1 Week to 10 Days in Bali: A Non-Influencer’s Guide

For all of its culture, beauty, and history, most visitors to Bali don’t venture further than the island’s southwest coast. As the traffic grows and the Bintang flows, it can be easy to get sucked in…

However, for every Balinese highlight, view, and beachfront, there’s a quieter equivalent. One that exists without the attention of those who ‘Gram. All it takes is following a different road!

With this tongue-in-cheek “non-influencer’s guide,” I hope to inspire a different way to explore the island. I noticed that Bali itineraries focus on a certain aesthetic, usually featuring photos of the famous “Bali swing” by the terraced rice fields and plenty of close-ups of colorful açaí bowls. While the Bali vibe is a huge part of its appeal, there is another side to the island too.

While few places in Bali are truly off the beaten track, you can beat the crowds and catch some incredible highlights by planning your very own road trip.

Plan your trip to Bali, Indonesia

How to Get Around Bali

People riding motorbikes on a road in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

The best way to explore Bali is to have your own means of transportation, such as renting a scooter/moped or using ride-hailing apps. This will let you travel at your own pace and in a way that’s different from the local tours.

Note: This itinerary is based on having personal transport, such as a scooter.

GoJek and Grab, the “Ubers” of South East Asia, have really changed the game. They’ve made it effortlessly easy to order a car or — better yet — a scooter at the tap of a button.

Bluebird (the legitimate taxi) still operates, and every second shopfront offers private or shared transport to your next destination. However, if possible, you’ll always save time on a scooter.

If you love your autonomy and the thrill of the open road, acquiring your own set of wheels will help you get around Bali. Scooter/motorbike hire sits in the classic grey area of the law in Indonesia. Yes, it’s illegal to ride around Bali without a license. But does that matter? Not really. Just wear your helmet and no one will blink an eye.

The cost of bike hire varies by destination and type of bike. The cute and noble Honda Scoopy is great for getting from the hotel to the beach. But if you want to see the best of Bali, you might need more power and more storage space. Honda Vario or Yamaha Nmax will help you stay safe on faster roads with a larger storage compartment below the seat.

Day 1: Canggu 


Surfboards and people at a beach in Bali, Indonesia.

Canggu is one of the trendiest spots in Bali, having gone from being practically unknown a decade ago to being a household name among surfers and digital nomads the world over today. (See our Canggu vs. Ubud article.)

Yes, this is the non-influencers’ guide to Bali, so it may seem odd to start here. While you’ll certainly see big muscles and tight clothing stream out of Canggu’s Wrong Gym at 8 am, there’s a method to the madness. It’s an easy place to kick off your Bali adventure when you’re still fresh off the plane — plus it’s just a short drive from several key sights planned for Day 2.

For the evening, base yourself on Pantai Pererenan or even slightly further along the coast. This will put you at the edge of the growing neighborhood where the rice fields are still winning the battle from the new tourism development.

As you settle in, you can make use of the Canggu shortcut to dip across towards the heart of town. Here you can pick up any needed supplies such as a poncho (you’ll need one!) or head to Frestive for road snacks and drinks.

Come the evening marks the official beginning of your 10-day adventure around Bali on the sands of Echo Beach. After paying a small fee for parking, grab a beanbag on the sand and a cold Bintang beer, and watch the surfers ride the waves until the sun goes down.

If you happen to arrive early in the day, you can spend time in Canggu by taking a 2-hour surfing lesson or joining a jewelry-making class.

Day 2: Tanah Lot & Lovina


Tanah Lot rock formation at the sea in Bali, Indonesia.

Yes, you haven’t gotten off the beaten path yet. But by stationing yourself on the far side of Canggu, you can make a swift and easy exit. First stop, Tanah Lot.

With an early rise, you can beat some of the crowds that swarm to this famous temple. Set on a rocky outcrop and unreachable at high tides, Tanah Lot is a romantic, breathtaking sight. Although you can’t enter the temple, depending on the water and crashing waves, you can all but reach the front door.

From there, jump back on your set of two wheels and head back inland. The roads dance between pristine and pothole-ridden as you rise into the hills. The temperature begins to drop slightly and the Belimbing Rice Terraces come into view.

Tegalalang may be the most famous. But so few footsteps wander these terraces that it transforms them into something more spectacular. Grab a fresh-cut coconut and admire the vistas.

As you make your way further into the mountains, the stunning road twists and winds through small towns. School kids wave and smile, and the markets bristle with activity. Up and down you go past rice fields and Blamantung Waterfall. From Tanah Lot to the North Coast, this may be the best road in Bali.

With your bags now dropped in your Lovina accommodation, lay down on the beanbags at Funky Place. Looking out to the Bali Sea, you’ll catch a glimpse of the sunset as the bar’s own quirky, hilarious fire display begins.

Day 3: Kintamani


Dolphins and boats on the sea in Lovina, Bali, Indonesia.

Rise early once more for a morning among Lovina’s dolphins. You can easily book it ahead at GetYourGuide. As you jump on board, just in time to see the sunrise, your boat ventures further out to sea. Guests will be able to swim in the water. With hands gripped to a floating swing, you’ll Superman across the water as the boat goes in search of pods.

Return for breakfast before setting out for the mountaintops in the heart of Bali. Your day’s adventure starts hot as you ride through the coastal cities of Singaraja and Boengkoelan. But with one swift right turn, you gain quick elevation and the cool breeze brings a second wind.

The higher you go the grander the ride becomes. Roadside shacks sell 50-cent ice teas next to million-dollar views and a quick detour to Air Terjun Carat provides a refreshing dip.

Continue to Three Mountain View for a hint of tomorrow’s adventure before stopping at Mahen Sunrise Camp. Here you can soak in the magic of Danau Batur before checking in to your night’s accommodation and dinner at Renjeng Bali.

Day 4: Kintamani


A person riding a boat on Batur Lake with the Mount Batur in the background in Bali, Indonesia.

While you can certainly stay in the heart of Kintamani, I recommend the charming quietness of the Batur Valley. Not only that, but you won’t have to ride for 45 minutes at 2:30 am as you’ll be just minutes from the meeting point.

Day 4 is all about climbing Mt. Batur, just in time for sunrise. This hiking tour takes you up above 5,600 feet (1,717 m) where you can watch the sun jump above the eastern horizon, shrouding the distant Rinjani in rays of light as Batur Lake glistens below. It’s a remarkable sight. Yet even if the clouds come in the views remain worthy of the roughly 2-hour climb.

Once complete, what’s next? Well, that part is up to you.

Tired from the walk, take a nap before checking out the valley’s Toya Devasya Hot Springs.

Still up for more adventures? Kick up the bike stand and ride along the gorgeous lake before turning into the burnt lava field for epic photos and an otherworldly experience. Top it off by riding into Kintamani for dinner.

Day 5: Ubud


Rice Terraces in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

The first half of your 10 days in Bali have been hectic. Early mornings, dolphin swims, and sunrise hikes. Let’s switch it up a bit. It’s time for Ubud.

Just over an hour’s ride south, the journey from the heights of Kintamani to the lush fields and forests that envelope Ubud, will be one of the best 60 minutes on wheels this trip.

There are several routes you can take. Choose the one that takes you by the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. The most famous in Bali, the more you walk, the more you’ll find room for yourself.

This breathing space provides everything you need to admire the terraces’ aesthetics and the incredible, timeless engineering that connects them.

Continue to Ubud. Thanks to its booming popularity, the traffic is reminiscent of traveling through Kuta and Seminyak. However, the cultural charm still finds a way to you.

Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Just a few steps off of the main road of Jalan Raya, return to the misty highlands you left behind. There are several great walks, including the Campuhan Ridge Walk. But the Sari Organic stroll through the fields, where chickens run amok and ducks float among the rice is Ubud at its finest.

Day 6: Ubud


Tibumana Waterfall in Bali, Indonesia.
Tibumana Waterfall

Although Ubud is noticeably cooler than southern Bali, you’ll still want to make the most of the hours before midday. On day 6, take a ride to the nearby town of Gianyar.

The bustling road quickly filters out those visiting Bali and puts you squarely among local, rush-hour traffic. You’ll see rapid changes and no more Western influence. Instead, thriving towns that stand on their own two feet.

Standing at the end of the ride is a trio of fabulous waterfalls that are just minutes apart. First up, Taman Sari. A local hangout, you can enter for 20k per person. After a short stroll downhill, the multi-level falls come into view. We love these falls because they are tucked a little further off the main road. There’s a small shack selling drinks and snacks, but for the most part, it’s quiet and utterly refreshing.

The second is the more popular Tibumana. This requires a longer walk, but the bridal veil falls are spectacular. On the way back up, stop halfway for fresh coconut water. The third and final fall is Goa Rang Reng. Set among a towering canyon, the falls aren’t as well known, but the photos deliver the goods.

Goa Rang Reng Waterfall in Bali, Indonesia.
Goa Rang Reng

Return to Ubud for a relaxing afternoon, grab a $6 USD massage and watch the afternoon turn to evening. When it does, take a stroll along Hamoman and Goutama streets to find your dinner spot. Check out the soccer fields to see locals play during golden hour before enjoying live music at the Laughing Buddha.

Day 7: Amed


A volcano seen from a distance in Indonesia.

Today, we head back to the North Coast. After a day of waterfalls and relaxation, you’ll be itching to get back on the road. Roughly 2.5 hours stand between Ubud and Amed. A memorable 150 minutes.

Traffic comes and goes as you make your way into the foothills of Mount Agung. If your schedule allows it, you can join this hike. Rice fields bloom to either side and the waters of Tirta Ganga temple make for a great rest stop.

Like much of Bali, the pandemic brought plenty of outside money to Amed. But unlike the south, which is bursting at the seams, Amed’s glow-up was tastefully done.

Famous for snorkelling, dump your bags and head out to the reefs. Or ride in either direction to find US and Japanese shipwrecks.

If you have one week in Bali, you can end your itinerary here by driving back to Kuta. But if you have a little more time, it’s worth taking your time driving a little more along the southern coast.

Day 8: Padangbai


A white-sand beach with blue waters in Bali, Indonesia.

If I had to rank the best sections of this itinerary, the coastal ride from Amed to Padangbai sits only behind that stretch to Lovina. With amazing views throughout, you’ll want to stop often to take it all in.

But our time in Bali is quickly coming to an end. My voice rings in your head, telling you to get to Bias Tugal (White Sand Beach), Bali’s best. It’s a hill I’m willing to die on.

The crazy waves, stunning ivory sand, turquoise water and charming beach shacks combine for the perfect Indo beach day.

You can take this Padangbai Blue Lagoon snorkeling day trip, but if you want to do a dive, you can join this dive experience.

Day 9: Sanur


A boat on the beach in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia.

Having visited Bali’s best beach that afternoon prior, you’ll have time for another visit. But from there, the road returns to the coast.

Just over an hour of coastal riding lies between you and Sanur. The dual-lane road can get busy with trucks and dust, so make sure to protect your eyes.

There’s an abundance of beaches and warungs along the way, so you can certainly make a day of it. Upon arrival, head to Sanur Beach and boardwalk and reminisce on the day’s past. After sunset, check out the Sindhu Night Market.

Day 10: Bye, Bye, Bali

Depending on your flight, you’ll have time to enjoy Sanur’s fabulous sunrise. From there, set off to return your bike and get on that GoJek scooter back to Ngurah Rai.

Got More Time?

It’s easy to turn your 10-day adventure into two weeks. All you need is a boat ride!

From Sanur, you’re 30 minutes from the adorable Nusa Lembongan. A one-road island, it boasts some of Indonesia’s best surfing, has epic sunsets and great scuba diving.

Thinking about adding the Gili Islands to your trip? Depart from Padangbai to shorten the journey. Gili T is the most happening of the three isles, while Gili Air promises a quiet, romantic escape.

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Posted APR 29, 2024

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