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The Bitches’ Guide to Bali

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Where do I even begin with Bali? I had a complete love affair with this magical island that even prompted me to research Indonesian visas in a fantasy that I’d quit my job and open a smoothie shop on the beach.

Even after an Eat, Pray, Love-driven tourism spike, Bali retains an authentic, foreign vibe that’s equally blissful and chaotic. It’s a decent-sized island so the area where you choose to sleep and play will dictate the direction of your trip.

Clear Cafe in Bali

From my research, most popular areas to visit are Ubud, Seminyak, and Kuta. I was told to avoid Kuta at all costs; apparently its close proximity to the beach drives gaggles of wasted tourists to trashy clubs. Seminyak is the more upscale, trendy area of Bali and Ubud is the zen, hippie hotspot.

While living in Singapore, my boyfriend Robert and I spent a long weekend in Bali so we were working on a limited timeframe. Ultimately, we decided to spend a few days dedicated to yoga and monkeys in Ubud and exploring the super remote island of Nusa Ceningan. Robert stayed a little longer and hung out at the beach clubs in Seminyak.

We figured we would definitely be back in Bali so we’d have plenty of time in the future to explore other areas. Here’s my take on how to tour Bali like a Bitch.

Le Pirate Beach Club in Bali

Where To Stay

Villa Rentals
For the complete luxe Balinese experience, villas are definitely the way to go. You can find gorgeous, expansive properties on rental sites like AirBnB on the cheap; you get a ton of value for your money in Indonesia. When surveying options, take into account the proximity to town or the beach and if the property has a pool and air conditioning, which are necessities IMO. If in Seminyak, check out my friend Eddie’s villa and in Ubud, we loved the Sahadewa Resort.

Boutique Hotels
If AirBnBing it makes you nervous, there are plenty of chic boutique hotels at your disposal. Robert arrived in Bali the night before me and hung his hat at Dash Hotel in Seminyak. He appreciated the bold, modern décor, complimentary massage upon check in, and amazing location right on the Seminyak strip.

While in Nusa Ceningan, a tiny island only accessible via scooter across a precarious wooden suspension bridge connected to Nusa Lembongan, we were blown away by Le Pirate Beach Club (read our full review of Le Pirate Beach Club here). We discovered this adorable hotel via its insane Instagram account and were thrilled that it was just as picture perfect in person. We stayed in tiny beach huts and enjoyed stunning views from the infinity pool. We both agreed this was the most remote location we had ever vacationed at and soaked up every moment of solitude.

Luxe Hotels
Of course, there are the requisite luxury hotels in Seminyak for those who seek a white-glove experience. Buzzy destinations include the Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa, the W, and Peppers.

Clear Cafe in Bali

Where to Eat

Clear Cafe
Clear Cafe in Ubud was my happy place. It was everything I expected in Bali–a bright and cheerful ambiance with a healthy and organic menu. We drove our scooter right up to a steep set of stairs and ascended to what appeared to be a large treehouse set in a mountain. The restaurant is open air with scents of fresh floral offerings and incense wafting though the interior. You’ll eat the Balinese way on cushions on the floor and enjoy a fresh menu of smoothies, macro bowls, salads, wraps, and more. Read our full brunch review of Clear Cafe here.

Naughty Nuri’s
Cocktails and ribs sounds like a weird combination, but it totally works at Naughty Nuri’s, an Ubud establishment that has been around since the 1990’s. Naughty Nuri’s is known for their super strong vodka martinis to wash down slow cooked ribs that practically melt in your mouth. It has developed such a following that an outpost recently opened in Singapore. But as Dorinda from the Real Housewives of New York famously put it, “Martinis are like breasts. Two is great and three is too many.”

SONY DSC

Potato Head
For more than just food, Potato Head is the premier Bali destination for music, art, and cocktails with a view. It’s quite a scene in Seminyak so grab a fancy cocktail and hop on a raft in the luxurious infinity pool to see and be seen. The Beach Club hosts three restaurants so you’re sure to find something you’ll like.

Where to Shop

Blue Glue
This bikini lover’s paradise has branches all across Bali like in Seminyak, Ubud, and Sanur. The French retailer Blue Glue features suits in every cut, color, and size imaginable in a chic storefront. Get ready to channel some serious island vibes and hit the beach in your new threads.

Puravida
Puravida stocks a wide variety of breezy sundresses, printed tops, and colorful baubles that are perfect for this tropical paradise.  All of the apparel and embellishments are created in Indonesia and channel the unique aesthetic of the region. You’ll feel good about shopping local because Puravida is committed to using materials with a lower environmental impact, green dying methods, and uses fair labor practices and safe working conditions.

3-Biasa-Store

Biasa
Another can’t miss local boutique is Biasa in Seminyak. An Italian designer brings together pieces from local artisans and resort-wear using natural dying methods. Expect high quality fabrics and bright jewelry from this acclaimed shop.

Clear Cafe in Bali

What To Do
For the pampered
Cheap massages are a dime a dozen in Bali so I took full advantage and indulged in 90 minute massages every day. There are plenty of treatments available at the spas in luxury hotels, but I just walked around each day to find a local spot for a Balinese massage. Balinese massages are similar to the Thai massage method, definitely not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for some intense reflexology moves and full body stretches; your masseuse may even stand on top of you at times.

For the adventurous
You can definitely get by with walking your way around Bali, but I highly recommend renting a scooter if you’re feeling gutsy. You can rent a scooter for the equivalent of $5 per day and zip around the side streets, catching the wind in your hair. Just make sure to get a helmet; a common tourist scam in the area is being pulled over by police (often fake cops) and ticketed for not wearing a helmet.

Ubud-Yoga-Barn-Ubud

For the Fit Bitches
Ubud is a hippie paradise and you’ll find authentic yoga studios on every street corner. Check out The Yoga Barn for a wellness getaway in the heart of Ubud. Blissed out travelers hang out on beanbags sipping cold pressed juices and fresh coconut water between classes; you can even stay at The Yoga Barn for an entire retreat. Classes can not be reserved in advance so arrive about 30 minutes prior to class to claim your spot.

For the animal lovers
Bali is an exotic, mystical paradise complete with wild monkeys running about the streets. Get in touch with your wild side and head to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. Hundreds of monkeys roam free in this jungle park, which is slightly terrifying yet exhilarating. Watch your valuables like cell phones and jewelry as these mischievous creatures are known to snatch shiny objects from unsuspecting tourists.

Bitch Tip: Have more time in Bali? Check out the Gili Islands for a great diving and beach party scene. Out of the three Gili islands, Gili Trawangan (or “Gili T”) is the largest and most developed. No motorized vehicles are allowed so you can truly venture out and explore the islands by bicycle or horse & buggy.

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