Bali: Living the Life of a Digital Nomad
The small island of Bali in Indonesia fascinates many people, favoured as a tropical paradise and holiday heaven for everyone. After a short vacation in 2017, it was time to give Bali another go. So I flew there to check out its famous digital nomad scene.
Bali is a convenient 3-4 hour direct flight from most Southeast Asian cities (and even Perth, Australia). Or, if you travel on a budget like me, reachable via a stopover in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. It will take about ten hours but who's counting, right?
Daily Life: Finding a place to stay and sightseeing
The great thing about spending more than one or two weeks in the same location is flexibility in accommodation. Forget about expensive hotels and crowded hostels! There are plenty of flatshare and rental groups on Facebook; simply join a few and take a look at the available options. I got lucky in Canggu Community Housing and found a beautiful villa in Umalas, sharing with two girls and two even cuter dogs.
Co-working and getting things done
I was wondering: are people actually working or just tanning at the beach and surfing? Truth is, they do both. If you really are a digital nomad you must have good time management and discipline. Schedules may differ, working hours change, but it's all about a good work-life balance. Especially in Bali, there are plenty of options to fill your free time. For me, mornings (I usually get up around 6 or 7 am) are designated to sports; followed by checking emails and current to-dos; then heading to one of the many amazing vegan restaurants or co-working spaces (e.g. Living Food Lab) to work for a few hours and ending the day watching sunset at the beach, going for dinner and reading a book.
Mixing up routine in Bali
Another advantage of staying a whole month in Bali is not being stressed about sightseeing. Soon you will know your neighbourhood, found your favourite café in the area and are good at avoiding tourist traps. However, every now and then it's important to escape your routine. Of course, there are fancy beach clubs, such as Potato Head and Finn's, to enjoy yourself and if you haven't been it's worth a visit. Only once I ventured to Seminyak for a night out, which turned out to be fun, but obviously full of crazy party goers. Much rather I love to take my scooter and head to waterfalls in the jungle or explore rice terraces. And if you want to take some time completely off, I can highly recommend a yoga retreat in the Gilis or sleeping at the beach in Uluwatu.
Sounds all nice and fancy – but how much does it cost?
To be honest: Bali can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like. My room was about 300€ for a month. Food can be any price, from 5€ to 20€ a day, depending on how many smoothie bowls and rice paper rolls you crave. Obviously, the western and vegan restaurants are more pricey and if you fancy a cocktail it will set you back about the same amount. To rent a scooter is 3-4€ per day plus occasional parking fees and petrol.
Would I go back?
Yes. Maybe. Actually, after spending a month in Bali and experiencing this kind of lifestyle, I understand why so many people call it home. It is easy to get around, people speak English, locals are friendly, there are plenty of delicious and healthy food options, and the island offers so much to explore. It is highly likely Bali will see me again soon :)
Best vegan places with good wifi
Working from home is fun. Working from a nice restaurant while sipping freshly pressed juice and indulging in smoothie bowls even better. Here is my list of favourite vegan places with good wifi in Bali.
This plant-based café/co-working space and biker's shop is conveniently located on Jalan Pantai Berawa in Canggu. The menu features some of the best vegan treats, from salad bowls to pancakes, burgers and delicious desserts, such as cakes, chocolate bars and brownies.
This was my go-to breakfast stop while living in Umalas, as it was just a short 3-minute ride down the road. While serving normal food, they have quite a few fully vegan dishes, such as avocado toast and, hands down, the most delicious scrambled tofu I've ever had. And let's not forget about that smoothie bowl!
Discovered during my first trip to Bali, it was only a matter of time to return to one of my favourite vegan cafés in Seminyak. 100% plant-based. 100% goodness. An extensive menu with all your vegan heart desires and a huge selection of protein balls, raw cakes, bounty bars, cakes and brownies in the fridge to enjoy as dessert or take-away for later (or both, I won't tell).
Probably the most well-known vegan hotspot in Bali, Café Organic now has three locations across the island. While Seminyak and Canggu are smaller cafés, the Umalas location is beautifully nestled in rice fields with generous open-air space. Their menu is just great and has to be tried at least one time... or twice… or four times (oops!). Highly recommend the pulled marinated jackfruit bao buns and one of their signature dishes, the Buffalo Cauli Wings.
This not-so-secret-anymore spot in Canggu is likely my favourite thanks to its cosy and welcoming interior design, friendly staff and, of course, the food. While their homemade ravioli with cashew cheese is great for dinner, the fruit bowl with deliciously creamy coconut yoghurt and the roasted veggies on top of hummus, pesto and crunchy toast make a perfect breakfast combo. They also serve frozen yoghurt (at that time 1 vegan flavour) and raw chocolate treats from the counter!
Bonus: Grocery shopping can be a hassle. Especially with all the unnecessary plastic wrappings! It's time to think green and find more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions. Bring your own containers to the Zero Waste Bulk Food Store and get the best dried fruits (OMG those Medjool dates!), nuts, rice, quinoa, oils and everything a healthy soul can ask for.
Yoga retreat in the Gilis
A remote island. White sandy beaches and a fresh coconut in my hand. I was dreaming of a relaxing weekend getaway to take some time off work, social media, and the hustle and bustle of Bali. A Yoga retreat in the Gilis sounded perfect.
Arriving at Gili Air, crystal clear water awaits you. Make your way straight through the crowds as your accommodation is most probably in walking distance. Check in to the Flower & Fire Yoga Retreat while sipping a refreshing welcome drink.
It is time to explore. After all, the island can be circled in 1h by bicycle or in about 2 hours on foot. I chose the first option. However, you will get stuck in deep sand after a short while and continue pushing your bicycle for at least half of the way. Passing seafood restaurants, hippie bars and jewellery stands, looking out for a secluded strip of beach. Stopping at one of the ocean-front resorts with lounges to rest and getting a fresh coconut.
Starting the next day with a 90-minute class of Embodied Flow, followed by a tropical smoothie bowl for breakfast. Noontime is beach time, again. I decided to leave all distracting devices at the centre or in flight mode, so no phone, no book, no music, no laptop. Just me and my thoughts restoring energy and soaking up the sun.
The yoga centre offers classes throughout the day, hence, after some hours at the beach it is time to go back and join the afternoon session. This time Restorative Yoga – a practice aimed at opening the body through passive stretching. The long holds of individual positions allow to slow down and breath deeply, even falling asleep is allowed.
In the evening you may explore the night scene of the island. Just kidding! There is not really such thing. You may have some cocktails at the beach, enjoy dinner with live music or go to a spa for a relaxing massage instead. And sometimes, this is simply all you need!
Sleeping at the beach in Uluwatu
If you haven't been to Uluwatu yet, you should visit now! I found myself in your shoes and figured I will use my last days on the island to drive to the Bukit Peninsula. Spectacular cliffs and a surfer's paradise, here we go!
Uluwatu is a 1h scooter drive from Canggu and requires a risky ride along Sunset Road. Once you pass the airport, your destination is close. Make sure to look out for police controls – I was unlucky with that (and will remain silent about this incident).
There are heaps of beaches to stay at. Eventually, I decided for an Airbnb at Bingin Beach and couldn't have made a better choice. Directly located at the beach, my balcony opened up to the ocean and welcomed me with astonishing views every morning. Oh, and at night I would listen to the waves while stargazing.
Bukit has a lot to offer, so better get started with exploring. First stop at Pura Luhur, a Balinese Hindu temple situated on top of a massive cliff formation. Get ready to be amazed by the blue tones of the ocean and the rich green of the vegetation while hiding from the sneaky monkeys.
Later that day, after freshening up back at my Airbnb, I made my way down to Single Fin. While most people hurry into the famous venue for sunset, I recommend to take the flight of stairs down and go to one of the smaller bars. Cheaper beer, fewer people, front-row sunset view... sounds about right, I guess? And I have to admit, this sunset earned its spot on my Top 10 list.
While it is tempting to stay at only one beach and not walk up and down all the steps every day, I still wanted to check on some other spots. While Green Bowl Beach is famous among surfers, the cliff road to Melasti Beach will take your breath away. However, this place is perfect for adventures and you might find your own hidden gem and favourite spots off the beaten track. I found mine at Thomas Beach – a long stretch of sand with local eateries and bars, almost empty for sunset time and perfect to enjoy a tranquil evening.