An Insider's Guide to Bali, Indonesia with Jess Cheng
Summertime and the living's Bali. When Jess Cheng, senior creative on ASOS's social team, told us she'd be exploring Bali, Indonesia, we asked her to take us along. Here the Style Cat shows us around the best places to swim, sip, and soak in views from the jungle-brimming West Bengal province dubbed "the last paradise."
I hate to say it, but I’ve seen so many beautiful photos of Bali on the 'gram and had it on my travel bucket list for a couple years. I’ve been feeling really uninspired in the city recently and have been craving a tropical escape which is what inspired this trip.
We stayed all over the place, we started with five nights in Ubud, moved to Nusa Lembongan for two nights, then off to Gili T for two nights, then finished it with two nights in Canggu and two nights in Seminyak. We visited in May, which is right after rainy season. We departed from London Heathrow, and flew for 16 hours with a 2 hour layover in Doha in the middle. Door to door, it was about a day of travelling!
Beauty Packing List
I had to be very selective with my beauty packing list, and only brought the essentials, in mini form when available:
- OUAI Rose Hair & Body Oil
- OUAI Treatment Masque
- Remington Curl & Straight Confidence 2-in-1 Curler
- Cetaphil Defence Moisturiser with SPF 50+
- This Works Morning Expert Open Eyes
- Homeoplasmine Ointment
- Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm
- Tropic Skin Shade Mineral Sun Protection SPF 50
- Colourpop No Filter Concealer - Medium 30 (my holiday shade)
- BellaPierre Banana Setting Powder
- Mac Brushblack Brushstroke 24-Hour Liner
- Hourglass Highlighter Mini
- Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer
- Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette
- Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb
- I got eyelash extensions before my trip so I didn’t need to bring a curler or mascara.
Fashion Packing List
I work at ASOS, so I did a big last-minute shop of neon bright dresses and tops. I made sure to pack a few pairs of denim cutoff shorts, a bunch of bikinis, and cropped tops ranging from tanks to milkmaid style. I brought a beautiful rose print tea dress from Kitri Studio, a LBD from Reformation I’ve been waiting to wear, and also managed to fit two of my Lack of Color hats in my suitcase as well. I packed two platform sandal options, my Nike Tekno sneakers, and a heel option.
For accessories, I packed my delicate gold necklaces I like to wear as a stack, a silver lock necklace, and a yellow scrunchie. I also brought way too many sunglasses, I’m talking like six pairs. I’m definitely not a backpacker type of girl anymore, so I brought a large hardside luggage, and a carry-on black backpack from Skinny Dip.
Booking the Trip
We did a lot of basic Googling to see where to visit and what to do. I don’t follow too many travel Instagrammers, but I looked a lot at @gypsea_lust and @doyoutravel's page as they both live in Bali. I also discovered a lesser known travel couple @teganphillipa and @itsnedkelly and got inspired by their content!
Where to Stay
I would highly recommend Airbnb over hotels as they are always so much cheaper and you can find the most unique little villas. My favourite place that we stayed in was Canggu. It’s basically a little seaside surf village turned hotspot for digital nomads and influencers. So many amazing modern cafes, restaurants, and beach clubs all while maintaining that tropical wilderness vibe.
Dressing the Part
I tried to pre-plan my outfits as much as possible. As a content creator, I packed enough for a different outfit a day, and packed a lot of neons and bright colours, because I knew they would pop against the Bali tropical greenery.
Gojek is like the Uber of Bali, it’s super handy to call a scooter driver or get food delivery. If traveling with a group of friends, you can usually hire a car for a day in Ubud for 300,000 IR, which is about 15 GBP.
Tip for First-Timers
Don’t forget to pack meds! Meds for seasickness (the ferries to the Gili Islands can get aggressive), upset stomach (I got the dreaded Bali Belly on my last day), pain killers, bug repellent, the works. I literally needed all of them, it’s a jungle out there.
DAY 1: Canggu
10AM Canggu is the absolute best place in Bali for healthy breakfast bowls and stylish vegetarian food. I met a friend at Crate Cafe at 8:30am, and there was already a long lineup. Half outside with a laid back chilled atmosphere, it was buzzing with young 20-somethings getting their brekkie in. I had THE BEST chia pudding smoothie (I ordered the ‘sweet ass’) and ‘Hipstar’ smoothie bowl.
12PM Tonic Day Spa makes you feel like you’re in Palm Springs, and the inside decor is just as cute and well thought-out as the outside. Probably one of the most upscale and modern spas we visited on our trip, we were greeted with a welcoming drink in a cute pineapple.
I decided on the famed cream bath, which is a Balinese technique where they massage conditioner into your scalp for about an hour, and it leaves your hair extremely soft and smooth.
3PM We stopped by Gypsy Kitchen + Bar as it was a few minutes away from our Airbnb and the beach. We were drawn to the boho decor and relaxed atmosphere. I had a Tuna Poke bowl and a smoothie. Later, I found out that it was Canadian-owned…maybe that’s why I was drawn to it.
Crystal Bay Beach
5PM My friend took me to La Brisa to chill and catch up, and we sat by the pool, ordering bites and drinks all afternoon. As soon as we entered, we walked down a pathway and noticed the nautical wooden decor. I later learned that it’s built with reclaimed wood from more than 500 fishermen’s boats.
8PM We stumbled upon Lola’s Cantina Mexicana by chance, and decided to stop by for dinner. It was buy a cocktail, get a taco free Tuesday so we definitely partook in that. Like everywhere in Canggu, the vibe was relaxed, there were even several solo diners working on their laptops. I had pulled jackfruit tacos and a margarita.
9PM The Lawn is a hip spot to chill, have drinks, and watch the sunset. We got a seat on its infamous green lawn overlooking the white tassel umbrellas and infinity pool. Although it looks super upscale, prices for drinks were incredibly reasonable.
DAY 2: Ubud
12PM Hiking Mount Batur is something everyone should do when they visit Bali. We had to wake up at 1:30 am to be at the base of the active volcano by 3 am. It was only a 2 hour hike up, but we were severely out of shape and trekking in pitch black darkness. Our local guide had given us flashlights, but it was extremely difficult to navigate the gravelly path and then climb the rocks…did I mention it was in the dark?! After much complaining, stopping for water breaks, and asking the guide ‘how much longer?’, we made it to the peak by 5:30 am, just as the sky was beginning to get light. We were actually higher than the clouds, and we sat and ate breakfast as we watched the sunrise. It was an absolutely incredible experience, and some wild monkeys even made an appearance to watch with us (and steal our food).
3PM I think what most people picture when they imagine Bali is the infamous rice terraces. We stopped by the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, and it was so lush and green. I would recommend going early in the day to avoid the crowds, but there was still plenty of room for everyone.
5PM Jungle Fish is an amazing open-air split level restaurant and pool bar, complete with an infinity pool overlooking the jungle. Although it is a very popular spot, most of the patrons cleared out by five and it was the perfect place to float in the warm pool while the sun set.
7PM Mr.Wayan is a slightly more upscale restaurant serving traditional Balinese cuisine surrounded by rice paddies. But be sure to get there before 6 pm otherwise it will be too dark to see anything 😂
DAY 3: Nusa Lembongan
10AM Villa breakfast
12PM If you’re staying on Nusa Lembongan, I recommend a Nusa Penida Day Trip. You can take a small boat to the neighbouring island and get a guide to drive you around to various sights such as Angel Billabong, Broken Beach, and Kelingking Beach.
Sandy Bay Beach Club
1PM Sandy Bay Beach Club is a little hub of activity - it contains a resort, spa, and boutiques, all while keeping the small village feel. I had some of the best food I tasted on the entire trip, and ordered a tuna steak and smoothie bowl.
2PM Crystal Bay Beach is about a 10-minute walk from the Sandy Bay area, and has a nice little stretch of sand as well as is a stone’s throw from the Devil’s Tears lookout. We saw some of the biggest waves ever!
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
4PM Glo Spa is part of the Sandy Bay Beach Club and they have several locations around Bali. I had a tropical full body scrub and felt sooo clean and smooth afterwards.
7PM Lemongrass is a small, al-fresco restaurant that serves both Western and Indonesian food. Come here for simple, tasty food for a steal.
9PM O’hanas was our favourite spot on Nusa Lembongan, just a short walk from our villa and on the Jungubatu beach front. Grab a daybed and get there for happy hour to watch the sunset - they light a bonfire on the beach every night.
Jungubatu Beach Ohanas