Our favorite hotels and restaurants of Bali
Ubud, Amed, Pemuteran, Padang Bai Indonesia
 

Ubud cremation ceremony

Colorful ceremonies like this royal cremation are fun and easy to find--the tourist office lists them on a whiteboard

We are a couple in our 60’s who have traveled to Bali many times since 1996. We base ourselves in Ubud, taking beach excursions to Amed or Pemuteran for a few days during each visit. We don’t spend much time in the Kuta/Seminyak/Sanur area, but for people looking to party those are the best bases.

NOTE: US currency printed prior to 2007 may not be accepted in Indonesia. The government changes this rule every few years, so check on the web ahead of time. Before leaving the US examine any cash you plan to use.

$1 = ~14,000 Rp in 2016  

Scott Wittet

Questions? Write me at swittetATpathDOTorg

Updated 2016

What do you want from Bali?

Beaches

Sanur, Seminyak, Jimbaran, Kuta
South, near the airport. These places are international party and vacation zones with beautiful beaches and surfing. Jimbaran is known for fresh seafood. You’ll find great restaurants and any kind of fast food. Boutique stores. Lots of bars and clubs. Gay bars in Seminyak.

Padang Bai
Just 1.5 hours from Ubud, this small town has excellent snorkeling and diving from the beach or from small boats. There are many dive shops here (see Ubud section below).

Amed
Northeast coast. Quiet, rural, beach accommodations. Great snorkeling off the beach. Great diving nearby. A few restaurants--try “The Grill.”

Many people also like Candidasa, south of Amed.

Pemuteran
Northwest coast. National Parks above and beneath the water. Tremendous snorkeling at Menjangan Island or off the beach. Quiet, rural area. Dry and weaker economy. Nice resorts, but not a lot of choice. Private villas for rent.

Lembongan Island
I haven’t been, but you might want to read up on it.

The pool at Puri Wirata

The pool at Puri Wirata in Amed

Hills + culture

Ubud and surrounding villages (Peliatan, Sayan, Mas, etc.)
Central hills. Hotel rooms with incredible views for $100, great views for $40 or less. Always lush foliage. Rice field and ridge trekking. Vibrant arts scene with impressive museums. Temple festivals and public cremation ceremonies. Authentic cultural performances every night. Great restaurants. No chain restaurants (except Starbucks) or billboards! Local boutiques and good shopping. Prices lower than Kuta?

Drive time from Airport to Ubud  45-60 min.  (90 min. in traffic)
Ubud to Seminyak  45-60 min.   Ubud to Amed   2.5 to 3 hrs.  Ubud to Pemuteran   3.5 to 4 hours. 

Comments

If your flight arrives in the evening and you are staying in Ubud, you can sleep in Kuta, Sanur, Seminyak, etc. then drive up the next day.  But we generally choose to skip that part of the island altogether and go straight to Ubud, even if it's late.

It’s easy to arrange day (or night) trips to the Kuta area from Ubud.

If you want to drive yourself, rather than hiring a car and driver, you’ll need an international driver’s license, which is not hard to get. Driving is tricky on Bali though, and we prefer to hire a local driver (see our favorite drivers listed in the Ubud section).

There is crime on Bali, like anywhere, but in all our trips we’ve never felt threatened or been victims of crime. Rome and Amsterdam are MUCH more dangerous in terms of pickpockets and robbers.

I once left my ATM card inside the machine in Sanur. Fortunately it was an ATM connected to a bank branch, so I was able to return the next day and talk with staff. They produced a box full of lost ATM cards, including mine, and were happy to return it to me once I produced my passport. It is difficult to locate a lost card if left in an ATM in a shopping mall and for this reason and some ex-pats mainly use ATMs connected to bank branches.

Ubud

Good clinic in Ubud:  Toyo Clinik

Ubud Hotels

The view from Sayan Terrace

The view from Sayan Terrace

Sayan Terrace Resort
Jl. Raya Sayan, Ubud, Bali
Tel:  (62 361) 974 384, Fax: (62 361) 975 384
info@sayanterraceresort.com
www.sayanterraceresort.com

Back in 2000, having read “A House in Bali” by Colin McPhee several times, we wanted to hike on the Sayan ridge, northwest of Ubud. Following directions in our guidebook, we started out from the Sayan Terrace resort. When we returned after the hike, we looked at their rooms (and those incredible views of the Ayung River gorge!) and decided to spend our last two nights in Bali there. Sayan Terrace is next to, and above, the Four Seasons, so you get the same view at 25% of the cost! We have been regular guests at Sayan Terrace ever since and usually spend our first week in Bali there.

In 2016 new management took over. We don't yet have experience with them, but intend to book there next visit. The views and energy are spectacular!

The hotel only has a small pool, but if you want to swim laps, you can pay for a day pass for the big pool at Taman Bebek, right next door.

Sayan Terrace is a bit out of Ubud and requires transport. Under the previous management, the hotel charged  $4-5 per trip into town. Ubud is bikeable, though the roads can be hazardous. For a family, it might make sense to book a driver for a few hours, or to have him on call. Meet someone with a car you like (they are everywhere as you walk the streets), get a ride back to the hotel and make conversation, and get his business card with mobile number. He’d love to become your regular chauffeur.

Anhera Hotel
Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali
Tel. +62-361-977-843 and 845
info@anherahotelbali.com
www.anherahotelbali.com

Another favorite of ours, with great views, is Anhera. The rooms are built into the hillside of a different valley and all have beautiful views of the Campuhan Ridge. Anhera provides free transport around town—they will drop you at a restaurant, then pick you up when you call after dinner. (Many hotels have this service if they are a bit out of town.)

Anhera is close to a very good and reasonably priced Indonesian restaurant called Pulau Kelapa (see below).

Indus restaurant is next door to Anhera. It has great views during the day, but we find the food a bit mediocre (except for the desserts). Same owner as Casa Luna and Honeymoon Bakery.

Down the road is the award winning Mosaic restaurant (975-768-reservations recommended), run by Chef Chris Salans, who used to work at the French Laundry in Napa.

Anhera Hotel

Anhera’s eight suites cascade down the hill for dramatic views of the Campuhan River Valley. The bedrooms  and bathrooms are vast and well furnished.

It’s only a short drive from Anhera to Café des Artistes (see below) .

Down the road is the award winning Mosaic (975-768-reservations recommended), run by Chef Chris Salans, who used to work at the French Laundry in Napa.

It’s only a short drive from Anhera to Café des Artistes (see below) and transport is free for Anhera guests.

ARMA Resort
www.armaresort.com/
info@armaresort.com 
PO Box 9696, Pengosekan, Ubud 80571, Bali.
Tel. (62-361) 976 659

ARMA stands for the Agung Rai Museum of Art--it’s one of the three main museums in Ubud and is located in the vicinity of the Monkey Forest (it’s in the village of Peliatan). ARMA is much more than a museum--it’s a performance venue (Balinese dance and music), it’s a gallery space, it’s a foundation dedicated to preserving traditional Balinese culture (especially through training and promoting young artists), and it’s a set of bungalow-style rooms and amazing villas. The resort grounds are Bali-gorgeous! We spent eight nights there some years ago and loved it. I am a swimmer and always look for a decent lap pool--the one at ARMA was reasonable and usually empty. They offer free tea, coffee and traditional Balinese snacks by the pool in the afternoon. But the greatest thing about ARMA is the culture connection: every day after school, children come to ARMA to learn Balinese classical dance--it’s always free, and great fun, to watch! The most talented kids dance each Saturday night at the ARMA Open Stage, next to the Museum--don’t miss it. And the charming and informative Agung Rai himself-- owner of the resort and director of the museum and foundation--often hosts guests on short field trips to see “his” Bali or to receive a special blessing from the Peliatan high priest. ARMA offers a wide range of cultural classes, but the time with Agung Rai is gratis. ARMA also is very generous with it’s in-house transport service--they are willing to drop and pick you up anywhere in the Ubud area, free, up until 10pm.

Cheaper sleep: a promising, $30-40 alternative right in the middle of Ubud (but hidden in a quiet oasis) is

Gayatri Bungalows 2
Monkey Forest St.,
Beji Lane (it’s down the alley which lies across from the intersection with Jl. Dewi Sita, at the north end of the soccer field)
Tel. +62-361-979129
ketut_bagia@yahoo.com

We haven’t stayed here, but a friend loved it. Ask for an upper level, rice field view room. They have both A/C and fan rooms.

Toko Toko Restaurant and Bungalows
Jl. Raya Sanggingan
Tel. +62 361 975374

Good location, nice people, reasonable prices.

In the rice fields: the village of Bangkiang Sidem is on the rice field walk and biking trail that begins at Ibah Hotel. The village sits on top of the ridge that you see from Anhera. It’s a quiet place with private bungalows and villas for rent; longer term rentals can be much cheaper.

Suchik House
+62 81 747 60 855 (from overseas)
balidriver@hotmail.co.id
www.sucikhouse.blogspot.com

There actually are several small houses in this compound. “Del’s House” is the largest and nicest, with an incredible view down the valley.

Ajik’s Guest House
+62 85 237 259 105 (from overseas)
Ajik_house@yahoo.com

We haven’t stayed at either of the private bungalows on Ajik’s compound, but they looked comfortable, the owners are friendly, and the setting is very green and relaxing.

Ubud Restaurants

Del's house in Bangkiang Sidem

Del’s house in Bangkiang Sidem, outside Ubud

Cafe des Artistes

Aged tenderloin for $15 at
Café des Artistes in Ubud 

Café des Artistes
Jl. Bisma
Tel. 0361-972-706
cafe_desartistes@hotmail.com
www.cafedesartistesbali.com

Café des Artistes has long been one of our favorite restaurants on the island. It's Belgian owner passed away in 2016, but according to TripAdvisor reviews, the staff are operating it now.

Café Wayan (Monkey Forest Road)
Tel. 975-447

At Café Wayan the waiters are super-friendly--one invited us to his temple festival the next evening. During our last visit the grandmotherly owner remembered us from two years earlier, thanked

us for being “return guests”, and sent over a free dessert! Alas, she has become a priestess since then, but her daughter presides over the garden dining room in her place.

Warung Pulau Kelapa
0361-8215502
pulaukelapa.webs.com

Just up the road from Anhera a minute or two by foot, Pulau Kelapa (Coconut Island) serves excellent Indonesian food at good prices. The owner “collects” old houses from across Indonesia—you are dining in some of them. He displays more of his houses at his museum, the House of Masks and Puppets, just outside Ubud.  Don't miss the sister restaurant behind the restaurant, called Kamasan. It sits on a beautifully landscaped ravine and you can cross the little bridge to visit the restaurant's organic farm.

In 2009 we had a delicious, perfectly traditional American Thanksgiving feast at Tutmak Restaurant (on Jl. Dewi Sita, off Monkey Forest, near the football field).

Mozaic may be the best continental-style restaurant in Bali. Run by a Franco-American chef formerly with the French Laundry in Napa Valley, California, dining at Mozaic is a wonderful experience.

More restaurants we like in Ubud

  • Tartufo (Italian, near Anhera on Jl. Raya Sanggingan)
  • Kebun Bistro (French, on Jl. Hanoman — 0361 479 2077 www.kebunbistro.com)
  • Dolce Arancia (Italian, Jl. Gootama, near corner Dewi Sita -- (0821) 4689 5657 -- www.dolcearancia.com)
  • Monsieur Spoon (French pasteries and desserts, on Jl. Hanoman)
  • Le Marche de Alsace a Table (French cheeses and sausages, croissants and other fresh pasteries, across from Toko Toko on Jl. Raya Sanggingan 0812 3868 5086)

Excellent drivers based in Ubud

One of our favorite drivers is Kadek Cenik. This personable young man speaks English well and is honest and reliable. He can make suggestions for itineraries all over the island.

Kadek Cenik
Mobile 081 747 60 855
dek_muncan@yahoo.comor balidriver@hotmail.co.id
www.balisimpledriver.blogspot.com

Another regular driver, who always is accommodating and punctual, is

Gus Putu
Mobile 081 933 005 931
gusputu@yahoo.com

We were invited to his baby daughter’s “earth touching” ceremony in 2007. It was charming!

Ubud Spas

There are many, many spas in Ubud and most offer much better value than getting a spa treatment in your hotel. Typically a one hour massage with exfoliating scrub, yogurt wash and soak in a hot tub filled with tropical flowers costs $15 in a spa (could be $50 in your hotel). There are many different packages.

Our favorite is Zen Spa. Another good operation, and good value, is Venezia Day Spa.

Things to do in the Ubud area

You can go to a cultural show every night of the week in Ubud and they are generally worth it.  Tickets are about $10.  We once attended a wonderful Kecak dance in a small town near Ubud—they performed in front of a marvelous split temple gate, lit by oil lamp!

Ask a driver, waiter, bellboy, or friend if there are any upcoming, nearby temple festivals or cremations.  These events  are a mix of praying, eating, shopping, gambling and seeing and being seen.  Be sure to take a sarong and sash to wear inside the temple. See "How to participate in temple festivals" and "How to be polite in Bali."

There are a number of nice art museums and large galleries in Ubud. The ARMA Museum and Museum Neka are our favorites. Visit them on one of your first days in town for an orientation to Balinese arts. The Puri Lukisan museum downtown is also very good and has a spectacular setting. The Don Antonio Blanco Museum is quirky and fun. The House of Masks and Puppets is an impressive collection housed in traditional dwellings gathered from across Indonesia.

Snorkeling and diving about 1.5 hours from Ubud: The Blue Lagoon in Padang Bai. Bloo Lagoon Village, on the hill above the bay, has great views and a good restaurant. You don’t have to take the boats from the harbor to snorkel at Blue Lagoon, you can walk in from the beach.

For diving in Padang Bai we used Geko Divers.

Amed

Amed is a small fishing village whose name is commonly used to refer to a semi-developed coastal area north of Candidasa. There are many small hotels and restaurants scattered along this beach road. Some are right on the beach, others on bluffs above (with fantastic views). There are black sand beaches here, though they often are crowded with fishing boats.

Diving and snorkeling: There is a great WWII wreck to dive in Tulamben (west of Amed) and reefs and walls in Amed itself. We saw sharks, rays, turtles, and many other creatures. The “Japanese Wreck” is about 10 meters off a beach near the southern end of the Amed stretch (below Baliku Resort). Snorkelers also will enjoy this wreck and the coral and fish are nice all along this beach. Some people I spoke with were staying at the next bay south, at the Meditasi bungalows. They said the snorkeling was even better there, but I didn’t see it for myself.

Ken relaxing at Puri Wirata

Seattle native Ken relaxing at Puri Wirata

When in Amed, we stay at

Puri Wirata Dive Resort
Tel. (0363) 23 523
info@puriwirata.com or info@diveamed.com
www.puriwirata.com

The newer rooms are very comfortable with AC, DVD players, and a large deck. The old rooms are a bit dark. There are two pools, the restaurant is fine, and the dive shop excellent. Puri Wirata is convenient for divers but the resort is great also for non-diving companions. The hotel sits right on the (pebbly) beach, where there is fantastic snorkeling (and diving). We did a drift dive from down the coast to the house beach—very nice corals, tons of colorful fish, a huge moray, rays, etc. The divemaster said that if there had been current, we definitely would have seen more shark, barracuda and tuna. Next time!

The Grill
0818 0550 3193
isibobaliATgmailDOTcom

Our new favorite restaurant in Amed, The Grill, opened in October 2011. Australian hostess Susana has put lots of interesting dishes on the menu, from all over the world. She grills anything, and bakes a mean coconut lime pie. She will be happy to pick you up from your hotel (just call), and drop you back later on.

Sails Restaurant
0363-22006, mobile 0852 3710 2701
restaurantamedbali.com

Sails is a cute, trendy restaurant that puts together some interesting dishes. Great view during the day, spectacular starry sky at night! They also will pick you up.

Bali and Ubud Maps   2016

most_beautiful_bali_map_TH
all_bali_map_TH
kuta_sanur_seminyak_map_TH
all_ubud_map_TH
ubud_detail_maps_TH

Most beautiful Bali map

 

 

 

 

Another Bali map

 

 

 

Kuta, Sanur, Seminyak map

 

 

 

 

Ubud in one map

 

 

 

 

Ubud detailed map set