If you’re looking for an authentic adventure out in nature, horseback riding in the jungle just North of Chiang Mai might be your thing. Thai Horse Farm offer unique horse riding tours combined with a fun and unique culinary experience.
Broccoli Revolution is a vegan restaurant, cafe and cold-pressed juice bar. All their food is vegan, organic, seasonal, grown locally, healthy, and with a focus on zero waste and sustainability. 100% my kind of place.
I’ve tried a lot of street food during my time in Thailand, starting in Bangkok. Eating my way through Pad Thai to Pad See Ew to some unknown noodle soup served by local street food vendors missing any English menu description. Pad Thai and Pad See Ew were my safe go-to options, though I soon learned that being able to pronounce “vegetarian” (and ideally being able to explain that it means no meat at all) in Thai is of great help as well.
I always love getting away from the tourist crowds and exploring a city on my own terms. The best way to do so is usually by getting to know some of the locals and hearing their stories and recommendations.
When researching a country or city I’m travelling to, I always find a brief summary of all the best cafes and restaurants to be helpful, as long as I know that I have similar expectations to the person recommending those places. (To get an idea of my expectations and what I look for on my travels see this post.)
When writing this post, I was contemplating just sharing my notes on The Cabochon with you - raw and real. Because they’re only the best. There’s literally nothing I could say about The Cabochon which isn’t great.
Everyone has different expectations when they travel. We all come from different backgrounds, prefer different things and have unique ways of how we like to see the world.
This became obviously clear to me during my recent trip to South East Asia. I spent a considerable amount of time researching cafes, restaurants and hotels, reading Google and Tripadvisor reviews, marking them on Google Maps, and then spent even more time trying out all the places. Over the course of 2,5 months travelling I became pretty good at researching and assessing places.
While all the places I stayed at in Bali were special, and all the massages, spa treatments, and food I’ve had were great, a few experiences stood out in particular. It’s hard to choose, but the ones below are some of my very favourite places and experiences I’ve had in Bali that I would 100% come back for and 110% recommend.
There are plenty of blog posts out there recommending accommodation in Bali, often sorted by budget or area. This guide is a little different - I want to help you sort through the huge and wide variety of hotels and retreats by focusing on your needs, desires and preferred style of travel. Let’s get into it.
I've created this list as a summary for all the experiences Bali offers that aren't often mentioned or talked about in relation to Bali. If you're like me and enjoy getting out and about, exploring a country away from all the travellers and tourist spots, below are some ideas for you.
I’ve shared before that I’m not a big fan of touristy areas, overrun, overdone and overhyped things to do and see, and that I’d rather get to know a country from a local’s perspective, rather than ticking sightseeing stops off my list.
After writing my list of Bali’s Pros + Cons, general tips and recommendations and a list of experiences I’d definitely go back to Bali for, I figured I should also write a short Bali Food Guide - especially since food always plays such a huge part of any trip for me. So let’s get into it…
I’ve shared some of my thoughts on Bali, what I liked and didn’t like so much in this post. Now I want to share some of my tips for travelling to Bali with you, so you can get the most out of your trip, if you decide to go (or maybe you’ve already booked a trip)
Everyone I talk to seems to absolutely love Bali. I spent three weeks there and found some things I loved just as much as everyone else, and a few things that I wasn’t quite so fond of. In hopes of helping you decide whether Bali’s right for you, and in addition to my Guide to Navigating Travel Recommendations, below are my pro and con views on Bali.
I spent my last two night in Bali at Boho Bingin Beach. Boho has such a nice, relaxed, light, and calm vibe. Maybe not such a big surprise, seeing it’s only a few minutes walk from one of Bali’s most beautiful and secluded beaches. I picked Boho at Bingin beach exactly for that reason - as I was researching beautiful, less well-known beaches in Bali I came across Bingin, and Boho looked like the perfect boutique hotel in the area. (They also have Boho Hills Dreamland and Boho Hills in Canggu opening soon).
It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Munduk Moding Plantation (MMP). Being located high up in the Balinese mountains, the drive there was beautiful. Just before we arrived at MMP, we drove past numerous hydrangea fields - possibly my favourite flower ever. Hydrangea farming is the main business and source of income for people living in Asah Gobleg, the closest village to MMP. Seeing the flowers everywhere got me excited.
Green Ginger Noodle House is The Elephant’s (Ubud) sister restaurant, situated in Canggu. While The Elephant (and Dumbo of course) focus on Italian cuisine, Green Ginger serves vegetarian South East Asian inspired meals. They’re just as delicious - don’t miss this established, little Canggu spot if you’re after after a fresh, reliable and vegetarian experience.
The Slow in Canggu is a lot all in one: boutique accommodation, all-day dining, drinks, art, local culture, and interactive retail. It’s a contemporary, immersive experience of Canggu, perfect for anyone with an eye for detail or appreciation for design. Think Cereal mag opening a space.
I took a million notes during my stay at Hotel Tugu. Not surprisingly, as Tugu is full of passion, inspiration, art, colour, and a million details everywhere. I absolutely loved the attention to DETAIL.
The Chillhouse in Canggu is a relaxed lifestyle retreat, including accommodation along with organic food at its in-house cafe Cassava, yoga sessions, surfing, and a wide range of cultural and healing activities.
Sungai isn’t just another hotel. Sungai and its little sister Sungai Gold are a unique version of luxury villas, located in Cepaka, a secluded area of Bali’s inland, yet only a 20 minutes drive away from Canggu. They come with everything you could ever ask for - elegant interiors, an intimate and bespoke experience, extraordinary service, and a luxury atmosphere. Sungai really takes a five star hotel experience to the next level, especially if you’re travelling with friends, family or a partner - it’s the perfect place if you want to spoil yourself in a private setting. You can either book either one of the two villas on their own, or the entire resort if you’re with a bigger group of people.
Hideout is absolutely stunning! There’s not much more to say than that. It’s impressive, different, unique. Definitely unique. Hideout is a group of three individual eco, all-bamboo houses. They’re built by a small group of very talented Balinese workers, two of them bamboo specialists. The houses are situated right in the middle of the Balinese jungle, in Selat, just east of Sideman. It’s a hidden (not so secret anymore) retreat, perfect for anyone from solo travellers to couples to families or groups of friends who want to escape the crazy Balinese traffic, and experience an authentic, sustainable, connected-to-nature adventure.
I continued my “healing journey” (which started at The Yoga Barn) at Fivelements a few days later. Fivelements was absolutely beautiful and perfect. It would be hard to find a place that’s more aligned with my values and taste than Fivelements.
My trip to Bali was quite a spontaneous adventure, so most of my planning happened last minute. I was hoping to visit Locavore for their famous 5 or 7 course dinner, but being so popular all the days that I was in Ubud for were of course fully booked. Instead I tried Nusantara by Locavore, which must have been at least just as good. I went for lunch on a weekday, which was a great time. It wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t busy either.
Alchemy is a raw and vegan cafe in Ubud. The space is pretty big and airy, though seemed rather packed when I was there, most of the tables taken by families, backpackers or young travellers working on their laptop.
Just like The Elephant, Dumbo strives to be an ethical, clean, green and earth friendly restaurant. They use fresh ingredients, serve free osmosis filtered water, good Italian wine. All the fresh ingredients are grown in compost enriched, spring fed soils on the shores of Lake Bedugul and the slopes of Mt. Batukaru, and their permaculture garden next door provides fresh herbs for the meal and garnish for cocktails.
Spice by Chris Salans is a French and Indonesian fusion restaurant in the heart of Ubud, owned by Chris Salans. He is a culinary genius and has become somewhat of a celebrity in Indonesia. He’s best known for his innovative approach to food, which first became obvious when he opened Mozaic, Spice’s sister restaurant. He keeps inspiring chefs to be more experimental and has won multiple international awards.
Plataran Ubud was my third stop in Bali. My first impression was that of a comfortable, relaxing hotel that you can retreat to, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A welcoming and warm place that feels easy to stay at. It is much bigger than some of the other places I’ve experienced with 51 rooms plus one residential accommodation and one villa. There are also two pools, a gym, a big reception area with a restaurant opening up to the street, and another restaurant at the back of the hotel where they serve an amazing and massive breakfast buffet.