There is something about Bali that changes how you feel about life, leaving a lasting impression that not many places can. A deeply spiritual island, with the loveliest people proud of their culture, spirituality and traditions. It’s not surprising that Bali’s second name is the Island of the Gods, with its magnificent mountains covered in lush jungle forests, incredible waterfalls, stunning rice paddies, beautiful coastlines some with black sand from the volcanic hills, others pristine white where coral reefs attract the prettiest of sea life. Honestly I get excited about thinking of all the different experiences I had in Bali, and I haven’t even mentioned the places to stay, the villages, the artsy towns with unexpected cool shops and places to eat and drink. The island has something to offer whatever kind of tourist it attracts.
Bali is a province of Indonesia located next to Lombok island, and has a culture like nothing I have personally experienced before. Although it is so close to Indonesia which is a predominantly muslim country, Bali is mostly Hindu which gives it a has a completely different feel.
There’s a general vibe of being at one with the island, the people are incredibly humble and grateful for all they have and as you wake up every morning, even the roosters screaming their lungs out sound happy to be there! In almost every house we passed, we saw temples, some bigger than others, some much more intricate than others, but they all have their own individual place of worship. When walking among these small Balinese villages surrounded by gorgeous rice fields you start to smell the incense coming from the Canang Sari, which are like small baskets made from bamboo and banana trees leaves. The Balinese believe in giving back, so they use these baskets to place offerings, often food related, to thank the gods, an offering known as Banten.
There is so much to capture and tell you about, from the most beautiful sunsets, the spiritual healing and relaxing meditation on offer, to surfing or swimming with Manta-rays, washing rescued gentle giant elephants, right through to the lively unexpected modern towns. But what I feel will be most helpful, is where to stay! So I have captured the places that really stood out and are all quite different in the experience they offer.
Three things I think would be helpful to know when thinking about where to stay:
1 – Bali can get very crowded in the busy towns, and the traffic can be like London in rush hour. So make sure you don’t spends hours going from one hotel to another, by planning on a map hotels that are close to each other. Hotel hopping is a really great way to see different parts of Bali, but make sure you check on the map, otherwise, you can spend half of your day in traffic.
2 – Bali is bigger than you think, it’s a district, which has lots of different towns offering really different experiences. Make sure to visit a few, and not just one! I didn’t get chance to visit all the towns, but my favourites ones were: Ubud, Seminyak, Canggu, Uluwatu, Tabanan.
3 – The weather in Bali is not the same in every location. Ubud can be cloudy and more ‘tropical’, whereas Uluwatu is the complete opposite. So maybe don’t book Ubud thinking you will get a tan.
We can’t wait to return and explore more of the island, but our favourite places are listed below and we will definitely return to a few of these!
1- Villa Sungai, CANGGU
I should start by saying, that I have never stayed in a place like this. Definitely one of the most outstanding places I have visited. If I could go to any place by tapping my red shoes together, it would be here! Bali’s version of a luxury lodge – intimate and bespoke, tailored to the sophisticated and discerning experiential traveller looking for luxury accommodation with access to local experiences.
From its immaculate, elegant interiors to the extraordinary service, the villa is the definition of spoiling and relaxation, taking the 5-star hotel experience to the next level – perfect for couples, families, or friends holidaying together. I was lucky enough to have spent 4 full days in the gorgeous villa Sungai.
You wake to the most beautiful surroundings, and a feeling of calm. There are two villas, Sungai and Gold, we stayed in both, and each one is out of this world. What really sets it apart are the staff, who are simply incredible, you don’t really realise they are there, cooking, cleaning, getting the temperature perfect in each room, making every single arrangement seem effortless right down to making sure the mosquitos stay away from your rooms. In 4 days, we did not get a single bite, and Bali is full of mosquitos. It seems a strange point to make, but the attention to detail in making you feel completely looked after and happy is incredible, actually so incredible that you don’t even notice the level they go to make your stay the best ever.
2- Green Village, Ubud
Perched on the sacred Ayung River and surrounded by the lush Balinese forest, Green Village is a tranquil and peaceful compound that hosts spectacular bamboo houses and villas.
Each luxury villa and house in Green Village is constructed almost entirely from bamboo, custom-designed by the IBUKUarchitectural team and built by hand. The beautiful structures showcase how bamboo – combined with brass, copper, and stone – can create sustainable, luxurious floors, walls, ceilings, stairs, and railings.
The below tree house, we stayed at is called Eclipse. We had 4 bedrooms and bathrooms all for ourself! I don’t think I have ever stayed in a place so big. We even had a guest house! Sadly, it was not used. I got a lot of questions about it, and yes it is definitely a one of a lifetime experience, I can’t recommend it enough. However, it is almost impossible to get a date available as they are almost always fully booked. You may need to book it way way in advance if you want to experience it!
3- Waka Gangga, Tabanan
Located in the upcoming area of Tabanan on Bali’s southwest coast, this intimate oceanfront retreat comprises just 21 villas, most with their own private swimming pool. Located far from the hustle and bustle of Bali’s more populated areas, the stylish WakaGangga is set amidst gently sloping rice terraces and framed by the glittering black sand beach.
For centuries timeless traditions, the mountains, emerald green rice fields, the deep blue ocean and the quietly spoken people of Bali have inspired artists and travelers alike. In a village forgotten by time, WakaGangga harnesses all that is beautiful, natural and simply spectacular in a boutique resort in Bali that offers the greatest luxury of all; our unspoiled island at its best.
We were so lucky to have stayed in a villa with private pool. Being 2-3 minutes away from the ocean, was also incredible calming. We ended up going to the beach every morning for the sun rise and every evening for the sunset, and got the below gorgeous images. Hotel staff is incredibly kind, and the food is super tasty. I got to try the famous Mie goreng for the first time at this hotel, and my mouth still gets watery thinking about it!