A Relaxed Itinerary With The Best of Bali
This non-rushed itinerary gives the time to see most of the best places around the wonderful island of Bali, Indonesia. It is made of two main parts, roughly cutting the island in two halves.
You first visit the southern half of Bali with day tours or half day tours, the do the same for northern half of the island. This itinerary relies on private car transfers It is common practice in Bali to ask your hotel for a car and driver when you want to explore a part of the island or need a transfer.
In my opinion, it’s the most convenient option. Alternatively, you can rent a car from the airport for the length of your stay. But if you spend some days just relaxing at the beach and not going for any day trip, then you are paying your rented car for nothing on these days.
The Itinerary at a Glance
- Duration: 8-10 days
- Transportation: Hiring a car and driver for each day tour, or rent a car for the whole trip.
- Sleeping: Kuta (or Sanur) & Lovina
Kuta or Sanur 5 Days
The first half of this trip will focus on discovering the southern part of the island of Bali. Kuta is a good base to do that. With its large beach and touristic atmosphere, it is located near the international airport of Denpasar.
Kuta is also great if you like a place with a party mood and all your favourite western fast food. If you prefer a more quiet place and a nice hotel along a nice peaceful beach, Sanur is a great alternative.
The goal is to keep the same hotel in either Kuta or Sanur for the first half of the trip, and visit various places in the south of Bali with day or half day trips. Here are a few suggestions of what you can visit from Kuta or Sanur:
- Monkey Forest & Tegalalang Rice Terraces (half day):
From Kuta, it should take you a little less than an hour to reach the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. In this preserved nature reserve, you will be able to see a whole group of macaques roaming freely around you and ancient temples. It’s a nice walk, but resist the temptation to touch the monkeys as they can bite or snatch things from you.
From the Monkey Forest, it will take about 25 mins to reach the picturesque rice terraces of Tegallalang. There are a few places where you can have a drink while looking at this beautiful scenery. Don’t hesitate to take a small path down the terraces and explore the paddies. Great photo opportunitites!
- Dinner on the beach in Jimbaran:
Jimbaran is located just south of Kuta, on the other side of the airport runway – very easy to reach by taxi. Restaurants put their tables directly on the sand. A nice experience for a dinner facing the sunset.
- Jatiluwih Rice Terraces & Lake Beratan (half day):
These touristic but gorgeous rices terraces are a must-see. They are located about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Kuta, and are much larger than the ones of Tegallalang. Some hiking options are available to fully appreciate this incredible man-made landscape.
If you feel like visiting more things after the rice fields, you can easily go to Lake Beratan and its famous Pura Ulun Danu Beratan temple built on a small island on the lake. This temple, with its characteristic architecture, is one of the most famous images of Bali.
- Tanah Lot for the sunset:
Tanah Lot is one of the most famous attractions in Bali. There are two temple that you can’t miss. The Pura Batu Bolong Hindu temple, built on a rocky headland, is particularly scenic with the sunset. Find the path to go down the cliffs to the black sand beach. Stroll along the coast towards the south to find the famous Tanah Lot Temple, built on its rocky island that gets surrounded by the sea at high tide.
- Nusa Lembongan Island:
You won’t have difficulty finding tourist kiosks selling tickets to this small island off Bali, facing Sanur. The beach is beautiful with turquoise water. It is nice to rent a bike and explore the island, crossing villages and following the coastline.
Kuta / Sanur Lovina 2:45-3 hours | 90 km / 55 miles
Now that you have explored a decent amount of places in the south of Bali, it is time to discover what the northern part of Bali has to offer! During my trip in Bali, I was recommended to stay at a village called Lovina (or Kalibukbuk), and that’s what I did. It is now my turn to recommend it to you.
A private transfer from the south of Bali to Lovina should cost about 50-60 USD. That’s the price for the car, not per person. You will cross a whole range of landscapes, from very pretty countryside to lakes and jungles with volcanoes in the background.
If you haven’t had the chance to visit Lake Beratan, it is very easy to tell your driver to stop there, it’s on the way.
Lovina (Kalibukbuk) 4 Days
With its central location along the northern coast of Bali, Lovina is a good base to visit the region. Take some time to walk around the village and the beautiful black sand beach, typical of these volcanic areas. It will be easy for you to ask your hotel or any local travel agency to book tours or hire drivers like you have done in the south.
Some ideas of what to do from Lovina:
- Morning dolphin watching tour:
Lovina is famous for its dolphins. As the sun is barely rising, you will be taken along the coast on a traditional Balinese canoe to spot wild dolphins. The morning view of the coast of Bali from the sea is gorgeous. I won’t lie, there are a lot of canoes on the sea in the morning chasing dolphins. You won’t be alone. But it’s still a nice experience anyway, and an opportunity for great pictures!
- Gitgit – Twin Lakes – Banjar day trip:
This trip is a loop going over a few attractions of the north of Bali. Ask your hotel for a car & driver to visit the region, and he will most likely follow this program, more or less.
The first stop will likely be the Gitgit Waterfalls – a series of waterfalls that you discover following a path in the jungle. You can then follow the Raya Wanagiri Road and stop at the viewpoint for a fantastic view to the Twin Lakes, nested in a preserved scenery.
A next suggested stop is the Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery. It is famous for its stupa that was built as a small version of the famous Borobudur Temple in Java. It is the only Buddhist monastery in Bali.
Only 1.5 km away, you wilm be able to relax in the warm pools of the Banjar Hot Springs (Air Panas Banjar). Various pools are available with different water temperatures. A real delight! From there, it is very easy to catch the main coastal road back to Lovina.
- Climbing The Batur Volcano:
Fancy some trekking? One of my nicest memories of Bali, apart from the greenery of the countryside and the peaceful temples, was the ascent of the Batur Volcano (Gunung Batur). I asked my hotel to contact the right persons and organise this for me, and on the next morning I had a car picking me up to take me to the volcano.
Once there, I was assigned a guide and a breakfast was also awaiting me at the top. The sunset from the top is beautiful and you can even clearly see the nearby island of Lombok on the horizon.
- Snorkeling trip to the West Bali National Park:
All local agencies will be able to provide this tour. You will first be driven to a pier (a place called Labuhan Lalang), to take a boat to the national park. You will be taken to Pulau Menjangan (Deer Island) for some really cool snorkeling.
One of the spots is called the “Coral Garden”, I let you imagine how beautiful it is! This tour is a very nice memory for me and definitely something I would do again if I go back to Bali.
Lovina Kuta 2:45-3 hours | 90 km / 55 miles
Unfortunately, it is almost the end of the trip! You had a good overview of the whole island of Bali. The last thing you need to do is go back to Kuta. You can either leave Lovina in the morning for an evening flight, or arrive in Kuta the day before your flight. From Kuta, it is very quick and easy to reach the airport.
Last Thoughts About This Itinerary
This itinerary allows to discover the wonderful island of Bali at your own pace, in a relaxed way. Because change hotels only once in the whole trip (without counting the last day), you have all the time to explore the surroundings and organise your days the way you want.
With either car rental or using private driver services, you are really independant and always in comfort. It is true that the private car fees quickly add up if you do a lot of day trips, but if you are several persons sharing the car it is not that expensive.
As always, this sample itinerary is just there to give you ideas and suggestions, and a way to share things that have worked for me!