The must-do highlights of Bali
From the famous rice terraces to the incredible coastal temples, these are the highlights no visitor to Bali should miss.
Rice paddies meet surf beaches in Canggu, Bali's latest holiday hotspot. The pace here is more laidback than frenetic Seminyak and the accessory of choice is a surfboard or yoga mat. But Canggu, on Bali's south-west coast and just over an hour from Denpasar airport, still has an edge. Look out for the striking street art and murals including iconic works by French artist Julien Malland, better known as Seth Globepainter, on the huts which line Echo Beach's dark sand.
Canggu's beach clubs are the perfect way to while away an afternoon while lounging on a beach chair with a cocktail menu in hand. Constructed from 200 old fishing boats La Brisa (labrisabali.com) looks like it's an Echo beach fixture, but it's only been open for a few months.
There's a minimum spend at peak times but otherwise you can wander around and enjoy the pool surrounded by hammocks and fringed with palm trees strung with fairy lights. Further along the beach there's The Lawn (thelawncanggu.com) which often hosts acoustic music sessions rather than the typical beach club DJS. Order a kombucha cocktail and relax into the Canggu lifestyle.
Canggu is Bali's latest food hot spot and there's been a rash of new cafe and restaurant openings. Start your mornings right with brunch at the airy and bright Two Trees (www.twotreeseatery.com) where you can tuck into smoothie bowls or vegan nachos.
Long lunches at Folie (foliebali.com) are the perfect way to get into holiday mode. Its instantly Instagrammable pastel interior has a retro feel to it but chef Stephane Simond's food is classic French with a contemporary twist. Think nicoise salad topped with latticed chips and strawberry tart featuring local kemangi basil.
Sustainable seafood restaurant Fishbone Local (fishbonelocal.com) is packing them in every night with its buzzing atmosphere. Inspired by beach seafood shacks the restaurant serves up spankingly fresh fish such as barramundi, simply grilled and teamed with a spicy sambal, or the knowingly ironic prawn toast.
Watching the sun set over the ocean never gets old, particularly sitting at one of the local warungs lining Echo Beach. Happy hour drinks equate to about $5 for three beers and there's cheap nasi goreng on offer as well if you're feeling hungry.
Join the locals in the surf by hiring a board from one of the beach shacks down from Canggu's iconic open air pub, Old Man's (oldmans.net). Or get your downward dog on at yoga studios The Practice (thepracticebali.com) and Desa Seni (desaseni.com) which both feature open air shalas to practice in and top international teachers.
Como Uma Canggu (comohotels.com/umacanggu) opened at the start of the year and offers five-star luxury accommodation right on the beach. Order the eggs benedict as you check out the surf over breakfast and then head to the lagoon pool or one of the hotel's many fitness classes. Families are also catered for with a kids club offering activities from making kites to mocktails. When I stayed in June, just over half of the rooms were complete but the "residences" were the pick of the standard rooms with their balconies and ocean views. Rooms start at $390 a night.
Boutique hotel The Slow (theslow.id) is owned by a former fashion designer so the interiors and art works are achingly cool. Head to the roof top bar to explore The Slow's cocktail list. Rooms start at $260 a night. For a cheaper option the Apartments (theapartmentscanggu.com) are modern and well equipped with a small pool and rates starting at $42 a night.
The roads in Canggu are often little more than tracks so the best way to get around is to hire a scooter or a bike to explore the area. If you're taking the Cannguu shortcut, which is the quickest route from Seminyak to Canggu via the paddy fields, stop off at the Black Cat Mini Mart which also houses a speakeasy bar.