The Culture Guide to Bali: Where to Stay, Shop, Sip and Sightsee

“lisa at the Pura Bratan temple”

Like most people, Bali has been on my bucket list for almost a decade since discovering it in 2010 from the motion picture Eat, Pray, Love. Since then, the island has been a widely popular destination in recent years.

When I first arrived, I wasn’t overly impressed with the island until I met up with a few friends that showed me the ins and outs of where to go, what to eat and things to do. The trip improved significantly once we connected with locals who provided us with personalized tours and recommendations.

Insider tip: Bali doesn’t come to you, you come to Bali.

Don’t expect a party of people to serendipitously waltz into your hotel room and carry you to a whimsical night adventure with fire dancers on a beach. Instead, be prepared to walk down an unassuming dead-end only to be confronted by a mini piece of paradise tucked away out of sight. Trust me, it happened to me. It was at that point that I realized that exploring the treasures of Bali is imperative or else you will leave empty-handed. If anything, Bali taught me to follow my curiosity.

Since the island’s tourism accounts for a substantial portion of the country’s economy, safety is of the highest concern. It is relatively safe for solo and group travelers. Many foreigners flock to Bali for yoga and meditation retreats however there is a range of activities for all wanderers. Start with treating your taste buds and indulging in new fruits and foods!

We visited in the later part of the year during the month of September. The weather was perfect with plenty of sun and very little rain. After spending a little over a month in Indonesia, I’ve put together a concise travel guide to maximize your time in this paradise.


My accommodations started with an invitation from our host family who welcomed us into their home in Denpasar.

I then ventured to the less populated village of Canggu which is inhabited with expatriates. A number of foreign owned villas dotted the costal stretch, so we stayed in one owned by an American. The black sand and the choppy waters made for a less crowded beach however it was the best part of Bali that captured the island’s raw beauty and laidback vibes.

Seminyak is where we spent the remainder of our stay, moving up and about to various accommodations including Hotel Zia and spent a relaxing afternoon poolside at Hotel Alila.


Life revolves around markets as they are a huge part of life. The energy, street food and crafts found in Ubud, Canggu, Denpasar and Seminyak are worth exploring.

Shop from an eclectic mix of artisan crafts from local vendors from the Ubud Art Market for one-of-a-kind goods.

Find trendy accessories at D’Vibe, Lost in Paradise and nearby shops along the street.

For high-end shopping, peruse Seminyak Village and DSF for duty-free brands.


Be sure to try something new. I tasted klepon for the first time which is flour from sticky rice with sweet brown sugar inside with coconut sprinkled on top. Use caution when eating as the liquid sugar tends to spew unexpectedly!

Stop by the restaurant, Warung Mak Oni, where we befriended the owners who introduced me to Javanese food, taught us the traditional technique of Ulee Kareng coffee, and got me hooked to Ladrang chips!

A low-key hipster dessert spot called Betelnut Cafe in Canggu is where I had the tastiest cheesecake.

Sip fruit drinks with fellow explorers at a luxurious villa and spa and talk the evening away with new friends.


Some of the most beautiful scenery in Bali can be witnessed in the most renown places such as the Tagalaland Rice Terraces which is famous for its irrigated stair-like landscape. While some destinations may be in plain sight, others are hidden gems like Tegenungan Waterfall.

If you’re an Eat, Pray, Love literary fan or movie buff, you may want to check out Padang Padang Beach where the love scene between from the movie was filmed.

Elbow your way to a less touristy beachfront, Pandawa Beach in South Kuta. It’s the perfect beach to swim in because the waves break at the barrier reef afar off which welcomes a gentle tide at its shore.

Hire a driver to explore Nusa Dua and Uluwatu to participate in the variety of water sports.

Witness Bali Besakih Templethe largest Hindu temple in all of Bali. Locals referred to it as Pura Besakih and is the mother of all temples. The multi-level temple is colossal so be sure to allot a few hours.

Go bananas at Monkey Forest Ubud. Just be careful about feeding them because they will stop at no expense to get what they want! I’ve seen Rise of the Apes…let’s not pretend they’re innocent. ^_^

Gaze at the impressive and popular sea temple Tanah Lot which resides on a rock formation on the edge of the water.

Party goers can turn up until sunset at Potato Head Beach Club with a variety of food and drinks to order. As an alternative, La Plancha Beach is a cool and colorful chill spot for sunset and Blue Point Beach is another hidden paradise for escaping the crowds.

If you’re looking for an indoor activity due to a rainy day, indulge in a luxury spa treatment or visit the Trick Art 3D Museum Bali that houses nearly 80 3D images of animals, destination replicas and fantasy landscapes.

Breeze through the GWK Cultural Park for a quick selfie.

Running out of sites to see may be close to impossible, but if it does happen, take a look at the 50,000 Rupiah bill for a suggestion. The temple featured on the blue bill is Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, located on the edge of Lake Bratan.

Need a personalized itinerary and a trusted taxi driver? Hire me to plan your trip. 


Collecting my thoughts at Blue Point Beach



Dining on Desserts & Appetizers at Warung Mak Oni

Rice Paddy in Bali

Rice Paddy in Bali

Is Bali on your bucket list?!


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