One of the many Temples in Bali, photo by Sebastian Ppena Lambarri on Unsplash
Bali is the ultimate tropical dream destination, mostly because it offers something unforgettable for every type of traveller who visits it. For beach lovers, there are endless pristine coastline filled with thrilling water sports. For the nature lovers, there are greenish forests, paddy fields and waterfalls while for the spiritual seekers it is heaven with luxury spa treatments and meditation retreats. You can also indulge in the amazing cuisine of Bali and head to the bustling night cities to enjoy a party or two.
If this sounds like the kind of vacation you are looking for, keep reading this 7-Day Ultimate Bali Itinerary for First Timers! Although seven days may not enough to experience all of Bali, it is more than okay if you are a first-timer here and we have arranged for you some of the best spots in Bali to be visited on your vacation. In this Bali travel guide for first timers I will give an overview about different areas of Bali including the Bali must-sees you should not miss on your visit. Plus offer advice on the best time to visit Bali as well as places to stay, eat and what to wear. So here goes!
The Best Time to Visit Bali
Generally, the dry season is from April to October, while the wet season is from November to March. During the wet season it often rains a couple of hours both in the morning and the afternoon. Then there will be a few rain-free hours during the day if you are lucky. If you want the best weather on your first visit to Bali then you should visit during the dry season (April to October).
If you want to avoid the crowds, Bali is always busy during holidays like Easter or Christmas. The largest number of visitors arrive during July and August, in the middle of the dry season, because of the national school holidays in Indonesia. If you aren’t a fan of mass tourism avoid these times, if you can.
Of course you can visit during the wet season, you will just experience a lot of rain. If you want to spend your days at the beach, then visiting during the wet season might not be a great idea.
Based on all this weather talk, the best time to visit, particularly for your first time is May, June or September. You will get the best weather and the famous sites and beaches won’t be as crowded either.
Useful Bali Information
Bali is located in the Indian Ocean and is bar far the most famous of all the 17,000 Indonesian islands. You will find Bali eat of Java and west of Lombok. On a map, Bali looks quite tiny but in comparison to some other islands it is quite large with a distance of 145km from west to east coasts and 85km from north to south coasts. As well as the main island the smaller Nusa Islands also are a part of Bali.
Population, Language and Religion
Bali is home to some 4.2 million people with their official language being Indonesian but English is widely used due to the high level of tourism.
Indonesia is the biggest Muslim area in the world but Bali is the exception, being the only Hindu island in Indonesia. On saying that, it is rather Balinese Hinduism where is sort of a mixture of local beliefs with Hindu influences. Balinese people are quite religious with some 20,000 temples in Bali. While in Bali you will see and visit many temples and be witness to many daily offerings to the gods.
Arriving in Bali
When arriving by air in Bali you will arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport. When through immigration, collect your bags and then wham. I must warn you that it can be stressful getting out of the airport. This is because you will be harassed by dozens of guys offering you transport to your accommodation. I’d strongly recommend booking yourself a Bali Airport Private Transfer as it will make the process of getting to your accommodation so much easier.
The local currency in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR or Rp). Cash is popular in Bali, you can pay with credit card at most hotels and cafes but everywhere else cash is very much liked, therefore always carry some around with you. And you will have a hard time finding an ATM in the countryside so it is better to have cash available.
Transport in Bali
Scooters for rent
Public transport in Bali is non-existent apart from some public minibuses called bemo. Don’t despair there are a number of ways to get around Bali. Renting a bicycle, scooter or car is possible. Beware, the traffic is crazy! Bikes, scooters, cars and animals all sharing the same lane and coming from every direction. And the roads are often in a bad condition. Scooter accidents can happen often so unless you are an experienced scooter rider I would suggest you avoid a scooter unless you want to spend your holiday lying in a hospital bed. But if you do try to ride a scooter, just be very careful. Don’t forget to take an International Drivers Licence so you can rent a vehicle and ensure you have travel insurance for any mishaps. I highly recommend World Nomads and SafetyWing. Read my review on SafetyWing here.
Two other transport options are taxi and hiring a private driver. There are two types of taxis in Bali: Bluebird Taxis and the rest. Bluebird taxis go by the meter and are very safe to use. They even have their own app. Non-Bluebird taxis usually have a number of tricks up their sleeves like claiming their meter is broken or taking you the long way to get to your destination.
Hiring a private driver is a great option, especially if it is your first time in Bali and inexperienced at riding scooters. Agree on a price and they will take you wherever you want to go. There are also plenty of tours you can go on.
Stay Connected with a local Bali Sim Card
If you are looking to stay connected while exploring Bali consider purchasing a Bali sim card on your arrival. While most cafes, bars and hotels have reliable fast internet having access to data on your phone will keep you connected – as long as you have an unlocked smartphone – you can purchase a sim card such as the simPATI at the airport.
What to Wear in Bali
Despite Bali being a religious island, there is not strict dress code for tourists. However, there are some religious sites where you always have to wear a sarong and a scarf if your shoulders are not covered by your clothes. If you don’t have your own sarong don’t worry, as you can usually rent one.
On saying there is no dress code what you wear will be dependent on the weather. As it is usually hot and humid you will be walking around mostly in shorts and t-shirts during the day but dressier clothes at night if you are going out. I suggest you pack light-weight cotton clothes that are loose and will breath. A hat for the beach is a must. Regarding shoes, you can wear thongs or flip flops and sandals but having a good pair of comfy sneakers or walking shoes will come in very handy, particularly if you will be hiking. And throw in a warm jacket if you are hiking the mountains such as Mount Batur as it can be cold and windy at the top.
Where to Stay in Bali – Bali Accommodation Options
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to Bali accommodation as Bali has a plethora of accommodation options available. Here is a quick overview of some of the areas you could choose to stay.
South Bali, which includes Kuta is packed with beautiful beaches, fancy restaurants, posh cafes and cool party places. If you don’t want to stay in party central Kuta, then go a little north to Seminyak or Canggu or south of Kuta to South Kuta Jimbaran or Uluwatu. These places offer a less party atmosphere and attract honeymooners and families who just want to enjoy everything Bali has to offer. And they aren’t too far away from Kuta if you want to party. Here are some suggestions of places to stay in Bali that are based on first-hand and friend’s experiences. If you can suggest a place that you have stayed please leave the name in the comments below.
Places to stay in Kuta
Canggu is digital nomad paradise due to the large number of co-living and co-working spaces available. Canggu also has some of the best beach bars in Bali. Fancy spending the afternoon relaxing at one of these and then watching a Bali sunset? Then Canggu might be the place for you. Read my post on Being a Digital Nomad in Bali.
Places to stay in Canggu (north of Kuta and Seminyak)
Central Bali is the cultural heart of Bali and the most picturesque side of the island. If you don’t want to stay near the beach then consider staying in Ubud which is close to many attractions such as the Monkey Forest, Rice Paddies and you could use it as step to the Munduk, Mt Batur and Mt Agung areas.
Places to stay in Ubud
How to spend 7 Days in Bali Itinerary
Day 1: Kuta
Start your 7 Days in Bali getting to know Kuta. Kuta is the most bustling city in Bali, it is where visitors go to rest in a spa during the day, or shop or learn to surf then dance and drink at night. Kuta has a lot of energy day and night. Some people who have been to Bali many times avoid Kuta but on your first trip, make up your own mind! During the day stroll the famous Poppies Lane or Legian Street to discover some great market stalls. You could start your day by visiting the Kuta Art Market. It is open daily and is a great place to buy souvenirs for your loved ones back home. You can also bargain for the prices if you head to the market early in the morning!
A quieter alternative to Kuta is South Kuta only minutes away. Explore numerous stores at Discovery Shopping Mall, one of Bali’s largest retail outlets or scour the markets along Jlan Kartika.
Plenty of local and international restaurants here to indulge in during the day or to start your evening before heading to bars and nightlife in Kuta.
You might even want to head to Denpasar, the capital city of Bali. It might not have all the tourist attractions that Kuta has but it still has loads of character, culture, markets and temples.
Day 2: Uluwatu and Nusa Dua
Surfers from all over the world come to Uluwatu to try their luck on the waves. Locals’ houses with ocean views, cafes with yoga classes and fresh fish stalls line the cliffs around Uluwatu. Maybe visit some of the surrounding beaches: Padang-Padang (where the beach scenes from the movie Eat, Pray, Love were filmed), Balangan, Bingin and Dreamland. Or maybe visit Single Fin, a surf shop and bar with incredible views that has been welcoming surfers, and others, for many years.
Located on an ocean cliff is the Uluwatu Temple, one of the holiest places in Bali. This beautiful cultural site witnesses a curious fire dance every night and is where you can learn about the history of the legendary white monkey! Also a great place to see some epic scenery over the cliffs and turquoise waters.The Uluwatu Temple was built in the 11th century and is dedicated to the God in his manifestation as Lord Rudra. The temple is inhabited by hundreds of monkeys that live wild in the forest. One of the best times to visit is in the afternoon before sunset to get a great photo but you can visit anytime.
Next head to Nusa Dua Beach a premier Bali beach resort destination with a flawless white sandy beach in which you can relax or do some water sports like surfing, parasailing and jet skiing. There are a number of great golf courses to enjoy if that is your passion. In the evening you can head to Tegal Wangi Beach, which is a secluded beach that is popular for its sunset views.
Day 3: North of Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu
Head north from Kuta to Seminyak which is the resort town suited for those travellers seeking luxury, sophistication and peace. Quieter than Kuta, Seminyak represents the ultimate beach lifestyle. Spend your day enjoying stunning scenery, beautiful beaches or sit in a trendy restaurant or funky café.
Further north Canggu is a coastal village which has become a safe haven for nomads and digital nomads. Take a surfing lesson or simply relax on the soft sands with a cocktail in hand. In the evening, you can visit the Tanah Lot Temple which is located at the top of a small hill. It is a great spot for sunset photographing but you won’t be able to access the temple in high tide. So, make sure to check the nature of tides before visiting the temple. The entrance fee to the Tanah Lot Temple is 60,000 IDR. Or maybe end your evening on the beach.
Canggu is a hot destination for digital nomads. Many digital nomads set up home here due to the number of co-working and co-living spaces.
READ MORE: How to be a Digital Nomad in Bali
Day 4: Ubud
Famous for Elizabeth Gilbert’s hit book and movie, Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is a lush city with organic cafes, yoga studios, boutiques and spas scattered throughout the region.
The must-visit attractions in Ubud are the Tegallalang Rice Terraces and Ubud Monkey Forest. The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are the closest rice terraces to Ubud and therefore, this makes a lovely morning trip when you are here. It provides a nice natural backdrop to take your Instagram photos as well. But you should be here before 8.00am if you want to take such photos because after that it becomes a little crowded. The entrance fee for the Tegallalang Rice Terraces is 15,000 IDR.
You can then visit the Ubud Monkey Forest. This is a monkey sanctuary with different groups of monkeys, named according to the location they are in the forest. Be very careful when walking here because the monkeys are notoriously attracted to food and shiny valuables.
On your second of staying in Ubud, you can hike up Mount Batur. Mount Batur is a volcanic mountain but you don’t have to worry about it erupting when you do the hike. This is one of the must-dos in Bali if you are a first-timer because of the breathtaking views it offers at sunrise. So, if you want to be in time for sunrise, you should depart from your hotel at around 2.00 AM. The hike will take about 2 hours to complete and it is better to take a local guide with you.
Day 5: Munduk and Bedugul
Munduk and Bedugul are popular day trips from Ubud. Both of these destinations have countless waterfalls, nature trails and ancient temples. If you want to take jaw-dropping Instagram photos, you should visit the Wanagiri Hidden Hills in Munduk. It has the famous Bali Bird’s Nests for you to pose and take some incredible shots! You can also visit the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls, which soothes its visitors’ mind alone with beautiful views. You can take a dip here, and mostly you will have this waterfall for yourselves. Another must-visit attraction is the Ulu Danu Beratan Temple, which is also known as the floating temple of Bali by the locals because there is an illusion of it floating on Lake Beratan.
If you have time hike Mt Batur. Mount Batur is a sacred volcano where you can see the sunrise over the top of Mount Agung. Mount Agung has a summit of 3,142 metres and is known as the highest active volcano in Bali. When there is no risk of an eruption, travellers can complete a strenuous hike to the top of Mount Agung and watch the sunrise from there. Mount Agung is a more difficult climb than Mount Batur and if you want to see a sunrise there you may need to be up around 3am to get there in time. Or end your evening with a sunset.
Day 6: Nusa Penida
On day 6 in Bali on this 7 Day Bali Itinerary, you can visit the Nusa Penida Island which is famous for its picturesque landscapes. Make sure to check out the Tegenungan Waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Bali. You can do this on your way to Sanur which will allow you to go to the port at Nusa Penida. Take the ferry as early as possible to avoid the crowds. It will only be a 45-minute ferry ride from Sanur to Nusa Penida. You can stay overnight in Nusa Penida and explore its stunning beaches as well as other attractions. This includes the Kelingking Beach and see the famous T-Rex shaped beach. Also Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach, Crystal Bay, Diamond Beach, Rumah Pohon Treehouse, Thousand Island Viewpoint and Banah Cliff Viewpoint. Plenty to see and do.
Day 7: Last Day in Bali
This is your last day at Bali. It is reserved entirely for you to relax and rest at the beach or in a café. However, if you’d prefer to go for a hike or shop till you drop in Kuta – well why not!.
I hope this 7 day ultimate itinerary for first timers has helped you prepare for you first trip to Bali. Seven days is probably not enough to truly experience all that Bali has to offer, but it is a great start. And who knows, you may become one of those travellers that returns to paradise year after year. I hope you guys like this Bali travel guide for first timers. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email.