Bali has quickly become one of the top destinations among backpackers and digital nomads. It is known for being a melting pot of different interests. It’s a place where you can enjoy a yoga retreat in the morning and then have some drinks and dance the night away. There’s something for everyone there. People may imagine Bali to be a small part of Indonesia. On the contrary, Bali has quite a few areas which cater to different interests. In this post, we’ll talk about Canggu and see if it is the Bali destination for you.
When people say Bali, usually the first places that come to mind are Ubud or Seminyak. Both have great things to do as well but we’ll discuss them more in later posts. Canggu may not be as popular as those two but it is quickly making a name for itself among the more bohemian crowd.
It’s about a 30-minute drive from Seminyak if there’s traffic, closer if there isn’t. Most people who visit Bali hire a driver because it is quite inexpensive. People usually head over to Canggu for the picturesque rice fields.
I passed through Canggu during one of my first visits to Bali. At the time we only passed by for the day to go horseback riding. It was then that we were able to chat with some of the ex-pats who live there. They shared that one of the main reasons they chose to live in Canggu was because it was near the sea and removed from the more commercial areas of Bali. It was true when in Canggu you don’t see an overflow of places that look like tourist traps. In Canggu you feel like you have a lot more room to roam, to explore. Those images of people on motorbikes driving through fields of greenery, those are from Canggu.
Some people call Canggu a hipster destination. I can see where they would get that idea. There are a lot of interesting art galleries and cozy cafes in this area. What sets these cafes apart from the other cafes in Bali, you may ask? Their view is incomparable. You can enjoy a delicious brunch made out of the freshest ingredients, in the middle of a rice field. It makes for quite the Instagram photo.
While most tourists would rather go to the beach clubs in Seminyak, Canggu beaches are meant for relaxing and sunbathing. But more than that, they’re the chosen beaches of the surfer crowd. You’ll find long-haired foreigners weaving through the cars, balancing a surfboard on their small motorbikes on the way to catch some waves. The waters are a lot rougher than the beaches in Seminyak so it is more for experienced surfers. The vibe on these beaches is entirely different. The crowd is mostly young people looking to make new friends. When you’re in Seminyak and faced with all the establishments you can get overwhelmed by trying to visit and do as much as possible. In Canggu, time seems to stand still.
Another part of what makes Canggu a haven for those looking for more alternative activities is the bustling community of skaters. They’ve put up some cool skate parks, which are landmarked by their colourful murals. It’s become a haven for all kinds of artists. If you’re looking for a place to get a permanent memento of your time there, this is also where the best tattoo parlours are. For the little ones or those who are young at heart, there is also the Splash Water Park. Not the largest water park but one that young kids will definitely enjoy. You may be worried because it seems like Canggu is a little more removed than other places in Bali. You may be thinking that there isn’t much to do. But that is certainly not the case.
One of the biggest selling points of Bali is the affordable and luxe accommodations available. If you’ve been to Seminyak you’ll know that there are in fact plenty of lovely villas up for grabs. But in Canggu, you can get villas twice the size for the same price. Just a quick search through Airbnb and you will find some of the most gorgeous villas on display. The prices will have you wanting to book right away.
While you can visit Canggu for the day, I urge you to schedule a least a few days to stay there. If it’s your first time in Bali it would be a great idea to spread out your time between Seminyak, Ubud, and Canggu. But whether you stay for a day or more, one place you absolutely must visit in Canggu is Tanah Lot. It is one of the most famous temples in Bali because of the extraordinary view at sunset. Drive there around 5 pm, pick up a snack at one of the stalls, and then find a nice bench to sit and wait for the sunset.
So if you are going to Bali looking for a party scene then Canggu may not be the place for you. But if you’re looking for a place to settle, relax, and steer clear of all the noise then Canggu is just the place for you. Just a note, while Seminyak is a lot easier to explore on foot, in Canggu I suggest you rent a bike or car. If you are deciding between Ubud and Canggu, I would choose the latter. Canggu has a lot of the same things that Ubud does but with the addition of being by the ocean. If you are looking for massages, spas, and yoga classes you will be happy to know that those are aplenty in Canggu. I do suggest that you visit Canggu with your family or a group of friends. Because it is a lot bigger, and even the villas on offer are larger it would be better enjoyed as a group.
I hope I’ve painted a picture of what you can expect from Canggu. Bali in general is an incredible place to explore. It’s become quite the stomping ground for freelancers and digital nomads. I hope that if you get a chance to visit Bali you give yourself more than a few days to take it all in and fully experience it. While there are never-ending options for the things you can do in Bali, one thing you must not miss out on is relaxing. If you have a day to spare, let it be to laze around in your wonderful Bali villa. Stock your kitchen with food and drinks. Order a massage and then sit back, relax, and embrace the Balinese life.