What else do you expect from Bali!? Known as one of the best Islands to learn surfing, eat good and healthy food (it is literally a vegetarian’s paradise), and do something for your mind and soul through Yoga or meditation. Sounds perfect right?! That’s what my mom and I thought as well when I met her at the airport after not seeing each other for 9 Months (has it been that long since I was home last?!) and headed to our first accommodation close by. Within the next two weeks we would explore most of the island together, climb Mount Batur, learn how to surf, and do our first Yoga lesson - so continue reading if you want to see our itinerary, get the best tips for where to do what and hear our story!
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Sunrise trek to Mount Batur - one of the most spectacular sunrises we have seen!
First of all I have to add, since I was travelling with mom, these two weeks weren’t as cheap as I would usually travel. Spending a bit more (okay maybe a lot more than what I would usually pay) on accommodations, we usually stayed in nice hotels and had a room and shower to ourselves (imagine mom in a ten bed dorm room with stuffy air and shower on the corridor - I think she would have packed her bag and flew back home straight away lol). So this post will not list the cheapest places to crash in, but two weeks travelling in style (for once ha!).
Since we arrived really late at night at the only airport in Bali - Ngurah Rai International Airport - we chose to stay at a hotel close by. The Hilton Garden Inn is literally right next to the airport, has a free shuttle service that will pick you up (or you can walk the five minutes) and bring you to one of the nicest rooms I have certainly stayed in so far. Big and spacious with a beautiful pool and such friendly and helpful staff, it is really worth spending a bit more for the comfort and close proximity to the airport. Ideal for late night arrivals or early morning departures on the way home. The next day we were taken in a free shuttle service (which turned out to be a private car) to Kuta and explored the beaches and area of Kuta and Legian for the day. It is a pretty busy place packed with tourists and the beach so dirty you don’t even want to walk on it. In the evening all the clubs and bars start playing their clashing music and it is full of alcohol, loud music, and too many people to move. If this sounds like your thing - great, this is the place for a good party and an all nighter - if this is not your thing, than Canguu an hour further along the coast is your place! We certainly loved it there! Much quieter, calmer, and the town only consists of a few streets. Echo Beach seemed like the place to be and Ecosfera Hotel was the perfect place to stay. Immensely huge rooms with a balcony or terrace, a nice pool to relax in, and a super delicious healthy breakfast which is included in the price. The attached restaurant is open almost all day and their menu is huge. All fresh ingredients, healthy choices, and super friendly staff! Our favourite place to hang out at during the day was for sure La Brisa - an amazing wooden structure built directly onto the beach with hammocks, beanbags, a lush pool, lounge chairs, an amazing view out to the ocean and the surfers, and super delicious food and drinks! Go there after breakfast, order a drink and just hang out for a while, but make sure not to miss out on their lunch - so many vegan and vegetarian options to choose from. Dinner in ‘In The Raw’ is an absolute must! The options are huge and everything prepared with so much love. As the name says, there are a lot of raw healthy choices, mostly vegetarian and vegan, delicious alternative burgers and some of the best desserts in town! A bit further up the road Shady Shack is an absolute vegetarian heaven! Again mostly raw and alternative food, you will enjoy the great vibes and eating in the garden with chilled music in the background was also one of our favs! If you want to surf Canguu is definitely the place to do it! I asked around the night before and found an awesome teacher that was recommended to me (it was just in one of the shacks without a real name, so best is just to ask around and make a fair judgement on who you think will help you have a great time - and value for money). Surfing at the Old Man’s Surf Break or the Batu Balong Surf Break are the two popular places to be and depending on the tide, you will go to one of them. I absolutely loved surfing (mom was happy to sit in the sand and watch me) and had an amazing two hours in the water, learning, standing, and of course falling over one too many times - it is all part of the experience! If you really set your mind on doing a day trip (or half a day is more than enough) to Tannah Lot from Canguu, by all means go. It is one of the famous temples set out on the water and only at low tide you can actually walk over there. Me personally I would say - don’t do it! It is sooooo not worth the hassle of getting there (there are no meter taxis out of Canguu which means you either need to take an extremely overpriced car taxi or rent a bike if you are comfortable driving with this intense traffic), or the money, and is such a tourist trap! Stalls everywhere, people yelling at you to buy their things, hundreds of people fighting for a good spot to take a picture - we would have preferred to spend those hours resting at the pool or at La Brisa, instead of in the dead heat of the afternoon sun and surrounded by too many people.
Our next stop Ubud is a great place to be. Set in the middle of the island, it is surrounded by rice fields and paddies, and the drive up from Canguu is worth the sights. Up the mountains and deeper into the country and the culture. Ubud is full of authentic (more or less since it is also quite touristy) art and craft shops, dance performances, and nature. AND of course good food. Being an alternative and hip city, this is the place for Yoga, a walk through the rice fields, and some pretty good food choices. We stayed at Sama’s Cottages and Villas and absolutely loved this choice. Set back from the main road, it is extremely quiet but still close enough to everything else by foot, and the gardens and cottages are beautifully set up. So much greenery and flowers surround the rooms, breakfast is served whenever you want it on your front porch (a delicious continental breakfast I may add), and the rooms are nicely decorated with a nice comfy big bed and mosquito net! Things to do in Ubud for sure include a walk through the rice fields, watching the locals work over the lush green paddies or watering them down (the views are absolutely stunning!), and a yoga class at the Yoga Barn. Tucked away down an alley, this is for sure the most popular place to take a class. Visit their website or shop for the timetable, but since there are so many a day you will for sure find the right one for you. The introduction to yoga course was the one for me and I felt so refreshed and balanced afterwards. It resonated a lot with the recent Vipassana Course I took part in (if you want to read more about this experience click here) and for sure was not the last yoga class I will take! Now places to eat - where to start?! There are so many! One of our favourites was Atman Kafe close to the Yoga barn, and a great place for a snack before or after one of the classes. The cakes are absolutely amazing, many raw, vegan and with dried fruits or nuts. Try their Matcha Latte, a personal favourite! For lunch Bali Buddha is a must try - international and local food prepared with so much detail and love - fresh as ever and tasty! The Falafel Warung down the main market road is great for a bite on the go and is freshly prepared in front of you. Having a chat with the very friendly workers for sure made our day! An amazing place for a drink in the evening while listening to some of the best live music in town is Oops! Try some of their own cocktail creations - we loved them! There are so many more I could list right now, but these were our top picks. You will not go into the same place twice, believe me, there are too many good options and you will want to try them all!!
From here make your way to Mount Batur for the most amazing sunrise trek! This can be done in two ways, either through a booked tour from Ubud where you are picked up at your hotel, brought to Batur, trek the volcano with a guide and are brought back to Ubud afterwards - certainly a very good deal and value for money!! If you want to spend a bit more time at Batur itself, like we did, then check out Bali Sunrise Villas where you can get your own massive bungalow set on a slight hill, overlooking the lake and the other mountains in the background. The villa is beautifully set up with a garden outside, and homely setup inside with a huge window front! The super friendly staff is amazing, although english communication was a bit tough. We also booked the guided tour (there is no other way to trek Mount Batur, you always need a guide) and started the hike at 3:30am. Now the STARS - incredible! I have never seen so many and so clearly and so closely as here, we were truly impressed. About a two hour hike through the jungle and up the volcano, the sunrise was impressive! Make sure to wrap up, since it is cold at the top from all the sweat and the wind, but the view is something else! Worth the early rise, the trek, and the money! Make sure to enjoy your freshly cooked eggs in the volcanic steam! This was definitely a highlight for us!!
Next stop Sanur where we finally found a beach! Not that the rest of the places on Bali don’t have beaches, but they are more the surfer kind of rocky beaches. Sanur, soft sand and blue water a nice place to rest for a night before heading over to Nusa Lembongan. Aquarius Hotel was a nice quiet stay with huge clean rooms, a pool, palms, and the included breakfast at Luhtu’s Coffee Shop just down the road was a definite plus! Having breakfast on the beach with the sun shining and looking out to the ocean - who wouldn’t want that?! Try any of the many restaurants along the beach front and you will be happy. We tried two or three and loved them all! Other than a night or two stay, there isn’t too much to do here - so head over to Nusa Lembongan!
We chose to take the fast boat over and even though it is a bit pricey, so worth it. They picked us up from the hotel, brought us to the harbour, it included the speed boat ride over to the island, and the transfer to your next hotel on Nusa Lembongan. Same thing on the way back and we were even brought to the airport at no additional cost! Now on Nusa Lembongan there are a few places to stay, we chose The Palm Grove Villas at Mushroom Bay and were super happy with this choice! Amazingly friendly staff will bring you to your very new, clean, and super amazing bungalow with view to the gardens and the pool. Everything set out very nicely and recently done up - it deserves a few stars! My moms favourite on this trip so far! Since there is not much transport on this small island, the best thing to do is to rent a scooter and drive around yourself. Traffic here is calm and absolutely doable! A few of our highlights included Sandy Bay, Devil’s Tear, Dream Beach and on the other even smaller island make sure to check out the Blue Lagoon and Mahana Point! Most of the beaches are quite rough - big waves, huge rocks below, and many currents so we unfortunately did not find many places to go for a swim (luckily we had a pool to equal that out!) Eating is made easy since right next to our hotel there is a great lunch place called Black Wood Coffee Shop - you need to try their tofu and tempeh vegetable curry, the best so far! Just across the road you will find L’Good BBQ&Grill with some pretty awesome live music and a chef that will prepare anything vegetarian you ask for! The restaurants along the beach front of Mushroom Bay are also a good starting point - we tried most of them and absolutely loved the food! No one will go home hungry here!
Bali wrapped up in a few words?! Surfing, Yoga, Slow-food and All. Not to miss the volcano trek at Mount Batur and the rice fields in Ubud, and to just enjoy, cut loose, and take in all the surfer vibes. It is more expensive than the other southeast asian countries I have been to so far, but I guess that is the fact that everyone goes to Bali, the tourism allows for it, and maybe also because I was travelling with my mom (nice to treat yourself every once in a while!). There are certainly cheaper places to crash and some cheap eats, but even that is more expensive than what I have been used to in many other countries. Nevertheless a great place to be in and to enjoy! If you liked the read or have anything to add, leave a comment below or get in touch! Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow my trip for many more great stories and interesting places to check out!
Backpacking trip with Mom - a different but absolutely amazing experience!
Amazing pool and garden at the Hilton Garden Inn next to the Airport!
La Brisa, our favourite place to hang out all day in Canguu
La Brisa, definitely a place to enjoy and relax - such an amazing wooden structure!
The food at La Brisa - definitely don’t miss out on the pancakes!
Learning how to surf Canguu
Tannah Lot - the temple built out on the water, nice to see but super touristy
Ricefields in Ubud - beautiful to walk through and see
More of the beautiful ricefields in Ubud
Sunrise trek up Mount Batur - what a spectacular sunrise! So worth the effort and early rise!
Both made it to the top - so proud of you Mom!
What a view over Mount Agung and the crater lake below! Super worth the trek up Mount Batur!
Beach at Sanur, nice for a few hours before the boat to Nusa Lembongan leaves
Beaches of Nusa Lembongan - such beautiful colours!
Scooter ride to the other smaller island - even more quiet and calm with beautiful beaches and crystal clear water!
Loving the peace and quiet of this island - and the swings of course!
Boat transport on Nusa Lembongan - Mushroom Bay, the place to be!
A beautiful and exciting holiday with Mom, travelling through Bali! Here on her way back home from Singapore