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What’s new in Bali and Lombok, 2012

Written By Rio Gonzales on Saturday, May 12, 2012 | Saturday, May 12, 2012

Snorkelling boats hauled up on beach.
In this excerpt from our latest Bali & Lombok guidebook, (one of our new-look guides – check them out!) we have hunted down the fresh, the revamped, the transformed, the hot and the happening. Here are a few of our favourites:

1. Kerobokan, Bali’s food hot spot

The foodiverse on Bali has shifted to Kerobokan. Superb new restaurants include Biku, an artful, casual cafe; and Sardine, a fantasy of seafood.

2. Fast boats to the Gilis

It seems there are as many fast boats between Bali and the Gilis as there are dolphins in the ocean on the way. New connections to these three island paradises include Nusa Lembongan and Amed.

3. Bukit, not just for surfers

Already home to world-famous surf breaks, the Bukit Peninsula is becoming the place for a break, period. Funky new hotels perch near groovy beaches at Bingin and Balangan.

4. Gili T, not just for backpackers

Hotter than hot, Gili Trawangan has a great new restaurant, Kokomo (which breaks the backpacker shackles of the island’s past), along with one of Asia’s best freediving centres, Freedive Gili.

5. Eat, Pray, Love mania

It seems every tour operator is trying to get in on the act spawned by Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book. Meanwhile, some of Bali’s traditional healers (known as balian) are available for hype-free consultations.

6. New shopping spots

East of retail meccas Seminyak and Kerobokan, a gaggle of new stores lines a meandering string of streets, including Steven’s (dusty treasures from across Indonesia) and Wijaya Kusuma Brass (brass accessories for furniture and your home).  Some of Bali’s best housewares can be found here.

7. Sunset stroll, take one

A new walk along the sand links Seminyak’s club-lined Jl Abimanyu to Jl Double Six in Legian. At sunset, grab a seat and a cheap beer (an ice-cold Bintang will set you back around US$2) along this stretch of beach.

8. Sunset stroll, take two

Nusa Lembongan’s long beach has a fab new seawall walkway that’s ideal for a mosey before a meal at the hip new hotel-restaurant Indiana Kenanga.

9. Hidden luxury

The south coast of the Bukit Peninsula is used to surf-tossed drama, but big waves are nothing compared with the splash made by the lavish new Alila Villas.

10. Art with strings attached

Bali’s great tradition of puppets now has a museum worthy of the characters. The Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets, south of Ubud in Mas, is spectacular.

11. Surf by day, sleep memorably by night

Alligator hunters once stalked the river nearby, but that’s one of the least colourful aspects of Pondok Pitaya, a guesthouse facing the increasingly popular surf break at Balian Beach. The work of hilariously creative Michael Canada and family, the complex combines vintage Indonesian buildings (including a 1950 Javanese house and an 1860 Balinese alligator hunter’s shack).

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