As I write I’m back in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam that’s now become my temporary home. After not leaving the city for nearly 3 months, yesterday I got back from the most luxurious holiday I’ve ever been on. I went to Bali.
For the past 5 months I’ve been slumming it in hostels, budgeting my way through Southeast Asia from Thailand to Laos, to Cambodia and finally Vietnam. So when two of my besties, who I went to university with nearly 4 years ago, said they wanted to join me out here in Southeast Asia and go on holiday, I was super excited at the prospect of ditching the hostel / backpacker life for a while.
I hadn’t seen the girls for nearly 6 months so I was a little nervous. But as soon as I opened the door to our hotel room in Seminyak I saw them and knew things would be just like the good old times.
What better way to be greeted than having confetti chucked at you!
**To the lady who came out of her hotel room to tell us to shut up 30 seconds after being reunited – sorry but we couldn’t contain our excitement 😂❤️**
We spent 2 days in Seminyak, 3 days in Gili T and 4 days in Ubud. We moved around a fair bit but I feel like we did mostly everything we wanted to in each part of Bali we visited.
Where we stayed: Four Points by Sheraton.
A nice & pretty clean 4* hotel. It’s a bit out of the way but they do provide a free shuttle service to the main road at particular times of the day.
Breakfast here was probably the best from all the hotels we stayed in. They also have a really nice pool and chill out area.
Things to do:
To be honest we didn’t really get up to that much in Seminyak. I arrived pretty late which meant we only had one full day to explore. So we headed to the beach clubs!
Ku De Ta
Said to be the mother of beach clubs in Bali, naturally we expected the place to be super busy. Instead we were met with fairly quiet music and a very chilled, somewhat romantic atmosphere.
Ku De Ta is a place famed for their music, resident DJ’s and food, but for us arriving in low season everything was fairly quiet. But that didn’t mean we didn’t have a good time here, in fact it was ideal as it meant we could have a proper good catch up!
Potato Head Beach Club
It’s said to be one of Seminyak’s best locations, and for us it lived up to those expectations.
As you walk through the winding path you’ll be greeted at the end by a stunning ocean view. Not only that, but at the end of the beach club, on the edge of the beach, lies a beautiful infinity pool with bar inside.
It’s surrounded by lounge chairs – the perfect spot to just kick back and chill in the daytime. The food from the restaurant was amazing and there’s a huge choice from tapas style dishes to bistro and gourmet dining.
If high end shopping is what you’re after head to this shopping mall for designer brands and boutiques. We had a little wander around, but weren’t particularly in the shopping mood!
Obviously we were in the mood for food and coffee. If you’re after healthy and good quality food, smoothies or coffee, Revolver is the place to go. It’s a cute quirky cafe in a narrow alleyway just a few minutes walk from Seminyak Square.
Day 3 and we arrived in Gili T, an island northwest of mainland Lombok. The largest of the three islands. The beaches are white and the clear waters, beautiful shades of blue.
What’s unique about Gili T is that motorised transport is not permitted. The only way to get around is on foot, by cycling or horse and carriage.
There’s a range of things to do whilst on Gili T from snorkelling and diving, to renting a bike and cycling around the island, horse riding along the beach, taking a dip in the sea or perhaps just sunbathing on the beach.
Where we stayed: Ombak Sunset Hotel.
We stayed on the quieter side of the island at the lovely 4* Ombak Sunset Hotel. The hotel was beautiful and the staff were very helpful. In particular, a young man called Zepri. He was very funny and charming!
The night we arrived we enjoyed a kebab bbq dinner on the beach with live music. Both the food and entertainment were great and we ended up spending the night on the beach chatting to some of the locals over a bottle of wine.
Gili Eco Villas is another cute spot for lunch or an evening meal. Situated on the beach front you can enjoy a nice meal whilst looking out to the beautiful calm sea.
Rent a bicycle 🚴🏽♀️
The best way to get around and see the island in its full glory is to rent a bike and cycle around. It shouldn’t take you more than 2 hours to get all the way around – if you don’t keep stopping off to explore that is!
Swim with turtles
The Gili islands are said to have the best snorkelling areas in Southeast Asia so when we found out we could potentially see turtles, we just couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
None of us had ever tried snorkelling before so we didn’t really know what to expect. Myself and Tami can’t swim either, so for us jumping out into the middle of the sea and sticking our heads underwater was at first a little scary.
But we did, and once we did it, it was magical. I’d never imagined the underwater world to be so beautiful. Full of brightly coloured fish, coral and the most incredible underwater creatures – sea turtles! Swimming with them was definitely the highlight of the snorkel trip. If you’re planning a trip to the Gili islands, I’d say snorkelling with sea turtles is a must do!
For me Ubud was the third and final destination in Bali. We headed back to mainland Bali from Gili T – it took around 5 hours including the boat ride and transfers, but we slept most of the journey so it wasn’t too bad. When we arrived in Ubud we were dropped off to the most luxurious villa any of us had ever stayed in.
Where we stayed: Kupu Kupu Barong Villas.
The hotel is a 5* high-end resort with spa, and stunning rooftop restaurants with tropical jungle valley views.
After a long day of travelling we were all pretty tired, but after checking in and being told we had our own private butler, we all suddenly perked up! But that wasn’t the only surprise we encountered. When our butler showed us to our villa we were astonished to find out we had our own private pool, a chill out area with snacks AND free gin, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private area for spa treatments. It was all ours and it was all so magical.
The night we arrived we enjoyed an Indian themed night in the hotel restaurant. I don’t usually enjoy buffets, but the range of authentic Indian cuisine was great. There was so much choice and all the food I had was tasty. There was also entertainment from traditional Indonesian dancers.
Where we stayed: Bebek Tepi Sawah Restaurant, Villas and Spa
After two nights at Kupu Kupu we changed hotels. Set amidst tropical gardens, if it’s peace you’re after the villas at Bebek Tepi are a perfect getaway that aren’t too far away, but are close enough to the main shops and restaurants in Ubud centre. We spent two nights at this hotel and from here getting around Ubud was pretty easy.
The hotel has a spa, restaurant, two pools, and an interesting art gallery.
Wander through rice terraces
Tegallalang Rice Terrace is famous for its beautiful lush green landscapes. The picture perfect rice paddy forms the three most beautiful terraced landscapes across the region. For a small donation you can wander through the terraces, take photos and enjoy the scenery.
Try Cat Poo Coffee
Visit Bali Pulina to taste, sample and experience the process of local Indonesian coffee blends. Try cat poo coffee, properly known as Kopi Luwak. You’ll learn about the process of the drink made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by Asian civet cats.
Their digestive tract breaks down the bean before they get pooped out, collected up, cleaned, roasted and ground as aromatic coffee.
The taste is surprisingly quite nice, less bitter than I thought it would be. One small cup of coffee without any sugar or milk cost just over £5. Kopi Luwak is said to be one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
Tirta Empul Temple
This Hindu Balinese water temple is located near the town of Tampaksiring.
Founded around 960 AD, the temple is famous for its holy spring water where Balinese Hindus go to for ritual purification.
Tirta Empul, meaning ‘holy water spring’ is the name of a water source located within the temple. The source feeds various purification baths, pools and fish ponds around the temple complex.
The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Vishnu and the purification ritual is said to cleanse the mind, body and soul.
For a small donation you can get an English speaking guide to explain the ritual process to you.
Sacred Monkey Forest
No trip to Ubud would be complete without visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest.
Originally housing three holy temples, the jungle sanctuary is now inhabited by more than 600 grey-haired Balinese monkeys.
The monkeys are very clever and mischievous so it’s a good idea to stick to the list of signposted warnings around the jungle forest.
Recommended by a friend, this place is perfect to just hang out if you’re after a chill out day. Jungle Fish has an open-air restaurant and pool bar overlooking the Osh river valley and beautiful jungle.
Swimming amidst the jungle, laying in a hanging chair or just lazing by the poolside – whatever you fancy doing, you’ll have amazing view to do it from!
Jungle Fish is open to both the public and in house guests. If you’re visiting for the day you’ll need to pay an entrance fee of IDR 150.000 per person, that’s just under £9, but it includes use of the facilities, towels and a lounge table. Feeling a bit hungry? Well the food is also very yummy!
After a busy few days why not treat yourself to a Balinese massage? There are plenty of spas and massage parlours in and around the main centre areas.
Where to eat?
There are so many nice restaurants to eat at in Ubud. Just having a walk around you’ll no doubt stumble across many places you like the sound of. Here are just a few of my favourite places we ate at in Ubud.
At Spice the focus is on giving western food dishes an original twist using Balinese and Indonesian flavours.
It was said to be the best place to get a coffee in Ubud – I didn’t get the coffee, and my friends didn’t particularly enjoy theirs so I’d say don’t go in with high expectations for the coffee. Food on the other hand, you can go in with high expectations. The food is all healthy, guilt-free and organic. The smoothies, all day rustic breakfast menu, organic salads and burgers are pretty amazing!
Pica South American Kitchen
Peruvian, Latin, South American, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free options.
The South American cuisine is one of Ubud’s culinary highlights. Dishes here are flavoursome and creative using beef, pork, fish and chicken. Thank you for the recommendation Reena!
The last week has been the most relaxing and luxurious holiday I’ve ever been on!
Sending big hugs and kisses to Tami and Tanya for coming out to Bali – it’s meant such a lot to me!
After months away from any family or friends in England, just spending the last week with you two has felt like a little piece of home. Get ready to book the next holiday destination girls!