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Two Days in Bali: A Stopover on the Island of the Gods

Your level of excitement about visiting Bali depends heavily on whether you’re a redneck Australian or middle-aged Julia Roberts fan looking for love. If you fall into those categories you’ll want to plan a longer trip, but for the rest of us, two days in Bali is probably enough.

I’ve been to Bali twice now and I have mixed feelings about it. There are more interesting islands nearby (namely Flores, Lombok, the Gili Islands and Java) but chances are you’ll pass through Bali on the way to or from them. Here’s a quick look at what you can do with two days in Bali.

FURTHER READING: Komodo National Park: More than just Dragons!

Climbing Mt Batur

Hiking under a blanket of stars to the top of Mt Batur for sunrise is my personal Bali highlight. Once at the top you’ll see the sun illuminate the panoramic view of lakes, lava fields and volcanoes. You’ll need a guide to climb Mt Batur so try and team up with some other tourists. The best way to get there is to take a tour or hire a car and driver.

Sunset at Mt Batur, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Penglipuran Village

If you’re looking for something a little different from the typical Bali sights you should make your way to Penglipuran Village. This traditional Balinese village is basically made up of one really long footpath lined with houses. The entrances to the houses look like little temples and you can peek inside some of them to see how the locals live. There’s also a bamboo forest just outside of the village.

penglipuran-village-bali

Ubud

I’ve already written a post entitled “Avoiding Julia Roberts in Ubud“, so I won’t go into too much detail about it here. Ubud is a cool little town, although it has gotten a little overcrowded. It still makes for a great place to base yourself in Bali and is far more laid-back than Kuta and Seminyak. The Sacred Monkey Forest is one of Ubud’s highlights, assuming you aren’t scared of monkeys. The monkeys in Ubud are notorious for climbing on tourists in search of food, so if you don’t want a monkey on your back make sure you don’t rustle any plastic.

Ubud, a great place to see monkeys in Southeast Asia

The Beaches

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Bali’s beaches. I’ll give you the bad news first and leave the good news for dessert. The popular beaches in Bali aren’t great. They aren’t even good. Many people head to Kuta and Seminyak to party in paradise, and while the partying is pretty good it definitely isn’t paradise. I walked along a big chunk of this coastline and wasn’t impressed — there was trash everywhere and the beach was pretty rough.

FURTHER READING: Exploring the 17 Island Marine Park in Riung, Flores

beach-bali-seminyak

Now for the dessert. There are good beaches in Bali but they take a bit of effort to reach. It probably doesn’t make sense to stay too far afield if you only have two days in Bali, but renting a motorbike would be a good way to see them. I hear Balangan, Amed and Lovina are pretty good and the cliffs at Uluwatu look interesting as well. In general though, if beaches are your thing and you have the time you should really head to the nearby islands (unless you’re surfing, in which case you might want to hang around Bali for a bit longer). The Gili Islands are fairly close and really are stunning, and Komodo National Park is home to some of the best island scenery anywhere in Southeast Asia.

FURTHER READING: The Best Hidden Beach in Bali

gili-meno-beach

A deserted beach on Gili Meno

Temples

It isn’t referred to as the Island of the Gods for nothing. Bali, a Hindu island, is home to over 1000 temples. Some of the more popular temples include Tanah Lot, Gunung Kawi and Taman Ayun. A highly-rated thing to do in Bali is watch the sunset at Tanah Lot temple — I never got the chance to do it but some of the photos look amazing.

FURTHER READING: Borobudur and Prambanan: Exploring the Best Ancient Temples in Indonesia

Rice Terraces

As well as beaches, volcanoes and Shapelle Corby, Bali is also well known for its rice. This comes in both terrace and field form (and fried or steamed if you’re eating it). The countryside around Ubud is a good place to see rice fields but the truly impressive terraces are perhaps best seen at Tegallalang (near Ubud). You can view the terraces from above while buying souvenirs or you can head down to rice level for a stroll.

tegallalang-rice-terraces-bali

Getting around Bali

Bali’s sights are spread out over a vast distance which means you’ll either want to go on a tour or hire your own car (with driver) or motorbike. Renting a motorbike is the cheapest option but it’s not without its dangers. Many people die on the traffic choked roads of Bali and they shouldn’t be navigated by amateurs. I’d recommend having a licence and being confident on a motorbike before even considering it. I’ve also heard of scams where the people you rent the bike from make you pay for “damage” to the bike, which obviously never occurred.

Why spend two days in Bali…?

Bali is a pretty cool island and is a logical place to either start or finish your travels in Indonesia. I’d definitely recommend sticking around long enough to climb Mt Batur and explore some of the interior, but if its beaches you’re after you’ll probably want to move on after a couple of days.

FURTHER READING: Rote Island: A Gem Hidden from the Tourist Trail

Are you planning a trip to Indonesia? Which islands are you most excited to visit? Let me know in the comments below.

My trip to Indonesia was organised by Indonesia Travel for their #TripOfWonders and #WonderfulIndonesia campaigns. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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2 Comments

  1. December 6, 2016 at 4:19 am — Reply

    Nice post, Jon! I’m sorry to hear Bali didn’t grab you like it did us and many others. And we’re not even drunk Bogans or Eat, Pray, Love fans ;)… We liked it so much on our first visit that we came back for longer, then liked it so much on the second visit we moved there for almost a year. You give some good ideas for a short visit, though. I definitely recommend people get out of the tourist traps like Kuta and the middle of Ubud and explore – there’s lots of beauty in Bali if you can take the time to discover it. I’m with you on recommending Flores and Lombok as well. You could spend a whole lifetime in Indonesia and barely crack the surface there!

    • December 12, 2016 at 4:56 pm — Reply

      Hey Sasha, thanks for the comment! I know heaps of people love it and heaps hate it, like anywhere though there is definitely good and bad places, I guess most people visit Bali’s bad ones! It’s hard for me to really recommend it as a destination in itself though as there are so many great places nearby.

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