No matter how many picturesque Instagram images of Bali you like, or how many times you watch Julia Robert’s Eat Pray Love, it will never justify the actual views that one of the top islands of the world has to offer.
You can spend a week lazing on the beach to get a lovely tan, or swim with colorful fish when diving in the clear blue waters here. You can learn to surf, ride bikes across the islands to explore its nooks and corners, go hiking on volcanic mountains, or simply detox in a yoga retreat. Bali really does have something for everyone.
While a week may not be enough to explore the deepest corners of Bali, you can manage a good trip at the top spots. Here’s how you can plan your trip.
1. South Bali – Seminyak (2 Days)
From upscale art galleries to cheap street shopping and from surfing along the placid waves to visiting Balinese temples, South Bali is where you should start your trip. You will also save time this way, as your flight will land at Denpasar airport, which is in this region and close to Seminyak, your home for the next two days.
After settling in at Seminyak, we suggest you travel a bit north to Canggu. There are plenty of ways to enjoy a fine morning and unwind from the travel exhaustion here. Bike around and check out the paddy fields, or take a surfing lesson on the beautiful black-sand beaches.
Canggu has quite a relaxed vibe and is ideal for families as well as individuals. By noon, catch a scrumptious lunch at one of the various local cafes – Monsieur Spoon and Gypsy Kitchen are two good options.
Come back to Seminyak post lunch and revel in an afternoon of spa. You can also visit the Petitenget Temple, the area’s only cultural landmark. Furthermore, you can beat the heat by visiting covered spaces such as the Nyaman art gallery that houses Balinese art as well as contemporary pieces by local artists.
Next, visit the Legian, which is close to Seminyak, for some shopping. You can take a walk at Garlic Lane for kitschy souvenirs and clothing. This lane further connects to Merta Nadi Art Market, where you will find handcrafted goods, cane and wooden items as well as a few local designer boutiques.
On your first night in Bali, do a mix of clubs and lounges to experience different aspects of the island after dark. Start at Kuta and visit the Hard Rock Cafe and Sky Garden Rooftop Lounge. From Kuta, come back to Seminyak and go to Ku De Ta, the most popular club in town. You can also check out the Potato Head Beach Club and La Favela bar for a more relaxed vibe.
After a night of heavy partying and checking out a range of different bars, spend your day reveling in the silence of , one of the six main temples of Bali. The beautiful clifftop setting of this place makes it ideal to spend a day learning about its culture and history.
The venue is open from 9am to 6pm, so you can visit Nusa Dua first and then come here to check out the beautiful sunset.
Mid-Day & After-Hours
After visiting the temple, take a trip to Bali’s most exclusive and elite space – Nusa Dua. Walk around or shop in Sogo departmental store and Bali Collection store. You can also finish your temple trip early and play at the luxurious 18-hole golf course in the area.
Enjoy a dreamy evening on the white-sand beaches here, complete with beautiful shacks and romantic sunsets.
At night, enjoy live shows such as the Cabaret Show at the Sol Beach House Benoa and Devdan Show at Nusa Dua Theatre. You can even get a quiet drink at King Cole Bar at The St. Regis Bali and at the poolside bar at Mantra Sakala Resort.
2. Central Bali – Ubud (2 days)
After exploring the south of Bali for parties and shopping, it’s time for the cultural centre of the island – Ubud. This is one of Bali’s most popular tourist destinations, as it has a mix of historical sites, natural marvels such as beautiful waterfalls and mountains, and some of the best museums in the country.
Morning & Mid Day
Wake up to some of the best views in the world, when in Ubud. We recommend you start your day with a sunrise trek to the majestic Mount Batur and its volcanic top, Kintamani.
Then, take a trip to the holy spring waters of Tirta Empul Temple near the mountain. By early evening, you can check out the Goa Gajah ‘Elephant Cave’, where you will get a close look at Bali’s history.
Get a taste of Bali’s cultural scene with a look at Ubud Royal Palace’s live performances that happen in the evening. The ticketed event is between 7.30pm and 8pm.
After this event, you can visit local bars such as the Melting Pot Saloon that has foosball, a pool table and table tennis, and Kafe Bunute Ubud, which has live acoustic music with food and drinks.
Morning & Mid-Day
After visiting the Puri Saren Royal Palace at night, it’s time to get a closer look during the day. Continue from the palace to check out Bali’s art and culture scene at the island’s top museums, such as Blanco Renaissance and Puri Lukisan.
Finally, continue to the Ubud Monkey Forest for a sight of grey-tailed monkeys hopping around on the beautiful stone sculptures of these animals. Since this is located in the centre of the city, you can continue your celebration after dark too.
Get a taste of Bali’s party life at the Laughing Buddha Bar; it has top DJs and live bands that play almost everything, from jazz to fusion and even EDM.
If you’re hoping for a quieter, more romantic evening, visit the XL Shisha Lounge, which has a Middle-Eastern decor and theme. Besides these, the Monkey Forest area is lined with bar and pubs for tourists.
3. North Bali – Bedugul (1 Day)
While the sunkissed beaches of South Bali and majestic temples of Ubud are ideal for a tourist, a traveller always wants more – which is why we recommend a day trip to Central Bali. Take the road less travelled to the serene crater lakes and quaint mountainous treks.
From Ubud, take a taxi and travel further in the centre of Bali to Bedugul, which should not be more than an hour away (depending on the traffic). From Bedugul you can go to Tampaksiring, the mountain village, and then come back to Ubud for the night.
We recommend you start early from Ubud and reach Bedugul by early morning to make the most of this lakeside town. Start by soaking in the serene vibe at Pura Ulun Danu, the temple of the lake.
If you want a dose of adrenaline, you can enjoy the water sports activities here, too. Finally, take a lavish lunch break at the restaurants around this area.
Just a few kilometres from Bedugul is the Candi Kuning Market, ideal for those looking to munch on some fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables. Alongside this are a few souvenir and street-shopping places to explore here, too.
After a quick shopping trip, visit the famous botanical gardens here (close to Candi Kuning). Perched at an elevation, on the mountains, where the weather is cool, it is ideal to take a nice walk and explore nature.
As you would be traveling to Ubud back at night, make one last stop in Central Bali at Tampaksiring, a mountain village. Here, you must check out the glorious Gunung Kawi temple, located in-between the neon beds of rice terraces. It also has a few of the finest carvings across the country.
4. South East Bali – Nusa Lembongan (1.5 Days)
From Ubud, travel to the southeast coast of Bali to the Nusa Lembongan islands to spend a day and a half enjoying beaches, surfing, diving and interesting food flavours. Since the place is less commercial, it has no pesky hawkers or traffic, just ideal to spend your last day in Bali.
There is a list of beaches that you can visit here, but we recommend Broken beach and Kelingking beach at nearby Nusa Penida. These are quite secluded compared to the popular Dream breach and Devil’s Tear in the main tourist areas.
Here, you can go diving, surfing, gorge on some delicious food, or simply lounge on the beach. Although, we have to say these beaches make the ideal place to click some beautiful pictures.
To beat the scorching Indonesian heat, go to the Goa Gala-Gala Underground House in the southwestern area of Lembongan. It has a whole underground house made from limestone, inspired by the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. Made in 1976, it is an interesting spot for tourists and locals alike.
Nusa Lembongan is known for the many beachside parties hosted by locals as well as tourists, which is an ideal way to make the most of the island. In addition, you can get a drink at Mahagiri Lembongan Beach Club or Le Pirate Beach Club, both of which are known for some of the finest cocktails on the island.
The island is small, and going from one end to another is quite easy. However, during peak season, there is often a lot of traffic. So, it is best to plan out your travel in advance with the help of locals or Google Maps.
Taxis are available for hire, and you can bargain to get a good price. We suggest hiring taxis for the whole day in different locations, such as a separate taxi for South Bali, one for Ubud and maybe one for Nusa Lembongan.
Remember to always take care of your belongings, whether in a crowded place or a private bar, Bali is known for pickpockets and scams.
At temples, men and women need to wear covered outfits. You can always buy a sarong locally, and wear it inside the venue to maintain decorum in the local place of worship.
Do not feed or approach local animals, especially monkeys, and keep your belongings secure when you’re around them.
Remember to wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and have a lot of fun!