Bali – the digital nomad paradise

I visited Bali 5 years ago and I fell in love with this place. When our plans for the Asian digital nomad adventure started to catch shape, Bali was on top of the list. The island is considered by most work and travel peers as the second-best digital nomad paradise in the world, right after Chiang Mai – Thailand. I was lucky enough to work and live in both for 1 month. I can definitely say that Bali is by far my favourite.

Bali was the only destination from the long list of locations planned that I visited in the past. However, it was the place that I was most excited about to experience again. The visa exemption granted us 30 days on the island and we surely made the best out of them. 

A bit about Bali

Also known as the Island of the Gods, Bali is part of the Indonesian archipelago and lays south of the equator line. Despite its size, the island has about 4,2 million inhabitants, if we don’t count the hoards of tourists and digital nomads. The people are Balinese Hindu and not Muslims like in the rest of Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country in the world. There are beautiful Balinese temples and statues of Hindu deities at every corner. Moreover, what you can’t miss are the offerings for the gods for good luck and fortune. The Balinese people offer flowers, cookies, sometimes money and even cigarettes in a beautiful arrangement like a mini basket. What can I say, the gods like a little attention. 

 

 

The island is a tropical paradise with crystal clear waters, lush jungles, waterfalls and mighty active vulcanos. It is probably best knows for the famous rice field terraces, a simple yet stunning sight. There is always something to do here so you won’t be bored, even for 1 month. I would have loved to stay more.

Bali is a friendly place with accepting and smiling people (except those few who try to take advantage of the travellers). It is definitely not as strict as the rest of the country which probably makes it so popular with international tourists. The digital community can be found in 2 villages: Ubud and Canggu, both with different things to offer. While Ubud has nature, yoga, meditation, Canggu gives surfing, nightlife and a bit more of a hipster touch. 

Digital nomad life in Bali

We chose to live in Canggu and the main reason for that was the beach.  After a nightmare start of the adventure due to our Airbnb experience and internet problems, things started to calm down and we found a work and travel routine. This experience was totally different from the one in Bangkok, probably because we already had a bit of experience – 2 weeks!! As you remember, I and Georgij are working European times. Due to the time difference – 7h ahead of Spain, we were working from 3 PM to midnight. Sometimes it was tiring, but it gave us more than half a day to do other things and explore around. 

 

 

We lived in a hostel right by Echo Beach. From our room, you could see a beautiful Balinese temple and the Indian ocean. I am telling you, you can’t get enough of this view. The accommodation is rather cheap in Bali and most of the nomads chose a guesthouse. That was our initial plan as well, but things didn’t go that well. We visited different places to compare pricing and facilities and the hostel by the beach was the winner. You can either book accomodation before or what is easier, book for a night or two and when you arrive here, go and see the places. In this way you know what you get and it’s not more expensive than if you book in advance.

 

Internet, coworking and more

Since my job implies lots of talking on the phone, I had to resume my workdays from “home”. Georgij on the other side worked from the most popular coworking place, Dojo. While I would have loved to do that as well, the environment was not fit for my job. There was a lot of open space, lots of noise, people socializing rather than working and dogs barking. It is not as bad as it sounds, but it wasn’t for me. There are different coworking places to chose from, but Dojo was super close to home and highly rated. If you are into socializing and meeting new people, definitely go for a a shared place. While working from the bed is not the most comfortable thing ever, the fact that I was working from Bali was rewarding enough.

One thing that surprised me the most was the low quality of the internet on the island. Given that people come there for months to work, you would expect some super high-speed internet. While in the coworking there was not a problem, for me, working from the hostel, sometimes it was a struggle. There were 2 days when the internet dropped for a few hours. Another day there was a 5,4 earthquake that also brought it down. We also bought 2 sim cards with data, but the speed was painfully slow. It literally felt like a lottery but eventually, we made it work.

 

Eating out and spending the day

We tried as much as possible to eat breakfast at home. It was mostly porridge to make up for the lack of fibre we had in Asia. Luckily, Canggu is that is full of great places to eat out. We didn’t have to walk more than 5 minutes to find good restaurants. We spent an average 10-15 Eur per person, per day for lunch and dinner. I think we tried over 25 different international and local restaurants aka warung. The standards are very high due to the international community in the village and we rarely had a bad food experience.

 

 

Worth to try: Old Man’s, Shady Shank, Taco Casa, Warun Warunga, The Crate, Santorini, La Brisa for the atmosphere.

A typical day in our digital nomad life in Bali would imply me waking up around 8-9 AM. After breakfast, the biggest dilemma was to choose between going to the swimming pool or to the beach. We did explore a lot of Canggu during the morning as well, but it’s just a village and working on the tan was a high priority. Choosing the place to eat could be also challenging, once you tried most of the nearby restaurants. This was followed by work, another restaurant for dinner, finishing work and sleeping.

 

 

We did try to adventure a bit further from Canggu during the weekdays, but the traffic in Bali proved to be a nightmare. It reminded us a lot of Bangkok. The roads are super narrow, despite having 2 lanes and it was chaos with cars and scooters coming from all directions. To give you an idea, it could take you more than 1h for less than 6km. 

 

Been there, done that: Bali edition

As I was saying, we were spending the weekdays relaxing before work and saved the big adventures for the weekends. And Bali is the right place to be for amazing and unforgettable experiences. It’s hard to believe that a small island can have so many things to do and see. Some of these places I visited during my first trip, but it was still magical to experience them again. Bali was the place when we were constantly tired during the weekend because of all the activities.

Instead of describing in words, I will leave the pictures talk for themselves about my favourite experiences. The order is totally random.

Surfing (again)

 

Sunset at Kuta beach

 

Tegallalang rice field terraces

 

Climbing a volcano to watch to sunrise

 

 

Temples, temples and more temples

 

 

Exploring a canyon

 

 

Swimming in a waterfall

 

 

Snorkelling in Nusa Penida

 

 

Exploring Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan

 

 

Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest

 

 

Driving a scooter around

 

Conclusion

I loved Bali from before and now I love it even more. It is one of my favourite destinations in the entire world and I know for a fact that I will return again. It is for a fact a paradise destination for digital nomads. I don’t think you can ask for more: tropical destination, beachside, affordable, lovely people and the big international community. There are tones of things to do when you are not working so you can’t get bored here. Of course, there are also small inconveniences (traffic, taxis, tourist scams) like in every popular destination but the good ones overcome the bad.  From the 5 destinations I worked and lived until now, Bali is by far my number one.

I loved how relaxed everything seemed here. The rhythm is quite slow and people seem to be happy and enjoy life. I wish I learned more about this while there. I guess I have to come back again.

Until the next time.

AlexD.

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