Bali is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Asia. Rightfully so, because everyone can enjoy themselves here. Whether you like beautiful beaches, pristine nature, good food, waterfalls, temples or impressive coastlines. On this Indonesian island you will find it all. After spending several weeks on Bali we have seen enough places to list our favorites. Time to give tips for the Perfect Bali Itinerary and the surrounding islands.
Traveling on Bali
Bali is not very big, yet the distances can be quite long. Public transportation is astonishingly bad – according to locals because everyone has a scooter – so a taxi is one of the best ways to travel around Bali. Nowadays, the convenient travel apps Uber and Grab are used, but officially these are prohibited. In addition, regular taxis, Uber and Grab can not enter different areas – like the center of Ubud. Both private taxi services are relatively new on Bali, so getting a ride can be a big hassle. Upon requesting a ride you’ll almost immediately be called by the driver asking where you want to go. If it’s a short distance, chances are they don’t show up. They always want you to pay with cash, because then they are able to ask more than the fare calculated. In other words: it’s not worth the hassle.
A quicker way would be ordering a “Blue Bird” taxi. They all have a meter and their price is reasonable. Blue birds are the light blue taxis that you see everywhere. In addition, you can arrange transportation to the next destination on Bali at your guesthouse. Certainly for long distances this might be your best option.
Another option is to rent a scooter on Bali. For example, you can choose to leave your big backpack at your guesthouse and pick it up at the end of your trip. Especially if you have plenty of time on Bali this is a very good option. Renting a scooter costs you about five euros a day. The transport on Bali is quite chaotic. Especially along the popular tourist attractions. Keep this in mind. A big bonus is the freedom you will have while traveling around.
Route Bali: The ideal route for three weeks Bali
Although you can easily spend several weeks on Bali, most people will take two to three weeks for the island. During this time you can visit many beautiful places, and you can find a versatile route for Bali.
Kuta, Seminyak or Canggu
After arriving at the Bali airport, travel by taxi to one of the coastal areas in the south of the island. Popular destinations include Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu. Party animals travel to Kuta where nightlife is the biggest attraction. If you want more of a beach vibe, Seminyak is the place to go with a lot of beach bars and good restaurants. The quietest option is the surfing village of Canggu, although it’s upcoming. At one of these destinations you can relax and acclimatize from you long flight.
From these destinations you can also easily visit one of the most famous temples on Bali; Tanah Lot.
From Kuta, Seminyak or Canggu you can easily explore the southern part of Bali. Hire a car with a driver or a scooter if you want more freedom and don’t want to depend om others. Especially the surroundings around Uluwatu are worth the effort. Visit the Uluwatu Temple and enjoy the south on Bali’s most beautiful beaches.
Sanur, on the western part of the south coast, is mostly visited by people who want to take the ferry from Bali to one of the surrounding islands. Other than taking the boat from Bali to
Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, The Gili Islands or Lombok, there’s not much to do in Sanur. You might want to spend the night though. You know.. just because you can. There’s a cute little night market with delicious food which is worth checking out. It’s located 50 meters down the street of D’Astri Guesthouse, which you can find on the < a href=”map”>map.
The other islands
The province of Bali actually consists of four islands; Bali, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. These islands are very close to Bali and are reachable within an hour. A perfect way to escape Bali’s chaos. A little further to the east lie the Gili Islands, which are part of Lombok. Although a little further away, they are very much worth visiting from Bali.
Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan
From Sanur, it takes about 30 minutes to reach Nusa Lembongan and about 40 minutes to Nusa Penida. Depending on how much time you have for Bali, we are definitely recommending you to visit these islands. Nusa Lembongan is by far the most popular and is becoming more and more touristy in recent years. Go to Nusa Penida for a more unobtrusiveLALALA experience, the largest island. From here it is possible to take a day trip to Nusa Lembongan so that you can discover all three islands; Penida, Lembongan and -the smallest- Ceningan, which is reachable by crossing the suspension bridge between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida.
The Gili Islands
From Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan you can then take the boat to the Gili islands. These beautiful islands actually belong to Lombok, but are also great to combine with a trip to Bali. The islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno are all car-free and you can explore them by bike. The underwater world is beautiful and the odds of spotting turtles while snorkeling are unbelievably high. Furthermore, the vibe on the islands is chilled.. relaxed. This truly is a place you’ll never want to leave.
From the Gili Islands, you can easily travel back to Bali by boat. For example, you can take the boat to Sanur, Amed or Padang Bai. From here you can take the taxi to Ubud, which is perhaps the most popular destination on Bali. Although most tourists like Ubud, this isn’t the place we would recommend spending too much time.
Ubud is a bit too touristy for our taste. The vendors are pushy and prices are high. Remember the mysterious service tax and government on top of your already overpriced food? Yup, Ubud has it.
Monkey Forrest, the most famous “highlight” in the town itself, is a place with numerous aggressive macaques. Locals hate them, tourists love them. We didn’t visit it for obvious reasons. Would/did you?
Luckily Ubud’s scenery makes up for it! It’s best to book a guesthouse (or your own villa) a few kilometers outside of Ubud, to really enjoy the area. On the scooter you can easily explore the beautiful green rice fields, temples and waterfalls. Because Ubud is located in the center of Bali, the scenery is easily accessible by motorbike within two hours. One of the things you should definitely do is hiking the Campuhan Ridge.
The least visited part of Bali is the north of the island, even though this is changing. More and more people discover the beauty in northern Bali.
The Munduk region
Munduk is a small region in the northern part of Bali. It’s a beautiful green setting, in the middle of the mountains with the Twin Lakes nearby which offer some spectacular views. Munduk is our favorite region in Bali and you should definitely add Munduk to your Bali itinerary. You can choose to stay in Munduk, but another option is to travel to Lovina and take the motorbike from there. For the Munduk region, I recommend you to take out two to three days. Keep in mind that it can be quite chilly in this area as it is at higher altitude.
Read all about the stunning Munduk region.
Lovina himself is not very special, but it is a nice beach destination with not white but black sandy beaches. I image it looks like Kuta in it’s early stages of tourism. Not to say it’s off the beaten track, but locals still dominate this area. In the morning dolphins can be seen near the coast. One of the reasons for tourists to visit Lovina are the dolphins who live here.
Additional tip for your Bali route: Sidemen
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time (or didn’t make time) to visit Sidemen. Sidemen is known for it’s beautiful green rice fields. So if you didn’t see enough rice fields, be sure to visit Sidemen. It’s located in east Bali and it’s about an hour from Ubud.
Have you been to Sidemen? How was it? Any other destinations to add to our Bali itinerary?