Bali is one of Asia’s most popular holiday destinations on account of its surfable waves, balmy weather and scenic rice paddies. The island’s main beach hubs of Seminyak and Canggu have a thriving café and restaurant scene, with seafront bars and clubs providing perfect sundowner destinations. In the jungle, Ubud is similarly alive with visitors tapping into the lively craft and craft community. Journey beyond these places to experience mountain highs and village life. Don’t know where to start? Check out our guide on where to stay, eat and party.
Where to stay
Founders John and Cynthia Hardy prioritised sustainability and Balinese culture when creating this paradisical resort on the banks of the Ayung River, in Sayan, near Ubud. Guests are accommodated in Bali’s most exceptional bamboo architecture – including a fairytale bamboo treehouse – and can spend their days lounging by natural water pools fed by a waterfall.
On a jungle-topped mountain looking west to the volcanos of Java, this boutique establishment has just six quality villas built in Indonesian architectural tradition. A swimming pool with a glorious hot tub, and a fire pit complete with marshmallows are a match for the chilly mountain air. The Indonesian restaurant has killer views.
Hoshinoya, north of Ubud, is hidden on a leafy hillside that slopes down to the sacred Pakersian River. Its luxe villas are of exceptional quality, a combination of Japanese structural design, and creative Balinese fittings. Impressively, the villas have semi-private swimming pools that are cleverly interlinked to create the illusion of flowing waterways.
The surrounding rice paddies and tropical greenery are eclipsed only by this Tanah Lot resort’s waterfall – or nirjhara, which spills into a waterhole near the resort’s lavish tiered swimming pool and Ambu, its Indonesian restaurant. Twenty-five keys include seven treehouse suites with rooftop bathtubs and stunner sunset views. The Retreat spa is fittingly geared to travellers with taste.
This mountain resort, amid an alpine forest on the volcanic slopes of the Kintamani highlands, is Bali’s answer to cooler climes. Its 22 luxe suites are housed in traditional century-old Javanese joglo houses, and include cosy beds, quality linen and organic toiletries. There’s a restaurant with volcano views and, in lieu of a pool, a Japanese-style onsen.
Where to eat
Incredible cuisine from across Indonesia’s archipelago can be sampled at some of Bali’s best restaurants.
Kaum, part of Potato Head Beachclub, was one of the first restaurants in Bali to truly champion the different food styles found across Indonesia, from West Sumatra’s rendang beef and Jakarta’s gado-gado to Bali’s cumi suna ceku (braised baby squid). Book an al fresco table for beach views.
Home by Chef Wayan, Pererenan
Inconspicuous unless you know it, Home by Chef Wayan is a casual-looking eatery that surprises first-timers with its authentic local dishes, served to a five-star standard. Chef-owner Wayan has worked in some of Bali’s best restaurants and is the author of Paon, a Balinese cookbook. Classic dishes include Bali’s famous babi guling (roast suckling pig).