Though Bali has a reputation for being overrun with tourists, the tropical paradise is a popular tourist destination for many reasons. From outdoor adventures, culture and arts, fabulous dining, yoga and meditation, relaxing spas, surfing and partying, Bali truly has something to offer everyone. After living in Bali for over a month, I’ve put together a few of of my favorite sights and activities, compressed into a 5-day itinerary. Of course, if these activities are too full-on, you can always relax with a spa day or enlighten yourself with one of the many yoga and meditation retreats that Bali’s famous for.
Day 1: Get your adrenaline pumping with a few water sports in Nusa Dua (you can book from any of the many tour agencies you’ll see). Choose from a variety of activities including parasailing, banana boat, jet skiing, flying fish, snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat, and more. You can generally get 4 activities for around $35-50 USD. Afterwards, go relax on Jimbaran beach and finish with dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants lining the beach. Many are fairly pricey for Bali, but if you browse first, you’ll find some cheaper options.
Day 2: In the morning, take a surf lesson at Kuta Beach, one of the best beaches to learn on. (Check out Pro Surf School for a fun but informative time with some awesome instructors). After your lesson, head down south to see the beautiful Padang Padang beach. Then continue further to visit Uluwatu beach, the famous temple on a cliff, and snap some monkey photos. Stay for the Kecak fire dance during sunset, and end with a few drinks at Single Fin Bar (bonus if it’s Sunday, Single Fin’s most popular night)!
Day 3: Book a volcano trek up Mount Batur for some incredible views. You’ll get picked up around 2am (depending on where you’re staying) and will trek in the dark to arrive at the summit for sunrise. (You’ll be given flashlights, but be sure to bring warm clothes since it will be freezing at the crater. Otherwise you can rent a jacket for 50,000 Rp). After the trek, head to Seminyak Beach for a nap and a massage, and sip on a cocktail during sunset at La Plancha or Potato Head Beach Club. If you’re not too tired after all that, try La Favela, the most popular spot to go out in Seminyak.
Day 4: Head up to Tanah Lot to view the famous Tanah Lot temple. Though quite touristy, it’s one of the more interesting and unique temples, as it is only accessible in low tide. Afterwards, rent a board and catch some waves in Changgu, another beach that is great for learning. Top off the day with a delicious seafood dinner at Echo Beach during sunset.
Day 5: Book a full-day tour to Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali. Ubud is known for its monkey forest, temples, art markets, museums, rice terraces, and coffee plantations. You can get a private car for 500,000-600,000 Rp for a full day, so it’s pretty cheap if you can find a few people to split it with. If you think you’ll love Ubud, stay for a few days and relax with some yoga, meditation, or spa treatments. But if you’re staying down near Kuta/Legian and get back in time from your day trip, try Skygarden’s buffet dinner (only 50,000 Rp from 5pm-10pm) and their free drinks (if you dare) at 9pm. Looking to go out somewhere else? Try Alleycat for cheap predrinks, followed by Eikon, Engine Room, or Reggae Bar, depending on the type of night you’re looking for.
- Many monkeys in Bali are very aggressive. Be careful of your belongings (cameras, sunglasses, etc), and if you get bitten, get a shot from the doctor as soon as possible.
- You can oftentimes bargain with street vendors down to around 50% of the initial asking price.
- For cheap local food in Kuta, don’t miss Warung Malang and Warung Indonesia – they’re amazing!
- Theft (especially for phones) is very common on the streets. Keep your valuables in a secure place on you to avoid being pick-pocketed, and if you’re a girl, wear your purse across your chest instead of on your shoulder to help prevent motorbike drive-by robberies.
- Have more time? Check out the Gili Islands and/or Nusa Lembongan for a few days.
- If you’re dying to surf when the east coast has bad onshore winds, check out some of the west coast waves – Serangan Beach usually has great conditions if the east coast doesn’t.
- The easiest way to get around is by motorbike, which you can rent for around 50,000 Rp per day. If you opt for taxis instead, get the Blue Birds, which are metered, or negotiate a price beforehand with any of the other taxis.
- Where to stay? Kuta Beach is party central. If you’re looking for crazy nights out, stay close to Legian Street. If you prefer something more low-key but still central, try staying in Seminyak, which is classier, but a bit more pricey. To really get away from the crowds, check out Nusa Dua or Uluwatu, which have some lux resorts, but are on the higher end of the price scale.
Any questions about Bali, feel free to ask!
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌