I’m standing on the edge of grey rocks, looking down at stormy deep dark blue, almost black water. At any minute, It will hit me with its power. As I look, I spot one lonely turtle. Trying to fight the power of nature. To get away from the rocks that would probably cost its life. Behind me sun is burning down my neck.
The feeling swimming is of being part of Finding Nemo school day, where all busy fish are trying to do their daily duties, swarming around me. Totally ignoring me as they pass. I feel as I am also just one big fish in the middle. Sun rays from above create glistering rays around me that reflect light back from rainbow colored fish.
These are my best memories form Bali. The shows of the power of the nature. Experiences with nature that I will dream about as I go along my daily life in cold snowy winter where I’m from. So I would definitely recommend Bali to anyone wondering where to go next. This Bali itinerary will include some touristy spots but also spots to admire awesome nature.
In this itinerary I present a Bali itinerary model with must-do recommendations. It is targeted towards backpackers with a budget without sacrificing on the quality of the holiday. I believe in budget travelling but also saving the money to where it is due. I wrote an article about saving for travel, check it out here if interested. This itinerary is designed for two weeks.
Bali itinerary week 1:
Kuta may have lost it original character and has become a playground for drunken tourists. But it is also a great spot to find yourself in a beautiful luxury resort with a fraction of the cost from western countries. Where there are endless waves to be surfed and night skies lit up with neon colors of endless parties. So it has its charm for some people. So it still deserves a spot in Bali itinerary.
Kuta is where you’ll probably start the adventure as the airport is located there so this Bali itinerary will start there. Airport is going to be a hassle to be prepared. You’ll be attacked with so many taxi drivers all pulling you to different directions. This airport is the craziest I’ve ever seen. So be mentally prepared. Getting a decent deal from these taxi drivers can be hassle because they know you don’t know the prices too well yet. What I did is I walked out of the airport and through parking lot and took a taxi there. I don’t know if that helped, but at least I got out of the airport madness. The official taxi should be blue with a bird on it, but every taxi seems to look like that.
Where to stay
Stay in Kuta/Seminyak/Legian area, depending on your budget and what you want from the trip. Kuta and Legian are more cheap. But they also cater for spesific taste, if you are more into clubs, bars and small street vendors selling fake stuff. Seminyak on the other hand, is more towards high-end hotels and resorts and families.
Other recommendation I have for first stop is Uluwatu. It is more away from the crowds and feels like what Kuta used to be way back- relaxed surfer city.
What to do
- Checking out clubs and bars
- Kuta beach
- Uluwatu temple
Infinity pool facing endless amount of lush green jungle. The sounds of monkeys echoes with the peaceful sound of waterfalls. That is what I imagined Ubud to be like.
That is part of the possibilities, but what Ubud offers is more interesting than expensive resorts: culture. Beautiful temples gives you some form of explanation of interesting Balinese religion that is a Balinese version of Hinduism. The main gods are Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. But what is especially unique of Balinese culture is additional strong beliefs of spirits. This is apparent everywhere with sacrificial gifts everywhere.
How to get there
Bali itinerary should always include Ubud to be complete. Ubud seems to be the center of Balinese culture. From Kuta, there are several choices on how to go to Ubud. Some of them are:
Shared transports/Buses are available everywhere. Hotels have higher prices generally than street vendors, so I would recommend trying to make a deal with them. If you are not that goon in haggling, goo tip is just simply ask a price from as many different vendors as possible and always tell the price of the previous for the next vendor and then choose best option.
I went from Kuta to Ubud with Uber. It was pleasant for me, you get a good price without the hassle of asking prices and had a good experience. I have to warn you, not everyone had a same experience. I heard that sometimes the uber drivers don’t want to drive that far, understandably. With taxi also, I doubt that you’ll get a meter price or the meter might be fixed, that happened to me also.
So you are better of just negotiating a price you think is fair beforehand.
Where to stay
There are countless of cool options in Ubud. Central Ubud is nice area, but some opt for more rural setting to get unique experience of the vibe of Ubud.
What to do
Rent a driver to see all the spots you desire. Temples, waterfalls, mountains, you name it. Coolest experience white water rafting. It is not as wild as the pictures seem, but still a fun experience. You get an unique way to experience the nature and jungle in the island through its rivers. Some scenery we saw makes me think that Tarzan lives in Bali.
One waterfall wort mentioning in my opinion is Tegenungan falls. This is very touristic spot, but for a reason. It is magnificent. I went on a temple binge myself, visiting maybe 5-6 different ones, but after a while they all start to look same, so maybe that is not necessary. Rice terraces are definitely worth visiting.
Also, I did the mount Batur sunrise hike. Idea was to hike up the mountain to watch sunrise. Unfortunately I would’t recommend this experience. The truth was that you are hiking behind hundreds and hundreds of people in a line to up the mountain. Once you reach the top, you all cram into small area to look at the sunrise. Not the peaceful and relaxing experience I was expecting. Also, what was strange about mountain hike is that you have to do it with a guide even though you clearly don’t need one as there are so many people walking into same direction. But that is apparently some sort of law, sound like a tourist trap to me. I would consider other mountains nearby and find someone who makes sunrise trips there if you are really interested in doing that.
Best thing about Ubud is getting to that peaceful state of mind. Trying yoga, visiting local cafes, walking in nature, trying vegan food… That is what makes Ubud so special for many people. The unique experience and vibe of the city.
Bali itinerary week 2:
Gili islands are not part of Bali, but still included in most people’s Bali itinerary because of how easy it is to get there form Bali. Islands represent the perfect island getaway. The feeling of being excluded from society in rural environment where even cars are not allowed to the islands. Surrounded with palm trees and a cold beer in the hand, of course. So modern comforts mixed with rural island way of life.
There are three options of gili islands to choose from: Giti Trawagan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Witch one to choose depends on what you expect from the holiday.
Gili T is the most active island. There are more people, parties , bars and also hotels.
Gili Air is more calm and is preferred by families and couples and also people wanting more peace. I have to add that even though Gili t is a “party island”, when I was there in 2017, it definitely was not anything like Kuta for example. There was parties but it still was relatively calm and peaceful island. If you stay on the less-crowded side of the island, it’s filled with more high-end resorts and less clubs and bars. This side of the island is famous for its beautiful sunrise views.
The third island Gili Mono is really small and peaceful. It is perfect for more authentic Island getaway feeling. It is not as often visited as others. Choice in accommodation are very limited.
How to get there
From around Bali, it is easy to find transportation to other parts of the island. Same options than getting to Ubud; shared bus ride or private taxi rides. Many of the shared options also include the boat ride.
Again, I recommend asking around for the prices and not going with hotel prices because normally they are higher. And I have to emphasise, you won’t get any “better” services if you book it trough hotel. Actually they are basically same thing with higher price tag. I met people on the same shared rides that paid double on what I paid. So it is just in your own interests to ask around. You won’t have to me aggressive or do intense negotiating, but simply asking a few places and stating some prices other places had.
Where to stay
In Gili islands, accommodation is more expensive than other places around Indonesia. There are plenty of high-end hotels that are pricey. Cheaper accommodation is located more in the center of the island and expensive ones at the beach. Many cheaper hotels don’t have fresh water but salt water, so be aware of that. Many people don’t actually have accommodation before they arrive, but decide it then at the spot. When you walk in to the island, tons of these people will surround you, that will show you areound different hotels to choose from and in the end, give them a tip.
What to do
Get sucked in to the chill island life
Visit all three islands in snorkelling trip
In Gili T, go to night market to taste local street foods
Rent a snorkel and finns and go snorkelling from the shore
Definitely best part of my Bali itinerary was Nusa Lembonkan Island. What made it exceptionally memorable was giant manta rays and best diving I have experienced. Note that I’m not an experienced diver, with only 10 dives under my belt. But for comparison I did my diving padi in Australia, at great barrier reef. And it had nothing on this experience! Actually all the favorite scenes I described in the first paragraphs were about Nusa Lembonkan.
How to get there
From Gili Islands, you can easily get there by boat. There are not many boat companies going there though. One of the companies is Super Scoot. Again, remember to haggle prices. We went to an official office to buy the ticket and they were asking way too much. So I asked again around from street vendors and got the exactly same service with transportation included, way cheaper. So it is worth always to ask around.
Where to stay
The whole island is developing rapidly and currently you can clearly see constructions everywhere. So when picking a hotel, be aware that some of them sell rooms even if the hotel is not done yet. This happened to us. So it is not pleasant to stay in the middle of construction site. So when booking, maybe don’t choose options that don’t have any reviews yet. Location doens’t matter too much in this island, as it is very easy to explore with motorbike.
What to do
Devils rock and infinity pool next to it
Tips to visiting Bali
- In Bali, it’s common to negotiate on everything
- Official Taxi’s are ones with a blue bird logo and taxi number in front window, but the fake ones look exactly the same
- renting a motorbike is easiest way to get around
- Other cool spots to visit are Lovina and Lombok island