Suitable for: 4 Days or more
The tourist resort island, Bali, has long been attracting crowds, with great beaches, good surf waves and gorgeous sunsets to boast. Most recently, I have attempted to explore other regions of Bali other than the usual places. The more backpackerish regions of Canggu, Uluwatu and Tulabem appealed to me a lot more than the crowded streets of Kuta or Seminyak. This guide will attempt to enlighten you about these lesser known gems of Bali (which I predict will probably face the tourist hordes in the next 10 years, so you’d better hurry down fast!).
There are easy flights connecting Bali with other airports, most major hubs include most of South East Asia, anywhere in Indonesia and Australia. Domestic budget airlines of Indonesia include LionAir, WingsAir and AirAsia, which offer cheap flights within Indonesia to Bali. As for Singapore, Scoot, Jetstar and Airasia all serve direct flights (2h 40 min) to Bali. Usual prices from Singapore to Bali for a return trip would be around 200 SGD, however sales can bring fares down to 140 SGD (Airasia).
I purchased my SIM card beforehand from Klook Services and I would highly recommend them as they are punctual, and they serve (almost) every flight to Bali, even when your flight reaches at 11.30pm in the night (how unbelievable is that!). They provide you with SIM card from the company XL (which I think has really good coverage in my humble opinion). How convenient it is to get a SIM card immediately at the airport hassle-free (no queues and no confusion!!)
Basically, when you exit the arrivals, you’ll see some people wearing orange-colored Klook tees. Approach them and they will set up your SIM card for you 🙂 you might want to bring along a little SIM card opener as the first time I ordered it from them they forgot to bring their opener and we had a wait a while.
There are also other companies providing SIM cards (Telkomsel), however I would say (as I have heard from others in Bali), that XL is the best for data coverage. Maybe you would want to choose Telkomsel for a more phone-based plan. But most people prefer using data these days anyway.
You can also purchase SIM cards / top up your current SIM card from 7-11 / Family Mart / Alfa Mart stores / and those shops specialising in SIM cards all over Bali, the example being above.
This hostel was super vibrant and has a blasting atmosphere every night. Located in Canggu, it was the noisier counterpart of the other 5-star hostel – the Farm. However noisy it was, you could always get a good night’s sleep if you booked a dorm in the Deluxe Rooms for little bit more.
The hostel had great rooms, with good mattresses, A/C, and nice hot showers.
The lockers were also provided below the dorm beds. They had 4 pools, 2 main pools and 2 smaller ones by the deluxe rooms which were located a stone’s throw away from the normal dorm rooms.
Free water could be dispensed from a machine just outside the dorm, and I liked the rustic environment that I was in whenever I exited the hostel.
It also had a reception which doubled up as a pub which played tech house / RnB every night till 10pm, when they had a noise curfew. Drinks were more expensive than outside but I guess that’s how they earn extra. I brought my own drinks into the room though to save costs.
Lay Day had pool parties every Wednesdays in which people from other hostels will come down to join in the fun!
Absolutely smashing it every night, everyone was so social in this hostel. The addition of the pub definitely contributed to this area but still, I would say that Lay Day is always buzzing with energy, however if you’re not feeling it for the night you could always head down to your room to rest.
There is always a good pre party before the 10pm curfew, where most people head down to Old Man’s for more fun , and then the Sand Bar because that is the place that closes at 4am.
Canggu only has a few main roads which start inland and lead down all the way to the beach. Lay Day is located on one of them , which, after a few days in Canggu on a bike, becomes super easy to navigate to. I would consider the location a good one!
The only thing is that you require a motorbike to get around. It would be sweltering hot if you were to walk around, and as Canggu bans Grab bikes / cars from going around to pick passengers, a motorbike is the most economical option going from around 60000 IDR for a day’s rental from Lay Day.
Staff were courteous in their duties and helpful in answering questions. They were also able to calm the unruly when drinks went out of hand, which was greatly appreciated by all. Overall well-trained and respectable.
Lay Day was the true competitor with the Farm. Both these hostels were superb in their own ways, Lay Day with its atmosphere, and the Farm with its chill vibe.
This hostel felt more like a hotel to me. Amazing facilities, perfect for couples who want to chill a bit more, however I felt that the atmosphere was lacking. But the facilities more than made up for it!
What can I say, they gave each person 2 pillows, and the mattress was so soft I literally could fall asleep immediately after lying on it. The whole concept was so aesthetic and green, the toilets were open-air concept and were super unique.
The hostel felt super classy and eco-friendly but this probably dampened the social vibe.
I would not say that the atmosphere was totally dead. People were definitely conversing with one another. However, I felt as a solo traveller that it was harder to meet others, partly because the bar closed so early at 8pm. I would say that the Farm is promoting more of a chillax stay.
The Farm is located on the other main road in Canggu so in terms of location, it was similarly pretty accessible.
The only thing about it is the need to rent a motorbike to get around. You have to drive right in as you turn into the walkway to get to the hostel, walking will be crazy hot and you’ll be sweating away. Canggu also does not permit Grab rides as its one of the areas still being controlled by the local taxi mafia, though you can try and use it stealthily as I did.
Renting motorbikes will cost you 70000 IDR a day, its the most economical option to get around Canggu.
You could definitely feel that the staff had been trained well here. They spoke perfect fluent English and answered our questions politely and courteously. In this respect, the Farm might have topped the edge over Lay Day.
The Farm provides more of a chill, poolside, relaxed atmosphere but Lay Day is where the action is at. I would say, if you’re a couple looking for a few lazy days in Canggu, pick the Farm and enjoy their tip-top facilities. If you’re in a group, or a solo traveller looking to meet other people, pick Lay Day for sure, and don’t miss their Wednesday pool parties.
Or, if you have the time to spare, do both hostels and make your own comparisons like I did. Hostel hoping is sometimes a good way to look at different accommodations and figure out what is right for you. Besides, they’re not too far from each other so it’s not that bad. The Farm’s a little more expensive though, but the quality you get is amazing.
Also, the Farm (30 people occupancy) regularly gets booked out, so please book your stay at least 2 nights in advance. Lay Day has more rooms, so you can book your stay the night before.
I stayed at this hostel twice and it has not disappointed. I guarantee you a really fun stay in the Uluwatu district of Bali if you stay here. I loved the homely feels and cosy area the hostel was located at.
I would recommend getting the private rooms if you’re in a group of 2 or 4. They ended up to be cheaper than the dorms if you calculate, and the mattresses of the beds in the rooms were remarkably better than those in the dorms. Makes no sense but yes I’ll accept it.
Talking about the dorms, we had these futon-like beds which were a tad too thin for me at night. However, it passed the minimal requirements and I was eventually able to sleep.
Other than that, the hostel had hot showers, a good common area to socialise (everyone was mingling about every night, you make a lot of good friends), good AC (though if your inconsiderate dorm-mates leave the door open the room might feel like a furnace), and a little dipping pool in the middle. The layout of the dorms was also perfect, forcing you to interact with others whenever you exited the room.
Uluwatu randomly runs out of electricity so be prepared for sudden blackouts in the middle of the day / night.
The hostel’s reception acts as a pub both in the day (but mostly in the night), where you can buy some Bintangs or other drinks. I usually find that the presence of a little pub will greatly improve the atmosphere, as I will come to now.
This hostel has a great social vibe about it. One main reason is because the hostel provides free dinners EVERY NIGHT. Yes, you heard that right. Most of the occupants will return in time for dinner, talking about the day’s events over the long wooden table during dinner has become a daily affair for most. You’ll most probably know most of the hostel by the time you end your stay.
Also, the hostel literally is booked out on weekends for the Sunday Single Fin Party (which I elaborated on below). The hostel caters transport to and fro, which is very thoughtful and considerate of them, considering that we would have been scammed by the limited supply of taxi drivers willing to bring us back from Single Fin.
Although the hostel is located in one of the more central parts of Uluwatu, renting a motorbike is still one of the most economical options for you to get around. It will cost 70000 IDR per day to rent one from SR Hostel.
I also have a brilliant local driver whom I met on my first day (who lives super near SR Hostel) who charges reasonable prices for pick-ups literally everywhere. That’s how I got to the hostel from the airport when my flight arrived at 11.30pm. If you would like to know his contact, feel free to email me or reach out on my social media channels.
The staff can definitely throw a good party. One of the great things about SR Hostel is that its located further inside a small slip-road, thus allowing them to blast music off their speakers even till the likes of 10pm at night. If you ask nicely, they will willingly let you DJ from your Iphone’s Spotify for the night. Definitely made my night, they did.
They are also super efficient in their daily duties. Renting motorbikes, checking in, selling items, they have it all covered 🙂 Also, they cater transport to nearby beaches on some days, you’ll have to ask them regarding it.
SR Hostel is THE place to stay at if you’re heading down to Uluwatu for some surfs or cliffside chilling. It has a great social vibe, decent facilities and free dinners. Worth every penny you’ve got.
I stayed at this hotel to refresh myself after the festival and it was really good. I absolutely loved the view the hotel gave of the beach and Canggu in general. For the price, the facilities and rooms were absolutely great.
The rooms were perfect, as every hotel should be. Good mattresses, hot showers, and as comfort as could be.
The hotel had a restaurant at the top-most floor, along with a wonderful infinity pool. The restaurant serves great Carbonara, along with refreshing drinks.
A good quiet place to relax in, we cannot comment on the atmosphere here as it is not a hostel.
I loved the fact that it was located pretty near the beach, though it did take some motorcycling to get to (through small lanes) from the other hostels.
Service was great, the staff looked like they knew what they were doing.
Canggu is known for its good practice waves, especially down at Old Man’s (a popular pub at night in Canggu which also acts as a restaurant in the daytime) . You can always find beginner surfers riding the waves at the various viewpoints along the beach.
There are many surf schools offering lessons along the beach. Any hostel or guesthouse should also be able to organise various surf lessons for you, be it a quick 1 day one, or more intensive 1-week one. I did not surf in Canggu, but I had various friends who tried their hand at surfing and they commented that it was tiring, but fun. Apparently, you get really hungry after each surf haha.
Canggu is also known as the digital nomad’s paradise, numerous cafes have sprouted in Canggu over the years and the whole trendy thing is to eat those really yummy healthy fruit and acai bowls. However, Canggu really does have a lot of good food at affordable prices. I will give some of my recommendations below. Each cafe is bound to have WiFi and they all look super aesthetic so it also makes for a good Instagram post. Besides, the cafes in Canggu are not overloaded (yet) with people unlike those in Seminyak so you’re bound to get your own space and some quiet for the day, which is perfect.
If you’re from Singapore, we have an app called the Entertainer that gives free 1 for 1 offers. There is also an Entertainer Bali version which you get for free if you purchase the Singapore one. It is really good to save on costs, and try new cafes at the same time.
This rooftop location was the perfect place to chill with friends over a beer, or to watch the beautiful sunset. This place was actually introduced to me by a good friend of mine. I loved the location, the fact that it overlooks the sea, and is located close to the beach.
The food fare was also super delicious, I would recommend ordering more of their local Indonesian food as I felt that their Carbonara was too watery. I didn’t explore the rest of their Western menu, but their Cap Chai and Nasi Goreng were perfect though. They were extremely fragrant and tantalising to the max. Do get their Roselle tea and Watermelon Juice as well to quench your thirst!
This place had a great ambience, be it a good spot to wind out in the afternoon, or a nice candlelit dinner at night. It was also free of flies and other nasty bugs, what more can you ask for! It’s high-put location also makes for a great view of the surroundings. You can work here with their free WiFi and I predict really good things for this place in the future.
With 7 different flavours of Acai, this was the BEST acai bowl shop that I’ve found in Bali. Located in a perfect location with gorgeous sea views, this economical and cute Acai Shop prepares high quality Acai bowls that can be topped with a wide variety of yummy ingredients. Genuinely, the quality of their Acai beats those back home anytime. The owner of the shop is also Brazilian, which might explain the unique taste of their Acai blend.
The shop also allows you to try out their Acai blends before choosing the flavours which is very reasonable. I would recommend the Original and Traditional blends, topped with a smattering of chia seeds or coconut flakes.
For those who didn’t know, the Acai berry is found near the Amazon all the way in South America. It is full of anti-oxidants and is pretty tasty on its own. Recently, exporters have managed to bring the healthy Acai Berry into other parts of the world, either in puree or powder form. The Acai Bowls are really healthy and I’m sure I helped the shop’s business by casually promoting the bowls to some older folks milling around who were wondering what Acai was. Another cute thing they do is to take a photo of you with their acai bowl with the shop’s background, possibly to promote their shop on Facebook or other social media.
I entered Wowi’s by chance. I was staying at Lay Day, and had just arrived back from a 4 hours car ride from Tulabem as I was diving there. I was desperate for dinner at 9pm. I was walking about and none of the places were open nearby except for Wowi’s. After entering Wowi’s , I realized that it was still their first week of operations, AND the owner was a fellow Singaporean! What a coincidence.
Wowi’s provides fusion Western food (at least that was what came across to me) , and I have a few favourites to recommend. Their Butter Chicken tasted so good, I ordered it twice. The combination of spices they used to prepare the sauce was just perfect. I would also recommend their Madras Curry, it tastes heavenly. Their rice bowls (Beef, Chicken, and Pork) are not bad, but they could improve on the quantity of meat given per bowl. I also like the mixed fruit juices that they offer. The prices are normal cafe prices but the quality of the food is definitely on point.
I also loved the decor of the place. The woody minimalistic nature of the restaurant combined with a good selection of lounge tunes makes for a good dinner spot. And, I think they have live music on certain days now. You could look up the timings and special offers on their Instagram page which I will link at the side. You can also tell that the staff were genuine in their service, and you could feel that they had been well-trained. I actually spoke to some of them and they’re really nice people, most were local Balinese but the hospitality was amazing. Last but not the least, Nigel, the owner, is really friendly and you can tell that he cares for the shop deeply.
Nudel Cafe is also in Canggu, and its located on the Entertainer as well. The prices are so reasonable and they have a good variety of dishes on their menu, from Western fare to typical Indonesian food. Similarly to Ithaka, I appreciated their local Indonesian items more, maybe because they are more used to preparing these meals.
The cafe is not air-conditioned, which might also explain the low prices. However, it did not compromise on the quality and the food was served pretty fast as well, which is a blessing when you’re famished.
With the Entertainer App, most main courses will cost around 30000 IDR or less, which is definitely a steal.
This shop specialised in smoothie bowls, not just acai bowls. I tried their Peanut Butter bowl and it was absolutely delicious. The portions were huge and I did not manage to finish their granola. It was worth the money, and it was also well-located along the main road in Canggu. I was actually looking for Nalu Bowls but decided to give this shop a try and it turned out to be surprisingly good! The owner also sells his toppings and granola in little travel-friendly jars that you can purchase.
Forget about the typical Potato Head Beach Club, or Double Six, which charges exorbitant fees (minimum spend 50 SGD per person to get a beach bed), La Brisa is super new, with fewer people, AND charges less for a chance on a beach bed. The ambience is also super relaxed and I could literally spend most of the day here just chilling.
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the various lounges they had. The views of the surfers riding the waves were also one of the best. It was so enjoyable just sipping a cocktail, lounging on a beanbag and pondering life as it passed before my eyes (mushy much.) I liked how they mixed the sea, jungle and tribal vibes into their decor. I literally couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Also, I went on a day where there was no minimum spend to sit there because there was an event going on. Hooray!
La Brisa also accepts phone bookings of their day beds and beanbags when you call them. They only reserve your booking for 15 minutes after your designated slot though, so please try not to be late! The atmosphere at this venue in Canggu was really attractive and one should pay this beach club visit whenever you are around the area!
Canggu is overflowing with hidden talent. Many shops selling unique clothing, stationery or other goods are popping up in this district. Some of them are owned by expats while others are owned by the local Balinese. You can see long stretches of shops along the main 2 roads in Canggu.
You could take a walk down some of the roads when its cooler, preferably in the evenings or early mornings and look at the items. I found this really cool eco-friendly shop called the PaperClip people that sells hand-designed clothes (tees, singlets etc.) and other cool items like wooden phone cases and round-the-world maps (love the basic stuff). The staff manning the shop were also lovely people, who managed to persuade me to purchase more than what I originally wanted to buy. The shop also gives you a free eco-sustainable bag for your phone , and cute stickers when you make purchases from them.
Going out at night becomes something of a ritual once you’ve settled into this slice of heaven. RnB and Hip Hop lovers will adore the nightlife as the music is mostly centred around this genre, rarely do they go into mainstream EDM, techno or other kinds of EDM at all. In a sense it was groovy, but there were instances where I wished more electronic music would be played.
Above shows Drink Point’s live music stage and bar design. Below (at the end of this segment) is a photo gallery of Drink Point’s Menu, and prices.
What a normal night out in Canggu usually goes like . . . would be to start at pre-drinking at your hostel (Lay Day is great for this, some people just come to Lay Day for the night even though they don’t stay there), then moving on to either Drink Point ( a cool pub which has live music) or Old Man’s (the pub / hang-out place almost everyone heads to eventually at night). Old Man’s has Beer Pong Wednesdays which is a cool event where Old Man’s become PACKED, but its lots of fun and you’ll make many new friends along the way, be it with a victory or defeat.
Below shows the menu of drinks at Old Man’s!
Pretty Poison is amazing too, it is an old skateboard rink which hosts parties every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Either ways people head down to Old Man’s at the end , and move over to the Sand Bar at the end of the night. Sand Bar (as its name suggests), is located down on the beach and plays mostly oldies and hiphop that everyone will definitely groove to.
Below are some (grainy, sorry) pictures of the Sand Bar.
It’s advisable to check the Facebook Pages of these venues as they might have special DJs on certain event nights like Friday’s and Saturday’s. Especially at Old Man’s. I’ll link the pages on the right side.
The Uluwatu district is located south of Bali, known for its powerful surf waves that are not suited for beginners. Besides the hair-raising waves which forces you to do a reef break instead of the easier sand breaks at Canggu, the Uluwatu area has lots of cliffs and thus the beach clubs are perched on these cliffs , which offer breathtaking views of the sea, and the sunsets that come with it. Another reason why I visited Uluwatu was because a music festival was held in a cultural park in the area. However, I explored most of Uluwatu and would suggest some of the best things to do below.
The waves here in Uluwatu are not for the faint-hearted, it is a world famous surf-break. Tons of surfers around the world have flocked to Uluwatu to test their skills against nature. The waves here are different from those beginner waves in Canggu. They require a lot more skill, and is best if you have decent experience surfing. I’ve met a few friends who have had a lot of good things to say about the surfs here 🙂
The Single Fin party is one of the most famous parties on Bali. Every Sunday night, the beach club Single Fin is the location to be in. The party is split into 2 halves, one tech-house segment which is out on the open stage, while the hip-hop segment is more indoors and on the upper side of the club. It is packed with people on Sundays, some people even book a hostel room on Saturdays and Sundays in Uluwatu just for the Single Fin Party.
The party goes on till 1am, after that by which it moves to a more techno-ish location located downstairs. Known as Double Fin, the party then goes on for another 2 to 3 hours depending on the DJs. Either way, this is a must-do when you come to Uluwatu. Even if the music does not appeal to you, the atmosphere is just buzzing with energy. It makes a for a great night’s out with friends.
My hostel in Uluwatu, SR Hostel, organized a pick up to and fro the party for around 60000 IDR per person, which was really reasonable. I would recommend staying there if you are looking for a good group of mates for the night.
I think the presence of multiple cliffsides at Uluwatu makes for a different view of the sunset. Compared to chilling with a cocktail on the sand / beach in Kuta or Canggu, you are mostly sitting on a chair on a high vantage point to view the sunsets. It can be a very relaxing environment listening to the waves crash on the rocks below, while waiting for that golden ball of fire to edge down over the horizon. The pictures paint a thousand words, so I shall say no more.
There are many bars you can chill at to watch the sunset, or just to spend time with good company. Single Fin is one of them, but there are plenty to go about 🙂
Other recommendations include UluCliffhouse, Rock Bar Bali, El Kabron Cliff Club and many others!
Sky Garden is famous in the Kuta region of Bali. It is a 4-floor mega club, which acts as a restaurant before it’s transformation at night. One of the most famous clubs in Bali, it has also been a target for pickpockets so keep an eye out for your belongings, especially after you’re returning to your accommodation / Grab ride after a night’s out.
I would highly recommend coming for the dinner buffet, it costs 115000 IDR , you get FREE FLOW DRINKS ,FOOD and DESSERT (yes, dessert is the key word here), and you get free entry to the club areas afterwards. Free drinks last till 9pm but the food and dessert last throughout the night till it closes at 4am in the morning. I should have taken pictures of the dinner buffet but unfortunately did not think to do so. I apologise for that.
For the fans of EDM, this is the place to be. They regularly invite well-known DJs to spin their tracks, so keep an eye out on the schedule. I use this website (HERE), which tells you what’s going on around Bali for certain nights. Basically they play EDM on the main dance floor (1st and 2nd), RnB lounge on the 3rd floor, and Hip Hop / Oldies / Pop Songs on the rooftop (the rooftop is always packed with people).
La Plancha is a beachfront restaurant / bar in Kuta characterized by colourful umbrellas for shade, good lounge music with a taste of Mexican in its menu. I have repeatedly come here with friends as because there is no minimum spend to enjoy the beach views and music (but it is courtesy to at least order a drink / some finger food), unlike the rest of the exorbitantly priced beach clubs (Double Six, Omnia, Potato Head). This is a really cute place to spend your afternoon at, it is also a prime spot to view the sunsets from Kuta so this is a cheaper option to do that, but not compromising on quality.
Bali is an amazing place, with lots of sights to see, and so many hidden gems. It is definitely possible to explore these places if you venture out of the typical touristy spots, with an open mind of course. In due time, some of these places may change (for the worse, I guess), as the influx of tourism spreads menacingly. Recently, the officials in Bali have targeted a great reduction in single use plastic bags, which will be super helpful for the already plastic-swamped beaches in central Kuta and even some parts of Canggu. For beaches without most waste, I suggest you look that the areas in the north (Tulabem, Amed etc.). Overall, Bali is awesome and I hope you have a good time there!
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