Just a few short years ago, Canggu, or ‘the Gu’ as it is otherwise known, was little more than a collection of small, sleepy villages scattered amidst the rice fields of Bali’s south-western coast. A lot has changed over the last ten years though and this once little-known part of the island has been transformed into one of the most fashionable and popular neighbourhoods in Bali. Canggu’s beautiful black sand beaches are now lined with surf clubs, capitalising on the fantastic surf breaks, which lie just off the shore, whilst the town itself is now full of stylish boutiques, energetic bars, yoga studios and cafes serving healthy snacks and artisan coffee.
As with many places in Bali, the sheer amount of things to do and places to stay in this area can seem a little overwhelming so we’ve put together a quick guide to Canggu to help you make the most of your time.
A guide to Canggu: Bali’s most chilled out neighbourhood
Where to stay?
First things first, you need to choose which part of Canggu will be best suited to you.
Basically, Canggu can be broken down into six regions: Kerobokan, Umalas, Batu Bolong, Berawa Beach, Echo Beach and Pererenan. Kerobokan and Umalas are both away from the beach, with the former being the location of the infamous Kerobokan jail and the latter having a more pleasant reputation for its restaurant scene and pretty streets. Batu Bolong is the main shopping district, but it also has a great beach area with plenty of bars and surf clubs.
Echo Beach and Berawa Beach are (obviously!) right on the coast and both full of bars, cafes and beach clubs (perfect for kicking back at the end of long day’s surfing and watching one of Bali’s famous sunsets). Pererenan is Canggu’s most chilled out neighbourhood. With great views of the paddy fields, quiet streets and plenty of ancient temples, this is the perfect place for those wanting a quiet family holiday, or for anyone who just wants to get away from life’s hustle and bustle for a while.
Where to sleep?
There is a huge range of accommodation options in Canggu, ranging from 5-star private villas to cheap and cheerful hostels. Here is my pick of some of the best:
On a budget: The Papaya Guest House
This is a friendly little guest house in a quiet street not far from Batu Bolong. There are eight well-appointed rooms that can be rented for as little as $55 per night. With a central pool and terraced area as well as a communal kitchen, this is a great place to socialise and maybe make a few new friends.
Middle of the road: The Slow
This boutique hotel is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the places to stay in Bali. It is the passion project of fashion designer George Gorrow and his model wife Cisco. The artistic background of its owners is clear in every aspect of the building, from the soothing tones and tropical greenery of the interior to the corrugated iron of its outer wall. How many other hotels can boast their own radio station and art gallery? Not to mention, the onsite restaurant, Eat & Drink, is probably one of the best in Bali.
Living the high life: Villa Shalimar
Idea for large groups, Villa Shalimar actually consists of several villas of differing sizes (even the smallest of which is truly luxurious) in beautifully landscaped, private gardens. All the villas come with large kitchens and bathrooms, an indoor/outdoor living area, private pools and butler service. If you really want a bit a luxury, why not have the executive chef tailor make a menu for you and have it served in the privacy of your own villa? Completing the luxurious experience are infinity pools at the front of each villa overlooking the ocean.
What to do?
Horse ride on the beach
Canggu is full of stables that offer riding tours through local villages, paddy fields and beaches so if you’ve ever dreamt of galloping through the surf on a tropical island, this is the place for you! Most of the stables are set up to cater for riders of all ages and levels of ability. Bali Horse Adventure is a good option, especially if you are travelling with very young children, as their animals are well looked after and they stable ponies as well as horses, which are obviously more suitable for very small riders.
Finns Beach Club
Finns really should be visited by all visitors to Bali no matter where they are staying. Those based in Canggu are lucky enough to have it right on their doorstep. This is a world class venue comprised of bars, cafes, a sports centre, a spa and a waterpark.
Canggu has become something of a mecca for those looking to find their zen and it seems there is a new yoga studio springing up every week. I recommend having a look at one called Serenity – they specialise in vinyasa, acroyoga and restorative yoga and will not be beaten for price. They offer a multi-class pass making them a great option for those who want to make yoga the focus of their trip and they also have a delicious vegan cafe.
Where to eat?
A major part of Canggu’s appeal comes from the recent explosion of fantastic cafes and restaurants that has turned it into a must-visit destination for foodies. That said, here are a couple of places that aren’t to be missed:
This is a cafe/restaurant that is great for either hungry diners (they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) or digital nomads looking for a decent coffee and a plug socket. The menu covers an extensive range of cuisines including Japanese, American and Moroccan and vegans, veggies and carnivores are all well represented.
Ji is probably one of the best places in Bali to enjoy the sunset. Head up to the 3rd floor for a panoramic view of the coast and, as the sun goes down, enjoy a few of their signature cocktails before dining on world-class sushi.
The Shady Shack
Another one of Canggu’s many venues open for breakfast lunch and dinner is The Shady Shack. It also works equally well as a place to come for coffee and a healthy snack, or, for a hearty meal. The menu is entirely veggie / vegan, but, if you are a carnivore, don’t let that put you off as the food here is delicious enough to make even the most dedicated meat-eater reconsider their life choices! From the outside, the building looks like a giant beach hut, whilst inside, the decor is bright and funky. The surrounding tropical gardens make for the perfect setting in which to enjoy a tasty smoothie or an ice cold latte.
Where to shop?
Whilst not quite as good for shopping as its neighbour, Seminyak, Canggu still has its fair share of funky boutiques and quirky street markets.
This vibrant market, held every Sunday by Balinese farmers and craftworkers, is a great way to see another side to Bali and to give a little bit back to the local people. Organic produce makes up the majority of what you will find here, but it is also a good place to come for a bit of clothing and a few souvenirs.
This gorgeous homewares store and art gallery started out as a simple cafe a few years ago. The owner’s travels around Asia have inspired a beautiful collection of wooden furniture, toys and soft furnishings that are perfect for anyone wanting to take a bit of Bali back home with them.
Where to party?
Nightlife in the Gu is a more laid-back affair than in the aforementioned Seminyak but there are still plenty of great options to choose from.
This really is the old man of the Canggu bar scene but it’s still a great place for a wild night out (its also a good place to hang out during the day). There’s a great view of the sea, very reasonably priced drinks and some pretty good pub food. There’s also a nightly happy hour, plenty of djs, live music, dancing and, on Wednesday nights, enough drinking games to ensure that your evening will be an ‘interesting’ one!
The Sand Bar
For the ultimate sunset and drinks experience, The Lawn in Canggu is the place to be. Best on a Friday night, place yourself on one of the rustic wooden tables or woven ground mats on the lawn and enjoy some of the most delicious cocktails in Canggu. Be sure to get in early as it fills up fast!
Planning a trip to Bali soon? Check out our other posts to inspire your travels!
- A Foodie’s Guide to Seminyak, Bali
- A Quick Guide to Ubud: Where to Eat, Play and Stay
- Inside Bali’s Hindu Temples
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Over to you: what else would you add to our guide to Canggu?