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A Week in Bali for First-Time Visitors

All the must-sees + hidden gems in one visit so you don't miss anything!

Last updated: 22 Apr 2024 - 8 min read
A Week in Bali for First-Time Visitors

If you want to experience Bali's magic on your first visit, this action-packed itinerary is your key to seeing the island's highlights while getting off the beaten path.

Why this works: Bali's must-sees are spread across the island – beaches in the south, rice fields and waterfalls in the north. This itinerary ensures you don't miss a thing! Plus, it takes you on lesser-known routes so you can enjoy the must-see sights with fewer crowds.

Who it's for: This itinerary is for first time visitors who want to pack in as much exploration as possible! If you prefer a laid-back beach vacation, you might want to consider a slower-paced trip.

Day 1: Soak in Canggu Hipster Vibes

Canggu is all about beginner waves, trendy beach bars and beaches.

Soak in hipster beach vibes in Canggu

Morning: Ease into the Bali vibe in trendy Canggu. Start your day chilling at a beach bar, watching the waves roll in. Explore the boutiques and cafes along the streets.

Afternoon: If you're feeling adventurous, grab a surfboard and try a beginner surf lesson! The waves here are perfect for beginners. If you prefer not to surf but want to indulge in the cool lifestyle vibes at Canggu, try pottery here. It's really chill and they can ship your finished product to you!

Evening: Go for the 18-course communal table at Sa'mesa Bali - it's like heading to a very social Italian Granny's home for dinner! If you're up for it afterward, head to Shady Fox for a fun live music session!

Top Tips: If you love sunsets, head to Tanah Lot Temple for one of the best sunsets in Bali. If you're here on a Sunday, head to La Brisa farmers' market for hipster vibes.

Day 2: Nusa Penida Adventure, But Off-Grid

Nusa Penida is like Bali twenty years ago - dramatic views, wild coastlines and a ton of heart.

Nusa Penida is wild, dramatic and still very off-grid if you go at the right times.

Most travellers spend only a day in Nusa Penida and bemoan the crowds, but we'd highly recommend spending two days here. After the daytrippers leave, Nusa Penida feels like Bali of 20 years ago - dramatic, wild and full of heart. It's one of our favourite spots in Bali.

Morning: Say goodbye to mainland Bali and hello to Nusa Penida! Start with a dose of Balinese spirituality at the Goa Giri Putri Temple, one of Bali's most sacred temples (that you need to duck crawl into!) and enjoy stunning viewpoints all to yourself.

Afternoon: Get salty and hands-on at the Semaya Village Seaweed Farm. Learn from local farmers how the seaweed trade kept them alive during Covid and discover why seaweed is a Balinese superfood. Then, hit those picture-perfect beaches – Diamond and Atuh – for a healthy dose of ocean therapy.

See incredible views for miles at Teletubbies hill (also the best sunset spot in Nusa Penida!)

Evening: Think rolling green hills as far as the eye can see at Teletubbies Hill. It's the best spot in Nusa Penida for sunsets, and one that few travellers ever get to see. The perfect spot to end your day!

Day 3: Nusa Penida's Manta Rays and IG-views

Nusa Penida is also home to iconic T-rex views (left) and Manta rays (right)

Morning: Brace yourself for Kelingking (T-Rex) Beach – that viewpoint is jaw-dropping (but ask your guide about the beach climb!). Next, Broken Beach will leave you amazed – it's more than just a pretty picture, watch for those manta rays playing under the surface.

Afternoon: Resist the urge to jump into Angel's Billabong (those currents are sneaky!), but soak up the infinity view. Then, it's time to get your snorkel on! Explore underwater wonderlands with turtles, colourful fish, and maybe even those majestic manta rays.

Evening: Bid Nusa Penida farewell as you head back to Bali. From the port, head to Ubud, the cultural heartland of Bali.

Top Tip: If you're swimming in Nusa Penida, you'll need to be a strong swimmer as the currents as strong!

Day 4: Monkeys, Temples and Waterfalls in Ubud

Embrace the tourist in you and check off the Ubud must-see sights today!

Get ready for chaotic, cheeky monkeys at Monkey forest!

Morning: Get ready for chaos at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. These cheeky residents have no boundaries, so try not to bring a bag! If you don't fancy the chaos, head to the Ubud Art Market or take a mellow walk at Campuhan Ridge Walk for rice terrace views.

Afternoon: Time to feast like a true Balinese foodie! Try either Balinese crispy duck with stunning rice field views at Bebek Tepi Sawah or authentic, local spice at Nasi Ayam Bu Mangku Kedawetan.

Afterward, get your dose of Balinese spirituality at Pura Tirta Empul water temple. This is also one of the most popular places in Bali for the traditional purification ceremony, so join in if you'd like to partake in one of the most meaningful rites in Balinese culture!

See Bali's most famous water temple at Pura Tirta Empul water temple

After the temple, embrace jungle vibes at Tegenungan Waterfall. It's a gorgeous cascading waterfall in the midst of the jungle, and one of the most easily accessible waterfalls in Bali (good for all ages!). Here, there's a well-maintained, paved pathway with stairs leading to the base.

Evening: Head back to Ubud for dinner at Batubara for really yummy charred steaks, or Hujan Locale a trendy modern Indonesian spot with pretty setting and generous portions (try the rendang!).

Top Tips: For a day of sightseeing around Ubud, you can hire a private driver to take you to all the sights so you can cover the most ground!

Day 5: Rice Terraces and Sustainability in Ubud

See iconic views at Tegallalang Rice Terrace and learn about sustainability.

One of Bali's most famous rice terrace views is Tegallalang. See it in the most meaningful way

Morning/Afternoon: Take a bike ride to explore Ubud's most famous rice terrance, the Tegallalang Rice Terrace. But this isn't just a normal bike ride with views, it's a deeply meaningful one that connects you to a sustainable village project in Bali. This is an active adventure that nourishes both body and soul.

Visit a local community project and learn about sustainability practices at a village level

Late Afternoon: Spend the afternoon wandering about the boutiques and cafes in Ubud town, or take in a massage at Fresh spa (one of our faves!).

Dinner: For dinner, try the unforgettable modern Indonesia food at Nusantara. Created by the same team as Locavore (Bali's top restaurant), Nusantara is really interesting because it showcases all the famous dishes from around Indonesia - who knew there were so many types of sambal! It's perfect for the curious foodies.

Top Tip: If you're in Ubud on a Tues or Sun, head to see the Kecak fire dance in a small village near Ubud. It's super authentic plus supports the local community!

Day 6: Batur Sunrise Magic, without Crowds

Conquer Bali's most popular volcano with views for miles.

Enjoy breakfast at Batur volcano, with a fraction of the crowds.

Early Morning-Afternoon: To check off your Bali bucket list, take a less-travelled route to Mount Batur. It's Bali's most popular volcano but we know a hidden route which involves a scenic boat ride, an easy ascent to the crater rim, and a delicious breakfast with breathtaking views. After Batur, we'd highly recommend going to Trunyan village, Bali's oldest village with ancient customs.

Evening: You'll be pretty exhausted from the early start, so grab a simple meal at Naughty Nuri's Warung in Ubud. Their ribs are LEGENDARY.

Top Tip: If you're going to Batur with kids or don't want to hike, you can also take the jeep up Mount Batur.

Day 7: Food, Artisans and Conservation

Ubud used to be home to Balinese artisans, but they have moved to neighbouring villages now. To get to know the artistry of Bali, head to the villages near Ubud.

Learn silversmithing from a family who have practised the craft for generations

Morning: Sleep in, then savor a traditional Balinese lunch of mixed rice and local treats at SunSun Warung. If you're feeling active, head to a lovely garden in Sidemen for a modern Balinese plant-based cooking class!

Afternoon: Tap into your creativity at a silversmith workshop with a family of silversmiths Not only do you get to meet Balinese artisans who have been doing this for generations, this is special as it takes you to the neighbouring village of Sidemen (which is basically the true essence of Bali and what Ubud was like before mass tourism).

Sidemen is the true essence of Bali before mass tourism, where everything moves slowly and with respect to nature

Evening: In the evening, experience a magical firefly safari guided by a conservationist. After learning about ground-up efforts to save fireflies, enjoy dinner with a local family for a heartwarming exchange. This is unexpected, and one of our favourite Balinese experiences that shows you the true heart of Bali.

Itinerary Notes

  • This itinerary packs a punch, so be prepared for a fast pace! It's been designed to cover all the must-sees with fewer crowds where possible.
  • Want to slow down? Add a few chill days in Canggu or Ubud (our vote is for Ubud because it has better food, and more authentic vibes!).
  • Want to dial up the adventure? We'd highly recommend spending a day or two in Munduk, North Bali where there are centuries' old trees, Bali's most epic waterfalls and a sacred lake with amazing views.

Other Tips

  • Budget: If you're looking to do this itinerary, budget for SGD $90-$110 (USD $70-$90) per person per day for activities and transport.
  • Getting around: Many of the activities will also include transport in the price! Where they don't include transport, we'd recommend getting a taxi (Bluebird) or ride-hailing (Gojek). You should download the apps before you arrive in Bali just to be sure.
  • Solo travel: Bali is perfect for solo travellers because it's very welcoming and safe, especially Ubud!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this itinerary too rushed?

This itinerary covers a lot of ground, perfect for seeing Bali's highlights in a week! But for us it's a good balance as activities are concentrated during the day, leaving evenings free for rest and relaxation. If you prefer a consistently slower pace, consider extending your stay in certain areas or focusing on fewer parts of the island.

Can I customize this itinerary?

Absolutely! This itinerary is a starting point. Want more beach time in Canggu or extra temple visits in Ubud? We can tailor it to your interests. If you'd like, we can even help you organize your entire trip, including transport, and additional activities to create your perfect Bali adventure.

Is Bali safe for solo travelers?

Bali is generally considered safe for solo travelers, including women. However, it's always wise to be aware of your surroundings, avoid walking alone at night in isolated areas, and be cautious with your belongings.

What's the best time of year to visit Bali?

Bali enjoys warm weather year-round, but the dry season (April – October) is generally considered the best time, with less rain and comfortable humidity. Shoulder seasons (May-June, Sept-Oct) are also great, offering a balance of good weather and fewer crowds.

What should I know about tipping in Bali?

Tipping isn't mandatory in Bali, but small tips for good service at restaurants, hotels, and for drivers/guides are appreciated. For short taxi rides, simply rounding up the fare is sufficient.

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