Handbag designer Michelle Lai shares her tips as she eat, pray, loves her way through our exclusive MISCHA Bali Travel Guide
I’ve been eat, pray, loving my way through Bali for a few years now. It’s definitely got a special energy that makes it stand apart of the other tropical paradises in the region. From romantic holidays, dive trips and tough yoga retreats to party weekends, I always discover something magical, impressive and inspiring here. Though it takes me a couple of days to adjust to the pace of Bali, I’m lucky to be able to work from here. And it’s the time I spent here that inspired my resort collection – The Hideaway Collection. I wanted to share some tried a true tips with you.
BREAKFAST . LUNCH . DINNER
MILK & MADU
This place is buzzing with digital nomads, managing their lives and businesses with the sun in their hair and amazing coffee in hand. I love to start my morning at Milk & Madu, watching the hippy families indulging in their coffees and Nalu bowls while getting a bit of work done.
Home to really great pizza and beautiful people, Da Maria has an extensive Italian menu should you have a carb craving. There’s a lively bar at the front of the restaurant where you can get pre-dinner drinks and after hours. The resident DJs transform the restaurant into another creature. Expect long dinners here.
Walking into La Laguna, it feels eerily like an abandoned carnival ground, surrounded by crumbling mini wooden trailers. You can even get a tarot reading by a Balinese psychic (Yes I did). The restaurant is a bohemian lounge with an open-air area where you can admire the breathtaking sunset.
Hidden away in the Balinese jungle, this cafe overlooks a valley of rice paddy fields and is a peaceful escape from busy Ubud town. The Elephant offers scrumptious vegetarian food and Balinese coffee.
See also: Best 13 Wellness Retreats in Bali
I have a thing for bamboo, so Bambu Indah, which was founded by John and Cynthia Hardy, was top of my list of places to visit in Ubud. Designers and Bali eco lifestyle pioneers, the couple bought and restored eleven antique Javanese bridal homes in 2005 and turned them into a quiet eco sanctuary. If you can make time, also pre-book the bamboo tour of their Green Village and Green School. And even though John Hardy jewelry is no longer owned by the designer himself, do schedule a lunch at the jewelry compound, where they’ve implemented their first visions and ideas of a bamboo village.
TEGALLALANG RICE PADDY FIELDS
This is one of the most breathtaking sites to behold. Located north of Ubud, Tegallalang is a half-day trip. So make sure to hire a car to take you there. Overlooking the valley and standing at the very top where it’s cool and breezy, take in the jaw-dropping vistas. After exploring the terraces by foot and numerous photo opportunities later, relax in one of the cute cafes along the hillside.
See also: The Other Side of Bali
THINGS TO DO
Hailing from Double Bay, Sydney, this is more of an afternoon lounging and gliding effortlessly into sundowners, kind of place. Mrs Sippy has this cool relaxed Arizona desert vibe. The food is surprisingly good and the menu diverse for a beach club. After sunset, the mood does a 180-degree turn.
POTATO HEAD BEACH CLUB
Still one of my fave places for sundowners, Potato Head Bali’s ocean front setting, laid-back sunset vibes and great DJs make it a unique Bali experience. Make it there by late afternoon and book a lounger by the pool. Try on your latest bikini, get sun-kissed and order yourself a martini.
See also: Koh Samui Wellness Guide
Bali and its outlying islands have some of the best dive sites in the region. It’s well worth setting aside some time to go diving, and if you’re a beginner, get your PADI license. It opens up a whole new world. Two of my favorite spots that are good for beginners and experienced divers are the wreck at Manta Point and Tulamben. It’s quite a drive up north but you get to see very different scenery along the mountain roads.
After exploring all the temples and rice paddy fields, hardcore yoga classes and surf lessons, you’ll need some pampering, especially if you’ve spent too much time in the sun, your pedicure’s a little worse for wear, and your sexy beach hair isn’t so sexy anymore. Head to Amo Spa for some rejuvenation. I can recommend the AMO Body Scrub, Ultimate Face Time oxygen facial and a mani-pedi, to come out looking like a newborn goddess.
See also: COMO Shambhala Retreat in Bali
This organic cafe, fashion and lifestyle store is one of my favorite destinations in Seminyak. Naturally, we launched our Hideaway Collection here and it is MISCHA’s first home in Bali. Come to Souq Bali for their Australian breakfast classics and organic coffee. The store carries a wide range of international designers, local artisan’s work and you’ll find things here you won’t get in the normal market stalls.
I have to confess, I’m a little obsessed with this place. Besides the charming cafe out front frequented by bloggers and their Instagram husbands, the store itself is a Balinese craft mecca. And the Parisian apartment upstairs takes experiential retail to the next level. It’s hard to leave Kim Soo without buying everything in sight. You’ll find locally crafted sculptures, tableware, bedding, woven baskets and ornaments. My fave find; a teak cheese board for my next dinner party. Best part about shopping at Kim Soo? Its reasonable prices!
If you have a large villa to furnish and a big budget to fit, then you won’t be disappointed at Saya Gallery. The French-owned gallery and concept store sells a range of beautifully crafted furniture, fine jewelry, Balinese antiques and tribal art objects sourced from nearby villages.
Follow Michelle’s journey on Instagram @mischahq and @mich404.
See also: LGBTQ Travel Retreats