9 tips for a girls’ getaway to Bali

Nikki Parkinson Fashion, Life, Travel 61 Comments

Editor’s note: I’m going back to Bali in October 2016 and I’d love you to join me for the ultimate girls’ trip away. Mrs Woog and I are hosting a five-star, five-night, luxe trip to Bali. The trip will include two group shopping and styling sessions. I’ll take you to some of my favourite Bali fashion shopping haunts while Mrs Woog supervises and gives final endorsement of purchases. There will be plenty of opportunities to show off said purchases, with the package also including two group dinners, a lunch and two happy hours. As for where we’ll be staying. Clutch your pearls, ladies. The Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort has it all … infinity-edge pool, spa, ocean views, suites with their own terrazzo tubs. Check out all the inclusions and book here.


A little over 12 months ago we were standing under a big, old mango tree, solving the first world’s problems over champagne while celebrating my girlfriend Simone’s 39th birthday.

As the mango flowers dropped around us, a seed was planted for her 40th.

I didn’t think much more of it (blame the champagne) until March when the invitation arrived the old fashioned way. In my letterbox.

The letter outlined a very exciting proposal. A five-night-long party to celebrate Simone’s big 4-0 … in Bali.

Within a week Mr SY had granted a leave pass, volunteered to take annual leave to cover things at home and I had booked the airfare.

I was going.

It would be my second trip to Bali for 2013. I’d be revisiting places I fell in love with in January and seeing new things … with some of my closest girlfriends.

A sweet reward for a very big year on the work front.

Sitting here now, writing this post and thinking back on what we were doing this time last week (oh hello sunset drinks at Ayana Resort) it seems like a dream.

Albeit a dream where you laugh so hard for six days that your cheeks ache just recalling it.

Let me be upfront with you. If you’ve come here expecting me to list off any number of cultural and/or spiritual-yoga-type things to do with your girlfriends in Bali, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

Except, of course, if you worship the espresso martini gods or consider daily massages the equivalent of a yoga workout.

Then, and only then, have you very much come to the right place.

Saddle up Sisters, these are my nine tips for a girls’ getaway to Bali.

9 tips for a girls' getaway to bali

1. Choose your girls

An obvious one maybe but something to put a bit of thought into. Get the mix of personalities right and it won’t matter how big those personalities are. It will work because collectively all will respect and support each other.

Our biggest test about how all those personalities would come together happened at the very start of our trip when we all arrived at the airport bright and early to discover our flight had been cancelled.

Nine of us were flying together (two were already in Bali, getting a head start on the fun). None of us received notification of the cancellation until that point when we were all split up and put on three separate domestic flights to Melbourne or Sydney, only to be then flown to Bali on a rival airline.

You can just imagine the “love” we DIDN’T get from that rival airline – or the original airline once they’d passed us on. Yes, we were disappointed for many reasons: to be split up; to have the stress of running to make our Bali flight from Sydney one minute before check-in closed; and for those flying out of Melbourne to be treated with disdain while trying to check in.

No-one lost it though. The eye remained firmly on the prize. Sleeping that night at our villa in Bali.

Tips for a Bali girls getaway

2. Choose accommodation that suits

This would have been a very expensive exercise if all 11 of us were to have booked into hotel rooms with two or maybe three at a stretch to a room. One of the appeals of Bali for a getaway like this is the ability to book a large villa right in the heart of the action. Typically they come with their own pool and separate accommodation pavilions.

Bali Villa H2O couldn’t have been a better choice for our group of 11. One of the girls in our group is friends with the owner, so recommended we book it. It’s tucked in behind shopping strip Jala Raya Seminyak. When I say tucked in, you reach it via a bamboozling collection of narrow alleyways, some of which can take cars, some not. Arriving at midnight doesn’t help with getting your bearings but a walk in the day time allowed us to get to know an easy walking path to the main road, where taxis drove past every minute and shopping was ours for the taking.

The villa itself was stunning example of modern meets Balinese. A huge open kitchen, dining and lounge pavilion overlooking the large pool provided a great central place in which to hang. We all had a bed in which to sleep – some of us sharing – but it was far from roughing it.

Adjoining the living area was a study with a sofa bed. There were two bedrooms downstairs (where we had a queen and a single bed plus ensuite in each) and upstairs was the master bedroom with king bed and day bed. There was also another whole party deck upstairs overlooking the roof tops of Seminyak.

With a total of five bathrooms, getting ready to go out was never an issue either.

Wi-fi and air-con was great (except when the electricity wasn’t working … I think we overloaded things a bit) and the built-in speaker system and iPod dock meant we had tunes helping the party along, day and night.

Villa H2O Bali, Seminyak

Villa H2O Bali, Seminyak

Villa H2O Bali, Seminyak

3.  Plan … but not too much

Our five days became four and a bit days so it was a good thing that we had a bit of a plan for how those days would play out. Each kind of went with a certain rhythm: wake at leisure, breakfast, massage, relax in and around pool, go out early-to-mid afternoon for lunch/drinks/dinner, returning later that night … or early the next morning.

We had two birthdays during our week – one 40th at Potato Head and one 28th at The W. For these, plus a final night dinner, we had booked before coming to Bali to ensure we could get in. Some of these places book out even if it’s two people trying to get in – with 11 it was essential to pre-plan. Something our villa owner and manager was happy to help with – beforehand and while there to confirm.

There are places you can’t book – like the Rock Bar or to get a pool lounge at Potato Head – but with a little patience and a cocktail on a arrival at Potato Head it wasn’t long before we scored a lounge. We only needed one as a base as most of us were quite taken with the swim up bar, which is where we stayed until it was time for dinner. Dinner had been booked at on-site Lillian restaurant. Just quietly, the chilli crab was mind blowing.

For our final night, we went to Sarong. The food was as fabulous as during my visit in January. We were considered a group, which meant going with a set degustation menu and having to pay a $100 deposit in person at the restaurant to secure the booking. The deposit was a bit of a pain but the set menu is actually a great idea in such a big group – anything that reduces decision making.

Espresso martini potato head beach club bali sunset

Potato Head Beach Club Bali pool bar

4. Dress up … or down

Our group could easily have been split down the middle when it came to how heavy our suitcases were when we finally checked into flights. You can probably guess which camp I fell into? Yep. The heavy one.

Despite this, I actually wore each and every garment that I’d packed – bar one which had been earmarked for the first night that didn’t happen. I did loan it to someone else though, so it didn’t go unloved.

In a nutshell, I packed a daytime cotton or rayon sun frock or kaftan for each morning and then showered and changed into something from the fancy side of my kaftan wardrobe.

Packing at least two swimsuits is essential – that way one is always dry.

Each and every one of our group always looked a million bucks.

Our collective accessories and clothing pieces could have stocked a small boutique. Well, we we did have a fashion designer and a boutique owner as part of our group. And a hairdresser. And two former models. Yep, no pressure.

All for Kat Henrietta dress | Karen Walker sunglasses | Samantha Wills earrings | Sportscraft scarf | Bella Lido sandals

All for Kat Henrietta dress* | Karen Walker sunglasses | Samantha Wills earrings | Sportscraft scarf | Bella Lido sandals*

Camilla kaftan (worn over Sacha Drake slip) | Salita Matthews necklace | Stuart Weitzman wedges | Prada sunglasses | Samantha Wills ring and cuff | Michael Kors watch | Sophie Kyron earrings

Camilla kaftan (worn over Sacha Drake slip) | Salita Matthews necklace | Stuart Weitzman wedges | Prada sunglasses | Samantha Wills ring and cuff | Michael Kors watch | Sophie Kyron earrings

5. Get the food to come to you

It was a bit of a disappointment to cook my own breakfast this week. Having fresh fruit, bacon and eggs cooked for us as we woke each morning in Bali made for some lazy, hazy starts.

We also had the girls cook us lunch as a stomach-lining strategy before heading to Potato Head. I’m still dreaming of the Balinese corn fritters and coconut and bean salad.

Each morning we collated a list of drinks and snacks we might need for the day and these too miraculously appeared not long after.

Breakfast is served at Villa H2O Bali, Seminyak

Balinese corn fritters and coconut bean salad

6. Get the spa to come to you – or not

I cannot tell you how seriously relaxing it was to have beautiful Balinese masseuses come to our villa every morning and massage us before we’ve even got out our pjs. We’d float on to the bed and float off for the princely sum of $10 for the hour. On one day I backed up the massage with a head and scalp mask and massage. OMG.

Our villa manager Iloh organised and booked the masseuses from Teratai Bali Spa (0361 8734977) – we just had to nominate a time and how many the day before.

I’ve written before about visiting Bodyworks and can highly recommend it. Didn’t get there this time due to in-villa indulgences but three of us did venture out to new nail bar, Think Pink Nails. Worth a visit if wanting a mani or pedi refresh mid holiday. Not sure the New York theme fits with Bali but the service and price was definitely right.

Head massage and scalp treatment - Bali in villa

In-villa massage Bali

Think Pink Nails Seminyak Bali

7.  Embrace the cardio shop

I realised early on that if I were to fit in any shopping in between massages and cocktails, it would have to be applied with a take-no-prisoners, smash-and-grab approach. Yes, my two short shopping expeditions were my cardio for the week.

I re-visited some of my favourite stores plus found a new favourite, Biasa – an Italian-designed, Bali-produced range of floaty cottons pieces in cuts ranging from the subtle to the dramatic.

Biasa | shopping | Bali

8. Bintang or cocktails?

Whatever your poison, limber up. Unless you’re booking into a health retreat in Ubud, then a girls’ week in Bali will be about going the distance and weighing up the pros and cons of choosing a ginger and lychee mojito over a passionfruit margarita.

Even at the more expensive bars, beer and spirits are cheap by Australian standards. Wine not so.

ginger and lychee mojito Potato Head Beach Club Bali

9. Arm yourself

The downside to a girls’ getaway to Bali?  The stats are not on your side. There’s a strong chance that at least some of your group are bound to come down with the dreaded Bali Belly.

None of us escaped it this time – experiencing it in severities ranging from minor to very bloody major. Mine came on the final night and my stomach is still going into spasms each time I eat. I think the Blackmores Digestive Balance tablets have helped with slowing the “flow” and I’ve also eased the pain with peppermint and lavender aromatherapy oils rubbed on my tummy. The rest will just take time.

What I also ended up using lots of was a natural insect repellent, Vanilla Mozzi – not only did it smell good but it worked at keeping those tropical mozzies at bay. I always went out with the small tub in my handbag and had the big tub by my bed.

Bali frangipanis

Finally, there is an unwritten rule about any girls’ getaway. What happens on a Bali girls’ getaway stays on a Bali girls’ getaway. Roger that!

Got any tips to share of your own? What do you love most to do on a girls’ getaway? Where’s your fave place to escape with your girls … even if it’s only for one night?

PS. Never been to Bali? I’ve updated my Bali tips for newbies post with things I learned on this trip.

* These pieces were sent to me for editorial consideration

  • Great tips for me to travel with my family

  • Great post and good tips
    thanks for sharing the useful information
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  • Darmayasa.Wyn

    Usefull information. Just for info we are also organize tour in Bali. Detail visit: http://balitourorganize.com

  • Clear plan before go to Bali. Dont forget to select right accommodation to get more relaxation when lay on the bed. If you have plan to stay at Kerobokan near petitenget beach, our style villas is good for you. If you interest visit our site::

  • Faron

    A well thought out post. Looks like you all had a lovely time! Have you stayed at W Retreat & Spa Bali by any chance?

  • Ubud Tours

    ‘Truly memorable & fantastic cycling tour’

    This full day downhill bike tour will take you far away from the regular tourist itinerary and “off the beaten track” deep into rural Bali where you will be able to witness firsthand the daily life of the Balinese people, their local customs and rituals as well as their age-old traditions.
    Check out http://www.balihaitour.com/

  • Ubud Tours

    Hi My name Ngakan Sandi, I was born and live in Bali. Bali has been a popular and favorite destination for many people. I can provide you tips or answer your questions you ask about Bali with free (ie. things to do, popular spots, weather, etc).
    Please do contact me by call +62-85333-294623 if you have been in Bali or E-mail (balitourguide@gmail.com) just plan the best holidays in Bali Indonesia.

    If you need happy and fun traveling or holiday in Bali Indonesia, do not hesitate contact me via telephone or email.

    Traveling and having tour in Bali Indonesia is much cheaper
    depends on what you will do of course.

    Islands, forest, jungle, or remote tribe, we have all of those things in
    Indonesia. Bali is also part of Indonesia.

  • Ubud Tours

    Hi My name Ngakan Sandi, I was born and live in Bali. Bali has been a popular and favorite destination for many people. I can provide you tips or answer your questions you ask about Bali with free (ie. things to do, popular spots, weather, etc).
    Please do contact me by call +62-85333-294623 if you have been in Bali or E-mail (balitourguide@gmail.com) just plan the best holidays in Bali Indonesia.

    If you need happy and fun traveling or holiday in Bali Indonesia, do not hesitate contact me via telephone or email.

    Traveling and having tour in Bali Indonesia is much cheaper
    depends on what you will do of course.

    Islands, forest, jungle, or remote tribe, we have all of those things in
    Indonesia. Bali is also part of Indonesia.

  • very nice….
    and plan your tour here http://goaroundbalitours.blogspot.com

  • Miss Jane

    Hey Nikki, a girlfriend and I are going in a few months and we had an idea of going and getting a makeover (hair & makeup) and then getting some nice pics taken, much like a photo studio makeover. Do you know any places in Bali that would do that?

    • Hi Miss Jane, just saw this, sorry! I don’t know of a place that does that sorry!

  • sakti

    Alternative Travlling http://pugunglemong.blogspot.com/

  • mitchandmiacosmetics.com.au

    Looks like you really had great fun in Bali! And that spa looks very relaxing…

  • Blackmores

    Hi Nikki, we really enjoyed reading this post over at Blackmores HQ. Your words and gorgeous imagery have us dreaming of a Bali holiday. So happy to hear that Blackmores Bio Balance was in your Bali travel kit. xx

    • It’s in my travel kit – and post-travel kit – now helping me recover from the bug I picked up. Awesome product.

      • Blackmores

        So happy to hear it’s helping you and we hope you recover quickly! xx

  • Guest

    Hi Nikki – we really enjoyed reading this post over at Blackmores HQ. You words and gorgeous imagery have us dreaming of Bali. So happy to hear that Blackmores Bio Balance was in your Bali travel kit. xx

  • Jeanne

    Hi Nikki,
    I’ve just returned from Bali today, we had an awesome time too. Love your tips. The accommodation you had looks amazing – wow! Jeanne x

  • Housewife in Heels

    Looks like a fabulous trip. Although, if I was going- in following tip 1- choose who you go with, I would definitely leave the models behind 😉 Or at least I’d feed them up big time whilst we were away!

    • LOL … they are former models and proved very helpful with the swimsuit shoot!

  • Tracey Ilich

    We are going in 4 weeks – first time with the girls, fifth time to Bali. Two are seasoned one newbie one twicer and me! Can’t wait, roll on cocktails, relaxing & shopping. Your advice, priceless – thank you.

    • Oh yeah Tracey … you’ll have such a different holiday and so much fun!

  • My girlfriends and I are planning to go on a cruise next year – can’t wait!

  • Dianne

    I’ve been a few places for girls getaways & have to say Auckland is well worth a thought! Plenty to keep occupied day & night. Cheap due to exchange rates. A reasonable amount of shopping. We loved our trip to Auckland!

    • I’ve never been Dianne! Just the south island. Now on my list. Thank-you.

  • My besties and I are turning 40 in a couple of years and I would love for us to share an experience like this together. Thank you for sharing all your fab tips and traps, the ladies of Australia and beyond are all the better for it. x

    • Vanessa, it takes a bit of work to organise families to do it but so worth it if you can pull it off – and quite an inexpensive destination if sharing a villa and flying outside of school holidays.

  • mary_j_j

    We were in Bali for Christmas two years ago – far from my mad family – and it was great! Spent a large percentage of our time in our resort pool, stayed in Seminyak and then on Nusa Lembongan. Lots of cocktails, sun and family fun with our then 2 and 4 year old. One day I’ll get to do a bit more shopping in these fab locations we get to!! I’d go again for Christmas in a flash, but we are staying in Sydney this year. Girls nights just don’t happen for this Ms – the whole phenomena has passed me by it seems!

    • I’d love to do a Christmas here too – even though it’s the most expensive time to go and the weather is not as good as May-Oct, the escape idea appeals!

  • GetawayGuru

    We’ve just returned from Italy – which was my husband’s chosen destination to celebrate a milestone birthday (so sorry not a girls getaway but a getaway to celebrate a birthday – an idea we strongly adhere to in this household!).

    We hired a 5 bed/5 bath Tuscan villa and invited family and friends and celebrated with a chef coming in to cook us a meal which we paired with wines from our Chianti wine tours. Perfect!

    So I echo your Points 2, 3 and 5 – which all apply where ever you getaway too! It makes for a great celebration

    • Oh wow Leanne … that’s a fabulous idea. So memorable!

      • GetawayGuru

        We’ve made it a tradition now. Between us we’ve celebrated a couple of ‘0’ and ‘5’ birthdays in Paris, Greece, on the Amalfi Coast and now Tuscany and I have very fond (if not slightly hazy!) memories of an Uncle’s 60th in a Chateau in Burgundy!

  • MotherDownUnder

    I went to Bali a few years ago with my sister and I loved it…I can’t wait to go back!

  • I think you have well and truly covered every single tip for a great trip, Nikki! One of these days, I’d love to have a girls trip just like this. Thanks for sharing so many beautiful snaps and highlights.

    • It was my first longer than a weekend Sonia … was amazing to be able to do it!

  • Anita McLachlan

    What a week! How wonderful to be with a great bunch of mates doing what you want, when you want to. Looks fabulous. Working on the 41st?

    • No sadly, two year gap but will go back with one of the girls’ 30th birthday. With couples this time. Maybe I do need two years to recover!

  • Kathryn

    It looks divine, Nikki. I discovered Biasa in Sanur in January its my absolute most favourite boutique in Bali, bought a gorgeous navy/black maxi dress & an orange linen neckpiece, the shop assistants are so attentive and helpful. Am going back this January and Biasa will be on the list!

    • I’m so grateful that one of the girls in our group was already a fan or I would have missed it. It wasn’t on the street we did the main shopping in January but the Seminyak boutique was close to our villa. I bought the most beautiful blue dress and slip … will feature on the blog soon. Just stepping into the store was a delight!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I love your Villa Nikki I would much prefer to stay in my own villa with my own private pool and let everything come to me as you did!
    You Pics these ones and the ones On IG looked like you had the BEST time,no good about the Bali belly though,that is one reason I am scared to go to Bali or Thailand(I have a dodgy tummy even at home and horrible reflux) though you have made me want to go to Bali I would prefer it there I think,than Thailand.Thankyou for sharing your tips,Pics and shopping ideas Nikki!

    • I love Thailand too Lisa … the bonus with Bali is the shorter flight to get there but so much good about both.

      • Bettina

        Nikki, can you tell us about Thailand? place to see, things to do etc

        • It’s been 9 years since I was there so not really qualified for up to the minute stuff. We stayed on Koh Samui at the then newly opened Sila Evason and loved it. Plus a couple of nights in Bangkok.

  • Cheekie

    I love this post and the ones of you in Bali last week. Bookmarked for future reference.
    Ok, well I am the ol hippy that stays in Ubud, but next year , I will venture to Seminyak for some sparkle, shopping and drinks, not that that cannot be found in Ubud, hello Four Seasons Ubud and Mozaic…

    • Nothing wrong with your hippy status Cheekie – or Four Seasons and Mozaic!

  • sydneyshopgirl

    Looks like it was the best getaway!
    I’ve never been to Bali. You’ve inspired me.

    SSG xxx

    • I can’t believe I’ve been twice in one year – it’s got under my skin and I’d go back in a flash x

    • Nellie

      Do sydneyshopgirl,

      Fell in love, other half used to go in January, every year for 12 years,never wanted to go.

      Went in October 2012 and have been back twice this year , gets under your skin! Planning my 50th for March …. Enjoy !!!! But Research!!!