Let's just take a moment to recognise the Top Ten things to do in Bali, that we most j'adore about this beautiful island paradise.. and thank the gods for letting us visit or live here
To kick off the New Year, here’s our little shout out of the top ten things to do in Bali [those we love the most!] about our crazy, cool and blessed island home. There’s so, soo much to see, experience, feel, eat, drink, wear and love on this gorgeous island and culturally-blessed, beautiful piece of paradise! Where do we start….
Bali smiles, cuteness overload!
Bali smiles for Sunset Happy Hour at 707 Batu Belig
Blessing day at Cafe Sprout, Canggu
Dog walking, Bali style
The ever-smiley surfing teachers at Surf School Bali
Offerings at Sea Circus
1. THE BALINESE PEOPLE
It can’t be a cliche if it’s true.
And the truest thing about Bali is that without its gorgeous, beautiful people, it would just be a pretty & popular tourist mecca with little heart and no soul. So the number one thing We Love, is of course the beautiful smiles that greet you daily with genuine kindness, gratitude and humility… and the people behind them.
Obviously not every person in Bali is patient, kind or genuine but most of the Balinese live their live with beautiful heart, values and genuine gratitude for the jobs and opportunities that their gods, and all tourists, give them. They take pride in their service, and will always want to help. We Heart Them.
Offerings for the Full Moon Ceremony
Galungan sees Bali's streets come alive with decoration
The night before Nyepi is a night of noise and demonic street parades
Prayers before Nyepi (image: James Morgan)
2. THE BALI CULTURE
Ceremonies. Offerings. Temples. Gratitude. Respect. Full Moons. Family. Gods. It’s a pretty spesh experience to watch a ceremony, an offering, any of the daily rituals here.
Watching the Balinese place their offerings out each morning, day and night demonstrates their holistic commitment to their gods, family and village life. And who doesn’t love an island that totally shuts down for 24 hours [the only place in the world] to pray for the New Year ahead in silence. Aside from the monthly full-moon ceremonies [even with the crazy traffic as men-in-white bike around everywhere to pray], our two favourite cultural dates in Bali are:
Galungan – the twice-yearly, 10-day festival kick off which symbolises the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma), and encourages the Balinese to show their gratitude to the creator and sainted ancestors. February 10-20, 2016.
Nyepi – Bali’s Annual Day of Silence and Calendar New Year. A full 24hour day committed to expressing gratitude for the blessings of the ending year, and reflection on living their best life for the new year ahead. No leaving your home, eating, distractions or electricity. Wednesday, March 9th 2016.
The Gili Islands
3. BALI’S NEIGHBOURHOODS
Small but perfectly formed. We’re talking about the island’s different regions, and not the [lack of] infrastructure. From yoga to all-weekend parties, from Ubud’s tropical jungle to the stunning, white-sand, paradise beaches of the Gili Islands, or from buzzing Seminyak or hip Canggu to the quiet of beautiful Balian… Bali has something, quite a lot actually, for everyone.
You just need to know if you want fun, fabulous or a quiet, inward-focus, and plan accordingly. We recommend exploring different parts of Bali in each holiday, 5-7 days is enough in one place and you’ll have two or three gorgeous holidays in one. Find out more about Bali’s neighbourhood’s in our Island Guide here.
4. THE LOCAL FOOD
It’s true, you can still live cheaply and happily foodie-satisfied in Bali, and the best way to get into the cultural temptations is to dive into the local specialties: the most popular ones being Nasi Ayam and Campur, Goreng, Babi Guling, sates, sambals, banana-leaf steamed seafoods, lawar and of course a good ole Nasi Goreng. Brush up on your choices here.
Kayuputi at the St. Regis Bali Resort
5. THE FANCY [& FABULOUS] FOOD
And then, in true Bali style, you can take your foodie stakes up a notch [or ten] with the island’s impressive list of tantalising and designer restaurants, cafes, bars, the like. Beautiful settings, uber-tasty menus, tropical ingredients – you’ve not done Bali if you’ve not booked at least a couple of fabulous dining experiences. They don’t have to be exxy, though some are [as in, same price as home – but a totally better experience]… and trust us, they’re worth it.
So, where to start? With our search bar: we’ve got lists and guides for miles on Bali’s food and drinks scene, so tap away in search or start with these popular faves….
Our list of Seminyak’s top restaurants; Bali’s best restaurants across the island; healthy food here, or cool hip cafes here, vegan delights here or our Christmas recommendations here. Or check out our monthly Hot New Tables round-ups, of Bali’s hippest new restaurants to open: here, here, here or here.
Cocoon Beach Club
The Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort
6. SUNSET O’CLOCK [OK, COCKTAILS TOO!]
Did somebody say, sunset? It’s no secret we love a good sunset or seven each week, but it is our solemn duty to bring the beauty and bars of Bali’s best sunset scene to your attention. It’s a serious gig, so we take it seriously folks!
Our fave places? Hmmmmn, not many. Only Uluwatu [Single Fin], Bingin [El Kabron], Jimbaran [Rock Bar or Sundara], Seminyak, Canggu [Echo Beach], Batu Belig , Balian, Nusa Lembongan [Dream Beach] and a few decent spots on the Gili’s if you get your locale correct. Otherwise, check out our list of Bali’s best sunset bars here.
And if you’re so blasé about the sunset stunners you only care about the cocktails, you can see our thoughtfully researched list of Bali’s best cocktails across the island, here. Salute!
New Alila Seminyak
De Sapphire Cliff Villas
The Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort
The St. Regis Bali Resort
7. VILLAS & HOTEL LIVING
Bali does Villa Lyfe arguably better than any other island in the world. It doesn’t even have to be hugely expensive, especially when you can get the crew together and invest in a lush, luxe and never-ending beach-front villa that goes on for miles to share. Hotel resorts also operate in a league of their own, what’s not to love!?
Too many to cover, so a few drool-worthy stories you may love include our Hot New Beds stories here or here, our Seminyak round up here, or any of the divine deals on offer from some of our favourites here, here or here. Bali’s best Infinity pools list will also get you checking in, just to get wet and Insta’d.
Everyone already knows Bali + Massages go together like Sunset + Cocktails, with massages at the beach from $5, or in-villa from $10, or up to $100 for the fanciest treatments in some of the most stunning locations around the world. So massages are a given.
So don’t stop there, go top to toe! If you don’t at least book three hours of well-deserved pampering when in Bali, you don’t love yourself enough [see a healer, they’ll tell you]. Start with facial or massage, then of course you’ll need a pedi/mani… But the winner, in our view is a non-brainer: it’s the Creme Hair Bath. A one-hour head, neck, shoulder massage treatment whilst gorgeous hair conditioners are beautifully worked slowly and evenly all through your hair. Dee-vine.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Dream Beach, Nusa Lembongan
Rice paddies for miles
Stunning East Bali
9. NATURAL BEAUTY & BEACHES
Bali is spectacularly beautiful in many places, but they’re not in Seminyak. And yes, to the non-believers [or Australians – who are spoilt for beach choice especially], this does also apply to the [right] beaches too.. but again, they’re not in Seminyak [or Canggu or Kuta or Legian or even Jimbaran].
The list is long but a few beautiful, natural places in Bali to visit include: the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, white water rafting, waterfalls [Sekumpul, Tegenungan, Peguyangan in Nusa Penida, and Blemantung to name a few], Kintamani and Mt Batur for the sunrise hike, bike riding through Ubud, the regions of Balian and East Bali, and the islands of Nusa Lembongnan and The Gili’s.
Our fave beaches? Many. The Bukit – Uluwatu, Bingin, Padang Padang, Balangan, Finn’s, Karma. East Bali and Amhed. Balian & the North. Nusa Lembongan and The Gili’s. Don’t knock them till you’ve seen them.
Full Moon Yoga at the Four Seasons
Dharma Shanti Yoga Bale at the Four Seasons Bali Resort by Sayan
Yoga at Ocean Souls Retreat
Ubud's iconic Yoga Barn
10. SOUL-LIVING: BALANCE & WELL-BEING
Yoga, retreats, surfing, health, healing.. Bali offers the lot, and pretty much everywhere around the island. People travel from all over the world to replenish, recharge, refresh and reboot… and we know why, it’s actually how we ended up living here ourselves. But beyond the many of the well-known retreats and gorgeous yoga destinations or surfing schools, through to the new upcomers who are offering brilliant retreats, it’s more about the amazing energy the island itself already radiates. Healers here, are amazing.
Bali Boat Shed
Bungalow Living and Cafe, Canggu
P.S. NOT FORGETTING….RETAIL THERAPY
So we’ve exhausted our Top Ten… but one cheeky roadie is surely ok, yes!? Ladies, start your engines as you can’t leave Bali empty handed in the shopping department! Fashion, Homewares, Pressies.. Bali has come a long [long] way in the last few years and you can see our round ups here for our fave Bali stores, Bali’s best homewares, favourite fashion stores or even all the new ones that have recently popped up in the hippest ‘hood of all: Canggu. Remember, you’re just doing your bit to support the local economy… after all.
As always, Keep Loving and Respecting Bali.