IndonesiaSoutheast Asia

Two Days in Bali: Things to See if You’re Short on Time

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.

*I’ve travelled in Bali a lot more since this post and grew to love it — check out this newer, two week Bali itinerary to see why I changed my mind about this polarising island.

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.



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 somewhere like Kuta. 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.

READ MORE: 10 of the Best Things to Do in Ubud: Exploring Central Bali

Ubud, a great place to see monkeys in Southeast Asia

The Beaches

The popular beaches in Bali aren’t great, but the communities surrounding them are pretty interesting. I enjoyed Seminyak and Kuta has a kind of rough charm to it, but if you’re looking for proper postcard worthy beaches you’d better head to some of the nearby islands. Or just find a nice pool somewhere — Bali is great for that kind of thing! Nusa Penida, Nusa Lemobongan and the Gili Islands are all a short boat ride away and are great options for beach lovers. There are of course some nice beaches on the island of Bali itself but you’ll have to seek them out — check out this post about what one blogger claims is The Best Hidden Beach in Bali,

READ MORE: 10 Awesome Islands Near Bali that You Can Easily Visit



A deserted beach on Gili Meno


It isn’t referred to as the Island of the Gods for nothing. Bali, a mostly 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.

READ MORE: 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 Tegalalang (near Ubud). You can view the terraces from above while buying souvenirs or you can head down to rice level for a stroll. You can also check out the larger Jatiluwih Rice Terraces if you have a bit more time.

READ MORE: Where Are the Best Rice Terraces in Bali? Tegalalang VS Jatiluwih


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.

READ MORE: 32 Fun Things to Do in Bali

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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  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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