Sounds like you have a great trip planned! Actually, it sounds exactly like the trip I took to Bali two years ago! We spent most of our time lounging in the hotel pool (can we say pool bar?) and beach with a day trip to Ubud, a lunch overlooking Mt. Batur, a visit to a beautiful terraced rice paddy, and a little cultural dance performance.
Have you ever seen the trance-like Balinese dance? It’s fascinating! I’m actually more of an on-the-go explorer at heart, but I don’t regret taking it easy during our stay in Bali! Depending on where your hotel is, you should squeeze in a certain temple or two in to your itinerary.
Pool Time Jet-Lag Cure!
Ease in to that jet lag by spending the day lounging by the pool, drinking fruity drinks at the (in the pool) bar, and noshing on delicious buffet goodies. Stay at the Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel.
If you want to mix it up a bit, head to the beach in front of the hotel to enjoy that ocean breeze and shoot the breeze with some local vendors. Be forewarned, if you don’t feel like being “sold to” on your first day in Bali, avoid the hotel beaches. The vendors are mostly super-friendly and offer everything from hand woven bracelets to sarongs to foot massages! They are pretty persistent, so if you’re simply looking to nod off and relax, stick to the hotel pool.
Explore Crazy Kuta and Hang on Bali’s Best Beach
Spend the day getting familiar with your surroundings, exploring Kuta – both the town and the beach.
Cruise the beach and check out all of the vendors, who offer beverages (local beer, water, and sodas), food, souvenirs, massages, manicures, and pedicures. You’ll see plenty of expats getting their hands and feet done!
Then take some time to relax and soak yourself in the Indian Ocean. If you care to surf, this is an ideal beach with perfect surfing waves. Check out Pro Surf School to get a leg up – and on- that surfboard!
Grab a bite for lunch at the beach or back at the hotel, and then make your way to the streets of Kuta to hit the shopping scene. Need a break from the heat? Step inside Kuta Shopping Mall for some retail therapy with air-con! Still need a shopping fix? Head over to the Beachwalk Mall. If you want more local flavor, barter your way around the shopping stalls on Jalan Legian.
Grab some tasty Indonesian grub at Kafe Batan Waru Kuta. It’s so atmospheric at night with the colorful basket lanterns dangling from the trees. Try the Kare Ayum/Sayur – the Indonesian version of Penang curry!
Alright. It’s time to venture out a bit today! Not too far, but to the bustling Denpasar. You’re going to get a little cultured today!
First stop on your cultural immersion tour is an authentic Barong dance performance. Barong is a mythological lion-like creature and king of the good spirits in Indonesian culture. During the dance, he battles Rangda, the demon queen mother of all spirit guarders, which represents the eternal battle between good and evil. Bali Barong and Keris Dance Cultural Performance holds shows at their outdoor (covered) theater from 9:30 to 11:30.
After the show, learn about the unique Indonesian Batik method. It’s an ancient tradition of decorating textiles by applying wax to areas that will remain uncolored and dyeing the rest of the cloth. Check out Batik Popiler 2 for some unique and beautiful Indonesian Batik designs.
Continue on to Prapen Jewelry and Artifacts to watch the metallurgists at work creating beautiful pieces, and then cross an inner courtyard fish pond to browse the Zen-like store for fine jewelry.
Head back to your hotel for a late lunch and some well deserved R&R poolside or beachside! Check the hotel schedule for nightly performances, and you may be able to catch a Legong or Balinese trance dance show!
Pura Tanah Lot
After spending a leisurely morning at your hotel poolside, take an afternoon half-day trip to Pura Tanah Lot, the temple on the sea. Only 12 miles from Denpasar, the temple is most impressive at sunset.
The sixteenth century temple is one of seven sea temples around Bali’s Southwestern coast. Built on a rock outcrop, this cultural icon remains one of the most photographed temples on the island. Although born of Balinese mythology, the temple has also been heavily influenced by Hinduism.
To get to the temple, you’ll have to traverse through a market of souvenir shops, so allow time to browse. Take advantage of the fresh coconuts for sale. If you’re dehydrated, the electrolytes will really help, and it’s SO refreshing!
Spend the afternoon perusing the temple, taking plenty of photos of the waves crashing against Pura Tanah Lot. Make sure to visit the “holy” spring under the rock formation and sip from the “fountain of youth.”
Ubud and Sacred Monkey Forest
Today you’ll head to the laid-back and cool cultural hub Ubud. Surrounded by verdant rice paddies and steep ravines, this city almost seems like an oasis in the lush, green hills.
Spend time cruising down the three main roads, Ji Raya Ubud, Ji Monkey Forest and Ji Hanoman. Spend a leisurely few hours perusing art galleries, crafts stores, cafes, and other shops.
What’s crazy about Ubud is that there are these hip restaurants, coffee shops and modern amenities, but there is a Sacred Monkey Forest right there in the town! You will literally feel like you’ve stepped on to the set of Tomb Raider when you enter the nature reserve and temple complex.
As you climb across arched stone bridges draped in vines, watch out for those sneaky monkeys! They will vie for your attention – and your food. Although vendors sell monkey food, be wary of feeding them. Once you get a few admirers, it might be hard to shake them! It’s also common to witness a monkey screaming match fight. Try not to be too startled!
Leisurely make your way back to your hotel at your own pace, or stay a night in Ubud, if you’re feeling the vibe. Try the Kenanga Boutique Hotel.
Rice Terraces and Volcanoes
Visit one of the most celebrated and beautiful rice terraces in Bali: the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. After climbing up, down and all over the terraces (be careful, some of the paths are extremely steep!), enjoy a little rest and relaxation at one of the “restaurants” that melt into the side of the valley. Sometimes a picnic table, sometimes a cabana, the seats are angled like theater seating to award you with the pristine and zen-like views of the terraces. If you haven’t purchased any post cards yet, now’s your chance. Lots of kids sell them here.
After you’ve had your rice paddy fill, head to the base of Mt. Batur, an active volcano. Pull over to one of the small restaurants with stunning views of Batur and the lake it floats in like Warung Tepi Sawah. The food might be mediocre, but the views are incredible.
A Bit of Royalty
On your last day in Bali, you’ll have one more temple complex on your agenda. Pura Taman Ayun, a Balinese Hindu temple, is located in the Mengwi Village. Built in 1634 by the King of Mwengi for his family, the complex is an island surrounded by a moat. The tiered pagodas represent quintessential Balinese architecture. This beautiful complex isn’t as popular with tourists, so you can enjoy a relaxing, meditative visit and a few good photo ops.
When you’ve had your fill, head back to your hotel for one last fruity drink poolside!
Relax v. interact The vendors on the beach are pretty persistent, so if you’re simply looking to nod off and relax, stick to the hotel pool.
Barter Battles If you’re not happy with a price quoted by a vendor, say no thank you and walk away. They will drop the price for you quickly!
Combine Half Days Mix up any combo of these half days into one day to have more full days to lounge by the pool, if that’s your fancy!