Bali & Beyond
Overview

If the first thing that pops into your head when you think of Bali is Eat, Pray, Love, you’re not alone. Elizabeth Gilbert’s self-heal book (and the subsequent movie starring everyone’s favorite toothy girl-next-door, Julia Roberts) has made Bali a mecca for travelers searching for internal inspiration (and perhaps a hot Brazilian businessman). Luckily, the Balinese have a good sense of humor about our newfound obsession…in our favorite Ubud roadside resto, Naughty Nuri’s, a sign to diners keeps it simple: ‘Eat, Pay, Leave’.

This exotic beach destination is a hotspot for romantic escapes, favored by celebrities, such as Mila and Ashton, who took their first vacation as a couple here back in 2012. The Beckhams have also graced Bali with their presence on numerous occasions. Whether you’re looking to restore during a meditative retreat or disappear into beach club revelry, Bali has you covered. After a week of basking in the sun, visits to ancient temples, and eating the savory spiced cuisine, you will fall in love with this magical island, too. Abundant with oceanside villas, lush jungle terrain, colorful wildlife, and a pervading sense of spirituality, it’s a wondrous all-in-one destination unlike anywhere else.

Seminyak is the hub of hustle and bustle, made hip by an influx of expat Australians, perfect for jetsetters looking to browse endless boho boutiques (our favorite is Biasa) by day and ball out at famed nightclubs by night. This is your chance to up your resort-wear wardrobe, as party dresses are just as acceptable as board shorts. You can’t go wrong with a Marysia suit. The inland town of Ubud is the cultural center, filled with ancient temples, meditative healers, and endless shopping, a must stop on any trip. Here you can visit terraced rice paddies and majestic volcanoes (suggested styling is a DVF jumpsuit or Figue peasant top).

For quieter, luxury beaches, Nusa Dua is a stunning region of lush greenery on the south side of the island. Think glamourous, beachfront resort complexes, perfect for showing off your newest bikinis. Manggis is often referred to as “old Bali,” set in the lesser-traveled to East Bali, abundant with vast beaches, volcanoes and palaces that give this region a regal resonance. Don’t forget your yoga gear, as practice here is more a way of life than a work out.No matter where your travels take you, you’ll head home bronzed, rejuvenated, and as filled with new experiences as your suitcase is filled with shopping finds. The path to enlightenment is paved with clothes, after all….

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING

Sparknotes version: No matter if you stop by a casual eatery or indulge in fine dining, Balinese food oozes exquisite flavors and savory spices. Authentic satay, suckling pig, and grilled fish are just a few of the succulent classics you’ll sample throughout your trip. Whether you spent your day swimming, exploring the jungle, walking through temples, or stayed purely horizontal on a sunbed, you’ve totally earned some indulgence. Dig in. 

Much of the finest dining lines Seminyak Beach, starting with Mejekawi at Ku De Ta. You’ll fit in perfectly sporting designer wear or vintage chic in this fine-dining beachfront setting, where you’ll savor a set seven-course menu of innovative combinations prepared with high-technology methods. At Mama San you’ll dine on eclectic menu offerings of pan-Asian cuisine in a subtly-lit, elegant, retro interior, reticent of 1920’s Shanghai. Our pick for sunset dinners is Sardine, who specializes in seafood coupled with homegrown organic produce. Set in a lush, green bamboo garden, the atmosphere is as wonderful as the food, set on an alfresco terrace overlooking a vast rice paddy.

For a lunchtime shopping break, try Jemme Restaurant. Set in the Jemme Jewelry store, this cozy restaurant of delicate décor doubles as a jewelry showroom, so you can pick out your after-lunch purchases while dining on delicacies crafted by an Australian chef.  

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Try out your trendiest new ensemble at the modern fine-dining establishment Merah Putih, where you’ll relish Balinese and Indonesian classics in a stunning two-floored mezzanine structure of cathedral-like wonder. Hidden in the corner of Seminyak is La Sal, considered Seminyak’s best Spanish cuisine. Consider a flirty red cocktail dress for sampling this Spanish cooking with Argentine flair. Switch it up with fine French cuisine at Metis, where you can slurp fresh oysters and savor foie gras to the tune of nightly musical performances. La Lucciola is perched right on the edge of the beach with an enormous open, thatch-roofed building that makes dinning here all the more fab. It’s definitely see and be seen time so make sure to pair your tangerine granite is just as bright as your Zimmerman printed dress.

After a long night, stop by one of the best cafes in town Sea Circus, which offers not only some of the yummiest food, but the world’s only hangover happy meal (toy not included). Some newbies on the block are quickly becoming fan favorites- Bambu, Saigon Street, Bambu, Saigon Street, Republik 1945, and BO$$MAN… your taste buds will thank us!

First stop in Ubud is Ibu Oka Warung, the local café hugely famous for its roast suckling pig. Get to this casual but esteemed eatery early—it can fill up as early at 10 am. Foodies also flock to Bebek Bengil, which somehow translates to Dirty Duck Diner, and fittingly so since its specialty is another famous Balinese dish: smoked duck. In-the-know travelers (*cough, you, cough*) will reserve a raised hut with a long table overlooking the rice fields to get the most of this gorgeous and tranquil atmosphere.

Puteri Minang is for those with an adventurous and generous appetite. The casual, yet excellent restaurant sets up a self-serve feast of about 20 different dishes at lunch and dinner, featuring the best quality and widest selection of Padang food in Bali (Padang is the classic cuisine of Muslim island Sumatra).

For dinner and a show, dine at Café Locus, a beautiful location of lotus ponds, tall floral trees, and the site of the Pura Saraswati temple that doubles as a performance stage by night for Balinese dancers and an orchestra. As you drive down Jalan Raya and catch an aromatic whiff of barbeque, it’ll be hard to resist Naughty Nuri’s Warung and Grill. At this hot hangout for locals and visitors alike, expect a raucously fun scene, no doubt the result of their delectable dirty martinis. A full 180 from Naughty Nuri’s is the sophisticated, gourmet, upscale Mozaic, a fine-dining establishment for an experiential meal (and the excuse you needed to buy that boutique cocktail dress). You’ll choose from two six-course tasting menus that change every day, for some of the freshest finest cuisine you’ll taste on your Balinese vacation. Another famous fine-dining restaurant is Locavore, serving modern, European food with local ingredients. It has made a name for itself as one of the best restaurants in Ubud, so reserve well in advance (it may be easier to get a table for lunch, as dinners can book up weeks in advance). 

BEACH CLUBS & NIGHTLIFE

For chill, beachfront vibes head to Ku De Ta on Seminyak Beach to sip on fruity cocktails, mingle with chic clientele, and enjoy the cool DJ beats that get progressively louder as the night carries on. You’ll find a similar scene at Seminyak’s stylish Cocoon Beach Club, prime for cool cocktails as a sunset prelude dinner, or better yet, if you hit up this venue on one of the two-for-one drink special nights.

Also on Seminyak Beach is the famous Potato Head Beach Club, whose name tbh doesn’t really do much at all to describe this aesthetically wondrous destination. Come during the day for laidback lounging and boozing in an elegant atmosphere, or roll with the party crowd into the early morning hours. Or you could also hit the dance floor on the skydeck of the W Retreat’s WooBar, Seminyak’s vibrant upbeat nightclub, host to many world-famous DJ’s. Hu’u Bar is another celeb-favorite nightclub, where stylish jetsetters revel together from sunset far, far onward to the beats of famous DJ’s, like Diplo and Mike Snow. Outside of Seminyak in the Bukit Peninsula, visit Karma Beach Bali - best to lounge during the day and be a social butterfly come night. With a hip global scene, it will not disappoint. 

For nights when you want a nightclub break, and no-less fun alternative for entertainment is Motel Mexicola, the hotspot for tapas and sangria, not to mention some fine tequila, to get the night going. Salsa dancers take the stage as the sun sets over Seminyak Beach, only heightening the colorful, flirty vibes of this fun, Mexican venue. Another spot where you can escape the crowd, Finn's Beach Club is just the spot you'll want to be. Set on a private beach, Finn's Beach Club is both breathtaking and romantic. Finally, a trip to Bail is not complete without visiting Rock Bar at the Ayana Resort. This is THE place to watch the sunset, so make sure to put on a long, flowy dress and bring your new Illestevas to blend right in.

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Explore

Explore

Bali gets a lot of hype as a trendy beach destination (and in many respects it is) but this Indonesian island is also abundant with wildlife and ancient culture well worth any savvy jetsetter’s attention. Home to luxurious beachfront resorts, fine restaurants, and upscale boutiques, the famous Seminyak Beach lures a stylish crowd, where people-watching (and potential celeb spotting) is at its best. If surfing is your thing then make sure you spend some time at Echo Beach, which is one of Bali’s most recently christened surf spots. Then as much as we love the beach, a highlight is visiting the Pura Petitenget Temple just before sunset for a serene escape from Seminyak’s bustling scene is a perfect end to the day(Petitenget actually loosely translates as 'magic box').

In Ubud, visit Goa Gajah, a significant Hindu archaeological site locally known as the Elephant Cave because of its close proximity to the Elephant River. It’s a beautiful, mysterious cave, filled with relics, and ancient bathing pools set amid green rice paddies and a stunning garden (amazing #instatravel amo). Another insta-worthy site is the gorgeous, Pura Tirta Empul, whose sacred spring is said to have curative properties. Many worshippers today visit the long rectangular pool, where they can climb into the pool to bathe and pray amongst the fountains. Do like the locals do and climb into the water… or stay dry and collect the holy water in bottles to take home (just make sure they are 3oz - TSA-approved).

Setting up a session with a healer, a la Julia Roberts is absolutely necessary. Other than the obvious Ketut, two of the most famous ones are Pak Man and Tjokorda Gde Rai. After all of that spiritual cleansing, you’re going to want to take advantage of Ubud’s more adventurous side. Pay a visit to Ubud’s Elephant Safari Park Lodge, where you can feed, interact with, and even ride these majestic giants in their (somewhat) natural habitat. Other must-do activities include a bike tour or walk through the rice paddies, river rafting and tubing, a hike up to the famous Mt. Batur, and if you’re feeling very adventurous, a visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (beware, these monkeys are vicious!).

SHOP

Where to Shop

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Hands down the best Bali spot for a shopping binge is Jalan Raya Seminyak, a street lined with inviting boutiques. Lily Jean flourishes when it comes to stylish daytime wear, necessary for any chic site-seer, as well as glamorous cocktail attire for 5pm onward. Stop by Lulu Yasmine (also with a location in Ubud) for a vast array of elegant dresses and flirty rompers fashioned from fine fabrics, the perfect stop before a night out at the bars and clubs. They’re also stocked with chic cutoff shorts to complete a casual comfort look for jungle exploration. Head to Beachgold to stock up on new resort wear pieces, from classic effortless maxis to trendy harem pants (great for adding a bit of Bali flair on your next beachy getaway). Biasa is a necessary stop to peruse eclectic collections of elegant, artistic attire, featuring bold colors and asymmetrical hems for standout looks. Balance your Biasa purchases with classic feminine pieces from Magali Pascal, known for French-inspired lace and silk clothing, in addition to a stunning jewelry collection for minimalist accessorizing. 

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Break from Raya and head to Jalan Petitenget, home to Jemme Jewelry, where you can find designer gold and silver, studded with precious stones. Splurge on a statement piece to give a chic, minimalist look that extra pop. If you love Australian designers as much as we do, pop by Carousel – a must as they house our chicest Aussies favs. Pack an extra suitcase. Enough said. Kiosk offers an eclectic mix of uber-cool clothing, accessories, and exclusive-to-Bali home décor. Everything you would want: designer sunnies and swimwear mixed in with their local clothing and accessories brands. Our Visa is in!

In the smaller town of Ubud,  boutiques and vintage steals await your stylish attention. Japanese designer shop, A-Krea, is known for top-quality, leather goods, as well as their signature woven basket bags with sturdy leather handles (a perfect Bali substitute for your regular beach tote). For stylish jewelry and home décor, JFF Shop, featuring the designs of Jean-Francois Fichot, is no fail. If you’re vibing some vintage hunting, Studio 22K’s specialty is vintage batiks from across Indonesia, the kind of thing you’d never find at your local boutiques back home (as in you’ve gotta check this place out). Stock up on high-quality and locally made yoga wear for your zen moments in Bali at We’ar. And last, but certainly not least, another unique boutique is Threads of Life, a non-profit shop offering naturally died shawls, sarongs, and men’s shirts whose purpose to promote sustainable development as well as women’s empowerment. Be sure to stop by, because the only thing better than shopping is shopping for a cause.

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