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This Bali Travel Itinerary is a Perfect Relaxed Way to Discover The Best of the Island

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

  • Trip Type: Independant travel with driver hire or car rental
  • Itinerary Shape: Double Star [info]
  • Starting Point: Kuta (or Sanur)
  • Ending Point: Kuta (or Sanur)
  • 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. A trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without a walk in the gorgeous terraces it possesses. Along with the ones of Jatiluwih, the terraced rice fields of Tegallalang are probably the most famous.

Tegallalang Rice Terraces

There are a few places where you can have a drink while looking at such beautiful scenery. Tegallalang is also a renown handicraft village. The whole area has become a very touristic spot. You may be tempted to buy a few souvenirs, do not hesitate to bargain! There are no fixed prices.

Don’t hesitate to take a small path down the terraces and explore the paddies. Great photo opportunitites!

VIRTUAL TOUR – Tegalalang

Get immersed in the gorgeous rice paddies of Tegalalang (1 panorama).

Click Here to View The Virtual Tour

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

  • 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.

Indeed, on the foothils of the Batukaru Volcano, Men have transformed the landscape and turned it into one of the most spectacular places in the whole of Bali. Some hiking options are available to fully appreciate this incredible man-made landscape.

The rice terraces of Jatiluwih were recently added on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and it is inconceivable to stay in Bali without seeing them! Even the name Jatiluwih means “truly marvelous” (in case you were not convinced yet).

VIRTUAL TOUR – Jatiluwih

Walk among the rice terraces of Jatiluwih (1 panorama).

Click Here to View The Virtual Tour

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

It is also interesting to learn about the Balinese water management system between farmers that they call Subak. The Subak system is more than water management. It is a whole philosophy harmonious relationship between God, Humans and Nature. It all creates like a large artificial ecosystem. It is actually the Subak that was awarded by the UNESCO, as a “Cultural 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.

Hotel Options in Kuta & Sanur

Booking.com

Kuta / Sanur → Lovina

Car | 90 km (55 mi) ⁝ 2:45-3 hours

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 pleasant shaded path under the trees.

The first waterfall you will come across is the Campuhan Waterfall, a Balinese name which could be translated as “Twin Falls”. Indeed, two waterfalls are flowing in a narrow gorge and a small concrete path takes you very close to the falls. These were my favorite falls, as the immediate environment looks very natural and wild, making the whole scene more attractive.

From there, you can continue the path to a taller waterfall called Mekalangan Waterfall. If the waterfall itself it slightly more impressive, I was less touched by it because the environment was quite degraded, it wasn’t the lush jungle I was hoping for. The landscape around the waterfalls is more a landscape of countryside and plantations than a pristine rainforest.

VIRTUAL TOUR – Gitgit Waterfalls

Visit the Campuhan and Mekalangan Waterfalls and their natural setting (2 panoramas).

Click Here to View The Virtual Tour

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Once you are done with the waterfalls, 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.

Indonesia is a volcanic archipelago. Indonesian islands were deeply molded by volcanic activity and Bali is no different. What your are actually looking at from this viewpoint is the northern part of the caldera of the extinct Bedugul Volcano. The road and this viewpoint are on the rim of this caldera.

Twin Lakes Bali

What’s a caldera, you ask? A caldera is a depression (most of the time with a circular shape) that is present in many volcanic complexes. When a major eruption occurs, the magma chamber get drained partially or fully. The now empty magma chamber can no longer support the weight of the top of the volcano, and it collapses. Another good example of an Indonesian caldera is the one of Mount Bromo.

For a complete picture, I must mention the third lake of this caldera, Lake Beratan. With its temple, it is one of the most visited spots in Bali.

Originally, the Twin Lakes were one single lake but around the year 1800, a massive landslide cut it in two parts. Today, the two lakes are about 2 km from each other. Lake Buyan, on the left, is the bigger one and Lake Tamblingan, on the right, is the smaller one.

VIRTUAL TOUR – Twin Lakes

Enjoy the fabulous view from the Twin Lakes viewpoint (1 panorama).

Click Here to View The Virtual Tour

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

The whole area is covered by pristine rainforest, sustained by the rich volcanic soil and a constant humidity. We are here on the Balinese Highlands – the Twin Lakes are located at an altitude of about 1200 m (4,000 ft). This results in a cooler climate that is very appreciated by the visitors who can escape the tropical heat of the seashore and the rice fields.

Lake Buyan is Bali’s second biggest lake, the first one being Lake Batur (in the caldera of the Batur Volcano).

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.

The interior of the island is made of a kind of savannah, a mix of grasslands and groups of trees, it also features a Hindu temple built right on the seashore. But the real treasure of this island lies underwater: its coral reefs.

The first place I am heading to is a snorkeling spot named “the Coral Garden”. The name says it all!

In the distance, the majestic cones of the Ijen volcanic complex break the horizon line and make a wonderful background for the island’s crystalline waters.

The Coral Garden is one of the most beautiful snorkeling experiences that I had as far as I can remember. I have good memories of snorkeling around Tioman Island in Malaysia, but I think West Bali national Park might be a level above Tioman for coral density.

You then take the boat again for a short ride to another part of the island – on the opposite coast, where another snorkeling spot awaits you. It is quite different fom the first one, as it is located along drop-off, a kind of underwater cliff. It was pretty impressive because there is no transition between the shallow plateau surrounding the island and the deeper sea.

You swim in the shallow waters, looking at the coral and all of a sudden a cliff goes down into the darkness of the sea that is so deep that you can’t see the bottom. Along this edge is where I found the most beautiful corals and biggest fish. The eroded coral coastline on this part of the island was interesting to see as well.

This tour is a very nice memory for me and definitely something I would do again if I go back to Bali.

VIRTUAL TOUR – Menjangan Island

Check out what Menjangan Island looks like, in the West Bali National Park (2 panoramas).

Click Here to View The Virtual Tour

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Hotel Options in Lovina

Booking.com

Lovina → Kuta

Car | 90 km (55 mi) ⁝ 2:45-3 hours

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!

8 Comments
  1. Joella 3 years ago

    Bali ranks very high on the places I need to visit. I love how this itinerary does not rush me and lets me discover Bali at my own pace. All the activities listed sound amazing and it will be hard to chose which ones to do. Thanks for the great guide to help me plan my Bali adventure.

    • Author
      Julien 3 years ago

      Glad you like it! Bali is a wonderful destination, I wish you to discover it soon!

  2. The island has so much to offer and in my experience, that best way to go around is by private tours. Love your tip regarding taking a car from the hotel and not renting for the whole stay, since it’s not the point to come to Bali and just rush around all the time, right! 😀 This way you can also have time for the beach and that vacation one probably craves before coming. 🙂

    • Author
      Julien 3 years ago

      Exactly! Asking for a car and driver only when you need them preserves your total freedom

  3. jithin 3 years ago

    I am planning a visit to Bali and this itinerary was really helpful for me to plan my journey. Thanks for sharing such an informative post. I will not miss the trek to the volcano and snorkeling.

    • Author
      Julien 3 years ago

      Happy that this was useful to you! Yes the volcano and the snorkeling are among my best memories, definitely go for it.

  4. Great Itinerary Julien! We head to bali for the 4th time this January and did most of your itinerary, but defo check out some places we haven’t been to yet. Love you other articles about Bali too!!

    • Author
      Julien 3 years ago

      4 times in Bali so cool, thanks for your comment!

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