Bali is a magical place, where an unexpected turn from the bustling streets can take you into the quiet solitude of a secluded temple. It is often called the Island of the Gods, and it’s easy to see why, with its diverse religious population of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.
In recent decades, it’s also become the Mecca for soul searchers of the perfect surf, or the ultimate wellness remedy. Any savvy traveller will tell you to stay well away from over-commuting, since Balinese traffic jams are notorious.
For our recent visit, we stayed in beachtown Seminyak, with the exception of a day in the lushness of Ubud. So take our advice, and stick to just one or two regions of this mesmerising archipelago.
Where to Eat
Strategically placed lush greenery separates Sarong from the hustle and bustle of the busy road outside. Created by Chef Will Meyrick, the award-winning restaurant is one of Seminyak’s most revered dining institutions thanks to its menu full of intoxicating Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. Our top pick is the “gaeng choo chee” grilled prawns and the Kashmiri crispy chicken, and make sure to snag a seat in the courtyard garden.
Ever wonder what it’d be like to bring the Amalfi Coast to Bali? Well then, step into Da Maria’s cool blue and white tiled interior. From the same group that brought kitschy taco joint Mexicola and retro beach club Tropicola to Bali, the osteria-style Italian restaurant pays homage to Terzini’s Italian heritage with authentic pizzas and comforting pastas. The cool retro look of the venue, combined with a great lineup of DJs, make Da Maria the place where the cool kids hangout.
The hippest joint for authentic, upscale Indonesian cuisine in Seminyak, Kaum, which translates to “clan”, sits on the second floor of popular beach club Potato Head. People watch or sunset gaze from your seat in the stylish, modern space and savour some of the best interpretations of indigenous Indonesia cuisine. Stay awhile and enjoy the chill beats downstairs at the beach club, or the creative design of the main hotel.
Potato Head Beach Club, Jl.Petitenget 51B, Seminyak, (+62) 361-300-7990
Step back in time as you enter the 150-years-old teak joglo that houses Biku. The well-loved establishment is a restaurant, a tea lounge, as well as a lifestyle boutique. The cake table here heaves under the weight of towering carrot cake, thick slabs of chocolate brownie and decadent mulberry pie. Wash down a traditional satay meal with chilled glasses of kombucha, or sip through over 50 blends of brew at Biku’s renowned afternoon tea.
Jl. Petitenget No.888, Seminyak, (+62) 851-0057-0888
As the name suggests, the restaurant’s concept revolves around modern European cooking techniques with a heavy emphasis on strictly locally-sourced ingredients. Ranked number 41 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, the fine dining restaurant is a collaboration between chefs Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer. Guests choose between a tasting menu for “locavore” or “herbivore” and should be prepared for some surprises along the way. Think lemongrass stalks dipped in honey and raw ant eggs, or our favourite, a bowl of marigold flower petals drizzled with corn miso veloute. Bring an open mind and a few hours to spare in order to fully experience the restaurant.
10 Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, (+62) 361-977-733
The Fat Turtle
For something completely on the other side of the spectrum, the Fat Turtle is a little eatery that packs big wholesome, down-to-earth flavours. Our favourite place for an indulgent breakfast and healthful juices and smoothies, the Fat Turtle is a friendly, quaint little hangout. A must-try is their red velvet pancake, complete with cream cheese icing between each layer and topped with vanilla ice cream, or redeem some health points with the papaya bowl, packed with fresh fruits and nuts.
Jl. Petitenget 886A, Seminyak, (+62) 899-8912-127
How to live your best Bali life
Indulge in some quintessential R&R at the award-winning Sundari spa and knead all your worries away with a traditional Balinese massage.
Shop til you drop at homeware store Mercredi, where you’ll find gorgeous handmade pieces to bring a little bit of that Bali magic home with you. Or browse the racks of Uma & Leopold for some effortlessly chic resort wear. On the cultural front, visit Thread of Life, a social enterprise that offers classes on tribal fabric weaving techniques as well as intricately woven artworks by some of the most remote tribes of Indonesia.
Start your day right with a traditional Balinese tonic called jamu, which is a vibrantly yellow blend of fresh tumeric, ginger, lime and honey.
Climb the ladder up to the colourful wall-to-ceiling bookshelf at The Junction House for the most Pantone-tastic shot.
Click away at the neon campy kitsch of fun taco joint Motel Mexicola.
Horseback-plus-sunset-plus-beach equals the most perfect IG-shot, but just make sure to edit out the beachgoers in your background!