If you’re travelling around Indonesia, then I have the perfect route for you to take. This route includes the main attractions of Bali and also a trip over to the Gili Islands for a few days. What could be better! Sit back, relax, and let me plan your trip for you…
So, you’re backpacking Bali? Luckily for you, Bali and Indonesia are so super duper easy for you to travel around. I spent nearly a month exploring what Indonesia had to offer, however, I only stopped at Bali and the Gili Islands. Before we get into the route, I would highly recommend adding some of the other islands into your itinerary if you get time, such as Nusa Lembongan, Lombok and Java.
You will most likely be arriving at Denpasar Airport to start your backpacking extravaganza, and this is why we chose Seminyak as our first destination. It’s only 20 minutes away from the airport which makes it a perfect location if you land at a ridiculous hour of the day. Seminyak is also set in the middle of surrounding areas such as Legion and Kuta, which have heaps of bars, quirky cafes, shops and restaurants.
I would highly recommend visiting the following restaurants and bars: Nook Cafe, Cha Cha Bar, Wacko Burger, La Favella and Puri Saron. These places are modern, clean and well priced.
Don’t spend a ridiculous amount of money every day just because things are cheaper than average. You still have to budget well, even when you’re backpacking Bali.
I would highly recommend shopping in the surrounding regions, which you can easily walk to if you have the app maps.me. I wrote a blog post on it here: 4 TRAVEL APPS I COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT
Where we stayed: Balivilini Airbnb
Use this link to get £30/$50 off your Air Bnb! You’re welcome.
Ubud is fantastic. Everyone loves Ubud. It is the cultural hub of Bali which has so much to do! We also stayed in one of the nicest hostels I think I’ve ever stayed in, including an infinity pool overlooking a rice paddy field. I would definitely recommend hiring a scooter as it is the easiest way to get around.
Monkey Forest – Okay, I was so excited for this as an animal lover, but after 10 minutes of being chased by monkeys, I was ready to leave! A rather expensive 40,000 rupiah to get in. To be fair, it is pretty cool and is set in a beautiful forest but I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the monkeys with teeth like a sabre toothed tiger.
Campuhan Ridge Walk – is a little hard to find. It’s located down a side alley but offers spectacular views! We went at sunset and the colours were absolutely beautiful. You can also see Mt.Batur in the distance.
Bali Swing – So this is one of the most overpriced things I’ve ever seen but dare I say it’s almost worth paying for the bangin’ Instagram you’d get. We didn’t have the cash to pay for it, but the giant swing is set over a gorge filled with lush rainforest. To be fair, they let us look and just take photos.
Tegenungan Waterfalls – Out of all the waterfalls I’ve seen, these were pretty impressive. Entrance fee is 10,000 rupiah and the walk involves a lot of steps, but you can reward yourself at the end with a dip in the crisp, cool waterfall.
Elephant Temple – I don’t really see why it’s called the Elephant Temple because I didn’t see any elephants, or anything that resembled an elephant for that matter. Regardless, it’s a really cool temple that includes worship pools, a temple cave and a beautiful Buddhist section located in a forest. Do not get scammed into buying a sarong in the car park. They’re free at the temple entrance.
Also, check out: Pulina Coffee Plantation, Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Ubud Downhill Cycle tour Boni Restaurant and Hana Warung.
Where we stayed: No Problem! Hostel
We decided to head to the Gili Islands after Ubud. You can get to the Gili’s from one of three ports, Padang Bai, Sanur or Amed. We caught a Perama Bus from Ubud which was 70,000 rupiah each and took around an hour and a half.
We only stayed in Padang Bai for 2 nights, as you only really come here to move onto the Gili’s. It is a small town situated around a harbour. There are some good restaurants along the waterfront, however, I can’t remember their names. Annie ordered the largest Nasi Goreng that we’d ever seen. The day before we went to Gili Trawangan, we checked out the Blue Lagoon which you can walk to from the harbour.
It’s cool, nice blue waters, pretty secluded and good for snorkelling apparently. A word of warning, I wouldn’t recommend eating at the Warungs there, they aren’t the best.
Where we stayed: Tirta Yoga Inn
When you’re in Padang Bai, Amed or Sanur, you will see heaps of adverts for boats to the Gili Islands. We used easygili.com to get our tickets which was super easy. You just reserve them online and pick them up and pay at the office on the day. Our tickets cost 450,000 rupiah return which included a transfer bus to our next destination back in Bali, which was pretty sweet. I’m sure you’d be able to get cheaper tickets at the port if you haggled.
When you arrive and whilst you’re on the island, please do not ride in the horse and carts.
Without sounding ungrateful, don’t expect Gili T to be the paradise island of your dreams. Granted, it’s very nice and there’s a good atmosphere, however, I was imagining white sand beaches lined with palm trees and it didn’t really live up to my expectation. In my opinion, it was a bit run down, littered and dirty.
Anyways it’s still really cool! I would highly recommend walking or cycling the perimeter of the island and stopping for a few cocktails along the way. There’s also plenty of sea swings lining the shore where you can get the perfect Instagram.
Also, check out: The Sea Turtle Sanctuary and Blue Marlins for a night out.
Where we stayed: Cheeky Monkeys Hostel
Near the beach, you will see a ticket office and this is how you can hop to Gili Meno and Gili Air. Tickets are 40,000 rupiah. We skipped Meno and just went straight to Air, which I’m pleased about as my brain was already starting to frazzle with island life. The boat takes around 20 minutes.
I definitely preferred Air to Trawangan. It’s a lot more laid back and less commercialised. We also walked the perimeter of Gili Air too which was pretty cool, just take plenty of water because we ran out and almost died. There are loads of cocktail bars offering happy hour though.
I would highly recommend going to Mowie’s Bar for a frozen strawberry daiquiri and a chicken katsu burger. They’re sooooo good. Like, really good! It’s also a great place to watch the sunset.
Whilst we were on Gili Air, we finally lived our Indonesian dream of taking a cooking class. It was such a great experience! We went with Gili Cooking Classes and it cost 350,000 rupiah. Okay, so it was a little expensive but it was something that we had wanted to do for so long. We made Mie Goreng, Chicken Taliwang, Gado Gado, Yellow Curry and Kelopon.
Where we stayed: Kelapa Gading Bungalows
On our return to Padang Bai, we hopped on our transfer bus to Jimbaran and off we went! Definitely worth having the transfer included. Annie said that she liked Jimbaran as much as Ubud, which is quite the statement! This was our last stop in Indonesia before flying out to The Philippines, and we were perfectly located around 25 minutes from Denpasar! You’ll need to hire a scooter to get around this area.
The Cultural Centre – Hmm, a debatable place to visit. We rode in on our little scooter to a pretty impressive entrance surrounded by metal dinosaurs… interesting. We paid the parking fee and then 100,000 rupiah to get in which was pretty steep. The video advertisements make out like you’re in a theme park. I promise you’ll have seen everything in 20 minutes. There’s a temple, some big statues and a Balinese dance that you can watch. A pretty average experience for 100k. The gift shop is good though.
Nusa Dua – Takes around half an hour to get there but head for the Bali Collection! Such a good shopping complex with stores like Billabong and Ripcurl, but also amazing gift shops!
Dreamland Beach – A nice looking beach which has a couple of warungs. The waves are pretty big too!
Uluwatu Temple – We came for sunset and just our luck it was overcast. Still, the temple is average but it’s the location that makes it! It’s right on the coastline which is pretty impressive. Just watch out for the bloody monkeys, I kid you not they will pull off your flip flops and you’ll have to pay for someone to get them back for you. Coincidence? I think not.
Padang Padang Beach – This is pretty cool! After paying the 10,000 rupiah entrance fee, you have to walk down some steps and through a rock gorge! The beach is hidden in a small cove. Note that this beach is always rammed, but it’s a cool place to enjoy a Bintang.
Where we stayed: The Hill Hotel
From Uluwatu, we headed off to the airport rather sad to leave Indonesia. You will have such an amazing time whatever itinerary you have! Let me know places that you’ve been to in Bali, I’d especially like to know what the Northern parts are like because we skipped those completely!
I have a video over on my YouTube channel where I explain how expensive Indonesia is in general, to give you some idea of a budget!