I wanted to preface this review by saying that Bambu Indah was one of the most unforgettable places I’ve stayed at throughout all my travels. The magical setting along the cliffs overlooking the river valley, the cozy standalone houses that made us feel as though we were in dreamland, and the magnificent hospitality shown to us by everyone in the Bambu Indah family will live long and fondly in the memory.
In This Post
- Location & Arrival
- Udang House
- Afternoon Tea
Bambu Indah Ubud – Location & Arrival
Bambu Indah – Indonesian for “beautiful bamboo” – is located a few minutes outside of Ubud, one of Bali’s tourist hotspots in the lush, densely wooded inland. It’s about an hour’s drive from Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, traffic permitting.
The resort describes itself as a “boutique eco-lodge”, and its entrance and exterior is, accordingly, quite unassuming. The entrance is located down an alleyway in what is otherwise a regular Balinese village path.
Indeed, our taxi driver had to take quite a few turns to find it, and upon arriving, we even mistakenly entered someone’s private courtyard before being guided the correct way by the friendly residents, who presumably have dealt with this exact situation more than enough times.
A little ways down the path, you’ll come upon the gates to the resort, followed by the large boat-shaped tent structure that houses Bambu Indah’s main lobby area.
The check-in area is located within a mini-tent inside the main tent structure. This is also where most of the staff hang out, in case you need assistance.
A bellhop was on hand to assist us with our luggage, and bring it across the resort to Udang House, the guesthouse which we were staying in.
Bambu Indah Ubud – Check-in
We arrived at the resort on Christmas Eve, and had pre-booked the hotel’s special Christmas Eve dinner for two. Since traffic had delayed our arrival until about 7pm, the check-in staff informed us that we could go straight to our room, freshen up, and enjoy our dinner, and that the formal check-in procedures could be completed the following morning. I really appreciated that, and it turned out to be the first in a long list of examples of outstanding hospitality.
Let’s begin with the guesthouses. Eleven repurposed Balinese bridal homes dot the landscape, providing the perfect setting for a serene natural retreat. These standalone houses have occupancy for various numbers of guests, so you can pick different homes depending on if you’re travelling as a couple or with the family.
Bambu Indah’s website shows a full list of houses, and the resort is also in the process of opening up a few stunning new choices down by the riverside (more on that below).
Bambu Indah Ubud – Udang House
For our three-night stay, we picked the Udang House (Shrimp House), which sits right on top of a small, illuminated shrimp pond. A series of stone pathways connects the various parts of the resort; the pathway leading to the Udang House runs alongside the quiet shrimp pond as well.
Outside our house, there was a small natural pond and an outdoor seating area.
On the patio, a dining table and a daybed adorn the left and right sides of the entrance. Lots of relaxation choices all around.
Open the door and step into your dream of a home for the next little while.
The first thing you notice is that the house’s glass floors allow you to look into the shrimp pond below, which is illuminated with blue light.
The centrepiece of the house is the majestic queen bed. The mosquito net above is an important element in the room both aesthetically and practically.
To one side of the bed, you have the cabinets, drawers, and mirror, together with a suitcase bench and some clothing hooks.
The desk is located in the opposite corner. Organic mosquito repellents, creams, lotions, and a fresh jug of potable water is available here and is replenished daily.
There’s also a small “balcony” door here which you can open to look out over the shrimp pond outside.
In the back, you’ll find the doorway to the bathroom, which is a whole experience in itself. You see, the bathroom is basically open-air, with a glass roof to protect you from the rain and a few curtains, lined against the wooden stable-style walls, for privacy.
The shower brings the idea of “communing with nature”, as the resort describes it, to a whole new level. You’re surrounded by the natural surfaces of the hillside as you wash up, and the water splashes against a floor of stone and flows into the earth.
Staying in Udang House was a wholesomely transformative experience, if only because of the sheer novelty. Throughout my travels I’m used to sterile hotel rooms, cozy Airbnbs, even shared dormitory beds in a dingy hostel. But falling asleep to the sounds of flowing water, chirping crickets, and the back-and-forth croaking conversations between our frog friends (don’t freak out if one of these little critters hop into your room!) was a different experience entirely.
You can feel the proximity to your natural surroundings even as you’re getting ready in the morning, and you can open the front door to a mesmerizing vista of lush green vegetation, a stream trickling along the stone path outside, and the vast, sweeping rice fields in the distance.
Bambu Indah Ubud – Resort
On that note, let’s resume our tour of the grounds. We woke up early on our first morning at Bambu Indah, driven partly by jetlag and partly by the relentless cock-a-doodle-doos from our neighbours’ chicken coops. Breakfast wouldn’t be ready for a while, so we spent some time exploring every nook and cranny of the resort.
The main boat-shaped tent structure houses the resort’s Dapoer restaurant, which regularly hosts dinner for the wider Ubud community, in addition to serving resort guests.
There’s plenty of varied seating options, from the communal table that runs along the middle of the restaurant, to standalone booths along the back, to regular dining tables.
I’ll discuss the food itself in more detail in the next post, but suffice to say that it was fantastic across the board. This picture of the breakfast speaks volumes…
From the main tent, a few stone paths lead you through the garden to the central pagoda. The pagoda plays host to a variety of the resort’s activities, such as yoga classes and special dinners.
On the lower level, there is a “Home Cinema” where you can watch TV or DVDs on a projector screen. They also have board games in case you wanted to leave the kids occupied for a bit. Right outside, the hammock chair and swing set are perfect for pausing for a moment and appreciating the surreal setting all around you.
From the pagoda, the sprawling paths lead you to all corners of the resort, including the guesthouses, pool, and cliffside lookout. Bambu Indah prides itself upon a beautiful natural pool as the centrepiece of the resort – “natural” in the sense that fresh water flows in directly from the streams.
Every full moon, they drain the whole thing and do a deep clean, and then it takes a few days for the pool to fill back up again. This is something to be aware of if you’re staying at the resort during full moon, since the pool may be out of commission for some part of your stay.
A bamboo bridge straddles the pool, and crossing it brings you to the cliffside, where you’re met with a spectacular view of the surrounding Gianyar region. There are deck chairs and a gazebo for you to sit and relax…
…or you can continue following the paths, which bring you through the resort’s various gardens, courtyards, and the other guesthouses.
Bambu Indah Ubud – Riverside
Bambu Indah also owns the land below the cliffs by the river, and they’re in the process of constructing new resort grounds down there.
Getting down to the riverside was one of the most enthralling parts of my stay. Why is that? Well, have a look at this beauty…
That’s right, it’s a secret bamboo elevator! Capable of carrying up to two passengers at a time, the elevator travels up and down a vertical shaft in about 20 seconds. How awesome is that?!
Stepping off the elevator, the path to Bambu Indah’s new grounds takes you across a bamboo suspension bridge and along a fast-flowing branch of the river…
…before arriving at a truly picturesque scene of colourful, cascading natural pools, which flow directly into the nearby river.
This place exudes relaxation. Whether it’s sitting on the dizzying hammock chairs or lounging in the enclosed gazebos, you’re spoiled for choice in terms of exactly how you’d prefer to take things easy.
Down here, the new guesthouses look straight out of a destination wedding magazine. They are almost entirely open-air, since the area is so secluded that you can shower and bathe in the great outdoors with full privacy.
The Moon House has a private natural pool situated immediately underneath it. Who thinks this pool was designed for diving into? Jessica says no, I say yes 😉
Next time, I definitely hope to stay in one of these new guesthouses. It’s hard to imagine a dreamier experience than my stay this time around, but I’m sure that watching the sunset from the comfort of your own open-air suite would qualify.
One last thing I’d note about the resort is just how few other guests we saw over the course of our three-night stay. I think there were two other couples, but that’s about it. We were staying over Christmas, a peak travel period, and even taking into account the panic over Bali’s Mt. Agung volcano, I have to say I was a little surprised.
Pleasantly surprised, of course, since it really did feel like we were roaming around in our private slice of paradise at times.
Bambu Indah Ubud – Breakfast
Included in the price of your room is complimentary daily breakfast and afternoon tea for each guest. The breakfast menu is truly extensive, featuring a wide selection of sweet and savoury dishes, including vegetarian and vegan-friendly options.
You get to choose two main dishes from the menu per person, and you’ll also get fresh fruits, juice (served with bamboo straws, true to the resort’s name), and coffee or tea to go with your breakfast as well.
If you’re looking for something a little more hearty, there’s the option to add bacon (IDR 30,000; $3) or duck sausage (IDR 45,000; $4) for a small surcharge.
We tried an assortment of breakfast items over the course of our three-day stay. Highlights included the bubur (a traditional Balinese porridge dish), the French toast, and the banana crepes. As is expected in a tropical region like Bali, the fruits were also exceedingly fresh and succulent.
Hotel breakfasts can often be something to look forward to, especially at upscale properties with gargantuan breakfast buffets. Here at Bambu Indah, breakfast was equally as appealing for an entirely different reason: the sheer tranquility of starting your day with a wholesome, healthy, and delicious feast, overlooking the idyllic pagodas and guesthouses dotting the lush green landscape.
Bambu Indah Ubud – Afternoon Tea
The complimentary afternoon tea consists of a few Indonesian treats, together with tea or coffee. It’s worth noting that any of the meals can be delivered to your guesthouse at no extra charge.
I’m a big fan of all kinds of South East Asian sticky rice treats, from Malaysia’s nyonya kuih to Indonesia’s spekkoek or klepon. After a long day exploring the island, these sweet treats make for the perfect snack.
Bambu Indah Ubud – Dining
Food is served in the Dapoer restaurant, although you can call the restaurant to make your order and have it delivered right to your front door as well.
The restaurant features a rotating menu, which usually consists of a few salads, appetizers, and main courses to choose from. The main courses typically cater to both Western and Indonesian tastes, with all kinds of meat, fish, and veggie dishes available.
In terms of cost, the salads and appetizers will run you about IDR 50,000-80,000 ($4-7), while the main courses are typically IDR 100,000-150,000 ($9-13). Overall, the cost is pretty reasonable in terms of how much you’d expect to pay for a meal; however, I’m sure you could find much cheaper eats if you ventured outside of the little village surrounding Bambu Indah and onto the main streets of Ubud.
Christmas Eve at the resort was one particular highlight, since they were serving a special dinner for resort guests as well as people in the wider Ubud community. After a 25-hour journey from Toronto to Bali, it was a delight to celebrate the holidays with by feasting upon a multi-course meal including spicy pumpkin soup, grilled vegetables, beef rendang, sliced turkey, and mashed cauliflower, topped with a decadent chocolate cake.
Bambu Indah Ubud – Activities
Bambu Indah offers guests a variety of activities to keep you occupied and fascinating ways to engage with the traditional Balinese culture. There’s everything from tours of the surrounding villages to spiritual activities like morning yoga or Balinese blessings. For a full list of activities, consult the “Bespoke Experiences” section on the Bambu Indah website.
We kicked off our first morning at Bambu Indah with a two-hour hike through the surrounding village, under the guidance of a tour guide who works with the resort. For what it’s worth, everybody at the resort (and in general everyone in Bali we interacted with) speaks English to a very high level, so we never ran into any communication problems.
The standard village hike costs US$20 for an adult and US$12 for children under 12 years of age. The guide brought us through a series of village streets and rice paddies, showing us the traditional Balinese houses and temples. While Indonesia is primarily a Muslim nation, Bali is home to the country’s Hindu minority, and over 80% of the island’s inhabitants practice Hinduism. Therefore, Balinese houses are designed with the Hindu principles of dharma in mind. Each residence has one or more shrines within the courtyard, which constitutes the most sacred part of the house.
It was also fascinating to learn about canang sari, the daily offerings to the gods made by Balinese people. They usually leave little morsels of food on top of the colourful, flowery trays (pictured below, bottom right). The offerings are meant to give thanks for the peace given to the world.
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As we walked through the rice paddies, I couldn’t help but notice not only the endless green landscape all around me, but also the sheer variety of the vegetation – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many plant species in one place. In light of this realization, I made a mental note that I really needed to get out of the cities more along my travels.
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The village walk can also take you down by the Ayung River (the same river that Bambu Indah’s new guesthouses overlook), but the heavy rain on this particular morning ruled that out, so we took the village streets back to the resort. On the way, we encountered this local guy nonchalantly walking his pig. I love it!
In a word, Bambu Indah is simply magical. In fact, I don’t think I’ve uttered that word as many times in my life as I did during my stay.
You’ll find tranquillity and ease in every corner of the resort’s endless and varied spaces, while its guesthouses provide a dreamy experience that makes you feel truly at one with the natural world around you. And that’s without yet mentioning the food and activities at the resort, all of which contribute to a wholesome, well-rounded stay. It would be a genuine surprise to me if there were a resort anywhere else in Bali that captured the island’s essence as well as Bambu Indah.