Insider's Guide to Bali
Bali is a well-established destination on any backpacker, flashpacker, or all-out-luxury type of holiday-maker’s bucketlist. More people are opting for gap years, sabbaticals, to live the digital nomad life, or simply searching for a zen-like retreat. Step in, Bali. We totally get it; the magic of Mount Batur at sun rise, boat trips to Gili T and the, now infamous, Bali Swing. But what more is there to this island? We search for undiscovered Bali with a little help from Laura Oosterloo, Founder of Balinese inspired natural skincare range, Bali Body.
A bit about our insider:
Name: Laura Oosterloo
Place of birth: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
Occupation: Co-founder and Director at Bali Body @balibody
Hobbies and interests: Animal welfare (all of our Bali Body products are vegan-friendly), food, travel, sunshine!
What is your connection to Bali? Myself and my now husband co-founded Bali Body in 2014, we were living in Canggu, Bali, at the time and still travel there often.
A bit about Bali:
What time of year would you recommend visiting?
May, June and July are generally considered the best months to visit Bali for the weather, though of course this is also the time it is most crowded. We usually head to Bali between June and September and we love it as it’s less crowded. Surf season on Bali’s west coast is May to September.
Are there any lesser known destinations you recommend, and if so, why?
We usually stay in Canggu, on Bali’s west coast, as we used to live there - but do find it is getting quite busy these days! I’d would recommend heading further down the coast to see what amazing gems you can find, there are plenty.
Where can we find authentic Bali amidst an increase in tourism?
Travel a few hours by road out of Canggu and the lifestyle becomes more authentic with every kilometre you travel.
For a multi destination visit (beach and countryside), what is the best way to get around?
Due to the traffic congestion, scooters are the only practical way to get around Bali. Hiring a car can be ok outside of heavily populated areas, but anywhere near areas like Seminyak you are generally much faster walking than by car.
Do you have any etiquette tips?
Try and learn some Bahasa, and put some effort into speaking with the locals. They are genuinely beautiful people, and as you are in their country I feel you should try your best to speak the local language, your efforts will be appreciated.
Where to stay:
Outside of Canggu, we usually stay at Alila Seminyak, it has an amazing sunset bar on the beach. In Canggu it is best to hire a villa, you’ll have plenty to choose from. The Ungasan in Uluwatu is my absolute favourite 5* to stay in, it’s incredible.
Where is the best area to stay for the below
Paddy-field views: Of course, Ubud, it’s famous for its paddies for a reason…
Surfers? Uluwatu has drawn surfers since the ‘70’s but is for the pros. Canggu is better for beginners.
Beach-lovers? My heart is in Canggu, so I would have to say here. Of course Bali has fantastic beaches all over, but if you’re in Canggu I recommend Berawa for surfing and Nelayan for swimming and a more peaceful vibe.
Let’s hear a bit more about those famous beaches. where do you recommend for….
The best sunset?
Any of the beaches along the west coast have amazing sunsets.
To practice yoga?
Somewhere away from the crowds. You can find plenty of classes, or just head to the beach alone for sunrise.
To get away from the crowds?
Rambut Siwi. Most people know the area for its temple, but once you’ve visited, make sure to check out the nearby black-sand beach.
TELL US ABOUT THE FOOD SCENE:
We want to sample local, authentic food. Where do you recommend?
Bali has lots of it, head to a ‘warung’ the name given by Indonesians to a small shop or kiosk. Traditional dishes you can find at these include, Babi Guling (spit-roasted pig) and Nasi Campur (rice accompanied by other dishes including meat, vegetables, eggs). Food is generally safe to eat in these ‘warungs’, though of course try to choose a busy one as the turnover is higher so the produce is fresher.
In recent years Bali has become a haven for vegans and vegetarians; which restaurant does it best?
For me, Betelenut Café in Canggu.
Where is your favourite place to dine with a view?
Oh, there are many. But La View Restaurant in Ubud is fantastic. It’s a split-level restaurant overlooking Ayung River Valley and surrounding tropical gardens The clue’s in the name….
ON TO THE NIGHTLIFE:
Where can we find the best bar to splurge?
Potato Head Bali. There are a few throughout Asia, all very popular. In Bali this beach-side bar is one of the places to see, and be seen.
And the best value for money: Walk along any of the beaches popular with tourists and you’ll find a whole range of bar options at varying price points.
Which is the best beach bar to relax with a cocktail at?
The Lawn in Canggu. They often host jazz nights, so keep an eye on their entertainment schedule.
And where is the best place to carry the party on, post-midnight?
The Lawn is also a great choice for this, or try Old Mans - they love music and they do it well.
Calling all entrepreneurs…
Bali has become a popular destination for entrepreneurs and digital nomads to visit and work on projects. Can you recommend some good co-working spaces?
Yes, there are plenty! Hubud is probably the most well known.
Time for some rest and relaxation (after all, Bali is famed for it..)
Where will we find the best luxury spa?
Spring Spa has a few outlets across Bali, and is always lovely.
And to save a few Rupaiah? Where is the best value-for-money spa?
Any on the sides of the roads, take your pick, there are hundreds! Balinese massages at these small spas are always amazing.
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