Oh, Bali. I’m shocked to say that I feel a tiny piece of my heart is remaining here – even though I’ve only lived here for three months. As a nomad, there have been few places that feel like “home” and I’m always eager to hop to the next place. However, Bali is special and I’m finding it harder to leave than I imagined I would. If you’re thinking of a Bali trip, do it! Hopefully, I can give you some good guidance for your time here.
I’ll tell you, there is something interesting about the energy here. I don’t know if it’s the volcanic energy, the beauty of the Balinese people living each day around gratitude, or what, but it’s powerful. I’ve found myself on a journey of having some of the highest highs and immediately dropping into low, dark days. It was a rollercoaster. It cracked me wide open, showed me the things I still needed to work on, and moved me through beautiful healing.
Therefore, my biggest piece of advice if you choose to come to this magical land is to be open minded. Try new things! Attend classes and workshops that normally wouldn’t interest you. Spend days with nothing planned and just see what comes up, then go with it.
Ubud vs Canggu
When selecting a destination in Bali, most digital nomads select between Ubud and Canggu. They’re both amazing towns to live in and each one offers a unique experience. Of course, there are many other options in Bali, but as these two are the most popular, and the only ones I’ve lived in, these two will be my focus.
I spent two months amongst the jungle in Ubud, adoring every minute of it. Ubud is located about an hour North of the main city of Denpansar, tucked away in the lush mountains. It became famous through Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love adventures there and is a sanctuary for yogis and those seeking spiritual healing. Here, you’ll find endless vegan restaurants, waterfall adventures nearby, and the occasional monkey trying to steal your good. The digital nomad culture is happening up in Ubud, but I found it to be more heavily focused on the conscious community.
Canggu, on the other hand, is really where it’s at for the digital nomads! There are co-working spaced popping up all over the place and endless café options. Located on the beach about an hour east of Denpansar, it’s also a popular destination for surfers. The energy is still pretty relaxed and chill, but there is more of a working and night life culture here, moreso than Ubud.
You can’t really go wrong, but if it’s possible, I’d try to spend some time in both locations!
Coffee Shops in Bali
Looking for the best coffee in town? Or just a place to pop in and work for a bit? I’ve got you covered! There are honestly over a dozen coffee shops I could list here that I adore, but I’m keeping my lists short for you. These are the top of my favorites list.
Anomali Coffee – Ubud: These were the best beans I found in Ubud! The coffee shop is multi-level with plenty of space to settle in for a nice day of work. It’s located on the main road in town, so it tends to be a little loud and busy, but worth it for the wonderful coffee.
Seniman Coffee – Ubud: This is another coffee shop that offers many different bean options. They do coffee tastings and if you sit up at the bar, you may be lucky enough to try new things as you spend an afternoon at work. It’s away from the main road, but still pretty popular, so it can be hard to find a seat during the busy hours.
Hungry Bird Coffee Roaster – Canggu: These were the best beans I’ve had during my entire stay in Bali! The shop has a huge roasting menu to choose from and I’ve yet to try a coffee here that I didn’t like. The only downside to this café is that they close by 5 pm, which isn’t always good for a busy afternoon of pounding the keyboard.
Duatiga – Canggu: This place is great! They only have a few different roasts, but I’ve enjoyed them. The shop has a smaller air-conditioned room downstairs and a huge upstairs patio you can spread out in when the weather is good.
Restaurants in Bali
Clear Café – Ubud: One of my favorite locations in Ubud because it’s such a magical place to visit. It feels like you’re eating in a giant treehouse – complete with a firemen’s pole, if you’re brave enough. There’s a koi pond that runs through it and plenty of floor seating. Plus, the menu is delicious. I’ve never had something that I didn’t enjoy.
The Seeds of Life – Ubud: The food here is wonderful, having a full menu dedicated to raw, vegan options. But they’re more known for the delicious variety of elixirs, teas, and tonics. There’s an entire menu just dedicated to drinks and you’ll want to try them all! I loved the women balance tea.
Sayuri Healing Food – Ubud: Cheers for more vegan options! The atmosphere is great and the menu is huge. It was the perfect spot for a healthy brunch date. In other good news, they deliver!
Bali Buda – Ubud & Canggu: You can visit either location and while you’re there, make sure to buy a jar of peanut butter from the shop (and thank me later). In addition to wonderful meals, I’ve been pretty happy with all the desserts we’ve been able to try.
The Shady Shack – Canggu: The food here is great and offers a ton of variety. My boyfriend and I got trapped there on rainy evening and worked our way through a shared total of four entrees. Try out their red velvet chai latte if you’re in for a unique treat!
Funky Pancakes – Cnaggu: Ready to get funky with this 70’s themed pancake restaurant? Sweet, savory, eclectic. They have all sorts of pancakes and it’s worth checking out!
Things to Do in Bali
To be honest, I found there was little to do in Canggu outside of surfing, yoga, massage, and shopping (all of which you should try). Of course, that can keep you pretty busy, but if you are looking for even more to do, head up to Ubud.
Pyramids of Chi – If you’re looking for a unique sound healing experience, this is the place to be! There atmosphere is amazing, as it’s literally two pyramids surrounded by water in a stunning location. You can attend cocoa ceremonies, intimate group healings, or their traditional healings. There are usually 1-2 different sessions each day.
Monkey Forest – Ready to meet a ton of adorable little monkeys? This is the place to be! Mind you, they’re not so adorable when they get close, so be mindful to keep away from them and don’t make eye contact. I was actually more impressed with the gorgeous walk through the park, with incredible views. It’s the perfect way to spend a couple hours outdoors.
Explore Waterfalls – Bali is FULL of waterfalls and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. If you’re brave enough for a motorbike trip, you can find dozens of waterfalls anywhere from 20-90 minutes outside of Ubud. Pure magic!
Ubud Float Garden – Have you tried a zero sensory flotation tank? I love them for an hour or so in meditation and complete relaxation. This is so reasonably priced and located outside of Ubud, surrounded by rice fields and gorgeous sights.
Go for a Walk – Looking for the perfect insta photo? Or simply a gorgeous stroll? You’ve got to take the time to walk along the Campuhan Ridge Walk. It’s an easy stroll with rice fields and jungle views in all directions. Additionally, make sure to head over to Tegalalang Rice Fields for another gorgeous walk. You can find many of the famous, and overpriced, Bali swings here as well. These are the two most instagramed places in Ubud, so you’ll probably recognize these shots:
Hike Mt Batur – I promise you, the 2 am wake up is worth it! The goal is to get yourself to the top of the volcano before the sun rises, then you get to enjoy breathtaking views of the magic of a new day. You head up with a guide who will serve you breakfast at the top, show you the steam coming off the volcano, and tell you all about it. We also were accompanied by more Bali monkeys.
Stay Fit in Bali
Yoga – There are dozens of yoga options in both Ubud and Canggu, but I spent the majority of my time at Yoga Barn (probably 70+ hours). I’m so glad I found this place immediately upon arriving in Ubud. There are dozens of yoga classes per day and I was impressed by every single class I attended. The teachers truly know their stuff! I’m also a bit obsessed with the Thursday night women’s circles led by my dear friend, Nadine McNeil. If you’re down, I’d also try out their ecstatic dance!
Gyms – In Ubud, I went to a gym with no A/C and worked my booty off in pure sweat. It’s called Massa’s Fitness center, if that kind of thing is your jam. The gym I attended in Canggu was super nice, with a steam room, spa, and ice tank. It’s called Avenue Fitness and I enjoyed their equipment options.
Of course, you should try out surfing! I didn’t have much time for it this round, but I enjoyed trying it out when I’ve traveled in other places. And it’s definitely a workout!
Co-Working in Bali
There are now many options for co-working here in Bali, but if you’re planning on hopping back and forth from Canggu to Ubud, I’d suggest a membership with Dojo & Hubud. These powerhouses recently merged, which means you can use your membership at both locations. Hubud is the first co-working space to open in Bali and I loved watching the monkeys play in the garden as I worked. Dojo is most popular in Canggu, with tons of events and a pretty big facility to spread out in (and a pool).
Once you arrive in Bali, I highly suggest searching the events calendar on Facebook. This is how I found a ton of amazing talks I attended (usually for free) and got to network with other cool people. There are dance parties, handstand classes on the beach, workshops, business networking events, etc. You can probably find just about anything you’re looking for!
Heading to Bali? Drop your questions in the comments below! I would love to help in any way I can.
Travel away, my sweet friend!