If you don’t fancy sharing your space with the hordes of drunk, sunburnt tourists in Kuta or Seminyak, then opt to stay in peaceful Canggu on your next sojourn to Bali.
The last time I visited Bali, it was with my family when I was 20. Truth be told, I don’t remember much about that trip … other than the fact that we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel in Kuta and spent at inordinate amount of time eating at Hard Rock Cafe (in our defence, the food was … really good).
Planning for our honeymoon trip to Bali, the husband and I decided to stay in Canggu, primarily because we had planned to head to Bali Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp for a few training sessions. My friends, knowing that I wasn’t a fan of overly touristy spots, had also warned me to stay away from Kuta and Seminyak. So it was that we ended up booking a stay at Unagi Villas, a row of six villas tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood in Canggu. After day trips to Ubud and Seminyak, we were even more convinced than ever that we had made the right decision to stay in Canggu, and here are some reasons why:
1. You’re located close to a wonderful MMA training camp
I realise this activity isn’t for everyone, but let it just be said that Bali Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp is really one of the most friendly and welcoming gyms you could ever hope to train at. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and no-gi grappling programmes are run by Americans with wrestling backgrounds and who have won their fair share of wrestling competitions Stateside. The students hail from all walks of life. Some are older guys who decided to pick up BJJ for fitness. A few others are high level professional MMA fighters. Regardless, the training is tailored to suit whatever level you may be at, and is not at all intimidating even if you’re a complete newbie. If you’re looking to pick up a new sport on vacay but aren’t too keen on surfing I highly recommend checking out the programmes at Bali Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp.
Bali Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp is located at Jalan Raya Padonan No. 6 Kabupaten Badung.
2. You can stuff yourself silly on fresh grilled seafood at ridiculously cheap prices at Echo Beach Club
Another thing I really liked about Canggu is the fact that even the “touristy” restaurants proved to be great dining options, and Echo Beach Club is the best example of that. Despite the extremely extensive menu – it’s usually not a good sign if a restaurant tries to make anything and everything – whatever we ordered proved to be of good quality and solid portions. For around $10, you can fill your plate at the salad bar and enjoy meaty chunks of fresh seafood served on a skewer. Large bottles of Bintang go for under $5, and cocktails were also well executed.
Echo Beach Club is located at Jalan Pura Batu Mejan, Canggu, Kabupaten Badung.
3. There’s always a good time to be had at Old Man’s
Casual dining restaurant by day, happening beach club by night is probably the best way to describe Old Man’s. Located on a stretch of beach neighbouring Echo Beach, it also serves up great grub at reasonable prices (be sure to try the beer battered fish and chips – one of the best we’ve had), but there are is also a good time to be had if you head there on Wednesday and Friday nights. Friday nights see an energetic rock and roll live band churns out classic tunes that get the sunburnt surfer crowd up and jiving on their feet.
For those who don’t have any experience surfing, but wish to take it up, you can take lessons at Old Man’s Beach, where the waves are more gentle than at the neighbouring Echo Beach.
Old Man’s is located at Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung.
4. Dinner at La Laguna is a must-experience
It’s a little hard to locate, but totally worth the effort. We were fortunate to arrive just before sunset to take in the quirky vintage gypsy-bohemian vibe of this sprawling restaurant. My husband ordered the steak and I ordered the lamb chops as we admired the setting sun. Cooked to perfection, the quality of the meat was definitely fine-dining standard. We also had a bottle of beer and a glass of wine each. Total damage? Just $120 for the both of us. The view and ambience alone made the meal worth its price tag.
La Laguna is located at Jalan Pura Kayu Putih, Banjar Dinas Tegal Gundul, Desa Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung.
5. You’ll love the food and service at Warung Dandelion
This cute warung offers both indoor and outdoor seating. While we loved the beautiful Balinese decor inside the restaurant, dining al fresco at the restaurant’s garden proved to be a highlight of the trip. The weather at this time of the year (we were there during the last week of October) is perfect: Hot and dry by day, but it cools down considerably at night, making it perfect for outdoor dining. Tuck into classic Indonesian fare and sip Balinese wine as you watch three well-fed rabbits romp freely around the garden. We also found the service to be warm, friendly, and attentive.
Warung Dandelion is located at Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong No.8, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung.
6. Because if you love hipster/hippie/vegetarian/healthy dining options, you can’t do better than Canggu.
If you’re looking to swap your Bintang for a wheatgrass shot, then head to Jalan Batumejan, the stretch of road leading into Old Man’s Beach for a whole slew of casual cafes offering a myriad healthy dining options, such as fruit bowls with homemade muesli and yoghurt. For all-day breakfast, check out Canteen. Beside the usual options such as porridge or pancakes, you can also opt for the Breakfast Burrito, a tortilla jam packed with scrambled eggs, bacon, green peppers, coriander salsa and chilli jam. As it’s packed to the gills at all times of the day, service here can be a little slow. The food, however, is worth and wait. Further down the road from Canteen is another popular cafe, Betelnut, and although we did not get to try the food this time around, it’s apparently the place to head to for vegan dishes such as raw gado-gado.