During our week-long trip, we set aside one day to visit the uplands of Bali, mainly Ubud and the picturesque Tegalalang rice paddies. Unfortunately hitting the snooze button one too many times meant we didn't have time to travel all the way up to the top of the mountain where Tegalalang is located, however thanks to our wonderful driver Grumpy (who is anything but!) offered us an abbreviated day trip which meant we got to tick off other must-see sites including the Sacred Monkey Forest, a coffee plantation where we sampled a cup of Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world made from the droppings of a furry little animal called civet cats. Look, I'd never pay $8 for my daily coffee, but Kopi Luwak is surprisingly tasty! We wrapped up the day watching a breathtakingly beautiful sunset at Tanah Lot temple, one of seven sea temples in Bali.
Tip: Start the day early so you can maximise your time in Ubud and for any transportation needs, Grumpy is your man (just shoot him a Facebook message to get in touch!). He offers very affordable rates not to mention he's just the funniest, most genuine guy you'll ever meet!
We did a lot of eating during our stay, and if food is your jam, you will love Bali's dining scene! It's easy to eat like kings for half of what we pay in Melbourne and with such a large array of dining options, we were spoilt for choice. I would need a separate blog post to review every eatery we visited, but some highlights were Sisterfields for delicious yet wholesome brunch options, Sardine for beautiful fresh seafood and a very romantic setting, MAMA San for modern asian fare that would give Chin Chin a run for their money, Corner House (pictured below) for great coffee and Hotel Mexicola (pictured below) for fresh, vibrant authentic Mexican food.
Tip: MAMA San's upstairs dining area permits smoking and even though the ventilation is good, it's not for everyone. If that someone is you, call up early and make a reservation for a table downstairs. Also if you're wondering if there's a dress code for fine dining in Bali, there really isn't.
You can do some serious damage along the main street of Seminyak, where you'll find a bunch of familiar labels including Shakuhachi, Mister Zimi, Natasha and my personal favourite Magali Pascal. I spent a solid two hours in their flagship boutique, whilst BF lost interest and wandered off to a bar across the street. Magali's offering is a mix of flirty, feminine and bohemian designs in a range of colours that will easily take you from beach to bar. I picked up three beautiful dresses that will be on high rotation this summer and a few delicate pieces from Bali based jewellery label, Leeloo Bird.
Tip: Don't be afraid to barter when shopping at local stores and leather tailors. It's common practise in Bali and expected by shop keepers. Do your research prior to your trip so you know what price points to expect.
An institution in Bali, Potato Head Beach Club is a must-visit, guaranteeing a fun day in the sun. We went assuming we'd just have a dip in their infinity pool and a few drinks but the whole day easily passed us by as we lounged around on their spacious day beds. The staff are friendly and attentive and orders are taken at your day bed and delivered to you. You can see why we didn't want to leave! The menu consists of a range of refreshing cocktails and hearty western food options, perfect for sharing. Block out a full day for Potato Head, with two bars and two restaurants to indulge in and DJs spinning the decks into the early hours, you'll need it.
Tip: To score a day bed which is hands down the best seat in the house, you need to get there early. We arrived 30 mins before opening and the queue was already snaking around the corner. Don't leave it to chance.
Nestled in a quieter part of Seminyak away from the main strip, you will find a blissful sanctuary also known as The Amala. We stayed in one of the resort's Spa Villas which gave luxury a new meaning. Our villa featured our own plunge jet pool, outdoor tub and steam shower which was an absolute dream when scented with the complimentary essential oils. We loved pushing back the sliding glass doors to the bedroom and having the whole villa open plan, and much to our surprise mozzies weren't a huge problem thanks to the nightly fumigation during turn-down service. The staff greeted us with a smile, a fresh fruit platter and an icy drink which was welcomed relief from the sticky heat. Go on, treat yourself and book into one of their twelve exclusive villas and sorry kids, this one's adults only.
For our last night in Bali, we left the hustle and bustle of Seminyak behind and checked into THE BALÉ (booked via Lifestyle Retreats) located in Nusa Dua, 40 minutes south of Seminyak. Upon arriving at the retreat's cool, spacious lobby we felt instantly refreshed. We were then given a guided tour of our Single Pavilion, which in a few words is jaw-droppingly beautiful. With a big day bed, private pool, deep bathtub complete with a TV, candles and essential oils and an amazing outdoor shower, we felt blissfully treated. So much so, we made full use of the room service and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in our pavilion, in our bath robes of course. For those who'd prefer to venture out, you have three on-site restaurants to choose from and if this doesn't tickle your fancy, The Balé offer complimentary transfers around Nusa Dua, so you can explore the area. I must also add that the service at The Balé was above and beyond. When we requested a late check out due to our midnight flight, the friendly staff checked us into another pavilion and allowed us to stay for as long as we needed - free of charge. We were blown away by their hospitality and cannot wait to return for another relaxing getaway.