Field Notes from Canggu and Seminyak

Cangguuuuu! The least that I want is to sound posh or spoiled, but we were lucky enough to have traveled to some of the most beautiful locations and visited some of the most fascinating and breath taking beaches (from Atlantic Ocean through Adriatic, Aegean, Mediterranean Seas, all the way to Indian Ocean and Philippine Sea). When you would think it is difficult to ravish and charm us, Canggu did it so effortlessly that it felt like (at least for me) I just want to live here for some time. Bali's hip place that will draw you in with it's village vibe, amazing food, cool beach bars, unexpectedly good night life, really cool surfing spots, fabulous shops, and much more. You would never think one small place like Canggu can offer all of this, right? But it does, and even can exceed your expectations. 

You may read about other favorite spots/places in Bali in other Field notes (like Ubud, Jimbaran) from trips we had made before we discovered Canggu. Just to refresh readers' memory (or for those reading only Canggu tips), items we choose for Ikiko are mainly handmade in Bali. For this reason we traveled to Bali on every possible occasion searching for the most authentic and unique items for our gorgeous collections. Along the way discovering places to stay/visit/eat, and we kept a record of share with our friends as our tips & suggestions.

Before going back to the topic at hand, let me share shortly how we came to discover Canggu. Whenever traveling to Bali, our base location was Ubud. Yet, each time we would try to add onto our experience and discover other regions. For some reason Canggu never came up before (I really don't know how I missed it :)). So, on our previous trip to Bali, we were booked for a stay in Ubud and Jimbaran. Just before the trip, a friend of ours recommended we reach out to her very close friend living and operating a boutique hotel in Bali. Our friend mentioned that he was a cool guy and it may be helpful for us to meet someone who is living there, as tips from "locals" come in always handy. When we called him up he kindly invited us to stop by his place where he lives and runs business so we could meet and chat. Et voila! Here we were in Canggu, amazed at the first sight, knowing we would come back sooner rather than later! During the few hours stop in Canggu, we visited his cutest boutique hotel (check below stay tips) and I was introduced to the best croissant ever (ok maybe not ever but definitely in Bali - more food tips below)!

And, that's how quite by accident Canggu became our hot spot. Location of desire that draws you to come back as soon as possible (or as soon as business requires). Naturally, for our next trip to Bali we made Canggu our base, so that we could experience the full allure of this place.

GENERAL TIPS: 

  • Rent a bike! It is so easy, most of the hotels would have rent-a-bike option on their property, or would definitely be eager to help you with renting;
  • If you never surfed before, it is a great place to take inexpensive surf classes. We simply couldn't resist and it was an amazing experience;
  • This is the place where you can both relax & unwind or party all night. Depending on your mood. And, we did a bit of both (in between of my standard work routine)
  • When to visit Canggu (Bali)? Here, choice may vary upon weather vs cost parameters. We visit Bali at any time of the year, mainly due to the reason we do not mind tropical showers. What we do like about the rainy season (October to March) is cheaper accommodation rates across the island and far less people. Plus you may get lucky with weather and have less rainy days or more sunshine overall. During the dry season (April to October) we try to avoid July and August as they are said to be peak season. Our latest trip was in June and it was quite acceptable (note that many Bali fashion stores were running discounts and restaurants were not as packed as in very peak months)
  • How long to stay in Canggu may be a tricky question. Here an answer may depend on how many other places/regions of Bali you plan to visit. As I mentioned in the beginning, first time we were in Canggu was just for a day trip. And, if asking a question this way: can you stay a whole month in Canggu and feel like it just wasn't long enough? For me the answer is: Yes! Is there a solution somewhere in between? Definitely! For the first time Bali visitors I would suggest organising few nights in Ubud or nearby islands such as Nusa Penida or Gili Islands.

TO DO & SEE:

  • So, first on the list of "to dos" relax and hang around with your scooter bike
  • Surf or take surfing classes. We took it at the back of Old Man restaurant/bar
  • Enjoy the sunset at the Lawn beach bar. Make sure you take a seat on the balcony for ultimate sunset experience. You can chill out at the Lawn during the day too. They have nice spot on the beach with sun-loungers and umbrellas. Or enjoy the pool, rather small one but it has a swim-up bar so you can refresh with a cocktail or a beer. And guess what, you can have the best party here too. It is the place to be on Friday evening (if you like to party of course).
  • Enjoy a day at La Brisa beach club located at Echo beach. Stylish exterior design, comfortable chairs, it was a perfect spot for us to chill and read. Yet, I have to confess that we spent more time in Lawn, unlike La Brisa they had a beach spot and we always prefer to be closer to the ocean.
  • One of the best beach parties we attended was in Old Man restaurant/bar (only on Wednesdays). Seems like the whole Bali gathers here on Wednesday evening. After midnight party moved down to the beach. Quite an interesting experience, we had so much fun (even tough we were among the oldest in the party).
  • Wander SEMINYAK! With thirty to forty minutes bike drive we reached Seminyak and wandered the busy streets (as usual). If our time allows we visit some of the beach bars along the way. We would recommend Finns Beach Club, that is a larger version of the "Lawn". So about Seminyak, despite being popular among tourists we really never felt like staying there more than a day or even only for an afternoon. We fell in love with a few spots in Seminyak, but could never understand why someone would indulge that crowd for a longer stay. Specially when going back and forth from Canggu is so convenient. Please note that reaching Seminyak from Canggu (or pretty much anywhere else in Bali) by taxi would last minimum one hour if not longer, i.e. twice than by bike.

TO EAT:

Monsieur Spoon, in the very center of Canggu, must spot for all day breakfast option. And of course, for their signature croissant that no one should miss to try at least once. After tasting it we got addicted to it. Nonetheless, we tried some other things on the menu, and you will never go wrong with any of the sandwiches.

Cafe Organic for ultimate healthy (or vegan) type breakfast. To be honest, we usually enjoyed Cafe Organic for a snack time. 

Motion Cafe, discovered it only on our second stay and it became literally our favorite spot for breakfast. Very urban and cute place with variety options that our picky kid could enjoy too!

Betelnut, cosy place on the main street of Canggu. Here we enjoyed not only cute set up, but also the Mexican food, specifically burritos. We loved the terrace, and now thinking back of it, I realized how the place was relaxing and perfect spot for watching the world go by!

 

Dandelion, place for romantic experience in Canggu. Such a lovely set up with highest standards of Balinese hospitality. We loved Indonesian cuisine here. I, of course, enjoyed my Nasi Goreng while my "partner in travel" had something even tastier but I could not recall the name. There was inspiring story written in the menu telling the history of the restaurant and its founding. If anybody read it too (and find out about the end of the story, please let me know in the comment part of the blog). It also reminded me how, after all, we all have a story to tell!

Bro Resto, as Asian lovers, we crave for Asian food wherever we go.  Dumplings being our favorite food are just something we would not miss (we had so many on our Hong Kong trip we made before this one, yet never fed up with dumplings). So here we were, in this outstanding Chinese-French fusion restaurant.

Shady Shack, liked this place even though we are not vegetarians. With it's cute interior, it was the place where we could enjoy both food and environment. I believe it would be paradise for vegetarians.

 

SEMINYAK:

Cafe Organic is the perfect place for healthy breakfasts (with a vast variety of fruit bowls), you can also enjoy here a cup of great coffee or smoothie.

Kynd, as we regularly enjoyed Cafe Organic in Canggu we wanted to experience something new, so we went for another healthy type of breakfast in Kynd (we do tend to get into "healthy" mood when in Bali or any place tropical).

Strawberry Fields, we liked it's ambient and crazy good hamburgers. When not feeling up for hamburgers, we could always find something else as tasty.

Motel Mexicola, absolutely fantastic place! Besides the delicious Mexican food we loved all about its unique, colorful interior. Deeper into the evening it gets crowded and lively with its enjoyable music and special vibes. Also keep in mind that making reservations upfront is preferable as it tends to be really packed

TO STAY:

Very first time in Canggu, we really hoped to stay at Waterfront Bali but our trip was somewhat a last minute arrangement, so unfortunately it was fully booked. But we managed to book it for our other visits to Bali! It is a cute boutique hotel with a story and soul (owned and managed by our friend :)). We truly loved the garden with a pool and patio where they serve breakfast. In the evenings, before leaving for a dinner or party, guests of the hotel are gathering in the common area of the patio for a friendly chit-chat. There, in a matter of minutes, you become a family ready to go dine or party together! It was a lovely experience, meeting people from literally all around the world, San Francisco, Brisbane, London, Hague (adding on top of Serbian and Turkish). Intercultural mix of like-minded people that led to most interesting conversations!

So you probably wonder where did we stay very first time! We stayed at Tapa Tepi Kali and absolutely loved it. It is a pretty new spot with simple but pretty Balinese style. We stayed at the ground floor room with a small terrace that has direct access to pool area. We enjoyed their variety offered for breakfast, me going for healthy option every morning because it was super tasty! Moreover, staff was incredibly positive, flexible and eager to help on all occasions.

Yes! During one of our latest stays (June, 2018th), the Volcano (Mount Agung) made it's statement for the second time, not throwing out lava but limiting just to smoke this time. Even her smoke was enough to shut down the airport for more than 24h hours which got us stuck in Bali as our flight got canceled. Not that I complained, but just after finishing our quest for arts&crafts, I could not wait to go back to see our 2 kiddos! Staff of the hotel was so helpful in this unpleasant moment, instantly finding solution to accommodate us with discounted rate despite the fact they were fully booked.

HOW TO REACH:

Well, as for the most places in Bali you would travel to Bali airport in Denpasar - Ngurah Rai International Airport. From here you take a taxi to Canggu (40-45 min by car without traffic). If traveling from EU (Turkey) to Bali we can highly recommend traveling via Singapore. Two main reasons, Singapore has the best airport in the World in the terms of comfort and efficiency, and second high chances to find cheap flights from Singapore to Bali (check AirAsia or Scoot). 

Latest information we heard, mid of next year (2019) there is going to be a direct regular flight from Istanbul to Bali, yay!

MORE TO DISCOVER:

Well, not sure if there is something left for us to discover in Canggu. Nonetheless, we can't wait to go back and repeat doing all of the the things described above. Ride a bike. Surf. Eat. Enjoy. Relax. Party. Repeat.

Hope you've enjoyed the tips and if you too have been lucky to visit Canggu please share your suggestions with us in the comments section below!

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