The Perfect Weekend in Bali

A trip to Bali should never cause stress so, don’t think of it as just having three days there, think of it as a chance to have a perfect weekend. Want to just dive right into the fun? Follow this itinerary for surf school, stunning black sand beaches and poolside cocktails, Friday nights celebrating new friends or old, and lazy strolls through the boutiques of Seminya. Of course, there’s also plenty of Indonesian culture to take in and iconic rice paddies that will make your camera sing. (Save anything you don’t get to for your next trip back. See? No reason to stress.)

87A Jalan Kresna
On the shoulders of Bali’s most sacred mountain is perched its Mother Temple, Pura Besakih, a complex of 23 sacred buildings. Several times annually, pilgrims flock here from around the island—on the backs of motorbikes, in buses and bemos, even crowded together, standing-room only, in the beds of trucks—to make offerings at the several clan temples (each family is part of a clan represented here) and at the largest and most important temple, Pura Penataran Agung, tiered and built into the mountain’s slope. Make sure to climb to the impressive second courtyard, which is as far as tourists are generally allowed to go. The complex is most alive during frequent festivals, when thousands descend, ceremonially dressed, and flow throughout the temple grounds. When the sky is clear, you can see from here down into the valley and out to sea.
Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu Beach, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Equal parts fine-dining restaurant, cocktail bar, and antique gallery, Ji blends Chinese, Japanese, and Balinese culture with modern Japanese cuisine and cocktails. The restaurant is located in Hotel Tugu, one of the first luxury hotels in Canggu. An Indonesian collector rescued an ornate 18th-century Chinese temple from destruction in Java and had it rebuilt here to house the restaurant. Ji’s menu features exquisitely prepared sushi and sashimi platters, as well as items that reflect influences from Japanese communities in Peru, China, Korea, and other countries outside Japan. The Dragon of Ji roll is a showstopper. As for cooked seafood, you’ll be torn when it comes to the smokey salmon zaru soba with home-smoked salmon belly and citrus broth. Be kind and share the delicate dish with your travel companion? Or keep it all to yourself? An extensive sake, wine, and cocktail menu is available.
People see beautiful rice paddy photos before they visit Bali, and often they arrive not knowing how to seek out those gorgeous landscapes. A guided cycling tour is a lovely way to take it in. This company takes you into the hills by car, then you wind your way back down, village-to-village, on your bike.
Jl. Nyuh Bulan, Nyuh Kuning MAS, Ubud, MAS, Ubud, MAS, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
WAMM (or What About My Mother?) is one of the most interesting Ubud cafés. The design of this sunny, open-sided space is eclectic, colorful, and comfortable, and you could describe the food with the same adjectives. Every item on the menu is sourced from local suppliers, from the fruits and vegetables to the meats and cheeses (yes, meat and cheese from Bali!). WAMM’s menu offers selections for vegans, vegetarians, diners with allergies, and also those in the mood for a great chicken sandwich. The coffee is out of this world, especially with a little bit of the creamy coconut milk made in the café.

Jl. Nyuh Bulan No. 1, Banjar Nyuh Kuning, Ubud, MAS, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
If you didn’t know before you dug into your meal, you might not realize that every item on Sage’s menu is vegan (a nice bonus for parents eating with kids). The jackfruit or tempeh tacos are so good many devoted carnivores choose to get their Mexican food fix here over local nonvegan Mexican joints. Sage also makes excellent vegan burgers, potato flautas, and salads filled with great crunchy textures and pops of flavor. Follow lunch or dinner with a slice of coconut cake or vegan birthday cake ice cream.
JL Sukma kesuma no 2 , Br Tebesaya - Ubud, Peliatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
An excellent addition to the Ubud raw-food scene (there is one!), Sayuri creates tasty food that heals, energizes, and nurtures your body. Even those unconvinced of the powers of a raw-food diet find the food delicious. The menu isn’t overly rigid, though; it includes smoothies and cold-pressed juices, breakfast-all-day dishes, and daily specials with vegan versions of bibimbap, enchiladas, and lasagna. Sayuri also runs cooking classes and workshops for those who would like to learn to make wholesome food and body products for themselves.
No.51 B Jalan Petipenget
Though it has a silly name, the Potato Head Beach Club on Seminyak beach is a cool spot to spend the day. A collage of antique 18th-century veranda shades surrounds an amphitheater-like space that contains a beach bar, a grassy lawn, and an infinity pool. Three additional restaurants (one homey, one Southeast Asian, one high-end) and a stellar concert lineup make Potato Head a destination, morning ‘til night. A soon-to-open boutique hotel will extend the party even further. Jln. Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia, 62/(0) 361 473 7979.
Sayan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Set along the sacred Ayung River, Four Seasons Resort at Sayan is a tropical paradise shrouded in giant palms and ferns. Designed by John Heah, the property was built and decorated using regional materials almost exclusively, from shells and coconuts to coveted ikat fabrics, giving guests an authentic Balinese experience just 15 minutes from Ubud. A serene lotus pond sits on the rooftop of the resort’s main building, and teakwood villas offer views of rice terraces and the longest river in Bali. Indonesian cooking classes, ancient wellness rituals, and plantings with local rice farmers are just some of the ways guests can connect with the local culture; the rest can be found in Ubud, where vibrant markets, temples, and museums counterbalance the hotel’s tranquil dining and wellness journeys.
Jl. Bisma, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Nestled in the jungle near the center of Ubud, Komaneka at Bisma is a minimalist boutique hotel that celebrates Balinese artistic expression. Local artisans made most of the wooden objects and furnishings in the suites and villas, which emphasize rich woods, cool marbles, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls that look out at emerald rain forests. Daily deliveries of fruit, flowers, and cookies make guests feel like family, but high-tech conveniences such as in-room Apple TVs help them stay connected with loved ones back home. The Komaneka Gallery at the Monkey Forest property showcases one of the world’s largest collections of art from the archipelago; Bisma guests can arrange a tour, which is included in the price of their stay. You can also stay on site and choose from a lineup of activities, including rice paddy cycling tours and wood-carving lessons.
I know when you go on holiday to Bali Mexico is probably the last place you’re thinking you’ll want to be, but Motel Mexicola is an awesomely kitsch Mexican cantina and bar not to be missed. Go early for dinner because even though this place is enormous, it gets packed on the weekends. The feel good factor is fueled by the bright decor, awesome margaritas, beers served super cold and food that is as close to real Mexican as you’ll get in Bali.
Banjar Patas, Taro, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
A number of organic farms in the region offer cooking classes, but Bali Farm Cooking School is by far the most welcoming, warm, and traditionally Balinese of the lot. If you’re a foodie or just want to get out and see a bit of Bali family life, Wayan and his family will welcome you with open arms. Students begin by heading to the market and touring the farm’s garden to gather fresh ingredients and to learn about local herbs and spices that are used in cooking as well as in herbal treatments for a variety of ailments. Then students work in an open-sided kitchen to prepare some classic Balinese dishes and, of course, sit down to a terrific feast afterwards. The farm is almost an hour outside Ubud, but offers convenient round-trip transportation from central Ubud.
Jl. Tirta, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552, Indonesia
Balinese people have taken ritual baths in the waters of Tirta Empul since it was founded in 962. The waters are believed to have healing powers, both physically and spiritually, so people come from all over the island to purify themselves under spouts of cool water in the long stone pools. Worshipers place offerings or say a prayer at each of the spouts from west to east. Nonworshipers can bathe, too, and the experience can be very moving (be aware that the last of the spouts in the first pool are reserved for purification after funerary rites). As at any Balinese temple, you must be respectful of Hindu rules and traditions. Menstruating women should not go inside any temple, and all visitors must wear a sarong and sash while on temple grounds, even while bathing. Men can go shirtless in the pools. There are changing rooms, so don’t forget to bring an extra set of clothes. Tirta Empul, 25 minutes outside of Ubud, is very close to Gunung Kawi, another religious site worth a visit.
Jl. Kayu Aya No.21, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Kim Soo Home, a French-inspired boutique shop in Seminyak, carries everything from Indonesian ethnic pieces to handmade textiles and wooden furniture. If you’re looking to pick up something to remind you of your trip to Bali, you’ll find it here—the shop stocks items from makers throughout the archipelago, along with its own unique, locally made designs. It’s difficult to leave the airy and carefully manicured store, but you can decompress for a bit in the stylish adjoining café before you reenter the harsh world outside.
Jl. Gajah Mada, Pemecutan, Denpasar Bar., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80111, Indonesia
Across the river from the Badung Market—Bali’s largest traditional produce and meat market—is the Kumbasari Market (also called Pasar Seni Kumbasari), where you can find craftspeople hawking their wares. Wander among stalls selling batiks, wood carvings, jewelry, paintings, and souvenirs.

Pejeng, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali 80552, Indonesia
The wax resist dying technique of batik is one of the symbols of Indonesian culture. Although it actually came from Java to Bali with the Majapahit Kingdom in the 14th Century, the Balinese now consider it as much part of their culture as the Javanese. You can find beautiful batiks all over Bali but one of the most impressive batik makers in Bali is Pak Tjok Agung who has a workshop and small shop in his home village of Pejeng near Ubud. This isn’t on the main tourist trail and purposefully so. Pak Tjok uses natural fibers and dyes and local workers to try to support the local community without the need for tourist dollars, which makes Pak Tjok’s textiles sustainable as well as stunning. Pak Tjok’s workshop is about 15 minutes north east of Ubud in the village of Pejeng. www.tjokagung-indigo.com
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