I’ve never related more to an annoying post-abroad college student than when returning from my honeymoon. I, like those 21-year-old kids coming back from Barthelonaaa, now consider myself an expert on a place where I spent two weeks of my life. However, I did spend a full year researching, mapping out, and planning for this trip, so I like to think I know a little more than those college kids.
Our wedding took place on Saturday, September 7th, and we left for our honeymoon at 9pm on Thursday, September 12th, ultimately landing in Bali at 11am on Saturday, September 14th. I only had 11 vacation days to work with, so I went back to work Monday-Thursday and took an overnight flight to reduce the amount of vacation time I needed to take. First of many pro tips: don’t waste your vacation days on travel days when you can just suck it up and take a late-night flight, which works better with your sleep schedule anyway.
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Officially official!!!! Yesterday was a dream. Shoutout to our friends and family who traveled from near and far and kept this party going well into the morning. @bircheventdesign you created the most amazing atmosphere and @atomicfunkproject is the best band I’ve ever heard. love my hubby @justin_rothberg 🍾🍾🍾🍾 #rothbergAF
Let’s talk geography for a moment: Bali is an island in Indonesia, and is 600 miles east of the capital, Jakarta. It is also 1,600 miles north of Perth in Western Australia. To put this in perspective, Bali is to Australia what Mexico is to people in the U.S.—something I learned after asking the 200th blacked out Australian I met during my trip. They LOVE to rage. Also surprising to me was that we only met ONE other American during the ENTIRE trip (a couple from Cali who were also on their honeymoon)—everyone else was from Asia or Australia. My husband loved this and kept saying over and over, this is definitely the right honeymoon move since it isn’t infiltrated by Americans. (I think those Americans he was referring to got off the plane in the Amalfi Coast and/or Greece.) Another pro tip: if you’re looking to get away from Americans during your honeymoon, choose a place that is at least 16+ hours from your point of origin.
To be fully transparent, we were originally looking to go to the Amalfi Coast and then Greece, but the price of one hotel room in Positano was the equivalent of six nights in a hotel in Bali, for the exact same luxury offerings. Yes, you read that correctly. Bali is CHEAP AS F*CK, and you won’t skimp on quality. The most expensive dinner in a restaurant we had in Bali was $90. NINETY DOLLARS. Rooms are cheap, food is cheap, booze is cheap, shopping is cheap, and transportation is cheap. You name it, it’s cheap, which is why YOU DO NOT NEED A TRAVEL AGENT. They are a rip-off. But more on that later.
We decided to explore Bali’s three most popular, yet very distinct areas, take a three-day trip to Komodo Island, and hit Singapore for 24 hours on the way home (we had a layover through there heading to Bali, so we wanted to take advantage coming back). We started off the trip in Bali’s party area, Canggu/Seminyak, which we thought was the best decision. Immediately upon landing, we went right to a beach club, which also helped us adjust to the time difference. We then went for the complete opposite vibe in Komodo Island before flying back to Bali to spend time in Ubud, the jungle area, and Uluwatu, the cliffside surfing and partying area.
I can’t sit still, but my husband (so weird to say!) likes to chill, so we had a combo of both during the trip. With that being said, here is our itinerary, which I planned completely by myself after our travel agent fired us twice, because I kept trying to out-plan her. Pro tip: travel agents are “free,” but they receive kickbacks and commission from the hotels, so the prices they give you for things are often inflated if you compare them to the prices on Expedia or the property’s website. I quickly realized this, and decided to plan the trip myself so that we could save a ton of money and do more things. If you are staying for longer than 12 days, you could explore places like the Gili Islands and Nusa Penida. We just didn’t have the time for that and wanted to maximize our days by seeing and doing the most possible.
We stayed at Ametis Villa, where we legit lived like royalty for ~$335/night. We had an entire VILLA to ourselves that was made up of an outdoor kitchen, indoor/outdoor bathroom, king-size bed, private pool, and outdoor living room. The package we got included welcome massages, daily breakfast for two, a butler, car service around the area, and transportation to/from the airport. This was actually recommended by the travel agent, but it was cheaper to book it through Expedia (we got the same perks).
We opted to stay in Canggu instead of Seminyak for a more local and authentic experience, as recommended by my friend who moved to Bali from California (shout-out to you, Amanda Forth of The Crystal Boutique—more on that later). Seminyak is more commercialized (think Hyatt and Marriott type hotels).
– Arrive at villa
– Go to Mrs Sippy Beach Club
– We booked a daybed reservation in advance, but the cost of the reservation can be applied to food and drinks. This is the case at every beach club, which is amazing, considering when you buy a table in NYC, you literally only get the table and then have to buy booze on top of it.
– Dinner at the Ametis restaurant, Billy Ho
– ‘Back Room’ at Mason Restaurant (the current ‘it’ place for locals, recommended by Amanda)
– Amo Spa: this local “hangover” spot was recommended by Amanda. Locals have monthly memberships where you can get massages, use the steam room and sauna, and soak in their outdoor cold plunge pools and jacuzzis.
– Shopping/wandering at the Love Anchor Shops, an indoor/outdoor marketplace (make sure you bargain—start at 1/5 the price and go up from there)
– Brunch at La Brisa (this was in my top three places we visited)
– Finns Beach Club, voted the world’s best beach club; this was my husband’s favorite place. Think Vegas on steroids.
– Go home to change for dinner and going out
– Dinner at Merah Putih—this place was awesome!! We each got apps, main courses, and four cocktails for $90. You’re basically dining in an atrium.
– Motel Mexicola: this was also in the top three because you can dance on tables—evidence below (click through).
– Barre class at The Canggu Studio
– Lunch at Loft Canggu
– More shopping and wandering around town
– Drinks at The Lawn (loved this place, had a pool directly overlooking the beach)
– La Plancha for sunset. These are the colorful bean bags you see on Instagram—worth it!!
– Dinner at La Lucciola—great Italian food right on the beach, but they do have a dress code
– Post-dinner drinks at Potato Head Beach Club
– Dancing and partying at La Favela Bar Y Restaurant—this was the number-one partying spot we went to. They have the same owners as La Plancha.
– Husband’s birthday!
– Fly to Komodo to stay at Ayana Komodo
– Private dinner on yoga deck
– Full day of relaxation at the hotel
– Dinner at hotel
– Take shuttle from hotel into town to explore
– Full Day Boat Tour through the hotel which includes hiking on Padar Island, visiting Pink Sand Beach & Rinca Island to see the Komodo Dragon (willlllld), and snorkeling to search for Manta Rays. Big pro tip: The people in Bali are photo pros. It looks like we’re on top of that dragon but we’re probably 10 feet away, and they angle your phone so it looks like you’re on top of it. This will become important again, so remember it.
– Dinner at hotel
– Early flight back to Bali
– Check in to The Udaya Resorts And Spa Ubud
– Trek through Tegalalang Rice Terrace (included in hotel honeymoon package)
– 100 Candlelight Dinner at Swept Away at Samaya Ubud. This was our splurge meal, but it was a private candlelit dinner along the river and you only honeymoon once (hopefully).
– Head into town to walk around and check out No Mas Cocktail Bar
Saturday, we toured East Bali. But before we get to the places we visited, here is another pro tip: Ubud is where you are going to do most of your sightseeing, and that requires either a driver or tour set up through the hotel or another company. Our original travel agent was trying to push $400+ tours on us, which I thought was a little ridiculous, because you didn’t even have a say in what you were visiting. Instead, I went on Yelp and found a highly recommended personal driver named Wayan. He only charged us FIFTY dollars per day to drive us around to locations WE CHOSE. If you are traveling to any area of Bali, hit up this man either through WhatsApp (+6283119035088) or Instagram DM (profile here).
Also, beware—Instagram is a great resource when booking travel, but half the time what you are seeing IS A LIE. I came across this place, Temple Of Lempuyang. Wayan informed us this is the worst tourist trap in Bali. People drive two hours to wait two more hours to get this photo:
Looks awesome, right? Jumping through a building and having it reflected in the water below? Worth the wait for the ‘Gram, you think. Hah. What you don’t see is that there is a local sitting there with a deli counter-esque number distributor for you to get a number to wait on line AND another local with a MIRROR to create the reflection that you think is some sort of body of water. So you wait two hours for the photo, BUT IT ISN’T EVEN A REAL PHOTO!!!!!!
We went anyway because it was near other sites we were checking out and Wayan said we could sneak a pic from the back of the temple, plus there were other attractions at this location. Here is the photo from behind this temple:
The places we visited were the Temple Of Lempuyang, Tirta Gangga, Taman Ujung Water Palace, and the Besakih Temple. Tirta Gangga (first pic below) was a cool place to see, but again, it is literally another Instagram trap. You are stranded on these little floating discs while you wait for people to have photoshoots. We went, hopped through the exit (lol), took a few pics, and left. My favorite place we visited this day was the Taman Ujung Water Palace (second pic below).
After we got back from the tour we did a candlelight dinner in the Rooftop Yoga Hut at the hotel that was included in our honeymoon package (probably valued at $250).
– Another full day of touring with Wayan
-Monkey Forest and North Bali Tour that included a swing park and a hike to Nungnung Waterfall
– Check in to Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, to live in the lap of luxury.
– Dinner at Kobu at Ritz Carlton
It didn’t take us that long to realize that half the sites are Instagram traps, and once you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen most (don’t mean to offend, but halfway through this day we were over long drives to sightsee). The monkey visit was definitely a highlight of the trip. If you look through Instagram, you’ll see monkey selfies all over. How the hell do you get a monkey to take a selfie? Well first of all, you don’t. You sit there while one of the workers teases a monkey and then takes a photo at an upward angle from your phone (similar to the dragon situation). This was one IG trap we got behind.
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