After our first trip to Bali, I had said that we definitely wanted to go back, but I didn’t realize that it would be just 6 months later.
I wanted to go back for a number of reasons, but the biggest ones were that I wanted to pretend like I was a yogi for a few days, and of course see and experience things that I felt we had missed last time.
This time, with my mother-in-law and nanny in tow, we decided to split a week between Ubud and Canggu, close to Berawa Beach.
Travel around Bali is really affordable as a tourist. However, there’s no public transportation so your main modes of transportation are walking, taking a car/cab, or hopping on a scooter.
- Getting to/from the airport: If you’re staying at a hotel, ask your hotel if they can get a shuttle for you. If staying at an Airbnb, ask your host to help plan your transportation. If you prefer to book your own transportation, you can message the driver you may have booked (see below), take an airport taxi (you can get the standard price to where you’re going from the airport taxi desk), or grab a Grab (see below).
- Your own driver: I mentioned this in my first Bali post, but finding a driver through a friend, a referral, or from your Airbnb host (if that’s what you booked) beforehand, is a great option because you can always ring them when you’re ready to go anywhere. That said, you may not need them daily if you’re staying in Ubud or Seminyak proper, but if you’re staying on the fringes, it’s definitely worth it. They should cost around $40 USD a day. So make sure you negotiate before securing one.
- Grab Taxis: Grab is basically the same thing as Uber/Lyft, but it goes one step further in that it doesn’t require you to use a credit card to pay. You can get to your destination and pay with cash which is nice option if you’re worried about international credit card fees.
- Scooters: Locals, Expats, and tourists alike love their scooters. And when you see the size of the average road, you’ll understand why. That said, I highly recommend only taking your child on one if you have experience riding one. But if you don’t have kids, go for it! Safely of course.
Where we stayed:
We opted for Airbnbs this time because they looked more interesting. And interesting they were. Please see Part 2 – Canggu for an explanation of that Airbnb.
Our Airbnb in Ubud was beautiful. Large, airy, wooden, built in Balinese architecture. It was surrounded by beautiful, jungly greenery, had a large open patio in the back and a beautiful pool and pond on either side. The most interesting part of the house was that both full baths were outdoors.
That said, we were not prepared for how jungly it actually was. Little lizards are quite common in SE Asia and India so they were to be expected. I also expected mosquitos because of the rain and the greenery. Generally, it was fine because we had mosquito nets (we had to get one for E) and bug spray (mosquitos hate me and E and I hate them) and the lizards don’t bother you at all, but it surprised us. The funniest thing was that even though my mother-in-law and nanny who grew up in India and in the Philippines, respectively, had seen these lizards growing up, they were still surprised to see them at our Airbnb <insert crying laughing emoji>.
You will probably get what you expect if you stay at a hotel, but an Airbnb might surprise you. Then again, I think this is always the case if you book the latter.
What we saw:
Aside from wandering around the streets of Ubud and stuffing our faces with delicious eats, we did the following:
- Morning yoga at The Yoga Barn – There are a million yoga centers in Ubud, but I chose this one because they had the class type I wanted in the morning. It may seem more like a “trendy yogi” spot, but I loved the classes and instructors. They also have an Ayurvedic spa and restaurant, but we didn’t try either.
- Tegallalang Rice Terraces
- Tirta Empul Temple
- Pura Gunung Kawai – The prettiest temple area I’ve seen in Bali
- Tegeneungan Waterfall
- Monkey Forest – E loved it
- Massages at Jaens Spa – SO good
Where to eat:
Of everywhere that we ate in Ubud, I don’t think one place disappointed us.
- B Side Cafe
- Cafe Wayan & Bakery
- Ubud Coffee Roastery
- Tony Raka Coffee and Gallery
- Melting Wok
Somehow, the Balinese seem to know how to make a multitude of dishes taste differently even if there are similar ingredients in each of them. Not to mention the varying degrees of heat thanks to all of the sambal. I love it.
One type of food that we had and loved during our last trip, but couldn’t find anywhere this time is martabak manis. When I tried looking up where it could be, I found that majority of the restaurants that service it are closer to Kuta, Jimbaran, and Uluwatu. I wish we had time to get to one of those areas to have it again, but we didn’t have time.
Where to shop:
There are loads of boutiques and tourist shops all over Ubud, including the Art Market, so you’ll never run out of places to shop. However, when shopping outside of boutiques, be sure to bargain. Many of the shops carry the same stuff so you can walk by a few and compare product and prices as well.
Ubud is also known for silversmithing; the John Hardy jewelry company started there. Silver is sourced from areas outside of Bali, but the creation of jewelry and homewares is done in Ubud and sold in numerous silver shops. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re interested.
Indonesian currency is called Rupiah, and they don’t take other types of currency except maybe to pay for your Visa upon arrival. Try to keep some cash with you on all times as cabs and some coffee shops, etc. prefer it to credit card and mobile pay.
- When to go: I don’t think there’s a wrong time to go to Bali, but you should be aware that when it rains during the rainy season (October-April) it can get heavy and it’s mega humid. The dry months are, of course, the opposite (May-September) but it’s mega hot. The only thing really to keep in mind is that the rainy season is considered to be off-season and while there are still loads of visitors it’s not nearly as crowded as it is during the dry season.
- What to pack: It of course depends on what you want to do and what season you travel in. But regardless of when you go, definitely pack bug spray and sunblock. And if staying in an airbnb, ask about mosquito nets including ones for a crib if taking a baby.
I had a great time in Ubud. Aside from being slightly creeped out by our Airbnb, I love the food, the yoga, the city area, and the people.
Bali was never a location that I thought we would frequent until we went for the first time last year. It is extremely touristy in some areas and is not the quickest getaway from Hong Kong, yet I find it to be a place where we can easily mix in things to do (yoga, wandering around) while relaxing at the same time.
We will definitely head back again to see other areas like Nusa Dua, supposedly the best beach in Bali, and revisit Canggu and Seminyak (I’ve still not spent that much time there). And perhaps we will eventually grow sick of it, but until then, might as well take advantage of the proximity!
Edited by: Betty Ho