July 2015 marked the beginning of many transformations in my life. It started in June after a trip to Africa and Europe: I was on a travel high and didn’t want to slowdown. Traveling alone can be frightening for someone who doesn’t travel often, but being a female often poses other questions which I contemplated long and hard before making the decision to travel solo. Bali was at the top of my bucket list of places to visit for almost a decade. When I learned Bali was not only one of the safest places to visit, but Indonesia was also one of the most economical I was certain this would be my next getaway. I’m not one to shy away from splurging on vacations but when you travel as often as I do budgeting allows you to experience more in the long haul.
I booked my ticket 10 days before my trip so shots, which are not mandatory, were out of the question. I barely had time to pack. I booked a ticket via JetRadar.com. I’ll be posting an entirely separate article about best times to purchase airfare and my top 5 favorite apps to find cheap flights, but for now checkout JetRadar for affordable last minute trips. That site will change the way you travel. I looked into lodging prior to arrival but I’m a spontaneous traveler and like to plan as I go. In fact, I didn’t know where I was staying my first night in Bali until I confirmed an Airbnb reservation on my layover in Singapore.
Fun fact, I was almost deported in Singapore for not having a return flight back to the USA. Turns out you can’t enter Indonesia without a roundtrip ticket so plan accordingly.
My first week in Bali was spent in Seminyak aka the land of mosquitoes. I read that mosquitoes were bad in Seminyak and bug spray was necessary, but I learned the hard way. It took 10 days to recover from all the bug bites. My advice is to lather up if you don’t want mosquito wounds. Seminyak is gorgeous though. You can book great accommodations for under $40/night. I splurged on a beautiful house with a pool and cabana because I wanted a retreat and private vacation. It was worth every penny and under $175/night. Seminyak is great for shopping, food and tourist attractions. With hotels like The Legian Bali and Ritz-Carlton the posh atmosphere makes for great photo ops and people watching. The hotels are situated in perfect walking distance from one another along The Indian Ocean.
I did a lot of shopping and made great friends in Seminyak. The locals are very inviting.
Favorite Places in Seminyak
- Potato Head Beach Club
- Revolver Espresso
- 3Three Cafe
- Cafe Seminyak
- Ku De Ta
- La Favela Bali
- Kuni’s Bali
- Artful Ink Bali
Throughout Bali food was reasonably priced: breakfast, lunch and dinner totaled out to be less than $10 per meal. Transportation was more than fair too. Uber was accessible in Bali so thats how I got around. The most I paid for an Uber was $12 for a 1.5 hour drive. You can hire an Uber driver for only $20 to act as your tour guide and drive you around the city for an entire day. Everything is negotiable.
After I left Seminyak I traveled to Ubud to experience the spiritual and cultural activities this city offers. It was extremely different from Seminyak. Seminyak is a city on the ocean. Ubud offers a quiet retreat for the mind, body and soul near rice fields. I came to Ubud specifically to stay amongst the villages and retreat like the natives. I stayed in a treehouse with no air conditioning. Breakfast was catered daily next to a coy/lily pond where we sat with little wifi reading books alone. This part of my journey was a great way to slowdown and relax. Ubud is extremely humid in July and August which left doing my hair and makeup out of the question. There was no reason to look fabulous in Ubud: Most tourist come to Ubud to study yoga and meditate so I adapted with my healthy living and peace of mind practices.
Must See in Ubud
- Nomad Restaurant
- Seniman Coffee Studio
- Mingle Cafe/Bar
- Ubud Village Bali
- Sacred Monkey Forest
- Tegalalang Rice Terrace
- Teba Sari Agrotourism
- Cafe Havana
- Mozaic Restaurant
After one exotic evening of salsa dancing at Cafe Havana followed by my spiritual enlightenment I was ready for new scenery. I made my way to Nusa Dua. I’d heard the beaches were the best and the hotels were great. After a week without AC and no hair products all I could think about was a proper shower and blow dryer. The hotel was spectacular. A few hotel recommendations: Mulia Mulia, The Ritz-Carlton, The St. Regis and Mantra Sakala.
Nusa Dua was beautiful. I enjoyed the laid back, upscale feel but it was really sleepy. The city doesn’t allow selling of liquor outside of the hotel or restaurants so you have to travel outside of Nusa Dua for alcohol. Since I love wine I hungout out at Skybar at The Mulia Mulia. The food and ambiance at the hotel was enjoyable so I used my time in Nusa Dua to write, read and enjoy beach and pool time at The Mulia Mulia.
A few days later I headed to Uluwatu. Uluwatu is my favorite place in Bali. In some ways it reminds me of Malibu so I nicknamed it “Malibu of Indonesia.” It was better than Malibu though. Surfers, good music, blue skies and crystal clear water. My trip to Bali was special for so many personal reasons so I made the decision to get my first tattoo in Uluwatu. It was a long time coming. My tattoo represents the coordinates of a spiritual temple in Uluwatu where my life changed. It will always be a sacred place for me. If you make it to Bali Uluwatu is a must see. Single Fin has arguably the best view and beach in Bali. I took a motorcycle ride through the crowded streets of Padang Padang beach next to Uluwatu which was a lot of fun. I definitely recommend renting a bike and cruising the streets during the day.
If you have been to Bali or are planing to visit and like the sound of Uluwatu you will really love Canggu. With its mainstream resorts and Aussie surfer vibes it tops my 2016 travel vacation picks. Even more economical than Nusa Dua or Uluwatu, Canggu is great for paddleboarding, surfing and water yoga. A string of must see cafes including a personal favorite Deus Cafe line the reefs with great food including a list of restaurants geared toward health foods, pressed juices and smoothies. The best is Old Man’s surf if you want to catch the sunset. The sunset in Bali is by far the most gorgeous sunset I have ever seen. Bring your cameras because you’ll want to capture the moment.
Bali requires thorough planning and preparations because there is so much to see and do. I spent 3 weeks there and didn’t come close to breaking the seal. With over 17,000 small islands you can explore hidden places, trek rugged outdoor trails, watch sea turtles hatch and snorkel. The possibilities are endless. I spent roughly $3000 for my Balinese vacation and it was the most rewarding trip I have taken to date. This year I’m planning my return, only this time I’m looking to stay a bit longer.