Bali Travel Guide: 15 Days in the Island of the Gods
Where do I even begin?! Bali was unbelievable! It is going to be mighty difficult to squeeze all of my tips into one blog post, but I will give it my all to share with you the BEST Bali Travel Guide my brain can assemble! I know there are quite a lot of you planning trips to Bali this year (woo!), so I hope you find this travel guide extremely helpful, and it gets you super excited for your trip! If there is anything I missed, please email me directly, and we can chat it out.
So, Why Visit Bali?
Bali has been on my bucket list for years, but to be honest, I didn't think I'd make it there anytime soon. Luckily and thankfully, after leaving my full-time job in January, the stars straight-up aligned for many aspects of my life. I made the spontaneous decision to go after reconnecting with someone I briefly knew in high school >>> Meet Allison, blogger behind West of Felicity, and my newfound travel partner, friend, and fellow Swan Princess lover. I love her, and you'll love her too!
In total, Allison and I spent 15 days in Bali + 4 days of round trip travel (read tips on How to Survive a Ridiculously Long Flight!). Everyone will have their own ideas on how to best divide up time in Bali, so here are my highlights and takeaways!
Bali Quick Facts:
Upon Arriving: You will arrive at Denpasar International Airport. I highly recommend arranging an airport pickup with a driver from your place of accommodation to make things easier.
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) // The exchange rate is about 13,000-13,2000 IDR per $1 USD. I'd exchange $50 or so at the airport and then wait to exchange more money once you arrive in town for better rates.
Language: Balinese, which is a dialect of Indonesian.
Religion: 90% of Balinese are Hindu and approximately 5% are Muslim. The remaining 5% practice Buddhism or Christianity.
Best Time to Visit: When you visit just before and just after high season (July/August), room prices are known to be 30-50% cheaper. We visited Bali in May (before high season) and it was the best! It's not overly busy, and it's right at the end of the rainy season, so we actually never dealt with rainstorms. June and September also great times to visit for the same reason.
How We Spent 15 Days in Bali
Days 1 & 2: Seminyak
It's a beach town with lots of little shops, bars, and a nightlife scene - This was where we first attempted to ride motorbikes. If you followed my Insta-stories, you'll know that we failed miserably hahaha. More on this later.
What to Do:
Wind down for a spa day: You can find massages for as little as $6 or you can 'splurge' on a $20 massage. A little goes a long way! We went to Re Day Spa for a massage and body scrub.
Go for a sunset walk on the beach.
Check out Lonely Planet for more ideas, since we were only in Seminyak for a day and a half.
*Also, to be completely honest, I would recommend just staying in Canggu, and only visiting Seminyak for a day if you're short on time. The towns are close enough together (about 20-30 minutes driving distance).
Where to Eat:
Tiigo: All-you-can-eat breakfast buffet for only 100,000 IDR ($8)! Then, chill for a dip in their pool.
Cafe Organic: Beautiful and hip! Stop for a coffee and raw dessert break. If you can't make it in Seminyak, there is a second location in Canggu.
Lantern Bali: Urban asian eatery for lunch or dinner. The food, presentation, and vibe are to die for.
Where to Stay:
Villa Lalu: (Price: Around $44/night) It was absolutely gorgeous. The rooms were clean, the staff was amazing, and the pool was beautiful. There is a little restaurant on-site, too.
Days 3-6: Canggu
My favorite town in all of Bali! If I could, I'd live here (Allison and I maaay have oogled some real-estate ha!) It's a gorgeous bohemian village with a lot of young creatives, cool cafes and restaurants, and a nice beach (Echo Beach) to watch the sunset and surf. I fell in love with the kindness of the people here. I highly recommend spending at least 4-5 days in Canggu.
What to Do:
Finn's Beach Club: Perfect for some R&R! Rent a beach chair, grab drinks, eat some 'za, and read a book.
The Lawn: Chill hangout with drinks and good music.
Sunset Walk along Echo Beach
Where to Eat:
Milk & Madu: We ate here four times! Come in for the most delicious breakfast of your life, and then come back again in the evening for dessert and some live acoustic tunes. Get the mango buttermilk pancakes, the bircher muesli, or a Nalu smoothie bowl!
Peleton Supershop: Another incredible breakfast spot. It's a vegan cafe and bike shop that is up to 98% plastic free.
Watercress (also in Ubud): "Eat fresh, live well" is their mantra for good reason. I wanted to eat absolutely everything on the menu. I recommend going here for lunch or dinner.
Ulekan: For authentic and quality Indonesian food. Go for dinner - you will not regret it!
Where to Stay:
Casa Ocean View Airbnb: (Price: Around $88/night) We stayed at this beautiful (and I must say... highly Instagrammable) Airbnb, and it was magical. It's a bit further into the jungle, so if you have a motorbike you'll have no problem. Otherwise, you'll need to walk or use the Airbnb's private driver to get in and out. It's 100,000 IDR (about $8) every time. If you walk*, you're only about 12 minutes from Echo Beach.
If you'd like to stay closer to the action, find a villa near the restaurant Milk & Madu.
*A general note about walking in Bali: The roads aren't easy to walk on since there aren't continuous sidewalks. So, it can be scary at night if you're walking down a windy street with lots of traffic and no street lights.
^ The Lawn + Kombucha = My Kinda Evening
^ Twinning at our Airbnb // Styled by Athleta*Fun Fact: Johnny Depp & Kate Moss once stayed at this villa back in the day.
^ THE WORKS! at Milk & Madu
Days 7-10: Ubud
Ubud is the perfect hub for full day excursions, and it's filled with adventure, yoga, and a lush jungle scenery. Thank goodness, we finally learned how to ride motorbikes in Ubud. Big thanks to Cokey from Balibbu Hostel for taking the time to really teach us! This was a complete game-changer for us. We were finally free & mobile!!! BIGGEST ADVICE: Be brave and learn how to ride as soon as you're in Bali. You'll save a lot of time and money, and you'll be free. It's so fun to ride once you get comfortable, so don't feel discouraged if it takes you a day to get it.
What to Do:
Campuhan Ridge Walk for a gorgeous and scenic trek
Vinyasa flow at the Yoga Barn is a must-do for all the yogis!
**You know you want that Bali Swing photo. We did too! This isn't the original Zen Hideaway swing, since it's very hard to book/very expensive to stay there. It's the same kind of swing with a beautiful view and it's open to the public for $20. Read Allison's Bali Recap to hear a hilarious story about her bare tush being flashed to 7 Balinese men while on the swing.
Beautiful sites to see around Pura Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. Warning: it's a big tourist spot and very crowded, but if you have time, I do think it is worth seeing.
Trek to Aling Aling Waterfall! We chose this waterfall over Tengenungan, because we were able to see four other waterfalls, and it was less crowded. If we had more time, I would have loved to visit Gitgit Waterfall as well.
**For the Bali Swing through the Waterfall, we hired a local driver for 700,000 IDR ($53 total) to take us to all of our stops in one full 12 hour day. No need to pay for an expensive organized tour - you can explore more on your own if you go this route!
Where to Eat:
The Elephant: One of my favorite little restaurants! It's an ethical vegetarian cafe.
Garden Kafe (located inside Yoga Barn): Take a morning vinyasa class and then head to breakfast at the Kafe. Get the bircher muesli, and stock up on raw chocolates before you leave!
Where to Stay:
^ The epic Bali Swing! // Styled by People's Project LA
^ Visiting the sweet little babies who still need loving homes // To Donate: Barc4BaliDogs.org.au
Days 11-13: Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan
Beautiful beaches, white sand, and fresh coconuts pretty much sums it up! We skipped the Gili Islands, and went for the less touristic route. It was fairly simple to get to with a 30-minute boat ride from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan Island. We continued to rent motorbikes, which proved to be the test of all time with roads that looked like someone took a sledge hammer to it. Happy to say, we came out feeling like pros.
What to Do / Where to Eat on Nusa Lembongan: I'm combining these two, because we ate at most of the beaches we visited!
Sandy Bay Beach Club: Delicious food (get the sweet potato fries!), beautiful view, and a nice clean place to hang beachside all day. Get the bulk of your reading done here.
Dream Beach: For an evening by the pool with Indonesian cuisine. We ended up getting lost on the way home in the dark, so we asked a couple locals to lead the way. Could have gone terribly wrong, but luckily it all worked out! Haha.
*Note: It's very quick and simple to get to the next island - just motorbike over the little yellow bridge! Photo down below.
What to Do / Where to Eat on Nusa Ceningan
Blue Lagoon: We didn't cliff jump, ha! But, we did enjoy some nice views.
Le Pirate Beach Club: A lovely and colorful little spot to hang out!
Sea Breeze: Get a fresh coconut, squeeze in some lime, and chill in a hammock for a bit. Then, do some stand up paddle-boarding!
Nusa Peninda: This another island nearby - one that we had planned to go to, but ran out of time. If you're already exploring Lembongan and Ceningan, leave some room (and money) for Penida.
Where to Stay:
Lembongan Ocean Lodge: (Around $62/night) This is where we ended up staying, and it has an infinity pool with a beautiful ocean view. It is quite secluded, so you would definitely need a motorbike to get into town. Breakfast is included! But, I don't recommend eating lunch or dinner here, as there is much better food in town.
Le Pirate Beach Club: (Around $50-$100/night) We enjoyed hanging out here, so it would have been a fun place to stay overnight.
^ Chowing down at Sandy Bay - Those sweet potato fries were amazing.
^ Paddle boarding near Sea Breeze
Days 14 & 15: Uluwatu
Ahhh, what a lovely last stop on our trip! Just when I thought I had my fill of beach time, I was proven wrong. Uluwatu has beyond beautiful beaches that definitely deserve some exploration. At this point on our trip, we wanted to soak up every last minute, so we didn't take many photos. This was also the point where I realized no amount of time in Bali will ever be enough. #BaliForever
What to Do / Where to Eat:
The Cashew Tree: Go for breakfast! We ended up eating here twice, and we even came back to buy airplane snacks. I will forever dream of their parfait bowls loaded with assorted tropical fruits!
Drifter Surf Shop and Restaurant: A nice shop with Australian flare - we ended up sitting back in the cafe to read and sip on cappuccinos until the wee hours of the night.
Enjoy another Nalu Bowl! You'll need it after basking in the sun all day.
Single Fin: This is where we spent our last night in Bali. Everyone goes to watch the sunset, so get there early (around 4pm), and find a good spot overlooking Uluwatu Beach. The food and drinks are delicious, too!
Where to Stay:
Boho Bingin': (Around $100/night)I recommend this magical place to anyone. The location is central to all of the fun activities, but again, I recommend learning how to ride a motorbike. The roads are not very crowded, and it's pretty easy to get around.
^ Um, yes. This is Boho Bingin', and it's incredible.
^ All smiles at Uluwatu Beach // Styled by Athleta
Words can't begin to express how special Bali is. I know this is a longwinded blog post, but I hope this inspires you to make the trip. Beyond the sites, food, and fun activities, it was truly the kind Balinese people who made it such a lovely adventure.
And if you made it to the end, I hope your brain is bursting with inspiration and excitement! I want to give a special shoutout to my Instagram friends who gave me their Bali tips and recommendations: @gnarlygypsylife (my yogi soul sister), @chicandsweaty, @nycpretty, @aeriallynn, @dearfariha, @acrogangster, & @devvallen - So much love for you all!
If you're heading to Bali, you better let me know how your trip pans out and if this guide helped you, show some love in the comments below! Your feedback is what keeps me going strong.
Love, Light, & Happy Travels!