Words by Vivian Host, aka Star Eyes (DJ, Trouble and Bass).
In 2010, I went to Indonesia to DJ and thanks to the Icelandic volcano eruption, I got a few extra days to kill in South Asia. Boom! Straight flight to Bali from Jakarta (round trip about US$250) and landed at the Tugu Hotel in Canggu for about $300/night. (Buying the ticket on a regional airline can be kind of complicated unless you’re already in Indonesia; the websites don’t exactly make it easy.) The hotel was so beautiful I kind of never wanted to leave but there were plenty of other things to see besides the beach and pool, like a monkey jungle straight out of Indiana Jones, temples with waterfalls, hectic markets, and fancy beach bars filled with weird British expats.
Forget the Ritz—Tugu was definitely the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. There are several Tugu Hotels in different parts of Indonesia, along with a few restaurants; owned by antique dealer Anhar Setjadibrata and his daughter Lucienne, they make an effort to introduce you to Indonesian culture and food—in high style, of course.
My room had a huge outdoor balcony with a hot tub; my friend’s room had its own pool and a partially outdoor bathtub with a carp-filled river running through the bathroom. There was a temple in the dining room and altars to various pug-faced Balinese gods on the beach.
The food at Tugu was ridiculously good. Nasi goreng (fried rice with egg and seafood), dim sum, sweet porridge, and your choice between eight coffees from the different Indonesian islands—and that’s just breakfast. The dining was way cheaper than a meal out in NYC, with an emphasis on the various cultural influences of Indonesia (Chinese, Muslim, etc), and if you have a group of people you can be served various banquets in the style of different royal palaces and time periods. Epic!
We rented a van with a tour guide—I think it cost about $100 for the day, but you can probably get it cheaper—to drive us around the island, which is rather large. (If you are feeling brave, you should definitely rent a motorbike—that’s what everyone rides.). People told us to not go to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud like it was some awful tourist trap, but it was pretty amazing. For about $4, you get to watch thousands of monkeys roaming free everywhere: boning, fighting, sitting on people’s laps and trying to steal their cameras, all in a setting straight out of Indiana Jones with hanging vines and crumbling temples. Really amazing.
Amongst temples and rice paddies is an amazing waterfall that I was led to by a seriously leather-skinned lady farmer who kept flashing me her tits. I didn’t want to go skinny dipping but it was beautiful nonetheless and afterward we drank some young coconuts surrounded by roosters at our feet. Highly recommended!
We also checked out Ku De Ta in Seminyak. It’s a bar full of rich European and American expats laying on beds, eating appetizers, and watching the sun go down over the waves while a DJ plays ambient house. Vibe-wise, you could have been anywhere from South Beach to South Africa, but you really can’t be mad at it. The Rock Bar in Jimbaran Bay is also supposed to be good on an outdoor oceanfront tip.
Cliktrips Tips: Read the NY Times recent article entitled “36 Hours in Bali” for more tips. They also recommend staying at Uma Sapna—a collection of small villas with private pools and spas starting at $175/night. And for more places to stay, check out i-escape‘s picks of the best boutique hotels in Bali. They have a nice selection of cool hotels to fit every budget.