Bali is one of those places that is pretty much perfect all year around. Its idyllic beaches, lush jungles, exquisite food, and rich cultural history are more than enough to draw tourists from all corners of the world.
From bustling nightlife to trekking through the wild, visiting Bali is sure to be the trip of a lifetime. That is, if you know what you want and what you’re going for. Some areas are more quiet and remote, while others are heavily influenced by tourism, and, subsequently, tourists.
Of course, that’s rarely a bad thing. Tourism is a crucial aspect of any economy, and in the case of Bali, the island is able to thrive because of it.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Bali from India, Europe, or even neighbouring countries, you’ll find that there are so many things to do and places to see. You just need to know where to look. And if you’re trying to get a taste of everything this place has to offer, keep reading for more.
This itinerary will serve as a guide for lucky travellers travelling through Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu. It includes a little bit of all the good stuff – from visits to the rice paddies, jet skiing in the ocean, what to pack, and everything in between.
What To Bring For Your Trip To Bali
The thought of Bali conjures images of a tropical paradise, and rightfully so. But most tourists make the mistake of packing nothing but a swimsuit, towel and tanning lotion. While this is mostly fine for the dry months, the weather isn’t quite that straightforward.
The months of May to September fall under the dry season, making it a more popular time to visit. But with its tropical climate, a visit at almost any time of the year warrants the need for swimsuits and raincoats concurrently.
So what should you pack for your trip to the Island of Gods?
1. Protective sunscreen – for the duration of your stay, this little buddy will be your best friend. It is very hot and humid in Bali, so SPF 50 and higher is recommended. Unless, of course, you’d prefer to toast yourself like a slice of freshly-baked bread.
2. Loose, modest clothing – it should go without saying that you’ll be needing clothing that won’t stick to your skin every time you sweat. Opt for cotton garments that are lightweight, and bonus points if it covers your shoulders and knees.
Both men and women will need to cover up when visiting villages, temples, and other sacred sites as a sign of respect. So be prepared to cover up when you leave the beach.
Locals tend to dress more conservatively rather than skimpily, irrespective of the humidity.
3. Waterproof phone case – let’s not kid ourselves, you’ll likely be spending most of your time around water. Whether it’s the villa swimming pools or the ocean, you’ll want to keep your electronics safe from water damage.
If you’re hoping to get some over- and under-water action shots, consider investing in an underwater camera. This will ensure that you’re able to capture your adventure without having to sacrifice your belongings in the process.
4. Beach attire – and lots of it. Unless you plan on spending all of your time indoors or around sacred sites, beach attire will be fine for almost everywhere you go. This includes your swimsuits, hats, sunglasses, cover-ups, and quick-drying clothing.
You may want to consider leaving your closed shoes at home and throw in a good pair of flip-flops instead. Chances are you’ll be spending most of your time in those.
Bali is notoriously humid throughout the year, so it’s best to come well-prepared but keep it simple. There’s no need to stress too much about clothes – you’ll be able to go shopping for whatever you need when you arrive.
5. Insect repellant – when in the tropics, a good insect repellant goes a long way. Your main concern is being devoured by mosquitoes throughout your trip, be it in the jungle or in your own villa.
And coming down with dengue fever as a result.
6. Mini first-aid kit – you won’t need to carry a truckload of medical supplies with you for your trip, but you don’t want a small, annoying ailment to play the party-pooper.
Your first-aid kit should be small and simple. A few good items include ibuprofen for when you’ve had one too many cocktails, antihistamines for allergic reactions or bug bites, and charcoal tablets or capsules in the case of Bali belly.
Many of these must-have items can also be purchased in Bali, but preparing as much as you can beforehand makes the world of difference. Plus, this way you’ll spend less time shopping for essentials and more time sipping on cocktails on the beach!
How Many Days In Bali Is Enough?
Let’s be honest – will any amount of time here ever be enough?
Ideally, we’d say our goodbyes and leave for Bali with no intention of ever returning home! Read any Bali travel blog and you’ll see for yourself. But unfortunately, most of us have only a few days to spare.
Of course, many tourists are welcome to stay for as long as they’d like and for as long as they are able to. Citizens of certain countries are able to get a Visa On Arrival (VoA) and stay between 30 to 60 days at a time.
However, for the sake of this article, we’ll be planning a 5-day itinerary. This gives more than enough time to explore the best sites and activities the island has to offer.
A 5-Day Itinerary For Bali
Just five days will never seem to be enough when there’s so much to explore. But this also means that you’ll never run out of things to do and things to see in Bali.
Because of all the diversity offered in this beautiful piece of paradise, many people make the mistake of visiting parts of Bali expecting the atmosphere of others. One thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to areas in Bali, one size does not necessarily fit all.
If you’re wanting to find the best area to surf and go clubbing, Kuta is likely your best bet. But if you’re keen on a romantic honeymoon, Uluwatu is where it’s at. One can only imagine the anticlimax of expecting one when visiting the other.
As a disclaimer, the island has plenty more sites and activities that can be tailored to suit every desire and preference. But even this can prove to be slightly overwhelming for those who have yet to visit the island and are trying to narrow down their search options first.
Deciding which sites and activities to include can be tough, so we’ve taken the liberty of assembling the best of Bali to be enjoyed during your five-day stay.
Day 1 – Arriving In Ubud
Most visitors arrive in Bali and head straight for the beach. But that way you’ll never want to leave and explore anywhere else. So the first stop of your trip from the airport should be the inland area called Ubud.
Known for being the art and culture capital of Bali, Ubud is the perfect introduction to your stay. Head straight from the airport and begin your journey with a visit to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Here you’ll find the well-known rice paddies and the notorious Bali swing.
This picturesque attraction forms part of the Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site and is subsequently a hotspot for tourists. Many choose to make the most of this visit by hiking down the luscious, green paddies. This can take between 30 to 90 minutes and comes highly recommended.
Don’t forget that a trip to Tegallalang isn’t complete without a picture beneath the ‘LOVE BALI’ sign near the entrance, so be sure to add that to your to-do list.
After your first adventure, make your way down to Kehen Temple which is a 45-minute drive away. Here, you’ll find a 13th century Balinese Hindu temple built into a hillside. It’s surrounded by trees and eight terraces, encapsulating the magical, regal atmosphere of traditional Balinese architecture.
Spend the rest of your day visiting one of the bountiful health cafes or yoga camps dotted across Ubud, or soaking up the fresh air of relaxation in your accommodation of choice.
Day 2 – Exploring The Natural Wonders Of Ubud
Nature lovers, rejoice! For your second day in Ubud, wake up bright and early for a visit to the Tegenungan Waterfall – a must-see on any itinerary. The waterfall itself is fairly isolated, but tends to be flocked with tourists. So it’s best to make this trip an early morning mission.
After the excitement of this stopover, venture into Padangtegal where you’ll find the Sacred Monkey Forest. This sanctuary, called Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, is home to around one thousand Balinese long-tailed monkeys and attracts between ten and fifteen thousand visitors each month.
For the final leg of this trip, head over to the Satria coffee plantation. Here you can experience a guided walk through the plantation of tropical plants and sample local brews of tea and coffee.
It’s also the one place on the island where travelers come from far and wide to try the famed and freshly-prepared kopi luwak.
It’s considered to be the most expensive coffee in the world. This type of coffee is produced by fermenting partially-digested coffee cherries defecated by the Asian palm civet. So, to answer your question, yes. It’s organic.
Day 3 – Hello Canggu
The third day of your visit to Bali sees you saying goodbye to peaceful Ubud and hello to the trendy area of Canggu.
Home to numerous bars, beach clubs, trendy vegan cafes and affordable resorts, this once-sleepy village is a hotspot for tourists and digital nomads. This also makes it the perfect place to set up your base if you’re wanting to start a Bali blog.
This area is best enjoyed with a less structured visit. Take your pick from the variety of cafes, bars, and shopping scenes during night and day. Favourites include Pantai Batu Bolong Street, the Tanah Lot island temple, and, of course, the beaches!
- Batu Bolong Beach – lined with restaurants offering both Western and local cuisine, the most popular beach in Canggu always boasts a lively atmosphere. It offers board rentals and is a popular spot for surfing.
- Echo Beach – this beach is great for lounging about on the sandy shores for a relaxing picnic or some much-needed sunbathing. The strong waves make it a no-go for swimming, but great for surfing.
- Berawa Beach – like the other beaches on the list, and almost every beach on the island, this beach is a great spot for surfing. It usually doesn’t get very crowded, and is a good place for surfers of all levels.
- Pererenan Beach – another great surf spot to put on your bucket list is Pererenan beach. This beach is relatively quiet and more popular with locals rather than tourists, so you won’t need to worry about finding a sandy spot to lay down and relax for the day.
- Nelayan Beach – as the only beach on this list that isn’t great for surfing, Nelayan beach compensates by being a favourite for lounging and long walks. The calm waters make it great for swimming.
Day 4 – Seminyak
Located a mere 40-minute drive from Canggu, the ritzy area of Seminyak is next on the list. Undoubtedly one of the most developed areas in Bali, Seminyak is known for its high-end restaurants and shopping, stylish bars and clubs, and host of luxury hotels, spas, and villas.
But that’s not all this area has to offer. There’s a vibrant mix of surfing, nightlife, cultural sites and blissful beaches making it the perfect place to squeeze in as many activities as you can before your five days are up.
The Seminyak Night Market, however, deserves special mention. From 6pm onwards, it’s the perfect place to get a taste of local street food, namely barbecued prawns, fish, and an assortment of satay meats.
The lively atmosphere and budget-friendly menu options make it a great pitstop for all. Not to mention it’s the perfect place to go shopping for gorgeous gifts and souvenirs to remember your trip to Bali for years to come.
Day 5 – Nusa Dua & Uluwatu
When visiting Bali, it’s only natural to want to spend the last of your time away on the beach. Nusa Dua and Uluwatu are particularly fantastic for families and honeymooners wanting to do some final adventuring, shopping, and island-style relaxing.
After a fairly mellow few days, it’s time to take it up a notch by ending off your trip with a bang. The picture-perfect Nusa Dua is a world of its own with its broad selection of water activities for people of all ages.
Long walks on the beach, sunbathing, and surfing are life around here. Not to mention the wide range of water sports. These include:
- Scuba diving
- Banana boating
- Sea Walking
The island’s top attraction is an area along the peninsula called Waterblow. Here you’ll find unparalleled views of the ocean waves crashing into limestone cliffs. During high-tide seasons in July to October, the water can spray as high up as 100 meters!
After a long day of exciting water sports, it’s time to unwind. Located on the southernmost tip of the island, Uluwatu is a tranquil town 30-minutes away from Waterblow. It boasts gorgeous cliff top views and some of the prettiest beaches that Bali has to offer.
Despite being one of the more popular destinations, Uluwatu maintains a quiet, peaceful atmosphere that still feels relatively off-the-beaten-path. The ‘Mecca of surfing’ provides both luxury and affordable accommodation options.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple is a Balinese Hindu sea temple and is one of the six directional temples in Bali, and a must-see for all those in the area. Sitting atop a cliff at 100 meters above sea-level, this temple is particularly famous for its unique Balinese architecture and pristine location with spectacular views.
It’s not uncommon for a few cheeky monkeys to join visitors on their little expedition here, making it all the more exciting. Just be sure not to wear any jewelry or accessories as they’ll be considered fair game by the primates.
Viewing the temple is especially gorgeous as you watch the sunset. At this time, you may even be able to catch a traditional Kecak fire dance taking place too.
Other attractions in the area include lazing around on one of the many beaches, and, of course, surfing and sunbathing, if you manage to make it back before sunset.
Wrapping Up Your Bali Itinerary
You thought planning a five-day itinerary was hard. But having to leave Bali eventually will prove to be much harder.
Newly-wed couples, solo travellers, and even larger nuclear families can all find a piece of happiness and bliss in the sandy shores and trendy hotspots.
There’s a certain charm in this South East Asian island that’s impossible to not fall in love with. Friendly locals, stunning natural scenery, and a rich cultural history are some of the key ingredients to this island’s global paradise status.
Of course, it should go without saying that a single trip to Bali will never be able to do the island any real justice. With so much to do, see, touch and taste, the only thing to plan for next is when you are able to visit again.