Canggu is a beachfront village in Bali, that for some reason has become the digital nomad capital of the world. Nowhere else is there such a density of remote workers, co-working spaces and wifi enabled vegan brunch spots.
Everywhere you go, from the beach clubs to the barbers, you will find westerners hunched over laptops working away.
It’s awesome. Inspiring. Social. Fun. And also a bit weird. Canggu took us a long time to work out. So in this digital nomad guide to Canggu is everything we wished we’d known before arriving.
- 1 Digital Nomad Map Of Canggu
- 2 The Layout
- 3 Where To Live?
- 4 How To Get Around
- 5 Where To Work
- 6 Where To Eat
- 7 Where To Drink
- 8 What To Do
- 9 Other Useful Information
This is a pretty long and in-depth post, from visa requirements to cafe recommendations. So please use the contents to jump around and focus on what parts you’re interested in. Or if you’re a more visual learner you can go straight to the digital nomad map of Canggu.
Digital Nomad Map Of Canggu
We have created the following map with all our tips and favourite places in Canggu.
Canggu is weird and hard to understand from a map. So I really recommend booking a few nights in a cheap hotel in the centre near one of the coworking spaces. Then rent a scooter and spend a few days exploring the two halves of Canggu.
But before we start, here are some of our photos from our time in Canggu to whet your appetite.
Canggu is weird. It is a higgledy-piggledy collection of ricefields sandwiched between hipster cafes and co-working spaces. There are no pavements and walking anywhere is an experience.
The town is really split in two by a river that is quite difficult to cross. You can see the two halves on the map above.
There is one path across the river. But it is quite narrow with only room for traffic in one direction. But cars try and cross in both directions which can cause gridlock. It can take 1 minute to cross. Or 45 minutes. And it is not unusual to see a car or moped fallen over: (not our picture)
Because of this most people spend the majority of their time on one side or the other. So choosing which half you prefer is important. What will your life revolve around?
Where To Live?
I really recommend booking a few nights in a cheap hotel and exploring. Then once you know where you want to live, you can book longer-term accommodation in person for a discount.
Caroline guesthouse is where we chose to spend three nights. It was £18 (300 IDR) a night and walking distance to Dojo Co-Working, the beach and most of the cafes.
Ok so you have spent a few days in Canggu now. Worked out which side you prefer. And now you want to start looking for somewhere to stay long-term.
You really have two choices. Stay in Canggu itself and stay in a guesthouse. Or move out a bit and get one of those beautiful villas you see on Instagram.
Either way, you will get the best deals by being there in person and able to go visit in person. That way you can see what it is really like, and check the wi-fi.
You can drive around looking for signs offering rooms. Talk to other digital nomads for tips on where they are staying. Ask on the Canggu Community Housing Facebook group. Or message hosts on booking sites such as Airbnb.
But beware of photos you see online! There are some very good photographers in Canggu, and some very bad housing.
How To Get Around
Canggu is a scooter town. Cars don’t really fit down the roads and there are no pavements or sidewalks. So to get around most people use a scooter.
They are cheap to rent. Between £3-£6 (50-100 IDR) a day. And cheap to maintain. A month of petrol cost me £2-£4 total and the one problem I’ve had, a puncture, cost just £3 to repair.
There are scooter rental places everywhere. Just make sure to ask for a helmet because they don’t always come with on. We got ours from the one opposite Dojo Co-Working.
Officially you should have an international drivers license to drive a scooter in Bali. See the section on drivers license and corruption.
Many people are quite nervous about driving a scooter. If that is you or if you’ve never driven one before I recommend getting some scooter lessons.
But if you really don’t want to drive a scooter, or just want to go out drinking you can get a taxi or taxi-scooter. There are a few options. You can hire a driver for full or half days at about 500k IDR (£30 a day) or you can get a taxi scooter.
Taxi scooters can be hired on the street at the local Banjar (more on Banjars later) or by using a taxi app. The most popular is GoJek which is an Indonesian company and has the most drivers. Grab is the other option. There is no Uber in Canggu.
Most people choose to GoJek because it is much cheaper and you won’t get ripped off. A standard trip around Canggu will cost you about 10k IDR (60p). But there is one big problem with them, they are banned to pickup from certain streets in Canggu. Most annoyingly, down by echo beach and outside Dojo Coworking.
You can read all about why in the section on the Banjars. But it’s enough to say you will often need to walk for a 5 mins to get to an area they are allowed to pick you up.
Where To Work
There are a lot of co-working spaces in Canggu and most people you meet will be a member of one. They are often the hub of social life.
And they are often really expensive. An unlimited membership at Dojo would cost the two of us £348 a month, more than our rent which was £330.
But luckily there are different options of membership so you can get a lower number of hours for cheaper. We chose to get the lowest number of hours so we could do all the social stuff and events while working at other places. Either our apartment or from some of the great cafes.
My favourite place to work. Greenhouse Cafe:
Dojo vs Outpost vs Tropical Nomad
Dojo is the biggest (300+ plus members). With a very social and quite a young crowd. You will find lots of partying, dating and events there. It is walking distance to echo beach. At the time of writing it was 2,900k (£174) for unlimited access or 800k (£48) for the social 30 hours membership.
Outpost is quite similar to Dojo but in Berawa. A bit set back from the sea, but close to all the eateries and shops of Berawa. At the time of writing it was 2,700k (£162) for unlimited access or 680k (£40) for the social 25 hours membership.
If you prefer the Berawa side, go for Outpost. If you prefer the echo beach side, go for Dojo.
Tropical Nomad is right in between the two and a bit different. It has a reputation for longer-term residents, less partying and more productivity. Digital Nomads who are spending 6 months plus in Canggu. At the time of writing it was 2,700k (£162) for unlimited access or 700k (£42) for the social 25 hours membership.
Where To Eat
The best thing about Canggu is the cafe culture. I cannot begin to tell you how many awesome places there are. With some of the best (and most affordable) food I have ever eaten.
For reference, most mains are between £3 and £6.
But here are some of our favourites, they are all on the map above:
Best Cafe Food – Sprout
We spent more time in sprout than anywhere else. The brunch is great. The people-watching is perfect. And it was just around the corner from our apartment.
Best Cheap Eats Local Food – Warung Heboh
Some of the places most popular with the locals for cheap excellent food are the Padang restaurants. They are buffet style and you pick what you want and load up your plate. Then you get charged. I have no idea how to pricing works but it is always cheap.
Our favourite is Warung Heboh located a few doors down from Sprout, they don’t have an Instagram account so here is a photo of our last meal there. £5 for both.
Best Fine Dining Local Food – Ulekan
Ulekan does Balinese food better than anywhere else we tried. And we tried a lot! Try the gado gado, our favourite Balinese dish.
If you want a great introduction to the best of the best Balinese food then get the tasting menu. At 260k (£15.5) it is well worth the money.
Best For Working – Greenhouse and Cinta
We couldn’t pick between Greenhouse and Cinta Cafe for our pick of the best cafe for working in. But luckily you don’t have to as they are next door! Both have beautiful views out the back with nice loungers. Greenhouse even has a swimming pool.
Even better they are set up for people to work at. Good wi-fi, plenty of space and friendly staff who are happy for you to sit there all day.
Food and drink are a bit more expensive than other places (£5-£7 a main rather than £3-£6) but seeing as you are probably going to spend all day there we’re not complaining.
Best Western Food – Milk and Madu
Sometimes you just crave a burger or pizza. And when you do Milk and Madu is the place. And unsurprisingly also one of the most popular places in Bali. A beautiful venue with space for kids to play it will often be filled with committed expats rather than digital nomads or tourists.
Best For Coffee – Duatigo Cafe
As someone who once owned a coffee shop in London, I take my coffee very seriously. And while there are quite a few good places in Canggu, Duatigo was my favourite.
Best Vegetarian Asian Food – Green Ginger Noodle House
When we pulled up at the Green Ginger Noodle house we thought we had got the wrong place. It isn’t as well polished or well-designed as most other places that had such high recommendations. But when we ordered we were completely blown away.
Highly recommend the laksa and green thai curry.
Best Speciality – Matcha Cafe
Everything has matcha in it. Need I say more? Here is what we ate last time. Really good creative food.
Berawa’s Kitchen – Best Street Food
Berawa’s kitchen has a special place in my heart because it was the first place we had really good cocktails in Canggu. The Balinese tend to add sugar to their cocktails and it is rare to get a good dry one.
Add to that the live music and great cheap street food you can see why we kept coming back.
Most Beautiful – Clear Cafe
Clear Cafe looks almost intimidatingly fancy from the outside. It is amazingly designed, has a slide, a fireman’s pole, a massage parlour. And it is no more expensive than anywhere else at 50k-85k a main (£3-£5).
It is often rather empty so can be a really good place to work from.
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This restaurant has a slide! What more do you need to know? Oh yeah, and the food was excellent. Our dinner for two: £9.5. I think we’re going to like Bali. @clear_cafe_canggu . . . . . . #balidigitalnomad #digitalnomad #balifoodie #balifood #canngu #wanderlust #foodiettaveller #wetraveltoeat #thegoodlife #foodie #eatpraylove #welcometobali #travellingentrepreneur #welovetoeat #travelblog #travelblogger #baliblogger
Best Vegan Food – The Shady Shack
The Shady Shack is the one place in Canggu we often had to queue to get in. It is seriously popular with great vegan food.
Where To Drink
Best Beach Club – La Brisa
Bali and Canggu are full of amazing beach clubs, and La Brisa takes the award for our favourite. Even better it is only a few minutes walk from Dojo coworking. Good DJs, cool people. Great architecture. What’s not to love.
The Best Late-Night Bar – Old Man’s
Want unashamed fun? Old Man’s is the place. I don’t even need to say any more, just watch the video.
Coolest Bar – Pretty Poison
A skate park, cheap drinks and live music. Get’s rammed every Tuesday.
What To Do
If eating drinking and working isn’t enough for you, there is a lot to do as a digital nomad in Canggu Bali.
How can we do a digital nomad guide to Canggu Bali without mentioning yoga? A class will cost between £6-£9 and there are a lot to pick from.
From the more out there practices like ecstatic dancing and tantra. To more traditional styles like hatha and vinyasa.
The Most Popular – The Practice
The most popular and with classes on all-day every day. Every digital nomad in Canggu should check it out at least once.
Best Scenery – Desa Seni
Desa Seni means art village and is a yoga retreat in the heart of Canggu. Canggu can be a hectic place and the beautiful yogo platform in the middle of their tranquil gardens is a slice of tranquil paradise.
Fitness – Jiu-Jitsu, Crossfit, Surfing
Canggu is a major surf spot. One of the best in the world and all the beaches are often full of surfers. There are a lot of surf schools and although the beaches in Canggu are a bit advanced for beginners the schools will take you to other beaches.
I did Brazilian Jui-Jitsu at the beautiful rooftop dojo Synergy MMA which I cannot recommend enough. BJJ is a big part of my life and is the reason we chose to live in Berawa rather than near echo beach.
S2S Crossfit is the Crossfit gym in Canggu. Crossfit on the beach? Why not?
Massages & Tattoos
One of the best things about Canggu is the cheap massages and pampering. Costing between £6 and £9 an hour a lot of digital nomads get multiple massages a week.
Plus with GoJek you can get a good cheap massage in your own home.
If massages aren’t your thing. How about getting a tattoo? Canggu has hundreds of tattoos parlours and some really talented artists.
Deus cafe even offers free tattoos when you order a taco on Taco & Tattuesdays.
Other Useful Information
Cost of living
You will see some people quote crazily cheap cost of living for Canggu. But the truth is that most of them aren’t really possible unless you are making some sacrifices or living there long term.
Between the two of us, we spent a little over £100 a day. £3,000 ($4,000) a month. And I think that is pretty average for living a very good quality of life.
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Our last month of expenses for two people digital nomading in Bali. You can tell we like our food! Includes everything. From Netflix to flights. . . #digitalnomadexpenses #digitalnomadcost #expatliving #balicost #canggucost #digitalnomad #budgeting #budgetpolice #expatliving #expatcost #allwedoiseat #eatpraylove #happyhusband #costoflivingbali #costofliving #poshnomad #digitalnomadreality
Here are some rough guidelines of what everything costs. There are exceptions of course and you can always spend more.
You will meet some people who have what sound like crazy deals on accommodation. But that is probably because they managed a mix of getting really lucky, renting long term, and spending a lot of time hunting.
They are not the norm. The pricing below is what you can get without looking too hard.
- A decent guest house or room in a villa will cost around 4-8 million a month (about £250-£500). Or £20-£40 a night.
- A private one-bedroom villa will cost 8-15 million a month (£500-£900). Or £60-£100 a night.
- Hotels can cost anything from £20 to £500 a night.
Food & Drink
- Food in a restaurant or cafe will cost between 50k and 100k (£3-£6) a meal. Local food is cheaper, but honestly there isn’t that much in it. Drinks will normally cost more than your food bill anyway.
- Soft drinks and coffee will be 25k-50k (£1.5-£3).
- Alcohol will be 30k-120k a drink (£2-£7).
Yoga & Hobbies
- Classes of yoga, jiu-jitstu, Crossfit, etc are normally between 120k-150k. £7-£9.
- Unlimited access is normally about 2.7 mil a month (£162)
- 25-30 hours access a month which includes or social events is normally about 700k (£42)
- A GoJek moped taxi will cost 9k-15k a trip. £0.60-£0.90.
- Renting a moped will cost between 50k-100k (£3-£6) a day depending on how long you rent for.
- Hiring a driver for half a day will be about 350k-400k (£21- £24). Full day for 500k-600k (£30-£36).
- Massage There are massage places everywhere. Expect to pay about 120k IDR an hour (about £7.2).
- Laundry Most places offer laundry services include the guesthouse we lived at. 3k IDR (18p) per item is pretty typical for wash and iron.
- Petrol 10k per litre (60p) is pretty typical from streetside resellers.
There are a few different types of visas that you can get. But for first time digital nomads in Canggu, you really have two options.
- A free 30-day visa
- A Visa-On-Arrival. 30-days but extendable another 30. Total cost about $90.
The free 30-day visa is very easy. You don’t need to do anything, just fly into the country and get your passport stamped as you go through passport control. But it means you will need to leave or do a visa run after just 30 days.
The second option is to get a visa-on-arrival. When you land in Bali and before you go through passport control. Go to the visa-on-arrival and purchase one for $35. Be warned you can only pay in cash! US dollars is fine. Later you will need to get it renewed.
Renewing takes four trips to immigration so most people pay a company to do it for them which brings your trips down to one. We used Visa4Bali who charged 800k IDR (about £48).
It was very easy. We just messaged them on WhatsApp. They sent a moped courier to pick up our passports. Then a few days later we got a text saying to go to immigration (it is about 45-minute taxi from Canggu) where a rep met us and ushered us into a fingerprint booth. After being there less than 20 minutes we got our taxi home.
After that, if you want to stay longer you will need to do a Visa run which involves flying to another country and flying back in again. Most people choose to fly to Kuala Lumpur because both Malaysia and Indonesia have friendly immigration people who don’t mind you doing an obvious visa run. The other option is Singapore, but a lot of people do get turned back.
If possible you should get an international drivers license before coming to Canggu and Bali. If you’re from the UK they cost £5.5 and you can get one from any post office.
It is pretty hard to manage without driving a scooter (although it can be done, see the taxi section). And if you don’t have an international drivers license you may get fined.
The police can be quite corrupt and an easy way to make money is to fine foreigners on mopeds. There are a few semi-permanent checkpoints on the big roads between the airport and Canggu where they pull over every foreigner and ask to see proof of scooter rental and international drivers license.
The fine is 1.2 million rupees (about £72). They can normally be bargained down, but if you have a wallet full of cash expect to pay a lot. Most ‘regulars’ get it down to around 250k. Some lower.
On the plus side, I have never seen anyone stopped in Canggu which is the only place we drove a moped. Whenever we went further we would get a GoJek taxi or hire a driver.
Canggu is a very safe place. There is hardly any violent crime and most people have no problems at all. There are lots of solo female digital nomads living in Canggu, partly because it is so easy and safe.
That being said, there are some safety considerations to be aware of.
Canggu is notorious for having dodgy ATMs that scan your card. So be very careful and make sure to check every ATM you use. Also only use ATMs that are in their own glass box on the street. Not the ones inside shops.
We have marked on the map some ATMs that have been working for us.
If it swallows your card never reenter your pin to try and get it back.
While there is very little violent crime, pickpocketing or phone swiping does happen.
The normal situation is that while out late at night at a bar you look down and see your bag was opened and phone taken. Or you are recording a selfie while driving a moped and someone drives past and swipes your phone.
Be careful and aware. Just because it feels safe and you will see a lot of people acting recklessly, doesn’t mean you should too.
Drink Drivers & Scooter Accidents
The biggest danger in Canggu is the scooters. There are a lot of drunk or reckless drivers and there are a lot of accidents. Don’t be afraid to be the slowest driver and always wear a helmet.
On the plus side, the scooters move so slowly that accidents are rarely serious.
Tipping & Taxes
Tipping isn’t a big part of Bali culture but most places in Canggu will add a service charge to your bill. It can vary from 6%-14%.
When it isn’t automatically added most digital nomads will round up. Indonesian people don’t earn much money and the tips can often add up to more than their salary.
Taxes are also added on most meals.
Make sure to check the menu to see whether to tax and tip are included in the price or added on top. It can add up a lot! Especially as some of the fancier places are adding 20% plus with the tip and tax.
Every collection of streets has their own community called the Banjar. 50 – 100 families of which the married men form a little local government with their own laws and enforcement. It can be hard to tell when one Banjar’s territory ends and another begins, and as a digital nomad it normally won’t matter.
If you rent for a year or more or start a business you will have more involvement and may have to pay a Banjar fee. But apart from that digital nomad in Canggu will only come across the Banjar when trying to get a taxi.
Expats and digital nomads often call them taxi mafias because of the way they monopolise local taxi services. But that is unfair. The taxi companies or apps such as GoJek need to get permission from every Banjar to operate in their territory.
Which as you can imagine is a big job and means that there are some black-zones where taxi apps are only allowed to drop off and not pick up. The most annoying one being right outside Dojo Coworking.
Any other tips we should add? Please comment below.