‘The Island of Gods’ has become a worldwide famed destination for many reasons. Its virgin nature, spellbinding culture, powerful spiritual energy and the mesmerising scent of incense spreading around will make you want to stay forever.
Indeed, Bali is a magical place and its fantastic reputation is rightful. And the peak-season prices reflect it. However, there is a way to enjoy the best of Bali to the fullest extent without having to book an organised holiday package and spending a fortune. Explore the island independently! This is how to see the best of Bali on budget in just one week.
A BRIEF SCHEDULE OF OUR SUGGESTED ONE WEEK ITINERARY:
DAY 1 (ARRIVAL, KUTA, LEGIAN, SEMINYAK)
DAY 2 (JIMBARAN, ULUWATU)
DAY 3 (UBUD)
Day 4 (JATILUWIH AND BRATAN)
Day 5 (KINTAMANI, BESAKIH)
Day 6 (PADANGBAI, AMED)
DAY 7 (TANAH LOT, NUSA DUA)
DAY 8 (DENPASAR, DEPARTURE)
Arrival at Denpasar, Ngurah Rai International airport might be somehow stressful. Immediately after sorting out the endless immigration procedure you will be on your own looking for a way how to get to Kuta/Legian/Seminyak. The cheapest taxi company operating in Bali is called the “Blue Bird” which is a government company but for crafty reasons it is not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport unless you call them or you walk outside of the airport and just flag them down.
Spend the afternoon wandering around Kuta followed by a brief visit of Legian and Seminyak areas is highly recommended for browsing or just window shopping. Stylish malls and graceful promenades will conquer your heart. (And perhaps your wallet, too). Especially, the top-rated “Beach Walk Mall” offers a lot of trendy shops, smart cafes and modern restaurants. It resides right by the iconic Kuta Beach where you can try to learn to surf or practice your skills if you are already an expert. Get back to your guesthouse for some refreshment and relax before heading out into a long night.
Couples will naturally fancy a romantic welcome dinner. And there is hardly a place in the world with this romantic and unwinding ambience as here in Bali. Make sure you do not overlook the pearl of restaurants in Kuta – the Italian “Rosso Vivo’’ with a private swimming pool, super comfortable soft couches and live music or at ‘’La Luna Negra’’ where time will stop at smoking Shisha while watching the triumphant sunset (both located on Jl Raya Pantai). These two restaurants are not as cheap as a local warung but they will impress you with a beautiful setting, a contemporary cuisine, mouth-watering flavours and top service. A great way to digest a 3 or 5-course menu is sauntering on the beach and stopping by at one of the numerous local beach bars you will encounter on the way.
Return to your guest house for a good night sleep awaiting the next day trip to the south and its breathtaking scenery.
The most convenient way to travel the island is to hire a scooter and you can easily arrange it with your guesthouse which will usually offer you a cheap rate and can provide you maps and give you some advice. To hire a scooter will cost you around 50.000 IDR per day, equal to $4 USD. Renting a car might seem to be a better option but it is not less than 150.000 IDR and you will likely get stuck in a traffic jam on every corner. Make your choice and drive heading towards the south – the first stop is Jimbaran Bay. The worth of stopping at are Balangan Beach & Dreamland Beach with fabulous scenery.
Afterwards keep driving to Uluwatu – the surfer`s paradise of Bali, where you can enjoy some jaw-dropping views that will stay in your memory forever.
Soon you might need a break after so many pictures taken. Remember to run in a really cool cafe “Single fin” where you can get indulged in delicious food, great smoothies, fresh beer and funky atmosphere. Have a quick swim at the popular nearby Padang Padang Beach.
Uluwatu is also famous for its immortal temple grandiosely located on the top of a steep cliff. It is a bit of adventurous climb but you will get your reward. The views and strong sense of spirituality along with one of the most sensational sunsets will take you to the fairy tale. Stay to watch the Balinese “kecak” dance performance at sunset.
Have a quick shower and get ready for another night but this time try to go a bit further. Not too far from Kuta, in Legian, there is a place ideal to spend an idle night at. “Cocoon” is one of the the best beach clubs in Bali. Feel the romance and embrace the night in style and experience a great deal of chill out. Party fanatics may want to satisfy their desires in the prestigious club of Seminyak – “Potato Head“, in case you do not mind spending a fortune. If you are on budget have a taste of Kuta`s “Sky garden” instead and enjoy the free night drinks until you faint!
Get ready for a morning bus ride with the local Perama Tour – direction Ubud. After a bit longer than 1 hour a comfortable minivan service will take you to Ubud at the reasonable price of just 50.000 IDR (buses usually depart at 10 am from their office located at the Legian Street in Kuta). Do not expect Balinese transport to work like a Swiss watch and be ready for delays.
Once arrived in Ubud and accommodated at one of its lovely guest houses arrange a scooter and take a ride to the jungle of the Monkey Forest, but be careful, the monkeys can be fairly intrusive. Avoid feeding them or showing them eye-catching objects. But most importantly watch your sunglasses and jewellery – they are sneaky buggers! Regardless of the “cheeky monkeys” I found this visit to be a “must see” of Ubud.
When done with the “touristy” part of the town have a bit of wander around to feel the unconventional character of Ubud. You get to see some of the most refined artistic shops and tasteful markets. Balinese furniture and Balinese lace are worlds known and it is well-worth to pop in one of the traditional workshops. The township is dotted with them together with all kind of artisans, musicians and hipsters. Those lucky ones will get a chance to take part in a traditional religious ceremony quite often held around Ubud.
Dining at one of the organic restaurants of Ubud is very much recommended but there are also other restaurants where to enjoy the fine Western food. If you feel like having a calm peaceful night, enjoy a few drinks or a water pipe at “XL Shisha Lounge Bar“open till late.
Have a proper sleep before a long busy day spent in the rice fields.
Wake up early, have some breakfast at the guesthouse and drive your scooter towards the picturesque Jatiluwih Rice Fields – a UNESCO heritage site. Stunning views are to be expected – remember to take your camera! Walking through the paddy fields will fill you with serenity and make you dream – absolutely worth of the long ride.
Once on the way, why not take a ride to Bedugul to visit its inspiring water temple “Pura Ulun Danu Bratan” and the stunning Kebun Raya Eka Karya Botanic Garden. If everything runs smoothly you will be there right after the noon and it will give you just enough time to have a quick lunch at a local warung, see the gardens and the temple.
Do not forget to watch the time to avoid driving back in the darkness. Balinese people are very kind and friendly but the local roads do not match the Western roads conditions, so just be aware of that.
Once back in Ubud enjoy your time and spend the night as you like it.
Head out at the sunrise and drive to Besakih, relishing the morning aroma at mild temperature and relaxed Balinese pace. The beauty of Pura Besakih temple will blow your mind away. The monument, expanding along the foggy hills of Mt Agung, the highest point of Bali (3031 m), is really exceptional.
Not too far from the temple, Kintamani and Lake Batur, are stretching beneath volcanic ranges. Kintamani area will give you the opportunity to observe the powerful image of Mount Batur – an active volcano. Be advised that in the late afternoon it can get pretty crispy up there and you will need a warm jacket. This part of Bali teems with rice paddies and all sorts of plantations; spices, coffee, tea and flowers.
Coffee lovers should absolutely pay a visit to one of many coffee plantations along the way. Specifically, Luwak Coffee has become very popular all over the world. You can witness the preparation of such coffee or make it yourself. That includes collecting the droppings of civet cats (which eat cherries, digest them and excrete them in their faeces), assisting in drying the beans and grinding them. Strong Balinese coffee will lift you up and you can set out on a journey back to Ubud.
After such a busy day it is time to have the last night out before you return to Kuta. So, relax, linger, have a drink or two and seize the life!
Today`s adventure will lead you to a completely different surround. Driving along the volcanic east coast of Bali offers some amazing landscapes. Firstly, stop in Padangbai, a small fishermen town, popular with all travellers heading to Lombok or the paradisiacal Gili Islands. It has got a very pleasant atmosphere and nice taverns, offering delicious local food and delightful environment. Take a short walk to the Blue Lagoon, where you can snorkel, swim and have some rest.
NOTE If you have some spare time, you should definitely spend a couple of days on the Gili Islands!
Candidasa is a coastal town, also known as a “temple town”, several temple complexes stretch along the sandy coast and this is a good place to watch regularly held spiritual rites and ceremonies. Visit nearby Secret Beach and Virgin beach, famous for their sugar-white sand and the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” with Julia Roberts.
The nearby Ujung Water Palace is quite worthy of seeing too. It is an old Royal Place complex that presents a beautiful park set in between several pools and ponds.
Take the coastal drive when driving to Amed, it might be longer but it will give you the chance to see the other face of Bali. Passing through several outlying villages and not very visited region, you can see the real nature of Balinese people and a very rugged, wild scenery. In spite of the mushrooming tourism, Amed preserves its peaceful, relaxed character. Most of the visitors come here to dive into the waters of the Bali Sea in search of the offshore shipwrecks and the rich underwater world.
Return to Ubud and have a good sleep before coming back to Kuta.
Good morning Ubud and Good Bye. To get back to Kuta – there are several buses a day, and if you catch the morning one you will have enough time to check in at your hotel and drive towards the iconic temple of Tanah Lot. The temple was built on a rock formation in the middle of the sea and it is only accessible at low tide.
Drive back to Kuta and follow the east coast of southern Bali to the Benoa Bay and enjoy a relaxing afternoon on one of the staggering beaches of Nusa Dua. After a tiring day spoil yourself with the sensational Balinese massage. This is a perfect way to say farewell to Bali. Well, not just quite yet! The last activity to do before you leave the island is obviously shopping. Where else, if not in Bali, can you get the best deals, haggle at the markets, hunt for some outstanding souvenirs or shop for designer brands in stylish boutiques of Bali.
Enjoy your last night at the swimming pool of one of the countless restaurants, lounge clubs or local bars of your choice.
Depending on the time of your departure, you can stay either around Kuta and have a last “sniff” of Bali at a slow pace, or you might want to take advantage of the last moments of your holiday, catch some sunshine and dip in the pool. Optionally, you can catch a cab to the capital Denpasar to do some more shopping.
Ask your guesthouse to book a Bluebird taxi for you at least 2 hours prior to your flight. (It takes around 30 min to get to the airport)
And here we go! The time has arrived and it would not be surprising if a teardrop comes out of your eye when leaving Bali. 😉
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Bali lies close to the equator and it has a tropical climate with average temperature around 30 degrees of Celsius. High humidity can be expected during the wet season (December-February).
Dry and sunny weather hits the island in May and goes on until September and that is also the best time to visit Bali.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Denpasar/Bali that is well-connected to most Asian and Australian airports.
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