As far as planning a route through Bali goes, its such a small island that you could probably just wing it. But for all you travellers that like to have some kind of plan, here is the Ultimate Route Through Bali…
As there is only one airport in Bali, everyone who flys into Bali will come via Denpasar, which is the main hub and starting point. If you’re coming across from Java, like I did back last September 2017 then, instead, you will most likely be catching the ferry across to Gilimanuk.
There is no need to stay here, even if you’ve travelled 90 million hours to get here (what it felt like coming from the UK) you can quite easily catch a cab to Kuta which is probably the quickest place to get to from the airport.
KUTA 1 night
We only booked a hotel for the first night in Bali here in Kuta. Even though it was my fourth time in Bali, I had never stayed here as many people had told me how it was basically the Aussies version of Magaluf or Ibiza. But as we would have just done a 6 hour flight from Brisbane we wanted somewhere close to crash.
We checked into RaBaSTa Angkul Angkul Hotel near Kuta Beach, headed out for some Nasi Goreng and quite literally crashed in our hotel at about 4pm and didn’t wake until the next day!
The next day we hired some Mopeds (scooters) from the hotel for 8 days, this was going to serve as our transport from getting from one place to the next. We got a good deal too, we paid 60K IDR per day per scooter and they were actually really decent and new scooters. We checked out of the hotel and headed for Seminyak.
SEMINYAK 2 nights
So Seminyak is the more upmarket town in Bali. It has beach clubs, fancy restaurants and VIP clubs. But as always this comes with a price, overall Seminyak was the most expensive of all of the places we went.
However, after living in a camper van and couch surfing in Australia, we were in the market for a little treat. So we booked ourselves into a private pool villa for the night at D’Alang Alang Villas. Even for travellers on a budget, £60 a night was an absolute bargain! Now don’t get me wrong there were a few scuff marks on the wall and the floorboards were a little worn, but apart from that the villa was absolutely beautiful and we’d highly recommend it to anyone who wanted a bit of luxury, privacy and relaxation!
We then (regretfully) moved out of the private villa and into a little home stay just off of Jl. Sunset which is one of the main roads that connects each of the southern towns in Bali. Even though we had booked 3 nights into the home stay, we only stayed one night. The home stay was cute and quiet and the host was so lovely. But unfortunately the toilet kicked out a horrific stench and we had grown a little bored of Seminyak. Although there are many awesome things to do like chilling at a beach club, going out for drinks or eating at a fancy restaurant, we just didn’t have the budget to do all of those things so we checked out early and headed to Canggu.
CANGGU 5 nights
Canggu was one of my favourite places from my trip in September 2017, so I was excited to show Ells around!
Canggu is known for its more laid back, surfer beach vibe, which suited us just fine. Canggu serves up a lot of amazing breakfast bowls and avocado, so if you’re one for your food then I highly recommend Canggu. Our favourite breakfast was from Bali Bowls. It’s also easy on the wallet too. Although popular with the westerners, its prices are still considerably lower than that of its neighbouring sister Seminyak.
Here we stayed at what we would consider our favourite hotel of the trip (minus the expensive pool villa) we booked in for 2 nights at the White Dove Villas after checking out early from our home stay in Seminyak. The reason it was our favourite was because you got so much more than what you pay for! We paid £7.50 per night, we had our own private double room in a quiet little boutique hotel which had a maximum of 20 individual rooms which all circled facing into the beautiful little pool and eating area. You also had access to the kitchen if you wanted to cook for yourself. We decided that if we ever came to live in Bali that we’d base ourselves here!
For the last 3 nights we had pre-booked a place before we left the U.K. as there was a big January sale on. This hotel would have been perfect except for the fact that they had put so much chlorine in the swimming pool that you couldn’t swim in it without coming out in a rash. We did attempt to tell the staff (as did the other guests) but they didn’t understand!
On our last day, we got up super early, headed back to Kuta to drop our bikes off and then waited for the Kura Kura bus to pick us up to take us to the DFS Galleria so we could change onto the Kura Kura bus that goes all the way to Ubud (80K IDR per person).
TIP : If you’re getting the Kura Kura to Ubud make sure you pre book your place on the bus, as we found out when we got there that it was fully booked! Luckily some people didn’t turn up so we were allowed on!
UBUD 5 nights
After about an hour and 20 minutes on the bus we arrived in Ubud. At this point we realised we probably could have hired out the scooters a little longer and driven ourselves here, but I wasn’t sure of the road conditions and thought it best to let someone else drive us!
Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali. It has art, museums, monkeys, jungle, valleys and so much surrounding it. Just to name a few of the places that we visited whilst here; Mt. Batur sunrise trek, Hidden Canyon, Tegallalang Rice Terrace, Campuhan Ridge Walk and Sangeh Monkey Forest.
Our original plans were to spend 3 nights in Ubud then travel back south to do a few nights in Jimbaran before heading over to Gili, but the boat service that we booked our ticket with offers a free pick up service which covers Ubud so to save ourselves money (and time) we booked in for an extra 2 nights at The Athaya. We also decided that we needed more time in Ubud as we had spent so much time exploring everything around Ubud that I hadn’t actually got to show Ells central Ubud and it’s markets!
EXTRA TO ADD TO THE ITINERARY
LOVINA 3 nights
This time around Ells and I didn’t get to Lovina, due to budget, but when I came out in 2017 from Ubud my friend and I head up North to Lovina. This was certainly one of the highlights, especially if you want to get away from the westernised areas of Bali. Up north is super peaceful, hardly any tourists and lots of black volcanic beaches. You can also easily get to all of the big waterfalls from here and if you’re one for a bit of nature you can go Dolphin watching at sunrise!
There was such a beautiful little hotel that we stayed in, set up in the mountain facing the sea with an infinity pool, although it was a steep incline on the scooter it was 100% worth it. It was called The Hamsa Resort, check it out here.
Some of the things my friend and I did whilst up on North Bali were: Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery (Mini Borobudur), Banjar Hot Springs and Sekumpul Waterfalls.
TIP:You will most probably need to hire a moped (scooter) whilst in the North because it is less touristy there are not that many driver services, and if there are they are often quite expensive, but you can easily hire a moped for just 60K IDR per day – to make things even cheaper my friend and I shared a moped.
GILI MENO 3 nights | GILI TRAWANGAN 3 nights
The Gili Islands are the much needed break you’ve been looking for and deserve after making your way through all of Bali’s traffic and exploring all that it has to offer!
Technically the Gili Islands are actually part of Lombok, but they are super popular and easily accessible from Bali, that it make sense to hop on a 1.5 – 2 hour boat journey from either Sanur or Padangbai.
There are 3 islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.
Trawangan or “Gili T” as everyone refers to it as is the liveliest. This is where you’ll find all of the back packers looking to party – but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a bit of peace and quiet, the sunset side is lot more chilled out compare to the sunrise side!
Gili Meno is the middle island, but is the smallest island of them all. It is the most remote with the best white beaches. The island has one main “road” which rings round the coast of the island and takes approx. 90 minus to walk around. This is the island where you’ll most likely find honeymooners.
We stayed in a beautiful pool villa at AVIA Villa Resort.
Gili Air is a mix between T and Meno and is the island closest to Lombok. The weather can tend to be a bit more rainy and cloudy due to it being so close to Lombok. It’s beaches are still beautiful and has a good mix of chill and party. We missed this island out as we felt we could get what we needed from Meno and T without needing to also go to Air!
Whilst on Gili T we stayed at, probably what I would consider, the best place on the island Le Pirate. Their Beach Boxes are beautiful and the staff are amazing!
NUSA LEMBONGAN (+ CENINGAN and PENIDA) 3 nights
From Gili T, we took a boat to Nusa Lembongan – what we didn’t realise is that you actually head back to main land Bali first, before departing again to head over to the Nusa’s! If you were to go straight from Gili T to Nusa Lembongan it would only take an hour… but because we stopped off on the other two Gili’s first, then stopped at Padang Bai before hitting Lembongan, it took us about 4 hours!
Although its a long journey, its the only way to get from Gili to Lembongan, and trust me it was well worth it!
Once we arrived on the island, the boat service offers a free drop off so they took us straight to the hotel. From there we hired a moped (scooter) and the island was ours for the next 3 days!
Some of the top things to do here are to take a trip over the little yellow bridge to Nusa Ceningan – if you think Lembongan is quiet, this place is even more chilled. But so beautiful! Make sure you check out the likes of Blue Lagoon – where if you’re brave enough you can do so extreme cliff jumping, Secret Beach – which is one of the most beautiful little beaches i have ever visited and washes up some incredible shells and, of course, some of the beautiful beach side restaurants – our favourite was Seabreeze Ceningan (perfect for an instagram snap, trust me!)
Our 3rd day was spent exploring Nusa Penida – we found an awesome little tour guide through Instagram who picked us up from Yellow Bridge and provided a private half day tour around the island. Taking us to the famous spots such as Angels Billabong, Broken Beach, Kelingking Beach and Crystal Bay before taking us to some awesome snorkelling spots, including the under water Buddha.
We stayed at a cute little hotel that offered the most amazing sunrise views, called Sunrise Huts Lembongan.
TIP: When booking your boat from Gili to Lembongan and then Gili back to Bali I would highly recommend booking whilst you’re on the island – we booked through https://www.directferries.co.uk/ and although it has proved super handy, this particular trip was at least x3 more expensive than booking direct with the company or through your hotel! Unfortunately found this out when we did a lift share with a girl who paid 150K from Gili to Bali, where as we paid about 450K each!!!
JIMBARAN/ULUWATU – 2 nights
I think, if we could have, we would have definitely extended our stay here! But we had a flight to catch to Thailand!
This place was unexpectedly our favourite – it still has a lot of nice places to eat, but is considerably more quiet than its neighbouring places like Seminyak and Canggu! AND the best thing about this area – THE BEACHES! They aren’t like the dark sand long stretch beaches in Seminyak/Canggu, instead they are white sand and have the most perfect turquoise waters it will blow your mind!
Our favourite places we visited whilst here were: The Abandoned Airplane, Binging Beach, Balangan Beach and the best restaurant ever – Fat Chows!
Here we stayed at a brand new hotel, probably one of the best bargains during our trip The Pandawa Hill Resort
TIP: When heading to some of the beaches along this coast line, the majority of them you have to head down quite a few STEEP steps to reach them. Just make sure you remember that whatever you walk down, you have to walk back up! So take plenty of water with you to last the journey back up!
So there you have it, this concludes our 1 month route (27 days) Ultimate Route Through Bali.
Let us know what you think in the comments below and if you are planning your trip to Bali, feel free to message us for any other tips!