Bali Travel Diary
The best part about coming back from vacation is to be able to share with you everything I did, but the worst part is experiencing the withdrawals from no longer being there. Bali was magical and I truly believe that everyone should take the time to travel here at least once to experience the wonders of this place. Our journey in Bali only lasted for about a week, but I wish I had more time to explore the rest of the island. We were only able to make two stops — Ubud and Seminyak — but we made the most out of it. Here's a recap of where we stayed, the things we did and where we ate in those short five days!
Ubud was our first stop in Bali and we checked into the beautiful Sthala Tribute Portfolio Hotel. We wanted the true “jungle” experience and this hotel offered the best view overlooking the ravine and allowed us to get a taste of the Bali culture. Since this hotel is relatively new and opened just a few months earlier, there weren't many bookings so we enjoyed the hotel all to ourselves with the company of maybe a handful of other guests. The staff were great beyond expectation and treated us with the best service. There was no shortage of peace and quiet here which was a nice way to start our trip after the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. I started my next morning with a blissful yoga session by the river and it was truly amazing getting into the flow at sunrise. We wanted to make the most out of our stay in our hotel so we hung out by the pool during our down time, visited the rooftop bar and received our first balinese massage. Our hotel was relatively far from the Ubud Centre so we dined at the Sungai Restaurant, trying both their breakfast, lunch and dinner menus and all of them exceeded our expectations.
When it was time to go out to explore Ubud, it was simple arranging transportation through our hotel. It was roughly $50-60 CAD to get a private driver to take us around for the day and I highly recommend it because otherwise it wouldn’t be so easy going from place to place. Our first stop was to the Tegallang Rice Terrace, famous for its photogenic and instaworthy rice paddies. It was stunning, but I have to admit that the dress and sandals were poor choices for the fairly steep hike. Also, beware that you will be stopped multiple times to make donations in order to get further!
Our next stop was to the Ubud Art Market, where we explored the traditional market filled with little trinkets, fun souvenirs and Luwak coffee for sale. This was also the spot where you put your bargaining skills to the test. I picked up a gorgeous handwoven bag for $20 which I thought was a total steal (but Terrance thinks otherwise because I barely bargained at all haha).
Our final stop was to the Sacred Money Forest Sanctuary. I highly recommend coming here because the monkeys are adorable to see. If you are afraid, it'll assure you know that unless you have bananas in your hands, they won’t come chasing after you!
When we arrived in Seminyak, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that we were staying at the W Seminyak and it is the home of some of the best beaches and more luxe part of Bali. We were blown away by our hotel and the amenities (the Woobar is also amazing so be sure to hang around here at night). They surprised us with cocktails as we were celebrating our early 8-year anniversary and sprinkled rose petals all over our bed.
It was easy to come in and out of the resort and the distance to the centre of Seminyak / Seminyak Village was a short 15-minute walk. Not captured here, but we had some of the best food while we were here. To name a few — açai bowls from Cafe Organic, ‘dirty burger’ from Sisterfields, pad thai from MAMA san and nasi goreng (fried rice) from Kaum, located above Potato Head.
My favourite part about Seminyak was no doubt the sunset — shortly after 6PM, we witnessed the most beautiful sunset as we walked along the shoreline. While I enjoyed the city-esque part of Seminyak, my heart was with Ubud. It was far more appealing to me and made me feel a lot closer to the culture and history. There are a few more places such as, Canggu, Kuta, and Uluwatu, that I missed out on for this trip so I’ll definitely be back!
HELPFUL THINGS TO KNOW
1. Currency — The currency that they use in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah (Rp). We exchanged Canadian dollars for Rp when we arrived at the airport. They are issued in denominations of Rp 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000. The easiest way to keep this in mind is 1,000 = ~$0.01 CAD, 10,000 = ~$1 CAD, 100,000 = ~$10 CAD. Credit cards are also accepted at most restaurants and hotels.
2. Tipping — There is no custom of tipping in Bali and you'll notice that there is usually a service charge applied to your bills. However, it is a nice gesture to tip your drivers.
3. Getting Around — The easiest way to get around is to hire a private driver. This can be done at your hotel, just ask the concierge. It'll be $50-60 CAD to hire a driver for the day. They would hang around close by waiting for you until you are done. Both of our drivers were incredible and super friendly. They know Bali best so don't be afraid to ask them questions! Note: I highly recommend arranging your transportation from the airport to the hotel in advance. When we landed, there were a ton of pushy drivers trying to get us to go with them. It's also more safe arranging it directly from the hotel.
4. Power Plugs & Sockets — The hotels that we stayed at were very modern so there was no need for a universal adapter. They had North American sockets. If not, make sure you bring a travel adapter that has the two round pins.
5. SIM Card — Unless you plan on hanging around the resort all-day or using the WI-FI at restaurants, it might be useful to pick up a SIM Card. We purchased ours directly at the airport for $20 and found it helpful for connecting with the hotel and our driver.