A trip to Bali guarantees a perfect getaway. With Bali’s exotic Hindu temples, beaches, paddy fields and spas, Bali is undeniably fascinating and it’ll be love at first sight. See the Bali Itinerary below to help you plan your trip.
It’s tempting to plan for lots of activities to do on this seemingly small island; but do note that getting from one place to another will take longer than you think because of the small roads and heavy traffic so it’ll be ideal to plan for visiting 2 – 3 places per day. Having said that, I also think it’s perfectly fine to to plan for nothing if all you want to do is stay put in your hotel, and shuffle between the infinity cycle of hotel room –>pool–> beach –> spa –> food–> because, hey, it’s Bali ! Here is my Bali trip itinerary for Kuta, Ubud, Tabanan and Kintamani.
Day 1 – Uluwatu, Jimbaran Beach, Kuta
Arrival in Denpasar, Bali.
Visit Uluwatu Temple, See the Kecak Dance, Dinner at Jimbaran Beach.
The gorgeous Uluwatu temple perched on the cliff at 70 m above sea level is iconic. The temple itself is actually not open for visitors but you could catch a glimpse of what’s happening inside the temple through the gate. Plan to arrive at the temple by about 3 to 4 pm, to give yourself some time to walk along the cliff, enjoy the breeze, the waves, and the amazing view at sunset. Be at the Kecak Dance Arena by about 5.30 pm (or even earlier) if you want to grab a good seat at the front because the arena gets filled up very quickly. The dance starts at 6 pm.
The Kecak Dance is often described as a Fire & Trance dance, where the story of Rama, Sinta and Hanoman are reenacted with a choir of men in a trans state against the backdrop of Bali’s captivating sunset. The Rama Sinta story in short, Prince Rama is sent into exile with his wife, Sita from the kingdom of Ayodya. The demon king Rahwana lusted after Sinta’s beauty and found his way to capture her. Rama, together with Hanoman the monkey king rescue Sinta.
The dance is vibrant and vivid, performed with stylized gestures and evocative facial expressions. The choir of men, or should I say they are more similar to an acapella group, making tunes out of simple constant sounds of “kecak” “ooom” and “cak” throughout the show. I was dazzled by the dance the very first time I saw it. There is no music script, but the men just chanted as the dance was performed and everything was in unison. How did they know which beat of “kecak” to stop, when that’s pretty much all they chant? Can you imagine 70 men chanting “kecak, kecak, kecak” and they all seemed to know the stopping point, and when to restart again.
The climax of the story is when Hanomen gets burned alive – does he escape the fire ? You’ll have to go and watch the Kecak Dance yourself to find out ! The dance is performed daily at 6 pm, ticket is IRD 700,000 per person.
After the dance, head over to Jimbaran for dinner by the beach. Plenty of seafood restaurants are along the beach side, just take your pick !
For our hotel in Bali, we stayed at Mecure Kuta Bali – excellent location with the beach right outside of the hotel, surrounded by many shops, eateries and massage parlors.
Day 2 – Kuta: Beach, Spa, Shopping
Spend the day in Kuta town. Enjoy the beach, the spas and do some shopping. There are plenty of shops in Kuta for some good shopping – arts and crafts, clothing, batik, beachwear and handbags. If you are buying from smaller shops, you most likely need to haggle for price. Having said that, some of the smaller shops are also selling things “fixed price”. I bought a pair of slippers at INR 80,000 (about 6USD), which I thought was ok. If you think the price is reasonable, go for it. I do find the shopping in Kuta more commercialized, with the shops more or less selling similar things. For more boutique or unique items, Ubud would be a good place to go. For spas / massages I didn’t find any need to bargain because the prices are all fixed and stated on their menus. Prices can vary. The massage parlors that are closer to the beachfront tend to be more expensive.
Day 3 – Explore towns / temples around Kuta
If you have an extra day in Kuta, explore the towns & temples around Kuta, such as :
The Tanah Lot Temple (about an hour drive away from Kuta) – a stunning temple perched on a rock by the seashore.
Nusa Dua -more beaches and activities like camel safari and the Devdan show.
Day 4 – Ubud : Monkey Forest & Ubud Town
Spend the day in Ubud, visiting the Monkey Forest and walking around town. And if you love pork, try out the famed “Babi Guling (roast suckling pig) at Ibu Oka Warung. At this point, consider staying in Ubud as the next few days will be around the area.
Within the forest grounds, you’ll find a few temples that are thought to be built in the 14th century. It’s a comfortable walk through the shaded forest, seeing the monkeys frolicking about.
The temple compound is a bit different from other Balinese temples because the monkeys themselves are also depicted as some sort of deity in the compound. The monkeys are mostly minding their own businesses and just doing their things, but you do have to be careful about not stepping on them or walking into them accidentally because they can become aggressive if you do (I’ve seen that happen !)
Personally I like the shops in Ubud better than Kuta. It has finer things in a more cultural setting than Kuta. But that’s just personally preference that comes with age. If I were 10 years younger, I would probably say Kuta is the best. There’s also a indoor market (Ubud Market) in case you might want to avoid the heat.
For lunch, we ate at “Bebek Tapi Sawah” – or Duck by the Padi Fields. Needless to say, the fleshy duck is the most popular dish here – deep fried till the skin is fluffily crisp, while maintaining the tender texture within. Forget about using fork and knife to eat this; eating with your hands is the best way to go !
Dining ambiance is also fantastic – we dined in a pavilion right next to padi fields and lotus ponds. Luxurious blue sky, padi fields, yummy duck, and cold beer – there’s everything to love about this Balinese restaurant.
Day 5 – Tabanan
Spend a day at Rumah Desah to experience the Balinese way of life. Rumah Desah is about an hour’s drive from Ubud.
“Rumah Desa” means “house in the village”. The beautiful Balinese house is located in a Tabanan village, away from the hordes where you’ll get to see Bali back to basics.
We saw how the cooling remedy was made – whereby the old lady pounded dozens of herbs together, forming a brown solution. Magically, when I applied it on my legs, it had a minty cooling effect.
We saw how coconut oil was made. It was like Coconut Oil 101 – the guide showed us the specific tools to open the coconut, and even extracting the juices had its special technique; you have to use a chizel-like tool to knock on the coconut shell to find the right breakpoint to crack. The juice was extracted, coconut flesh shaved and coconut oil extracted.
There’s a small paddy field in the village too, and it was my first time ever trying to till the paddy !
If you love cooking, Rumah Desa offers Balinese cooking classes, using fresh ingredients and spices that form the basis of invigorating flavors of Balinese food. Spices like ginger, galangal, tumeric, chili, onions, lemongrass, ginger flowers were grounded and blended in with minced chicken to make the chicken satay.
Day 6 – Tegallalang & Kintamani
Head over to Tegalalang to enjoy the mesmerizing views of the rice terraces, followed by lunch at Lake View Restaurant with a magnificent view of Mount Batur, then spend the rest of the day exploring Mount Batur, Lake Batur and Ulun Danu Temple.
I could sit for hours at the Tegalalang rice terraces just soaking up the view. It does get better because you could also get a cup of specialty coffee, coffee luwak here.
When it comes to restaurants with a view, Restaurant Lakeview wins hands down. What could be more spectacular than having Mount Batur and Lake Batur right in front of you ? As for the food, although it’s not equally outstanding as the view, it was satisfyingly average.
Day 7 – Ubud
If you have an extra day in Ubud, explore nearby towns within 30 minutes away from Ubud such as
Batubulan – Village known for stone carvings.
Celuk – Village known for making gold & silver.
Mas – Village known for wood crafts & furnitures.
Day 8 – Denpasar
Depart from Bali
**With many thanks to the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia for organizing this trip.
For more information on travel in Indonesia, visit Tourism Indonesia’s Official Page.
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