Where To Go
My Quest For Zest...
What To Do
What To Eat
DESTINATIONS IN BALI
MY QUEST FOR ZEST...
Canggu is a beach town flooded with tourists, backpackers, yoginis, insta-celebrities, youtube-stars, vacationers, long-term stayers, you name it… There is a lot of people, and a lot of traffic. Note: it’s most likely safer to rent a scooter and cautiously navigate the chaos rather than walk because the streets aren’t made for people on foot. On the upside of the development and rapidly growing town is that it has something for everyone. There are countless cafes, and it’s a true foodies paradise. You can spend your days shopping, on the beach, taking surf lessons, stretching at yoga, sweating at an ecstatic dance, or partying at a beach bar for sunset. Talking to other travelers, you find that most people have visited Canggu or one of the similar neighboring towns like Seminyak or Kuta. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion of this tourist destination, they love it or hate it. I don’t know whether it was because it was my first destination, or the abundant amount of vegan cafes blind sighted me, but I liked it! Yes it’s crowded, and I’m not into the drinking and party scene, but I enjoyed yoga, time on the beach, my first ecstatic dance, great food, and easy going people. It made for an easy and smooth transition coming from the States into Asia. However, I would personally recommend only spending 3-5 days here. The time can be spent overcoming jet-lag, relaxing, and exploring; if you love it there the time is well spent, and if not, you haven’t lost much time! If you ride the scooter outside of the center, you can find beautiful lush views and escape the crowds.
What To Do
1. Eat at all the vegan cafes (see below, Where To Eat)
2. Yoga at Serenity Eco Lodge
3. Surf lessons on the beach, drink a fresh coconut after!
4. Ecstatic Dance Party
5. Sunset on the beach (there are plenty of beach bars if that's your vibe)
Where To Eat
1. Two Trees Eatery
Smoothie Bowl: beautiful and delicious!
Sweet Potato Gnocchi: seriously amazing, if you miss out on this, your trip to Canggu won’t be complete! It’s a must! (I went with a friend and I go the gnocchi and he got the burger. He was a bit disappointed after trying my dish.)
Burger: Good, but average. I recommend trying one of their more unique dishes!
Cucumber Soup: super refreshing and delicious! Beautiful presentation as well.
2. Nude Cafe
Tofu Scramble Toast: So flavorful and delicious! I was super impressed!
Assorted Dips on Toast: A great small bite or appetizer. My favorite was the beet hummus.
Fruit Juices: Fresh and thick.
Kombucha: Quite sweet, I typically like my kombucha really strong so the bacteria culture has eaten all the sugar. However, it was still really tasty.
Smoothie Bowl: Yum!
Note: The staff here was really helpful and accommodating. They have a separate breakfast menu, and although we had arrived a few minutes late, the kitchen still let us order off the morning menu.
3. Alkaline Restaurant (part of Serenity Eco Yoga)
Great menu options, dessert case and juices.
I enjoyed a nice green juice after a yoga class! Highly recommend coming here for yoga, the nice vibe, and good food!
Ubud holds a special place in my heart, but to be honest, it took some time to warm up to the place. After spending a month backpacking from island to island in Indonesia, and doing my visa run to Singapore, I landed back on Bali and I took a shared taxi straight to Ubud from the airport. From what I heard about the jungle town, it was a spiritual hub, a world recognized sacred space for mysticism. I was eager to explore and absorb the essence.
Maybe my expectations were built up and I had painted an image in my mind based on other travelers experiences, but when I first arrived I was questioning what I was doing there. The traffic was crazy like in Canggu, it was highly developed, there were shops and cafes everywhere, the first few friends I made weren't into yoga, healthy living, or anything spiritual... I was starting to miss the sun and slow pace of the coast. However, being creatures of adaptation, it wasn't long before I began to experience the magic of the place. (Maybe if I would have arrived here as my first destination from the States, like Canggu, I would have automatically been in love. Luckily it only took a few days to get into the new rhythm.)
There are amazing cafes to not just enjoy the best plant-based food of your life, but to hang out in, enjoy good vibes, new people, live music, workshops, meditation circles, etc. There are countless workshops available around town from music courses, yoga certifications, cooking classes, jewelry making, natural soap creation, and so much more! It is indeed a hub for spirituality and healing...
You don't have to look far to find cheap massages ($7.00), sound healing, body work, medicinal tea, juice cleanses, colonics, ecstatic dance parties, kirtan, silent retreats... The more people I met, the more I found people on a similar path; there is a range of people from spiritual seekers to tourists, and people of all ages.
Although Ubud is central, no coast, there are plenty of beautiful waterfalls in the area to explore! I recommend adventuring early in the morning to avoid tours and crowds. If you arrive too late in the day, you'll be overwhelmed with the number of selfies and long queues for photoshoots, making the possibility of enjoying a swim in the natural wonder limited.
Ubud is known for its rice terraces. There are beautiful views if you take a drive out of the center and there are some famous sites you can walk through or get your photo taken on a swing. Getting lost on the scooty can be a magical ride.
Another quality that makes Ubud so special is the way spirituality is weaved into daily life of the locals. There are temples on every street and at the center of all house courtyards. Offerings of flowers, incense and food are laid out each day.
I was blessed to be in Ubud for Galungan Festival, and attending ceremony at the temple was a heart-warming experience. The locals were quick to include my friends and me in the sacred water and rice blessings.
With all the events happening and tourist attractions, its hard to get bored here. I spent a month in Ubud and at the end still didn't want leave. There was plenty more I wanted to experience, eat and learn. I have a strong feeling I'll be returning sooner rather than later...
What To Do
1. Yoga (Radiantly Alive and the Yoga Barn are the most famous studios. I personally preferred Radiantly Alive's classes but both spaces are beautiful! I recommend visiting both, taking a range of classes and learning from different teachers to find your flow.)
2. Ecstatic Dance and Cacao Ceremony. There are normally events happening several times a week at different locations. They are sober dance parties with amazing music and a safe atmosphere to let your body move freely to the rhythms. Places to check the calendar include: Paradiso, Akasha, The Yoga Barn, Zest... Keep your eyes out for flyers in cafes, and online facebook pages.
3. Food crawl around all the cafes (see below Where To Eat). Food is super high quality and cheaply priced!
4. Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Beautiful views on the rice fields where you can walk through. Options to take photos on swings if you want (need to pay), or have a coconut with a view at a cafe. The drive to get there is beautiful as well, you can pull over for some green lush beauty almost anywhere outside the center!
5. Ubud Market. In the center of town you'll find the market with all kinds of shopping opportunities. Don't be afraid to bargain for prices.
6. Waterfall exploration. Beware of the tours and crowds, best time to go is early in the morning! Be prepared to pay a small entrance fee at each. Tibumana is beautiful and you have a large swimming area. Kanto Lampo is beautiful but crowded, there's not an area to swim, and you have to queue to stand under the water. Bandung Falls was manmade but none the less beautiful with the rocks and surroundings, there was no-one there when I arrived, the staff is friendly and help you navigate the swimming and jumping spots.
7. Tirta Empul Temple. Pay a small entrance fee to explore the beautiful temple grounds. Rent a sarong and head into the cleansing water for purification and healing. Follow the crowd from one line to the next of the ritual. There are lockers inside to store your things and a changing area.
8. Karma House Tattoo. This studio is unique and an experience. They host workshops, have a small cafe, and give tattoos (machine or hand-poked). The vibe is inviting. I went to a beautiful and transformative breath workshop here. I also got a few new ink souvenirs. What makes the tattoo so unique is the ceremony they do for you before your appointment!
9. Paradiso free sing along. Check out the events and classes happening at this central event space. They also have a cafe!
10. Monkey Temple & Forest. It's worth an afternoon to go watch the monkeys play and swim in this area. The architecture is really beautiful throughout the park as well! Be careful of your belongings. Entrance fee required.
11. Campuhan Ridge Walk. So close to the center but once you start walking you feel completely in nature. It's a nice breath of fresh air with green lush views. Walk all the way to the village at the end and stop for a juice in any of the cafes. You return the same way you came, it's not a loop. Free.
12. Pyramids of Chi Sound Healing. Relax, unwind and heal on a cellular level with a trip to Pyramids of Chi. It's a bit expensive, but it's worth it! They use a wide range of instruments to guide you into an altered state of calmness. They provide nice cushions to lay on and give you blankets and eye pillows!
13. Get a massage. You can find great massages for $7.00usd+ so treat yourself! There are countless places to go, so I recommend just trying wherever you get a good feeling.
14. New Earth Cooking School. Visit New Earth just an hours drive from Ubud for a cooking lesson, community and the most amazing feast! The place is beautifully set in rice terraces and its plentiful food-forests. You'll be sure to have fun preparing innovative plant-based cuisine and have the chance to reconnect with yourself and others. You can also look into doing internships here for 3 days, a week, or a month!
15. The Green School. Take a day to tour this amazing school, you'll for sure be leaving wondering why your education wasn't like this. School CAN be made fun. They have farm animals, classes in the most innovative bamboo structures, yoga, plant-based food, nature connection, solar panels, and so much more!
Where To Eat
My quest for zest has been found haha! This restaurant is plant-based and top notch. Everything on the menu is delicious and the presentation is always 5 stars. The atmosphere is inviting, relaxed, and beautifully close to nature. They offer lots of workshops and parties here so be sure to check their schedule.
Best cacao drink ever! It's an absolute must try! I like a small 70% with the coconut cream! The large is really really large haha.
The wraps are super filling and so so good!
The 'pasta' isn't your average pasta, I'd say it's even better!
The pizza omg, with a coconut, tapioca crust and papaya sauce. To die for.
Beautiful smoothie bowls and a taste to match!
Sweets in the display case are worth a try!
The daily specials are exactly that, super special! Yumm!
Waffles, yessss, especially when they have the durian special!
2. Sayuri Healing Food
Sayuri quickly became a favorite place to hang out and relax with good food. There are music and events that happen quite regularly in the evenings. The outside space to sit is beautiful. Everything on the menu was so good and the dessert display will have you drooling.
Smoothie bowls, very big and filling! I like the spirulina granola.
Croque Monsieur is a hearty breakfast with a nice "cheesy" taste.
Thai Zucchini Noodles were super flavorful and filling.
Reuben Sandwich...when do I not love a veg reuben...so good!
Salad bowls, so fresh, big, and mm mmm good! Loved the spiced cashews as an add on and the curry dressing.
3. Seeds of Life
Great atmosphere and great food! Love their mission and philosophy here. Would spend hours eating and hanging out here. The dessert options are plentiful!
SOL Bowl. Was a favorite of mine.
The "Better Than Before" Elixir was soooo good, like a dessert, warm, comforting and healing.
Dip Appetizer was good!
Lasagnas, big and flavorful!
"Cheesy Pastas" had great flavor, was hearty and soul-food.
Great zucchini noodles, hence the smile :)
Juices are fresh and healing!
4. Bali Buda Cafe (and Market)
The cafe has limited seating and gets full so head there early or wait around, the food is worth it! Also check out there market on the corner of the street for take away goodies, health food, bulk items, natural soaps and cosmetics, reusable items, produce, and more!
Nut bar, seriously you have to try! It became a daily addiction (can also get at the market)...
The marinated and fried tofu here is 100%.