I always promise myself I am going to make a post on this list every time we have a friends who visits Bali. I usually end up sending them a messy email list instead. So here I am finally getting on with it. This is for my friends Ela & her hubby, who are going Bali very soon! And of course for all of my readers and friends who are planning a Bali trip!
One caveat though, we are not experts on Bali in any way! We’ve only been to Bali 3 times this year and twice last year (though we are returning one more time to make it a total of 4 times this year). We stayed in the following for each visit:
- Seminyak and Ubud
- Nusa Dua
- Nusa Dua
- Nusa Dua and Sanur (for our last trip to Bali this year)
Map image via
However the list I’ve compiled below is not only based on my experiences but also on the recommendations of our friend E (who has been living in Jakarta for more than 20 years) and our Fab friend Ted (who used to be the Food Editor for Time Out Jakarta). I also tried my best to give the most updated information I could but regrets if there are any errors or if they are no longer up to date.
Click on the links to check out my posts on the various items. For items that I don’t have a post yet, I linked you to their respective websites. This list is far from complete so from time to time I will update this post. Hope this helps you plan your trip!
Bali sunsets are gorgeous when watched from one of Bali’s chic bars. Here’s a list of bars I recommend. With Rock Bar being my highest recommendation! It’s a bit far from Kuta & Jimbaran though so you have to rent a car. Don’t believe your driver if he says it’s only 15mins away – which happened to my friends.
The Rock Bar
Potato Head in Pacific Place Mall is one of our regular places to eat/drink. They’ve launched in Bali late 2010 with a mega bar/complex with several floors and a pool. You can bring your swim gear here because there’s a pool and there’s free towel service. Sunset at Potato Head, Seminyak, Bali © Stuart McDonald
Super chic and apparently totally kicking Ku De Ta‘s arse. According to @GourmetTravel, food is still better in Ku De Ta but this place is great for drinks. With 3 restaurants, a pool and a shop – I have to agree! More details and photos of The Rock Bar here.
Ku De Ta
Head over there around 4pm to catch the 6pm sunset (Be there at 4 because there is limited seating) Grab one of the lounge chairs facing the beach. Order some appetizers (personal faves: Calamari and Hummus, but everything is pretty good). I like drinking the strawberry caipirinha, but be careful of the prices. If you are on a budget, you can never go wrong with Bir Bintang (local indo beer)…just drink it cold…when it gets hot, it sucks….”
The Bar at Bulgari Hotel
Have you ever had sunset cocktails here? If you have I would love to hear your experience in the comments below. Photos of tea with fellow trailing spouse Travels with a Gourmet here.
Bar Hopping in Jalan Legian
For the singles. Especially ladies who are into hot sweaty Aussie dudes (LOL!) this is the street…The names of the places change so often…just check them out one by one…
- Double6 (you can go bungee jumping here)
Ikan Bakar Jimbaran
Ikan Bakar Jimbaran or grilled seafood Jimbaran-style is a must try. If you go to The Rockbar for sunset or watch the Kecak Dance in Uluwatu (also at sunset) then I highly recommend that you have dinner in Jimbaran which is in the area.
Ikan baker Jimbaran style is my favourite way to enjoy seafood. When dining in Jimbaran beach always ask for their special sauce which is sweet and spicy. Jimbaran reminds me of our Dampa style dining in the Philippines wherein you buy your seafood by the Kilo then the resto cooks it for you. In Jimbaran each resto has seafood on ice or live in aquariums and you choose which pieces and how much you want, it is weighed then you are asked how you want it cooked. Don’t forget to get it bakar in special sauce.
You will be asked to pick your seafood at the entrance of the restaurant (some are on ice and there are live ones in aquariums)…Crabs and Lobster will make your bill 3x as high, so ask yourself whether its worth it. I recommend getting some prawns, squid, clams (1/3 kilo each) and a fish. Clams are the favorite! Get everything BAKAR with special sauce (grilled with their special sauce)! Rice, kangkung (water spinach) and fruits for dessert are complimentary with the meal. Don’t forget to mix match the sauces. As a good guideline…the cost per kilo should not go over Rp80,000…if they are charging more than that be weary and pick another resto…
Of all the dances seen on Bali today, the *Kecak* dance is perhaps the most dramatic. Taken from the Hindu epic Ramayana, the dance tells the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of Princess Sita, who has been kidnapped by the evil King of Lanka. -Ed Web Project
This is a must do in Bali. The one that E recommended to us is the one in Uluwatu. Ask your hotel for the schedules. You should arrive early to get good seats (2 or 3rd from the bottom at the center). There are also other Kecak dances all over the island, make sure to get the sunset schedule in Uluwatu because they are the most dramatic! Photos of our experience here.
Be sure to eat at Jimbaran after.
Tanah Lot Sunset
We weren’t able to get to Tanah Lot for sunset last time we were there because we took too long outlet shopping (So sorry TD! Totally my fault!) and traffic was bad. Always account for traffic for traveltime. There are also Kecak Dance schedules for Tanah Lot which is also highly recommended by our Indonesian friends. Tanah Lot Sunset and Seafood Dinner © Bali Round Tour
Bali Fine Dining
Bridges is my fondest fine dining experience in Bali. The sound of the river rushing by, the warm candle lit tables, friendly staff, amazing yet approachable menu is unforgettable. The atmosphere is exquisite yet casualwithout the snobbery of some of the fine dining establishments in Bali. Read more about my experience here.
Mozaic was awarded as best resto in indonesia and was ranked 5 in Asia in the Miele Guide. Reservations is a must, strict dress code and no children allowed. This is a pricey place but gourmands and foodies may want to check it out.
Over the past 9 years Mozaic has established an international reputation. It has been listed in Restaurant Magazine’s list of the best 100 restaurants in the world and is one of only two South East Asian restaurants to be named in the exclusive international fine food guide, Les Grandes Tables du Monde. Mozaic is also the only Indonesian restaurant to be selected as one of the world’s best in the prestigious S. Pellegrino restaurant awards and ranked as Asia’s fifth finest restaurant in the region’s new Miele guide. When it opened, Mozaic was an immediate success and was named best restaurant in Indonesia by Food & Wine, Prestige and Indonesia Tatler. Wine Spectator magazine bestowed an Award of Excellence for the wine list for a number of consecutive years, making Mozaic the first restaurant in Indonesia to receive such a recognition. Additional praise has been awarded by influential publications such as Conde Nast Traveller, New York Magazine, National Geographic Traveller, Times Asia, the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.
EIGTHY DEGREES SOUTH
This beautiful restaurant at the beach front of the fabulous Conrad Hotel Nusa Dua is a great place for a special romantic evening. The wagyu beef and seared foie gras with black truffle sauce and Chocolate Bar for dessert. More information and photos here.
More Bali Bites
This is a Bali institution famous for it’s baby back ribs. Honestly it’s not the best I’ve tried, but it’s pretty darn good if you haven’t ribs in a while and it’s more of the experience of eating in a street side waring that is the point of eating there. I am talking about the original restaurant in Ubud of course. I would recommend asking for an extra bowl of the BBQ sauce and dousing the ribs in it. The normal amount of BBQ sauce doesn’t do the ribs justice. Also order one of their martinis. Personally I liked the ribs in Cinta Grill so much more.
This is another Bali institution. Anyone who visits Bali for the first time should have a taste of Indonesian warung food at Made’s. Try the Nasi Goreng, Nasi Campur, GadoGado and Sate. Read my full review and see photos here.
E also recommends Mama’s Kitchen for authentic German food. Get the Schweinazen. It is good for two.
If you are staying in Kuta, just around the block are a lot of shops…remember to bargain…initial price will be 6x more than cost…don’t bargain if you don’t have plans of buying because the shop owners sometimes get annoyed. Here are my must visit stores in Bali:
Surf Outlet Shopping
Blue Bird Taksi Bali
Customer Care: (0361) 701 621
If you are going to go to Uluwatu or have a day trip to Ubud or other farther areas then I recommend hiring a driver. It’s best to get referrals from friends who have had good experiences with a specific driver because I know people who have gotten offers from the hotel driver and got cheated instead, or gotten drivers with severe body oder and had to suffer it the entire day. My favourites are below.
Driver Surya – Bali
+6281 2396 3048
Surya works with a team of drivers so if he is not available for your specific date, his colleagues can also take you around. Tbey speak English and are very nice. Their rate starts at Rp 350,000 for 10 hours. However if you want a newer car which I recommend if you are prone to being carsick (Bali’s tiny roads have twists and turns that make me nauseus) you can add 50,000. The rates are inclusive of parking and drivers food already. But if you are feeling generous, feel free to tip extra.
Please note thought that different drivers have different rates so make sure to ask for the other driver’s rate and what type of car they have before committing.
Made Bali Car Rental
If I am not mistaken we paid 80 USD for 8 hours.
CAUTIONARY TALE: You can negotiate but be wary of drivers who give you a package deal that is based on where you’re going instead of the hours. Usually it’s too good to be true and I’ve friends who bargained with the driver to go to Seminyak and The Rock Bar in Uluwatu for only 35 USD. The driver said they were already in Seminyak (in reality they were only in Kuta) and the driver said not to worry because The Rock Bar was only 15 mins away (if I recall correctly it’s more like 45 mins away). Then he said they were taking too long and he wanted to charge them double already. They never got to any of the places they planned and still had to pay the driver.
For those who are going to Ubud, I did a special post on some of the things that I like in Ubud here.
Enjoy your trip to Bali! Thanks again so much to E who passed on this list to me and TD on our very first trip to Bali.How about you? What’s on your list of favorite Bali experiences? Drop me a line!