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Day 1: land in Kuta
When people talk negatively about their experience in Bali, it’s mainly referring to Kuta. Unfortunately, it’s true that the city has become everything that mass tourism can negatively stand for. I was rightfully worried to find some sort of an Asian Cancun with loud music, cheap souvenirs and drunk Australian teenagers going on their first trip abroad in the search for cheap booze (I have absolutely nothing against Australians, just an observation here). For all these reasons, and unless you strictly want to party, I would recommend to skip Kuta right away and head further north to Canggu.
Day 2: explore Canggu
Canggu does offer some partying options but is a much more laid-back environment with modern cafes and good restaurants. It’s a famous spot for digital nomads and therefore has a quite large community of ex-pats working on various entrepreneurial projects. It’s a good base for your first days in Bali and to let you recover from the jet lag. Make sure to watch the sunset on Batu Bulong beach, where you can also take a surf lesson if you’ve never tried before.
Day 3: day trip to Tanah Lot and Jatiluwih
On your third day, hire a taxi for the day or rent a scooter if you have driving experience. Start by exploring the rice fields of Jatiluwih (+/- 1 ½ hour) where you can walk along the rice terraces that are incredibly photogenic. Head over to Tanah Lot temple (1 hour 15) around mid-afternoon to get a good spot for sunset. Yes, there’s a lot of sunsets watching in Bali!
This place tends to be very crowded but that’s for a reason. The scenery of this temple built on a rock that gets surrounded by water at high tide is just magical. Head back to Canggu (½ hour) for your third and last night there.
Day 4: Ubud
In the morning, transfer to Ubud (1 hour) for a day of relaxation and exploration. Spoil yourself with a massage and go feed the monkeys at the Monkey Forest. Finish the day with a traditional dance show, like the Barong Dance.
Day 5: Lovina and the North
Hire a taxi for the day and plan your itinerary. You can either decide to return to Ubud after your excursion or spend the night in Lovina (2 ½ hours from Ubud) to soak in the atmosphere and reduce the driving time that day.
During this drive, you will go through the inside of the island and across the mountains. You can stop first at the Ulun Danu Bratan temple, located on lake Bratan and famous for its 11-story pagoda.
Your next stop will be the 35m high Gitgit waterfalls, easily accessible by a short walk from the main road.
You can also include a visit to the main Buddhist temple of Bali, Brahma Vihara Arama, located West of Lovina.
And finally, Lovina, the quiet town of the north. You can swim in the calm water (no waves there) and relax on the black sand beach.
Day 6: Uluwatu
Transfer from Lovina (3 hours) or Ubud (1 ½ hour) to reach the very southern tip of Bali, on the Bukit peninsula. Have lunch in Uluwatu, overlooking the surfers from the cliff.
Have a look at the Uluwatu Temple, sitting on the top of a cliff with never-ending ocean views. Spend the night in Uluwatu for more surfing vibes.
Day 7: Uluwatu & beaches
Explore more beaches of the peninsula, like Dreamland Beach and Bingin Beach, or if you want to go back to the city for some shopping and fine dining, head to Seminyak (45 min north), which is near Kuta but a bit more upscale.
Day 8: Return home
Depending on the time of your flight, spend more relaxing or surfing time at Padang Padang beach.