World traveler and Balinese local, Mira Suarsana knows a thing or two about exploring the island of the gods. We can’t think of a better person to tap into for our very first Bali guide. Of course, we say first, because Bali is easily one of SmartFlyer’s clients (and agents!) favorite destinations.
Bali with Mira Suarsana
Having spent some of her most formative years between the States and Bali, Mira grew up spending her days playing in the rice paddies, making her own fishing rods and kites, and searching for friendly pythons in her grandmother’s backyard. After graduating from Southern Methodist University, plus a few years of work and adventure in NYC, Mira headed back to Bali to run the Operations of the family business. Bali Good Food is a Balinese restaurant group and events company headquartered in the idyllic and lush Ubud. These days, Mira spends her time off exploring Bali and searching for one hidden gem after another on this island she calls home.
“This is a mere glimpse of some of my favorite places in Bali. The most beautiful parts are outside the cities. If you make the time to go and explore, you’ll get a glimpse of the real Bali and experience what makes this island so special.”
Beautiful food, beautiful ambiance, beautiful drinks. Sarong has selected favourites from different countries across Asia and successfully added their own modern twist without losing touch of the dish’s heritage. Although the restaurant is located in the middle of buzzing Seminyak, the outside world disappears as soon as you walk through their doors. Their scallop dish and butter chicken are a must. And make sure to add a side of Roti Canai to any curry dish you order—it’s great to dip in the sauces.
The Sayan House
Ubud has long been known as a hot-spot for culture, arts, yoga and wellness; however, many do not mention the wide variety of restaurants available. Whether it’s an all-you-can-eat Italian brunch, authentic Thai, or a vegan café, Ubud has no shortage of delicious options. One of my absolute favourites is The Sayan House. As a home-turned-restaurant, they serve Western & Indonesian dishes using delicate Japanese techniques. There is also an unbeatable view. I highly recommend their foie gras or prawn sushi, or their pork ribs.
If you’re craving brunch, this is the spot to go. Perched on the beach of Petitenget, La Lucciola’s open-air bamboo structure is a great place to escape the heat. Try a frozen granita or fresh juice, while enjoying the egg soufflé or battered zucchini flowers. It’s a charming spot at night too, serving numerous light Italian dishes while also providing an interesting cocktail list.
Built into the cliff side, Rock Bar at the Ayana Hotel is the go-to place for watching the sunset. Serving world-class cocktails, it is frequently listed as one of the best cocktail bars in the world, so make sure you get there a little early to guarantee entry.
Potato Head at Night
Potato Head is most popular as a sunset spot, however, I’ve found it gets a little too crowded and rowdy during the day, so I prefer going after dinner for a more relaxed vibe. It’s a great place to drink before heading out for a dance at Jenja or La Favela. Similar to Ku De Ta (another sunset cocktail bar I highly recommend) they frequently host world-class DJ’s and performers so make sure to check their website—you might have a fun event in the works.
While Metis is known for their upscale French cuisine, I find the quality of the food slightly mundane. Having said that, they do have a gorgeous garden and one of the most extensive wine lists on the island. On weekends, the bar does get upbeat later in the night. With many of Bali’s best restaurants within five minutes of Metis, it’s a perfect spot for pre or post dinner drinks and snacks.
Jalan Kayu Aya is a street that has heaps of beautiful boutiques, but one of my favourites is Magali Pascal. If you’re looking for lovely resort wear, this is the place to go.
Bikinis, surfboards and beach wear. It also has a coffee shop inside if you need a break from the busy street. They have two locations: Seminyak and Bingin.
Lace, lace, and more lace. If you’re on your honeymoon, you may want to take a peak for a cheeky little purchase.
Start the day early and head up north to chase some waterfalls. Git Git and Sekumpul Waterfalls are also within 20 minutes of here, but my favourite is Aling-Aling because you can jump off different cliff heights or swim in the natural pools. There are guides there to show you the way, so I highly recommend doing the Medium Tour. Don’t be put off by the sign that says it takes a few hours to get there (the walk is only about 20 minutes); it’s just an estimate of the maximum amount of time you will spend between start and finish.
Sundays Beach Club
Lunch at a beach bungalow and swim in turquoise waters. Unlike many of the black sand beaches in Bali, Karma beach is all white sand and also tucked away from the world-renowned surf breaks, so it’s a great place for a swim. Other favourite beaches to check out are Balangan and Bingin beach. If you time it right, you can tour Uluwatu temple afterwards to catch the traditional Kecak dance during sunset, or head over to Rock Bar for sunset.
Hiking Mount Batur for Sunrise
Start hiking in the dark and make it up to the top to watch the sun rise over Bali with Mount Agung in the distance. It’s a breathtaking view and only about 1.5-2 hours to the top. Make sure to bring a sweater though, as it can be quite chilly. On the way down, ask your guide to walk around the crater—it’s about 20 minutes longer than the way up, but worth your time and energy.