Bali Travel Diary
bali travel diary
If you’ve ever met me, you would know how deep my love is for Bali.
I first visited Bali in 2010, just on the cusp of the Eat, Pray, Love explosion. I spent six weeks fully immersed in Ubud living. Teaching English in different orphanages while living with Nyoman on his family compound. Since that time, I have been back 4 times, and plan to return many more.
This last trip we made, my future in-laws joined us and it was their very first visit. I took the lead on planning the trip entirely – from flights, to places to stay, to places to eat. On our last dinner, they had expressed how thankful they were, how they would have never experienced Bali the same way if it wasn’t for me. My heart exploded.
I won’t lie, I had INTENSE anxiety about this trip. Bali means so much to me, and if they didn’t like it, I would’ve been so devastated. I had already internally planned what I would do if they hated it. Not joking. So, needless to say there was a lot of planning that happened for this trip.
Choosing your flight for this long haul, is a big decision. We’ve flown both East + West from Toronto to reach Bali over the years. I prefer to fly West and to fly with Korean Air. It’s a direct go right into South Korea, and by this point, the next 7-hour leg feels like a quick flight to Florida. Flying East makes for a very, very long travel - with long lay-overs in Europe, another flight change in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur and then finally Bali.
When first arriving in Bali, I always like to stay somewhere relatively close to the airport. After a long flight, it feels really good to just get to your room and take a shower or dip in the pool.
We landed at 12am in Bali. This is now a very popular time for flights to arrive. It took us close to 2 hours to even get through customs. Now, I don’t want to age myself, but back in 2010, the airport was much smaller. You got off on the runway and was out within 30 minutes. Prepare yourself for a bit of a customs wait, and don’t dilly-dally on your way there.
Our first stop, and my first time to this location, was Canggu (pronounced Chang-goo). It is definitely an up + coming hot spot in Bali. It still really has that old Bali feel, with roads fit only for motos. It reminds me of Ubud, but on the beach. It really is the perfect location to get that perfect Bali vibe that you only see on postcards.
We stayed in Batu Bolong at a villa – Casa Zulu. Located directly across the street from The Loft and next door to The Common. We were in no shortage of starting each day with long blacks with homemade almond milk and a healthy breakfast.
Walking distance to the beach, we were able to enjoy some cold Bintangs while watching the surfers at Old Mans. Dinner choices were endless. From classic Indonesian to Polynesian to American was available.
We didn’t stray far from The Common for breakfast every morning, but each night we chose a new dinner spot.
Ubud will always have a soft spot in my heart. It was my first solo experience traveling abroad and now it’s where I got engaged.
How do I even put Ubud into words? Where some may think of beaches when they think of Bali, I think of Ubud. Rice fields, temples, kind locals, yoga, immense culture. Waking up to the sounds of roosters, the smell of burning incense while locals give their offerings, and the feeling of that Bali heat.
There is nothing like an early morning walk, while the tourists sleep and locals are out and about, to really make Ubud feel special. Walking to an early morning yoga class at Radiantly Alive followed with the most delicious breakfast at Bali Buda is my ideal day in Ubud. Bali Buda is a slow food restaurant, with no Wi Fi.
For this trip, I chose an AirBnb right in the middle of the rice fields. There are endless options of where to stay when in Ubud, even I found the process of finding a spot overwhelming. I prefer staying close to the town centre and this trip opting for a quiet, secluded walk through rice fields. This decision, was one of my favourite decisions for this trip. It embodies what Bali is through and through. If you’re looking to get engaged, Dewa, our host, helped Patrick set up the most perfect engagement.
Ubud is also home to the most delicious cuisine. One of my favourite restaurants is Melting Wok. Owned by an ex-pat living in Bali, they only offer curries and a daily special. This small menu is written on a chalk board that the servers bring to your table. It’s a small space, that usually comes with a wait, but it’s so well worth the wait.
On this trip, we decided to make reservations somewhere special that we’ve never been before. The Sayan House. Overlooking rice fields, with the best view for a Bali sunset.
This trip we did things a bit differently. Having never stayed at a resort, ever, this was very new to me. I always prefer to stay close to the locals, to really immerse myself in their culture. But, this was a real treat to cap off our first vacation with my in-laws. We stayed at Rimba, part of the Ayana Resort. We definitely blew them of the water with this one. I can’t take credit for this choice – this was all my partners.
Staying here, you’re part of the entire Ayana resort. There is a trolley that takes you to each ‘hot spot’ – different beautiful pools each with their own vibe, a private beach, different restaurants.
Everything you need can be found on the resort. We only left the resort once while staying here. This was very new to me, sort of thrilling! Needless to say, I came home with a lot of fancy moisturizer.
On our prior visits, we always opted to stay in Uluwatu, more south to Jimbaran Bay. Visiting Single Fin for cold Bintangs and watching the surfers. *This really is the thing to do in Bali. Finding the perfect spot to stay is vital unless you’re super comfortable riding a moto.
However, I became fluent in pool hopping this trip. Even if you’re not staying here, I suggest making a day to visit, enjoy the pools, and end the night at Rock Bar to watch the sunset. My favourite pool was the river pool. I have zero photos of it as it was a tech-free zone, you had to literally check your phone into a locker. Genius.
When others reach out to me to ask about Bali, I always, always recommend staying amongst the locals. Choosing a homestay or an AirBnb right within the town centres and supporting local Warungs (family owned businesses).
In regards to location, there are so many beautiful spots to stay in Bali. The only places I would stay clear of is Kuta Beach and instead of staying in Seminyak, make a day trip out of it. It’s close enough to Canggu to rent a moto or hire a driver to take you to do some shopping.
Staying at the resort, was stunning and it was the perfect amount of days to cap off our trip. We chose Rimba because it is very Indonesian, with locations only found in Indonesia. It’s not so Americanized. This was so important to me in choosing a resort.
If you’re contemplating a trip to Bali. Go. The island is truly magic. From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, your senses are immersed in the purest beauty.