Last month, I grabbed my best gal pal DJ Megan Taylor and together we jet-setted halfway around the world to Bali, Indonesia. You might remember Megs from our epic trip to Portugal. Traveling with a girlfriend is such a unique opportunity, especially when your passion for adventure and desire for chillaxing is practically identical. Our trip was a perfect mix of outdoor adventure, spa days, shopping, beach bumming, fine dining, healthy nourishment, spirituality and yoga.
We received SO many questions about this trip and since sharing is caring, we invite you into all the details of our day-by-day itinerary. I have provided links to practically every restaurant, hotel, excursion, destination and store we found and loved.
So let’s hop a plane, shall we?
Day 1: Getting to Bali is not easy. If you’re coming from the US, expect to spend at least 22 hours on airplanes, not withstanding your layover time. Megan and I embraced this fact and flew 14 hours to Tokyo, scheduling an overnight stay to get a small taste of it. We stayed at The Gate Hotel, (a Design Hotel, one of our favorite go-to travels hacks when finding unique boutique hotels at great prices anywhere in the world). We had dinner at Sushi Zanmai, a traditional sushi spot with a line of locals out the door—always a good sign. We imbibed in the best seaweed miso soup of our lives, devoured tuna-nigiri-five-ways and a spicy eel roll that we talked about for two weeks. Post-dinner, we crawled through the streets of the Asakusa neighborhood and stumbled into a teeny tiny sake bar, stuffed with more (drunk) locals and joined the party.
Day 2: After a not-so-sweet night of slumber (#jetlagisreal), we awoke the next day, hopped a train ride, boarded a flight and flew seven hours south to Bali. We booked our first three nights stay at the Bisma Eight in Ubud. Many hotels will arrange a pick up ride for about $30: a must-do. It’s about a 90-minute drive from the Denpasar Airport to Ubud, and lucky for us, our private shuttle came with water bottles, cool scented towels and wifi. When we arrived, we were pretty cashed (and hungry) from a full day of travel. So we headed to Copper Kitchen and Bar, Bisma Eight’s award winning restaurant, and ate our way through their amazing menu of crab and risotto, pan-seared barramundi and soba noodles, 12-hour miso glazed short rib and the best rose we have possibly ever had. Stick a fork in it – it was time for bed.
Day 3: It wasn’t until we became conscious the next morning, and could actually see the Bisma Eight in daylight, that we realized its full glory. Basically, if Soho House opened up a property in Bali, it would be the Bisma Eight. The décor is effortlessly hip with just the right amount of opulence. After a rooftop morning yoga class, we headed to breakfast, complete with avocado toast on gluten free bread and an array or fresh-pressed juices, including our personal fave, watermelon. Before we took off for the day, we caught some rays at the Bisma’s infinity pool overlooking the jungle. The hotel is about a 10-minute walk to town and our first stop was the infamous Sacred Monkey Forest. WARNING: the monkeys will crawl on you, especially if you’re carrying bananas: I purchased a bushel. (#YOLO.) The rest of the day consisted of exploring the streets of Ubud, massages at Taksu Spa, and an organic dinner of vegan sushi rolls and kombucha at the popular vegan café & raw juice bar, Alchemy.
Day 4: On day four, it rained until noon, so we binge-watched Stranger Things like nerds in our hotel room. (I would be lying if I said that wasn’t a highlight of the whole trip.) Once the clouds parted, we got our act together and walked back into Ubud, this time on a mission to find some art. The Ubud Art Market is a must-see, and where we purchased some incredible original paintings for ridiculously cheap. FYI: shopping in Bali can turn into a sport. So cheap. So good. When our day of retail therapy ended, we went to the Yoga Barn, which is basically utopia. Think a range of yoga studios, a juice bar, a meditation garden and an ayurvedic café, all set within a private property and nestled amidst rice paddies, an organic farm & a jungle ravine. After dining at Yoga Barn’s Garden Kafe, Megan and I got involved in a Gong Bath, which is essentially like tripping on sound. We highly recommend it.
Day 5: Day five might have been the best day of the trip, as it was the day we hired Wayan from Your Bali Excursion, a personal tour guide who curated an entire day for us to see and experience the “real Bali.” This involved trekking the “off roads” of the rice paddies, purifying ourselves in the water of Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple, a coffee and tea tasting at the Merta Harum plantation, lunch overlooking at volcano, and a personal reading with a Hindu priest at his home in the middle of a tiny obscure village. Wayan charged us $75 USD for this entire day, and we paid him double. He was our magic maker. That night, we checked out of the Bisma and into our next hotel, The Five Elements.
Day 6: The Five Elements is a totally secluded, holistic boutique resort, serving an exclusively vegan menu and comprising of a five-star spa. Megan and I decided to get involved with “The Secrets of Balinese Wellness:” a full day experience, including the “Shakti Experience” (a foot rub, a full body massage, a sea salt scrub and a full body soak in a private tub overlooking a babbling river), followed by a three-course vegan lunch and concluding with a 90-minute Ultra Hydrating Facial using all natural products like coconut, aloe and avocado. It was hands down the single best spa experience of my life. We rounded out our healthy day with a trip to the Four Seasons Sayan Ubud for cocktails and then to popular Ubud dive, the Naughty Nuris, for Bintang beer and BBQ ribs. It’s all about balance, guys.
Day 7: We woke up with absolutely no idea what to do on this day, so we texted Wayan our magic maker and within 30 minutes, we had booked a full day excursion white water rafting, complete with a private driver. Notwithstanding the moment I flung out of the raft during a rapid, it was pretty tame. Post-rafting, we headed back to the Yoga Barn (that’s how much we loved it), this time for an incredibly juicy Vinyasa flow class, and finished our day with dinner at Hujan Locale, a traditional Balinese restaurant which was hands-down the best meal of our trip.
Day 8: We checked out of The Five Elements and headed to the town of Canggu. But before we did, we made a pit stop to a healer who worked out of a shanty at the side of a road, behind a red curtain. Fo’ real. (Disclaimer: I have a buddy who owns a house in Bali, so he tipped me off to this truly exclusive Bali find). For $8 USD, I got a 20-minute Reiki-meets-acupressure-meets shamanistic session that has still (almost one month later) left me buzzing on a whole new level. Words won’t ever describe what it was like. Once we reached Canggu, we checked into our luxury, beachfront AirbnB villa, the Villa Phoenix. Once we stopped geeking out over how INSANE it was (and especially at $80/night), we rented a moped (another Bali must), hit Betelnut for an organic lunch, sunned ourselves on Echo Beach, and imbibed in a fish dinner at Echo Beach Bar that night.
Day 9: Canggu is the Brooklyn equivalent to Manhattan. When it comes to the beach towns, many tourists hit Seminyak, Uluwatu and Kuta, among others, and I am sure they are amazing. But Canggu feels like a blissed-out little secret. It’s primarily a surfer’s destination, and even though we don’t surf, we still behaved like total beach bums. We sipped Bintang’s all day, had the most amazing sushi at beach side dive Warung Kaemon, went to Old Man’s to catch the sunset over cocktails, and finished the night with tacos and tequila at Dues Ex Machina, where they were doling out free tattoos. I’m sad to say I missed my chance.
Day 10: Day 10 was our final full day in Bali, and we decided to do what any American girls would do: we shopped. After acai bowls at Crate Café, we hit the main strip of Canggu and stocked up on clothes, jewelry, more art and gifts. Our top finds were definitely Natasha Gan and The Offering. The day concluded with dinner at Dandelion Café, the #1 restaurant in Canggu, and we could see why. Amazing service, elevated Balinese food set inside a private garden with bunnies (yes bunnies) hopping around and underneath your feet. I’m telling you…Bali is magical.
Day 11: Our final morning in Bali was sad to say the least, so we cheered ourselves up at the Shady Shack, a bohemian’s paradise with some of the finest organic breakfast in all of Canggu. We caught a few final hours of sun before departing for a 36-hour travel day, but not before indulging in one final massage. The Villa Phoenix provides in-house treatments for $25, (#amaze), and with that we said goodbye Bali.
Day 12: Day 12 turned into Day 13 when our connecting flight through Tokyo got canceled. (We weren’t THAT mad.) One more night in Tokyo meant one more fab hotel stay (we checked into the impeccable Andaz Tokyo) and one more dinner (at an obscure izakaya tucked under the train tracks for grilled eggplant and sashimi), and we made a pit stop at a traditional Karaoke bar. If you follow me on Snapchat, you know how I can rap a mean Salt n’ Peppa verse.
I’ll leave you with my my biggest piece advice, which is exactly the most simple of them: experience Bali in your lifetime. No blog, nor master itinerary, could ever truly convey all the magic it contains.
To adventure, always-