This week I am going to take a bit of a left turn on this blog.  Matt and I went to Bali on our honeymoon two years ago and – believe it or not – I have been asked for Bali recommendations five times in the last month!  While we were planning, it was difficult to find some first-hand references, so I figured out I would just put this out and share our itinerary in case any of you out in the interwebs is looking for some advice.
Guide to Bali |
(gratuitous honeymoon pic)

Bali was incredibly awesome.  We went for two weeks in May – which, I have to be honest, might have been a little too long.  I think we would have been better off doing Bali for a week – week and half and then going to a more urban city (Jakarta, Hong Kong, Singapore?) for a few days, but that would just be our preference.

We ended up going to four different cities in Bali, thinking that they would have all been different, but in actuality they were really pretty similar – insanely beautiful, but similar.  It was also a lot smaller than we had expected, so going from city to city was only a half hour – 45 mins apart.  I feel like a total jerk when I say I was in Bali for too long, but our trip lacked variety over the long haul.

Second piece of advice: if you haven’t already booked your flights, consider doing so with a travel agent.  We did not use an agent for anything but our flights because someone tipped us off – and flights we booked at the agency were wayyy cheaper than what we were finding online.  We booked our flights through Liberty Travel in Chicago.

We used Didi with Bali Drivers to drive us from city to city and for some tours.  Would definitely recommend, especially if you can get him.  He took us to temples and local lunch spots between cities, picked us up from the airport, etc.
Also – just be warned, there is no such thing as nightlife (unless you go to Seminyak, presumably)- which is not necessarily a bad thing, just not what we’re used to.  Everyone goes home once the sun sets.  We were literally the last people at what was supposed to be the hoppin place in Ubud – Naughty Nuris – I’m talking the staff locked the doors and left while we were still sitting on their patio…if you make dinner reservations past 8, you will probably be the only ones there…but we went in May which was before busy season, so that could definitely be different in other months.

Here is our two week itinerary:

1.  Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
Grand Hyatt Bali
Club Room

Guide to Bali | Grand Hyatt Bali |
(club “room” with a view at Grand Hyatt Bali)

Our flight arrived in the middle of the night, so we decided to stay in Sanur because it was close.  The hotel was older, but actually really charming; it felt really authentic even though it’s a Hyatt.  We upgraded to a “club” hotel room which was well worth it – you could go and eat breakfast and happy hour everyday, use wifi whenever etc.

Sanur as a town, was cute but small, but the beach was great.  We spent 3 days there which was plenty.  Rode bikes down the beach, got tons of super cheap massages, etc.

Guide to Bali |  Sanur |
(livin that spa life in Sanur)

2.  Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Komaneka at Bisma
One Bedroom Pool Villa

Guide to Bali |
(view from the hotel lobby overlooking the hotel pool)

This hotel was absolutely incredible.  We stayed in a pool suite there – totally worth it.  It was huge and overlooked the rainforest!!!  we would be eating breakfast outside and parrots and toucans would fly by!  The staff was awesome.  The only negative was that it was not right in the center of Ubud, but it was still walkable and they had a shuttle that would drive us to dinner and pick us up.  If you do stay there – breakfast is included (which you can get delivered to your suite) and it is awesome, as is the best massage of your life.  We were total pigs.  We really felt taken care of there and would definitely recommend.  I have stayed in many hotels in my life and this might be the best room I have ever stayed in.

Guide to Bali | Komaneka at Bisma |
​(private pool villa; that is only a quarter of it. JUST DO IT)

Ubud was a very cool city and where most of Bali’s art & culture scene is.  We stayed there for 5 nights.  We saw a royal cremation ceremony being built at the temple, hiked up a volcano for sunrise (mixed reviews on that – Matt loved it, I thought it was hard – but I’m lazy–killer views).  Ate a few great restaurants, went to the monkey forest (awesome – they will climb all over you), whitewater rafted (pretty enjoyable/easy ride), biked (beware – it is hilly and extremely humid), and just relaxed….more massages.  We ate at Mozaic which is supposed to be the fancypants gourmet restaurant in Ubud which was good, but we preferred Minami and Bridges.  Naughty Nuri’s was good bbq.  There are probably some new restaurants since.

Guide to Bali | Ubud, Bali |
(royal cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali)
3.  Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok is an island off Bali – we took a 2 hour boat ride out there, saw a ton of dolphins which was incredible…it is supposed to feel like the real Bali before it was developed by hotel chains.  I do not think i would recommend going there (granted it rained a LOT while we were there)…  it was a little more work than it was worth.  We stayed at a nice hotel, Tugu Lombok, it was an old museum converted into suites, but it felt reallllly old – like smelled like an antique store.  We had an outdoor bathroom, which sounds great in concept, but it downpoured one day and we woke up to literally 500 worms all over the bathroom – SIIIIIICK – and since it is not developed, there is no where to go besides your hotel (do not go wandering like we did – ended up getting lost in the pitch dark and hitchhiking a scooter ride back to our hotel from the nicest staff at a neighboring villa rental/ cannot say enough about how incredibly kind the people of Lombok are).  Very pretty, though, and we went to the Gilis and snorkeled from there which was beautiful.  We also both got sick there because the water is not so clean….all in all, if you are crunched for time, I would skip Lombok.

Guide to Bali |  Lombok  |
(real, unfiltered sunset in Lombok)

4.  Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia
AYANA Resort & Spa Bali
Club Room – upgraded upon check in to Private Villa

Guide to Bali |  Rock Bar  |
(Rock Bar at AYANA)

Ayana is a must-do.  The resort is huge and incredible – food and drinks delicious.  They have a bar called Rock Bar that is literally built into the side of the cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean (and recently named one of the most scenic bars in the world).  You take a gondola down to it and the waves crash under it – it is so friggin cool.  Everyone goes there for sunset – including people from other hotels, so even if you don’t stay there, you should definitely check it out.  They also had an awesome seafood restaurant, Kisik, on another set of cliffs where you pick your freshly-caught fish for your meal and sit overlooking the ocean with sand on the ground – probably the best restaurant we ate at our entire trip.  The staff at AYANA is also awesome.  We did the “club” there, too, which was pretty great.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be had there, with alcohol and tea, etc. (I got hooked on their ginger tea!!!). They also upgraded us to a honeymoon villa, so make sure you play that card 🙂  AYANA had an awesome salt water pool (in addition to many other pools) built into the cliffs.  AYANA was probably the most “American” resort we stayed at in terms of size and amenities, which could be viewed as a good or bad thing, but we loved every bit of it.

Guide to Bali | AYANA Resort|
(having ourselves a time at AYANA before dinner at Kisik)

I think this goes without saying, but if you are ever presented with the opportunity to travel to Bali – GO!  It is truly a magical place that transcends you to a whole ‘nother world.  Not only is the scenery drop-dead gorgeous, but the Balinese people are some of the warmest people and invite you to learn about their land and culture; we were welcomed as “guests to our beautiful land” on multiple occasions, including on our impromptu scooter ride across Lombok.

If you are planning a trip to Bali and looking for some additional feedback, please feel free to get in touch!

Guide to Bali |  Uluwatu Temple, Jimbaran  |
(Uluwatu Temple, near Jimbaran)

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