An Insider’s Travel Guide To Bali
As we begin planning our 2016 travel, we’re carefully weighing all our options—but Bali has continually held a top spot on our wanderlust list. To help us navigate the Indonesian paradise (and hopefully make this the year we finally decide to go), we’ve enlisted the duo behind cult-followed clothing line Faithfull the Brand, Sarah-Jane Abrahams and Helle Them-Enger. These two frequent the destination (they’re practically locals) and know everything there is about where to catch some rays, grab a drink or soak up the culture. Ahead, scope their insider travel tips on what to pack to where to go. (If nothing else, it’s escapism at its best for those on the snowy East Coast.)
"We love going to Finn's Beach Club in the Bukit if we want to have a day of luxury and order yummy cocktails and nibbles from the beach bar—you pay a flat day rate for a towel, sunbed and food. Balangan Beach in the Bukit has the old-school Bali vibe with huts on the beach. You can order local food from the huts on the sand and get the real Bali feel!"
"Rent a boat and go to Nusa Lembongan for the day (it's less than an hour away!) to surf, stand up paddle board or just jump off the side of the boat and snorkel in the beautiful clear waters. You can also rent a driver for the day and visit the waterfalls. Start the day by going to Ubud and walking through the rice fields. Then eat yummy organic vegan food at one of the many restaurants in Ubud. Swim in the beautiful waterfalls and go to Bedugul on the way home to feel the real Bali—visit the local fruit and veggie markets and breathe in the beautiful fresh air. Finish off the day with some pampering at Amo, our favorite spa on the island across from the W hotel. For even more ideas, check out websites We Like Bali or The Bali Bible."
"You’ll find us at Watercress or Milk & Madu 3-4 days a week—everything about them is great, from the staff to the food to the coffee. Peloton in Berawa has the best coconut cappuccino on the island and the heartiest vegan food—trust us, even meat lovers enjoy this place. Do La Lucciola for Sunday brunch—it's one of the oldest and most beautiful restaurants on the island. It's an open hut right on the sand overlooking the ocean, and they have the best hash browns."
"Go to Mama San for the ambiance and amazing Asian fusion food—the snapper dumplings and coconut mojoto are to die for! Lacalita in Canggu is the perfect ambiance for a meal before heading out—it has a cool, funky interior and amazing Mexican food. For a relaxed dinner and the best ice cream on the island, do Petite India followed by Lello Lello for dessert."
Night On The Town
"Single Fin on a Sunday is crazy busy but crazy fun! It overlooks the most amazing surf break in Uluwatu—you must go just to see the view—made all the better if you order a margarita pitcher. Old Man's in Canggu is good any afternoon of the week for sunset drinks and to feel the surfer vibe. Hit La Favela in Seminyak for late-night dancing."
"We love shopping at Drifter and Single Fin in Seminyak for a great selection of bikinis and beach clothes for guys and girls (and they both carry Faithfull in-store). Go to Bungalow in Berawa for beautiful interior goods and trinkets—all our candles are from here. Souq in Seminyak has a mix of homewares and clothing, plus a great cafe inside. Lastly, wander up and down Oberio—there's so much to discover on this street."
"If you have the budget, do the W hotel in Seminyak. In Ubud, we love the eco-lifestyle boutique hotel Bambu Indah. The Uluwatu Surf Villas have an amazing view, and if you're in Canggu, stay at our friend's rentals, the FellaVillas."
"Learn to surf in Canggu. Jump on a flight and go somewhere else in Indonesia, like Lombok, Sumba or Rote Island. Go to Uluwatu and watch the traditional fire dance at the Uluwatu temples—there's something so special and magical about it."
"Most stores won't negotiate but you can talk down prices if you're in the markets—just remember to be respectful when doing so.
When you get "Bali belly" (an upset stomach) stock up on charcoal tablets or colloidal silver and you will be back in the pool in no time! Don’t shy away from trying the local food (because your most likely going to get Bali belly at some point anyway)—live it up and try a nasi goreng (a fried rice dish).
Go to the night markets and eat local food to discover the real Bali. Always shake locals' hands and give money with your right hand—your left hand is seen as dirty.
Don’t expect your driver or tour guide to be on time—they're usually not, so just go with it. It's part of the nature of Bali— no one is in a rush.
Rent a motorbike, explore and get lost—but leave your bike and catch a taxi after all those margaritas!"
What To Pack
"Don't bring much—you’ll do a lot of shopping while you're there. Pack a bikini or one-piece (our new obsession is Matteau Swim), a caftan to go from beach to dinner, a breezy shirtdress for those hot Bali days and a white blouse to pair with denim shorts.
In terms of accessories, pack ATP Atelier sandals, a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, a Lack of Color hat and the perfect beach bag. And lastly, bring a basic Indonesian language book—the locals love when you try to speak it. Even learning a simple 'thank you' is appreciated."