Sometimes a quick break is all you need to refresh and refuel. And that is exactly what I needed when I went off on this five day adventure with my friend Josh. Although a bit of a hectic trip, we planned everything in advance so that we wouldn’t miss a single on our lists of must-see spots. From roaming the ancient monkey temples to hiking up to breathtaking waterfalls, we were able to fit it all in. So here is a Bali travel guide when you are on a tight schedule.
Bali Travel Guide – About Bali
When you think of Bali, you think of paradise. Home to golden sand beaches, ancient diving spots and even a monkey temple or two. This beautiful Indonesian island has something for everyone. It is full of rich culture and generous Balinese people. Throughout the days you will see flower-petal offerings, hear traditional music and even catch some dancing in the streets. You can explore the magnificent volcanoes and hillside temples all around the island. There is so much to see and do on a trip to Bali. From hiking up great views, diving into the depths of the ocean, and meeting the people that make this island all that it is.
We had plenty that we wanted to check out on our quick trip to Bali. With the help of the Bali and Nusa Penida Tour company, we were well on our way to exploring this incredible island. A company operated by Balinese professionals, it is a great way to get an authentic feel for the island. They have a variety of tour packages, from day trips, sightseeing, shopping, adventure and spa tours.
Our tour guide was with us every step of the way. They met us at the airport, transferred us to the different hotels we stayed in around the island and drove us around to all the sights throughout the day.
It is a personal experience as it is just you and your driver as you get to explore breathtaking sights, and have the benefit of local insight.
Bali Travel Guide – What we Saw
Only a short ferry ride southeast of Bali, it is a relatively undeveloped island that is a lush green paradise. Originally considered an island inhabited by dark spirits that were banished by the priests of Bali, according to the locals. Now it is mostly known for Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong, but you can still visit the temples where the dark spirits are worshipped. If you take a trip to Bali, you need to make your way to Nusa Penida.
It is an island of beautiful rock formations, crystal clear blue waters and a huge array of marine life. This island is a perfect spot to head out snorkelling. Not just for the marine life that tends to swim near the surface but also for some incredible underwater sites. You can swim among the Pemuteran Temple Garden. This is an art installation from local artists Captain Paul M Turkey and Chris Brown of several Buddha statues. If you have never had the chance to swim among giant manta rays, then you can head to Manta Bay and swim with one or even ten manta rays at a time. Sometimes you will even get the chance to spot dolphins playing in these waters as well.
Nusa Penida has been made famous for three incredible beaches that are picture-perfect. They are an Instagrammers playground for some amazing shots. Broken Beach was named due to the huge concave in the middle of the cliffs. Although not much of a beach but you can walk along the natural rock bridge and watch the waves crash against this beautiful sight, cutting through the turquoise waters.
Not far from Broken Beach is Angel’s Billabong. Here you can walk to the edge of the cliffs and look down at the colourful corals and marine life through the clear waters. During low tide, you can even swim in the pool, and if you go towards the edge you are in nature’s infinity pool.
Lastly is Kelingking Beach which is one of the most instagrammable spots in Bali. Once again it is a spot with amazing views of the water over the cliffs. Sometimes you can even spot the giant manta rays from here. You can climb up to the top of the cliff for some incredible views and walk down to the beach and relax.
If you are a surfer or even someone that wants to learn, surfing in Bali is something that you might want to try. I didn’t have time on this trip, but I hope to next time!
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Lake and Temple
All around Bali are some unbelievable temples. One like no other is ‘The Floating Temple’ (Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple). Located 1200 metres above sea level in Lake Beratan in the middle of Bali. It is an entire area filled with natural beauty. Depending on when you visit, sometimes the temple appears to be floating. If the water is low then it will be raised above the water. Don’t let this stop you from seeing the amazing sights that this area has to offer during y our trip to Bali.
Temple Visit Tips
Due to the temple’s popularity, get up early and head there at sunrise or just after. This way it is less busy with tourists and also gives the best visibility. Explore the area on foot, or why not grab a canoe and get up close to the temple and get some amazing photos. It is a great spot for a relaxing exploration before heading out and about around Bali for some of its other sites.
Golfing may not be one of the reasons that you have decided to take a trip to Bali, but don’t let the name put you off. Handara Golf is home to the Bali Handara Gate which is one of the most Instagrammed spots on the island. The gate is the entrance to the gold resort and is a traditional Hindu gate. It symbolizes the entrance from the outer world to the temple or the golf course in this case. All around Bali there are the iconic gates that every Instagram lover wants to get a picture in front of, but what makes the Handara Gate so beautiful is that it is surrounded by lush green mountains, an equatorial rainforest and crater lakes that give an amazing backdrop to any photo.
Due to the popularity of having photos in front of the gate, locals have set up a station where you need to pay to take a photo in front of the gate. But if you fancy staying at the resort, no need to pay. Head there as early as possible, not just to beat the crowds but in the early hours of the morning, you can catch some light rays that shine through the gates to give your photo some more depth.
If there is one thing that needs to be on your bucket list for your trip to Bali, it would have to be the Sekumpul Waterfall. You will hear the water roar from hundreds of metres away before you even get a glimpse of these magnificent falls. Right out of a film screen, it will feel almost like an unbelievable sight as the whole place is lush and green with the huge falls bursting through the trees.
Follow the trail from the car park down to the pool of the falls where you can go for a swim. It is a mere ten-minute walk and if you get stuck either follow the sound of the falls or just ask villagers to point you in the right direction. There is an entrance fee once you get down to the falls, you can either be a viewer or a swimmer but either way, it is an amazing sight to see.
Aling Aling Waterfall
Still in the north of Bali and not too far from the Sekumpul Waterfall is the Aling Aling Waterfall. Follow the cement stairs that lead up to the waterfalls, it is mainly flat and not a hard walk at all. Although not as large as the previous waterfall, it is considered to be one of the most powerful waterfalls. For a smallish price, you can enjoy cliff jumping in the waterfalls or for a smaller fee you can just visit the waterfalls which are still a great option.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
For many that take a trip to Bali, Ubud is one of the top spots as it is a good hub to get around the island. I am certain every Bali travel guide has a stop in Ubud. But it is also home to some of the best places to visit, including the Tukad Cepung Waterfall. Follow the jungle-like trail that leads up to the waterfall for only 15 minutes. If you visit on a sunny day then you may get to see the stunning sun rays that shine straight through the top of the falls. This creates natural beams across the rock formations. It is a unique spot, as the rainbows created seem to beam right up to you.
Unlike some other waterfalls of Bali, you will wander through the rock formations to get to it. This gives it a mystical view that is hard to match anywhere else. There is a small entrance fee here. This allows you to not only see the waterfall but also swim in the surrounding pools. I don’t mind these fess as they help the locals maintain this beautiful spot.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
One of the best spots in Ubud has to be the famous monkey forest. It is the natural habitat of Balinese long-tailed monkeys who are running, swinging and climbing all around this forest temple. This is a nature reserve and also a Hindu temple, so is sacred to the locals who take great care of the area. It is a demonstration of the coexistence of humans and nature. Although do read the signs within the forest about interacting with the monkeys. Also, be careful with your belongings. These monkeys are not afraid to steal your sunglasses to show off, or even open your backpack to see if any goodies are hiding within.
There are so many paths within the forest that you will find hidden temples. These are great spots to look out through the trees and watch the monkeys living in their paradise. All the temples are blocked off as they are used by locals. You can still get some great shots and see the monkeys climbing all over them. Among the paths, you will find stunning moss-covered stone statues and pagodas, as well as a small river that the monkeys love to dive into and play. This is a unique place to visit and once again, in most Bali travel guide blogs.
Here I was bit by a monkey and had to get rabies shots when I returned home a few days later. It was not a fun experience and I recommend that you visit here with caution.
While we are still in the Ubud area, don’t miss visiting the Saraswati Temple. It is famous for its lotus pond and is dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning. If you are in Bali at the right time of the year, you will witness the magical quality of the multitudes of pink buds rising upon their stems in the pond, along with the bricks of the temple beyond as they glow orange.
Right at the entrance is the delicious Café Lotus. Here you can enjoy a quick plate from their menu and look out over the effervescent lotus pond. If you prefer something simpler, you can grab a quick drink in the Starbucks next door. Follow the path that is flanked by theatrical sculptures of Hindu mythological figures. The temple truly is breathtaking! It has traditional orange/red bricks embellished with grey volcanic stone ornamentation and intricately carved wooden doors with gold detailing. You definitely need to add this to your Bali travel guide.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Not only is Bali filled with amazing blue waters, relaxing beaches and tranquil temples, it is also covered with enchanting rice fields. The iconic Tegalalang rice terrace is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ubud. A series of rice paddies that have a terraced layout, a traditional Balinese irrigation system. It offers scenic lookouts over the rice fields and the surrounding green landscape.
Although there is no strict entry fee, the locals have set up little shacks merely asking for small donations. This is because the rice paddies are their livelihood. Right at the entrance is the famous Love Bali sign which is a great photo opportunity. Don’t forget to pack some water and plenty of sunscreen as there are barely any shaded areas. Such a fun experience during your trip to Bali.
Gili Islands — Gili Trawangan
Considered to be a vision of paradise, the Gili Islands are floating in the turquoise sea and fringed with tranquil white-sand beaches and coconut palms. Although Gili Trawangan is known more so as the party island, it is a great spot for divers. It is known for some incredible underwater sites to visit. A great way to get around the island is to rent a bike. Motor vehicles are not allowed on the islands so pedalling is the best way to go. You will be able to see the gorgeous coastline, as well as the charming town features.
My favourite part of my trip to Bali was my visit to Gili Trawangan.
If you have headed here for some great photo opportunities, don’t forget to visit the ocean swing by Hotel Ombak Sunset. Float above the ocean with a sunset background, a truly beautiful spot to visit. If diving is more to your liking, you will not be disappointed. Ever wanted to swim with turtles, well this is the ‘turtle capital of the world’.
Don’t forget to visit the diving spots home to sharks, manta rays and colourful coral fish. Snorkelling more your speed? The waters around the island have great visibility for marine life, but also underwater sculpture gardens. This was an amazing experience and worthy of a spot on any Bali travel guide.
Bali Travel Guide – Where to Stay
Pandawa Beach Villas & Spa
Pandawa Beach Villas and Spa take its name from the story of Mahabharata. It is a legend of five brothers who were great warriors and symbolizes goodness. Located in the North of Sanur and Ketewel Beach, it consists of five villas to represent the five brothers. It also has an indulging spa that is the perfect place to unwind after a day of adventure, with many treatments specializing in rejuvenation.
Mason Elephant Lodge
The Mason Elephant Lodge is an incredibly unique hotel experience where you can stay within the walls of an Elephant sanctuary. This is home to Bali’s largest herd of rescued Sumatran elephants. Get a rewarding experience where you can interact with these majestic creatures from the comfort of your room balcony. With a variety of rooms where you can look out over the park, the botanical gardens, the lake or even the paddy view, it will be a truly unique experience.
Aston Sunset Beach Resort
The Aston Sunset Beach Resort is located on the island paradise of Gili Trawangan. Here you will witness stunning sunsets and enjoy luxury. A perfect spot for exploring the island, or just lazing by the freshwater pool or hotel beachfront. With a variety of rooms, you can have your choice of a beach, garden or pool views. Enjoy the Taman Gili Pool Bar if you fancy a refreshing cocktail while you top up your tan. You might also like to relax in tranquility with the Staylist Spa.
My Trip to Bali Vlog & Bali Travel Guide
Bali Travel Guide – Where to Eat
In Denpasar, Peloton Supershop is a delicious vegan restaurant that uses locally sourced seasonal ingredients. The owners, Thomas and Madison wanted to bring fun and luxury to plant-based meals, incorporating the islands most loved flavours. Enjoy the mouthwatering fully loaded burrito, powerhouse bowl or even tuck into one of the delectable vegan burgers. There is so much variety on the menu that you will want to visit multiple times to try everything.
The Banyan Tree
Located in Lombok, The Banyan Tree is a great spot for delicious vegetarian delights, from plant-based to paleo, there is something for everyone. Using tasty produce from around Bali, you can enjoy a colourful açai bowl, a flavourful salad or even a boosting freshly pressed juice. It is a refreshing spot to for a pick me up on an adventurous day.
As you can see from the Bali travel guide above, there is so much to see and do in Bali. And we managed to get it all done in four days! Although it can seem daunting, planning where to stay based on what you want to see and preparing with a tour guide as we did, you won’t miss a thing from your trip to Bali.