Bali is probably the most known island in all of Indonesia and there are plenty of reasons why people often describe it as paradise. From amazing beaches to lush tropical rainforests, amazing party nights and breathtaking hiking trails along mountains or volcanos – it seems like Bali has it all.
Although possible destinations in Bali seem endless, I tried putting together a short overview of places that you definitely should not miss if you find yourself in this corner of the world.
Canggu (1-2 days)
After landing in Denpasar, PLEASE (and I cannot stress this enough) DON’T go and stay in Kuta (unless you’re into crazy mass tourism, expensive prices and reeeally drunk people :D). Instead, head to Canggu which is just a bit further northwest. Canggu offers a very different atmosphere where locals and tourists still appreciate each other and everyone is super friendly. There are plenty of bars and restaurants as well as shops, so there’s no need for you to worry about missing out on anything. Trust me when I say that this will be the perfect start to your Bali adventure.
The three main areas of Canggu are called Batu Bolong, Echo Beach and Berewa and all three of them offer anything you could ever ask for. All three of them are filled with amazing cafes, restaurants and coworking places but the vibes are different in every single one of them. Batu Bolong is pretty much the “main street” while Echo beach offers some freaking amazing restaurants with seafood so good that you will most likely never forget in your life. To get to Berewa, you have to cut through the very famous Canggu shortcut (it’s an adventure that you will absolutely love 😀 just be prepared for a lot of traffic and potentially getting stuck for a couple of minutes :D)
If you want to find out more about the best places to check out in Canggu, click here.
Ubud (at least 2 days, preferably 4)
Ubud is located just one hour away from Canggu or Kuta and is the cultural center of Bali. You’ll be surrounded by lush vegetation, amazing rice fields, awesome Yoga studios, restaurants, and countless waterfalls and temples in the middle of jungle areas that will easily remind you Avatar. Ubud offers a very different atmosphere than Canggu and there is always a constant debate about which place is better. I honestly love places the same and if it’s not important to you to party and be close to the beach, Ubud can be the perfect paradise for you.
If you’re traveling solo, I can highly recommend the Puri Garden Hostel, because it is easily one of the nicest hostels you’ll ever stay in and has a fantastic atmosphere and great location. If you’re traveling with a partner or friends, you guys should definitely look for a villa in Ubud on Airbnb. There are so many places that are super affordable and absolutely mind-blowingly gorgeous and it would be a shame for you not to make use of that while in Ubud.
Do yourself a favor and stay in Ubud for at least 2 nights. Trust me when I say that even this will feel like you barely have enough time to see the really nice parts and be able to soak up the energy around here (which is why you should stay for 3, preferably 4 nights :D)
For the ultimate guide on things to do in Ubud and which temples and waterfalls to check out, click here.
Hike Mount Batur
From Ubud, you can go on a sunrise trip to climb Mount Batur and enjoy some seriously amazing views of the sunrise and a different side of the island. Tours usually leave early in the mornings around 3 am and take you to the bottom of the volcano where you will start hiking for roughly an hour. Depending on how lucky you are weather-wise, you will be rewarded with an amazing sunrise that will leave you speechless. Be prepared though, there will be monkeys waiting for you at the top and although they do look super cute, there is a high chance that they will try to steal your food.
Gili Islands (3 days)
Although the Gili Islands are right next to Lombok, they’re an absolute must during every Bali trip. Most ferries to the Gilis leave from Padang Bai and take about 1,5 hours by boat to reach. Make sure to haggle with the tour operators and never pay more than 400k for a roundtrip. Once you reach these amazing islands (there are three islands: Gili Meno, Gili Air, and Gili Trawangan) or ‘heaven’ as I like to call them, you’ll be thanking yourself for making it all the way here. Gili T is usually the island that most backpackers stay on and accommodations range from simple dorms to nice little private huts with a pool. The island itself offers super nice beaches and an amazing ocean in which you will most likely see sea turtles and a ridiculous amount of fishis while you’re snorkeling 10m away from the shore. You’ll also find a wide range of beach bars to chill in or dance the night away. Taking day trips to the other islands where you’ll find fewer people and even nicer beaches is no problem at all and won’t cost you much at all. If you feel a bit adventurous, look into renting a kayak or standup paddleboard to cross over the other islands. This will take about 30 minutes but you will get amazing views of the island and the surrounding turquoise waters.
Gili T is also the place where you will find the underwater statues that are all over Instagram. You can take a day boat that takes you out to them or you just go by kayak or stand up paddleboard (they’re located right in front of Gili Meno).
Uluwatu area/beaches(3 days)
The peninsula south of the airport has some of the best beaches you will find in Bali. Although some are very popular among surfers, there are plenty of others that are absolutely perfect for swimming, sunbathing or just hanging out as well. Padang Padang, Dreamland Beach or Pandawan Beach are a definite must while you’re in Bali. By the way, the easiest way to get around in this area is by scooter. Traffic, however, can be pretty busy, so if you don’t feel comfortable enough, just grab a taxi or driver for the whole day. They’re usually not too expensive (about 500k/35€) and will wait at every destination until you’re done.
For the ultimate guide to my Top 5 beaches here in Bali, click here.
Temples (plan another 2-3 days to get to some of these and properly enjoy them)
Temples belong to Bali as the sun belongs in the sky. While you’ll see countless little temples throughout anywhere you go on the island, there are some major ones that you definitely shouldn’t miss because they might actually blow your mind.
Depending on what kind of vibe you like, you can be either based in Canggu or Ubud and take day trips to many of these temples (the drive from Ubud is often shorter though).
Uluwatu (the temple, not the beach) in the southern part of Bali, is one of the most amazing spots on the island. Not only is this one of the nicest places to watch the sunset from, but it’s also an absolute must-see temple-wise. There are a bunch of wild monkeys here, so make sure you take good care of your sunglasses or other loose belongings of yours. At Uluwatu, there is also a local sunset ceremony called the Kecak Fire Dance which is taking place every night at 5 pm.
Other temples that you just cannot miss during your stay in Bali, are Tanah Lot (which is only a short 25-minute ride from Canggu and perfect to visit during sunset), Besakih Temple (often called the „mother temple”) or Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. In Ubud alone, you will find 4 big temple complexes that definitely have to be on your list (they’re also all mentioned in this article).
Please keep in mind to either wear long pants (this goes for men and women) or buy a so-called “Sarong” when you get to Bali. They sell them everywhere and if you’re good at haggling, one will only cost you between 30-60k. (I do however like to pay around 100k if I can see that the quality is really good because that feels fair to me).
Nusa Penida (2 days)
Nusa Penida is an island off the south-east coast of Bali and offers a very different atmosphere than Bali. To get here, get a ride to the harbor in Sanur and take one of the fast boats that leave a couple of times a day. You will find an abundance of ticket selling offices but they usually all overcharge and ask for 300k one-way. Try to find a white corner office close to the water because this is the official ticket selling booth and a roundtrip to Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan will cost you 300k. The island itself is super quiet and will spoil you with amazing beaches, palm trees, and anything you need to relax. Rent a scooter and make sure to check out Atuh Beach, Kelingking Beach, and Crystal Bay.
Nusa Lembongan/Nusa Cheningan (2 days)
You can easily reach these two islands after a 20-minute boat ride from Nusa Penida (or you go there directly from Sanur). They offer a very different vibe than Nusa Penida. The islands themselves are connected by a bridge and are a lot more “developed” than Nusa Penida. On Nusa Cheningan, make sure to check out the Blue Lagoon (it’s so blue that it’s actually ridiculous) and all the beach bars along the north coast of the island. The bars are all really small but offer an amazing and very chill vibe with views of the water that will make you feel like you’re in the Maledives.
Nusa Lembongan is the bigger island of the two (although it’s still relatively small). Make sure to check out Mushroom Bay, Tamarind Beach and Dream Beach.
This is only a very short overview of things to do in Bali and I did take travel time into consideration. There will be A LOT more info coming soon for you guys to make sure that you won’t be missing out on anything important. Stay tuned 😀
Best time to visit Bali
For me, there’s really no bad time to visit Bali. The rainy season lasts from November to April and I have to admit that I prefer Bali during this time. Many places are still busy but not as overrun as they sometimes are during the high season from April to September and prices everywhere are generally lower.
The rain rarely messes up your plans in Bali anyways because it usually only lasts for 2 or 3 hours and the rest of the day is usually absolutely gorgeous. On top of that, I would even argue that the sunsets during rainy season can be even more impressive because of the clouds.
Transportation in Bali
It’s super easy to get around in Bali. Once you land at the airport, there will be hundreds of Taxi drivers waiting to give you a ride. BE CAREFUL: While I understand that they’re just trying to make a living, I don’t like getting into one of these because they ALWAYS overcharge tourists. A ride from the Aiport to either Kuta/Canggu or Ubud should NEVER cost more than 200k (which is about 15USD). An even better alternative is to download the App GoJek or Grab (which is the Indonesian version of Uber) and get a ride through them.
Once you have left the airport, I can highly recommend renting a scooter to be able to explore Bali and all its amazing secret streets properly. Scooters usually cost around 50k per day and they get a lot cheaper the longer you rent them for (I usually pay 550k (about 35€) for the entire month). If you’re not too confident with your driving skills, please let someone else drive or take a driving lesson and ALWAYS wear your helmet. Taking a GoJek scooter ride is also a good and cheap alternative if you’re too scared to drive yourself in Bali.
Cost of food in Bali
The cost of food in Bali can vary greatly. If you’re deciding on getting something from a local restaurant (also called Warung), you can easily get a gigantic plate of super delicious food for 1-2€. There are of course countless other restaurants but as long as they’re not super fancy, you can expect to pay anything from 3-8€ for a proper meal. Fresh coconuts usually cost between 1-2€, coffee is about 2-3€ (and is definitely pretty pricey for Indonesian standard).
And these are the most important points about coming to Bali. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop a comment below or send me a message through Instagram.