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Elsha McGill

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Agung, Batur and Batukaru: climbing Bali mountains

For an adventurous few, Bali isn’t a tropical beach hang with good shopping and cheap food – it’s a trekking paradise.

With numerous mountains suited to a variety of skill sets, the Bali trekking scene need not be reserved for the truly intrepid traveler. The sojourn can be made easy by finding a local trekking guide from the neighbouring villages, or saddling up with a group through one of several travel companies that have this activity on offer.

Opting for a local guide is an intimately cultural experience, as most guides will be able to unravel the secrets of the mountains and allow you the chance to understand these spectacular structures. Travellers are led to the best views through the safest routes depending on the weather and their ability to catch their breath.

…they unravel the secrets of the mountains, allowing you the chance to understand these spectacular structures.

Don’t like to be led? You can always choose to self-guide your ascent, but be prepared – these mountains should not be taken lightly! With the tropical weather combined with high altitudes, unexpected showers and significant drops in temperature can occur rather suddenly. The conditions can be dangerous, effecting the terrain and making it easier to slip. Have the right gear, check volcanic activity, look at weather predictions, wear proper shoes and have enough rations (it gets expensive buying food on the mountain). Local guides are always recommended, because to put it simply: if you don’t know – you shouldn’t go. But that’s enough of safety 101, let’s assess Bali’s mountain climbing scene…

Bali mountain climb #1: the mountain of God, Mount Agung, 3,031m

mount-agung

Enter the heavyweight champ of Bali’s mountains. At 3031 meters, Mount Agung is the highest point on the island and dubbed the most challenging trek in Bali. It requires a pretty sturdy level of physically fitness and some serious trekking experience.

Mount Agung is by far the most challenging trek in Bali. Enter at your own risk.

As a child, my father (born and bred in Indonesia) had been told that this was the mountain of God. As their thrones, the Gods placed these mountains around the islands – with Mount Agung forming the highest in Bali. The mother temple, Pura Besakih, lies on the slope of this mountain and houses offerings and cremation mounds formed in the shape of the mountain. You can see why the Balinese pay their respects to this active volcano – in 1964, the wrath of Mount Agung devastated many villages, killing 1,500 people.

The mountain of God will bring you to your knees (literally) – it gets so steep in parts that it’s easier to do the trek on all fours.

As spectacular as it is devastating, Mount Agung is definitely a challenge for the brave to conquer when visiting Bali. Start your hike through the thick forest near the Pura Besakih temple before your seven hour steep ascent up the mountain. The terrain becomes a rocky scrabble as you make your way up, so make sure you are wearing the appropriate hiking boots. The mountain of God will bring you to your knees (literally) – it gets so steep in parts that it’s easier to do the trek on all fours. If you time your climb perfectly and start trekking late at night, you will reach the highest peak in time to witness the spectacular sunrise overlooking encapsulating views of neighboring Lombok and Nusa Penida. It is a view not to be missed!

Bali mountain climb #2: the rumbling mountain, Mount Batur, 1,717m

mount-batur

In the Kintamani District of East Bali stands the iconic Mount Batur. It lies in the heart of a massive crater about 14 kilometres in diameter, permanently showing the magnificently devastating eruption that occurred more than a thousand years ago. Part of UNESCO’s Global Geopark Network, it is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, sometimes deemed unsafe to trek due to its volcanic temperament. Highly sacred in Hinduism, the mountain is surrounded by the Kedisan, Songan, Trunyan and Toya Bungkah villages, where guides are easy to find.

A group of backpackers trekked the mountain in 2009, only to be surprised by a new eruption.

Mount Batur is a relatively short and easy trek, making it the most advertised and visited volcano in Bali. Popular since the 1970s, my father remembers the time he rode his Honda CRV from Bali to Kintamani with three of his Aussie mates, enjoying Mount Batur then relaxing in the hot springs at one of the villages.

Being easy to climb, the trek is suitable for children, and can be completed in about an hour or so. Be your own guide and trek the rim of the volcano before ascending to the summit. You will pass three craters clouded by steam, lava flows, and steam fissures. If nature permits, you may witness the adorably cheeky Macaque monkeys congregating by the largest crater.

If you choose to trek unguided, be sure to check the current volcanic temperament before your commencement. A group of backpackers trekked the mountain in 2009, only to be surprised by a new eruption. Do not take risks if there is a chance of activity.

Bali mountain climb #3: the green mountain, Mount Batukaru, 2,275m

mount-batukaru

Coming in at the second highest is Mount Batukaru, the highest peak in the Bedugul volcanic area. As an extinct volcano, its landscape makes it the most unique rainforest mountain trek experience in Bali. Batukaru’s rainforest is hidden away from populated areas, perfect for those that shy away from the ‘touristy’ places. Largely undiscovered, this offers tourists the combination of nature, culture and wondrous views.

its landscape makes it the most unique rainforest mountain trek experience in Bali.

My father explained that villagers in the area believe that after departing this world, their spirit will return to the mountain. This is a highly spiritual and sacred place, worshiped by the Balinese with the Pura Luhur Batukaru temple devoted to its presence.

Unlike the other mountains, it is rare to see other trekkers along this hike. This rainforest is the largest wetland in Bali, and for conservation, the number of trekkers permitted are limited. With the mountain’s fertile volcanic soil combined with its dense rainfall, the rainforest is home to a myriad of wildlife. Trekkers can witness the Kijang (small deer), Pangolin (ant eater), Macaque, the leaf eating monkey, and the infamous Luwak that digests then passes out coffee beans to be roasted. This rainforest is THE brewing ground for Kopi Luwak – the most expensive roasted coffee in the world.

This nine hour challenging ascent traverses a narrow and unsealed trail that is mostly shaded by tropical rainforest. Visit the small mountain temples along the way, with entry politely denied to women menstruating. As you will be entering their sacred ground, it is only polite to accept their customs.

Arriving at the summit, trekkers will be rewarded with complete serenity, overlooking views of Mount Agung, Lombok, Java and the north, south and east of Bali. The largest crater in Bali sits atop the mountain with a view of the lakes of Bedugul. Avoid climbing Mount Batukaru in times of rain as the rainforest becomes a very dangerous place to trek with the pathways getting very slippery.

Whether you take the treks to challenge yourself, or choose to climb to be environmentally and culturally immersed, you will be entirely engulfed and struck with the natural beauty of Bali that is not normally experienced. Just remember to leave your vertigo at home

From Oberoi & Petitenget: how to smash it in the stretches of Seminyak

Roll up your sleeves and slip into a comfy pair of walking shoes: this is your complete guide to covering the grounds of Seminyak and Petitenget.

We’ve archived the best shops, spas, restaurants, nightlife venues and hotels in the area with the help of L’Hotel Seminyak’s chief butler, Gede, who not only pointed us in the right direction, but also clued us in on the unique culture of the Petitenget strip.

Ladies, you might want to hurl this one at your besties. And seduce them with a subject line like: “Why haven’t we done our girls trip to Bali yet, damn it.”

The best shopping in Seminyak & Petitenget

Mass-produced goods and fast-fashion takeouts that are high on price and low on quality is the staple shopping diet of the modern urbanite. The eclectic island of Bali, on the other hand, has become a mecca for top quality, hand-crafted and high-end fashion shopping.

Talented fashion designers from all around the world call Bali home, and many of them work with incredibly skilful local garment makers, as well as master artisans, to produce divine dresses, shoes, handbags and handmade products for the home.

If you can come to Bali and fight the urge to shop, we applaud you. For the average Joanne Normal, resistance is futile. Between treating yourself to a few spa treatments in Petitenget and enjoying the superb restaurants and nightlife on Oberoi, there’s a lot of shopping ground to cover.

The Seminyak markets, close to Oberoi are the definitive starting line for a shopping marathon – the kind that will leave you beaming with the smugly satisfied smile of consumerism. While the market itself doesn’t need much of a look in, taking this route and walking back up Jalan Laksama should see you hitting Café Bali for a perfectly timed mid morning latte.

MasterCards ready? These 5 luxe boutiques in Seminyak & Petitenget should be on any heavy wallet shopper’s itinerary.

The boutiques

Shopping in Seminyak: namu leather fashion Bali
namu leather fashion Bali

NAMU

Namu is needed for stylish leather goods. Seriously, pay attention to their signature leather sandals. Designed with simplicity and made with extremely high quality leather, you’d expect to pay triple for a lesser pair made from pig skin leather in other parts of the world. A pair in every colour, size 8, s’il vous plait!!

NAMU
Jl. Petitenget 234X, Petitenget, Bali 80361
Tel. +62 361 279 7524

KNIT

Not surprisingly, Knit is known for beautifully draped knitwear dresses and jumpsuits that flatter curvy figures. The bare-walled store and no-frills racks of garments might not be the most enticing boutique to enter along Jalan Laksama, but if you’re in the market for buttery cotton t-shirts, dressed-up leggings and a large selection of versatile dresses – all at around IDR350,000 – 700,000 a pop – you could easily do all your wardrobe shopping here.

KNIT
A18#1 Bali Collection, Jalan Laksama, Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel. +62 361 778 482

LILY JEAN

Stylish street-wear and glamorous cocktail dresses inspired by the designer’s eclectic Brazilian and European heritage make Lily Jean a must do. Her contemporary style will take you from the beaches of Bali and right back to the city, where your friends will be squealing with fashion-envy, “Ooooooh… Wheeeere did you get That?!??” The answer to that question could easily be Paris, but hooray for us, it’s actually Bali. High style comes with a steep price tag of about US$100-300 per item, but hey – holidays! And these days you pay that for a mass-produced blazer at Zara, anyway.

LILY JEAN
Jalan Kayu Aya No. 102X Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 7435717

Find more places to shop in Bali with our comprehensive Bali shopping guide.

The salons & spas

Where else can you get your spa and salon fix without flinching at the price list? Bali’s upmarket spas and salons offer the full suite of quality beauty treatments at a fraction of the price. From Shellac manicures to Brazilian blowouts and even teeth whitening, these are the best spas and salons in the Seminyak area that won’t break the bank.

AMO SPA

Welcome to AMO, a utilitarian salon where you can afford to stock up on quality beauty treatments such as Shellac manicures, eyelash extensions, and waxing — at a wonderfully low price.  The service is professional and quick, but you will need to make an appointment because this spa in Petitenget is flat out in the afternoons and evenings. Did we mention the complimentary ginger tea and banana crisps? Sold.

AMO SPA
Jalan Petitenget 100x, Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 275 3337

amo spa petitenget

CHRISTOPHE C. HAIR & BEAUTY

This is the Ferrari of beauty salons in Bali. From its ultra-glam decor to the range of world-class hair and beauty services, Christophe C. Hair & Beauty is for the princess within. Head to the Christophe clan for a Brazilian Blowout starting from just IDR2 million – a true necessity in a climate where hideous humidified hair seems unavoidable. This is the place to catch up on premium hair and beauty services whipped up for a decent price.

CHRISTOPHE C. HAIR & BEAUTY
Jalan Kunti #9, Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel: 0361 738025

L’SPA

L’Spa, on the other hand, is a pampering affair that offers Ayurvedic treatments such as Shirodara and Indian head massages. If massages aren’t doing it for you anymore (yes, “too-many massages” is an actual sentence, but we’ve certainly never used it), then L’Spa’s exotic treatments are for you. If you suffer from insomnia, or just low-quality sleep, these stimulating and regenerative treatments will work wonders.

L’SPA
Jalan Raya Petitenget No. 8L Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 473 3147

The wining & dining

The wine and dine scene in Seminyak & Petitenget is all sorts of fabulous. Here, you can enjoy every cuisine under the sun and creative fine dining is more common than local street food. These restaurants serve plates that are a little more special than the rest.

TEATRO

Teatro is a sensational fine dining restaurant that fuses sophisticated twists on traditional French fare. Alluring flavours that linger on the palette accompanied by bold presentations and a top selection of wines keep swarve diners coming back for more.

TEATRO
 Jalan Kayu Aya Blok C No. 1-2, Kuta Utara, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 8700078

teatro-restaurant-bali-fine-dining

TRATTORIA

Need a little taste of Italy in Bali? Trattoria is your answer. With standout pizzas (arguably the best pizzas in Bali) and a quality lineup of starters and fresh salads, this is the perfect place for a spot of lunch in the midst of your shopping marathon.

TRATTORIA
Jalan Leskmana No 100x, Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 737082

GOURMET CAFE

Gourmet Cafe lets you create your own salads and sandwiches, for those who know exactly what they’re after. This spot is known for its all-day breakfast menu and really good coffee. The can’t-go-wrong cafe of the area.

GOURMET CAFE
Jalan Petitenget No. 45, Kuta, Indonesia, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 8475115

LA FAVELA

The mouthwatering South American food is amazing, but it’s the line-up of visiting DJs and intoxicatingly delicious cocktails that really seals the deal. A great spot to hit if you fancy mingling with travellers and Bali expats alike.

LA FAVELA
Jalan Laksamana Oberoi 177x Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 730010

la favela bali

Beach clubs and nightlife

In Seminyak and Petitenget, a jiving good time is available seven nights a week. Boasting some of the best beach bars in Bali as well as dimly lit New York style haunts, there’s a hot international DJ and a world class venue to suit every stay-up-late style.

KU DE TA

Ku De Ta is an oldie but a goodie. Parties and events are always major, and always guaranteed to go off. On a normal day, the place fills up at sundown, but we prefer to come here for lunch, when it’s far less busy. The waves on Ku De Ta’s doorstep offer fantastic surfing, so if you’ve come to Bali with a partner in tow, this is the perfect spot to leave him while you go shopping.

KU DE TA
Jalan Kayu Aya no.9, Seminyak, Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 736969
(next to Hotel Oberoi)

kudeta-seminyak-nnightlife

POTATO HEAD

Enter the host of the hottest events in Bali: Potato Head Beach Club. On a normal day, it makes a great all-day spot to relax with a few friends, but it can get overcrowded at sundown. Avoid the queue at the door and get in early for a killer spot by the pool.

POTATO HEAD
Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali 83061
Tel: +62 361 4737979

potato head beach club bali

A dose of culture

No trip to Bali is complete without a balancing dose of culture. And so we share with you the curious legend surrounding Petitenget’s sacred spirit.

Petitenget Temple is a sacred and peaceful place of worship. The legend has it that a high priest from Java was on his way to Uluwatu from Tanah Lot when he found himself stranded in Petitenget. He felt the presence of a tormented creature following him, lurking in the shadows. The creature was lost and deeply unhappy, causing the local people to fall ill with mysterious sicknesses. So, the priest gave the creature a box to look after, and the creature obeyed. You’ll notice a small junction at Petitenget Temple – this is where locals worship the creature before entering the temple.

petitenget temple bali culture

Discover more of Bali’s unique culture by touring the regencies beyond Seminyak.

Where to stay: L’Hotel

L’Hotel is the only centrally located SLH hotel in Bali. This boutique hotel in Petitenget opened in 2012, and the level of personalised service is unbeatable. Every guest gets a personal butler, who is extremely clued-in on the best of nearby shopping, nightlife and culture.

If you need extra help (and hands!), you can also enlist the services of a personal shopper. What’s more, the L’Hotel operates a free shuttle that does the rounds between Petitenget and Seminyak throughout the day. It is everything you’d expect from an SLH member at a very reasonable price – JOY!

The lifestyle suites are superbly appointed with smooth bedding, oversized king beds and iPod docks (nothing like rocking out to your own tunes in the shower!). But it’s the little things that make us happy, like the shampoo, conditioner and facial cleanser by Kiehl’s.

The hotel is well located along Jalan Petitenget. After a deeply satisfying day of shopping, retreating to the sanctuary of the hotel’s rooftop Luna Bar for a sundown vino is simply sublime.

L’Hotel
Jalan Raya Petitenget No. 8L Seminyak Bali 80361
Tel: +62 361 894 7898

If you're coming to Bali to shop and catch up on spa treatments, then L'Hotel is perfectly located in the heart of the best fashion boutiques and spas that Bali has to offer.

Best restaurants in Bali: a taste of Paradise

So you moved to a tropical island paradise away from the city life. You happily slipped your feet into a pair of Havaianas, tucked your makeup bag in the farthest corner of your wardrobe, and planned to enjoy wearing a torn t-shirt, eating street food and drinking Bintangs for the rest of eternity. But to your surprise, you started to miss all that glam and champagne much faster than you expected.

Luckily, Bali is the island of contrasts, and the posh part of island life is as equally developed as the budget one. So put on those high heels and red lipstick, dress up your date in a nice collared shirt and go dine in style!

Welcome to part one of our guide to the best restaurants in Seminyak.

Merah Putih – an elegant take on traditional Indonesian savours

Let’s start with hot tip number one: begin your evening with an aperitif at the bar. The menu’s selection of traditional and signature cocktails – created with the use of local fruits and spices by one of Bali’s most knowledgeable mixologist, Agung Ari – is accompanied by a broad range of fine wines and premium imported spirits, some of which are quite exclusive and won’t find in many bars around Bali.

The young coconut mojito and the pomelo gimlet are two perfect examples of how well-known and popular concoctions have been twisted to incorporate Indonesian flavours.

The tables and seats at the bar are positioned to keep you nested in its secluded atmosphere, to save spoiling the magnificent view witnessed as one enters the main dining area of the restaurant.

Merah Putih dining area
Merah Putih dining area

The design of this space deserves a special mention – it is undoubtedly one of a kind. The tall ceiling is supported by translucent columns and glass walls, which are not only visually spectacular, but also functional at the same time. The windows are made of UV-filtered glass, which keeps the space cool and lit with sunlight during the daytime, and the columns collect rain for the water-flow system, where it gets purified and recycled.

By implementing this system, Merah Putih doesn’t use ground water and saves power, keeping it sustainable. And if you happen to dine here during rainy season, you will appreciate the view of the rainwater running down the surface of the slightly lit columns.

The positioning of the tables and plants throughout the space gives a sense of intimacy – you feel like you are sitting away from the other guests even when the restaurant is full.

The name “Merah Putih” means “Red White” and refers to the colours of the Indonesian flag, which in turn hints to the cuisine specialty of this fine establishment. At the base of the menu is traditional Indonesian cuisine. You are expected to dine Asian style, with the dishes placed in the middle of the table and the guests sharing all the food that gets ordered.

Executive chef Kieran Morland has separated the menu at Merah Putih into sections, presenting an opportunity to discover two unique trends of Indonesian cuisine.

The ‘traditional’ section of the menu consists of the dishes that are prepared according to simple, authentic recipes, using the finest locally sourced produce.

Viewed from an alternative angle, ‘baru’ or ‘modern’ are culinary creations from a more modern era, challenged with the delicate tastes and aromas of local spice markets and food halls. Indonesian fusion, you may say.

Merah Putih’s 12-hour slow cooked babi guling and fresh grilled Jimbaran style ikan bakar are just a couple of the classic local dishes that are presented in a modern fashion without altering their original textures and flavours.

Padang beef shin bak pao
Padang beef shin bak pao

There are some other absolutely-must-try dishes on the menu; babi panggang (pork belly pancakes with kecap manis and pickled radish); beef shin bak pao (rendang beef bakpao with cucumber and sambal bajak); tahu isi terong (vegetable tofu fritters with eggplant and oyster mushroom); padang crispy boneless duck with rendang sauce; and Flores king prawns with mind blowing house made seaweed noodles.

These delicacies are just to name a few – the colourful list goes on.

Overall, Merah Putih will give you a true high-end dining experience whilst welcoming you to a “taste” of Indonesia.

Jalan Petitenget No.100x, Kerobokan, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 8465950
Operating hours: Noon – 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Sip – the discreet charm of the wine loving bourgeoisie

bali sip restaurant legian
The outside terrace of Sip

This tiny little gem on busy Jalan Seminyak will surprise and delight. When entering Sip, you find yourself in the atmosphere of a European bistrot; the space is small, romantic and intimate despite its street side location.

If we had to name the one best thing about this restaurant, the thing that really makes it stand out, our answer would be “attention to the detail”. And that extends to everything – the service, the menu, the wine list. Even the bathrooms feel like boudoirs – everything is top-notch quality.

The owner of the restaurant, Christian Vannequé, is an acclaimed sommelier and wine lover, so the wine list is extensive and showcases exquisite options for both bottles and by the glass sections. The prices range from $40 to $700 per bottle, catering to the varying budgets and tastes that walk through the door.

Even the bathrooms feel like boudoirs – everything is top-notch quality.

There are usually special deals on the “Wine of the Month” as well as the wine sampler – 4 different wines, a quarter of a glass each. The sampler gives you an opportunity to taste a few options before choosing your full glass or bottle. Every Tuesday you can join the so-called “Wine Sock” evening. What’s a “Wine Sock”, you say? Order your food, inform your waiter if it’s red, white or rosé you prefer, and advise your budget per bottle. Your wine, chosen for you by SIP, will be served hidden within a sock.

At the end of dinner you then have an opportunity to guess the grape variety of your wine. If you guess right, your first bottle is free.

sip

But enough about the wine, let’s move onto the cuisine. Be prepared, reading the menu attentively might take a while.

The names of the dishes are complex and your brain might imagine those flavours on your taste buds, sending commands for salivation. French onion soup, Alyaskan crab ravioli, beef carpaccio that literally melts in your mouth, duck ‘a l’orange, the 7-hour lamb – these are but a few mouthwatering dishes on the menu.

SIP also offers dinner and lunch sets, as well as “Bouillon Sip” – a range of affordable starters, mains and desserts, which you can mix and match to your liking.

With such a variety of choices, you might never get bored with this restaurant. Your experience will always be fresh and fabulous. And you might want to keep it a secret too – like all the best things.

Jl.Raya Seminyak No.16A, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone: +62361730810/732513
Operating hours: Sun 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm, Mon – Sat 11 am – 10:30 pm

Metis – socialites, oysters, foie gras and a lotus pond

Metis is one of Bali’s most famous and exclusive restaurants.

From the minimalistic interior to the menu, this venue is all about luxury. It gathers under one roof a fine dining restaurant, a bar, a boutique gallery and a newly opened lounge.

metis gallery
Matis Gallery

Upon arrival, you will enter through the gallery filled with gorgeous antiques, exclusive handmade jewellery, textile pieces, art objects from all around Asia, and an array of Buddha statues. It’s true eye candy, so take your time to wander around the space, enjoying it like a museum experience.

The fine dining area sits more than 300, yet retains a laid back chic feel. It gets elegantly busy at night, with diners schmoozing over white cloth-covered tables and dim lighting.

The chef and co-owner of the restaurant, Nicolas ‘Doudou’ Tourneville, has created a menu with roots in French cuisine, finished with an Asian touch. Think entree of escargot, main of rabbit confit or 14-hour crispy Bershire pork belly and hot Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert.

metis bali
US Beffe Tenderloin

There is a special treat for all foie gras lovers out there – a separate menu dedicated to both hot and cold variations of this dish. We strongly recommend the Trilogy of Foie Gras (port wine, champagne and red wine foie gras) and Metis’ infamous pan-seared hot foie gras with port and raspberry reduction.

Metis is also known for its savouring oysters when the ‘treasure shells’ are in season. Your half or full (or few) dozen will be served to your table on a dome of ice, with lemon and perfect mignonette – classic French shallot vinaigrette.

Metis Bali has an exclusive collection of wines from around the world, as you would expect from the french restaurant of such class.

The private cellar, surrounded by wine bottles and pieces of art, is another Metis attraction. You can even book the cellar for private gatherings of up to 10 people – an experience on its own.

metis lotus pond
metis lotus pond

In May 2014 Metis opened its lounge, complete with trendy interior design, a powerful high quality sound system and gorgeous 180 degree views of rice paddies and a lotus pond – the perfect place for sunset aperitifs and tapas.

Dabble in 10 different martini variations, some classic cocktails with new twists (think Prawn Mary or Rubyrita), Spanish bites, Asian starters, some main menu interpretations and caviar. Yes, caviar.

Metis offers lunch and high tea menus, and every Friday it’s AperoChic sunset with DJs and cheap cocktails.

Metis is a relatively new restaurant on the block, with its doors only being open a few years. It gained rapid popularity thanks to the owners’ previous praising as the “ones behind Warisan”, a dining institution in Kerobokan.

Metis is a place for fine dining and wining, to see and be seen, to share a fun evening with friends or to have an intimate dinner for two. An absolute must visit.

Jalan Petitenget No.100x, Kerobokan, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 8465950
Operating hours: Noon – 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Mozaic Beachclub – relaxed seaside vibes and a treat to your tastebuds

The offspring of the famous Mozaic Restaurant in Ubud, Mozaic Beachclub is not only a gastronomy heaven – it’s a place to relax and chill away from the crowds, possibly all day long, shifting from breakfast to lunch, from sunset to dinner.

Currently in the process of changing its name (but not its philosophy) to Sea Salt, The Mozaic Beachclub offers relaxed ocean view dining in a contemporary environment. The ambience and food in this fine dining restaurant is completely different to the Beachclub Lounge, where the cuisine is much more simple and the service more relaxed.

Mozaic Dining room
The view from Mozaic dining room upstairs

The restaurant upstairs is an elegant space with exquisite ambiance. As you would expect from an eatery related to Mozaic Ubud, the main ace here is the food. A bit like the culinary philosophy of the original, Western dishes have been inspired by Indonesian flavours and the menu is designed to suit all tastes and appetites.

There is an affordable 6-course tasting menu for 495k IDR ++ or a more lavish 12-course for 1.2 mil IDR ++, which will take you through the highlights from the à la carte menu and beyond. For those who enjoy a variety of flavours and want to experience lots of treats there are ‘nibbles’, which are mini version of the main dishes starting from 15k IDR ++.

The à la carte has a good range of dishes with plenty of satisfying pescetarian and vegetarian options available. There are also some great sharing dishes like the bouillabaisse and 1.5kg cote de boeuf, as well as a new grill section for those who want that perfect steak.

 Each dish is not only delicious, but also served in an artful manner.

Beef rendang carpaccio with parmesan bubbles, crispy pork belly with slow cooked octopus with kaffir lime gel, a light cappuccino of king oyster mushroom soup scented with black truffles, chocolate and nutmeg cigar with brandy jelly – the dishes are varied and eclectic, rich in flavours yet light, and always promise to delight to the palate. There is also a separate caviar menu, for those feeling especially hedonistic.

mozaic longe
The Lounge area

The concept for the Beach Club Lounge is a place which suits all times of day; breakfast by the bar or on the benches, a mid-morning laze in the private gazebos, lunch and a sunbathe on the deck, an afternoon dip in the pool. Rinse and repeat.

The same goes for the food. There are light tapas, big dishes and an evening bistro menu. The lounge menu has a mix of day and evening options, and again the food is Western with Indonesian flavours. The tapas provide tasty bites such as sea bass cromesquis, mini wagyu burgers, salad of shashimi, and iberican acron fed pata negra ham.

There is also a 3-course bistro menu in the evening and larger dishes for those who want a hearty meal. The highlight on the bistro menu is the pork chop – an unbelievably juicy and gigantic pork chop cooked sous vide.

On the drink side, the bar list is long with good value wine options from all over the world and a wide variety of posh and luscious cocktails. Big enticers include the Mozaic Kalimansi, Jim & Jack (Jim Beam and Jack fruit based drink), Mozaic Bloody Mary (might be the best on the island) and Spice Breeze (Ketel One Vodka, lime, lemongrass, Thai basil, mint leaf & chilli).

Aside from cuisine and location, Mozaic Beachclub (or should we say Sea Salt) has unique music that vibes on a strong soul/funk/motown influence. For something really different, visit for brunch and enjoy a live jazz band playing a mix of modern contemporary and classics songs.

The venue is a perfect spot for those chasing sunsets in Bali. It’s only just outside central Seminyak, and is more chilled and unspoiled by crowds than Ku De Ta or Potato Head.

Address: Jl. Pantai Batu Belig, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 473 5796/ +6281999420349
Operating hours: 11:00 am – Midnight

Sarong and Mamasan – a chic approach to the best street food recipes

Sarong and Mamasan are the reflections of the Asian adventures of Chef Will Meyrick, aka The Street Food Chef, who is famous for his passion for Asian fusion cuisine.

Both Sarong and Mamasan are about Southeast Asian eating, inspired by street food recipes handed down through generations of families and often only found roadside. But they are all very different – from the regions the dishes are from to the way the food is styled and served.

Sarong was the first to open in 2008, and Meyrick still calls it his flagship and the stage setter for everything he has done since. It gained an instant popularity and was even named The World’s Hottest New Restaurant in 2009 by Conde Nast Traveler.

Sarong Restaurant and Lounge Bar is designed with a calm, elegant interior decor. Offering seating for 160, arranged under two traditionally high ceiling pavilions and decorated by dark mahogany wooden tables plush armchairs and artworks, as well as sheer, flowing golden curtains and chandeliers – a chic setting with Suzy Wong ambiance.

Sarong Interior
Sarong Interior

Sarong focuses broadly on Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan and Indonesian flavours. There are lots of curries done with freshly made coconut milk and herb leaves, to keep them light and easy to polish off, rather than heavy and oily. The signature dish here is a massaman curry with chicken, shallots, pumpkin, potato, peanuts and tamarind and a range of heart-warming soups and wok-frys.

Sarong’s signature dish is a crispy pork belly with Sichuan chilli, salt, tamarillo and tamarind sauce. Regular customers also praise the peking duck with open steam buns, slow-cooked Sri Lankan lamb curry, Peranakan black pepper stingray and black bean crusted barramundi. Sarong also has gluten free options and a vegetarian menu for those who walk on the healthy side.

Do not miss the delicious Asia-inspired cocktails at the bar, such as the Shanghai Donkey (mandarin vodka, fresh orange and lime juice mixed with homemade ginger beer), Ginger & Green Tea Mojito (ginger infused rum, mint, citrus syrup and green tea) and Chilli & Lime Margarita (tequila, honey pressed lemon, pineapple and chilli).

Sarong’s younger, easy-going and air-conditioned sister, Mama San focuses on China and Indochina, is slightly less priced, and serves from lunch till late.

With Mama San, Will Meyrick wanted to give people an opportunity to explore the stories and recipes of other Southeast Asian regions, in a more informal and relaxed manner.

Street food is also the name of the game at Mama San – authentic recipes, made with traditional techniques, but polished up by using the best quality ingredients and served in a fairly chic, fun room. Environment can make all the difference.

Not everyone wants to head down a back alley and sit on a plastic stool, taking a chance on what might come out of that big, bubbling pot, or sit on the side of a main road in a far-flung town in Sulawesi, trying every dish to determine what the real winners are. So the Street Food Chef has done that for you, and you get to try his favourites, whilst sipping on a killer margarita at Mama San.

Mamasan
Mamasan

The unique purpose built warehouse interior blends vintage and retro eras with tanned leather chesterfield sofas, mirror walls, oriental side lit screens and quirky one-off art pieces including a 10 x 4 metre retro wall mural created by textile designer Justine Missen.

A range of black and white pictures showcasing Will Meyrick’s food travels around Asia adorn one of the walls of the ground floor dining room and scatter cushions help to create a homely feel on both levels.

Respecting the Mama San tradition, the entire upper floor is open plan accessing the terrace bar, his/her toilets and a 1000 bottle wine retail room allowing consumers to buy wine by the bottle or case.

Mama San’s menu gravitates towards Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese and Chinese recipes, with some dashes of Indian and Balinese. The signature dish here is a massaman curry with chicken, shallots, pumpkin, potato, peanuts and tamarind. You should also try the heart-warming soups and sizzling wok-fries.

beef and bamboo dumplings
Beef and bamboo dumplings

The second floor of Mama San is a busy cocktail bar and lounge. The wine list here is one of the most extensive in Bali and the cocktails are creative and delicious. Try a Coconut Mojito, Moscow Mule or P.I.M.P.

Sarong and Mama San use fresh ingredients produced by the local farming, making sure there is a balance of “take and give” that involves the local community and supports sustainability.

Neither of these restaurants has (nor needs) any weekly or seasonal specials, apart from the dim sum lunch on Sundays at Mama San. But they host regular media dinners, tastings and small events to assist with explaining the origin of the flavours, the use of sometimes unusual or obscure regional ingredients, and the significance of the dishes within the communities and cultures they hail from.

SARONG

Address: Jl. Petitenget No, 19 x. Kerobokan, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Phone:+62 361 4737 809
Operating hours: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

MAMASAN

Address: Jl. Raya Kerobokan No. 135, Banjartaman, Kuta, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 730436
Operating hours: 12:00 – 3:00 pm, 6:30 pm – 1:00 am

So, there you go. You know where to turn your footsteps for Bali’s food best. When you feel like having that classy dressed up outing, sipping wine and enjoying gourmet dining. Fill up your Bali “to-do” list with our hints and recommendations and get your stomach ready for some serious gluttony and overeating.

You have been informed. You have been warned.

Underwater sculptures in Bali: unveiling the Ocean Galleries

The underwater sculptures around Bali are sending a strong message about sustainable ocean exploration and ecotourism; two concepts that thrill us to no end. Amed, Permuteran, Nusa Dua, Gili Meno and Lombok are just some of the locations where you can spot underwater sculptures while snorkelling or diving in Bali. For those of you who have seen these images in inflight magazines and felt intrigued, here is the story behind the aquatic exhibition.

The living sculptures are art with a purpose – they create new habitats for marine life, helping the recovery of the destroyed coral reefs, but are also works of art that attract diving and snorkelling ecotourism.

Coral Reefs are Rain Forests of the Ocean

Coral reefs are living animal colonies that provide nesting places for fish and other under water creatures. They are important elements of our oceans’ eco systems and if destroyed, the fish will look for housing elsewhere and reduce food and tourism for the locals.

Local communities in Bali are largely dependent on fishing and tourism that revolves around coral reefs. On top of that, just like in other places around the Coral Triangle, coral reefs in Bali have been significantly threatened by the impact of development, bombing, cyanide fishing, and pollution.

Lack of planning and effectively managing threats against coral reefs is an on-going challenge throughout the country. People on the island are becoming more and more aware of the importance of preserving the marine resources and ecotourism looks like a good place to start. Travellers looking to reduce their overall impact on the island should investigate environmentally responsible luxury villas & resorts.

Bombed Coral Head
This mass used to be a living coral before it was bombed to catch fish by the locals, photo by Mike Veitch

Many organisations and hotels have started to assist recovery of the coral reefs in their neighbourhood, by placing artificial reef structures in the sea to stabilize the rubble of damaged corals.

Living sculptures raise awareness and support media outreach

There are many such underwater sculptures around the world, in tropical areas like Mexico and Central America. They serve as nurseries for fish and regenerate their eco systems, but also act as interesting diving sites, giving support to local community by increasing tourist activities.

For more detailed information on underwater installations in Mexico, how they were made, and what they inspire in you, take a peak at this video below.

One of the organisations that has been building the living sculptures around Bali in the past five years is the Marine Foundation, a non profit from the UK. They work directly with environmentalists and the local communities, such as The Coral Alliance, Reef Check Indonesia, Gili Eco Trust and Karang Lestari Foundation.

The impact of the living sculptures on conservation efforts is already being recognized by stakeholders and the local community.

Most of all, the living sculptures “have good media outreach that helps spread awareness and facilitates our work” says Naneng Setiasih from Reef Check Indonesia.

Pemuteran Underwater Gallery

The western part of Bali has the oldest coral gardens, which consist of several sculptures: the Coral Goddess, Bicycles and Permuteran Animals. The Coral Goddess even received the UNDP award for sustainability in 2011. These sculptures are constructed with a unique invention bio-rock method using solar panel electricity to stimulate coral growth.

In this video, you can find the story of many years of successful work by the Karang Lestari Foundation, regenerating coral reefs with the Bio Rock method.

Sculpture of the bicycles which has well developed corals growing on it, located in Permuteran. Photo by Jeremy Ferris
Sculpture of the bicycles located in Permuteran, which have well developed coral growth. Photo by Jeremy Ferris.

To support the ecotourism, take a guided dive of the projects, leave a legacy of their name in the gardens by sponsoring a coral program or take a bio rock PADI specialty course.

This beautiful island hosts three living sculptures: Manta ray, Deus ex Machina and Tugu Dragon. Ecotourism helps support Gili Eco Trust by calling out to tourists to pay the eco tax, or if you want to make your trip more fun, take a photo riding on the Deus Motorbike underwater. Guided dives trough the coral gardens are also available upon request.

The Tugu Dragon is located in the ocean front of Tugu Hotel in Sire, Lombok. To visit the living sculpture and see the progress of growth of corals, you can take an energetic swim or a boat ride to the floating pontoon.

Amed, Jemeluk Bay Underwater Gallery

The area of Amed on the East of Bali has the most diverse underwater coral gallery, which includes an underwater post office, a mermaid sponsored by the Body Shop, Ganesha, Hanoman and a baby’s head. The first living sculpture installed in this space of the sea is a structure of mailbox, through which divers can send postcards in zipped plastic bags. The structure was created by Balinese artist, Wayan Winten, and was placed in 2011.

Sculpture of baby’s head located in Amed, sponsored by PATA foundation, by Eddie Prabandono
Sculpture of baby’s head located in Amed, sponsored by PATA foundation, by Eddie Prabandono

Two other smaller pieces – in the shape of Ganesha and Hanoman characters – were placed by the local community in a nearby spot early in 2013. A new statue in the shape of baby’s head was added to the Jemeluk Bay underwater gallery on 23th of May 2014. The sculpture was created by Eddie Prabandono as a part of his Luz Series sponsored by the Pacific Asia Travel Association. Amed is now in the process of sustainable development and getting more and more popular as a diving spot. The area has been declared a no fishing zone to assist in raising awareness of both the local community and the tourists.

For more visual material from the underwater sculptures around Bali, interesting photography and a short movie presentation about the procedure of installing the sculptures in Amed, take a look at this short film by The Marine Foundation:

Bali’s top 10 most charming vegan and organic cafes

If you’re vegan or a lover of all things organic, Bali is your haven.

From vibrant gypsy style cafes serving luscious raw chocolates, to Bistros with imitation meat and  Lasagna that taste so real, even the most devoted meat-eaters, won’t spot the difference. Bali has become a paradise for those seeking ultimate health and a cleaner, healthier way of enjoying food. It boasts a large and extensive selection of  organic health foods and has something for everyone.

This is a comprehensive list of the top places in Bali to get your veggie fix or treat yourself, absolutely guilt free.

Zula Vegetarian Paradise -Seminyak

Price Range: 18,000-75,000 RP ($1.80- 7.50)

The sister of Down to Earth Cafe, this sweet little restaurant is a great intimate escape  from the crowded Seminyak scene.
An oasis for  vegans and vegetarian alike, the menu is bursting with various wholesome health food creations and,  like all good cafes it always  takes a while to pick what you want (because everything looks so good!)

As you enter the restaurant  a burst of  spice aromas engulf the nose. The earthy warm, washed tone of the walls, paired with the with the vibrant pillows and wooden chairs , feel like an instant invitation to relax and slow down your pace. You feel as though you’re entering the home of a longtime friend and about to share a  hot cooked meal together. Comfortable is the word that best describes this café,  it has great vibes and a  homey feel about it.

Zula puts a lot of effort  into the presentation of the food and those with an artistic eye and appreciation for attention to detail will be pleased. They serve  smoothies and cold juices in adorable gypsy style glass jars, beautifully rich in color and absolutely divine in taste.You can really taste the quality of the ingredients.

The marinated veggie burgers are a favorite amongst many. Hearty and satisfying,the homemade whole meal bread bun is both crunchy and thick and overflowing with delicious salad (wheat free available).They also come with a side of hot sweet potato fries. There is a choice of Chickpea or veggie Pattie.

Another classic on the menu  is  The Dragon Bowl. An assortment of freshly grated organic vegetables, pomelo (a citric fruit native to southeast Asia), Tempe, alfalfa sprouts and Avacado.Served on Buckwheat noodles, with Nori  and toasted sesame dressing. Along with the Sobu Salad, these are must tries.

You’ll  find cute little pepper shakers on the table filled with various seeds and aromatic spices which will enhance your meal and add massive flavor.

At the back of the restaurant, sits a vegan cake counter fridge with gorgeously crafted and gluten free delights. Try the tofu lemon cheese cake or the pie with succulent drizzling blueberry sauce, both are to die for.

If you enjoy a fine wine with your meal, there is a small collection of both red and white wines sold by the bottle, a great accompaniment to any of the delicious desserts. Or if a cold beer is more your thing, choose from a glass of Belgium’s famous Stella Artois or Hoegaarden even grab a long Neck of Indonesia’s very own Bintang.

Have you just finished a hard workout? Well don’t sweat it, Zula Vegetarian Paradise has you covered. Refuel with a “Potassium Magnesium” smoothie blend, a mix of banana, Fig and flax seed. Or perhaps a Energy booster “Lift on a difficult day” with sweet strawberry, soymilk and carob Molasses, It’s sure to get you up and running again in no time!

There is also a organic health food grocery store, with products spread throughout the restaurant. They sell everything From vegan  protein powders, to all natural peanut butters and animal cruelty free shampoos. They also stock homemade  muesli bars, organic raisins and lots of grains and mixed nuts. The variety here is impressive  and even  those who are gluten intolerant are catered for.

You will find Zula Vegetarian Paradise Restaurant on Jalan Camplung Tanduk, Seminyak.

Verdict: Even heavy meat eaters will adore this place, with it’s satisfying portion sizes and irresistible flavor kick. You’ll leave feeling satisfied and healthier than when you first strolled in.

Soma

Price Range: 45,000-95,000 ($4.50-$9.5)

A cute Raw vegan café for the Eco driven food enthusiast and avid vegan.It attracts the young and  hip and is a favorite among Ubud’s locals.

The food is of very high quality, clean and fresh. They offer vibrant health juices (try the “antioxidant blast ) and amazing raw chocolates and vegan desserts. The Live Pad Thai and the raw pizza are hits here and both absolutely loaded with healthy veg and salad. It should be noted though, that portions sizes are a little smaller than average (they make up for it in taste).

Very gregarious staff with happy faces, always ready to help. If you enjoy a friendly chat and uplifting vibes, this is your place! There are comfy bean bags to lounge on and the room although small, is very tranquil. Soma continues to offer amazing, down to earth hospitality and unique vegan cuisine, despite the heavy competition in the Ubud area. If you’re passing by, make sure to check them out. Verdict: Most certainty a joint that has mastered the vegan health movement and understands it’s customers down to an art. Drop in for some vegan health delights!

Yellow Flower Café

Price Range: From roughly 30,000 ($3)

The Yellow Flower Café makes you feel like you’ve entered another world. It’s like you’ve suddenly woken up and found yourself dining in a mystical and enchanting jungle.

An Indonesian alternative organic cafe for those bored with western food and keen to dig into Balinese culture. Although not all the meals are vegetarian, everything is organic and a whole lot of tender love goes into the  meals, and you can really taste it.

They have great juice and smoothies (try Papaya or Pineapple) and  tasty wheat free pancakes. And keeping up with the raw food trend in Ubud, they bake mouthwatering raw desserts. Get your hands dirty with some raw chocolates (listed as choc fruits on the menu), or calm down with a hot Latte.  They offer a bargain buffet on Sundays for 65,000.

Verdict: Nutritious, delicious and organic, need we say more? Pay them a visit.

Fresh Ingredients at Yellow Flower, Bali Fresh Ingredients at Yellow Flower Cafe

Green Ginger Noodle House

Price Range: 36,000-119,000RP ($3.60-$19)

Don’t be mislead by how small the place is because The green Ginger Noodle House is exceptionally good and perfectly styled.

Cozy and simple, they offer raw healthy soul food, lots of succulent fresh greens and vegetables and lots of variety in their menu.  Portions are big and satisfying. Popular for it’s well brewed hot chai, crunchy corn fritters and veg friendly tofu larb.

Service is great here and the staff are friendly. The atmosphere is eclectic and they have well decorated, vintage sheik designed seating in their cute courtyard. It is the ultimate place to enjoy some of their delicious mains and take in the beautiful view. Under the same ownership as  The Elephant in Ubud, The Green Ginger Noodle House is an absolute gem. Find them  located in the middle of Brawa , near Canggu club on 46 Jalan Pantai Berawa

Verdict: The only thing that you’ll be disappointed by, is that you taste it sooner!

Sari Organik 

Price Range: 60,000-80,000 ($6-8)

From Middle Eastern spicy Curries to fresh Indonesian Gago-Gado, this place has it all. Not 100% vegetarian but they have  many vegan and vegetarian dishes and it is all vegan.

Cushioned up amongst Ubud’s famously lush rice paddies, with a killer view and a fresh breeze as you eat. Although quite a hike to reach the restaurant (15-20 minutes through the fields), the journey is enchanting, soothing to the soul and highly therapeutic. All the food is grown right there in the fields next door on a model farm. They only serve the best, 100% Organic and sustainable produce.

The atmosphere is tranquil and very natural  and it puts you in a  peaceful dreamy state as you gaze out upon the scenery.

Tip: Come at Sunset! The restaurant is bright and open spaced  but simple.  True to Balinese style, you can choose to sit on the floor to eat your meal, propped up with some comfy cushions or on the cute little wooden chairs.The Food is wholesome, fresh and comforting, albeit slightly pricy if you’re watching how you spend. Favorites include: The wood oven pizza and Indian curry burrito. They also have great organic smoothies and Black and red rice available.

Second Location: Penestanan:Restaurant with connected  grocery store, featuring an array of organic produce all grown locally on their farm in Kintamani.

Verdict: Food may be slightly plain or tasteless to those not accustomed to organic wholefoods but it’s reassuring to know, it’s like this because there are no additives like MSG in the meals. it’s defiantly a health conscious person’s first choice though.

Earth Cafe

Price Range: 50,000-130,000 RP ($5-$13)

Under the same  ownership as Zula Vegetarian Paradise and Down To Earth, this  raw vegetarian restaurant is defiantly no exception in quality and boasts one of the largest health food grocery shops in Bali.

Shaped like a hut, this cute wooden paradise is a gem to  all health conscious eaters. They have a fridge stocked full with one hundred percent organic vegetables, a fantastic collection of health and holistic healing books for sale and cute yoga and gypsy style clothing adorn the walls. The restaurant is large and spacy. The tables are laden with comfy cushions and the sunshine shines brightly into the restaurant.  It has Amazing Ambience, Earth Café have certaintly done a great job creating atmosphere.

Their juices are fresh and vibrant, served in cute mason jars and leave you feeling uplifted and energized. You can select your own contents for the Salads  and the dressings are delicious. From falafal wraps to scrambled tofu with organic sweet potatoes to Seitan Schnitzels, when it comes to fine food, this Café doesn’t miss a beat. The Ginger beer is served with  edible straws made from sugar cane; The Raw desserts actually contribute to your health and to top it off, they have excellent coffee. You will find Earth Café next to  Guardian pharmacy on Jalan Lesmana, Oberoi, Seminyak.

Verdict: Always delivers in terms of taste and high quality vegetarian food. Can’t speak highly enough of this restaurant. Service sometimes a little slow but a great place to indulge in delicious gourmet food, completely and utterly guilt free.

Earth Cafe couches in Bali Earth Cafe via Eat Green Cake

Divine Earth

Price Range: 50,000 RP up ($5)

A new addition to Bali’s ever-growing vegan health food scene, Divine Earth serves 100% raw organic vegan and dehydrated fine cuisine. You can smell the freshness  as you walk in the door, this place is the dictionary definition of health.

Cold pressed juices and smoothies that will keep you coming back for more and your body thanking you, dining here is a  Truly divine experience. Feeling like something sweet? Try their vegan ice-cream or “cheese cakecake”. Favourite Main meals to dig into include the delicious pastas with Tempe “meatballs” and the Eggplant and Zucchini Moussaka stack with cashew cheese melt.

They have a sandwich and salad bar and serve thick soup to warm the soul in Bali’s dreary wet season. Appetizers include homemade almond bread with Garlic Pili Nut Butter or even Guacamole with veggie sticks. The variety is large and packs a huge taste punch. They offer free delivery in Seminyak area,. You can find them on Jalan Raya Basangkasa 1200A, Seminyak.

Verdict: Although pricy, perhaps a litle small and compact,Divine Earth offers something truly different. A cute little café to enjoy food in it’s most pure and healthy form, Raw and vegan! Give it a visit on your next trip through Seminyak!

Kafe

Price Range: 85,000-130,000 RP ($8.50-$13)

A gorgeous bistro style café that is worth your visit! This double story health food hot spot, located right in the heart of Ubud is well know for its Classic Charm and hospitable service. Their menu is organic and they offer fresh flavorful whole food that keeps the crowds rolling in. The coffee is great and the pottery mugs that they serve it in, are a masterpiece on their own.

Kafe offers Yummy and healthy brekkies for the early risers including delicious pancakes. Must tries include blueberry served with a side of ice-cream and  buckwheat with pear and ginger.

The veggie burgers are made with love and come with a tasty Salsa in a adorable ceramic glazed bowl . The raw organic Cake and pastries are presented in a beautiful fridge cabinet, try the Raw keylime Pie, a heavenly tangy sensation, but be warned; one is never enough. Favorite mains on the menu  include: The vegetarian “Tuna steak”, The raw ravioli and any of their awesome salads or hot soups. All the food has unique combinations of flavors and great texture.

The Vibe in Kafe is very relaxed and new age. Humorous picture frames line the walls; “Unattended children will be given espresso and free kitten”. There’s a  clock with cute reminders such as “time to nap” at 4.30pm and the beautiful red feature wall will catch your eye. Kafe sells a large collection of postcards and a whole shelf full of books. Combine that with the home-style wooden chairs outside, (positioned so perfectly to catch the breeze), add a coffee or juice, and you’ve found yourself the perfect spot to dig into your favorite novel that you’ve been meaning to read for so long. Their catch phrase “Great Music, healthy foods, yummy desserts and true espresso” is a great overview of all this place has to offer.

Kafe’s Location is very easy to find. Just head on down to Jalan Hanoman 44B, one of the main roads in Ubud.

Verdict: The food tastes as good as It looks. if you want to eat well and enjoy the atmosphere of Ubud , all at the same time, Kafe is the place to do it.

The Elephant restaurant and Bar

Price Range: 50,000-110,000 ($5-$11)

A highly recommended vegetarian restaurant that consistently lives up to it’s good name. Tucked back off the main road ,looking above  the beautiful Campuhan Ridge river valley. It has magical green scenery and a view that will take your breathe away. Featuring a gorgeous serene little garden, this place is truly a glorious find.

Plenty of variety on the menu, with local healthy ingredients. Myriad juices, crunchy greens and hearty mains to satisfy even the biggest hunger. Portions sizes are also very generous at The Elephant. Favorites  on the menu  include The Potato Rosti. Pad Thai is also a winner here. With amazing raw vegan chocolate cake and banana caramel cake, if you’re a sweet lover, you will be spoilt for choice. Grab a  hot Chai Latte with Cashew milk or a frothed Café Macchiato  or even  a crepe with fruit salad. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

Verdict: With Swinging seats to rest your tired legs up on and and vegetarian cuisine that will make you feel like you’ve been to heaven and back; this is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down and ponder life and how great it is!

Vego heaven at Elephant Restaurant via Award Travel Wisdom

The Seeds of Life

Price Range: Roughly 50,000-115,000 ($5-$15)

Very popular for it’s raw vegan desserts, this place is off the  charts for food innovation and attention to detail. The ambiance of this place makes it an awesome hangout spot to enjoy with friends or even a haven to enjoy  on your own (think Raw Tiramisu and your favorite book).

Favorites on the menu include: The pesto raw pizza with amazing fillings and taste ,the Sushi and the Better than Beef Lasagna. It’s crazy how much some of their meals taste and resemble real meat (great for non-veg friends tagging along) but you can be reassured in knowing  everything here is 100% vegetarian or vegan friendly. Finish your meal with some Banana crème pie or a slice of Lavender Ice cream Cake and  life will feel complete.

Seeds of Life also  have a Taoist Tonic bar serving  soothing Tonics and Elixirs to heal and cleanse the body.

Verdict:We love it for it’s uniqueness and creativity. A place of passion and love for food,  Vegans and vegetarians, you know where to go!

10 profound places to find the spirit of yoga in Bali

There is a saying: “There is no Yoga without Hinduism and no Hinduism without Yoga.”

Yoga might have originated in India hundreds of years ago, but it’s the beautiful island of Bali that’s become the yogi’s preferred destination in the region.

It’s the texture of spirituality, as much as the physical beauty of the island, that makes Bali an ideal sanctuary for learning and practicing yoga.

It offers the perfect balance between the possibilities for connecting with the yogi community and the right to privacy when you’d rather retreat into silence.

A burgeoning of sensational yoga establishments in Bali over the past two decades has dramatically changed the cast of characters who come to Ubud. New aged pilgrims, from diverse backgrounds, come seeking asylum from an impetuous life to retreat within the verdant landscape of Bali – to connect with a greater power.

The sense of true inner peace found in Bali’s light breezes resonates from the daily rituals and humble devotion of its people. The Balinese people practice Bhakti, an unconditional gratitude for life that permanently resides in the heart.

Here, the art of yoga is a way of living, and they say it has to be “caught” rather than learned.

So here are 10 of Bali’s best yoga studios where you can seek the spirit of yoga.

#1 The Yoga Barn, Ubud

yoga_barn

The Yoga Barn is Ubud’s most popular yoga mecca among spiritual seekers and vegans. The onsite Garden Kafe serves living vegan foods, the sophisticated in-law of raw foods.

It is located among lush green rice fields and beautiful mountain scenery. It is also on the door step of ubuds prime shopping location with a plethora of boutique shops to choose from. Finish the day in one of their flower baths in the KUSH spa. Devine!

This is a place to connect with the masses. Classes run throughout the day, held in large studios. So if you prefer your yoga in an intimate group setting, then the herd mentality here might overwhelm.

The Yoga Barn
Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar
+62 361 971236

#2 Radiantly Alive, Ubud

This yoga studio is often compared to The Yoga Barn.

The eco-hip concepts are similar, except Radiantly Alive has only two yoga studio, the classes are smaller and more intimate but – and this is a big but for yogis on a budget – it’s pricier. Not for the yogi who makes a living selling dream catchers.

Each treatment is tailored for your individual needs and is composed of the most powerful and direct methods to heal, restore and improve your Radiance. The place does exactly what it says on the tin!

Radiantly Alive
Jalan Jembawan No. 3, Padangtegal, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar
+62 361 978055

#3 Intuitive Flow, Ubud

Yoga teacher Linda Madani is known for being emotionally intense, occasionally bursting into tears in the middle of her studio. First timers either love her approach, which involves lots of chanting that’s intended to heal the spirit, or they find themselves wishing they could leave.

It’s certainly an authentic and alternative experience that takes a “let it all out” approach to healing as opposed to those eerie silent journeys of other studios.

Intuitive Flow
Jl. Raya Tjampuhan, Penestanan Kaja, Ubud
+62 361 977824

#4 Prana Spa Bali, Seminyak

Yoga classes at Prana Spa Bali is for the lady who prefers a luxe spa treatment after her yoga session. Serious yogis might have something to say about this. Along the lines of “Why have you come all the way to Bali to practice yoga in an indoor studio that looks like a Moroccan king’s harem after a furniture fire sale?”

The answer: Creative Power Flow and the Elemis fruit active glow facial.

Prana Spa Bali
Jln Kunti No.118 x, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung
+62 361 730840

#5 Taksu Yoga, Ubud

Taksu” is Balinese for “the indescribable essence of Spirit.” Our yogis and yoginis live yoga. They have dedicated their life path and intention to set a space for your awareness of the “Taksu” dwelling within.

Taksu Yoga & Movement Arts is great for private classes and intimate workshops. However the studio spaces aren’t roomy enough for group classes, so this is probably not the best place to take your tribe of 20.

Taksu Yoga
Ubud, Gianyar
+62 361 971490

#6 Power of Now Oasis, Sanur

yoga_sanur

The Power of Now Oasis appeals to the ocean loving yogi who wants to hear the sound of the waves breaking gently on the shore. In keeping with the holistic nautical theme, the studio is built entirely out of bamboo and shaped like a green turtle’s back.

Power of Now Oasis
Jl. Merta Sari, Denpasar Selatan
+62 878-6153-4535#7 High Vibe Yoga, Ubud

yoga_ubud

High Vibe Yoga is an excellent place for yoga retreats, workshops and 200 hour teacher training. In fact, education is their core purpose (you won’t find many classes here at all).

Group sizes are small and the studio has a casual atmosphere – all to make your learning experience easy.

#8 Shankari’s Yoga Retreat

yoga_5

Shankari’s Yoga Retreat separated itself from the Ubud and centrally located yoga cult, and placed itself in along the Sacred Balian river. It’s a beautiful part of Bali where development drops off drastically.

The black sand beaches and completely deserted coastlines are absolutely stunning. This is a great spot to lose your geographical sense of bearing.

Shankari’s Yoga Retreat
Jln. Denpasar – Gilimanuk, Desa Suraberata, Kecamatan Selemadeg Barat, Tabanan
+62 361 814993

#9 Desa Seni

desa_seni_bali
Desi Seni Eco village has breathtaking surroundings with their yoga shala set in the heart of it! From Angela’s goddess tantra retreat (not as naughty as it sounds) to their weekly guided meditation. It’s a one stop shop for a spiritual awakening.

Desa Seni
Jalan Subak Sari No.13, Canggu
+62 361 8446392

#10 Samadi

samadi_bali

Right in the heart of Canggu.
Samadi focuses on traditional Mysore Ashtanga yoga. Using teachers trained exclusively in Ashtanga to ensure you are getting the height of training!

Samadi
Jl. Padang Linjong, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung
+62 812-3831-2505

Investing in Bali property: a guide to buying a slice of heaven

Its warm weather, stunning landscape and welcoming culture makes Bali one of the world’s most desirable places to live. Visitors just can’t seem to get enough of the glorious island, and more and more holidaymakers are either turning their short trips into permanent stays or securing holiday homes that they can retreat to whenever they feel the urge.

Luxurious villas by the ocean and comfortable family homes nestled in the mountains are being snapped up quickly, making Bali a hot spot not just for international home buyers looking for their own slice of heaven, but also for astute property investors.

Bali’s luxury property market is progressively attracting more and more property tycoons looking to cash in on capital gains and build a healthy property portfolio in a market that has seen rapid growth over the past few years.

For first time investors or those looking to get their hands on a beautiful home, understanding Indonesia’s complex and restrictive property laws can have its challenges. We are here to simplify the journey; with the right guidance and support, that shiny property portfolio or dreamy new home will soon be yours.

Photo credit to villa Upama

How to purchase property in Bali

Indonesian law places restrictions on the ability of foreigners to purchase property in Bali. These laws aim to keep ownership within Indonesia and protect the country’s booming economy. But it takes more than a few laws to ward off the entrepreneurial kind and a little further digging uncovers some completely legitimate methods to acquire property.

The Indonesian government recognises various rights concerning real estate, the three most relevant being:

  • The Right to Use (Hak Pakai)
  • The Right to Build (Hak Guna Bangunan)
  • The Right to Own (Hak Milik)

As long as the property is not part of government subsidised housing, foreigners are allowed to invest in commercial and residential real estate or property as an investment. However, because non-Indonesians may not actually own property (Hak Milik) under Indonesian law without the help of a nominee or under a foreign investment company structure, the most common way foreigners buy property in Bali is to have a leasehold agreement under the title of Hak Pakai (Right to Use). The land titles Hak Milik (Right to Own) and Hak guna Bangunan (Right to Build) are certainly more advantageous, but these are not available to foreigners on their own.

investing in Bali property: a slice of heaven
Photo credit bali mystique.com

Various ways foreigners can purchase their dream investment property in Bali

1) A leasehold investment (long term renting)

This is a long-term lease contract. Although the land title is not under the foreigner’s name and remains under the ownership of the original owner, the land can be rented for an initial period of around 25 years and can then be extended up to a period of 70 years. After the lease begins, the owner’s title of Hak Milik (Right to Own) will be legally transferred to the foreigner under the Hak Pakai title (Right to Use).

Under the lease contract the property is able to be sub-leased (rented out to other people). This is how many foreigners turn a leasehold property into a lucrative investment and source of passive income. For most investors, the beauty of a lease is that their focus is immediate cash flow and a passive income, allowing freedom from the burden of watching market conditions as the actual value of the property is of no huge concern. In a low market there will be an increased number of long-term renters, and in a high market when everyone is purchasing, there is still the benefit of short-term holiday rentals.

If the leasehold is not renewed once it expires, all rights go back to the original owner and it becomes a freehold Hak Milik property again.

2) A leasehold – mortgage investment structure

The most common method for a foreigner to acquire and control land in Indonesia is a combination of the above lease agreement and a first registered mortgage over the property, together with various ancillary documents.

This security structure is a system of contractual agreements between the foreign investor and the Hak Milik land owner (often a business partner of the foreign investor) which grants leasehold occupation and mortgage security rights to the foreigner over the property for the terms of the lease and mortgage. The system of documents consists of:

(a) Deed of Lease in Notarial Form executed before an Indonesian Notary in the Indonesian language. The leasehold interest is an unregistered interest in the land so the foreigner’s leasehold rights do not appear on the Hak Milik certificate of title as an encumbrance. However, the unregistered leasehold interest of the foreigner is a strong, secure and enforceable right of occupation will take priority over subsequent encumbrances on the Hak Milik title. While the actual term of a lease is not regulated under Indonesian law, Notaries in Bali will generally grant leases to foreigners in terms of 25 years so that the lease term accords with the government decreed 25 year term of the Hak Pakai title available to an eligible foreigner as a registered interest in Hak Milik land.

(b) Notarial Loan Agreement and First Registered Mortgage: as the Notarial Deed of Lease is an unregistrable interest in the land (so the interest will not appear as an encumbrance of the Hak Milik Title) in order for the foreign investor to lawfully retain the original freehold certificate of title as against the Indonesian Hak Milik owner (being the Indonesian business partner) and also prohibit the Indonesian business partner dealing in a transfer of the title, the foreign investor may be registered as a first ranking mortgagee of the property. The principal amount of the loan is often the acquisition value of the property funded by the foreign investor as lender.

(c) Business Partner Agreement and Irrevocable Power of Attorney: this deed regulates the rights and obligations of the foreign investor and the Indonesian business partner. The power of attorney is back up protection which can be used in limited circumstances for the foreign investor to transact the property without the involvement of the Indonesian business partner. Advice should be taken on the circumstances in which the power of attorney can be implemented.

(b) Testamentary Wills: the Indonesian business partner may devise the Freehold land by way of testamentary will to the foreign investor who must re-transfer the land to an eligible Indonesian within one year. The foreigners interests in the property, primarily long term lease and the mortgage, can also be left by way of Indonesian Will to the beneficiaries of the foreigner.

Bali property Investment: Indoor luxury
Photo Credit Tapja

Current market trends in Bali

Bali’s property market has seen exponential growth over the past few years. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, return on investment and capital gains on property in Bali were at an all time high.

The heavy demand and high volume of transactions over the past few years has seen property prices increase by an average of 20% in most areas, and up to about 40% in popular areas such as Seminyak and Canggu.

Despite these increases, investors are still jumping at the chance to buy property in Bali and are encouraged by positive market sentiment, the island’s worldwide popularity and Bali’s ever-increasing reputation as a leader in luxury accommodation.

According Gunawan the emerging markets are now in Jimbaran, Nusadua Bukit (South Kuta) and Tabanan Regency. He affirms, “land prices have soared in the Central Kuta area in places such as Seminyak and Petitenget, making it difficult for new investors to tap into the areaIt is hard to get a good return on the Central Kuta area because it is already highly developed. Investors are now shifting to South Kuta where there are still empty land blocks and reasonable property prices.”

Small-scale investors on a tighter budget are now branching out, heading further north to Tabanan or to islands off the coast of Bali, such as the pristine Gili Meno where you can still pick up a 2 bedroom property for $US100k.

Investing in Bali property: a luxury villa

Average Bali property prices 2014

Bali has extreme variations in property prices, ranging from the very low-end to the extraordinarily luxurious high-end. If you want a high-end villa right on the beach, be prepared to pay the same as you would in Australia or America. Bargains will more likely be found off the main drag, and opportunistic investors can even nab themselves an unfinished project to capitalise on.

According to Michael Gunawan of Ray White Kuta, if you are looking to buy a 2 bedroom villa on a 250m² block of land in downtown Seminyak, the freehold (for sale price) will set you back about $US500k. In Canggu, Jimbaran or Nusa Dua, you’re looking at about $US300k, in Denpasar City it drops to $US250k and Tabanan is an affordable $US100k.

To lease a property for 25 years (Hak Pakai- Right to Use), you will usually pay about half the freehold price.

bali villa investment: luxury bedroom
Credit homedsgn.com

Loans and Finance

It’s difficult for foreigners to acquire loans from Indonesian banks as properties are rarely registered under their name. Consequently, many foreigners pay in cash instalments.

For those determined to secure a local loan, the only way to do so is under a freehold through a nominee or company. For local loans on property developments, the project needs to be 70% complete, and for local loans on lease agreements, the leasing agreement will need to be put under the name of the bank.

A more viable option is to take out a loan through an international bank. There are local freelance agents and small businesses in Bali that help foreigners make the transaction and ensure a competitive interest rate.

Property Firms

There are numerous property firms to buy and sell property through in Bali. We recommend internationally recognized real estate agents that have branches all across Bali, as this guarantees that they understand the market of the entire island.

  • Ray White has offices in Pecatu and Kuta (where you can contact Michael Gunawan).
  • Elite Havens property consultancy firm is in partnership with Knight Frank. Ask for Matthew Georgeson.
Bali property firms
Photo credit Alila hotels

STEP BY STEP

So you’ve researched the market, organised finance and understand Bali’s property laws inside out and. What’s next?

  • Appoint an agent to help you search for your property and make sure your deal is safe.
  • Negotiate the price.
  • Put down a deposit. This is usually 10-30% of the property price.
  • Sign a letter of intent with the seller agreeing to the final payment price.
  • If using a nominee, sign the Power of Attorney agreement.
  • Collect your revised certificate and pay the notary 3% of the property price.

It may sound simple, but like anywhere in the world, acquiring property can get complicated. Here are a few hot tips to help you out.

1) Find out how motivated your seller is

To see how urgently the owner needs to sell the property and how likely they are to accept a lower price, ask the agent some important questions:

  • Has the seller already purchased a new home? If so, it is more likely they will want to have a short settlement period in order to quickly pay for the new taxes and expenses on their new property.
  • How long has the house been on the market?
  • How long will they leave it on the market if they don’t get their desired price?

Consider these questions but don’t be cheap and try to avoid making ‘low ball offers’. If it is a high quality piece of land or property and you see potential to make money, waiting around for a price that is far below current market value will only make sellers and agents move away from you. Worst of all, someone else who sees the same potential in the property will probably dive in and swipe it up. It’s far better to be realistic and get a quality property for a slightly higher price than risk missing out all together.

2) Sign an unconditional purchase contract

If you have a motivated seller who wants to move quickly, signing an unconditional purchase contract can give you an unbeatable edge, which is particularly helpful if there is a lot of competition. This contract means that your offer is not ‘subject to finance’ or any other conditions. Sellers are often willing to accept a lower offer if they know that you have guaranteed finance and can offer a short settlement period.

3) Build a relationship with property sales agents

The need for trust and loyalty in a buyer-agent relationship is mutual. An agent who has several interested buyers is likely to prefer selling to a buyer that they know and trust not to back out at the last minute.

Befriending an agent in the local area you wish to buy in will have a plethora of advantages including market insights, access to property listings before they are released to the public and potential for private property viewings – all of this giving you an edge over other buyers.

4) Hire an agent, appoint a notary and be specific!

It is not the investment that is risky; it is the investor who doesn’t have the adequate skills that makes an investment a high risk“~ Robert Kiyosaki, American Tycoon investor.

Gunwan stresses the importance of “appointing a professional property agent and a good notary for a clear and proper legal process.” A notary or lawyer is essential when land titles are involved to ensure the signing process is witnessed and the documents are verified under law.

Gunawan also suggests that foreigners must be very clear about the purpose of their Bali investment. When making decisions, remember to always stick to the basics: “location, land and looks“, and always consider the pros and cons of the property and then compare it to others that are similar.

Foreigners should also thoroughly understand and carefully select the choice of property title they are buying into. Is it a Freehold, Right of Use or Leasehold? An agent can help guide investors through this. Check the surrounding area and community of the desired property, and try to pre-empt any issues that could become a problem down the track. Consider having a building inspection and bank valuation done before purchasing the property as an added safety net.

Dream Villa Investment in Bali
Photo credit Architectural Digest

An Interview with Leading Bali property authority, Matthew Georgeson of Elite Havens

Matthew Georgeson is the head of Real Estate and a partner at Elite Havens, the largest villa rental company in Bali and a property consultancy firm in partnership with Frank Knight.

With 16 years of direct experience in the Indonesian property market, Matthew is a leading authority in the field. He was kind enough to give a moment of his busy schedule to HotInBali.com and share his words of wisdom

What do you see happening in the market?

Despite Bali’s property market seeing massive growth over the past few years, Matthew says that “it’s a tougher market now because there is a lot more competition, and consequently, yields are downHowever, transactions amongst the locals remain robust, simply because they can secure finance more easily.”

Matthew says a lot of Indonesians who purchased land around a decade ago, for somewhere around the $US200 mark, are now looking to sell because they don’t owe money and believe the property value has increased. As you would expect, this has greatly escalated property prices.

For standalone villas, which may or may not attract foreigners, there has been no great price reduction and liquidity is slow. A lot of people are paying record high prices then bulldozing the property and rebuilding. It’s not leaving much skin on the bone for the next buyer.

Despite the rise in property, Matthew assures us that Elite Havens, which specialises in exclusive, luxury property sales in Bali, is still doing extremely well. “We still have a lot of people buying very expensive, top of the shelf property,” he says, an obvious sign that despite price increases, some people still can’t resist buying a slice of heaven in Bali’s increasingly luxurious property market.

Matthew admits that foreign investors only make up a small part of the Bali property market. Naturally, the market is highly leveraged by local buyers, but for various business and lifestyle factors, foreigners maintain an interest in Bali property.

What advice would you give to foreigners who are looking to buy property in Bali?

Matthew’s first words: “Know that Indonesia has a very different legal system and get good legal advice before you commit to anything.

It makes sense for a foreigner to retain a lawyer whilst buying property, but Matthew says many people try to avoid it. “They wouldn’t dream of purchasing property in Australia without a lawyer, but for some reason if they are buying here, they just don’t get one. People don’t realise that all the decisions they make, even those at the very beginning of the deal, are going to affect them in the long term. It’s important to understand exactly what you are getting into and to get good legal advice before you commit to anything.”

Matthew’s hot investment areas that he thinks are headed for growth over the next 10 years are:

  • Nusa Lembongan Island
  • Lombok and the Gili islands including Trawangan and Gili Meno
  • Tanah Lot, which still has room for growth, or anywhere on the coast further north.

Matthew also predicts that if Indonesia goes ahead with its plans to change the laws and make it easier for foreigners to have land titles in Bali, we are likely to see a move from trendy villas to apartments.

Final Notes

Buying land in Bali
Photo credit Tapja.com

Irrespective of market conditions, there will always be a demand for property in Bali. For investors, Bali’s strong tourism position means good turnover rates for sub-leased properties and high demand for properties for sale. The key is getting into the market before it’s too late.

We leave you with this quote:

Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

7 heavenly AirBnB villas in Ubud that have us swooning

Heading to Ubud to fulfill your Eat, Pray, Love odyssey? Well believe us, staying in a hotel (however fabulous) just won’t do. You need a chic Bali villa set in electric green rice fields and dramatic river gorges of the Ayung River – far, far away from the tourist track.

We were in Ubud recently and *a popular discount hotel website* mucked up our booking. So we took to AirBnB.com for a last-minute find. The villas we stumbled upon were so spectacular that we simply had to show you.

Don’t know about AirBnB? It’s really simple. If you have a fabulous house (anywhere in the world) that you don’t use very often (lucky you!), you can list it on AirBnB. Travellers then book rooms in an awesome house, or an entire estate, just like a hotel. You’ll be blown away at what you can find. There’s even the odd futuristic caravan and fairytale treehouse to keep you entertained.

Check out these 7 heavenly AirBnB villas in Ubud that have us swooning.

#1 Remarkable Bamboo House on Ayung River

bamboo houseubud villas
bamboo houseubud villas

This unique bamboo house is a living work of art and has been featured in New York Magazine and CBS Morning. It’s set in the river valley landscape along Bali’s sacred Ayung River. You enter the house through a giant bamboo tube and follow the network of spacey corridors and staircases into a surreal collection of luxurious floors and rooms.

The jaw dropping architecture of this house doesn’t just wow the adults,  we can imagine kids tripping out in this groovy space.

Nightly rate: IDR 7,691,373
Minimum stay: 2 nights
Book this Remarkable Bamboo House on AirBnB.

#2 Africa Themed House

african house ubud villas
african house ubud villas

Can’t afford to holiday in Africa? Just a few minutes away from the centre of Ubud, this African themed house in Sayan Valley brings Africa to you. Inspired by antique teak bridal houses in Java and luxe African safari interiors, the estate is designed to cocoon guests in a sense of comfort and intimacy with nature.

Fancy a refreshing dip? The natural pool is filled with natural river water and uses local lava stones to filter the water naturally. What a way to reduce your holiday carbon footprint.

Nightly rate: IDR 5,442,574
Minimum stay: 2 nights
Book the Africa Themed House on AirBnB.

#3 Old Wooden Rice House

rice house ubud villas
rice house ubud villas

Also located on the same estate as the Africa Themed House in the Sayan Valley, the Old Wooden Rice House is a touch more affordable. The house is decorated with the owner’s private collection of lavish rugs from Morocco (yum!), fabrics from Indonesia and lacquerware from Burma. Just like a five star hotel, but with a personal touch.

This estate is super hot on AirBnB, so you’ll have to plan your stay well ahead in advance to stay here.

Nightly rate: IDR 4,700,948
Minimum stay: 1 night
Book the Old Wooden Rice House on AirBnB.

#4 Sakovabali villa

sakobavali villa ubud villas
sakobavali villa ubud villas

Sakovabali Villa is a stylish modern villa that combines traditional architecture and a tropical landscape of jungles and ravines in the outskirts of Ubud, near the wood carvers village of Tengkulak. Fully staffed, with a fabulous in-house chef and onsite spa, you won’t have any reason to leave. With four bedrooms and contemporary indoor and outdoor living, this would be a fantastic spot for intimate group gatherings.

Nightly rate: IDR 7,392,331
Minimum stay: 2 nights
Book Sakovabali Villa on AirBnb.

#5 Pelangi Estate

pelangi estateubud villas
pelangi estateubud villas

This sprawling estate accommodates up to 16 people in 7 bedrooms and bathrooms (hence the price tag). If you’re planning a big group holiday with the extended family, this is the perfect luxury villa estate for it. Built in 2011, the estate consists of 4 main bedroom houses, a sleeping loft and a one-bedroom cottage. Overlooking the Wos river gorge, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for picture perfect moments with the family.

Nightly rate: IDR 14,928,202
Minimum stay: 2 nights
Book Pelangi Estate on AirBnB.

#6 Villa Kelusa

villa kelusa ubud villas
villa kelusa ubud villas

A hauntingly beautiful four bedroom compound, isolated on 3 hectares of land at the jungle’s edge awaits you. Set atop a vast amphitheater of rice paddies and river gorges of the holy Pakuseba River you’ll feel a million miles away from the world, and perhaps on another planet altogether.

Nightly rate: IDR 7,906,684
Minimum stay: 2 nights
Book Villa Kelusa on AirBnb.

#7 Private pool villa

pool villa ubud
pool villa ubud

Looking for something completely new and modern? This private pool villa was built in 2013, with pretty slate pathways that run through the property and peak through the foliage to reveal verdant rice fields and tropical forest. It’s the sort of place where you lounge by the pool sipping champagne at noon and take long siestas in a Balinese gazebo.

Nightly rate: IDR 4,784,680
Minimum stay: 1 night
Book Private Pool Villa on AirBnb.

More

Not satisfied yet? Check out our 6 phenomenal surf villas in Bali from AirBnB

An all inclusive, fail free packing list for Bali

What to bring

1. Stunner rags for going out

One or two banging outfits only. Look, Bali is a tropical beach yes but you’re going to go out at night, no matter what you think. (Unless you’re from New York City, then you really won’t care about parties in Bali. NYC residents are the only ones who are immune to Seminyak’s charms.) And you’re going to want to look nice. Bali is very international now, with plenty of very good looking and judgmental people. (Disregard this rule if you’re a well traveled fashion industry head- you already know what to do.)

2. Select clothes for everyday (including a long sleeve light thing for the bike)

Two or three ensembles are enough! It’s fine! Do yourself a favor and pack your three favorite most comfortable chic things you’ve worn in the last month and that’s it! And, provided you’ll be like most people, you’ll be on a scooter, so bring a light long-sleeve thing you can throw over whatever. The most burned I’ve seen people is from riding the motorbike. One gets so burned in such an awkward way.

3. Two swimsuits, one for looking cute and one for getting rocked/i.e. actually swimming

Like, I’m just disregarding if you surf because that’s a whole other thing. But one bathing suit for looking very cute, and another for swimming. Actually I don’t know. I only wear one-pieces because I don’t have to pull them up when I’m duck-diving. I don’t own a bikini.

4. An Unlocked iPhone

If you’re not from America, and you have an unlocked phone, congrats! You can get a sim card and text that Swedish girl you met at that Mexican place with the Baja-style tacos.

5. Nice sunscreen & hair ties

This is all pretty obvious but… sunscreen is extra expensive here and selection is severely limited. You’ll need a ton and you’ll want the good stuff. I wear it on the back of my hands and forearms on the bike, and Tropical Sands SPF 30 on everything- stays on in the water. Bring nice sunscreen you’ll actually wear. Also – you can’t get good hair ties here. Crisis.

6. Book(s)

No good books stores here. Bring two from home.

7. Friendly and open attitude toward Balinese and Balinese culture.

Learn these three words at least: Terima Kasih means “thank you.” Bagus means “good.” Suka means “I like.” Too easy. Make an effort to do something vaguely cultural. I like the sunset Kecak Dance at Ulutwau. Just make sure to go by yourself and have dinner in the area afterwards, unless you want to spend three hours in traffic afterwards going back to Canggu. Cacho’s and Kat’s Kitchen are two great local restaurants. Be respectful and appreciative and ask questions. Bali is magic.

8. Map at Periplus

You can get an atlas of Bali at Periplus, the local bookstore, and if you don’t have a smart phone with GPS, it’s essential if you’re trying to navigate. Even if you do have a phone, it’s still an amazingly helpful secret buy for all the windy twisting roads here.

9. Strong probiotic

Get a good probiotic before you come and take it, it’ll help with your immune system and help prevent stomach problems. You’re being introduced to a lot of new bacteria and flus and all those little cuts get infected fast. That and sip four liters of water a day and you’re all good.

10. Travelers insurance at worldnomads.com

I’ve always done this jammie. It’s saved me thousands over the years. It’s pretty cheap and you can get it before you leave. I grab it for any trip over a few weeks, and would recommend it. They’ve paid me out in a timely respectful manner and their online message center is always there when I get confused about what forms needs to be filled blah blah.

11. Salt and Vinegar Chips

Bali doesn’t have salty v’s. Or when they do they’re $8 a bag.

12. Lots of underwear

Because they disappear at the Laundromat. Also it’s very hot here.

 

What not to bring

1. The lover you met last summer

Don’t bring sand to the beach!

2. Your insanity or sanity, really. Or your promiscuity or virginity.

Don’t be stupid and don’t be a know it all. Also, most prominent feminists question if the sexual revolution really happened. Be safe.

3. Anything expensive

Treat this like a trip to the beach. Bring nothing that sparkles or dislikes sand in its crevices.

A big bag that won’t fit beneath the bike seat.

Always put your bag under your seat while riding a scooter! Discourage bag thieves!

Photo via Free People.

5 Most Romantic Dinners in Bali. Ps. I Love You  

Bali, Indonesia’s “Island of the Gods”, is a powerful testament to how truly awe-inspiring mother nature can be. Pristine beaches, crystal clear blue waters and a deep spiritual history, magnified through countless Hindu temples that have stood untouched for centuries, present an ideal getaway experience, unlike any other. Having undergone a significant transformation since its early backpacker days, areas such as Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Ubud and Uluwatu are now highly recognised as trendy, upmarket and romantic location, shifting the scene that Bali was once known for and drawing to the island, a different type of crowd altogether.

Amidst the dreamy landscape, the island’s novelty as being a paradise for lovers stems from a list of famous celebrity weddings that have taken place here over the years. Rolling Stones singer, Mick Jagger, chose to tie the knot to girlfriend Jerry Hall in a traditional Balinese ceremony. Their decision to leave behind the high-end luxuries of America, opting instead for simple white wedding outfits accompanied by a meaningful Hindu blessing, could have only come from the fact that both had earlier described Bali as “the most romantic place on the planet.”

It’s difficult to put a finger as to why Bali is a lover’s paradise. It could be the array of rainforests, waterfalls, volcanoes and cliff-side views that form the ideal backdrop for the perfect proposal, wedding venue or honeymoon trip. If you’re looking for a place to treat your better half to a night that’ll make them feel like a million bucks, here are five breathtakingly beautiful and scenic dining spots across the island that present the perfect ambience to renew your love bonds.

Most Romantic Dinners in Bali #1: Pesta Lobster Experience – At Ayana Resort, Jimbaran

Besides being a premium delicacy and a rich source of protein that most people won’t mind spending a fortune over as an occasional treat, lobster’s are known to be opulent aphrodisiacs. Enjoy them while overlooking a view of the famous Jimbaran Bay located on the southwestern coast of Bali. Voted as the most romantic dining venue in Bali, you and your significant other will get to savour a five-course dinner on a private jetty with your own personal chef for the night.

Kick back and relax in your cosy private dining area nestled in a quiet corner of the beach as musicians pamper you with soothing tunes from traditional bamboo xylophones. Your five-course meal comprises of only the freshest seafood available on the island, all cooked and presented by the restaurant’s master chefs. Enjoy Pesta Lobster, Kisik Seafood Platter, iced Tuna Sashimi, Prawn, Oyster and Mussel served with fresh lemon, lime and tabasco.

Feel the love as you watch the bright orange Balinese sunset in the distance and let its glorious beauty bring peace to your hearts. After dining in decadence, end your night with Tout Guanaja Chocolate Mousse, a rich cocoa dessert perfectly designed to provide you with an energy rush that’ll send your hearts racing.

More details about this romantic dinner experience, here.

romantic dinners in bali
Pesta Lobster Experience, in Jimbaran

Most Romantic Dinners in Bali #2: Fall In Love Within Bali’s Cave Wonders – At Samabe Bali Suites

Indulge in a truly magical and unique dining experience down in Nusa Dua. For one night only, escape from the worries of everyday life to a world reserved for only you and your loved one while surrounding yourself with the spiritual energy that mother earth exudes.

Your secret cave hideaway comes with a four-course candlelight dinner along with a luxurious setting of twenty red roses and champagne. Choose to go by foot, or hop onto a private jeep that’ll drop you directly at your destination. Upon arrival, enjoy a warm welcome from your personal butler as he serves up a tantalising dinner comprising of aptly named dishes such as “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and Bouquet of Joy”, that taste wonderful and will definitely set you in the mood for love.

Nothing compares to embracing nature in all its glory than dining in one of these majestic limestone structures that have withstood the test of time. End your night by indulging in some stargazing or a quiet stroll along the beach. This loved-up dining experience is by far the most private one you’ll get to enjoy, before heading back to the hustle and bustle of city life.

More details about this romantic dinner experience, here.

Romantic Dinner in Bali
Cave Dining at Samabe, Nusa Dua

Most Romantic Dinners in Bali #3: Dine In The Heart of Nature, At Kamandalu Resort in Ubud

There is no denial as to why Ubud is considered one of Bali’s most romantic districts. Far removed from Kuta’s party scene, the spiritual hub of the island can be felt among the many temples that surround its villages. Besides being the cultural centre recognised for its local artwork and architectural glory, it is also home to many quaint and cosy restaurants, that provide the perfect escape to help you reflect and regain your strength.

There’s no greater way to fall deeper in love than to enjoy a spectacular dinner beneath the stars with a six-course meal and a traditional blessing. Here in the heart of Ubud, surrounded by valleys, medicinal plants and herbs, the evening sky and the soothing sound of nature, your personal chef will prepare four menus for you to choose from, taking into consideration, your religious and dietary concerns.

The highlight of your night comes right after your meal. You and your partner will be presented with two white doves, destined to be released. This act of love represents everlasting peace and kindness, that in doing so brings good will to your relationship and ensures that it remains nestled in a solid foundation for eternity.

More details about this romantic dinner experience, here.

romantic dinners in bali
Overlooking the valley, at Kamandalu resort, Ubud

Most Romantic Dinners in Bali #4: Revel In Uluwatu’s Sunsets – At Anantara Uluwatu

Known as the surf of Bali, Uluwatu is known for its rocky formations that form the foundation of its many temples and beaches. If you’re looking to indulge here, The Anantara Resort, is the closest thing you’ll come to being in paradise. This luxury escape is brimming with romantic experiences that’ll leave you with unforgettable memories. Wind down for the evening with a clifftop dinner that boast a stunning view of the ocean.

Upon arrival, the resort will organise a warm welcome for you and your loved one with a spectacular walkway decorated with candles leading up to your dinner table. A traditional Balinese umbrella that symbolizes protection is set up above you while you dine. The gourmet menu comes with a selection of only the best cold-cuts, seafood, duck and delectable desserts. One can only imagine the view that awaits you from on top your private cocoon while the sound of the waves provide a gentle and loving calm.

The best takeaway from this experience is not just the hospitality and privacy the resort staff provide, but also the sheer beauty of Uluwatu’s natural glory that will definitely leave a long-standing impression within your hearts and minds.

More details about this romantic dinner experience, here.

romantic dinners in bali
Bali’s most wanted sea-view, Anantara, in Uluwatu

Most Romantic Dinners in Bali #5 – Experience True Peace Among Luscious Greenery – At Ubud Hanging Gardens

Deep within Ubud’s dense forest stands an architectural wonder that holds the key to revealing a world of infinite beauty and tranquility. The Hanging Gardens Hotel is simply spectacular and owns one of the most photogenic and photographed pools in the world.

It is here, right next to its highly acclaimed infinity pool, where you’ll get to dine with your loved one. Attended to by only the best and highly skilled service staff in the whole of Bali, start your experience with a delicious Mango Mimosa Cocktail followed by a gourmet menu designed by a celebrity chef. Get ready to be blown away by the creative food presentations and high quality ingredients that await you with every dish.

Dine within a traditional Balinese tent surrounded by floating Frangipani candles and a dense forest. As you relax, take in the exotic views of an ancient Balinese temple that sits aloof on a cliff. Voted as the number one honeymoon destination and a 2016 nominee for the “Condé Nast Traveler World Luxury Restaurants Awards”, this incredibly unique dining experience will not disappoint.

More details about this romantic dinner experience, here.

romantic dinners in bali
On a floating tent, at Hanging Gardens, Ubud