I recently spent a month in Canggu on the south coast of Bali in Indonesia. Pronounced “chang-goo,” this resort village is becoming one of the trendiest parts of Bali to visit. Canggu seemingly attracts young travelers with its hip vibe, endless sun, and incredible surf.
If you are considering vacationing in Canggu or even living there as a digital nomad, here's a real guide to Canggu from someone who has actually been there!
To quickly entice you to Canggu here are some of the best things I did whilst visiting the town. Whilst they are by no means the only things to do in Canggu they were some of my favorite experiences from my month on the island. Whilst there are many enjoyable things to do in Canggu like going surfing, visiting the Tanah Lot Temple, and hitting the beaches, sometimes the simple things are what you really remember from a trip.
One of the best things about Canggu is how walkable it is. Everything you need is in the immediate area and even if it’s a little further afield it’s so nice to walk around the streets of Canggu. For those solo travelers it also feels safe in Canggu, so walking alone in the day is no problem. Even when the sun starts beaming down on you the coastal breeze makes it enjoyable.
If you are a foodie, then you absolutely must visit Canggu. Literally everywhere you turn there is an exquisite food place. Even in my month-long stay I wasn’t able to try nearly as much as I wanted to. The highlight of my culinary delights was definitely eating at Inklusiv Warung. This is one of those places where you come away not just having eaten excellent food but also with bags of positive energy. Inklusiv Warung translates to “Inclusive Eatery”, and it certainly is that. In an interior of rainbow filled walls many of the wait staff are Deaf or marginalized individuals. In Indonesia the Deaf community still struggles with basic rights and employment so this is a fantastic initiative by the owners.
You just cannot go to Canggu without visiting the beach at sunset. Canggu has three beaches in total with many just outside the village’s boundaries. These beaches are Batu Balong, Berawa and Echo Beach. One of the best beaches for sunset is Echo Beach. You can grab snacks and drinks from one of the local warungs (small family-owned eatery) and sit on the beach whilst the sun sets. You just cannot beat a Balinese sunset!
There are some great beaches to visit in the area but one of the best for sunset is Echo Beach.
Bali itself is a treasure trove of attractions, nature spots, and culture. Whilst there are a ton of things to see and do in Bali, here are three of my favorite experiences from my time on the island.
Calling all swimmers and underwater enthusiasts! Free diving at the Nusa Penida is an unforgettable experience. You may not know your own capabilities yet when it comes to holding your breath under water, but humans are surprisingly good at it if you know how. There are places on the Nusa Penida where you can learn to free dive, or if you are experienced you can head out to see Indonesia’s underwater delights. Not only are there a diverse range of fish but there’s also Temple Point, an underwater Buddhist temple.
A popular tourist attraction but one well worth seeing is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. This nature reserve/temple is home to around 340 monkeys, specifically long-tailed Macaques. The site is pretty big so you can wander around for quite a while searching for monkeys (which are very easy to find) and cute babies. Remember to keep your wits about you in the forest as these monkeys are well known thieves. There are signs with rules around the forest, it's definitely worth taking note of them.
Of Indonesia’s 147 volcanoes, Mount Batur is perhaps the most iconic. Located in the Kintamani highlands on the northeast part of the island, this volcano is a must see. You might be thinking, gosh I didn’t prepare myself for a 1,717 meter high hike. Not to worry you can actually head up Mount Batur in a convertible. You can take a VW jeep right up the volcano. On your way you will pass by rice paddies, temples, and quaint local villages. The views from the top of Mount Batur are simply breathtaking, completely otherworldly. You literally get to stand above the clouds and marvel at the views of Mount Agung in the distance. Oh, and the added thrill of knowing you are standing on an active volcano is enough to blow any geographer lover's mind.
The Downside of Canggu
Time for the real part of this Canggu guide. While overall Canggu is a fabulous destination, there were some pretty major downsides to life in a popular Balinese village.
Sadly, as is the case with many beautiful destinations, Canggu has become extremely tourist focused. I felt like it was hard to absorb Balinese culture in Canggu. This ability to learn about local life is much more accessible in the equally popular Ubud. Whilst on the topic of tourists it must be said that many of the tourists in Canggu behaved pretty poorly. I had an overwhelming sense that the tourists visiting were completely indifferent to locals and their culture, instead thriving off the ‘expat lifestyle’. This was difficult to see, especially because I am someone who likes to absorb themselves in other people’s cultures.
Another surprising downside to life in Canggu was the smoking. Whereas in many other places around the world smoking is not the norm, it kind of felt like it was in Canggu. Smoking seemed to be taking place everywhere in Canggu including inside cafes and restaurants.
Never liking to end on a negative note, it has to be said that Canggu is an excellent place to visit and one I would recommend for any trip to Bali. Whilst tourists and tourist culture have somewhat damaged the area its beauty is still able to shine through.
After spending a month in Canggu, Bali I thought it would be great to do a wrap up blog post. Prefer it not to be bullet-listed like it is below, but I’ve added some things I enjoyed
Super walkable, everything you need is around the area and it’s enjoyable to walk around even when it’s quite warm
Amazing food everywhere - “Inklusiv” was a highlight (a cafe they employs deaf and marginalised individuals, truly amazing)
Watching the sun set over the beach
Other Bali highlights
Free diving at Nusa Penida
Monkey forest in Ubud
Visiting Mount Batur via convertible
Lowlights / Down Sides
It’s hard seeing an area so tourist-focused, it was a little hard to get much of the Balinese culture in Canggu, which was different in Ubud
Cigarette smoking is incredibly common, even in cafes and resataurants
Tourists in Canggu generally behaved either quite poorly or indifferent to locals, which is hard to see