Ultimate Authentic Luxury Bali & Gili Trawangan trip
Updated: Jun 22
As you could have read in my previous blog last month we had a stop over in Singapore but the actual destination was Bali! I have been there once before 6 years ago and loved every minute of it! Since then the island has become even more popular but still held a huge appeal to me, Bali just has that special something.. And even though the island is not big it has so much to offer and I still had to discover a lot!!
For one I just had to come back to Ubud which is truly unique and is called the cultural capital of Bali for a reason. But I also really wanted to visit the Gili islands, which we had to skip during our last visit.
In this blog I will take you on a trip around the island from Ubud to the north of Bali and to Gili Trawangan. Join me through many of my pics, so I can show you my favourite sights and share my tips with you!
We started our trip in the heart of Bali in its cultural center: Ubud! But what is the attraction of this small town really?
While some coastal towns of Bali are quite busy and touristy, in Ubud you still feel the authentic Balinese vibe and will be completely surrounded by natural beauty. Even though it can get quite busy here as well, as it’s a popular place, it has many quiet spots amidst the palm trees and rice fields. Just take a turn and you will find yourself walking past a tropical river or be surrounded by rice fields, with nothing but locals around!
That’s the attraction of Ubud!
But next to that this town also has many restaurants and shops and even more art galleries, yoga retreats and healthy coffee shops, as Ubud is a true hub for artists, creatives, the spiritual minded and digital nomads.
We loved exploring Ubud, admiring the many palaces and temples, walking the beautiful Campuhan ridge walk and visiting the iconic Tegalalang rice terraces only 15 minutes away, which are all true must visits!
As Ubud’s center can get quite crowded we chose to stay in a nearby town to combine the authenticity of Ubud with pure luxury at Padma Resort Ubud in Payangan.
Don’t let the resort’s name fool you. This hotel is situated in the greater Ubud area but is still a 45 minute drive away from Ubud. They do provide a complementary shuttle service to the town, so you can easily combine the tranquility of the resort with dinner and shopping in buzzing Ubud.
Padma Resort Ubud
As you know I love to mix heritage of a destination with a touch of luxury and the Padma Resort offers just that! Here we enjoyed the beautiful lush surroundings of Bali combined with pure comfort and luxury through all the amenities this resort has to offer, situated in an untouched river valley overlooking the tropical forests of Payangan. The hotel’s architecture is built in the unique contemporary Balinese style, set on 11 hectares with its own running track through nature on the hotel’s grounds.
With one of Asia’s largest heated outdoor swimming pools and views like this what else do you need?
The breakfast with its elaborate offering of smoothies and treats, with an amazing view over the valley is a true pleasure. And with a multitude of dining facilities, an in house spa and all the facilities one can expect from a 5 star resort, staying here was a pure treat!
The 149-room Padma Resort Ubud offers different room types but all of them are spacious, built in a beautiful modern Balinese style with large bathroom and your own balcony looking out over palm trees and the lush tropical forest.
If you do want to stay in a hotel closer to Ubud this award-winning hotel is highly recommended as well:
Just a 10 minute’s walk from Ubud’s center you will find this modern boutique hotel, set in the middle of nature, built in a beautiful contemporary style and offering only suites.
This hotel offers many extras, such as unique experience packages and day tours, which you can see here: Bisma Eight website
What better to do a tour of the island organized by locals who know all the best spots? We had the pleasure to experience a day tour with the wonderful Bisma Eight team showing us the pure beauty of the island and all their favourite sights, called:
Bedugul is a region in the central highlands of the island with many authentic villages surrounded by the lush tropics and pure nature of Bali. This is the perfect area to experience the real Bali and see some of its unique sights.
During our tour we visited the beautiful Twin Lakes with viewpoints high up in the mountains of Munduk, passing by monkeys down the road and many palm trees, rainforests and rice fields, while looking for the Git Git waterfalls.
Followed by a wonderful picnic lunch in the magical Botanical Gardens of Bedugul, finished with a visit to a coffee plantation, sampling the vast variation of coffees Bali has to offer, including the infamous Kopi Luwak, while enjoying the views upon the iconic rice terraces of Bali.
And this day couldn’t have ended more perfectly than with a dinner at the hotel’s restaurant:
This contemporary restaurant is well worth a visit, even if you’re not staying at the hotel. The interior and setting is atmospheric yet modern, the service is great and the food excellent!
Copper Kitchen & Bar offers truly unique dining, ethical, and inspired. All dishes are prepared with local ingredients straight from the hotel’s gardens, Tegallalang Reserve and Amed Fisheries, which results in one of the most authentic dining experience you will find on the island.
Even though I love Bali, the attraction of the Gili islands near Lombok was strong as well. The laid back beachy vibe of these small islands, the pureness of their car-less surroundings and of course the appeal of long white stretches of sand with no-one around made us add a transfer to the Gili’s to our trip. As we only had a few days to spare we chose only to visit the largest island:
But how to get there? There are many options, each differ in traveling time and area to embark from. From Ubud taking a speed boat from nearby Padang Bay was the most practical option for us.
You can also take a 40 minutes flight to Lombok and a boat transfer to Gili Trawangan.
Or a speed boat from Benoa Harbour or Sanur directly to Gili Trawangan.
There are many boat companies offering transfers to the islands, which will take you approximately 2,5 hours, depending on the area of embarkment, and will cost you around €60-90 return p.p.
Of course you can take a ferry or find cheaper boat options as well, but unfortunately this will take you a lot longer and is not always safe.
Therefore we chose a trusted boat company: Blue Water Express, which had good references, insurances and has spacious private seating options which brought us to Gili T comfortably and quickly.
When you get there and you don’t want to stay in the busy main town of the island, you will have to take a Cidomo (Gili T’s famous horse carte taxi) or rent a bike to get around the island, as cars are not allowed here.
We chose an accommodation on the more quiet ”sunset side” of the island in the north. The transfer by Cidomo takes 15 minutes, a bumpy ride with great island views, and costs around €10 euro’s with their current set taxi prices.
Le Pirate Beach Club Gili Trawangan
Arriving at Le Pirate was a true oasis, quietly located immediately by the beach with their cute white wooden bungalows facing the sea, set in lush tropical surroundings.
Although this is not a luxurious resort this beach club with its many facilities and beautiful setting is one of the prettiest authentic options on the island and has much to offer.
The views from the beach club with many relaxing seating options, the resort’s restaurant, bars and swimming pools with direct sea views and other facilities are beautiful and abundant. And include some of the most stunning sunsets you will ever experience (if you’re lucky with the weather).
The various cute bungalows are intimate, and most of them have a king-size bed, aircon, a fan, hammocks and a private outdoor bathroom.
At Le Pirate you can easily rent a bike or just walk left or right to find many other restaurant options, beach clubs and small villages. If you walk all the way right from the beach club while facing the sea, you will get to the most northern tip of the island where we enjoyed cocktails in a wonderful casual setting at one of the cutest restaurants of the island:
Coral Beach Pizza
As you can see for yourself Bali is a real must visit and I can also recommend visiting the Gili’s or some of the other islands around Bali, like Nusa Ceningan, Lembongan or Penida for that laid back smaller island vibe.
You can read all about my earlier Bali visit in these blogs here and here, with more sightseeing tips and favourite Bali hotspots. And make sure to look out for my next blog about the most beautiful private villas on Bali as well!
For daily pics of Bali and Gili Trawangan follow me on social media:
And check The Asia Collective for other unique hotel inspirations on the wonderful island Bali.
Have you ever been to Bali or are you planning to? Tell me about your plans and do let me know if you have any more questions or need tips to plan your visit! Always love to hear from you, just leave a comment below…