Where to stay
- Alaya Resort Ubud, Jln Hanoman, Ubud; +62 361 97 2200; www.alayahotels.com/alayaubud. The sprawling resort is set amidst a productive rice field, with 105 spacious and elegant rooms and suites that offer gorgeous views of the greenery. Its design aesthetic is equally rustic — guestrooms are adorned with murals of rice farmers, while furniture is fashioned from locally-sourced materials like stone and bamboo.
- Katamama, Jln Petitenget No.51, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta; +62 361 302 9999; katamama.com. Conveniently located within Potato Head Beach Club, this boutique hotel immerses guests in Indonesia’s centuries-old artistic and cultural heritage while adding its own hip modern twist. Each of the ultra-cool 58 suites come with an in-room bar and DIY cocktail kit, and some have private pools and exclusive rooftop access.
Where to eat
- Babi Guling Pak Malen, Jln Sunset Rd No. 554, Seminyak, Kuta; +62 851 0045 2968. This tiny roadside restaurant serves up some of the best babi guling (the Indonesian version of lechon) on the island. There’s no air conditioning and everything is incredibly affordable.
- Bebek Bengil, Jln Hanoman, Padangtegal, Ubud; +62 361 975 489; bebekbengil.com. Also known as the Dirty Duck Diner, this extremely popular casual resto serves up crispy, succulent duck, along with other Indonesian favorites like nasi goreng (fried rice) and gado-gado (steamed mixed vegetables with tofu, egg and peanut sauce). Western dishes like salads and sandwiches are available, too.
- Cafe Lotus, Jln Raya Ubud, Ubud; +62 361 975 660; cafelotusubud.com. As its name suggests, the cafe houses a large lotus pond framed by magnolia trees. It boasts a traditional ambience and equally authentic Balinese fare, such as makanan ringan (an assortment of Balinese snacks).
- Earth Cafe, No. 99 Jln Lasmana Oberoi, Seminyak; +62 361 736 645. Health nuts should head to this cafe, which offers an extensive menu of organic vegan and vegetarian dishes.
- Fair Warung Balé, Jln Sriwedari No.6, Taman Kaja, Gianyar, Ubud; +62 361 975 370. Enjoy food with a conscience at this restaurant, where all profits go towards free healthcare for Indonesians in need.
- Finn’s Beach Club, Jln Raya Pantai Berawa, Tibubeneng, Kuta; +62 361 844 6327; finnsbeachclub.com. This popular beach club recently relocated from Uluwatu to Bewara Beach. The trademark rustic Balinese design remains, but it’s now even bigger, with a beachfront infinity pool, an ocean of daybeds, three bars and a stylish restaurant pavilion. With scrumptious breakfasts, all-day grazing, sunset cocktails and gourmet dinners on the menu, there’s always a good time to tuck in and chill out.
- Grand Puncak Sari Restaurant, Jalan Raya Penelokan, Kintamani, Kec. Bangli. Enjoy amazing views of Mount Batur and Lake Batur at this buffet house.
- Hujan Locale, 5 Jln Sri Wedari; +62 361 849 3093; hujanlocale.com. This homely two-storey eatery boasts a certain provincial charm, serving up farm-to-table comfort fare like Kashmiri-style roasted snapper wrapped in banana leaf, and twice-cooked, cumin-basted lamb shoulder with quinoa salad.
- Ibu Rai, Jln Monkey Forest No. 72, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar; +62 361 973 472; iburai.com. Serves up a wide selection of Balinese and international cuisine, including a mean steak.
- Jimbaran Bay Seafood, Jln Pantai Kedonganan, Jimbaran. A cluster of over 30 restaurants serving up fresh, succulent seafood right by the water’s edge. Choose your seafood at the fish market, before having it delivered to your table. Perfect for a sunset dinner.
- Kzu, Jln Drupadi, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung; +62 361 805 4252; kzu.me. One of the best-kept secrets among expats in Bali. For Indonesian padang-style food with a Japanese twist!
- Monsieur Spoon, various locations; monsieurspoon.com. Sink your teeth into freshly baked croissants, brioches, sourdough loaves, baguettes, bagels, macarons and more at this quintessential Parisian-style pâtisserie-boulangerie.
- Naughty Nuri’s, Jln Raya Sanggingan, Desa Kedewatan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kec. Gianyar; +62 361 977 547. An iconic hotspot that’s best known for its barbecued pork ribs and hardcore martinis.
- Potato Head Beach Club, Jln Petitenget No. 51B, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung; +62 361 473 7979; ptthead.com. This is where the fashionable crowd congregate. Order a tasty meal from of the restaurant’s two dining concepts, sip on an artisanal cocktail or two, and soak up the views and vibes on a daybed by the infinity pool.
- Rock Bar, AYANA Resort and Spa, Jln Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Badung; +62 361 702 222; ayanaresort.com. Perched on distinctive rock formations 14 meters above the Indian Ocean, this open-top bar offers glorious sunset views. There’s even a DJ booth carved directly into the cliff face! Sip on a tipple or two while watching the waves crash onto the rocks.
- Sari Organik, Jln Subak Sok Wayah, Tjampuhan, Ubud; +63 361 972 087. Situated in the middle of Ubud’s lush rice paddies, this open-air cafe serves up healthy Balinese dishes. Do note that you’ll have to trek for a good 20 minutes from the main road to the cafe, but the views you’ll get to enjoy (especially during sunset) will be well worth the journey.
- Sisterfields, Jln Kayu Cendana No. 7, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung; +62 811 386 0507; sisterfieldsbali.com. A trendy Aussie-style cafe popular for its brunch fare like smashed avocado, eggs benedict and acai bowls. It’s usually packed with tourists and expats, so you might have to wait a bit for a table.
- SPICE by Chris Salans, 23 Jln Raya Ubud; +62 361 479 2420; spicebali.com. This all-day gastrobar stands out from its historical surrounds with its ultra-modern glass façade and compact, café-style interiors. Its food is no less noteworthy, with small plates that marry native ingredients with Western cooking techniques.
- Warung Bule & Susy, Jln Raya Siligita No 88, Nusa Dua; +62 361 855 7702; warungbuleandsusy.wordpress.com. For Indonesian specialties such as nasi campur (mixed rice) and fish curry.
- Watercress Cafe, various locations; watercressbali.com. Graze on wholesome options like open-faced sandwiches, organic salads, acai bowls and berry smoothies by day, and feast on hearty meats and burgers by night.
What to do
- Campuhan Ridge Walk, Ubud. Soak up glorious sunrise and sunset views along this scenic paved walk, which overlooks the lush Ubud countryside. Stop at Karsa Kafe along the way for a refreshing drink, before making your way back to the main road. The entire trek should take around an hour.
- Cooking classes. Cooking classes are fast gaining popularity on the island, and often include exciting market runs. Try your hand at whipping up traditional Balinese dishes at reputable cooking schools like Bumbu Bali (Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua).
- Gunung Kawi, Banjar Penaka, Tampak Siring; +62 878 6221 6435. An 11th-century temple and funerary complex with awe-inspiring ancient shrines carved into its rock face.
- Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. Reconnect with nature at this gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the lush, terraced rice fields stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s approximately a one-hour drive from Ubud.
- Jimbaran. A lovely fishing village with a bustling fish market every morning — a must-visit for any self-respecting pescatarian. The calm waters of crescent-shaped Jimbaran Bay make it very safe for swimming (even for children), as well as an assortment of water sports, from surfing to standup paddle boarding.
- Kuta Beach. Bali’s most famous beach. This 5km-long stretch of sand is especially popular with surfers, thanks to its large waves.
- Mt. Batur. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the two-hour climb up this active volcano. Start your hike in the wee hours of the morning to enjoy glorious sunrise views.
- Nusa Islands. Hop on a boat to the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida, which offer awe-inspiring natural formations, unspoilt beaches, and a laid-back, rustic vibe that’s worlds apart from that of bustling South Bali. Multiple ferries depart daily from Sanur Beach.
- Padang Bai. A little beach town with crystal-clear waters that are perfect for diving and snorkeling. You can reach the town in a little over an hour from Ubud by car.
- Padang-Padang Beach, Jln Labuan Sait No.73, Kuta. The large waves here draw surfing enthusiasts from all around the world.
- Purah Besaki, Mount Agung. Visit this beautiful Hindu temple complex perched on the western slopes of Mount Agung.
- Seawalker. Equipped with an astronaut-style helmet and oxygen line, you’ll get to walk on the ocean floor for up to 30 minutes. Various tour operators offer Seawalker packages.
- Seminyak. Soak up the sun at Seminyak Beach, which is lined with luxe resorts. Then, enjoy a meal at one of fine restaurants in the area, before indulging in a spot of shopping at its many trendy boutiques.
- Tanah Lot. Head out to this rock formation off the coast that’s home to the Hindu temple Pura Tanah Lot. It also boasts some of the best sunset views on the island.
- The Yoga Barn, Jln Raya Pengosekan, Ubud; +62 361 971236; www.theyogabarn.com. Devout yogis should head to Bali’s top yoga center, which offers hundreds of classes per week. You can even sign up for juice cleanses, detox retreats and more.
- Ubud Art Market, Jln Raya Ubud No.35, Ubud. The best place on the island to shop for clothes, figurines and other crafts.
- Ubud Monkey Forest, Jln Monkey Forest, Ubud; +62 361 971 304. Get up close and personal with hundreds of macaques at this nature reserve and Hindu temple complex.
- Uluwatu Temple, Jln Raya Uluwatu, Pecatu Village, Kuta. A beautiful sea temple perched on top of a high cliff, with a gorgeous vista of the Indian Ocean. Be sure to catch the Kecak Dance, a mesmerizing form of indigenous dance and music drama performed by villagers.
- Waterbom Bali, Jln Kartika Plaza, Tuban, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung; +62 361 755 676; waterbom-bali.com. Have a ball of a time with the kids at this award-winning water theme park, where you can hit the slides, try flowboarding, and more.