Canggu is arguably becoming one of Bali’s most progressive and culturally fascinating areas. Your mum will liken it to “how she remembers Legian in the 80s”, and you will hopefully never liken it to “the new Seminyak” Yuck.
Having really only found its name on the tourism map over the past few years, Canggu is maturing rapidly and is undergoing a very visible revolution, as a graffitied wall at the famous “shortcut” suggests. As construction continues and creatives gather to cultivate, there is a fascinating undercurrent of cool becoming increasingly prevalent as Canggu comes into its adolescence.
In a place where poking fun at one’s self and not taking life too seriously is all encompassed by the chilled hipster-vibe, local settlers – with the help of Gu Guide, muse on what makes the Canggu society unique to its Ubud, Bukit or Semin-yuck cousins.
You know you are in Canggu when..
- the local yoga guru wears ripped skinny jeans, hoop earrings and rides a custom bike around town – worshipped by hoards of women turned sudden yoga enthusiasts
- ‘smart casual’ means the new-hip breed of surfing lycra. Picture fluro leggings paired with high-cut one-piece swimsuits, an oversized mens singlet in place of a dress. Whilst the rest of Bali goes shopping in pyjamas, Canggu-ians step out in 80s aerobics wear.
- girls wear ankle boots and bikinis riding on custom motos. The logic escapes us.. If you can put on shoes, surely you can manage some clothes too..?
- you haven’t seen a fresh-shaved man face in as long as you can remember (Canggu housewives let out a great collective cheer when Dorsey’s Barber Shop opened at Deus)
- ordering a coffee requires circle-framed sunnies, panama hat and at least 10 tattoos, you have to be SCENE to be seen.
- the line for the weekly “free tattoo” night at Deus starts at lunchtime, or are they called skin stickers now? We really need to keep up in the cool department.
- happy hour at Old Man’s made the beer garden hang cool again.. because, let’s face it, Bali is just so expensive and we all need 50% off – right!?! Bintangs for less than $2? we are SOLD! But get your order screamed in before that bell rings, the cut-off is cold as ice.
- security guards party harder than the patrons. After-party at Sandbar night club anyone? everyone? see you and half of Canggu there.
- you’re having breakfast at Hungry Bird and realise that everyone around you is Russian, including your own wife. What just happened?
- even kids ask for gluten-free bread and dairy-free ice cream. oh, and a raw superfood choc mud chia cupcake to go with my almond milk babycino please!
- a car laying tipped off the side of the road is just another morning. Because two lanes would just take up important rice field real estate.
- taking a “shortcut” means 20 minutes of honking and squeezing, waiting for the traffic congestion to dissolve.. but we’re positive it’s quicker!
- toffee-colured buffalo work the local roads as traffic wardens. MOO-ve!
- what was an income producing, green rice-field last week, is suddenly a construction site this week. Sad face.
- people complain about local development, then hang out for the opening parties – huh?
- you can go to a water park for $2 or for $20, in the very same town.
- it takes a ten minute drive to find a Circle K (we LOVE – please never change).
- all your shopping is done on the weekend at the “local” organic markets. Because market shopping is this fun new concept in Bali – it’s really taking off!
- if you don’t know where to be each night of the week, you will be drinking alone (Dirty Ol Wednesdays at Old Man’s.. Ladies night @ Deus Thursdays.. Pretty Poison Dog Bowl Saturdays.. SandBar Beach trance party uh errrday)
A golden triangle in Bali’s South, Canggu officially consists of Berawa, Batu Bolong and Echo Beach, though it’s difficult-to-define borders often welcome Umalas and Pererenan into the mix. Already home to many Bali expats and a popular choice for the back-packer type, Canggu is captivating the attention of a new wave of visitors. Tantalising tourists with the offer of peaceful serenity, seducing surfers with its world famous breaks and enticing wedding planners with villa estates on lush sprawling beachside blocks: Canggu is the new place to go. When in Bali, it is worthy of at least.. we repeat AT LEAST one solid weekend.
Leaving the airport, by-pass Kuta, Legian and Seminyak – Canggu is next along the Coast. If you hit Tanah Lot, you’ve gone too far.
Print out this guide and caricatures – you’ll be sure to know when you have arrived.
~ Written in 2014 by Lani for inBali.org