To make your own Bali itinerary might be overwhelming with all those amazing things to do in Bali. The first time we went to Bali in 2016 we felt so excited to explore the whole island. We made a complete one week Bali itinerary bucket list of all the things we wanted to do and see. But we ended up only seeing 4 spots of that whole Bali itinerary!
We found out it takes some time to get to the different locations, and sometimes a hike from 20 minutes or more is involved to get to your final location, in particular with waterfalls and viewpoints. In 2018 we came back to Bali to live there for 6 months. In these 6 months, we’ve explored the whole island, went to every waterfall, viewpoint and beach you can find on the map. We made this ultimate guide of ‘best things to do in Bali’ to help you make your own Bali itinerary. And we can honestly say, these are for sure the best things to do! We tested them all personally, so here is our complete Bali itinerary of the best things to do!
When to go to Bali
Peak season in Bali is between June until September and December & January around Christmas and New Year. Rainy season in Bali starts in November and can be at its peak in December, but especially in January / February. We had a beautiful December month last year and some very sunny days in January alternated with one stormy and rainy week. (That was a very productive work week for us haha!). But if you want to avoid the tourist crowds and still have good weather, the best period to travel to Bali is March until May and September until December.
How to get around in Bali
The best way to get around Bali is by renting a motorbike. It’s easy and cheap to rent a bike and gives you the freedom to go wherever you want. But, be sure that you have an international drivers license. Some of the rental companies ask for it and won’t rent you a motorbike if you don’t have an international license. Also if you got stopped by the police you need to wear a helmet and have an international drivers license. If you don’t have one, or both of these things you’ll get a fine. Never give your passport to the police!!
Expenses in Bali
The costs in Bali are reasonable and actually most of the times a very good price – quality ratio. You can find accommodation as cheap as $10 a night for a hostel, and a private room starts at $15 – $20. Real luxury starts from $50 a night for which you can have a beautiful spacious room in a resort, or even a private villa which you can share with friends! Costs for food depends in Bali if you eat local or at some of the hip and healthy cafes. Local food you can get in a Warung starts at $2, while the smoothie bowls and smashed avo toast mostly are around $5. Transport is cheap if you use GoJek or Grab (the Indonesian Uber). Or if you rent a moped for a few days or weeks. You can hire a simple moped for around 60,000 IDR a day which is about $4.
Explore the Bali waterfalls, especially Sekumpul waterfall
Bali has many beautiful waterfalls you have to explore and put on your Bali itinerary. To know which Bali waterfalls are the best and most beautiful to visit, read this blog post. One waterfall really stands out from all the others. It’s Sekumpul waterfall in North Bali. This beauty will give you the feeling as if you just entered Jurassic Park. A must do activity on your Bali itinerary, but be prepared for the scam! Read everything you need to know about this waterfall here.
Getting there: There are two ways to get to this waterfall, from the car park of Sekumpul waterfall, which is the downstream part and the best place to access all 7 waterfalls in this area. You can also enter the falls from the other side at Lemukih village which is the upstream side.
Entrance fee: 20.000 IDR per person. But since February 2019 there is a fence when you enter the downstream part. Locals await you and charge you money as your guide, around 100.000 IDR. Read all the details in this blog post.
Best time to go for photos: The (early) morning is the best time to go to Sekumpul because of many reasons. First, the light. If you arrive here around 9 or 10 am the waterfall is still in the shade, therefore it won’t be blown out by the sun and you won’t be overheated while shooting. Second, fewer tourists what gives you more time and possibilities for different angles.
Photo tip: There is an awesome rock where your model can climb on to give perspective to the waterfall. But there are also many other angles to make your shot. For example where you can use leaves as a foreground to create extra depth in your shot.
Learn surfing in Canggu
Absolutely one of the best things to do in Bali is learning how to surf! It’s also one of the things where Canggu is famous for; it’s perfect circumstances to learn surfing. A lot of surf schools are scattered along Canggu’s beach. You will see motorbikes with surfboards attached driving towards one of the beaches to hit the waves all day long. This laid back digital nomad/surfers paradise has three well-known surf spots:
Echo beach (intermediate level)
Berawa beach (intermediate level)
Batu Balong beach (beginners level)
So if you want to learn surfing you have to start at Batu Balong beach. My personal experience learning how to surf is with Surf With Aldo Bali. We made a promotional film which you can watch below. This was also my very very first timing surfing! If you want to read more in depth about surfing in Canggu, read this blog post.
Getting there:Depending on the company you book your surf lesson with, you will be picked up from your hotel and drive to the beach.
Entrance fee:Also depending on the company you book with, a private surf lesson of 2 hours for 1 person costs 500.000 IDR which is around €30.
Best time to go: Because it can get really crowded in the waters around Canggu, the best time to go is in the very early morning, with sunrise. Of course your surf instructor will advise you which time of the day is the best to go surfing. They know how to read the ocean, waves and weather circumstances in Bali.
Photo tip: If you book with Surf With Aldo, they can also arrange photo & videography material of your lesson. If you have a drone or telelens yourself, the one staying at the beach can make some awesome shots!
Read more about surfing in Canggu here
Watch the promotional film we made for Surf With Aldo below! It was Ilse her very first time on the surfboard! 🙂
Visit the Bali temples like Pura Ulun Danu Beratan
Built in the 17th century and located 1200 meters above sea level, the Pura Ulun Danu Beratan temple is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bali. It depends on the period you’re going, but mostly the temple is ‘floating’ in the lake. When you’re going while the water is low, you will have a completely different view. If you go on a clear morning after a colder night, the lake will give you a stunning effect with the morning dew and the colors of the sky reflecting in the lake. That’s what this location makes it one of the best locations to see the sunrise in Bali. In this blog post you will read which other locations are great to watch the sunrise in Bali. This temple is for sure a must add to your Bali itinerary!
Getting there: Located at the edge of Lake Bratan in the village Bedugul (North of Bali) you will find this remarkable temple.
Entrance fee: 50.000 IDR per person.
Best time to go: Of course sunrise because you can take advantage of the best light conditions and there are almost no tourists around that time.
Photo tip: Make use of the wonderful flowers around the temple to frame your shot. Or ask one of the caretakers of the temple that you want to hire a paddle boat and take it out on the lake. You have to pay 100K, but if you have a model with a dreamy dress this is all worth it for the perfect shot!
Explore Tegalalang rice terraces in Ubud
Exploring the beautiful lush rice paddies can’t be missed on your Bali itinerary! The Tegalalang rice terraces are, just like Jatiluweh rice fields, one of the iconic must-visit locations in Bali. Especially with sunrise are the rice fields a photographers dream. But you have to be lucky with the light rays, the perfect conditions are not there every morning. But if the light rays are coming through the trees, you are in for a real treat!! This place is certainly one of the best sunrise locations in Bali!
Getting there: Just a 15-minute drive from the North of Ubud or an hour drive from Canggu.
Entrance fee: A donation. But if you want to photograph the light rays in the rice fields you have to give the landowner Wayan 50K to get in.
Best time to go: Make sure to arrive half an hour before sunrise. This will give you the time to walk from the car park to the place where you will get the magical light rays through the palm trees. Also, take into account that the terraces will look different during each season. The best time to go is in September – October and March – April right before they harvest the rice.
Photo tip: There are so many different angles which you can shoot here! Try lower angles, especially when the rice is fully grown so you can catch the magical morning dawn of the grass. Also other angles at Tegalalang are really worth to try out. Get some inspiration from our shots below. With your drone you can get a completely different perspective, it’s so much fun shooting here!
Watch sunset at a viewpoint, especially Karang boma cliff
With an incredible 180 degrees view on the Indian ocean, this cliff is one of the best, if not THE best spot to watch the sunset. We had an unforgettable afternoon with friends watching and shooting the sunset from this viewpoint. The Karang Boma cliff has become a famous Bali Instagram spot and it’s easy to understand why. There is enough space to just sit down and enjoy this wonderful view. Take a towel with you to sit on, eventually some snacks and drinks, and you will have one of the most memorable afternoons in Bali! Absolutely one of the best things to do and a must add to your Bali itinerary!
Getting there: Located in Nusa Dua, the southern tip of Bali, Karang Boma cliff is easy to reach. Type in Karang Boma Google Maps and you will get there easily!
Entrance fee: No entrance fee.
Best time to go: You will have the stunning 180 degrees view always. But the most magical time to get to this spot is of course for the sunset views. As it is located on the South-West of Bali, you will have the best view on the sunset.
Photo tip: If you want to make a picture standing on the cliff you will need a tripod to mount your camera on and a remote control to make your pictures at distance. The best framing is from the opposite of the cliff you’re standing on. You will need a wide angle lens for this.
Bukit Cinta for the best view on Mt Agung
For one of the best views on Mount Agung you have to go to Bukit Cinta, the ‘hill of love’. Especially if you stay in Amed the drive to Bukit Cinta is only 30 minutes. On a clear morning, you will have the best view on Mount Agung. And if you’re lucky there will be some fog, in combination with smoke. Those are the best conditions to take your shot! You will be very happy to add this to your Bali itinerary as it’s one of the best things to do in our opinion! Read our complete guide about Bukit Cinta here.
Getting there: Type in Bukit Cinta on your Google Maps. It is an easy drive, especially when you’re located in Amed. The roads are good and can be a bit steep because you have to go up in the mountains. Once you arrive at Bukit Cinta you can park your scooter easily at the side of the road and enter the field where you can take your pictures.
Entrance fee: Free.
Best time to go: Arrive 15 minutes before sunrise to give yourself the time to do your research at the location and set up your gear.
Photo tip: If the grass is high enough you can use it as framing in your shot to create depth, see the picture below. Use your model in this shot to show the perspective of the immense Mount Agung. If you have a drone you can make your shot from the volcano higher, but take into account that the volcano will look a bit smaller because the drone has a wider lens. Although you can adjust this a little bit in Lightroom with distortion.
Climb Mt Batur to watch the sunrise
One of the best things to do, and especially one of the best sunrise locations AND best viewpoints in Bali, is from the summit of Mount Batur. This is a must add to your Bali itinerary and a perfect day trip! After a 2 hour hike in the dark under a sky full of stars, you will arrive at the top of Mount Batur which is 1717 meters. The best way to do this hike is with a guided tour. You will be picked up from your hotel, drive to the car park of Mt Batur and hike to the top with a guide who knows which paths to take on this mostly off-road trails and rocky terrain.
Once you reach the top, the view is absolutely incredible! Slowly you will see the sky changing colors from red to purple and orange. Low hanging clouds passing by, as finally the sun shows up and spreads her light to warm up the earth. It almost feels as if you’re on top of the world! Doing the Mount Batur sunrise hike is a must add activity to your Bali itinerary!
Getting there: If you’ve booked a tour to climb the Mount Batur you will be picked up from your hotel by the tour company.
Entrance fee: Most tours are around 350.000 IDR. Check what is included or not.
Best time to go: Of course sunrise for the most magical view.
Photo tip: If you have a drone you will love to fly it here! There are so many amazing angles to capture and the texture of mother earth is insane from a bird’s eye view. With your hand camera you will need a wider lens to capture the view. But we experienced that a telelens is also an amazing addition to take with you. You’ll be able to catch a lot of details. See the pictures we made below as example.
Healthy food is not a problem to find in Bali! There are many organic and vegan or flexitarian restaurants and cafes in Bali with Instagrammable interioirs. You can try a new restaurant every time of the day, especially when you’re located in Canggu or Ubud! But also for meat and fish lovers is enough choice. We have eaten the best sushi ever at Ji restaurant for example. And if you like smoothie bowls as much as Ilse, you’ll be in smoothie bowl heaven as well. To give you a few of our favorite restaurants in Canggu:
Secret Spot. Best coffee of Canggu and amazing smoothie bowls and buckwheat waffles (don’t tell anyone else, it’s secret ;))
Duatiga. Also great coffee, but not as good as Secret Spot. Also amazing smoothie bowls, burritos and other great Thai and Vietnamese food.
The Mocca. The way they decorate the food almost makes you feel sorry to eat it!
Shady Shack for the best vegan dinner. Even Atiba as a real meat lover has approved this restaurant and concludes that the vegan food tasted really good here.
Ji restaurant for the best sushi with an amazing sunset view. It’s more expensive than a ‘normal’ evening in Canggu but really worth it if you want to treat yourself and loved one!
Warung Gouthe. Best bbq meat (beef, chicken or tuna) on a skewer for a reasonable price around 150K IDR served with fresh cut potato fries and salad.
Relax at the beach and watch a good sunset
After a day of exploring, watching the sunset at the beach is certainly one of the best things to do in Bali. The whole southwest part of Bali from Uluwatu, Jimbaran, Kuta, Seminyak to Canggu has beautiful sunsets. But also if you go further up north to Lovina for example, you’ll see some amazing sunsets! Bali has mostly black sand beaches, but only in Uluwatu you will find golden sand beaches.
To visit one of the beautiful Bali beaches and watching the sunset on the beach with a Bintang is a must add to your Bali itinerary!
Getting there: Every beach in Bali is easy to access. The beaches in Uluwatu have some steps down as the cliffs there are up to 70 meters high!
Entrance fee: There’s no entrance fee for the beaches. The only thing you have to pay at most of the beaches is 2.000 IDR parking fee. And if you want to rent a bed with parasol you also have to pay a small fee.
Best time to go: There’s no best time to go to the beach. Every time is a good time to go to the beach 😀 But sunset is always a magical moment and you will see a lot of locals and travelers on the beach during sunset.
Photo tip: With a sunset you always need to expose on the sky as you want to have all the details and colors of the sky. Having the foreground in silhouette or darker is not a problem when you adjust the shadows in Lightroom.
Campuhan ridge walk for a great morning walk
This valley, hidden in the center of Ubud, is an ideal place to unwind and take in the jungle nature surroundings that makes Ubud so special. A great morning or afternoon stroll of 1.5 km. The windy pathway will take you up and downhill providing you with a stunning view of the surrounding scenery. Although the path is situated right next to the hustle and bustle of Ubud it almost feels like a different world. So lush, so green and so quiet! We went with sunrise and were one of the few people there. It allowed us to have the view to ourselves and simply enjoy the peace and quietness. Our advice is to go with sunrise or sunset time anyway because it’s way cooler than during the day without having shade. Morning or afternoon light also makes it the perfect circumstances for a great Instagram shot.
Getting there: Located in the center of Ubud but still a bit hidden, this place might be tricky to find. If you spot the ‘IBAH luxury villas and spa’ sign, you turn straight into that road and you will find the carpark. There you will find other signs which lead you to the trail.
Entrance fee: No fee.
Best time to go: Sunrise or early morning is the best because it’s not that hot yet. But this walk is also ideal for the afternoon, the only thing is it might be a lot busier in the afternoon.
Photo tip: If you have a drone you have to use it here! Because if you are lucky, you can even see the Mount Agung and Mount Batur on a clear day when flying the drone! You can frame the path as you can see on our pictures below.
The underwater world is fascinating and interesting to explore. If you like snorkeling there are a lot of opportunities in Bali and the surrounding smaller islands like the Gili islands and Nusa Penida. At most of these places you can rent snorkeling gear. But if you book a snorkeling tour, for example to the Manta Rays at Nusa Penida, the snorkel gear is included. The best spots to snorkel in Bali are:
– The Japanese shipwreck and the USAT Liberty shipwreck in Amed.
– Coral Garden, also known as the ocean’s garden. This shallow reef in Tulamben (Amed) starts as soon as you step into the water.
– Jemeluk bay in Amed.
– Nusa Penida, to spot the giant Manta Rays.
– Nusa Lembongan, Mangrove Point.
– Menjangan Island is considered the most pristine dive destination in Bali. Only visited by a fraction of Bali’s tourists, it boasts a superb variety of uncrowded reefs. The most spectacular is Pos Dua, famous for having incredible visibility of 40 meter or more at times. Menjangan island is located at the far North West tip off the coast of the beautiful Bali Barat National Park.
– Blue Lagoon, Padangbai.
– Shark island at Serangan.
– Gili islands.
Visit UNESCO World Heritage Jatiluwih rice terraces
The Jatiluwih rice terraces are one of the best rice terraces in Bali with an incredible history. Located in the middle of Bali near Gunung Batukaru, the Jatiluwih green land offers amazing views. With over 600 hectares of rice paddies following the flowing lush hillside of the Batukaru mountain range, the Jatiluwih rice terraces give a new meaning to the word green. The area is very rural with nothing but farming communities which makes a visit to these rice terraces very authentic. It is super worth it to visit the Jatiluwih rice fields for a day trip or to stop for some time if you are traveling up to the North of Bali.
Getting there: Jatiluwih is easy to find, you can combine it with Leke Leke and NungNung waterfall to make it a wonderful and diverse day trip! For more information about the best Bali waterfalls, read this blog post.
Entrance fee: 40K per person and 5K for the car park.
Best time to go: Make sure to arrive half an hour before sunrise. This will give you the time to pick the right spot for your photo and set up your gear. Are you going to take a shot from the viewing platform? Or maybe you want to hike through the rice fields and find a new spot?
Photo tip: If you have a drone you have to use it here!! The mountains in the backdrop are an amazing perspective to the rice fields and are in particular visible in the morning. The best position for the drone shot is with the small road in the middle of your shot for a leading line with the mountains in the backdrop. See our example below.
Watch the monkeys at Ubud monkey forest (or in North Bali)
In the heart of Ubud is a forest without a fence where monkeys can monkey free around. This beautiful old rainforest is worth a visit, and of course you’ll see a lot of monkeys here! Important to think about before you enter the Monkey Forest is to have all your valuable stuff like sunglasses or maybe a hat stowed in your bag. Because the monkeys are stealing when they can! Luckily there is ‘monkey police’, who will help you to get your stuff back for a small tip.
Getting there: The monkey forest is in the heart of Ubud, therefore it’s the perfect morning trip when you stay there.
Entrance fee:80.000 IDR.
Best time to go: The early morning is the best time to beat the crowds and heat during the day.
Photo tip: Experiment with a shallow focus and make some awesome portraits of the monkeys. Especially the baby monkeys are so cute to capture!
Chill, party and watch the sunset at one of the beach clubs in Bali
Besides watching the sunset in nature, you can also sit back, relax and sip on a cocktail in one of Bali’s stunning beach clubs! There are many beach clubs, restaurants and beach bars in Canggu, Seminyak, Jimbaran, Uluwatu and Kuta to watch the sunset. To name a few:
We hope this blog post will help you to create your own perfect Bali itinerary! If you have any questions about creating your Bali trip, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments. After you’ve spend some time on Bali, you might want to see more of the surrounding islands like the Gili islands, Lombok or the Nusa islands. One tip we can give you is to not plan too much for one vacation to Bali. Don’t make your Bali itinerary too full with all the things to do.
If you are traveling for longer term through Southeast Asia like we do and you have more time to visit all the best places in Bali, you should definitely consider the surrounding islands. They are beautiful and absolutely worth a visit!
If you want to read more in-depth about Bali, head over to these blog posts: