My boyfriend and I have recently visited Indonesia for the first time. On our 2-week Bali itinerary, we chased the beautiful places you see everywhere on Instagram right now. The so-called Island of the Gods is not just a great getaway to relax, but it’s also perfect for doing yoga, exploring temples, visiting countless waterfalls, and walking through the famous rice terraces.
But as wonderful these things are, there is also a bad side we had to face on our Bali itinerary that not everyone is talking about. And because of that, I was even more shocked when I had to find out myself that reality just looks different. Unfortunately, Bali has plenty of dirty beaches and kind of lost its glamour due to mass tourism. While we visited different places, we could often recognize that the ocean was full of plastic which was also on the beaches washed up by the sea. It’s really horrific when you have to see that with your own eyes.
But don’t get me wrong. Bali is beautiful in so many ways. I just want to inform you that there is also another side which is “not so nice”. Just keep that in mind and act responsibly when you travel.
Anyway, I’ve seen lots of wonderful places that are worth visiting in a two-week Bali itinerary. So, I’ve listed here when you should travel to Bali, what you should definitely see and do (we’ve even found some dream beaches without plastic), where to stay and where you can eat.
Best travel time
Bali is located near the equator and has a tropical climate. So, no matter where you stay on the island you will definitely have warm temperatures of 30°C (85°F) all year round. However, there are still two seasons in Bali: the wet and the dry season. While many people plan their Bali itinerary during the dry season, I always prefer the rainy season. It has the advantage that you get cheaper hotel prices and you will see fewer tourists.
The wet season starts in November and ends in April. But December and January are the rainiest months. While the mornings are usually pretty nice, it can often rain in the afternoon. And this is mostly strong heavy rain. Sometimes it can take up to three hours to stop. Sometimes it already ends after one hour and the clouds go away for the rest of the day. Or sometimes it doesn’t rain at all. However, the temperatures stay warm with or without rain. So, while you don’t really need a jacket, make sure to always carry an umbrella or raincoat in your bag. You never know! Because when the rain comes, it comes fast. Also, be aware that due to the heavy rain the ocean can be brown and beaches can be full of plastic.
May through October is the most popular and busiest time of the year because it’s the dry season in Bali. While it’s very warm and sunny most of the time, the humidity level is lower compared to the wet season. You can enjoy lying on the beach for hours and visiting temples or other sights. The disadvantage is that many people have this idea. That means, it gets crowded not just at the beach but especially on the streets. So, being stuck in traffic for hours is very common.
The best travel time always depends on where your preferences are. We didn’t really care if it starts raining in the afternoon. So, we decided to travel to Bali in late February since it was more important for us to travel during the low season than traveling with thousands of other tourists. And all in all, it was a good time for us: We either went surfing or visited some sights in the morning when it was still super nice. When it started raining in the afternoon on some days we could rest, read a book or go shopping. So, we managed it quite well to get along with the rain. And as I mentioned above, it doesn’t have to rain every day on your Bali itinerary.
What you need to know
There are some things I wish I knew before going to Bali. One thing is the service fee. In some restaurants or hotels, you have to pay a service fee which is not included in the displayed price. For example, we had dinner in a restaurant and on the menu, it says the meal costs $10. On the check, it was $12 because the waiter added a service fee. Also, we booked a massage at our hotel. While the sign says $20, we paid $23. Anyway, the service fee will not always be added, but if so, it mostly goes directly into the pocket of the owners. So, adding a little extra tip (and even if it’s just $1), will be nice and shows how much you appreciated the service.
Another thing is paying for every single attraction. It’s unbelievable what you have to pay for. Once we stood in line to take a photo of a gate. And for that, we even had to pay. So, be aware that you pay for every sight you want to visit – even if it’s just a gate or an overcrowded beach (see the picture below!).
Last but not least: transportation. As you might know, in Bali you can rent a roller for a very cheap amount. But my boyfriend and I like to see the environment while driving around. So, we always rent a private driver. You can not just chat with him, but you also learn a little bit about the culture. It’s always so interesting what the drivers tell you. And that you just don’t get when you rent a roller on your own. I also must say, that the rollers were kind of annoying after some time. Especially in the city centers, it’s full of those. So, better spend some extra money and enjoy the time with a driver.
For your Bali itinerary, you can contact Dikha (+62 819 3635 9605). He can pick you up from the airport for a cheap price or drives you around Bali. For Nusa Penida, contact Kadek (+62 877 6699 4195). He makes sure you get to every attraction that is worth seeing. And the best about them: They both organize trips for you. For example, we planned to go to Nusa Penida. Dikha organized it for us, so we didn’t have to do anything. That was pretty convenient.
2-week Bali itinerary
Finally, here is my overview of the places you should visit on your Bali itinerary and for how long. Since we were interested in surfing and wanted to improve our skills, we stayed longer in Canggu which has one of the best surf spots. If you prefer other things, you can stay longer in other places. Find out more about all of these locations now and why we picked them!
Ubud (3 nights)
Canggu (5 nights)
Nusa Penida (3 nights)
Canggu (3 nights)
Bali itinerary: Ubud
The best thing you can do when you arrive in Bali is going to Ubud. We decided to make this our first stop to get the jungle feeling right away. Our resort was on a slope with an amazing view over a small river and the jungle itself. That’s where you get the rest you need after a long flight. I also recommend looking for more expensive hotels since you don’t have beaches there. So, you will hang out in the hotel more and this should be nice, right?
We stayed at the Ulun Ubud Resort which has the best value for your money. The rooms were big and clean, and we had an amazing view of the canyon. Also, breakfast was included which had been a real experience for us since it was Indonesian breakfast on a beautiful terrace. And the best: it was different every day which made it diversified and a surprise every time. I think there is no better way to start into the day.
The Ulun Ubud Resort also comes with a wellness area and a restaurant where you can have dinner (same place where you get breakfast). Of course, it’s a bit more expensive than eating out in Ubud, but for us, it was more convenient. Although you can walk all the way to Ubud (approx. 40 mins), the resort offers a free shuttle. However, the shuttle only drives until 5 pm, so we never took it. Instead, we went to Ubud on foot and had one of our dinners in the city center.
Where to eat
In Ubud, you find a lot of possibilities to have dinner. We ate at the Milk & Madu once which is a hip location in one of the many side streets in Ubud. You get there everything from bowls to sandwiches to pizzas and burgers. Another great spot is the Lazy Cats Café. They combine industrial bohemian flair with mixing art which makes this place super cozy and stylish. For food, they serve tapas, bowls, and some specials. If you love Açaí Bowl, you should check out Açaí Queen. They have the best Açaí Bowls in Ubud. One thing is sure: you will definitely not starve when you arrive in Ubud.
What to see & do
Jatiluwih Rice Terrace
On our first day, we wanted to relax at the hotel. So, we didn’t do anything at all except walking to Ubud. On our second day, we planned a one-day tour to see the most beautiful places in the middle and north of Bali. Thus, we skipped the main spots in Ubud and rather explored the less touristic places. This was a recommendation of a local. Our first stop was the beautiful Jatiluwih Rice Terrace. It’s so much bigger than the popular Tegalalang Rice Terrace and it was absolutely stunning. A big plus: you can walk there almost alone. So, if you want to visit a rice terrace, Jatiluwih is the place to go.
Price: 40.000 Rp ($5) per person
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple
The next stop was the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, one of the major Hindu temples in Bali. It was very crowded there and hard to take pictures without any people on it. But still, it was a nice location because the temple is located on a little island in the Bratan Lake surrounded by mountains. That’s why we chose this temple in the first place.
Price: 50.000 Rp ($3) per person
Optional: Handara Gate
There are plenty of gates in Bali. The most famous ones are the Gate of Heaven at Lempuyang temple and the Handara Gate. Both look more spectacular on photoshopped pictures than in reality. However, if you want to have a photo from a gate in Bali, I would choose the Handara Gate. It’s close to the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, so you don’t have to drive all the way to the East coast.
Note: A lot of people fake their photos by placing a mirror under the camera so that it looks like you and the gate are mirrored in a lake.
Price: 30.000 Rp ($2) per person
Leke Leke Waterfall
A two-week Bali itinerary wouldn’t be complete without visiting a waterfall. I’ve done a lot of researches and actually wanted to visit more than just one waterfall. But since we only had one day to explore the area around Ubud, there was not enough time. So, we explored the Leke Leke Waterfall because it was on our way back to the resort (it already got late). You have to walk approx. 15 minutes down to the waterfall, but it’s absolutely worth it.
When we went down it started raining. But for us, it was no problem because we wore our swimsuits/shorts. And the best about the rain: we had the whole waterfall for ourselves. That was amazing! So I would definitely recommend bringing your swimming stuff so you can really go into the water.
If you decide on staying one more day in Ubud, you should also try out the Sekumpul waterfalls. I’ve only heard good things about them. Too bad we missed out!
Price: 30.000 Rp ($2) per person
Bali itinerary: Canggu
On our next day, we just packed for the next destination: Canggu. We decided to go to Canggu because it’s less touristic and more relaxed than Kuta or Seminyak. Also, I wanted to try out the many beautiful cafés there. And I can tell you, there are a lot! Besides the amazing food, the small town offers a good beach for surfing (but also very crowded!), great massages on every street corner and many cute stores for shopping. So I would say, Canggu really relaxed us.
That’s also why we decided on staying there the last three nights of our Bali two-week itinerary. We thought about spending these days in Uluwatu, but when we visited Uluwatu during our stay in Canggu we were a little disappointed. We heard there are also good surf spots and beautiful beaches. But to be honest, we only found one beach that was worth seeing. It’s called Nyang Nyang Beach which was absolutely stunning. The way down there was a little tricky and took us about 25 minutes, but it was worth it. So forget about Padang Padang Beach, Balangan Beach or the other touristic beaches you might have heard of, Nyang Nyang is by far the most beautiful one in Uluwatu.
Anyway, the short and easy access to the beach, the easy surfboard rental, the cafés just nearby and the cheap food gave us more than just one reason to stay the last few days in Canggu – although the Nyang Nyang Beach was nicer than the beaches in Canggu.
Canggu offers lots of possibilities when it comes to accommodation. Our main focus was staying in a hotel close to the beach. A cheap option is the FRii Bali Eco Beach Hotel. It has comfortable rooms, a long pool, a little café, and is only a 5-minute walk from the beach. Also, I would suggest choosing a room without the breakfast option. There are just too many good cafés in the area that if you have breakfast in the hotel, you’re definitely missing out on something delicious.
Where to eat
As already mentioned, Canggu has one of the best cafés in Bali. We’ve been to so many places that it would blow up this post. But here are at least my favorites: The Mocca is a cute breakfast spot in a side street. That means you won’t be on the main street with all the traffic. Besides that, the pancakes and Avocado toast was beyond delicious.
Another great spot is The Common. Unfortunately, it’s located on the main road, but we sat in the back which was ok. However, there we had the best Açaí Bowl in Bali. They also serve salads, burgers, and toasts which makes it a great lunch spot as well.
For dinner, I can recommend Bottega Italiana. We ate there several times because we liked it so much. You get there different kinds of pasta and you can even see how it is prepared.
Surfing in Canggu
Canggu is the perfect surf spot for both pros and beginners. It seems like in Canggu there is only one very long beach that stretches for miles. But in truth, there are several beaches that overlap. Due to this fact, the surf spots are very different. The most popular one is probably Batu Bolong. I’ve never seen so many people in one spot. Although it’s one of the easier beaches, it was really hard to catch a wave sometimes because you are afraid to surf over someone. But if you go in the early morning at around 5 or 6 am, you’re going to have great conditions.
Right next to Batu Bolong is the Old Man’s Beach. It’s less crowded, but we found it hard to surf. It’s more for professional surfers than for beginners I think. Also, you have to be careful of the rocks. During high tide, you can’t see them, but during low tide, they appear which can be dangerous. So, just be careful there.
Next to Old Man’s Beach, you will find Echo Beach. The reef suddenly gets pretty shallow. So it’s dangerous and only recommended for intermediate and expert levels. However, it’s always very crowded there, too. So make sure to be there early.
Bali itinerary: Nusa Penida
After Canggu and visiting Uluwatu, we took a ferry to Nusa Penida. We have long considered whether we should visit this island or the Gili Islands. In the end, we decided on going to Nusa Penida. It was just easier to get there from Canggu and we really wanted to see Kelingking Beach. As mentioned above we had a great driver, who organized the whole ferry tour for us. Dikha even called the speed boat company because we were stuck in traffic and ran late. But he made the boat wait so that we could get it. That saved us hours of time. He was just amazing!
The boat ride takes about 45 to 60 minutes. Once we’ve arrived, there were lots of taxis waiting. That’s how we met our driver Kadek. He offered the cheapest price – not just for the ride to our hotel, but also for tours around the island. So, better you text him than waiting for any driver to pick you up and rip you off. Also, it’s much better to take a drive on Nusa Penida. The roads there are super narrow and partly broken.
All in all, I can say that the island is very simple. You can see that tourism hasn’t gotten to it for long. So, locals rarely speak English and accommodations are designed in a minimalistic way. Also, there are not many good restaurants. That’s why you should definitely take a resort with a restaurant. We decided to stay at Prasi Sunset Bungalows. It’s close to the harbor, you have a beautiful view of the ocean and there is free breakfast. But don’t expect too much from the food. It was ok, but after Canggu, it was quite a change. The only scary thing was the road. The street starts fine, but after a while, it gets very broken and narrow. So, we were glad that we had a good driver with Kadek. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have made it.
Since it’s a small island, there is not so much to do on Nusa Penida. But what you can visit is absolutely amazing. I’m planning to do a separate blog post just for Nusa Penida. So, I don’t want to mention too much here. But for now, I can say that you should definitely visit Kelingking Beach, Diamond Beach, and Broken Beach. Also don’t forget your snorkeling gear, because that’s what you need at Crystal Bay and Manta Point. There you even get to see manta rays and coral reefs that are still alive. That was really stunning and a great experience for us.
After three days it was time to go back to Canggu. We wanted to go to a place where we have been before Nusa Penida and where we felt most comfortable. And this was Canggu for us. I’ve mentioned the advantages above, but really the food and the direct access to the beach were the best arguments for going back there. So, that’s where we spent our last days and it was the best decision.
Have you ever been to Bali? Where did you go and what were your favorite spots? I would love to hear about your experiences! Also, have a look at my latest Indonesian guide if you’re interested in Bali travel tips. I will tell you how I got prepared for this trip and how much I spent on the flight.
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