Bali has so much to offer from waterfalls and epic beaches to rice terraces and amazing temples. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re looking for rich culture, epic views, and a relaxing getaway. Whether you’re going for one week, two weeks, or three weeks, here’s the ultimate Bali bucket list travel guide.
You don’t have to spend exactly three weeks in Bali to follow our itinerary or experience what it has to offer. You could easily spend less time in each place or stay put longer, but this is what we did with our friends League Travels who have lived there for the last year, so I’d say it’s a pretty good itinerary. Also, it’s a looong flight from the U.S., so I’d definitely suggest having at least 10 days to spend there if you’re going to be flying from the states.
Arrive in Denpasar (Day 1-3):
Arrive at the Denpasar airport and head to Canggu to stay for a day or two. The long flight combined with jet lag is a lot to handle (especially if you’re coming from the United States), so you’ll want to take a day or two to relax. We spent our first two days surfing, hanging out on the beaches, and eating amazing food in Canggu.
Nusa Penida (Day 3-5):
We all agreed that our time in Nusa Penida was our favorite part of the trip. From hiking Kelingking (Dinosaur Head) to swimming with Manta Rays, we packed in just about everything we could do on the island into three days of epic adventures.
What to do:
It takes about 40 minutes to get over to Nusa Penida, and since we wanted to be able to explore as much of the island as possible, we opted to do a three-day tour and stay on the island for two nights. You can do day tours to the island, but most of the boats take you over around 7 a.m and then pick you up to bring you back to Bali around 4 p.m, which doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to explore and enjoy the island. Since we wanted to be able to visit certain places at sunrise and watch sunset on the island, a day tour wasn’t ideal for us. We did a three day tour with Yande (you can contact his team through Facebook) and it cost about $200 USD for both Ryan and I for all three days. That included the driver all day, lunch everyday, entrance fees to temples, beaches, swimming holes, swimming with Mantas, etc. We did the math and it would have cost about the same to do it all ourselves with a motorbike or rental car. The roads aren’t well developed and it’s still a very remote island with poor wifi and data connection, so we decided to go with a private driver to take some of the stress off of us, and we were so glad we did.
Be prepared for a lot of hiking on Nusa Penida, but also some of the most epic views of your life. It is a really hilly island, and our legs were so sore after three days there, but we all agreed that we would do it all again if we could, because every hike is so, so worth it.
Kelingking Beach is probably the most epic view we’ve ever seen in our lives. It’s truly one of those natural miracles that just takes your breath away. We’d seen it so many times on Instagram that we weren’t sure it’d live up to the hype, but it was truly breathtaking and seeing it with our own eyes was 100% worth the trek. If you’re up for an adventure, you can hike down to the beach. It takes about 45 minutes to hike down and another 45 minutes to hike back up. It’s very steep and very dangerous. I definitely would not suggest doing it with young children. Get there early to beat the crowds. We were there around 6 a.m. and had the entire hike down and beach to ourselves for about an hour!
To be totally honest, we didn’t do the hike all the way down to the waterfall, because it was really hot and our legs were so sore, but the blue stairs and the views of blue ocean and green cliffside are absolutely unreal. Bring a sarong, because it’s technically a temple, so your legs need to be covered in order to go down the stairs. They do have some you can borrow at the entrance if you don’t have your own.
This is seriously one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. There are a lot of stairs to get down, so be prepared for a hike, but it has perfectly white sand and a beautiful coast line. It’s a great spot to have a beach day.
Right on the other side of Diamond Beach is Atuh Beach. It’s another beautiful beach and definitely worth checking out if you’re over by Diamond Beach.
Angel’s Billabong is a natural infinity pool in the middle of these beautiful cliff edges. Be careful during high tide as the waves can be pretty aggressive when they come over the edge.
Right next to Angel’s Billabong is broken beach, a beach with an open arch in the middle of a cliff over the ocean. We went there for sunset, and it was absolutely stunning. We watched a pod of dolphins jumping through the waves, and it was honestly one of the most magical nights I can remember.
Tembeling Natural Swimming Hole:
Tembeling Swimming Hole is definitely one of the less popular tourist destinations, but it was one of our favorites! It reminded us a lot of the cenotes in Mexico. Locals take you down to the spot on motorbikes, and it is a pretty dangerous and steep ride, so be prepared to hold on tight. Once you get down there, spend some time cooling off in the natural pools and then exploring around the area to see the stunning beaches.
Swim with Manta Rays:
Right below Broken Beach is home to dozens of Manta Rays. Wake up early and go snorkeling with these absolutely beautiful creatures. There are a lot of jelly fish in the water, so be prepared. They don’t hurt quite like the jelly fish in the Atlantic Ocean, but they do sting and it feels more like tiny pokes.
Awarta Nusa Dua (Day 5-7)
Awarta Nusa Dua Resort:
After adventuring around Nusa Penida for 3 days, you will definitely want to slow down and rest. Take a break at the most beautiful hotel, Awarta Nusa Dua, in the most prestigious and luxurious area in Bali. Awarta Resort just won The World’s Best Boutique Hotel in 2018 and World’s Best Culinary Experience, so not only do we highly suggest staying there, but so do some of the most established hotel critics in the world, so it’s definitely worth every penny. Spend a few days just relaxing in your villa, getting a massage, and enjoying the delicious food at Awarta Nusa Dua.
Book your stay at Awarta Nusa Dua here
Gili Islands (Day 7-11)
How to Get there:
It takes about four hours on a fast boat to get to the Gili islands, so if you’re going to make the trek over there, we definitely suggest staying for at least 2-3 nights. We took Patagonia Xpress to get to and from the Gilis. It’s the fastest and most comfortable way to get to the Gilis by far, and since the seas can be pretty rough getting over there, we’d definitely suggest using Patagonia Xpress and not one of the cheaper, smaller boats.
What to do:
We went to both Gili Trawangan (also known as Gili T) and Gili Air. We spent two nights on each island. Gili T is known for being more of a “party island,” whereas Gili Air is definitely more quiet. Personally, we liked Gili Air better. It had a very relaxed and laid back feel to it. Plus it’s so small, we felt like we could explore the entire island in just a day. If we were to do it again, we would probably spend three days on Gili Air instead of going between the two islands.
From Gili Air, be sure to take a day trip to swim with sea turtles, go snorkeling, and visit the famous Gili Meno Statues. Also, on Gili Air, there is an outdoor cinema on the beach, so make sure to spend one of your nights there.
Where to Stay:
On Gili Trawangan, we stayed at Kelapa Villas. Rent some bikes from them so you can explore around the island.
We stayed at Captain Coconuts on Gili Air. It had more of a backpacker vibe to it, but it was still very cute and the staff was very friendly and welcoming. And the breakfast was really delicious.
Ubud (Day 11-17)
Ubud was probably our second favorite part of our trip. Ubud has a much more authentic Balinese feel to it than Canggu or Seminyak. It’s a beautiful place with rice terraces, breathtaking jungles, countless Balinese temples, and traditional Balinese culture. We saw several different traditional ceremonies happening through the streets every day that we were there, and it was such a beautiful thing to watch.
What to do:
Spend a Day Exploring Waterfalls:
You can not go to Bali and not explore the waterfalls. We suggest hiring a driver to take you around for the day and just spend one full day chasing waterfalls. We went to Sekumpul, Git Git, and Bayunmala Twin Waterfalls and they were all absolutely breathtaking. Sekumpul was the longest hike, but also our favorite. You might also want to visit Nungnung or Aling Aling Waterfall.
Visit the Handara Gate:
The famous Handara Gate is a great picture spot, so if you have time, be sure to stop there. It’s a little over an hour outside of Ubud closer to Munduk, so if you’re on your way from some of the waterfalls to Ubud, it’s a great place to stop. You do have to pay a little less than $1 USD to take your picture and they only allow each group to shoot for about 10 minutes.
Watch Sunrise at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Water Temple:
The water temple is right down the street from Handara Gate. When we went, the temple wasn’t quite under water like it normally is, but it is still so beautiful and definitely worth a quick visit. It was a foggy day when we were there, but we suggest going at sunrise, because it rises just behind the temple.
Swing on a Bali Swing:
If you’re looking for that epic Bali swing pic, there are a lot of different places you can go. Along the side of the road as you’re driving from Munduk to Ubud, you’ll see various places with swings and “nests” to take pictures in. We went to a swing over the Tegalalang Rice Terraces and it was definitely a fun experience. One of the most famous swings is at Zen Hideaway. All of the swings are pretty expensive though.
Tagalalang Rice Terraces:
Wake up early and get to the rice terraces for sunrise. That way you’ll get to experience them all to yourself, it won’t be quite as hot, and you’ll have the best light for photos. Also, if you get there early enough, you won’t have to pay the entrance fee. The rice terraces are honestly breathtaking and are so unique to Bali that they’re definitely worth a visit.
Ubud Monkey Forest:
You can’t go to Bali without spending some time with the monkeys. The Ubud Monkey Forest is a great place to go if you want to let a monkey crawl on your head. Be careful though, because they’ve been known to steal phones, purses, and other valuable items.
Campuhan Ridge Walk:
Another sunrise adventure while you’re in Ubud should be the Campuhan Ridge Walk. It’s basically a park in the heart of Ubud with lush greenery all around. It’s perfect for an early morning run or stroll where you can relax in nature and get out of the bustle of Ubud.
Where to Stay:
We spent two nights staying at Capung Sebali, and loved it. It has a beautiful mix of contemporary design and Indonesian architecture throughout the property making it very unique. The views from this hotel are absolutely amazing. You wake up looking out into the lush green jungle and it really feels like you’re in your own hideaway. Capung has suites and villas, both of which are absolutely beautiful. The suites have stunning views looking over the infinity pool and the jungle, and the villas are perfect for private, romantic getaways. Be sure to eat at Jungle Fish Restaurant. We loved trying their traditional Balinese meals, but they also offer Asian and Mediterranean items. All of the food we had there was absolutely delicious. Capung Sebali also has a beautiful spa, outdoor gym, and a lounge bar.
Book your stay at Chapung Sebali here
We absolutely loved our time at Kamandalu Ubud. It’s right in the heart of Ubud and the landscape is truly beautiful. The property even has its very own rice terraces. The architecture and all of the villas and accommodations have a very traditional Balinese feel to them, which we loved experiencing. All of the staff is so kind and welcoming that we felt so comfortable and right at home as soon as we walked in. They offer daily morning yoga sessions, a complimentary shuttle to Ubud center, and there are two pools everyone has access to, one of which is an infinity pool. All of the food is absolutely delicious, and if you stay in one of the pool villas, you can experience a floating breakfast, which is absolutely something you should do at least once while you’re in Bali. You should definitely get a traditional Balinese massage in their outdoor spa, because it was by far one of the best massages we’ve ever had in our lives. And you can relax in their hanging swing bed, which is absolutely unreal. Kamandalu is truly a sanctuary in the middle of Ubud.
Book your stay at Kamandalu ubud here
If you’re looking for a quiet, luxurious, romantic getaway in the middle of the jungle, Samsara Ubud is definitely the place to stay. The owner has infused unique Balinese culture into every aspect of the hotel from the traditional tea ceremony to the outdoor movie under the stars. The heated infinity pool literally hangs over the jungle and you can swim right up to the edge and look over at the waterfall. Everyone at the hotel is so friendly and kind and willing to accommodate to your every need. When you check in, they offer a traditional Balinese foot washing along with some of the most delicious welcome treats we’ve ever eaten—ask for the oreo balls. All of the food at Samsara is truly some of the best food we’ve ever eaten. The chef is so talented and has a way with mixing flavors and presenting all of the meals in a way that they truly arrive at your table looking like a work of art. I honestly wish he could make our food for the rest of our life. Samsara Ubud is a breathtaking, peaceful escape in the middle of the jungle.
Book your stay at samsara ubud here
Canggu/Seminyak/Uluwatu (Day 17-21)
What to do:
Go surfing at Old Man’s:
If you’re a beginner or even if you just want some nice easy waves, spend a morning surfing at Old Man’s. You can also hire a surf instructor right there if you don’t feel super comfortable surfing on your own. Bali is known for being one of the best surf spots in the world, so it’s definitely worth trying while you’re there. If you’re more advanced, head to Uluwatu!
Eat at all the delicious places:
The food in Canggu is absolutely delicious. Seriously, we’d go back to Bali just to spend a week eating at all of the delicious restaurants. Our favorites were Peloton Supershop, Kynd Community, and Mad Pops. Check out our What to Eat in Canggu, Bali blog post for a full list of all of our favorite spots in the area!
Watch sunset on the beach every night:
The sunsets in Bali are absolutely unreal. The sky seriously lights up in pink and purple and orange and it really feels like magic.
Rent a scooter:
It’s such a fun way to get around and get to see life in Bali as you drive. It also helps you beat the traffic, but be extra careful and make sure you’re always wearing a helmet, because the last thing you want is for a motorbike accident to ruin your trip.
We didn’t make it to Uluwatu, but we would definitely suggest taking a few days off of either the Gilis or Ubud, so you can spend a few days exploring Uluwatu. The epic cliffs and beaches are absolutely stunning and worth the visit. We’ll absolutely be heading there when we go back.
Bali is such a beautiful island with so much to offer. You could spend months there and still not see it all, but we definitely think spending two to three weeks there is the perfect way to get a taste at what life is like in Bali and really immerse yourself in Balinese culture. Have you been to Bali? Comment below your favorite thing you did in Bali or what you’re most looking forward to doing after reading this post!
What to Pack:
What to Expect:
Best Time of Year to Visit:
We went from the end of October to the middle of November, which meant it was low season, but it was also the beginning of rainy season and it was also still pretty hot. High season is in July and August and during the holidays, so December and beginning of January. Rainy season is from October to April and it can be really wet and rainy for days during this time of year. The best time of year to go is from April to September.
The Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is the local currency. Be sure to have cash on you as a lot of places don’t accept credit cards, especially when you’re hiring drivers. And be sure to let your bank know you’ll be in Indonesia, so your account doesn’t get frozen when you try to pull cash out of the ATM.
How to Get Around:
Rent a scooter or hire a private driver. Taxis are ridiculously expensive and services like Uber are banned in certain parts of Bali and the taxi drivers can be pretty aggressive, so we definitely suggest finding a driver ahead of time and keeping their contact information. The best way to stay in touch with drivers is through the app Whatsapp. We used Deni as our driver. He is so nice and made sure we went to all the best spots at all the right times, and we highly recommend him. You can contact him here: Joy Bali Tours or on Instagram.
The official language in Bali is Indonesian (generally referred to as Bahasa, which means language), but a lot of people speak traditional Balinese as well. Thanks to tourism, a large expat community, and the strong Australian influence, most people speak enough English to be able to communicate with you, especially in the tourism sector.
Bali is very inexpensive. You can get very clean, basic accommodations for about $30 a night. You can even get entire villas with your own pool for less than $100/night. A plate of nasi goreng (fried rice), the traditional local cusine, is only about $2. Even the trendier, health food restaurants are only about $5 to $7 a plate (the meals they offer would be anywhere from $12 to $20 in the U.S.). An hour long taxi ride from the airport costs about $10 and you can get an hour long massage for $6. So, if you’re looking for somewhere where you can experience luxury at a reasonable price, Bali is definitely a great place to experience that.
It is hot in Bali pretty much year round. In January, the coldest month of the year, the average temperature is 79°F, so you’ll mostly just want to pack bathing suits and lightweight summer clothes. It may get chilly when you’re up north in Ubud or if you decide to hike Mount Batur, but you’ll probably still only need a light jacket or sweater.
This blog post is absolutely GORGEOUS and so helpful and informative. It has me so excited to plan a trip there in the future! If you guys ever do an OTP trip to Bali you can count me in!
Thank you thank you thank you!! So glad you found it helpful!! Ooo yes! That’s such a good idea! We’d love to do an OTP Adventure in Bali!
This is such a great guide! I’ve been thinking of a trip to Bali next summer and this is just perfect! Thank you for breaking it all down.
Thanks Rachel! So glad you found it helpful! Hope you get to make it to Bali soon!
thanks for sharing i would love to do this one day. it is breath taking
It really is such a beautiful island! We hope you get to go one day too!
Bali is an absolutely marvelous destination, I try to go there every year for at least 5-6 days to recharge my mind and body. No matter how many times I go I still discover something new and exciting, and the underwater world is spectacular as well, loved diving at Seraya Secrets (https://dive.site/explore/site/seraya-secrets-MjB3). This part of the world is such a gem!
I love that! We’d love to go back to Bali every year! It really is such an amazing place! We couldn’t agree more!
We are going there at the end of June!! I have a quick question to ask you! Did you use Deni as your private driver everywhere you went (from place to place/day trip adventures/etc)? I’m just trying to figure out how to get to the tourist spots in relation to where we are staying. Like did you try to squeeze in all of the tourist attractions in one day when you had a private transfer? I saw that you guys spent one day just exploring waterfalls with a private transfer (which we definitely want to do!) but the other tourists attractions that you visited, did you also do a private transfer then as well? I apologize for all the questions but it’s our first time so I want to plan everything as thorough as possible. Thank you! p.s. LOVE your posts and content <3
Thank you so much! That means so much to us. Ah that’s so fun! We used Deni for a couple of different times, but a lot of our day adventures, we just used motorbikes. We rented them through our hotels. So like while we were in Ubud, we used motorbikes to get around Ubud and same with Canggu. The waterfall day we had a driver and to get to and from the airport and ports we had drivers too. Hope you have the best time!
Amazing post and beautiful pictures! Super helpful. Where did you stay on Nusa Penida?
Thank you so much! So glad you found it helpful! There aren’t a lot of options on Nusa Penida, but where we stayed was very simple and the people were so nice! It was called Swan Beach Inn!
Thank you for this incredible post! I’m going with my wife on our honeymoon to Bali in May and we are soo excited! We are staying four days in Canggu/Seminyak and four in Ubud. We love the pics and your experience at Chapung Sebali! One question, did you stay in their pool suite that has the small infinity pool with valley views or their larger one bedroom pool villa? They both look soo beautiful, I can’t choose! Also, what private driver did you use to visit the waterfalls in Ubud? Was it Deni that you mentioned in your article? Thanks again!
Ah so glad you found it helpful! And congratulations! Bali is an incredible honeymoon destination! We stayed in their Deluxe Suite and their One Bed Room Villa. The Pool Suite has beautiful views while the Villa is much more secluded from everyone else at the resort. I hope that helps! And yes, Deni was our private driver when we visited the waterfalls. Have a blast and congrats again!
What a great post, your pictures are just breathtaking! May I ask what type of camera you used? And also, who took the photos of the two of you? I have visited Bali twice before and am going back this year for my 30th so definitely going to check out some of these places which I am yet to see. Thanks for the detailed info 🙂
Thanks so much! We use a Canon 5D Mark IV. We were traveling with our friends League Travels (I linked their site above), so they took our pictures during this trip, but most of the time we use a tripod. So excited for you! That will be an amazing trip! Have a blast!
Can you link the people you used for the waterfalls??
Thank you! We used Deni as our driver to get around the waterfalls. You can find his contact info in the "How to Get Around" section.
Great post! Any recommendations on where to stay in Canggu? Thanks
Thank you so much! We didn’t spend a lot of time in Canggu, but we did stay a few nights at a Airbnb and it’s in a great location! Here’s a link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/plus/24919390?s=41&user_id=185085538&ref_device_id=0ca3db81b78107c6f3fa3c4ae9fd38c63c45e159&_i=4NE5b2CylCieBbT3UcIyTgXrTkUKdJS8%2FhsOV8hyWMMvyeWykBDQrRmlQozPJB2%2B&_branch_match_id=665629544391363798
Have a blast!
Is it even possible to hike down to every beach, then get picked up by a boat service for the return trip?! Not lazy, just wanna enjoy my trip to the fullest! I’m not a spring chicken anymore! Ha!
LASTLY, if U rented motorbikes, how did U secure them while seeing the sites? Is bike theft a problem? Do U need insurance? Any trouble distinguishing ur bike from others? Sorry I seem 2 B becoming my parents! Lol!
Hm, we’re not sure. I’ve never heard of someone doing that, but it might be something you could arrange. I don’t think bike theft is a problem. The bikes come with keys that you need in order to start them, so as long as you lock it when you leave, you should be okay!
I cannot wait to go end of sept thank you for this guide. Can I ask was it ok to take a drone? I have DJI spark xx
Ah have a blast! So glad you found the guide helpful! We had no problems bringing or flying our drone in Bali 🙂
We are travelling to Bali from The UK for 22 days at Christmas. We are glad to read your blog, it help us to make our own Bali itinerary. We have seven destinations to visit.
2. Nusa Penida
3. Nusa Dua
4. Gili Islands
6. Kuta (Bali)
Would you recommend any change of it?
We are going to use private driver/taxi or public transport to get around in Bali.
Should We arrange the private drivers in advance?
What about the vaccines and pills? I read they are highly recommended especially Hepatitis A, Thypod, Tetanus and pills agains Malaria.
Did you take your own bank card or did you use Transferwise or Revoult cards plus cash?
Thanks so much for your comment. We’re so glad our itinerary was helpful!
At a first glance, I would spend some time in Ubud. That area is quite amazing! We haven’t been to Kuta, but I know our friends weren’t huge fans. Try Uluwatu if you prefer to stay down South.
Nusa Penida is amazing! Canggu is a must as well. Amed looks beautiful (although we haven’t been there).
We liked the Gilis, but after a long trip in Nusa Penida, we decided we would have rather spent more time in Canggu or on Lombok. They’re beautiful, but you might find it to be a lot of the same. I wouldn’t change everything, but I’d adjust at least one thing to spend time in the center near Ubud or Munduk to explore waterfalls!
I would message the drivers we linked in our blog post. They were all great!
We didn’t get any extra vaccines to go, but I would ask your Doctor since we aren’t medical professionals.
We always travel with credit cards that have zero foreign transaction fees and use it as much as possible. When we need cash we use Charles Schwab because it reimburses all ATM fees. I’m not sure you’re able to get an account without being a US citizen though. Either way, look into seeing if you can get something similar to avoid fees! Make sure you tell your bank and credit card companies you’ll be out of the country during that time.
Have so much fun!
A few questions for you:
1. Do you pack 3 weeks worth of clothing so you don’t do laundry or only the minimum and do laundry. If so, where do you do laundry?
Do you just travel with a backpack so you can bring it on hikes and everywhere with all your stuff or did you pack a suitcase and you just leave your suitcase where you happen to sleep that night?
How much money does one need once there for 3 weeks? Not sure how much cash I should bring.
How far in advance did you book your drivers and places to stay?
When did you use Deni as a driver?
Hi Danielle! For this trip, we only brought about enough clothes for 7-10 days, and we did laundry twice. In Canggu there are laundry services where you can drop out your clothes and get them back the next morning for about $10-15 USD for all the clothes in Ryan and I’s bags. We went to Sue’s Laundry in Canggu and had a good experience! We pack suitcases and then leave them in our hotels while we adventure or store them at the hotel if we have to check out and come back later to pick them up. As for money, it depends how much you want to do, but it’s pretty reasonably priced. You can pay for most restaurants with credit card in Bali. We use Charles Schwab Bank, so we have no ATM fees, so then you can just tell your bank account you’ll be in Bali and then you can pull out cash as you need. We booked our driver and places to stay sometimes a month in advance and other times the day before. It really just depends how much you want to have planned. We used Deni as our driver on the day we explored waterfalls and to and from the airport! Hope you have a blast in Bali!
Hi absolutely love your pics , can i ask what kind of tripod you use? im looking for a good one 🙂
Hi! We use this one: https://amzn.to/2IGcsRQ but we used to have this one until it broke (after about 2 years) https://amzn.to/2XKt5lB. There are a lot of options on amazon, I’d just be sure to get one that isn’t too heavy, but also sturdy enough to not fall over. Good luck and let us know if you have any questions!
Nice post. I’ll check out these places when I go to Bali in March.
What was your budget for 3 weeks, how much did you end up spending? I’m budgeting roughly $3,000 AUD for 3 weeks with mix of budget accommodation and some more lux stays.
Hi This is so helpful! Where did you stay for accommodation in Denpasar and Nusa Penida?
We didn’t stay in Denpasar, but on Nusa Penida we stayed at a little place called Swan Beach Inn. It wasn’t much, but it was clean and the people were super friendly! It’s a good option.
Thank you so much for writing about bali. I used to live there, but now I am back home to my home island to help my local village. Covid hurt tourism, so we are trying to tell people to come and support local villages. Thank you blessing.