From Bintang Singlets to Birkenstocks…. How to avoid ‘bogan bali’ & find your bliss.

As an Aussie, its around this time annually, when it seems everyone you know is off to Bali. With June to August being peak season, It’s dry, the sun is out and the surf is up, so It’s prime time to visit this stunning Indonesian Island. (Still one of Australia’s favourite playgrounds, with around 700,000 of us heading there annually).

When you mention Bali as a travel destination, you’re often met with mixed responses. People either love it or hate it, and to the haters with your preconceived ideas and memories of the Bali of old, I urge you to give Bali another go…. You never know, you may be surprised!!

While I’m no stranger to Bali (having visited 5 times previously), it was my 1st time back in over 4 years and I have to say, a change is in the air.

In the last 10 years or so Bali has evolved from being all about braided hair, painted nails, cheap market finds, jungle juice, Bounty rave parties and Bintang singlets, to a truly chic destination where you’ll find luxury villa properties, infinity pools, Michelin Star chefs and high end fashion boutiques, targeted at expats & tourists alike.

The luxury property market has had more growth in Indonesia than anywhere in the world (according to a recent report), so it’s safe to say that there is now more on offer in Bali than ever before.

Where once the dress code was as simple as a Bintang singlet (which people seemed to don the minute the smell of Indo’s famous ciggie ‘Gudangs’ hit them), you’re now looking at backless dresses, felt hats, unbuttoned shirts, kimonos and other forms of the latest or comeback fashion trends. (Did someone say Birkenstock’s?)

Yes… There are still the Bintang singlets, and offers to ‘plait your hair’, so to find this chic and not so trashy version of Bali, you need to discover it a little differently.

Here are a couple of my trip highlights and tips to truly make the most of this stunning destination …..

Splash out & stay somewhere epic!

Yep… It’s a fact. Most of us are too old for pool bar shenanigans at the Bounty Hotel in Kuta, so do yourself a favour and stay somewhere epic!

With more accommodation on offer than ever before, there are some stunning places to stay that won’t break the bank (and some that will…but ‘meh’ they are worth it. Trust me!).

I recently stayed at Uma by COMO – Ubud, Aria Villas in Ubud and the Ayana Resort and Spa, Jimbaran Bay (Separate property reviews on the way) and It was fantastic to go back to Bali, and stay in properties that give you a little taste of luxury, with staff who go out of their way to cater to your every whim. Most of these properties also load you up with added benefits too, like WiFi, Included daily activities, breakfast, butler services and loads more… not to mention mouthwatering cocktails.

bali aria cocktails

So, get a villa, lap it up in your own plunge pool and spoil yourself a little. Life is too short to stay in shit hotels (trust me… I have stayed in my fair share).

Avoid Kuta like the plague!!!

If you truly want to discover more of what Bali has to offer, avoid Kuta… and Legian for that matter.

While these areas certainly cater in the way of shopping, dining and entertainment, broaden your scope and head further afield. Heading to these areas will also leave you sitting in gridlocked traffic, for longer than you can imagine, in a stifling hot taxi, with the meter running 😦

Ulluwatu, Jimbaran Bay, Nusa Lembongan, Ubud, Candi Dasa or Lovina in the North all offer an amazing variety of properties, dining and things to do, that will whisk you away from ‘bogan bali’.

Oh and have I mentioned the picturesque beaches yet? A lot cleaner, and prettier than the more popular beaches around Kuta, Legian and Tuban.

If you must immerse yourself in Bali’s madness, then Seminyak is my pick, which less than 10years ago, was an area of rice fields and pristine beachfront farm land. It has now stepped up as Bali’s entertainment hub. World class dining, shopping and some pretty happening bars are the highlights, and Bali certainly offers a cracking sunset, so kicking back poolside, cocktail in hand at Ku De Ta or Potato Head (or in one of the many brightly coloured beanbags along the beach) is definitely a must!

Find yourself an active escape!!

If you don’t want your holiday to be all about food and getting pissed, then do yourself a favour and do something you love, in one of the most picturesque places on earth.

From Yoga retreats, bike rides, volcano hikes, surfing and cultural volunteer program’s, there are more ways to enjoy the island than you think.

On this trip, I was lucky enough to attend a yoga retreat in the far north of Bali, in Tedjakul and I have to say, that a week in such a peaceful, remote corner of Bali gave me a new appreciation for the people, and culture, as the development down South has definitely impacted on Bali’s natural beauty (and there was no temptation to drink my weight in cocktails).

Don’t get me wrong… This post isn’t about shaming those of us that DO want to rave all night to world class dj’s, or spend all day hustling for bargains and enjoying $5 massages (I have done my fair share of all of that as well!). I simply want to offer you a glimpse that Bali can be so much more (if you want it to be) and if you haven’t been lately, maybe it’s time for a revisit.

With exclusive property contracts and insider knowledge, let me plan your next trip and allow me to show you a different side to Bali… One that will leave you with a new appreciation for the beautiful people, culture and surroundings of Indonesia. Even after all these years, it is still up there as one of my favourite places to visit in the world, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

Thanks (as always) for reading. It truly humbles me to know that there are people out there following my journey and allowing me to inspire your travel lust!

Kate xxx

Have you visited Bali lately? Are you loving the new, chic, luxe feel to it or to you crave that old school Bali vibe? I’d love to hear your stories, and thoughts. I’ll also be putting together more of my Bali tips, so if you’ve got any to share, let me know!

P.S – Want to see more of my Bali snaps? Check out my Instagram feed: http://instagram.com/_katiekate_ 

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