Out of my entire trip to Asia in 2012, Bali was probably one of the most special and magical places I went to. Prior to heading there, I was worried that it’d be too touristy but I was surprised to find that it wasn’t overcrowded and there was a really nice balance between heading into town and being connected to nature. Getting a private driver was also probably one of the best decisions we made as it gave us an opportunity to go off-the-beaten-path a little as well and see Bali at our own pace with the comfort of a guide and vehicle.
With this simple itinerary layout I hope you’ll be able to have as much of a blast as I did that shows you exactly what to do in Bali if you have 5 days.
I totally wished we spent more time in Bali but for 5 days I thought this itinerary was a great introduction to island that surely gave me a lasting impression. The way I structured was I first hired a local driver to take around the island for 2 days. This was probably the best way to explore a lot of key sights of the island without being too rushed or stressed.
Our driver, Putu was fantastic in create a custom itinerary based on my research and talking to an Indonesian friend. We were able to go at our own pace with Putu and got to make a lot of unexpected stops along the way. I wrote a guest post with The Planet D here about my experiences with Putu so make sure you check it out.
After two days of sightseeing, I slotted a rest day at the resort which we fully took advantage of. On day 4 we didn’t have anything concrete planned but thought a day exploring the main city area of Kuta would be nice. We got a super awesome and cheap massage with Cozy which topped it all off.
For the last day, we mixed a little snorkelling with Jimbaran to see the local fish market which was a fun experience.
This trip ended up being an excellent balance of exploring, adventure, activities, cheap eats, luxury and beaching.
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|Date||Day 1 – Bali – Barong, Monkeys, Babi Guling, Rice Paddies and Temples||Day 2 – Putu Round 2!||Day 3 – R&R||Day 4 – Cozy Crazy Kuta||Day 5 – From Swimming with Fishes to Cooking Some|
|Breakfast||Breakfast @ the Conrad||Breakfast @ the Conrad||Breakfast @ the Conrad||Breakfast @ the Conrad||Breakfast @ the Conrad|
|Morning||Pickup by our driver Putu Arnawa||-Pickup by our driver Putu Arnawa|
-Taman Ayun Temple
-Random unknown pond temple
-Local cock fight tournament
|Sleep in||-Wake up at 5:30 for sunrise|
-Sunrise shooting @ the Conrad
-Lounge around a beach hut
|Snorkelling in Nusa Dua with Bali Scuba Masters|
|Lunch||Babi Guling Ibu Oka||Red Rice in Jatiluwih||Really full from late breakfast||Really full from late breakfast||Jimbaran seafood restaurant|
|Afternoon||-Ubud Palace Temple|
-Drop by a village temple celebration (Ganung Raung)
-Long ride up to get a view of Ganung Batur
-Ganung Kawi temple
-Putu drops us off at hotel
-Cab out to Kuta to meet friends
|-Chillin’ with the local rice harvesters|
-Tanah Lot for sunset
-Putu drops us off at hotel
|-Get a beach hut|
|-Cab to Cozy 2 for massage|
-Cab to Kuta and walk around
-Kuta Beach for sunset
-Walk around Kuta
-Cab to Seminyak to find the SOS Rooftop Lounge and Bar
|-Explore fish market in Jimbaran
-Lounge around theConrad one last time
|Dinner||Made Warung||Rin @ Conrad||Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua||Dinner at the Anantara Hotel instead||Musashi|
|Evening||Hang around the Conrad and rest||Hang around the Conrad and rest||Hang around the Conrad and rest||Hang around the Conrad and rest||Hang around the Conrad and rest|
|Hotel||Conrad Bali||Conrad Bali||Conrad Bali||Conrad Bali||Conrad Bali|
What we missed
There were a few things that I couldn’t fit into the itinerary and would love to do next time around. If you’re planning a Bali trip, definitely consider these places:
- Uluwatu for sunset
- Diving – My trip wasn’t really a surfing/diving type of trip but there are a ton of amazing places for this. Definitely check out the North West part of Bali for good dive sites
- Hiking one of the mountains for sunrise
- Spending more time in the north of the island which is less trafficked by tourists. Would totally love to rent a place out there and just kick back
- There were some other smaller temples that would’ve been cool to check out…but you know you can only do so many temples on a trip
Things To Know Before You Go
These are tips and tricks I learned along the way and things I wish I knew before I went to Bali that I think will serve you well.
- Currency Exchange in Indonesia
- When changing money make sure you double check all the bills even after they count it in front of you. Bring USD. The rates for CAD are always bad.
- Another quick note about currency exchange. Currency changers are VERY specific about what series bills $50′s and $100′s are. They only accept bills that are 2006 and higher. Chantelle had a few $100′s that she just couldn’t exchange because they were before that time. The reason for this is that there are a lot of counterfeit bills from the older era so to be safe these places don’t take it at all.
- Coming in May seems to be an awesome time to come because it is low-season and the local kids are still in school and it’s no longer wet season. It was great not having to deal with hoards of tourists everywhere we went.
- Stamps are ACTUALLY called “perango” and not “meterai”. In addition, I only have experience sending postcards back to Canada but it cost 10,000 IDR.
- Airport fees in Indonesia
- Make sure you have IDR stashed away for the departure fees. 35,000 for domestic and 150,000 for international departures. They will not take anything but IDR.
- When going through customs in Indonesia make sure you pay for your Visa on Arrival FIRST (make sure you have the exact amount in USD) and then go to the customs guy.
- Get a private driver to take you around Bali.
- I highly recommend Putu Arnawa. He was one of the reasons why our trip was so awesome. You can find out more on my experiences with him here.
- Despite the Conrad being a pretty awesome hotel, the Nusa Dua/Tengoban Benoa area is just too far from the main attractions on the island. Ubud is a good base for all the country side/temple sights and sad to say Kuta/Legian/Seminyak are good bases for the southern part of Bali. Travelling from our area always added about 1.5 hours each way because of insane chaotic traffic and this one main round-about clog right by the airport.
- Highly recommended to check out some off-the-beaten path local activities like the semi-annual celebrations or cock fights – talk to your driver
- Never pay for asking price at local markets. Negotiate by starting at 40% and going up from there.
- Tanah Lot and Uluwatu are great for sunsets
- Most local restaurants have free shuttles that will take you from your hotel to the restaurant so check first before grabbing a cab.
- Bumbu Bali is great if you’re in the Nusa Dua area. The set menus are good for first timers but I will have to say that the satay is their best item.
- Cozy 1 or 2 is definitely recommended. I couldn’t believe that their prices were actually cheaper than in China. Very professional and nicely furnished facilities.
- Kuta looks like it’d be great for surfing as anyone wanting to go to Bali probably already knows. The surf isn’t too intimdating and is close to the beach. However it is very crowded and when we went during sunset filled with hawkers, tourists and local kids.
- Jimbaran is a cool area if you have the time. You can combine this with Uluwatu for sunset if you’d like. Lia Café was recommended to us but we ended up at JBS instead so don’t get conned by “free shuttles”.
Where To Stay in Bali
There are a lot of great places to stay in Bali but to get you started, here are two properties that I’d recommend depending on what type of trip you’re looking to do when you’re in Bali.
I personally stayed here on reward and was blown away by the size of the resort, the massive room we had, the food, and overall service. Would definitely stay here again but would be mindful of distances to other parts of the island.
Located in the Kuta area, this property is only 5 minutes walk to the beach. What attracts most travellers here is the price and at $40 or less, it really can’t be beat. Breakfast is included, the rooms are clean, and there’s also a pool.
I’ve written quite a bit on Bali and greater Indonesia so if you want to learn more, make sure check out the posts below.