The first two days were eaten up by a 15-hour time difference and travel time. Part of which was eaten up by a healthy layover in Hong Kong, which included an overnight stay. We found a paid lounge with showers where we crashed. We recommend getting a room at a nearby hotel instead for comfort however. It’s worth the taxi fare and room rate for a good night’s sleep in very decent accommodations.
The Cathay Pacific first class lounge made it all worth it though. It’s amenities include a michelin star restaurant, complimentary Moet champagne bar (with regular and brut rose), and great conversation with other travelers. It was tough getting us out of there when our flight left early the next morning. If you happen to be a One World member with status, spend your time at the lounge if you can. Otherwise, there are a number of great restaurants and shopping while you wait for your flight.
Day 3: Settling Into Seminyak
Arriving at the Bali airport, we claimed our luggage and made our way through customs. Unaware we had to pay for a tourism visa, we were relieved that they took US dollars for the fee. To make sure we had cash, we found an ATM where we got a kick that it asked us to withdraw denominations in the millions of Indonesian Rupiah. The exchange rate threw us for a loop. I reluctantly counted out some money for the baggage valet, and his face lit up. I did the math and realized I tipped about $100. We recommend checking out the exchange rate before you go, and keep in mind general amounts, like $5, $10, $20, etc.
Our pre-arranged driver rushed us away from the airport and on to The Legian Bali hotel. After receiving security clearance to the hotel (which many hotels require after the bombing in 2002), the staff and even the hotel manager personally greeted us among the modern Balinese architecture. After our long trip, this was the perfect place to crash in absolute comfort. We completed our registration and went to our room where soft lounge music was playing and delicious Balinese snacks were waiting with the doors open to a view of the property and beaches. I thought we’d found heaven.
Not wanting to waste any time in this South Pacific paradise, we freshened up and headed to the beach. The grounds were immaculately manicured with a number of pools stepping down to the beachfront. Ready to re-energize and enjoy the island, we spent a good part of the afternoon stretching out at the pools and beach.
Day 4: Fitness & Fun on the Beach
Seminyak is best positioned for the best views of the setting sun on the equator. Sunrise is just as beautiful, however. Just outside of our beach-facing hotel room, the sky lit up with pastel colors. Up early because of the time zone adjustment, we enjoyed the sunrise and headed down for one of the best hotel breakfasts we’ve had. It was a perfect start to a an active day on the beach with surfing lessons, working out in one of the best equipped hotel gyms you’ll find, and exploring the Seminyak surroundings. As the afternoon came to a close, we grabbed some coffee to get some more steam to continue on to drinks and dinner at nearby hot spots.
We started at the W Hotel to check out the grounds, which are very modern. Asking around, we found that the hot spot to find more great drinks and incredible food, we should visit Potato Head. As you walk up, you will see a huge circular wall of window shutters climbing to the sky. Beneath, there is an entry way with a significant queue during busy hours. If you call ahead, you can jump the line. We’re glad we did because we jumped the line and immediately headed to the bar for fun island cocktails. Afterwards, we enjoyed some excellent Asian food. Fat and happy, the walk back along the beach couldn’t have been a better way to finish this epic day in Bali.
Day 5: Change of Scenery in Nusa Dua
To get into our zen place before moving on to the next destination, we joined the early morning yoga class for guests of The Legian. We quickly grabbed some breakfast and an early swim before gathering our things and jumping in the car to head off to Nusa Dua for a conference hosted by The Westin hotel hidden behind multiple walls and gardens. Checking into the behemoth hotel, the concierge provided lengthy instruction to find our modest hotel room through the maze of halls and levels. Coincidentally, a number of friends happened to be visiting the same hotel for the conference. It didn’t take long for the group to locate the Westin’s beach front bar to enjoy some sunshine and island imbibement.
Day 6: Sneaking Away to St. Regis
Up early for breakfast before sessions began, we hit up the Westin’s Capsicum Cafe, which served up a wide diversity of breakfast selections. Everything from local cuisine to a typical American breakfast was fresh and available for mass consumption – all for one reasonable price. Our curiosity was luring us to the nearby St. Regis hotel to explore its legendary property, restaurants, and amenities. After attending a few meetings, we snuck over to enjoy some cocktails on the beach.
The St Regis was picturesque to say the least. Stopping first at the beach and poolside bar, the cocktails were on point. We meandered over for lunch at the Kayuputi restaurant overlooking the ocean. That day, there happened to be a tanker, just barely shipwrecked offshore because of the water that is shallow – perfect for windsurfers. We thought this was intentional for scenery, but got a kick out of the coincidental view.
The St Regis won us over so well that we returned later that evening for dinner at Dulang Restaurant, which was out of this world. The presentation and balance of the meals were impeccable. Try the course meal to give you a taste of beautifully prepared Indonesian food.
Day 7: Fun on the Rocks
The next day was another early start, but thanks to the on-site cafe we were up and at it in no time. After a series of meetings, we took a break in the Westin’s pools that weave around the beach-facing property. They even have a small, but really fun water slide for kids (both young and old) to enjoy.
Later that evening, a few of us wanted to check out a restaurant and bar in a nearby town, called Jimbaran. The AYANA Resort and Spa boasts the legendary Rock Bar. To get from the resort that sits atop a cliff, visitors must take a funicular down to the restaurant and bar built into the rocks (as it is aptly named). Rock Bar is split into two sections – one for all visitors, and the other for resort guests only. While we were dying to visit the guest-only side, we were not disappointed in the least to be a part of the hip evening vibe of the general bar. This is another must-see if visiting southern Bali.
Day 8: Bouncing to Ubud
The next morning, our excitement got us out of bed, down to breakfast, and ready to check out of the hotel early to move on to the next stop in our Bali journey – Ubud. The best way to get there is by car. Traffic can be unpredictable because of the small roads that wind through villages on the way. We were in luck this day because the drive was fairly smooth.
Arriving at our hotel, the Komaneka at Tanggayuda, we were greeted with fresh squeezed local juices as we checked in. It’s not immediately apparent, but this hotel sits on the side of a hill and has awesome views of the surrounding jungles. The suite shared this view of the jungle along with a private pool and outdoor shower. With all of this stress, it was time to unwind with a massage and cocktails before dinner at Batukaru with a fantastic menu and dining area that also overlooks the area.
Day 9: Monkeying Around
The Komaneka staff woke us up early to a feast of breakfast items that we enjoyed overlooking the amazing Bali scenery. Not adhering to the 30-minute rule, we took a refreshing swim, cleaned up, and took a car into the bustling town to explore. The streets had tons of shops, restaurants, and spas (with the fish that remove the dead skin from your feet). We took an early lunch and headed to the Ubud’s famous Monkey Forest. There, the monkeys are so comfortable with people that they freely roam about and put on a show for snacks and entertainment. This little guy put on a dental hygiene demonstration.
Aside from the monkeys, this sacred area also has incredible statues of carved stone and elaborate sacred temples. When visiting the temples, remember that they require a specific dress code. Visitors must wear a sarong and sleeved shirt to walk the temple grounds, but it’s well worth the effort to see such incredible architecture and culture. Afterwards, we found a touristy restaurant, called Fair Warung Bale, for a quick drink before heading back.
Day 10: Art, Culture & Spa
With a taste of the center of bustling Ubud, we took the opportunity to explore a little. Around every corner was an ornate temple, stunning art, and fascinating Balinese culture. While meandering around the area, there were a number of artist colonies with a few unique pieces among some mass reproductions. The original pieces were amazing, and well worth the price to have a one-of-a-kind work.
On the way back to the hotel, we gave into the temptation of the cheap spas welcoming visitors to get a manicure, pedicure, massage, and a menu of other services. With fresh manicures and pedicures, we arrived back at the Komaneka for a quick lunch and packing up our things to head back to Seminyak for one more day. We did this because of the unpredictable traffic on the tiny streets that wind through busy towns. We were glad we chose to do so because unexpected motorcades of exotic cars happened to stop traffic for a period of time. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and other exotics roared by, juxtaposing the poverty they drove by on the way. It was a fascinating image that we wish we’d caught on film.
While The Legian was absolutely remarkable, we took the opportunity to try The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa next door. We found that it is another great resort, but definitely up to the standard of its neighbor. The property is split between the beach front rooms and “garden suites” on the other side of the road. If you intend to book beach-facing rooms at The Seminyak, be sure to clarify this because they do not make it obvious. Once we were able to unload our luggage in our room, we hopped in our swim trunks to refresh in the pool after the long drive.
Drinks and lunch poolside hit the spot that afternoon, but it was time to get ready for dinner as the afternoon grew late. During our previous stay, we passed an interesting restaurant with dangling lights over seaside tables. So we followed our curiosity to BREEZE at The Samaya hotel. It was the perfect location to enjoy refreshing drinks and an eclectic menu on our last night on this sensational island.