A day trip to Canggu and Tanah Lot
Having visited Bali a dozen or so times, we tend to stay in the very popular area of Seminyak to be close to the growing number of amazing restaurants and lots of great shopping. But as Bali becomes more and more developed in the southern part of the island, we’re always looking for new places to stay and visit.
Over the past couple of years, the “new” and no longer secret area of Canggu kept coming up in conversation with fellow Bali travellers. It’s located just five or so kilometres north of Seminyak, but being Bali, don’t let the short distance fool you – the travel time with all the traffic takes over a half hour.
Wanting to finally see for myself what all the fuss was about, and picturing quaint fishing huts lined on the beach and a bunch of hippies and surfers drinking beers and the local pub, I arranged a driver for the day to explore the area. Since I was going to be heading north, I thought it was about time I visited the very popular, and certainly not off the beaten path, Tanah Lot temple. While I tend to avoid tourist sites that are busy because of their accessibility, the water ringed temple looked pretty amazing in pictures so I figured it would be worth braving the crowds.
With a driver picking me up just before 9am and needing to be back in Seminyak by 7pm, I had the following plan for the day:
- A quick stop at La Laguna Bali Restaurant and Beach bar to see how it compares to the beach clubs in Seminyak. While I’d had a drink (or three) at the very popular Potato Head and Ku De Ta beach clubs, I hadn’t yet ventured further north.
- A mid morning brunch at one of the cafes in Canggu
- Some shopping along Jl. Pantai Brawa
- A quick peek at the famous and very beautiful ocean ringed temple of Tanah Lot
- Canggu beach for beach side beers at Old Man’s and catching the sunset from the deck at the Lawn Canggu
Laguna Beach Club
My first stop was a quick wander around Laguna Beach Club to see how it compares to Seminyak’s beach clubs. In a nutshell, they couldn’t be any more different, but that’s ok. Laguna Beach Club has a much more relaxed vibe and some pretty interesting drinking spots in converted wagons!
Jl Pantai Brawa
The shopping and cafe area near the corner of Jl Pantai Berawa and Jl Pantai Berawa (tell the driver the area near Pelaton Supershop) has a few cafes and shops to choose from. I opted for an iced coffee at Milk and Madu and veggie burger at the vegan hotspot of Peloton Supershop. There are a few shops a few meters down the road such as Bungalow Living, Sushwar and Bungalow Home. My quick peek on Google maps beforehand made it look like there were way more shops than I could find. Later in the day I realised Jl Pantai Batu Bolong is the better shopping street. Next time!
Located about 20km north of Denpensar, Tanah Lot means “land in the sea”. It’s a very beautiful temple to look at but as expected, the entire area was inundated with tourists and I visited outside of high season (March). As like many of these sites in Asia, there are numerous laneways lined with shops between the car park and the main attraction. All the shops, including one with a sad looking monkey in a cage, took away from the experience. On the other hand, the local people need to make a living, so why shouldn’t they take advantage of the hoards of tourists passing through each day!
I’d guess I was at the temple area, including the walk to and from the car park, for no more than 30 minutes. I was so quick, I had a hard time finding my driver since he wasn’t ready for me when I got back. Since a lot of the cars look the same, I highly recommend being very clear on the timing and location of your pick up point as I spent 15 or so minutes wandering around a hot car park looking for him.
Since I’d planned on being on Canggu for sunset, I was at Tanah Lot during the middle of the day. I’d recommend arriving either really early or for sunset for the best views.
The next and final stop was the very popular Canggu Beach at the end of Jl Pantai Batu Bolong. It didn’t take long to realise that Canggu is no longer ‘off the beaten track’. I had the driver drop me off at the car park next to the beach, we agreed on a time for him to pick me up and then I went off to explore.
My first stop was the soft sand at Canggu Beach. The beach is lined with surfboard filled huts, and the water filled with surfers. If you’re looking for a bit of ocean all to yourself, you might want to look elsewhere. If you’re not into surfing, there’s plenty of sand to lay on and watch the surfers. And if you’re not into either, duck over to Old Man’s for some pub action.
I managed to time my visit with Old Mans’ happy hour so my bintang quickly turned into two 🙂
After a beautiful sunset, my driver was waiting to drive me back to Seminyak. I think a lot of other people had the same idea, and the traffic was crazy! My driver took a back way which was a one-way road and under normal circumstances would have been a short cut. Unfortunately, some tourists decided to go the wrong way down the one-way narrow road and caused major traffic chaos. Eventually we made it to the other side and from there on, the drive back to Seminyak was uneventful.
Would I return to Canggu again? In a heartbeat, though I think I’d stay a night or two instead of a rather rushed day trip. The pubs would have been good to stay at a little longer and the ocean looked very inviting and was calling out to me to go in for a swim!
Have you visited Canggu? What were your highlights? Leave me a comment below 🙂