Bali has been on my list for years. I’ve been trying to go for five years now, and finally made it. Aiden and I spent two weeks in Bali and surrounding islands, and are sharing our Bali itinerary.
In December of 2019, Aiden and I spent two weeks in Bali and the surrounding islands, and spent both Christmas and New Years in this amazing place! Our route included laidback island life, temple hunting, waterfall, volcano chasing, and underwater exploration. Here’s a detailed two-week Bali itinerary with lots of movement and adventures.
Island Life in Bali
LEGIAN: 4 DAYS
Any guide that you have read about island life in Bali exists here. This place is truly so laidback and accommodating to everyone! We started off our adventure with a few days in Legian, a beach-front neighborhood near the airport. I thought it would be a great central place to get a feel for the island before heading up to Ubud. Aiden and I were here for 4 days!
If you want to hang out on the beach with the locals, this neighborhood is for you! From our research, we knew that nearby Seminyak and Canggu were Westerner-heavy, but Legian had tons of locals! We spent lots of time walking to Seminyak, exploring the beach-front area and eating some great food! I do have to say… the Legian beach was not the cleanest I’ve seen. There was so much plastic, and it was disheartening to see. Other than that, I think it was a decent place to start off the trip, but if we were to go back, we would deal with a longer ride from the airport and settle down somewhere more green, closer to sights and points of interest.
CANGGU: 3 DAYS
For New Years Eve, we made our way to Canggu, a surfer, and digital nomad haven. It was pretty quiet during the day when we were there, but it got rowdy at night for New Years Eve! We stayed at this amazing little hotel, Surf Motel, and it was so great. Two minutes from the beach, amazing room and a great roof deck. One thing to note about Canggu, if you do not want to ride a motorbike, you will have a really hard time getting around the neighborhood.
How Canggu works is that there is one main road, and then many small roads veering off towards the beach. So, if you are staying along one tiny road, in order to get another part of the beach you will need to get out to the main road and then go down one of the small side roads. We had NO CLUE, and it took us so long to get places! We were in Canggu on New Years Eve, and finding motorbikes was not too easy, but there were plenty of local drivers willing to take you if you are in a pinch!
Canguu is a great middle ground between the very luxe Seminyak and very low-end Legian. Canggu would be a great place to stay for a while, as it has a ton of Western amenities but also has that island charm! We were here for one night only over NYE, it would be a great place to stay longer.
ULUWATU: DAY TRIP
We took a day trip from the city to Uluwatu to see the temple and hop some beaches. All in all, so worth it! Do yourself a favor and download either the GoJek (motorbike Uber) app or Bluebird Taxi (regular vehicle Uber) app, because it is so affordable to hop on one to get to Uluwatu from the city!
After exploring the temple, we made our way to Padang Padang Beach, and this place is a surfer’s haven. We ate lunch in the village, a cliff-side village with lots of steep stairs full of beachside shops, surfboard maintenance and a few restaurants! Bintang (beer) and Mie Goreng (stir fried noodles) for $3 was the move this day. After lunch, we took a dip in the water and hung out at the cove beach! Getting a BlueBird back took a bit, since many cars are not out that far. Keep that in mind, and consider maybe a GoJek back!
All of my photos this day were shot with my Nikon D3300. I have a complicated relationship with this camera, but at the end of the day, these two photos of Aiden and Padang Padang Beach are my favorite!
All of my photos this day were shot with my Nikon D3300. I have a complicated relationship with this camera, but at the end of the day, these two photos of Aiden and Padang Padang Beach are my favorite! Take a look at it here.
NUSA ISLANDS: DAY TRIP
We booked a day tour to the Nusa Islands when we were in Legian! Honestly, I am not a huge fan of full day tours, but it was relatively cheap and I wasn’t really feeling like trying to figure out ferrying over and getting set up with snorkling and island tours. The tour was $60 per person, and included round-trip transfer and ferry, snorkeling, lunch (Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng–YUM!), and a private motorbike tour of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan (the two smaller Nusa islands)!
The snorkeling was fun, a nice thing to do before we went diving, lunch was nice and really relaxing but our favorite part was definitely the motorbike tour! This older man and woman picked us up, I hopped on her bike and Aiden hopped on his bike. They took us EVERYWHERE… I’m talking Blue Lagoon, Devil’s Tear, Sunset Point, Sandy Bay Beach, Yellow Bridge Point. You can find the tour here. Great day trip from Legian Beach!
UBUD: 3 DAYS
Ubud was our second destination, all of my research pointed to this town being the quintessential Bali place. We spent 3.5 days, and we wish it was a little longer. It did not disappoint! We were surrounded by rice fields, waterfalls, farms, yoga studios, amazing food, monkeys, temples and great people! Some essential to-dos in Ubud:
- Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
- Campuhan Ridge Walk
- Stroll down Jl. Gowtama street
- Ubud Market on Jl. Karna street
- Yoga Class (we went to the Yoga Barn)
- Tegallalang Rice Terraces
- Air Terjun Tibumana waterfall park
- Cooking class at a farm in Ubud (we chose this Airbnb Experience)
Tegallalang Rice Terraces: this place deserves an extra shout out. It is one of the TOP tourist destinations in Bali, and any time you see a picture of a girl with long flowing hair on a swing swinging into the beautiful landscape, odds are it was taken here. Even though this place is beautiful and totally worth the trip, it is such a tourist trap. We paid 100K Rupiah (7 USD) to enter the rice terraces, and then several other people tried to tell us we had to pay them since they were the farmer to get in. I understand paying the farmers, but this definitely felt like tourist traps. Be prepared for intense heckling and get to the far side of the terraces for some peace! Also, be prepared for the heat. There is minimal shade.
To get here, we rented a motorbike and it was about a 30 minute ride from central Ubud. Totally doable, and maybe wear a swimsuit under your clothes so you can bike over to a waterfall and cool off afterwards!
MT. BATUR: DAY TRIP
Mt. Batur is the famous active volcano on the north side of Bali. The sunrise hike is a really popular tour, but we chose to do the guided hike through this Airbnb Experience to try to have a little fewer people on our hike. It totally worked! Our guide took us a different way, and while we were hiking with only 2 or 3 other small groups, the main path was packed–even at 4 AM. The hike is not the most difficult hike I’ve done, but definitely not the easiest!
We got picked up at 2:00 AM from our hotel by the driver, there were 2 other people in our van. We got to the homestay of our trek guide at 3:30 AM, had a small breakfast, and began hiking at 4 AM. The hike takes about 1.5 hours. Once we got up, our guide cooked breakfast for us on the steam of the volcano and let us watch the sunrise. It was Christmas morning and felt really special! Then we hiked back down and began the drive back, we were back at our hotel by 1 PM.
The views were amazing, being on an active volcano was amazing, but what we did not expect was that the Airbnb guide also had us stop at a Luwak coffee farm on the way back! It was a way for them to make some extra cash, but we got a free tour by a lovely girl who had wonderful English and showed us around her family’s massive coffee farm. She gave us a ton of samples, and then we were able to purchase some Balinese and Luwak coffee to take home!
Some things to note: if you get carsick, be prepared. The road to get up to the homestay is rough, I had a hard time hiking due to my upset stomach.
Underwater: Diving in Bali
GILI TRAWANGAN: 4 DAYS
We were determined to get open water dive certified when we were in Bali. From a bunch of research, we found one of the best places to get certified was the Gili Islands. We were excited to explore another island, and there was a great dive school on Gili Trawangan. From Ubud, we got a taxi and then took a ferry over to the Gili islands. The island is completely motor-free, the most motorized traffic you can have is a slow-moving motorbike, and you can walk around the whole island in about an hour! We stayed in a hut that had an outdoor bathroom and several huts were positioned around a pool! You can book beforehand like we did, or just walk around the island until you see a guesthouse that has spots open. See our accommodation here.
Our dive shop was called Trawangan Dive, highly recommended! Our open water dive course was 2.5 days with 5 dives, 2 mornings in the classroom and pool, and cost roughly $300 per person! That is:
1. much less than any place in the US or Mexico and
2. incredible price for some of the best marine life we have seen.
If you want to go to the Gili Islands for diving, we recommend Gili T. If you want to go to the Gili Islands for a beach party vibe, go to Gili T. If you want a serene and relaxing experience, Gili Air may be better suited. Once we were done with our dive course, we didn’t really want to stay at Gili T. It’s a lot of clubs and bars, and beaches are either packed or have washed up coral, making it hard to sunbathe. Overall, a great break from Bali!
Are you planning a trip to Bali? Do you have questions or just want to share how excited you are? Leave a comment! So pumped to hear from you guys!