Adrenaline-pumping canyoning tours, 1930s speakeasy-style cocktail saloons and even a trapeze school: Bali is one island that will always surprise. Three Qantas travel writers – who uncover hidden gems and secrets all over the globe – share tips, insights and must-dos following their recent trips.
“If the six-course tasting menu isn’t the best meal you’ve eaten in Bali, I’ll be surprised.” - Jenny Hewett
“Bali is a safari for the soul. No matter which direction you head – to the volcanic highlands, jungle interior or sun-soaked southern beaches – the island’s rich, welcoming culture and magnetic energy always brings you back to yourself.
“Paddle out to Playgrounds surf break directly from Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Spa, a laidback-luxe stay on the south-eastern island of Nusa Lembongan, taking in extraordinary views of Mt Agung volcano as you go. Sunsets are served searing at the resort’s island speakeasy The Howff, surely the world’s most underrated whisky bar.
“Born and bred in Bali, the young, Melbourne-trained team behind FED By Made in Seminyak is leading a movement of next-gen local chefs on the island. If the six-course, produce-driven tasting menu (featuring dishes such as raw seasonal fish with burnt pineapple and shiso) isn’t the best meal you’ve eaten in Bali, I’ll be surprised.
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“To keep up with the cool crew, sidestep down to upbeat retro-inspired small bar Club Soda (from the team behind Ubud’s Locavore) in Canggu’s Berawa for funky beats, house-fermented cocktails and late-night yakitori. The smoking Ashes cocktail with burnt fruit, whisky and vodka is one way to get the disco ball spinning.
“For a more wholesome rush, rappel down falls, bomb into deep waterholes and slide down rocks on a canyoning tour of the Gitgit waterfall system with Adrenaline Rush Bali. Those more keen on organised chaos should head for the snaking slides and swim-up bar of family-friendly and carbon neutral Waterbom Waterpark in Kuta, which has 26 slides woven among palms and shaded gazebos.”
“It’s a fun 1930s speakeasy-style cocktail saloon set among paddy fields.” - Sue Williams
“The pure heart of Bali is all about rest and renewal and nowhere is that message clearer than in one of the world’s loveliest health resorts, the COMO Shambhala Estate, just north of Ubud. It’s a magical refuge from the outside world set on nine hectares of picturesque jungle, chattering with monkeys and fluttering with exotic birds and butterflies. There are wellness programs, spa treatments, delicious yet healthy food, hydrotherapy, yoga, meditation and lots of gorgeous walks and natural springs for swimming.
“When it’s time to misbehave, check out Ubud’s Apéritif Bar, a fun 1930s speakeasy-style cocktail saloon set among paddy fields. The bar’s cocktails veer from the classic – think martinis and manhattans – to the cutting-edge, with innovative combinations named after the celebrities of the era like The Composer Colin McPhee, with bourbon, amaro, miso caramel, Angostura cocoa bitters, pandan and coffee incense.
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“Visit buzzing Seminyak for the excellent Mama San Bali Dining Room, Grill & Bar with its plush banquettes and chandeliers. The sophisticated pan-Asian menu is headlined by dishes such as aged tuna crudo with truffle oil, prawn drunken noodles, and fiery Thai-style grilled chicken. Upstairs is its showier supper club where chef Will Meyrick serves up 14-day dry-aged barbecue duck breast and T-bone Angus steak.
“To work off all that food and drink, don’t bother sleeping. Go on a Mount Batur sunrise trek and you’ll be picked up in the middle of the night and hit the peak just in time to see the sun rise over the horizon. It’s the perfect start to another day in paradise.”
“On an overnight farm stay, kids pick dinner ingredients and feed a worm farm.” - Felicity Byrnes
“Propped up against a palm tree, watching my daughter whizzing past upside down on a trapeze, is a Club Med Bali holiday highlight. All is blissfully easy, from the roaming food truck serving kid-tastic satay chicken to the beach location, the endless tropical lawns and the trapeze school.
“You may not want to leave but do try, because Bali’s temples, rice paddies and child-inclusive culture create an imagination-firing holiday menu. Dining out is easy – in Ubud, follow both Balinese and expats to Pizza Bagus, an institution thanks to its casual atmosphere and piping-hot thin-crust pizzas.
“For a one-stop shop of pool, beach and bar, Bali’s beach clubs have all the answers. Sundays Beach Club has a thatched-roof castaway vibe and inclinator-accessed beach where kayaks, beach toys and paddleboards await. A memory-making experience is toasting marshmallows at a sunset bonfire while sipping cocktails; aim for low tide for maximum sand real estate.
“Sleep en famille under a mosquito net on a bamboo platform surrounded by rice paddies, listening to the nocturnal sounds of rural Bali. On an overnight farm stay with Astungkara Way, kids pick dinner ingredients, feed a worm farm and take a night walk. It’s a rare window into a world young minds will never forget.”
Experience Bali's surprises with the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card. Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply online, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. Available to new American Express Card Members only.
Plus, receive a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year to use for eligible international or domestic Qantas flights when booking through American Express Travel Online². Learn more.
Fly Sydney to Bali Economy return for two people for 72,000 Qantas Points plus AUD $438 taxes, fees and carrier charges ^ .
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*Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months from the Card approval date. This offer is only available to new American Express Card Members. If you are an existing David Jones Card Member and don’t hold or have previously held any other American Express Card(s) in the past 18 months, you will be eligible for the offer. All other Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited, in the preceding 18 month period are ineligible for the bonus Qantas Points offer. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Qantas Points are earned in accordance with and subject to the Qantas American Express Card Points Terms and Conditions. 60,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member’s account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Qantas Frequent Flyer membership and the earning and redemption of points are subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program available at qantas.com/terms. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.
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