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From majestic sunsets to pristine beaches, Bali makes for the perfect vacation spot. The Island of Gods has something for everyone. Five days may not be enough time to explore every nook and cranny – but you can manage enough to come back feeling refreshed and in love with this beautiful island. Here’s our five-day itinerary to Bali.
Start your day off by exploring Jimbaran. Take it easy and enjoy the variety of sandy-white beaches and pristine blue waters that this area has to offer. Only in Jimbaran is there a beach to suit each and every one’s personality. Surfers can head out to the quiet strip of Balangan Beach or Bingin Beach to enjoy the waves without being engulfed by the hectic party scene.
If you’re seeking peace, quiet and relaxation, check out Padang-Padang Beach. This beautiful bay, with cove-like waters, provides a sense of serenity from the hustle and bustle of Bali’s party beaches.
While you’re enjoying your welcome to paradise, be spoiled for food choices here, as Jimbaran offers the best selection of fresh seafood. For couples looking for a romantic meal together, head over to the bay and enjoy your picnic meal overlooking the Indian Ocean.
After a relaxing morning and afternoon in Jimbaran, make your way to Uluwatu to see the majestic Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple. With Bali’s infamous sunsets as the backdrop, this stunning temple is perched on a steep cliff about 70 metres above sea level, overlooking the Indian Ocean.
A treat for both spiritual and historical adventure seekers, Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a definite go-to destination to enjoy the sunset as well as witness the traditional kecak dance performance.
The next stop on your Bali trip should be the nature-friendly cultural hub of Ubud. Be mesmerized by Bali’s natural state of greenery with a set of activities to suit your inner adrenaline and nature-loving soul.
Start your morning right by devouring a hearty Balinese breakfast. Known as ‘sarapan’ locally, it usually comprises of a cup of aromatic Balinese coffee and a plate of spicy fried rice and crispy fritters. Restaurant options include Cafe Wayan, a beautiful garden cafe that’s known for its banana pancakes and coconut meringue pie, and Dapur Bunda, a cozy cafe that provides a plethora of Indonesian flavors wrapped in the comforts of home.
After breakfast, head to one of the main attractions in Ubud – the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. The Tegalalang Rice Terrace provides a scenic valley view of rice paddy slopes – the perfect background for picturesque Instagram photos. The atmosphere here is cool and breezy, a welcome break from the island’s usual tropical heat.
Be spoiled by the wide selection of cafes located near the rice terrace. Enjoy a piping hot cuppa in the midst of the panoramic rice fields, or hop around from one art stall to another for a look or to purchase a nice gift for friends and family back home.
While in Ubud, thrill-seekers should take the opportunity to check out the extreme swing ride at local Airbnb, Zen Hideaway, which affords magnificent views of Mount Agung and the Ayung River. Located 20 minutes away from the heart of Ubud, the swing hangs between two coconut trees and is perched high on a hill – this is an unmissable Instagram-worthy shot and Snapchat moment.
For travelers with kids, it would be a fun family activity to head over to Ubud Monkey Forest. Kids will enjoy the complimentary tour and wildlife lesson about Balinese monkeys, together with photo mementoes to bring back from a memorable holiday. Be sure to listen to the guide, though, and don’t provoke the monkeys here.
If you’re not much of a wildlife fan, stroll over to Ubud Art Market and be spoilt by the variety of traditional artwork on sale here. Located opposite Ubud Art Market is the Puri Saren Royal Palace, an ideal spot for history lovers to explore and learn about the Ubud Empire’s beginnings.
After a long day of sightseeing, unwind with a relaxed dinner and a traditional kecek dance performance. Kecek is a traditional Balinese dance and music drama, developed in the 1930s and performed by both men and women. Ubud Royal Palace is one of the best places to enjoy dinner and dance performance.
If you’re not tired yet and wish to check out the nightlife, head over to Monkey Forest Road, where you’ll find an array of bars and restaurants. Enjoy the night scene with a couple (or more) of Bintangs, Indonesia’s local beer.
Canggu is every fitness and wellness enthusiasts’ idea of heaven. Seeing that Canggu is also on the other end of the island, you might want to consider spending a couple of nights here.
Those used to a healthy lifestyle will love Canggu’s offering of yoga, CrossFit and mixed martial art classes. If the idea of hitting the gym during your holiday isn’t that appealing, you can always rent bicycles and leisurely cycle around Canggu’s serene environment.
Feast on traditional dishes, such as Pisang rai, from warungs, or street-side stalls. Pisang Rai is a Balinese snack comprising a boiled banana rolled in grated coconut. Or, if you fancy a wholesome breakfast, opt for healthy cafes such as Betelnut, Nalu Bowls and Cafe Organic, where you can try popular smoothie bowls and blended detox juices.
After starting your morning on a healthy note, head over to see one of Bali’s popular spots, the Tanah Lot temple complex. This temple is perched on a small rocky outcrop, surrounded by shrines and temples on the shore side. Legend has it the high priest from the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java, Dang Hyang Nirartha traveled to Bali in a quest to spread Hinduism and arrived at Tanah Lot, thus establishing it as a temple to honor Baruna, the sea god.
The temple complex is absolutely stunning during the sunset, but if you don’t wish to go through the hassle of jostling with other tour buses and tourists, it’s best to avoid that time. If you visit the Tanah Lot temple complex earlier in the day, you can enjoy the rest of the night in the company of friends and family over dinner and drinks at Canggu’s top dining options such as The Lawn and Watercress.
You’ll be leaving Bali tomorrow, so try to take things easy today. Spend the day in every social influencers’ idea of paradise – Seminyak, which is Bali’s answer to the Hamptons. Littered with trendy beach clubs, eateries, and shops, you’ll feel your daily stress melt away as you sip on your drink with your feet in the sand here.
For thrill-seekers and amateur surfers, Seminyak’s beaches are perfect to learn how to tame the wild waves of Bali. The waves are not as harsh here, and there are abundant surf schools to guide you through.
Not up for getting your hair wet? No problem! Enjoy the sea breeze and sun while lounging by the infinity pool on one of the vibrant bean bags at Potatohead Beach Club.
Once you’ve had enough of the beach, check out Nyaman Gallery for a dose of the local arts scene in Bali. The best part about Nyaman Gallery is that you can find the perfect souvenir or home accessory to take home – you’ll find ceramics, carvings, sculptures and paintings by upcoming local artists here.
Make the most of your last sunset in Bali by heading over to the Australian-Mexican restaurant La Laguna for a nice dinner amid carefree bohemian vibes and stunning ocean views. The food and drinks here may lean towards the pricier side, but the juicy grilled tenderloin and veggies and the prawn fries skewers are well worth it.
If you’re on a tighter budget, though, check out Sardine, which offers a quality deal for two, and a romantic dinner against panoramic paddy fields. Your best option at Sardine would be the seafood dishes as the chef uses quality ingredients which really brings out the flavors. Another tip is to request a table close to the fan, as it can be a bit warm at night.
If you don’t feel like tucking into bed yet after dinner, head over to Ku De Ta for a nightcap (or two) and to experience Bali’s hip and trendy beach club scene.
This is a spectacular sight from afar, especially during the sunny months of July to October, but there have been warnings for tourists to take precautions when visiting the site as the rocks can be slippery and the breaking shores can be detrimental.
The Island of Gods is filled with things to see and experience, but with our handy itinerary you will be able to maximise your five days here.
As you wait for your flight home, explore the best that Bali’s high-end district, Nusa Dua, has to offer.
If you’re looking for a little relaxation and me-time at the end of your trip, check out the variety of spas in Nusa Dua, or enjoy the sounds of the ocean and sunbathe by Pandawa or Geger Beach.
You can also check out Water Blow Beach, located close to the Grand Hyatt. In line with its name, the main attraction here lies in the massive water eruption between two cliffs which creates the impact of seawater splashing and the appearance of massive water eruption.
Ancient Hindu temple with ocean vistas
Beaches, Pura Petitenget & shopping
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Temple complex with many monkeys
Active volcano popular for climbing
One of the most touristed islands on earth, Bali isn’t exactly an untouched paradise. But while it can be difficult to escape the throngs of south Bali and Ubud, determined solitude seekers will be pleased to find loads of secluded corners beyond these primary tourist centres. Tip: head to the central mountains, or Bali’s more chilled-out north and west coasts.
Choose your base carefully
It pays to put some thought into your Bali base, as chaotic traffic and hot weather are likely to make you stick close to your hotel or guesthouse rather than wander far on foot or sit in stuffy taxis. If you’re looking for real R&R, Kuta probably isn’t your thing. If you want to shop up a storm and eat more than your body weight in fine food, a week on Nusa Lembongan isn't likely to leave you fully satiated. Find your perfect spot with the help of Lonely Planet's 'first time Bali' guide.
he fresh, tropical juices available in Bali make it easy to stay hydrated. Image by Samantha Chalker
The fresh, tropical juices on offer in Bali make it easy to stay hydrated. Image by Samantha Chalker / Lonely Planet
Don’t fret about 'Bali belly'
Strict dietary habits are no longer required to prevent spending your Bali break within two steps of a toilet. Once upon a time, salads, cut fruit, ice cubes and most meats were on the danger list, but hygiene standards have improved markedly across the island, and many kitchens offer good quality organic produce. While dodgy prawns will always be out there, by staying hydrated, avoiding notorious local liquor arak and consuming street food with a degree of caution, the dreaded Bali belly should be kept at bay.
Dress for the occasion
Beachwear doesn’t always cut it in Bali – many higher-end bars, restaurants and clubs enforce a dress code. If you’re unsure, call ahead to save the potential embarrassment of being turned away.
Spiritual and religious devotion plays a key role in Balinese life. Image by Samantha Chalker
Spiritual and religious devotion plays a key role in Balinese life. Image by Samantha Chalker / Lonely Planet
Respect religious customs
Religion rules the roost in Bali. Don’t get your knickers in a knot when a street is blocked off for a ceremony or your driver pulls over mid-trip to make a blessing – this is all part of the magic of the island. Plan accordingly if your travel dates fall on Nyepi when everything in Bali (even the airport) shuts down for the day, and always dress modestly (covering the shoulders and knees) and conduct yourself appropriately when visiting temples and holy sites.
Prepare for a mixed bag of price tags
It’s still possible to visit Bali on a shoestring by staying in guesthouses, dining at warungs and shopping at local markets, but you can just as easily blow your life savings as drinks, meals, spa treatments and room rates at high-end establishments are priced similarly to that in Australia, the UK and the US. Look out for online discounts and happy hour deals.
Bali's monkeys can be mischevious. Image by Samantha Chalker
Bali's monkeys are known for their thievery. Image by Samantha Chalker / Lonely Planet
Be cautious of wild and stray animals
Give wild and stray animals a wide berth. They may look cute, but rabies and other diseases are serious risks in Bali and monkeys are notorious for their thieving ways. Bali’s stray dogs are numerous, and often in pretty bad shape. If you’re keen to make a difference, consider making a ‘doggy donation’ to Bali Dog Refuge (balidogrefuge.com) which helps to rescue and rehabilitate the island’s stray pups.
Avoid plastic water bottles
Bali’s heat and humidity calls for constant hydration, but consider the environment before purchasing another bottled drink. An estimated three million plastic bottles are discarded in Bali each month; help reduce this figure by investing in a stainless steel bottle that you can refill; most good cafes and restaurants have a water filter available that you can use for free or for a small fee. Earth Café in Seminyak has stainless steel bottles available for purchase.
Learn some local lingo
A few basic words of Bahasa Indonesia will take you a long way in Bali. Try selamat pagi (good morning), tolong (please) and terima kasih (thank you), for starters.
Just another rainy day in Seminyak, Bali. Image by Samantha Chalker
Just another rainy day in Seminyak, Bali. Image by Samantha Chalker / Lonely Planet
Remember that low season often means rainy season
Be mindful of Bali’s rainy season (January to April and October to November) when planning your trip. Discounts can be great, but if you end up spending your holiday cooped up indoors, you may be left wondering if making the trip was worth it. Fortunately, the rains are often limited to brief afternoon downpours, so your holiday isn't likely to be a total write-off.
You can bargain for many items and services in Bali, but do so respectfully and with a smile on your face. You’ll know when the vendor has reached their limit, and at that point don’t push it. When in doubt, walk away – if the seller doesn’t come after you, you can be sure they aren’t prepared to drop their price any lower.
Get your head around the current visa situation
In early 2015, Indonesia waived its standard 30-day tourist visa-on-arrival (VOA) system for 45 countries; visitors from most other nations (including Australians) must purchase the VOA. While extending a 30-day visa is possible, it can be a tricky business. Speak to a reputable visa agent on the ground, or contact your nearest Indonesian consulate prior to departure. At the time of publication, 60-day visas could be arranged in advance, but not in-country.
Follow Bali's rules, as strange as they may sometimes seem. Image by Samantha Chalker
Follow Bali's rules, as strange as they may sometimes seem. Image by Samantha Chalker / Lonely Planet
Play by the rules
The Indonesian legal system may seem confusing and contradictory, but it's best not argue with police if you are accused of an infringement that may feel unjust, and pay ‘fines’ with good grace. Do not expect any special treatment for being a foreigner, and it goes without saying that having anything to do with drugs is a very bad idea.
Respect the ocean
Even if you’re an avid beach-goer and surf worshipper, Bali's powerful waves, strong currents and exposed rocks can be treacherous, so take care, and don't swim alone unless you are completely confident in doing so. Show equal respect for the beach by not leaving any garbage (including cigarette butts) behind – when the tide comes in, it'll be sucked into the ocean at great cost to the marine ecosystem.