Just Back From

Chef Scott Conant's Great Bali Adventure

by Scott Conant

Sunset in Bali. All photos by Scott Conant. 

The last time we heard from our pal Scott Conant (celebrity chef, Chopped judge, cookbook author), he filed a dispatch from Bodrum. This summer, he turned his sights to Bali, and ate just as well without turning out his wallet.

So, what brought you to Bali?

I needed a getaway with my wife to relax and reconnect with one another.

What was the best tip you got before you left?

Bring an extra bag for the amazing shopping and the unbelievable prices.

How did you get there?

We flew from Newark (EWR) to Bali Ngurah Rai International (DPS) with a layover in Hong Kong. Then we drove through a bunch of windy roads until we arrived at our destination, Ubud.


The view of the island from the sea.

Villa Melati Pool

The view of the jungle (and the monkeys that inhabit it) from Villa Melati.

What did you do?

We spent three days in Seminyak at Villa Rumah Damai, a private villa we found on Airbnb that I would not recommend. We then spent eight days in Ubud at private villa that I did like, Villa Melati. We rented through Villa Bali. They were great, helpful and responsive.

What'd you know by the last day that you wish you'd known on the first?

The people are truly the most special part of the island. I wish I had done more research so I would have known where to go and been able to see more.

This was especially great:

The view, the jungle, the people, and the cost. Truly one of least expensive vacations I've gone on in a long time.

But this wasn't:

The traffic was brutal at times.

This was touristy and worth it:

Going to Pura Tanah Lot Temple was truly inspiring. It has such a beautiful view. Although hundreds of people seem to go there daily, it's worth it.

One place you didn't get to visit, but wanted to:

The volcano on the north part of the island. With traffic, it would have taken hours in both directions to get there, and we simply ran out of time.

Massage with Shaman

Scott consulting with a shaman. 


Indoor cooking at Villa Melati and outdoor grocery shopping in Ubud.

Let's talk about stuff.

1. Glad you packed: Bug spray.

2. Wish you'd packed: More books.

3. Didn't need: As many clothes as I thought. At the private villa, the staff cooked amazing meals, and I could have stayed in the whole time.

4. Brought back: Fabulous local art and small statues. And I plan to go back for furniture very soon.

Speed round of favorites:

1. Meal or meals: We had many great meals. Two highlights were the pretty fancy meals we had at Mejekawi at Ku De Ta in Seminyak and Locavore in Ubud. Both had inspired and high-quality, ingredient-driven cooking. Truly top-of-class experiences.

2. Neighborhood to explore: I'd like to rent a boat for a few days and go around the island more. Truly do it right.

3. Site/place/thing you did: Just breathing in the air and speaking to the locals is an almost spiritual experience in itself. I had the opportunity to meet with a local shaman, and that was both fun and eye-opening. Another highlight was renting a fishing boat for a day. We snorkeled, fished, and laid in the sun. It was a blast!

4. Cafe/casual hangout: Sitting outside of the temple in Ubud at Lotus Cafe was a real pleasure.

Lotus Cafe / Spirituality

Spirituality on display. The temple is across the lily pond from Lotus Cafe.

Were you there for the right amount of time?

Ten days, two weeks, or three months. I'd love any of it!

What's the #1 tip you'd give a friend who wanted to go?

Get massages daily. Or twice a day. I was so relaxed by them. Also, be prepared to arrange a container for shipping furniture home if that's your thing.

Any surprises?

I am still struck with the diligence at which the locals pursue their spiritual life.

The Kodak moment:

Looking at the sunset at Rock Bar Ayana Hotel. Truly amazing.

You can't stop thinking about:

The trees, the rice fields, and the beautiful jungles.

Would you go back?

Already booking the next trip!

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.