after almost a decade, i returned back to one of my favourite places on earth this december – bali. boy has it changed. first of all… traffic?! secondly, wow has it become expensive! this isn’t the cheap asia i used to know and love. pitchers of sangria at potato head were $50! i wouldn’t even pay those prices here in vancouver, which is allegedly, the most expensive city to live in north america. also, “the place to be” has changed from kuta to seminyak (although it was nice to see apache, bounty, and paddys still all there on the streets of kuta). but despite the traffic, the inflated prices, and all the rain that happened in the two weeks we were there, beautiful bali still remains on my list as one of my favourite places in this world. there’s just something inexplicably magical about it that will always remain close to my heart.
here are some of my personal travel recommendations taken from my recent trip back:
have a bintang – you’re in bali, it’s obligatory to make this beer your first drink. it might also be the only thing you drink, since it is significantly cheaper than all the other drinks on any menu. it was even cheaper than the mocktails (cocktails without the alcohol aka JUICE) my mom drank.
eat nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), and satay ayam (chicken satay) from a warung. “warung murah” was the best warung we ate at on this trip. “warung” is a stall on the side of the road that serves food and “murah” means “cheap” in indonesian. warung murah can be found down the street from seminyak square and serves legitimate indonesian food for very cheap prices (especially considering it’s located in seminyak). a plate of nasi goreng or mie goreng was around $3 (or less, i can’t remember the exact prices). the satay ayam (pictured above) was my favourite.
grab a bed at potato head and watch the sunset. despite the $50 pitchers of sangria, potato head still served $4 bintangs (our beer of choice not necessarily out of choice, but more out of cost). the beds have a minimum spend of 500,000 rupiah (around $50), which is not hard to do with drinks and sunset snacks. there’s an infinity pool that overlooks the beach and is equipped with a swim-up bar. deep house music + the views + good company + a drink in your hand = ultimate relaxation.
watch the sunset at kudeta and order from their “grazing” menu. they actually have a grazing menu. kudeta is very similar to potato head (in prices and vibes), and another great place to go to relax and catch the sunset. we even went for a dip in the ocean and came right back. their moroccan eggplant house made dip served with pita bread (pictured above) is so tasty, and their no kisses for you tonight (confit garlic puree, parmesan, parsley and mozzarella) pizza (also pictured above) is simple, yet so delicious.
experience the best seafood in the world at jjimbaran. i’ve been to a few of the restaurants lined up along the beach, and all have been spectacular. you can pick out what you want to eat (crab, lobster, fish, etc.) and you can literally pick the specific live pieces you want to eat from the tanks out front of each of the restaurants. they will then prepare your meal for you fresh, and serve it with a side of rice and kangkong (water spinach) stir-fried with chili and spices. a little fresh fruit platter is also served for dessert. there are tables and chairs set up right on the beach where you can enjoy a nice meal by the ocean. heinekens were actually the same price as bintangs at the restaurant we ate at during christmas eve, which was a welcomed change.
stay in a poolside room at the vansanti, create a makeshift swim-up bar, and eat breakfast overlooking rice-terraces. for around $60 a night (expedia deal) we lucked out by getting a room that was literally connected to the pool. i thought the concierge was speaking metaphorically when he said that the room was so close to the pool that you could jump in… but it was meant in a literal sense, because you could just jump into the pool from your room since the patio (equipped with lounge chairs) is connected to the pool. the staff is extremely friendly and so accommodating. the free buffet breakfast that’s included is amazing – the food in general at the restaurant was great, which was surprising for a hotel. there’s a rooftop lounge located on the sixth floor with impeccable bali sunset views.
chill on a beanbag along jalan double six. this was, hands down, my favourite part about bali that didn’t exist ten years ago. this strip of the beach is quiet and lined with restaurants that lay out beanbags right on the beach. servers come right up to you to take your order and serve you beer and food on the beach. there are also women who walk around randomly offering spa-services, such as mani/pedis.
what are your favourite things to do in bali and favourite places to go to? please leave me a note in the comments, i’d love to hear your own personal travel recommendations!