driver. And I wouldn’t recommend scootering there if it’s your first time. Traffic is crazy in all of Bali.
But if you do go there, definitely eat at the Shady Shack (this is probably my favorite food from my entire trip), Cafe Vida (amazing poke bowls), and check out Pretty Poison skatepark bar. Also, there’s a speakeasy near there that you enter through a refrigerator in a convenience store. Very fun!
Surfing lessons are popular in Changgu but the ocean was too rough for my liking when I was there. And of course, lots of beautiful sunsets. That was really the best part.
Other popular places that I wish I had seen in Bali, but just was too in love with Ubud to leave are Nusa Penida (an island) and the Gili Islands. I saw photos from friends and it looked absolutely stunning!