When I exited the plane, I was just hoping to God that this experience wasn’t akin to meeting your favorite celebrity when they’re not in the mood to deal with your fandom. You know the one you’ve loved for years then when you meet them they’re a jerk or don’t want to be bothered. The disappointment is so great that it feels as though all the air has been sucked out of the room.
I just wanted Bali to be this amazing fantasy place that I had created in my head. Let me tell you, Bali certainly did not disappoint. It was magical, breathtaking, and seductive all at the same time. I loved every moment of my stay right down to my walk back onto the plane. Well, there was that one moment in the airport where I had to pay immigration for my overstay, which was a little tricky, but everything else was wonderful. With that said, I want to share with you everything that I learned during my time in Bali and help you avoid the mistakes that I made. Follow my journey to see exactly how it unfolded. At
the end, I’ll share all my contacts to help you plan and make your journey sweatless.
When I was planning my time in Bali, I originally wanted to stay just one night in Denpasar which is where your flight lands because my flight landed around midnight. I really didn’t want to then get in a car and drive an hour and a half to Ubud. A few days before my trip, I received an email from my hotel telling me that I wouldn’t be able to check out the day after my flight because of Nyepi “Day of Silence.”
Nyepi is a day of silence, fasting and mediation for the Balinese. Because of the public holiday, I had to stay for two nights in Denpasar. I was fine with it because I was staying for a month, and this was just one extra day. What I did not realize is that I would be forced to stay inside my hotel with no food, drinks, electricity, fresh air or activities. Since it was a hotel, they did provide two buffet meals per day and water for guests, but we couldn’t open the windows, walk outside or turn on the lights. Honestly, I felt like I was in prison. I started in those two short days to get really depressed, sad and I just felt miserable. Upon my release, the first thing I wanted to do was walk down the street and have food and drink that I was able to choose.
It was so good to be free so my friend and I went straight to Ubud. I had some work to do, but Jessica immediately bolted from the room to roam and explore. I definitely didn’t blame her for leaving me behind because, as soon as I was finished, I almost tore the door down getting out of there.
After taking in some fresh air, I immediately got recommendations for some good food. Our first stop was Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka. Warung means small family-owned business, a small restaurant or café and babi means pig or pork so if you’re anti-pork, this isn’t your place. At Ibu Oka, I had the sampler platter because I wanted to try a bit of everything. The food was amazing and hit the spot. Of course I had a lot of confidence that it would be good because Anthony Bordain himself had already graced the place with his presence, and it is always the goal when I travel to be sure to try restaurants that were apart of his show. May he rest in peace.
Later that day we walked around a bit until it was time for dinner at our second and what would become my favorite restaurant in Ubud, Hujan Locale. I ate at this restaurant almost everyday of my stay in Ubud. The pork belly appetizer was just that addictive. The watermelon salad was also quite nice. There were many other dishes like fried fish with jack fruit, which were really good, but those two were my personal favorites.
Since I’m talking food, I’ll tell you my other favorite restaurants in Ubud too.
This is a healthy restaurant for everyone from those with a raw vegan diet to vegetarian to meat eaters who are just into healthy living. The food and drinks here were both amazing. I had the kombocha and fresh juices to drink, and I had the tempeh with a tamarind sauce as appetizer with the dragon bowl with snapper for my entree. Since I’m a creature of habit, I had
the same thing every time I went, but it was always delicious.
Fair Warung Bale
Once I tried this restaurant, it became my lunch restaurant favorite while Hujan Locale remained my favorite for dinner. The food here is not only beautifully prepared, but it’s delicious. My favorites are the ahi-mahi, red tuna, chicken spicy cashew, papaya and shrimp salad, and the fried tempeh, which were all amazing. But you won’t miss with anything on their menu. Their food is simply amazing. It’s a MUST visit for the food and because the restaurant offers health services and free medical care for the poor in Bali. It’s always nice to give back to any country when you’re visiting, and they make it easy. All you have to do is visit this restaurant.
Milk & Madu
This is a nice trendy spot with a wide selection of foods. They have live music, with really good music, every Thursday along with two for one pizza. The pizza is really good too. It wasn’t my everyday, but it was a nice Thursday spot to chill, listen to good music and people watch. I was flying solo so it was nice to sit outside and just wind down.
Warung Lesehan Sari Baruna
This is the only restaurant not right in central Ubud, but after you leave the Gates of Heaven, it’s the perfect place to stop afterwards for lunch. It is a purely authentic Indonesian restaurant
with really great food. You won’t regret making this stop along your journey.
Along my travels, I’ve been having trouble sleeping probably because of my consulting schedule with clients all over the world and the constant changing of time zones, but I had been having a bad case of insomnia. My friend Jessica, who was in town to celebrate my birthday, recommended sound healing. I, of course looked at her sideways, then inquired exactly what it was. The first thing she said was it will help you sleep, and that was all I needed. Sound healing is said to be the ultimate sound relaxation experience in Bali. The rhythm, beats and vibrations of the gongs, drums and Didgeridoo in combination with the scent of the sandalwood and peaceful atmosphere increases brain waves and causes relaxation.
The benefits are to your blood pressure and other stress related conditions. The Theta state that sound healing induces can be equivalent to 3-5 hours of normal sleep in rejuvenating the body. I arrived to Pyramids of Chi around 10:30am in preparation for our 11am session, we paid the fee, drank the beverage given to us and went into a large pyramid shaped room filled with mats and pillows. It put me in the mind of elementary school naps except in the middle of the room were these large instruments. They gave us these little sand filled bags to cover our eyes along with instructions about what to do and what could possibly happen.
After the instructions were finished, I laid down and hoped for some much needed sleep. As I lay there, I was just hoping it worked because I really needed some sleep. I felt as though I was at least conscious the entire time because I could hear someone walking around the room and someone over my back, then someone came over and started massaging my back, and she even whispered something in my ear a statement about my life then suddenly we were being awakened. Once fully awake, I figured I just didn’t get to sleep. That was until I asked someone about the person giving the massages. Well, he said there was no person. The only person in the room was him in the center playing the instruments, and he didn’t move from that space. But he assured me he had heard a myriad of stories from people who had experienced sound healing.
Then I didn’t know what to think. Had I been hallucinating? Was I really asleep for the full hour and a half session? I remained in deep thought about this experience for several days when I realized I was having the best sleep of my life every night. I guess it worked. After being in Ubud for about two weeks, it was time for my friend, Jessica to take her leave. I was back solo for a night when two of my other friends arrived. They wanted to be near the beach so I agreed to come back. We stayed in one Villa that was really big and had a nice size pool, but it was too far from the beaches and was really dirty so I’ll leave it out of my post. The second Villa was really nice, but was far away from everything. That is why I decided to write this blog, to help people avoid those pitfalls.
GENERAL BALI TIPS
There is so much to see that you have to be very strategic in planning your trip. Here are some tips below that I learned from my trip to Bali.
1) Plan your accommodations around sightseeing. Maybe the first few nights stay near the beach and do all the water activities like snorkeling, beach dinners, island tours. I recommend Seminyak
Square to be close to shopping, clubs & restaurants. I hear Beachwalk is also nice. The remainder of your trip should be spent in Ubud because most of the tourist destinations are around that area.
(*Tip* Homestays are they way to go for solo travel. Villas for group travel. Make sure they are walking distance to restaurants and shops.)
2) Do a Google search to figure out which swing photos you would prefer. There are many rooms choose from and Bali Swing is the most crowded and expensive ($35). If you have limited time, you may
want to choose rice patties that also have swings. I recommend @alasharumbali. Here, you can find many swings and other picturesque locations, and it will only cost you $4 plus they offer a free tea
and coffee tasting.
3) If you want to save money, diversify your restaurant choices. I went to a higher end restaurant for one meal a day while I had free breakfast at my homestay for breakfast and a low cost lunch. My
lunch choices were @clearcafeubud for a healthy option and @thefairwarungbale. The food was delicious at both and @thefairwarungbale gives 100% of their profits to provide healthcare for those
in need. My high end option that I had on repeat was @hujan_locale.
4) Instead of taking expensive tours, hire a driver who can take you to any location. You can even hire a snorkeling guide without the fancy tours.
Here are all my Bali contacts. Happy traveling!!!
Pondok Mundeh Homestay
This is a beautiful homestay in a great location for getting to central Ubud, near the Palace, quickly. They offer free and delicious breakfast every morning, the rooms are really big and very clean. The
host, Surya and his friend, are really kind and go out of their way to accommodate you. They can also source tours at a pretty reasonable price and provide the most reasonable costs for rides to the
You can book this homestay on Booking.com by clicking here then search Pondok Mundeh Guesthouse.
Manik House Homestay
Nyoman has a wide selection of available guesthouses, but I stayed in his Manik house homestay. It was an adorable space with an adorable room with really high ceilings, a really nice and large
balcony and a small bathroom. In between the two bedrooms was a small outdoor dining room with a cute little balcony. It was nice, but the daily free breakfast wasn’t good at all. However, the homestay is in a prime location one street over from the palace, which is an ideal location.
You can book this homestay on Airbnb.com by clicking here then search Manik House, Jalan
Kajeng, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia.
Herman – +62 878-5418-7734 (Airport & beach areas)
Ubud Driver – +62 812-3921-2430 (don’t remember his name, but he’s reasonable)
Selamat – +62 812-3910-153 (really good with plotting out tours with best routes and times)
Made (Selamat’s brother) – +62 812 3972-0894
Agung (Scooter driver & tour bookings) – +62 857-3978-9392
Putureza on IG – He has a wide range of tour options and is very knowledgeable about great places
to visit and is very resourceful. He’s expensive so I opted for the driver and did it solo, but if you’re a
guide kind of person then he’s your guy.
If you want to dive or snorkel and check out the underwater museums either use Putureza as your
guide or go straight to the dive expert, Supardi.
Supardi – +62 812-3852-9991
Karsa Spa or Udaya Spa for a nice flower bath
Putri Spa for the best massages (4-hand massages are heaven)