I didn’t know what to expect from Bali. However, I was rather blown away by the place — so much so, my friends and I are already talking about our next trip. I was spending time with two awesome friends, and that makes experiencing places like this so much fun. I’ll list below some of the highlights, for example where we found good shopping places, restaurants and general tips.
We loved the villa so much, that we actually spent a lot of time relaxing there. It was a perfect home base. You can read more about our villa, Casa Daha, in the review post here.
Located in a central area in Seminyak, we had access to essentials (in the Mini Mart, 50 metres away), and it was walking distance to massage places and some of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at in my life!
Along the road the villa is on, there’s a wide variety of shops. I would say the shops in this area (on Jl. Raya Kerobokan road in Seminyak) tend to be a more upper end, although there is small shops too. There are designer brand shops, and look out for clothes from the Bali Luxury Label, By The Sea — they are lovely.
If you want to shop at market-style shops (which are much cheaper), it is worth heading to Poppies Lane. Bartering is expected in this area, and you do need to be wary of people coming up and trying to sell you things. There are some places you can stop and have a cool drink that overlooks the busy streets.
We actually found a small area on Garlik Lane, where you can shop for fixed-price items so there’s no hassling. It’s a much more relaxing experience and the prices are still very affordable. I was looking for presents for my four children, and I needed space to shop and think so this was perfect. It is called Miss Debbie’s in and it is located in Garlic Lane, Kuta. I mostly bought items for the kids, but I did nab the belt (the pic below on the left). I also had a custom wallet/bag made (pic on the right) which I’ll explain below.
There are many places that will make you custom items that will be ready in 3 or 4 days. It is a good idea to shop for these at the start of the holiday so they will be ready in time. Getting recommendations for these places is important. We had a friend who had items made before, so we went with her recommendation — Kuta Leather and Tailor. It was such a fun experience! We got to pick our leather colours/types and explain what we wanted. Below is a pic with our HILARIOUS driver.
They have examples of products instore or bring a picture of what you like for inspiration. You can also use an actual product you have as inspiration. Below is the wallet/purse I had made. I love it! It holds my cards, money, phone and lip balm. I fell in love with the aqua colour and decided to have it paired with a tan colour. When I showed my husband when I got home, he noticed the brass accessories, especially the YKK zip. It stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha. Tadao Yoshida founded Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha (Yoshida Industries Limited) in 1934 and many designers prefer this zipper.
My tips for having something custom made is to be as specific as possible and really have a good idea of what you want both inside and outside the item you are having made.
There is so much to do in Bali! We did a few small trips exploring the areas (like the beach), and one big day trip out to Ubud. There are so much more we want to explore (next time!).
Not far from Seminyak is Jerman beach which is worth a visit.
There is a lovely place to eat overlooking the ocean called, Pantai restaurant. It serves delicious satay, along with a variety of other food options.
Ubud Cycle Tour
For our dedicated adventure day, we organised a downhill Ubud cycle tour with Friends In Bali. They have a community focus for the tours and invest back into the local area by providing educational opportunities for young people to practice Engish. They were fantastic! I booked the trip online through their website the evening before (feeling just a little worried for the last notice) and followed up with a Whatsapp message and they replied straight away confirming.
You can either do a group tour or a private tour. It wasn’t much more expensive to do a private tour and I highly recommend it because it is much more personal. We got picked up from our villa and when we arrived in Ubud, we explored the coffee plantation and had breakfast before heading up to Mount. Then we started the downhill tour, stopping to admire ancient architecture and rice fields. We stopped in for a snack in a local home and then cycled our way to a beautiful location for a delicious lunch. Then our driver took us back to the villa. It was a top day.
Luwak coffee is sold for $500/kg. The coffee beans are eaten by a Luwak in the wild, pooped out, washed twice, roasted then made into coffee.
One of the BIG highlights was the food! I’m serious, I enjoyed some of the best meal of my life in Bali! Indonesian food is beautiful, but in Seminyak, there was a wide variety of cuisines, and the food was exceptional. Food in Bali is extremely affordable, and at what I would say is a five-star standard, we had two drinks, en entree and main for under $50. I’ll whizz through some of the restaurants we enjoyed.
Sangsaka (Indonesian) – Seminyak
Probably the highlight was the tasting menu at Sangsaka (9 plates). The balance of flavours and the quality of the food was — just wow. The restaurant is darkly lit and has a lovely ambience, so we didn’t take many pics, but here’s an example of some of the dishes. Incredible food!
Bo & Bun (Vietnamese)
Bo & Bun was walking distance from our villa. We stopped here for lunch one day and got the tasting platter. Excellent.
Som Chai (Thai)
We visited Som Chai on the last evening before we left Bali. What a send-off! Glorious food!!! This restaurant was literally right next door to our villa, in fact, those palm trees you can see on the right — that’s where our villa is situated.
Nostimo Greek Grill Bali (Greek)
Barbacoa (South American)
We ate entrees at Barbacoa. It is extremely affordable and the quality is amazing.
Da Maria (Italian)
Da Maria is HIP! It was extremely busy the night we visited but the service was efficient. I think I enjoyed one of the nicest pasta I’ve eaten! I had the pumpkin ravioli. I know I keeping raving, but the food experiences in Bali was really that great.
Warung Mak Oni (Balinese)
Warung Mak Oni was an informal local cafe we stopped at for lunch. Food was delicious (I picked Nasi Goreng). They also do fresh juices.
Pantai Restaurant (Indonesian)
As I mentioned above, we stopped at Pantai Restuarant after visiting Jerman Beach for lunch. The way they char the chicken is delicious.
Latif Cafe was just down the road from our villa. If you’re looking for more standard western-type food, this is a solid option (pizza, burgers, chips, coffee). Although, I have to say, the food we ordered from here was pretty average, compared to the amazing restaurants.
We stopped at a little local Warung (which is like a small family-run Balinese cafe) which was close to our accommodation. We tired the Bali local dish called babi guling, which is essentially pork in a lot of different ways. You can read more about it here. It was good to try, but I wasn’t a massive fan.
- It is worth getting a SIM card to help you navigate around. I only got a data pack, and it cost me about $10. Heaps of businesses use Whatsapp and it is a great way to communicate with your driver, local businesses and tour operators.
- Where you stay in Bali depends on what sort of holiday you want. For example, Ubud is much quieter and more rural. There are lovely resorts and retreats there. If you’re looking for a good base that has a lot of restaurants etc., then Seminyak is popular, and we loved staying here. Because we had our own private villa, we could have quiet downtime whenever you want.
- If you love coffee and want to make your own, invest in an AeroPress, it’s so easy to travel with and makes great coffee.
- Get recommendations for drivers. We found ours through a mutual friend and he was amazing! So fun and helpful.
- There is a closed Facebook group called BALI GROUPIES which is extremely helpful.
- Withdraw money from ATMs at larger places (do not use the local money exchange)
- Over the years of travel, I have it extremely useful to have a little foldable string backpack like this one. It’s light and yet it holds enough for a day trip.
I did up a map with many of the places we visited, in relation to our villa in Seminyak. If you would like to view the map with a lot of the places I mention in this post, you can access it here.
Highlight Reel Video
Below is a snapshot video of the getaway.
- Packing for Bali
- Private Bali Villa – Casa Daha
- Bali Holiday Highlights
- Big Travel Hat for Bali
- Travel Makeup