In This Guide
So you're going to Bali! Or maybe just considering it at this point. Either way, this guide breaks down exactly where to go in Bali and for how long. I briefly touch on how to get there, where to stay, best things to do, and what to eat & drink. At the end, you'll find some tips & best practices for a breezy, carefree trip.
If you'd like to jump to any of the specific pages of the places I visited, here are a few quick links:
You can also find these linked throughout the below post. All of the fun stories and trials/tribulations can be found within the individual pages.
How To Get To Bali
From San Francisco (SFO) to Bali (DPS), Kevin flew Singapore Air, and I flew China Eastern. Let me just tell you, one is not like the other. Kevin was a huge fan of Singapore Air. I would not recommend China Eastern if it can be avoided. To be fair, that's what I get for booking one month in advance.
My roundtrip flights booked one month in advance were about $750, Kevin's booked six months in advance were about $600.
In both directions, my flight included a 14 hour layover in Shanghai, which I took advantage of to explore the city! Definite silver lining of the China Eastern flight.
My 8-Day Bali Itinerary
Day 1: TRAVEL DAY
Both Kevin & I leave LAX, albeit about 17 hours apart. In the air for about 24 hours each.
Day 2: KUTA
Arrived in Shanghai at 6 am, took the train into the city, explored, returned to the airport, and boarded my flight for Bali by 6 pm. I arrived in Bali at midnight.
Taxi Tip: There is only one taxi company at the airport: Ngurah Rai Airport Taxis. They charge on a ‘fixed price’ basis. Look out for drivers in their distinctive blue patterned shirts. Ask your hotel beforehand how much a fixed price from the airport should be and walk away from drivers who will not accept that price.
I crashed at a little hostel in Kuta called H-Ostel. A female-only dorm bed was $11 USD, and the hostel was really cool! I wouldn't recommend staying in Kuta, but if you have to, this is not a bad option.
Day 3: SEMINYAK
Kevin finally arrives! We meet up at our first real hotel, Amalfi Hotel. It's $32 USD a night, and easily one of the nicer places we stayed in. So pretty and a delicious free breakfast. Highly recommend.
Mr. Potato Head Beach Club for the day, W Hotel for sunset, random little restaurant for dinner, early bedtime.
Day 4: UBUD
We took a 1.5-hour taxi to Ubud for about 300,000 rupiah. We'd booked a quaint, open-air cottage on Airbnb for our three days in Ubud, but upon arrival, realized we weren't exactly into the minimal travel thing. There was also all-day construction going on next door, so that didn't help.
But check it out for yourself! Bata Bata Bungalow for $35 USD a night.
Day 5: UBUD
We switched over to the Greenfield Hotel & Bungalows the next night. It was $85 a night, making it our housing splurge of the trip, but so incredibly worth it.
This was our favorite place we stayed. It was an actual palace overlooking beautiful rice fields. Cannot recommend enough. Check out my Ubud post for photos!
Prior to moving hotels, we did an 8:15 am – 1:30 pm Peon Cooking Class / Market Tour / Rice Terrace Viewing. It was only $26 USD per person and another high quality experience. The instructor is a hoot, and we made some nice tourist friends.
In the afternoon, we explored the Sacred Monkey Forest.
Day 6: UBUD
We woke up early, rented a motorbike from the hotel, and rode out to the famous rice field of Tegalalang. After, we rode over to a neighboring coffee plantation, Bali Pulina. We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and getting foot massages.
Day 7: AMED
Up at 2:30 am for our Bali Sunrise Tour of Mt. Batur! For $60 per person, we were picked up in Ubud, driven to Mt. Batur, lead on a two hour hike, then driven four hours to Amed. Again, crazy value.
Hike Tip: If you’re going to do this, I highly recommend bringing hiking boots. Its short but strenuous, with lots of loose rocks on the way down. Also consider that it will be very chilly at the top before the sun rises, so you need a little more than shorts and a light jacket. Bring a backpack with snacks, water, toilet paper (!), extra socks, and a sweater. And dont forget your camera!
After the hike, we stayed in the Anugerah Villas in Amed for $26/night. Definitely get the ocean view room and rent a motorbike here.
Hotel Tip: I'd recommend booking on Agoda.com when traveling to Asia. I definitely saw the most options and best prices here vs. Expedia or Airbnb.
Tickets Tip: We got an amazing deal on our Gili T speed ferry tickets through the hotel. We paid just 500K rupiah for two people roundtrip. Never book this online beforehand, as you're able to get way better prices in person from the hotel staff or locals.
Day 8: GILI T
On Gili T, we stayed at a hostel called Gili Nyepi. This cost $35 a night and was definitely one of our more humble spots. It's really hot on the island and the AC was not great. We had a lovely little breakfast on our patio in the morning, though, which was nice.
Spent the day drinking rum punch on the beach and the night trying to party but really just wanting bed.
Day 9: PADANG BAI
In the morning, we got on a fast boat back to Bali, this time porting in Padang Bai.
We stayed at Dewivilla Hotel for $38/night. Our main advice: maybe don’t stay in Padang Bai. Most people just travel straight through.
I think the main draw of the town is scuba-diving and the less trafficked, white sand beaches. But since we're less into that, we preferred Amed as our more "off the beaten track" town.
Day 10: ULUWATU
From Dewivilla, we took a 2.5 hour taxi ride to Uluwatu. We negotiated this rate with a driver on the street, rather than through the hotel.
Our stay in Uluwatu was incredible. We had our own private villa at Bali Blue Homestay for just $28/night. Great value and location. Rent a motorbike at the hotel and haggle for the price!
Day 11: KUTA
On our final day, Kevin booked a hotel near the airport for us to hang out at before my flight at midnight that night.
Day 12: TRAVEL DAY
Back to Shanghai for me for another 13 hours. I was thoroughly exhausted this time. Kevin left about 10 hours after me on his luxury flight -__-
Quick City Guides
Kuta & Seminyak City Guide
Where to explore
- Poppies Lane (central)
- Turtle Conservation
- Tanah Lot
How to beach
- La Plancha beanbags
- La Laguna Canggu
- Potato Head Beach Club
- Beach Club Tip: Reserve a daybed in the morning, worth it if you stay all day and order food/drinks – they add up quick here to meet the 500k minimum
What to eat
- Warung Bali: cheap seafood & chinese
- Bamboo Corner: Nasi goreng
- Franks Pizza: Seminyak
- La Lucciola: Seminyak
- Cafe Organic: great but I found a worm in my Earth Bowl so
Where to go out
- Legian Street (bars/clubs)
- Shots on every floor of the Skygarden Lounge
- Potato Head
- La Plancha: watch the sunset
- La Favela: Friday night for partying
Ubud City Guide
What to do in Ubud
- Visit coffee plantation: Bali Pulina Plantation was nice
- Visit Tegallalang rice fields
- Tip: Drive yourself via motorbike there, go early
- Gunung Kawi (water temple/waterfall)
- Bike down or do sunrise hike to Mount Batur
- Visit Goa Gajah “Elephant Cave”
- Take a cooking class (Paon Bali Cooking class: $26)
- Sacred Monkey Forest: $3/person
- YogaBarn & meditation classes
- Try to see a traditional healer!
- Endless massages
Where to go out in Ubud
- Cacao Ceremony
- Sound Medicine
- No Mas (bar)
What to eat in Ubud
- Seeds of Life (raw food)
- Seniman (best coffee)
- Warung 9 (vegetarian buffet)
- Kafe Ubud
- Clear Cafe (microbiotic/raw)
- Alchemy Cafe
- Bali Buddha
- Mama Mia
- Down to Earth (cool nighttime theater)
- Elephant (evening dinner, good for sunsets)
- Sari Organic (lunch out in rice fields)
- Dont eat sushi here..you will not be impressed
Amed City Guide
- Sunrise hike to Mount Batur or Agung (Bali Sunrise Tours)
- Visit Besakih Mother Temple
- Jemeluk Beach
- Life in Amed Yoga Shala
- Swasti Dewi Salon & Spa
- They had cats and a PUPPY when we were there! Highly recommend the full body massage here
- Sunset cliff-side dinner
Gili T City Guide
- H2O Yoga & Meditation
- 10:45 am Aqua Yoga: $7
- Go snorkeling
- Live music
- Fire dancing
What To Eat On Gili T
- Local market
- Brown Bean’s! Try the rum punch
- Scallywags: Salad bar, BBQ seafood. We thought this was maybe not worth the money
- Check out the west side for peace and quiet and best place for sunset
Padang Bai City Guide
- Blue Lagoon Beach
- Topi Inn: Has a bunch of cool activities year round
- Padang Bai Yoga Bale
- Central Market
- Silayuki Temple
- Pura Desa Temple
- Babylon Bar
- Sunshine Bar: Live music every night!
- Green Spa at OK Divers Resort: Expensive
- Tip: Just dont get the aloe vera massage in the back of a gift shop….not pleasant
Uluwatu City Guide
- Hang at Padang Padang Beach
- Visit Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park: Really cool sculptures with some nice views of the island
- Visit Uluwatu Temple: Historic and monkeys!
- Watch the Kecak Dance during sunset (6 pm): Highly recommend
- Go to Single Fin: Sunday live music and sunset. Check if they’re open before you go! Dont touch the monkey in the cage on your way there!
Happy Travel Tips
Bali Packing List!
Find mine here.
Food in Bali
- Eat at the roadside cafes, known as Warungs
- Nasi & mie goreng! Fried rice or noodles. It's very good.
- Nasi Jinggo: serving of rice with a side option of chicken, beef or egg
- Bubur Ayam: porridge usually served with shredded chicken, coriander, shallots and an oily but utterly delicious dressing sauce. Then topped off with crispy prawn crackers and salted peanuts.
Drinks in Bali
- Buy a bottle or two of liquor Duty Free in the US. Alcohol in Bali is super expensive and really weak.
- Buy alcoholic drinks from the local Circle K or directly from a bottle shop
- Avoid drinking locally made spirits (like Arak) and premixed drinks
- Never drink water from the tap – it’s not clean! We got away with brushing our teeth at the nicer hotels though.
- Total: $50 per day (not including alcohol)
- Food: $15-18 per day
I'm so excited for you. If you've made it this far down the page, you're headed to Bali -- I feel it in my bones! You are not going to regret it. It's impossible not to find your blue sky mind there; they've already made positive psychology a lifestyle on that little island.
I so hope this post was helpful to you! Either way, I'd love to know your thoughts via the simple survey below. If you feel so inclined to say more, don't hesitate to drop a comment below or on my Connect page.