After spending several weeks across many different areas, we’ve put together what we consider to be a perfect 3-week itinerary. We believe this gives you a great taste of the unique adventures and delights that Bali has to offer.
There is something special about Bali that keeps people coming back over and over again. It wasn’t until we had travelled extensively around South East Asia that we decided to give it a try. We now believe the hype.
Bali offers incredibly diverse landscapes, impeccably cool cafes and restaurants and some of the friendliest locals that we have come across.
Combine all that with excellent value for money and the ease of getting around and its success is no longer a mystery.
It might seem counter-intuitive to leave Bali just as you arrive but some of the best beaches, ones that South East Asia are known for, aren’t always found there. Start your trip off right with a combination of adventure and relaxation with Nusa Penida and the Gili Islands.
You can reach these islands by ferry from Sanur or Padang Bai. If your flight or bus arrives late at night, spend a night in Sanur or Padang Bai the night before.
The Gili Islands all have their unique character and have something for everyone. You can party in Gili T, feel like you’re on a deserted island in Gili Meno or enjoy couple time in Gili Air. Pick one to stay on and visit the others as a day trip.
Nusa Penida is still under the radar by Bali standards but that’s rapidly changing. The island offers some of the most stunning and dramatic coastlines we’ve ever seen and getting from point A to point B, when you’re here, always feels like an adventure.
Some of our favourite areas to spend time on this island are within the towns of Central Bali. There is so much to explore here and the locals are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
Basing yourself in Ubud and Sidemen allows you to take day trips to see sites such as the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Temple of Heaven and many more. Although the distances between places may seem short, still allow for plenty of time to get around.
Often described as being the ‘Ubud of 25 years ago’, Sidemen promises an authentic look into the Balinese culture. Like Ubud, Sidemen is a small town surrounded by rice fields. Sidemen is a great place to relax and unwind, which may be sorely needed depending where you’ve visited so far.
A sunrise trek up Mount Batur, an active volcano, is an unforgettable experience. It requires a very early start as tours generally start between 12:00 – 2:30am. You can begin your tour from most places on the island, but doing so from central Bali will give you a couple more hours of sleep beforehand.
Ubud is the cultural hub of Bali. Our favourite thing about Ubud are the treks you can take from the centre where you can see the lush, green surroundings of the rice fields and jungle. There are also countless restaurants and bars here of a very high quality, including Indonesia’s top ranked restaurant, Locavore.
South Bali is where most people picture when then think of Bali, whether positive or negative.
Influencers, drunk Australians and more inhabit these parts that promise a certain type of holiday lifestyle that mixes decedent beach clubs with world-class surf.
There are a lot of towns to choose from in South Bali, each with their pros and cons. We’ve only seen a few but these are the ones we feel stand above the rest.
Uluwatu is famous for its world-class surf and decadent beach clubs. For non-surfers there are many gorgeous beaches hidden and scattered around worth checking out. There is also Uluwatu Temple, which sits perched on a cliff edge.
Jimbaran ended up being a surprise highlight for us. We stayed a night here to break up the journey from Uluwatu to Seminyak and loved it. If you walk north from the beachside seafood restaurants you’ll find a stretch of sand with a much more local vibe.
Canggu is today’s Seminyak. The perfect place to unwind in a villa at the end of your adventure across Bali. There are many great cafes, restaurants and beach clubs here to keep you busy. A few days will barely scratch the surface of what’s on display, and you’ll soon learn why people keep coming back here.