Indonesia: 2 week itinerary in Bali

The next part of our trip to Indonesia takes us to the island of the gods, the one everyone talks about: Bali! The name alone evokes rice fields, volcanic beaches, sunsets on the sea and scooter rides among palm trees… And in reality, Bali is all this at the same time with the incredible hospitality of the Balinese, the discovery of the Hindu culture and ceremonies and the promise of an unforgettable trip! In short, I take you to discover an island that is not very big but rich in landscapes and activities to do. I stayed there for more than 3 weeks and I didn’t see the time passing. I present you our 2 weeks itinerary in Bali!

Our itinerary in Bali

Amed: 3 days
Sidemen: 2 days 
Munduk: 2 days
Ubud: 4 days
Nusa Penida: 3 days
Canggu & Uluwatu: 2 days
All practical info about Bali

 

Stop 1: Amed – Ma favourite

 

We arrive in Amed after spending 10 days in Lombok and a few days in Gili Meno. This is our first stop on the island of the Gods. Amed is located in the north-east of Bali, at the foot of the Agung volcano, along the coast. We had very few expectations for this stop because we had decided to come exclusively to dive the wreck of the USAT, a US army transport ship sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1942. This wreck is now covered with beautiful corals where thousands of fish live. The program for these two days was: diving and snorkeling… But… Very quickly, I realized that Amed was much more than a diving place and I fell under the charm of the chill, peaceful and far from crowded atmosphere. We meet very few tourists and we can easily ride a scooter to discover the surroundings, make beach stops, snorkel, try local restaurants and enjoy the atmosphere. To sum up, Amed is black volcanic beaches, incredible views of the volcano, rich seabed, Caribbean atmosphere… Everything has been wonderful! We can even go a bit further and visit some temples or some nice viewpoints. Big favorite for this one which will remain the most beautiful surprise!

What to do in Amed ?
  • Diving: As you can see, Amed is well known for its diving sites. The most famous are Coral Bay and the USAT wreck. I recommend the French speaking Abyss dive centre.
  • Snorkeling: The best places are Pantai Jemeluk (see here), Amed beach (see here) et Lipah Beach (see here)  for turtles
  • Riding a scooter
  • Have a sunset drink at Warung Bobo (on the beach) or Sunset Point
  • Go to Lahangan Sweet Gulinten viewpoints
  • Visit Tirta Gangga Temple: A Water Palace or Lempuyang

My best addresses

To sleep
Green Coco House
Price: 20€ /night with breakfast

To eat or have a drink
Sunset Point Amed
See here on Maps

Warung Bobo
See here on Maps

Joli Best view café
See here on Maps

Green Melon Warung
See here on Maps

To go diving
We went with Abyss Dive Center, a French speaking diving centre that was recommended to us several times.
The advantage is that you can go diving in a small group with a French-speaking instructor and on top of that, they offer us a video of our dive!
Price: Approximately 60€/person for 2 dives (introductory or refresh)

To reach the Gilis
To go from Amed to the Gilis we took a “fast boat” of the company Free Bird Express.

Stop 2: Sidemen and its 50 shades of green

We leave Amed to return to the agricultural lands of Bali: our next stop is Sidemen, a village surrounded by large rice fields overlooked by the Agung volcano. It is a 100% natural destination where tourism is developing more and more, after having been ignored for a long time. When the weather is good, the scenery is truly magnificent. For us, the stay was very (too) short because we only stayed 1 night and we had to conciliate with a little (a lot) of rain. We walked in the rice fields, without too much program, but there are several marked routes for those who wish it. We ride our scooters on the roads of the area with magnificent view after magnificent view: rice terraces, chili fields, peanut plants… all in a hilly landscape, we are in 50 shades of green. Unfortunately, because of the rain, we couldn’t enjoy the next day and had to leave earlier than planned… That will teach us to want to spend only one night!  For the anecdote, we came back to Sidemen at the end of our trip (by driving from Ubud) but unfortunately the weather was still not with us, so if you are lucky enough to be in Sidemen under the blue sky with a view on the volcano: enjoy!

What to do in Sidemen ?
  • A short walk through the rice fields and get lost in the fields: Favorite
  • Take a dip in one of the local waterfalls such as the Gembleng waterfall
  • Create your own rings at the Agung Silver: we did not test it but we heard a lot about it. It is possible to bring your own gold or silver and create your own rings.
  • You can also go rafting or do other activities
  • Good to know: Around Sidemen there are a lot of unusual accommodations (bamboo houses and others), so it’s also a nice experience. We have tested an unusual accommodation, to discover in My good addresses.

My best adresses

To sleep
Fiji Valley
Price: 69€ with breakfast

 

 

To eat

Biji Valley 
Mexican food
See here on Maps

Étape 3: Munduk, in the middle of nature and waterfalls

Munduk is a village perched in the mountains in northern Bali. It is also a very natural destination where nature is lush. We sleep in a charming bungalow-chalet in the middle of rice fields and forest as far as the eye can see. The place is quiet and we feel really privileged to be in the middle of villages and people. We spend two days in Munduk with nature, hiking and waterfalls on the agenda. We also took advantage of being far from the touristy places to participate to a cooking workshop at Jero’s place. We spent an evening preparing several typical Indonesian dishes and tasting them afterwards (lumpias stuffed with snoops, soy, carrot and peanut sauce; chicken curry and the famous nasi goreng! During the day, we explored the surrounding area by going on a short hike in the middle of the Golden Valley, where there are 3 waterfalls. On the way we met many people who collect cloves from the trees, before drying them to sell them. The walk makes us discover a total of 3 waterfalls and it is very nice!  Finally, nature is preserved, the air is fresh (it’s much cooler than elsewhere) and it feels good!  We then went for a walk around the lakes, until Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. These 2 days in the Munduk area were a very (very) nice surprise! Another one… definitely. The nature side, far from the crowds, the authenticity, the exchanges with the locals, the landscapes… it’s clearly a destination off the beaten track and that, I love!

What to do in Munduk ?
  • The hike in the Golden Valley to visit the 3 waterfalls. Please note that you have to pay between 10k and 20k rupees (0,67€ to 1,34€) to be able to access each site. The start of the walk is at the Munduk Waterfal Parking
  • There are a lot of waterfalls and a lot of possibilities to go off the beaten track (without necessarily going where everyone else is going). I recommend doing a little research on Google Maps or asking the locals who will be happy to help you.
  • Visit the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple See here on Maps.

My best adresses

To sleep
Bali De Pardis Cottages
Price: 25€ with breakfast

Étape 4: Ubud, the cultural and spiritual capital

Ubud is considered the cultural capital of Bali. Located in the centre of the island, Ubud is a small town surrounded by rice terraces, although the landscape has become quite built up over the years. Here, nature is beautiful but it rains a lot. After the calm of Munduk, it is quite a contrast to arrive in Ubud where the streets are full of people, two-wheelers and cars. But despite the continuous bustle, there is something “peaceful” in the air… Perhaps the omnipresent vegetation, or the dozens of monkeys that wander quietly, sometimes on the electric cables, sometimes on the road, or perhaps the dozens of yoga, meditation, massage and well-being centres. Yes, there’s no doubt about it, Ubud is above all a city that is lived in!  And that’s good because we have several days planned (and I’ll be staying there for a week on my own) and it’s the perfect place to discover the Balinese culture, do some shopping in the local markets, take a moment for yourself by trying the Balinese massage (tested and approved!), take a yoga class, try out different local restaurants & warungs, and then thanks to its central location Ubud is the perfect starting point for day trips. We had a great time and I personally loved it! I stayed there for over a week and it was great! I even stayed with a Balinese family for 3 days and was invited to a wedding, but I’ll tell you about that next time 🙂

What to do in Ubud ?
  • Walk around the centre of Ubud: visit the Ubud Palace, the Saraswati Temple
  • Shopping in the local designer markets: several markets in central Ubud, all within walking distance
  • Attend a Balinese dance or entertainment show: You can easily buy tickets for the day in front of the Ubud Palace
  • Visit the rice fields of Tegalalang
  • Take a yoga class
  • Day trip to the waterfalls around Ubud
  • Visit the temples around Ubud
  • For an authentic and different experience, sleep at a homestay. To discover the Balinese culture and people, what could be better than spending a few days with a family? I had the chance to spend 3 days in the north of Ubud in the village of Kiliki (more info in my good addresses). The list of things to do in Ubud is very long. I even hesitate to write an article dedicated to it: I’ll be back very soon to complete this part!
My best adresses

To sleep (luxury – private villa)
Madani Antique Villa
Price: 120€ with breakfast

For solo travelers (women only):
Arya Wellness
Hostel with shared rooms and private ones

For a homestay
Rumah Keluarga Bali
See here on Maps


To do Yoga
Yoga Barn
See here on Maps

150k roupies/class

For a massage
Cantika Zest
See here on Maps

To eat

Yellow Flower Café
Warung Makan Bu
Melali Ubud
Sinduk Warung
Tutmak warung

For shopping
Local markets all around Ubud
Street direction to Tegalalang (Raya Tegallalang)

 

Stop 5: Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is a small island in the southeast of Bali. People come here for its beautiful (and famous) views, to swim with manta rays and to take a holiday within a holiday. To get to Nusa, we took a fast boat that took just under an hour to get to the north of Nusa Penida. As soon as we arrived, we felt a different atmosphere, very nice even if many travellers only spend the day there doing organised tours. So we decided to spend 3 nights there to take our time. One of our motivations is to go diving to see the manta rays and discover the underwater world! As usual, as soon as we arrive in Penida, we negotiate the rental of a scooter and we go for a ride. Here the roads are narrow and not in very good condition, so even if the island is small the distances sometimes seem quite long. But as always, we don’t get bored because the landscapes are always sublime. By the way, the most famous image of Bali comes from here (yes, yes, you know the cover photo of the article, this spot that we see everywhere) is the famous Kelingking Beach in the shape of a dino! So we realize that Nusa Penida is a bit of a meeting place for instagrammers who stop at every viewpoint to take the same photo over and over again, which has already been taken thousands of times during the day. Did we do the same? Maybe a little, but in order to get off the beaten track, we decided to take the time to discover something else. Thanks to our hosts, we had the chance to be invited to a Hindu ceremony in a temple and we were able to exchange a lot about Balinese culture. We also saw manta rays, and we found a great place to stay: a tree house for backpackers!

What to do in Nusa Penida ?
  • Kelingking beach Nusa Penida: The place has been renamed as the “T-Rex” cape for its resemblance to a dinosaur… did you see?
  • Broken beach
  • Crystal bay
  • Diamond beach (in the morning, in the sun)
  • Manta ray diving: We were supposed to dive with Purple Dive Nusa Penida (recommended several times on site) and Romain finally dived with Reeflex Divers Penida (due to availability so don’t hesitate to book several days in advance!) Both are French speaking centres.
    Unfortunately I couldn’t do any diving because of an ear problem a few days before, so I went on a 2 hour snorkeling tour which promises to take us swimming with manta rays. I hesitated for a long time to go, being afraid to take part in a very touristy activity that doesn’t respect the well being of the animals and… It was definitely the case! I ended up not going in the water and went swimming on my own. I finally had the chance to swim alone with a manta ray at my side who was running away from the dozens (at least 50) swimmers who were chasing her… Poor thing. So yes, I strongly advise against snorkeling unless it is in a very small group. The diving, on the other hand, was great (Romain’s experience with Reeflex)

My best adresses

To sleep
Gading Treehouse
Price: 20€ with breakfast
(shared bathroom)

To eat
Secret Penida café
Amok Sunset Cafe

 

Stop 6: Canggu & Uluwatu

For this last leg of the trip, I am alone in “digital nomad” mode. After staying for a week in Ubud – in a youth hostel and with a Balinese family – I decided to go to the south of Bali, where there are the most travellers. Indeed, the south of Bali is the most touristic area and the most popular with surfers from all over the world, but also with travellers who want to have sun and go to the beach. I spent several days in Canggu, a small town in full expansion, which welcomes many digital nomads and consequently all the “western” comfort. Although there are plenty of cool things to do around here, it’s clearly not my favourite part of Bali. I don’t think it’s a destination for those who are looking for authenticity and interaction with the local culture. Again, it all depends on what you are looking for 🙂

 

What to do in Canggu & Uluwatu ?
  • I’ll be back very soon to complete this part

My best adresses

To eat

  • I’ll be back very soon to complete this part

Practical information for a trip to Bali, Indonesia

When to go to Bali?

The best time to go to Bali is during the dry season, which runs from April to October, but with climate change you can expect rain during the dry season too. The weather is generally better in the north of the island, when it can rain around Ubud. In general, it is better not to rely on the weather forecast on our phones, because the climate in Bali is tropical, which means that the weather can be stormy, but this often means that it is sunny and sunny all day.
To avoid the high tourist season, it is best to avoid the months of July – August and December.

How do I get to Bali?

  • By air: If you are arriving from abroad or landing at Jakarta airport (the Indonesian capital), you will need to fly to Denpassar airport, Bali’s main airport
  • By boat: If you are in Lombok or the Gilis, you can reach Bali by boat (fast boat). There are several companies (but they change regularly, so it’s better to ask directly on the spot)

How to get around in Bali?

  • By scooter: In Bali the easiest way to get around is by scooter (if you have your international driving license!)
    Personally, I loved being able to explore the area on two wheels! Renting a scooter is quite simple as you just have to ask once you arrive. Each accommodation will offer you a scooter solution.
  • By taxi: For our long distance trips we always book a driver. The price for a trip varies between 20 and 35€ (350k – 600k IDR)
  • By Gojek or Grab: These are the “Uber” of Indonesia that offer to take us by scooter wherever we want! The advantage is that it’s faster (because in a car, you can easily get stuck in traffic) and it’s not very expensive!

What budget for 2 weeks?

  • For accommodation: There is a huge range of accommodation on offer but also a huge range of prices. So here, prices vary between 20 and +100€ per night for 2. We alternated the type of accommodation and spent 500€ for 2 for 2 weeks.
  • To eat: If you eat local (in the warungs), you can eat for 10€/day per person (except Canggu and the south).
  • To get around on a scooter: You should expect to pay about 5€/day for a scooter rental. Otherwise, using Gojek & Grab scooters.
  • For longer trips: The biggest expense is internal transport, which we did by private taxi, because there is no (or almost no) public transport. Each trip cost between 20 and 35€ for 2 people.
  • For the activities: The activities are never very expensive, but you always have to pay a few rupees for the motorbike parking or for the entrance fees: between 1€ and 7,5€ Finally, I think that the total budget depends strongly on the type of accommodation you choose because this is what can completely change the trip (between 10€ and +100€ per night).

What currency?

The currency in Bali is the same as elsewhere in Indonesia: the Indonesian rupiah IDR
1€ = 16 500 IDR

Is Bali too touristy? Is it too crowded?

Bali, the island of the Gods, with its 5,780 km², attracts 85% of the tourism in Indonesia. It is therefore the most touristic island and yes, it is crowded. But as everywhere, it is up to the traveller to create his trip and make choices.
Visiting Bali “differently” and off the beaten track is possible! So, don’t forget: Dare to explore the unknown, those places that are not or hardly talked about. Dare to make your trip a unique adventure.
And if not, there are so many other Indonesian islands just waiting to be discovered!

What I wish I had known before I left 

Although touristy, the island of Bali is full of beautiful places and experiences away from the crowds!

If you want to avoid the crowds, you should avoid THE waterfall or temple that you see on Instagram. There are many temples and waterfalls that are less well known (or less shared on social media) and are just as beautiful.

In summary, this first trip to Bali and Indonesia was a wonderful experience, rich in every way.
I was dreading going to Bali because I was afraid it would be too touristy, but I loved going off the beaten track, meeting people, discovering the Balinese culture, meeting other travellers too and building new memories for life 🙂

For the rest of the trip, I invite you to discover our 10 days itinerary in Lombok and the Gilis, our trek on the Rinjani volcano and soon I will tell you about my 3 days experience on the volcanoes of Java.

And then, find all my trip on Instagram (in post & highlights stories) on  @reporterontheroad

 

 

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