Considered one of the most popular beach destinations in the world, Bali is a stunning island in Indonesia that blends gorgeous mountain scenery, stunning beaches, and verdant rice paddies with cultural attractions and a friendly local vibe. Travellers can also enjoy a wide range of activities, from getting traditional Balinese massages and sunset watching to outdoor adventures like surfing, diving, jungle treks, and white water rafting.
Bali has so many attractions that planning an activity-packed yet well-paced itinerary can be very challenging. So we recommend that you focus your trip on experiencing the local culture while you visit the main attractions.
It is also worth mentioning that unlike other travel destinations in Asia, the bus routes in Bali are very limited so you’ll have to rent a scooter, take the taxi, or hire a private car if you are planning a DIY tour of the island’s many attractions.
You also need to decide where to stay. Most tourists choose between Kuta and Ubud.Those who want to be in the centre of Bali’s nightlife scene and be near the beaches choose Kuta while those who want relax and get some peace and quiet after a day of sightseeing prefer Ubud. If you’re visiting Bali for the first-time, it would be wise to stay at different hotels during your stay, for example, spend the first 2 nights in Ubud and then in Kuta for the rest of your stay to have different perspectives of the island.
Day 1 – Monkey Forest and Tanah Lot Temple
As soon as you arrive at the Ngurah Rai International Airport, take the taxi or hire a private car that will take you to your hotel in Ubud. The drive to Ubud from the airport will take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the traffic. The cab fare would be around IDR 300,000, or even more if the driver insists on not using the meter.
If you want to sample traditional Balinese cuisine before visiting any of the attractions, you can try the deep fried duck at Bebek Bengil at Jalan Hanoman.
On your first day in Ubud, you can visit the Ubud Monkey Forest. Located in the village of Padangtegal, the 12.5-hectare forest is home to more than 700 monkeys and close to a hundred species of trees. Remember to hide your things when exploring the sanctuary as the monkeys will try to steal food, beverage, sunglasses, and even your camera.
After spending time at the Monkey Forest, proceed to Tanah Lot Temple, a landmark attraction in Bali. Set on top of a rocky outcrop within the village of Beraban, the offshore ancient Hindu shrine is highly popular for its sunset backdrops. Sunset watching at Tanah Lot is a can’t-miss activity when in Bali.
Make your arrival in Bali as hassle-free as possible by booking a One Way Airport Transfer to Ubud. The airport transfer includes a a free 7-day Kura Kura Buss pass. To make the most out of your first day in Bali, we recommend the Half Day Sunset Tour so you can visit Tanah Lot, Taman Ayu Temple, and the Sangeh Monkey Forest in a span of 6 hours.
Day 2 – Ubud Palace, Ubud Traditional Art Market, and Campuhan Ridge Walk
Begin your day early to have an authentic glimpse of the local way of life in Ubud. Visit the Ubud Palace, locally known as the Puri Saren Ubud, a historical site that was once the official home of there royal family of Ubud. Located on the main Jalan Raya Ubud, the building complex features exquisite Balinese architecture.
From the Ubud Palace, you can walk through another attraction, the Ubud Tradtional Art Market or Pasar Seni Ubud, featured in the 2010 film Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts. Check out the wide array of souvenir items on display like scarves, shirts, accessories, and handicrafts.
If you still have time for another hike, head to the Campuhan Ridge Walk where you will be greeted by breathtaking scenery. Remember to bring water and a flashlight with you and get ready for the walk back before it gets too dark.
For dinner, you can pick any of the warungs or eateries near your hotel but we suggest you go where the locals eat and ask if they have nasi campur or “mixed rice.” Nasi campur is white rice served with an assortment of side dishes like meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs, tempe, and tofu. You might also want to get a Balinese massage to relieve your sore muscles after all that hiking.
The Enchanting Ubud Tour is perfect for travellers who wish to explore the art scene in Ubud in addition to visiting attractions like the Ubud Palace, Ubud Market, and Petulu Village.
Day 3 – Ayung River, Tegallalang Rice Terraces, and the Lake Temple
For your 3rd day in Bali, go on an exhilarating white water rafting adventure on the Ayung River. Ayung River is Bali’s longest and largest river in Bali and nothing beats journeying along its length amidst majestic gorges, emerald green rice fields, and lush jungle surrounds.
Afterwards, head to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tegallalang Rice Terraces, located 10 kilometres north of Ubud. Admire the terraced landscapes and take advantage of the perfect photo opportunities presented by the dramatic views. You can also try one of the giant swings overlooking the Tegallalang rice paddies for an unrivalled viewing experience.
The next attraction to visit is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, the Lake Temple. Set on the picturesque Bratan Lake in Bedugul, the Lake Temple is easily one of Bali’s most iconic attractions. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is also one of the most photographed sights in Indonesia. Visitors never miss to a chance to capture an image of the water temple as it hangs over the equally beautiful lake that’s surrounded by the forested mountains of Bedugul.
Instead of the Lake Temple, you can also visit the Mother Temple or Pura Besakih, the largest and most important Hindu Temple in Bali. The beautiful temple complex consists of 86 temples set at least a thousand metres high up on the slopes of Mount Agung. The Mother Temple is encircled by verdant rice paddies, lush hills, and gurgling mountain streams.
Finally, it is time for your trip to Kuta where you’ll be staying for the rest of your stay in Bali. Head out to Kuta Beach to watch Bali’s golden sunset before having dinner at any of the budget, mid-range, or upmarket restaurants in Kuta. Do check out the popping nightlife scene along Legian Kaja Boulevard.
Make your Bali vacation extra memorable with the Half Day White Water Rafting on Ayung River Tour. Challenge yourself by shooting the rapids of Bali’s longest and largest river. The tour is inclusive of buffet lunch, access to shower and changing rooms, and the services of experienced guides. Complement your white water rafting adventure with the Gulingan, Mengwi Temple, Monkey Forest, and Tanah Lot Tour. You will visit the famous Lake Temple and 3 other attractions on this tour.
Day 4 – Kuta and Seminyak
After a quick breakfast near your hotel, head to Kuta Beach for a morning stroll or for a 2-hour introductory surfing lesson, which can go as low as $15. Feel free to browse through the surf schools that line the beachfront.
Kuta is also a shoppers’ haven. Go bargain-hunting on Poppies Lane 1 and 2. You can find practically everything there from clothes to accessories, oils, scented candles, and tons of quirky items. Kuta also has several malls that are just a short walk from the beach like Beachwalk Shopping Center and Discovery Shopping Mall.
Next, head to Seminyak, just a couple of kilometres north of Kuta, to sit back and relax at one of the beach bars. Seminyak is popular for its beach clubs so if you’re the partying type, pop into Potato Head, Mozaic, Ku De Ta, and Cocoon.
See the most beautiful sights of Bali by getting the 3 0r 7-day Kura Kura Bus Pass. The air-conditioned shuttle service is a value-for-money, safe, comfortable, and convenient way to explore Bali. There are 8 lines to choose from – Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Nusa Dusa, South Nusa Dua, Sanur, and Jimbaran. Each line showcases a different set of attractions.
Day 5 – Uluwatu Temple and Jimbaran
Start your last day in Bali by heading to Jimbaran. A short drive from Kuta, Jimbaran is famous for its beautiful bay and spectacular beaches. Take a leisurely walk to explore the beaches, the local community, and the fresh produce and seafood markets. Jimbaran’s fish market offers a wide selection of the freshest saltwater fish and other seafood from the waters surrounding Bali.
And for your last activity in Bali, visit Uluwatu Temple, locally known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu. Famous for its unique setting – perched on top of a cliff that loom over the Indian Ocean – Uluwatu Temple is considered a spiritual pillar in Bali, guarding the island from evil spirits. Visit in the late afternoon so you can watch the sunset and the nightly Kecac Fire Dance, a Balinese ritual dance-drama performed by about 75 male dancers. The Kecac Fire Dance is based on the Hindu epic poem Ramayana.
The Half Day Dramatic Kecac Uluwatu Private Tour with Dinner is the perfect ending to your vacation in Bali. Admire the exquisite architecture and unique setting of the sea temple and watch a performance of the Kecac Fire Dance with the setting sun as its scenic backdrop. The tour is inclusive of a candlelit seafood dinner at one of the restaurants in Jimbaran.