Bali, one of the thousands of islands in Indonesia is what I call paradise on earth. It is more than just an island, it’s a natural wonder, a cultural icon and I was lucky enough to explore it. I spent 10 days in Bali travelling across Amed, Kuta, Ubud, Northern Bali and Lembongan island. I went beyond the beach life, the party scene and the touristy places, just to discover what Bali truly offers. It has been an eye opener, to understand that what I saw was fraction of what a wonderful country Indonesia must be! If you want to experience the best of what Bali has to offer, read this 10 day itinerary for Bali.
First some Bali basics
Bali is a one of the islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The island is known for its crystal blue waters, pristine beaches, coral reefs, volcanic landscape and warm & sunny weather throughout the year that attracts millions of visitors each year. The main religion on the island is Hinduism and you can see the rich cultural heritage in every corner of this island. Beautiful temples, artistically built houses and historical religious sites is what draws travellers to this small island. The reason I call it small is because it is only 90 miles from east to west and 50 miles north to south. So if you are planning your Bali itinerary, keep this in mind. For a short stay, keep a place as base and travel across the island in a car. If visiting Bali for multiple days, you can pick multiple destinations however they will be within 2-3 hours of each other so plan well.
My recommended itinerary for 10 days in Bali is – Amed (3 nights) – Ubud (3 nights) – Lembongan Island (2 nights) – Kuta or any other place in southern Bali (2 nights)
Recommended itinerary for 10 days in Bali
Day 1 – Arrive & head to Amed
Arrive at Ngurah Rai airport (also known as Denpasar). Meet your driver and head off to Amed. It is very important that you choose a reliable driver. The driver that I hired (who soon became my friend) drove me to lesser known destinations, suggested small restaurants where only locals eat and I had the best trip thanks to his tips. If you read my post 10 reasons to visit Bali, you will see that meeting such honest & hardworking people is one of the reasons why you should visit Bali!
Now why I did I choose Amed? It is a lesser known destination and less crowded (Good!) A lot of properties are sea facing or right on the beach (Wow!). Most of the accommodation will offer bikes for hire and you can explore the area around quite easily (Super!). If you are an active traveller like me, this place has everything for you – Snorkelling, diving, downhill cycling and all of that without crowd.
Reach your accommodation, take a walk around, familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Its going to be a busy day tomorrow. How about starting day 1 out of your 10 days in Bali by having your first Bintang?
Day 2 – Amed
If you are an early morning person, go to the beach at the time of sunrise and look at Mount Agung which is visible from Amed. Mount Agung has erupted many times this year causing disruption and a lot of problems for locals & tourists alike. But when I visited, I remember seeing its shiny peak in the morning sun and it was the most magnificent sight! See the picture below if you don’t believe me..
Today start with your first tour in Bali. I would recommend doing a whole day tour exploring the eastern part of Bali – Visit Tirta Ganga, Ujung water palace, Tenganan village. I felt that Tenganan island is bit commercial but its a good place to buy local artwork directly from the artists.
Day 3 – Amed
After a full day tour yesterday how about keeping it light today morning? Just dip in the sea or hire snorkeling gear and try to find Nemo. Your afternoon is going to be adventurous. Head to Mount Agung for 4 hours of downhill bike riding. There are small companies that organise bikes, accessories and get you up the mountain. The views as you bike down are breathtaking. You ride through fields, some steep hills, some rough terrain and take pit stops on your way at stores to sample local delicacies. Your tour ends at a warung (Local Diner) for delicious dinner where you can relax and appreciate your hard work.
I used East Bali Bike for downhill sunset bike tour and It was an amazing experience.
Day 4 – Ubud
It’s time to transfer to Ubud this morning. A common question that readers ask me is what to do in Ubud. There are just so many things – cultural, spiritual, fitness, culinary that you can experience in Ubud!
To make most of your time, visit Goa Lawah temple (Bat cave temple) and Coffee plantations on your way to Ubud from Amed. Coffee lovers – you are going to start each morning of your 10 days in Bali by having rich black Balinese coffee so might as well learn about it! For a coffee lover, the tour of coffee plantations is the best part of the trip. You get to sample around 10 different coffees and Kopi Luwak too which is one the most expensive coffees.
If you are spending only 2-3 days in Ubud, make sure you book your accommodation close to the main street – near the money forest from where everything is accessible.
Assuming you have checked into your accommodation later in the afternoon, head straight to the Monkey forest sanctuary. Word of caution – don’t carry food or anything in your hand and keep your belongings close your body at all times unless you want it snatched by a monkey! This sanctuary is a beautiful place and you can easily spend 1-2 hours exploring it.
There are some amazing restaurants in Ubud suiting every budget and palate. Make sure you visit the Gianyar night market to sample some local delicacies.
Day 5 – Ubud
You can start your day with an early morning Mount Batur climb which lasts 4-5 hours and includes breakfast at the top of the mountain. Alternatively if you are more into culinary travel, book one of the cooking classes that include morning market tour and a class that teaches you to make authentic Balinese style food. Balinese food is quite different from Indonesian food and it is delicious!
I studied cooking Balinese dishes at Balinese Farm Cooking School.
When in Bali do not miss the Balinese spa experience. I got a Balinese massage at least once in each location that I went to. It is extremely relaxing and rejuvenating especially after the Mount Batur hike!
Day 6 – Ubud
Northern Bali is blissful & quiet. Unlike the southern parts or even Ubud, it is not very touristy and has unspoilt pristine beaches. I would recommend that you escape the husltle and bustle of Ubud today and head to North Bali for a full day tour.
On your way to Northern Bali visit Ulun Danu Beratan temple (the one that you see in all Bali postcards), Git Git Waterfall and end your full day trip watching sunset at Lovina beach. Lovina beach & many other beaches in Northern Bali are famous for its black sand and if you are lucky you can have them all for yourself. Therefore I highly recommend that if you are 10 days in Bali, take a day trip & spend at least 1 day in Northern Bali
Day 7 – Lembongan island
Today is the day you leave mainland Bali behind and head to the islands. My choice of island for a short trip would be Lembongan since it is close to Bali. Alternatively you can also travel to Gili Islands that are equally serene.
Lembongan island can be reached by taking a ferry from Sanur. Land transfers from Ubud to Sanur are generally included in the price.
Best way to explore this island is to rent bikes. There are different beaches at different corners of Lembongan and each beach has fantastic resorts from where you can view sunset while eating freshly grilled catch of the day.
Day 8 – Lembongan island
Take a half day snorkelling tour that will take you spots around Lembongan island and to Nusa Penida – another small island close to Lembongan. The waters around Lembongan are pristine and full of sea-life. If you are lucky you might even see some big fishes like the Mola Mola. These tours usually include kayaking through mangroves or stand-up paddle board.
I booked a snorkelling trip with Lembongan Water Sports which included snorkelling at 3 spots, a hearty lunch and a mangrove kayak tour.
Enjoy your last night in Lembongan and don’t forget walking on the beach at night. Lembongan is popular among the surfers and night surfing is as exciting as it sounds. Even if you are not a surfer, its fun to watch them catch a wave under moonlight.
Day 9 – Southern Bali/West Bali
This is where it gets tricky. I would personally not recommend Kuta to anyone looking for peace & quiet but if you wish to learn basic surfing, head straight to Kuta. Kuta has the best surf schools for beginners. Alternatively you can stay at Seminyak, Nusa Dua or travel to West Bali. West Bali is least populated and least visited region of Bali. You get privacy, serenity and wild beaches without all the tourists that you find in Kuta or Ubud. Of course it is going to cost you but you have to decide what kind of a holiday you are looking for. Is it a luxury vacation or a mid range adventurous holiday or a no frills budget trip .
I stayed at Kuta in a small B&B away from the main street which offered me privacy and my very own private pool. Since my agenda was to learn surfing Kuta was the best pick.
In the evening visit Uluwatu temple to see the performance of Ramayana as the sun sets. Uluwatu is famous for limestone cliffs and very popular amongst pro surfers.
Surfing lessons in Kuta
Day 10 – Southern Bali/ West Bali
This is the last day of your 10 days in Bali. Shop, eat and say goodbye to this beautiful island. Kuta has numerous shopping malls and stores and if you have missed out on eating any particular thing (I am always thinking of food!) you can find it here.
Activities in Bali – Planing that best Bali itinerary
I have also noted the top 10 reasons why you should visit Bali here
Commonly asked questions about Bali
You will have a lot of questions in your mind when planning your Bali itinerary. Here are some questions my readers have frequently asked and my answers which you will find useful
What’s the best way to travel in Bali?
Even though Bali is a small island, the best mode of transport is car or ferries (if traveling to islands). Look for a car and driver and decide a package price. If you plan to use the same driver for multiple days, it is easy to agree on a price.
Ferries can be booked online. It is much easier to book transportation before traveling and not worry about carrying millions of Indonesian rupees.
Which currency to use?
Paying and tipping at local restaurants (warungs) in IDR is much simpler but most places accept USD. Carry US dollars and exchange USD to Indonesian rupees (IDR) once you reach Bali. Exchange in cities or small towns but not at airport where you will not get the best rate. But beware of fraudsters and check with your accommodation/guide for recommended currency exchange. Same goes for withdrawing from ATM/cash-points – make sure you are on the main street. I don’t mean to scare you and I have never had any negative experience throughout Bali but is important to be cautious anywhere you travel.
What is the best SIM card to use for calls & data?
SIM card – I did not buy international SIM card before flying or any of the SIM cards at the airport. I asked my driver to take me to a local mobile store and got an awesome deal on a SIM card with good amount of data & calls. Plus most of the restaurants and hotels offer free WiFi – quite handy for those insta-stories 🙂
Accommodation – Where to stay in Bali?
I swear by the B&Bs throughout Bali. Especially the ones where you have the entire place to yourself. Check out Airbnb HERE Or luxury villas and hotels can be found everywhere. I normally choose a place where I get a local feel.
How many days are enough for Lembongan Island?
This is the most commonly asked question. Is Nusa Lembongan day trip worth the price or should I stay for longer? My answer is that it depends on the length of your stay. If you are staying over a week in Bali, I would highly recommend spending at least one night on Lembongan island to experience what the island has to offer. To truly explore the island and the other 2 islands that are very close – Nusa Cenengan and Nusa Penida you need more than 2 days. While Lembongan is famous with day trippers, Nusa Penida which is much larger and more rugged is less visited but has some beautiful cliffs and diving spots.
Anything else I should know?
When it comes to shopping in Bali negotiation is the key – Whatever you shop for, offer to purchase at a lower price. Having said that, do the decent thing and do not negotiate much with small vendors and for small ticket items!
Hope this itinerary for Bali helps you all plan a perfect vacation! Let me know in comments what you think?
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