My boyfriend and I visited Bali this time last year - from the 17th August to the 31st August. We had the most amazing holiday and managed to see and do so much. Before our trip I researched so much about what to do, what to see and where to stay. I looked at so many different itineraries and combined all the advice/recommendations I was given to create our own itinerary. We stayed in the same hotel for our whole stay in Bali. If we could change one aspect of our trip it would be to have stayed in hotels all around the island. We stayed in a hotel in Kuta for our entire trip apart from one night at the Bubble Hotel in Uluwatu.
Hotel: Kuta Heritage Hotel.
My favourite aspects of the hotel:
Faced the sea front
Location was in central Kuta
A few minutes from a variety of restaurants and bars
Delicious buffet breakfast
For all the day trips we did we booked through a tour company. They had lots of different day itineraries to pick from which included a driver, air conditioned car, bottles of water etc. We essentially got a tour guide, driver and photographer all in one! It cost approximately £30 ($40) per person per day for the tours which lasted about ten hours - fantastic value. The tour guides were friendly, knowledgable and more than happy to take lots of photos in order to get the perfect shot!
The days not included below were our free days where we had nothing planned so it was a day to relax by the pool, sunbathe on the beach and eat lots of food!
Day 2 - Tirta Gangga, Lempuyang Temple (Gate of Heaven), Tukad Cepung Waterfall and Ubud Rice Terraces
Tirta Gangga is located in eastern Bali and it is a former royal palace. Nowadays the water palace is a popular tourist destination. Tourists are popular due to the beautiful gardens, water ponds and sculptures. The water in the garden is clean and fresh due to the pool water coming from a spring instead of treated water. Also, the springs at Tirta Gangga are regarded as holy water by the local people and holy water is used in Balinese Hindu religious ceremonies. If you are planning to spend the night at Tirta Gangga there is accommodation available, with the Tirta Gangga hotel being the most popular. Although it took us a long time to drive there, it was more than worth it! From our hotel in central Kuta it took about two and a half hours to reach it, not too bad when the car journey was as beautiful and breath-taking as it was!
The Lempuyang Temple is located in eastern Bali and is an Instagram lover’s dream! This temple is the location of one of the most popular Instagram photos of Bali. The Gate of Heaven is located at the temple and when we arrived we were told the queue to take a photo with the Gate of Heaven was four hours long! Apparently people come to the temple in the early hours of the morning in order to get their dream shot for Instagram. An incredible bonus too is the view from the temple of Mount Agung (don’t worry there is also a view point and a photographer on hand to take photos of you with the backdrop of Mount Agung too!). The temple itself is beautiful and I’m glad we didn’t queue for a photo as it meant we were able to take in the surroundings and fully appreciate it all.
Tukad Cepung, which is located in a cave, is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen in my life. It is located just outside of Ubud which makes it very easy to get to. It took about 15-20 minutes to reach the waterfall from the car park and the terrain was tricky at times so I would definitely advise some water shoes as I had to take my shoes off which left me bare foot (which is very painful when walking on rocks!). It also makes for a fantastic photo opportunity – for all those Instagram lovers out there! There are also some cafes on the way down which provided some much needed refreshments on what was a very hot day. However, due to the popularity of the waterfall, largely due to social media, it was very busy. I expected this to be the case so it did not surprise me but I would recommend going in the early morning in order for the waterfall to be less crowded. The entrance fee is IDR 15,000 which is approximately £0.80.
You cannot truly appreciate Indonesian rice terraces until you see them with your own eyes, a picture simply does not do them justice! The Tegalalang rice terraces are located in Tegalalang Village in northern Ubud. The vast scale of the rice terraces is jaw dropping and they seem to continue for miles. I would suggest spending at least one hour to explore and walk around so that you can fully appreciate the experience. Again for those Instagram lovers it is a perfect photo opportunity. There is also the option to go on the swing which, although we did not do, looked really cool! The swing is quite expensive though, at approximately £20 per person.
Day 3 - Handara Gate, Banyumala Twin Waterfalls and Ulun Danu Temple
The Handara Gate is located in Northern Bali near to Bedugul. The Gate has quickly become one of Bali's most popular tourist destinations due to its popularity on social media. Due to its popularity though it is often very busy and can mean you're waiting a while to take a picture. I'd recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid the queues.
The Banyumala Twin Waterfalls are located in northern Bali in the Munduk area. It took us about two hours to reach them from Kuta. For me personally the Banyumala twin waterfalls were my favourite due to not only the waterfalls themselves, but also the surroundings too. Arriving at the waterfalls really was one of those jaw dropping experiences. Out of all the waterfalls I visited, these waterfalls were the furthest away from the drop off point. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the waterfalls which really isn’t too bad especially given the view at the end of the walk! The climb back to the drop off point is a little trickier as it is very steep but as long as you are careful you shouldn’t have any problems. There are also changing rooms and toilet facilities available if you decide to go for a swim which I would highly recommend – especially after a long hike to get there!
If you love Balinese architecture then I'd highly recommend visiting the Ulun Danu Temple. Located in Tabanan, the temple was constructed in honour of Dewi Danu, goddess of the lake that was formed by a volcanic eruption 30,000 years ago. Ulun Danu is located towards the north of the island, to the west of the Mount Batur Volcano. The temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens and there is also a restaurant to enjoy some local Balinese cuisine. I'd recommend spending at least 1-2 hours exploring and walking around as there is so much to take in.
Day 5 - Tanah Lot, GitGit Waterfall, Taman Ayun Temple and Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
The best time to visit the Tanah Lot Temple is during sunrise or sunset. It is one of Bali’s most significant landmarks and it is most known for its offshore location and beautiful backdrops. As the Temple is located offshore and is only accessible by climbing on rocks, it can be difficult to access, especially due to the almost constant waves! It’s opening hours are 07:00-20:00 and I would recommend spending at least two hours walking around and visiting the local art shops too. The Tanah Lot Cave is also home to The Holy Snake. We were told that the sea snake guards this religious site and that these snakes are known to protect the area and its people from evil. I was told that touching the snake would bring me good luck so I put my fear of snakes to the back of my head and touched the snake for about a second before I quickly hurried off!
GitGit waterfall is located in the north of Bali and is one of the most popular waterfalls to visit in Bali. Although it took us a while to reach it due to us being located in southern Bali, the car journey was very scenic and it was more than worth the travel time! Once parked up our guide led us to the waterfall which took about 25-30 minutes. We were very lucky that it was fairly quiet when we arrived so we were able to fully enjoy the experience as it was as if we were having a private tour! On the way to the waterfall there were many local people selling clothing and art which I really liked. Despite it not being as big as many other waterfalls in Bali, it was still incredibly beautiful and well worth a visit.
The Taman Ayun Temple is located in the south of the island - north of Kuta. It is one of the six royal temples in Bali, belonging specifically to the Mengwi Royalty. It is also one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Taman Ayun means 'Garden Temple in the Water' and it is open from 9am-4pm daily. This temple is not as busy as other temples in Bali so there were not crowds of people walking round which allowed us to walk around at our own pace and take it all in.
The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are much like the Ubud Rice Terraces - absolutely breathtaking! They comprise over 600 hectares of rice fields overlooking the Batukaru mountain range. If you'd like to experience rural Bali, the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are a must visit. They are located near Ganung Batukaru in the middle of Bali which is a 90 minute drive from Kuta.
Day 7 - Gili Trawangan
Our experience of Gili T was hectic but incredible! We started the day at about 7am and were picked up by our driver to be taken to the port to catch our boat over to Gili T. I won't sugar coat it - the boat ride was rough. It was very choppy and I felt sea sick for most of the journey which wasn't pleasant. Anyways, it was worth it for the day we had! As soon as we arrived we were taken straight to a boat to do some snorkelling. I'd go as far as saying it was the best snorkelling I've ever done. We saw so many different types of fish - they were all so colourful. There were also some underwater statues which were super cool. After the snorkelling we were taken to a restaurant for lunch. The food was delicious and there was also a swimming pool which was a bonus! The final activity of the day was a bike tour of the whole island. Despite some dodgy bikes which didn't really work properly, it was a really enjoyable bike ride. We got to see the whole of the island in just under two hours and we managed to get plenty of photos on the journey too.
Day 9 - Bubble Hotel Bali
During our time in Bali, my boyfriend and I booked a night at the Bubble Hotel Bali in Uluwatu. I’d seen endless pictures of the bubble hotel on Instagram and could not go to Bali without visiting! After an hour long taxi drive from our hotel in Kuta we were greeted by one of the members of staff who checked us in before we set off on what was quite a trek to get to the bubble. It was a long way down to the beach and was very steep. On the way down we began to dread the trek back up from the beach but we knew it would be more than worth it. After about forty minutes of walking we finally reached our bubble – wow I was in heaven! It was incredible, the bubble looked out onto the sea and we had the beach to ourselves.
We spent all evening just relaxing and taking it all in. Our bubble included plenty of outdoor furniture including a swing, a hammock and two sun loungers. I was tempted to go for a swim but quickly decided against it when I realised how cold the sea was! There was also an outdoor shower and toilet which worked perfectly. However, the shower and toilet were somewhat exposed to the viewpoint at the top. Therefore, we made sure we only used those facilities when no one was at the view point!
It is a perfect place for couples as it was very romantic. They also offer breakfast, lunch and dinner which I found incredible as they had to send the food down on a zip line. We had a candlelit dinner – bruschetta for our starter, burger and chips for our main and a Nutella pizza for dessert. It’s safe to say that was a cheat meal! The food was a bit cold but it wasn’t a surprise given the journey the food took to make it down to us. The sunset was one of the best I’ve ever seen and to share it with my boyfriend in such a beautiful place was very special.
The Bubble Hotel Bali was also very fairly priced. It cost us about £60 for the night which is very good given the fantastic experience we had. For all those Instagram lovers out there – this is the place for you! It was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad we went.
Day 11 - Nusa Lembongan (Devil's Tears Bay and Dream Beach)
Nusa Lembongan was one of the last places on our itinerary and it certainly didn't disappoint! After a delicious lunch we were taken to see Devil's Tears Bay. The colour of the water was a luscious light blue and the waves crashing into the rocks was really cool to see - it was very dramatic! We also visited Dream Beach which is definitely one of the best beaches on the island. However, it was very crowded and busy with tourists but we went during the early - mid afternoon which is the most popular time to go so it was to be expected.
Overall, I'd highly recommend visiting Bali as it has everything you could ever want - beaches, temples, waterfalls and some of the best sunsets I've ever witnessed!