Two months in Canggu as a Digital Nomad

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After spending a month in Lisbon and another one in Spain, I decided to start 2019 with a continent I never explored before: Asia. And more precisely: in Bali, a small island in Indonesia.
If you check on Nomad List, Canggu is the first destination for digital nomad. I was intrigued and I decided to check it out for myself… and I love it!

If you’re intrigued by the hype around Canggu or if you plan to move to there, I wrote this blog post for you. I also wrote this blog post after more than 2 months in Bali. In the beginning, I planned to stay only a month there. I’m finally going to stay three!

Visa

Disclaimer: I’m not a visa expert. I’m talking here about “holidays visa” - which means: you’re supposed to be on holidays and not working with/in Indonesia.

There’re different options on the table:

  • < 30 days - VISA Exemption - You don’t need a visa.
  • Between 30 and 60 days - Visa On Arrival (VOA) - When you arrive at the airport, you’ve to pay $35 and you can stay 30 days in the country. If you need, you can extend it with 30 more days. If you don’t like administrative things like me, I recommend you to do your extension with an agent (i.e. Visa4Bali).
  • 60 days - Social Visa - Allows you to stay in the country for 6 months. But, you can’t leave the country.

When I arrived, I took a VOA and I extended it. The thing is, I wanted to stay for 3 months in Bali. So, I’ve to leave the country (“Visa Run”). Thanks to AirAsia, you can get a return ticket from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur for nearly 50€. I picked Kuala Lumpur! I’m now in my 3rd month in Bali. Because I’m gonna stay 27 days in Bali, I didn’t need to pay for a VOA visa.

Accommodation

Because I don’t have (and I don’t want to have) scooter, I had to find something in the middle of Canggu. Thanks to Booking.com, I’ve found a homestay for ~21€/night. With this price, I had a big room (maybe too big) with a private bathroom, a simple breakfast and a swimming pool. Also, my room was cleaned -almost- every day. Good point, I was in a walking distance (10mins) from the Dojo (coworking space) and the beach.

my room

Internet

Almost all coffee/restaurants/accommodations have a WIFI to share. Unfortunately, it’s very flaky and not 100% reliable! That’s why I recommend you to get a local SIM Cards. In Indonesia, it’s cheap and ludicrously straightforward: you pay, you put the SIM in the phone and… tadaa 🎉it’s working! (I’d love to get something as simple as this in France!). As far as I know, Telkomsel is the best provider. You can buy SIM cards from everywhere (avoid the airport, you gonna pay 10x the normal price). With this provider, I’m getting +/- 23MBS. I paid 100k (6.2e) for 12Gb of data.

Also, talking about internet, something you have to know. Freedom of speech doesn’t exist in Indonesia. A lot of websites are blocked by ISP: Reddit, torrents, porn, video game and Facebook (I’m looking at you Telkomsel). Using a VPN is strongly recommended.

Coworking spaces

dojo

Dojo is one of the most famous coworking space in Bali. I really liked the “maker” atmosphere in this place. A lot of people are bootstrapping their own product/startup. It was globally very inspiring. From a social aspect, people are really open-minded and making new friends is super easy. Also, Dojo organises a LOT of events (marketing, language exchange, public speaking course, developer, personal development…). Like, one per day!
Every Friday, you have the Beach and Beers, which is a great event to meet new people! If I had to find thee cons, I’d say the price. I’ve found the place a bit overpriced (2.900.000IDR/180€ for 1 month unlimited). Because I pay coworking spaces with my own money, I pick a 100h/month option (1.800.000IDR/112€).

If you’re on a tight budget, you can also work from cafes. It’s common here and they all have Wifi!

When I will come back to Canggu, I want to give a try to the second co-working pace in Canggu: Outpost.

Food

💥 Booom! 💥
For people who like to eat (like me 😉), you found your place! The food scene in Bali is amazing. Because I didn’t have a kitchen in my homestay, I always went to the restaurant. Poor me 😃.

yum

Here are few price range: (some places also add +10% then +5% for tax&services)

  • 🍛 20k/35k for a local Indonesian Warung (see pictures on the left) (1,2€ / 2,2€)
  • 🍺 25k/30k for a 25cl local beer (Bintang). Add 10k (0,6€) for a big bottle. (1,6€ / 2,2€)
  • ☕️ 30k for a cup of coffee and 50k for a cup of Kopi Luwak coffee 💩 (2,2€ / 3,1€)
  • 🍍 40k/65k for a fruit salad/smoothie bowl (2,5€ / 4€)
  • 🍕 60k/75k for a margarita pizza (3,7 / 4,7€)
  • 🍔 90k/120k for a burger (5,6€ / 7,5€)

Most of the time I was eating in Indonesian Warung. Because I like to eat local, it’s very good and crazy cheap! If you don’t like rice, Bali might be a no-go for you! 😄

What to do in Canggu?

Canggu has definitely a lot to offer. I guess most of the tourist come here for surfing. Waves here are very good! And the other part of tourists come here for Yoga, although the Yoga scene is not the same as in Ubud.
If you want to relax, you can also go for a massage. I’ve found the 1h Balinese massage very good 😃. A 1h massage will cost you around 120k (7€6). Outside Canggu, it even cheaper.

Tanah Lot Temple Tanah Lot ~ a nice temple very close to Canggu

You can also party. By night there’s a lot of drunk people in the streets. Mostly Australians. Few things you have to know:

  • fake alcohol is a thing here. They put methanol in a bottle and sell it for alcohol. In the best scenario, you will end up with a big headache. Worse scenario, you will die. Usually, Bintang (local beer) is a safe bet.
  • consuming drugs (including marijuana) is not allowed. In some country, you can do it because it’s not very risky. But here, it’s punishable by death. Now you know!

You can also move around Bali… see the next part :)

Moving around

Here are a few things to visit if you are in Bali:

Ubud: Monkey Forest, Tegallalang Rice Terrace or visit few temples in the area. I’m actually writing this blog post from Ubud. That’s why I’m not talking too much about it… I’ll write another blog post for this town 🙂

Amed: Diving or snorkelling! You can dive around the USS Liberty, a cargo ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during WWII. Life under the sea is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s also a good spot to access to the Gili Gili Island.

Ulun Danu Bratan Temple Ulun Danu Bratan Temple

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces Jatiluwih Rice Terraces (UNESCO World Heritages)

Bratan area: This area is great to see waterfalls. You have the well known Gitgit waterfall and also the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls (my favourites!). If you are in the area, go visit the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple! And then, finish with the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces (UNESCO World Heritages). I liked this area because it’s way less touristy than the other part of Bali.

Nusa Penida: Take a scooter and get lost in this paradisiac island. You have to go to Kelingking Beach. It’s probably the most beautiful beach I ever saw! Manta bay is also a good place for diving/snorkeling. Here, you can spot some manta ray, but take care of the loan!

Kelingking Beach Kelingking Beach ❤️

Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan: Two smalls islands close to Nusa Penisa (linked by a bridge). If you are there, take a scooter or just walk around the Island. There’s plenty of things to see like the Blue Lagoon. When you are there, take a drink at Mahana Point. In this bar, you will see the Devil’s Tears on the other island (waves are crashing on the cliffs). Once your drink is over, go to the other island to get closer to this Devil’s Tears. It’s very impressive! (it’s a good spot for sunsets!)

Transport

One thing I don’t like in Bali: it’s a scooter country! Usually, when I arrive in a city I take public transport or I walk. In Bali, there are no public transports. So, most of the time I walk (footpath are kinda dangerous).

For longer distances, a scooter is a must have. You can get one for 50-70k per day. If you don’t have an international licence with you, you might get arrested by the police. They will give you a 50 to 300k fine. It’s happened to me once…

If you don’t want to take this risk, you have 2 options: local taxis (aka taxi mafia) or online taxi (Gojek or Grab). Local taxis are literally scamming you with European prices. For this reason, I mostly use the application Gojek. It’s very cheap…and maybe too cheap: (don’t be a dick and give them a tip)

  • [🛵 scooter] 4k (~0.25€) for 5’ (1.9km)
  • [🛵 scooter] 53k (~3.3€) for 1h
  • [🚕 car] 229k (~14,3€) for 1h15 (36.2km)

Something good with these apps, they also deliver food!

Driving without a helmet is tolerated in Canggu. But you know, accidents happen, no matter how careful we are. Since I’m in Bali I heard many sad stories about driving accident, the last time was last week 😢 Sorry to talk about sad things but it had to be said. If I want to rent a scooter (or take a taxi) and there’s no helmet, I consider it as a no go.

Money and Expenses

In Bali, most of the transactions are done by cash. When they accept a credit card, there is an additional 3% fee. Also, when you withdraw money, make sure to choose a reliable ATM. Card skimming is a thing here! Fortunately, I haven’t been skimmed (yet). 🤞

It the beginning, I thought Bali will be cheap. I don’t know how but, it turns out I spent more money in Canggu than in other European cities. Well, the fact that I didn’t have a kitchen helps a lot! If you want, here’s a detailed version of my expenses:

Per month
Rent640€
Food/Fun/Beers350€
Coworking space112€
Fun50€
Visa run ✈️50€
Visa35€
Insurance30€
Taxi/Scooter rental30€
Internet (Phone)7€
Laundry6€
Revolut (Premium)5€
VPN (Proton)4€
Total~1.300€

Global feedback

Canggu deserves it #1 place on Nomad List. I really liked Canggu and the atmosphere! But, I have the feeling that Bali is becoming a victim of its own success.

  • 🌤 Weather. I went there during the rainy season and it wasn’t raining that much. Once, I had a 12h of heavy rain! Otherwise, I had my ~30°c every day.
  • 🗣 Language. Because it’s a touristic place, (almost) everybody speaks English.
  • 🍴 Food. Awesome! (cf. Food section above) and the Bali Coffee is great too! (I’m not a big fan of Kopi Luwak…)
  • 🌉 Size of the city. Canggu is very spread out city.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walkability. Very bad. I felt lucky when I found a sidewalk. And when you have one, you can’t
  • 📡 Wi-Fi. Wifi is between OK and Bad. You can get a decent connection at Dojo (if it’s not crowded). The 4G works well, I had around 23MBPS (Telkomsel).
  • 👮‍♂️ Safety. Bali is a very safe place. I felt quite safe. 🐕 Wild dogs are legion here
  • 💵 Prices. The biggest challenge for me was to avoid tourist traps. Otherwise it globally cheap. I spent ~1,300€ a month, but if you’re on a budget, you can live with less.

Hey, do you have a map to share?

Here you go! 2 things to notice:

  • I added small descriptions to each pin (don’t hesitate to expand the map!);
  • There are other cities/areas (Amed, Ubud, Nusa Penida…).

If doesn’t show up, here is a link.

If you have questions or if I forget something, don’t be shy and post a comment in the comment section 😀

About the author

For the last decade, Maxence Poutord has worked with a variety of web technologies. He is currently focused on front-end development. On his day to day job, he is working as a senior front-end engineer at VSware. He is also a tech speaker and mentor. As a digital nomad, he is living where the WiFi and sun is 😎
Do you want to know more? Read this!

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