Bali is a true paradise where you can have a magical holiday. There are many different destinations on the island as well as some beautiful islands around. Here is a complete travel guide for you to take a look at and choose where you want to go on this island of the Gods!
Bali may be a small island, but there are so many different places to discover on this Indonesian gem. To help you choose your destination, here is a complete Bali travel guide on the different holiday destinations in Bali. From the south to the north of the island and the islands surrounding it, come and discover the island with a thousand facets.
Let’s start your trip with Kuta, it is one of the biggest cities in Bali and most definitely your first stop as it’s right by the airport. Bali’s tourism started in Kuta so it probably the liveliest city on the island. You’re less likely to get a taste of the local culture here; it’s more the city popular with surfers from all over the world and nightlife lovers. In Kuta you can enjoy the 12 km of beaches – perfect for taking some surfing lessons. It is super quick and easy to get lessons as well, because locals come and offer lessons at low prices. I recommend that you go to the beach opposite the McDonalds – the locals here will give you the best experience. Enjoy 2 hours of surfing for only 200,000 rupees (£13), then drink a cool beer whilst watching the sun go down, disappearing behind the sea.
If you want to dine in Kuta, you can find restaurants for all tastes. I recommend you go to Jl street where you can find several small restaurants serving both local cuisine and favourites such as pizza and burgers. I recommend you try out Mie Goreng chicken, it’s a real treat! For a meal and a drink it generally costs around 70,000 rupees (£3.50).
Once the sun goes down, it’s time to party! So, you need to get to Legian street where you will find all the bars and clubs. The most well known is the Sky Garden which you are very likely to hear about whilst you are in Kuta. For around £10 you can get an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink pass. If not, then I recommend the Apache Reggae Bar where you can sip on a cocktail or beer infront of a live concert. If you are more into reggae then you can head to the bottom of the bar where there is a second room with live reggae music. A popular place for locals and tourists is the Tubes Bar & Restaurant with its numerous pool tables – a top way to start the evening. Later on you can then go to Engine Room which has 3 floors for you to party on until the morning.
On the side of Seminyak the atmosphere is different and more trendy. It is the perfect place to indulge in some proper shopping: there are several small boutiques with clothes made by local designers. I recommend that you go to the Oberoi street where you can find unique shops. You can also find other big traditional brands such as American ones that you don’t find in Europe. There are many good restaurants which are a little posher than those in Kuta. If you fancy a cocktail or dinner with a beach side atmosphere then head to KU DE TA where you can watch the sunset from the infinity pool on the beach front.
In Seminyak you can enjoy the whole day on the beach, sipping on cocktails whilst in a comfy deck chair. Just like in Kuta, you can try out surfing – the waves are perfect for beginners. You can also get a massage and pamper yourself at one of the many institutes in the city. Generally, in Bali, a full-body massage costs around £8 for an hour which is much better than the prices in Europe.
On the southwestern coast of Bali, just 20 minutes from Seminyak you will find the city of Canggu – quite a contrast to the other 2 cities. Indeed, you can also enjoy beautiful beaches like the huge Batu Bolong Beach which is the perfect place for surfing at all levels. The bottom of the water is sandy making it easy to try surfing without hurting yourself – a surf lesson will cost around 300,000 rupees with an instructor. If you’re really into sport you can simply relax on the beach and sunbathe whilst sipping a coconut.
When in Conggu, it is a must that you visit the famous temple Tanah Lot, which is on the ocean about 30 minutes away. You can go in the morning and discover this peaceful place, or you can go at sunset time and the sky is an array of magical colours.
In Canggu, there is a countless amount of small restaurants, cafes and warungs where you can get authentic, healthy cuisine for unbeatable prices. I recommend you go to The Warung Dandelion or the Warung Bu Mi where you can enjoy delicious Indonesian cuisine.
After a few crazy days on the coast of Bali, it’s now time to head to the beautify city, Ubud. A city surrounded by the jungle and rice paddies. If you want to go there from Kuta it will cost about 125,000 rupees (£8) and takes about 1.5 hours (depending on the traffic). Once you arrive in Ubud, you will fall in love with the artistic centreof Bali and its many temples. You can discover the famous rice fields – I particularly recommened the Tegallalang rice fields which is a 10 minute scooter ride from the center of Ubud and is by far, the most beautiful one on the island. You can also go coffee tasting whilst enjoying the view of the rice fields – a truly magical moment!
Another must in Ubud is the Monkey Forest! The entry fee is about £4 and you will have access to the beautiful, tropical forest with the 600+ monkeys living there. You can also admire this sacred place with its temples. In general, the monkeys won’t come up to you if you don’t have food with you but you can still get a very close glimpse of them. During your stay in Ubud, don’t miss out on the traditional market where you can buy local food, clothes and many other souvenirs. Once again, don’t hesitate on negotiating the prices! Whilst you are staying here, you could climb Mount Batur which is the second highest volcano in Bali and a perfect way to watch the sunrise. There are many organized tours there, which you can usually book directly at your hotel. A typical programme: departure at 2am, climb Mount Batur for approx. 2 hours, get to the top, have breakfast while watching the sunrise and return to your hotel around 10am for a well-deserved nap.
If you’ve ever found yourself staring at photos of Bali and dream about being there, then you will probably love Ulun Danu – a water temple that is truly magical. It is just 40km away from Ubub so you should definitely visit! It’s probably best that you get a private driver for around 300,000 rupees (£20 for the day) which will get you to the temple and then you can also visit the Git Git waterfalls. If you have dreamed of swimming somewhere magical at the foot of a waterfall, this is the place to go!
In terms of accommodation in Ubud, you will be spoiled for choice. There are charming hostels for a small budget and stunning 5* hotels hidden amongst the nature – there is something for everyone!
Uluwatu – cliffs, temples & surfing in the south of Bali
Just in the south of Bali, about a 10 minute taxi ride from Kuta, you will find Uluwatu Province – a great place to live. If you’re into surfing, you have probably heard of Uluwatu and its spots like Padang Padang and Nyang Nyang Beach. If you love relaxing then you will be very happy in the south of Bali with its heavenly beaches. One of the most famous beaches is Pantai Pandawa but you can also enjoy Dreamland and its big waves or Blue Point Beach (which is my favourite). You can get to it by walking down some stairs that take you into a cave where you can then sneak through the cliffs and reach a paradise beach that still seems like a well-kept secret.
Whilst you are in the south of the island, you can take the chance to discover the famous Uluwatu temple which is perched on top of the cliff more than 100m high. The entrance fee is about 20,000 rupees and the loan of a sarong is included. Then you can walk along the cliff and observe the view and massive waves crashing below. There are lots of monkeys running around the field, so I recommend you store you belongings away, such as sunglasses, jewellery and mobile phones. At the temple, you can go to the Kecak performance at around 5pm which is a Balinese dance.
After a wonderful time in the south, you should definitely go to the north of Bali where you will find the Lovina Beach. It is a popular attraction where dolphins come and swim near the coast during sunrise. All the locals will offer you a trip to see the dolphins, but it is better to compare prices and ask several people. Typical programme: leave at 5am, enjoy the calm before sunrise and have the increased chance of seeing dolphins swim. In Lovina Beach there are also snorkeling excursions in the area.
Besides the other attractions, there is a sunset every night which you can admire whilst dining at a restaurant with typical Indonesian cuisine with a Bintang. A 15 minute scooter drive away from Lovina are the hot springs of Air Panas. This hot spring is in the middle of the jungle with therapeutic virtues. The Sekumpul waterfalls are also 30 minutes away by scooter and are well worth a visit if you love nature and waterfalls!
Located on the east coast of Bali is Sanur, one of the first seaside resorts in the 1960s. You can go there to seek the calm and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta or Seminyak. There are many white sand beaches, perfect for resting as there are far few waves than other places on the island. This is why many families stay here where it’s easy to find luxury hotels at very attractive rates. After spending the day on the beach, you can then enjoy a Balinese massage from one of the institutes in the area. You could even take cooking lessons where you can learn to make Mie Goreng yourself when you return home.
From Sanur, guests can also board one of the many boats that take you to the Nusa islands which is about 20 minutes away.
You can take tours from the north to south and east to west to fully explore Bali. There are, however, many other small islands around which you can get to within 2 hours by boat – which would be a shame to miss whilst you’re there. Here is a quick overview of the islands that you can visit whilst you’re in Bali. If you have some extra time, I recommend that you discover the Indonesia islands like Java, Komodo and Flores.
Lombok is a volcanic island that’s about 2 hours from Bali that you can easily get to by boat. There are many connections between all the destinations previously mentioned and Lambok as well as the Gili islands. The best time to go there is from April – October because it’s the dry season then. To the east is the capital of Mataram Island and the seaside resort Sengiggi. Whilst you are there, the more east of Lambok you go, the more you will find intact and deserted landscapes. In the south of the island are many deserted beaches with turquoise water and in the north the island is a great place for hikers – especially with the volcano Mount Rinjani.
West of Lombok
The west of the island is the most populated part of the island which is where most tourists go on holiday. Like I said, this is where you will find the capital, Mataram where the airport is. I highly recommend that you visit the nightmarkets where you can find unbeatable prices for food, especially at the warungs and you can try the famous traditional island sauce – Sambal-Sauce. The majority of the population here is Muslim, but you can still find Buddhist temples, such as Pura Langsar, one of the few temples that is used by both Muslims and Buddhists. Further north of Mataram you will find Sengiggi which is a seaside resort with relaxing, long beaches.
South of Lombok
In the south of the island you will find the most incredible white sand beaches where you can lie in the sun whilst sipping a coconut. Here, you will find the other Kuta, which is a quiet resort (with no link to the same resort in Bali) where you can rest at the Mawun Beach.
North of Lombok
Northern Lombok is notorious for its beautiful waterfalls, lush jungle and many hiking trails. The most famous waterfalls are Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep in Senaru; I did also find a very special waterfall: Tiu Teja which is also known as the rainbow waterfall. If you’re a little more adventurous, I recommend you climb Mount Rinjani which is the second highest volcano in Indonesia. You will need 3 – 5 days here to follow the itinerary and you should definitely leave with a guide. When you reach the top, you will have the best reward of a magnificent view of the entire island and the turquoise crater lake.
Gili Trawangan Island is the most heavenly place. To give you a little idea: is its an island with the area of around 15 km² surrounded by turquoise water, breathtaking coral reefs and you will find no cars or scooters here. During the day, you can enjoy the white sandy beaches, such as the Turtle Beach, which (as you can guess by the name) you can snorkel with sea turtles. There are also snorkeling trips in the day for around 300,000 rupees (£20) you can go on a boat which will take you to 3 different spots where you can admire the multicolouredfish and turtles.
At around 17:30, you can then go on your bike and go to the other side of the island (which takes about 10 minutes) and watch the beautiful sunset on the beach. Or, you can head to one of the numerous bars on the beach where you can relax and admire this spectacular on a sunbed.
For the rest of the night, you will be spoilt for choice on things to do. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs for you to mingle around and meet other tourists from all over the world and party on until the next day. If you’re missing home comforts, there is even an Irish pub!
Gili Air is a small island of 15 km² where most locals of the archipelago live. Around 1500 people call this their home and you will find many small warungs where you can eat traditional Indonesian food, as well as huge smoothies of every colour possible. Unlike Gili Trawagan, Gili Air is a quiet peaceful island for you to get some much needed relaxation, enjoy the beautiful beaches and go snorkeling or diving in the colourful seabed with turtles. Generally it is more in the east of the island where you can find the best places to get your goggles on and go exploring the corals, fish and turtles.
Gili Meno is the smallest island in the archipelago and is an ideal place to relax and simply enjoy life. The beautiful beaches are a great place to go on long walks along the turquoise water and it is also a famous spot for snorkeling. As well as being the smallest island, Gili Meno is also the quietest making the ideal location if you want to escape everyday life and cut yourself off from the outside world. Just lie down in a hammock, grab you best book and let your mind wander. You will find more locals than tourists here and also the turtle sanctuary where baby turtles grow in 4 pools until they are 8 months old, before they are then released into the ocean to maximize their chance of survival.
Nusa Lembongan – paradise retreat 20 minutes from Bali
Off the east coast of Bali, just a 20 minute boat ride away, is the Nusa Islands archipelago. The main one is the Nusa Lembongan. You won’t find many people here before the Balinese believe these island house demons. However, if you fancy a little break during your Bali trip, i highly recommend that you make a visit here and discover the beautiful island which is 4km long. The beaches are bright white and it is a perfect spot to practice snorkelling at its magnificent coral reef: you may even get to see manta rays.
Amongst the beautiful beaches on the island, there is the Mushroom Bay and Dream Beach that I highly recommend. You should also visit the Gala Gala underground house which is inspired by a Hindu story: it is a maze that stretches over 500 m². And one final must-see of you stay in Nusa Lembongan is the wonderful sunset behind Mount Agung on the island of Bali – a truly magical moment!
If you fancy getting a full view with breath-taking, natural landscapes you should definitely go to the island of Nusa Penida! It is the island with few inhabitants with just 45,000 people on 247 km². It is particularly famous for its cliffs and the splendid Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong (a natural swimming pool). If you fancy a swim, I recommend Crystal Bay Beach with its clear, turquoise waters. Like most islands in Bali, Nusa Penida is famous for snorkeling and scuba diving. Do note, however, that you need to be well practiced in scuba diving to do it here as the currents are rather strong. Another well-known landscape on Nusa Penida is the Atuh Beach which is a beach below a huge cliff which you get to from the top.
Nusa Ceningan is connected to Nusa Lembongan by the famous Yellow Brigde. The highlight of this island is the famous Blue Lagoon where high cliffs and rocks shelter the turquoise sea and the huge waves crash infront of you. Just like the other 2 previous islands, Nusa Ceningan is the perfect spot for snorkeling and exploring the seabed.
So, I think that is pretty much everything covered for my Bali travel guide. I hope it has given you many tips and that you are now ready for you trip there! Let me know if you have been there and have any additional tips or if you have any queries.