Perfect 2 days in Bali Itinerary: Islands, food & nature
There are so many awe-inspiring things about Bali that planning a trip there, especially if it is a short one, can be hectic. That said, with only two days in hand the task becomes even more overwhelming. However, this 2 days in Bali itinerary and guide has been crafted specially to maintain the level of excitement, and explain how to make the most of your mini holiday in the island of the Gods.
The climate of Bali is warm and tropical all year. Overall, the best time to plan a trip is between the months of May and September when it is sunny and dry. There is more to this island than just parties. While South Bali has some lovely beaches and islands, Ubud in Central Bali is home to temples and stunning rice fields. Hikers will enjoy the trek to Mount Batur, while North Bali is all about volcanoes, dense jungles and some good sites for diving.
Using Airbnb is the best way to book your accommodation in Bali. From rooms with big discounts to unique tree houses and beach villas with swimming pools, there is no dearth of staying options suitable for all needs and budgets. Since your trip is short try out Singgah Hotel or Grandmas Plus Hotel(both under $20/-per night).
2 days in Bali Itinerary and guide
DAY ONE (MORNING)
Seminyak is the ideal starting point for your two day Bali trip as the airport is a short distance away and some nice beach attractions here can be navigated on foot. Since you have just 48 hours, start early on your first day to get a taste of local flavour. Hire a car in advance and make good use of it by heading straight to Batubulan Village, known the world over for the Barong at Kris Balinese dance.This one hour performance from 930am to 1030am is a must watch.
The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park is located about forty five minutes drive away from Batubulan and is a major attraction with tourists.You can easily spend hours and hours strolling in this 60 hectares complex admiring the majestic statues on the premises.Take the loop shuttle to save time and energy. End your morning with lunch at Berenda which serves some of the best local food in Bali.
Entrance fee to the park is IDR 125,000 for foreigners and for the train IDR 20,000.
No trip to Bali can be deemed complete without visiting the temples. After your afternoon trip to the cultural park visit the stunning Uluwatu Temple which is located on a cliff some 70m high overlooking the sea. Catch the evening kevac drama and marvel at the panoramic vistas, surrounding landscapes and the surreal sunsets. Beware of the macaque monkeys which inhabit the temple premises. They are known to steal things in a jiffy.This region is also a haven for surfers due to the ideal wind and waves condition.
DAY ONE (EVENING)
For a charming late evening experience, pay a visit to the Pasar Gianyar Market. This place remains open till 11am and offers a great chance to go on a shopping spree and pamper your taste buds with local food. Interact with the locals, wander around the stalls to gain an in-depth knowledge about the Balinese culture.
Back in Seminyak you can explore the scores of nightlife spots or some of the fantastic art galleries and shopping outlets. You can rejuvenate yourself with an ocean-side massage at Seminyak Beach or just chill at any of the swanky beachside bars and watch the world go by. You can choose either Ku De Ta or Potato Head where you can enjoy a can of Bintang for just a few dollars.
If you prefer to spend time at a night bar head for Rock Bar Bali at the Ayana Resort and enjoy views of the vast ocean from the cliff face or opt for a traditional dinner at Ultimo in Seminyak.
DAY TWO (MORNING)
People flock to Bali for its beaches, so a major part of your second day should be devoted to this experience. Start in Kuta, the beach nearest the International Airport of Ngurah Rai. You can spend the morning here sunbathing or surfing.
There is another pristine sandy stretch, some 35 km northwest of Kuta known as Echo Beach in Canggu, which happens to be another great surfing spot.These beaches are, however, always crowded by locals which makes moving around a bit difficult.
Nusa Dua beach is about thirty minutes drive from Kuta and is the best beach for swimming as the waves are low and the current is not swift. After a brief halt, drive to Serangan harbour and take the thirty minute fast boat ride to Nusa Lembongan. Once there, rent a scooter as the roads are quite narrow. If you are hungry, the best local restaurant is Pondok Baruna Warung and try out their signature dish, grilled pork belly with rice and vegetables.
One of the major highlights of Nusa Lembongan is Devil’s Tear. The place is very picturesque and great for photography if you can stand the bus loads of tourists coming and going. Take a walk further down the coastline to take pictures as there will be no crowds there. In a small cove near Devil’s Tear lies Dream Beach, one of the most beautiful in Indonesia. Spend some time here and head to the harbor to catch your last boat back to Serengan harbour at around 430pm.
Take some time out of your busy schedule and indulge in some private spa treatment at the Prana Spa.This beautiful wellness center, set in a middle eastern environment, is one of the best on the island and highly recommended.
Depending on the time at hand before your flight takes off you can try and squeeze a couple of things before you head to the airport.The Denpasar area, close to the airport, has some excellent markets where the locals do their shopping. Kumbasari is the largest traditional Indonesian market. You can also try Sulawesi Street for fabrics
Ubud is the epitome of Balinese culture, but most people appreciate visiting it if they are on a longer trip. Having said that, if you want to skip the beach tour, Ubud is a good alternative for a day trip on your second morning from Seminyak, as it is just 30km away. The best way to get to Ubud is by driving or hiring a car for the day.
They say the true beauty of Bali can be discovered only when you venture away from the coast towards the hills.This is why Ubud has become the most popular destination of Central Bali, even though it tends to get overcrowded at times.
Since this is going to be the last day of your trip, you must make the most of it. Mas village, located to the southeast of Ubud will be the first stop. Some of the best wood carving work is done here where visitors can learn the craft in detail.
The next stop will be the Sacred Monkey Forest, home to hundreds of free roaming long tailed macaques and some other tropical animals.There are several hidden temples, including Dalem Aging Temple, inside the forest as well which are worth exploring.The monkeys are considered to be the guardians of these temples as they have been designed for them. Beware of the cheeky ones from a troupe who may try to pinch something from your bags or even your pocket if you are not careful.
Stop at the Alas Restaurant, the only certified Warung(small) eatery in Ubud overlooking the amazing rice fields. Tables are laid on the hill sides and serve typical Balinese cuisine in a beautiful natural setting.
One of the most striking attractions of Ubud are the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, located around 10km from Ubud, which provide spectacular views of the rice fields from above and across the valley. The series of rice paddies are a form of a traditional irrigation system in Bali known as subak.The lovely scenery and the cool mountain breeze makes for a highly enjoyable trip.
An Ubud whitewater rafting trip is the perfect way to experience the essence of the rainforests of Bali as this adventure on the rapids is suitable for everyone. Located just 5km away from Ubud village, the Ayung River. There are as many as 33 class II and class III rapids throughout the 9.6km of rafting stretch.This two hour activity is a must on any Ubud itinerary.
On the way back from rafting, have a glimpse of the stunning local artwork by famous Balinese workers. The outlets can be found all over Ubud with some of the reputed ones being Naka Contemporary Art Gallery and Ayung Rai Museum of Art.
Enjoy the evening in Ubud with a meal at any of the Balinese restaurants which showcase traditional dances and orchestras.Try the Laka Leke restaurant for dinner with cultural programs or a live gamelan orchestra performance at the Ubud Royal Palace(Puri Saren Ubud) which begins at 730pm. Built in true Balinese style, the building has been well preserved throughout the ages with well kept gardens and banyan trees.
#2 Kintamani & Tanah Lot tour
This is another very popular full day Bali tour covering the iconic Kintamani Volcano and a sunset view from Tanah Lot. Stop enroute at the picturesque Celuk Village to see firsthand how local Balinese jewelers make exquisite gold and silver ornaments.
The drive continues till you reach the Tirta Empul Temple where you can see the spring water known to have purification powers. After paying respects at the temple your next destination is the lovely Kintamani Village which provides remarkable views of the Mount Batur Volcano. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant overlooking Lake Batur.
After lunch, pay a visit to the beautiful Tegalalang Rice Fields and marvel at the rows of rice fields below. Your last stop before you head back will be the awesome Tanah Lot Temple, located on an island, and watch the amazing sun setting over the ocean and views of the beach below.
Was a two day trip worth it?
Everyone is aware that Bali is an island of multiple attractions with almost endless activities and experiences. If you keep this in mind, two days would not even scrape their surface and in no way represent what this lovely destination has to offer as a whole. However, considering that there are so many cheap flights on offer, there is no harm in discovering a place like Bali even though you have limited time as it makes for a great stopover, especially between Australia and Europe.
For a magical trip to Bali, a longer stay is highly recommended. Take it from me, it will be an unforgettable experience. And if by chance you can’t spare extra days, you always have the option to return.
Safety & Budget advice
Apart from being a prime active volcano and earthquake prone region, the natural aspect of Bali might sound scary to visitors. While petty crime is also an issue at the end of the day Bali is very safe.
The most expensive factor about budgeting your Bali trip will be the flight, so book several months in advance. With regards to budget, Bali can cater to the affluent traveler and budget savvy backpacker alike. If you can avoid Kuta and Ubud, the other parts of the island are not only less busy but are free from touts and crowds. Some other tips that will help in reducing the costs are:
- Eat local food
- Opt for free transfers
- Carry a reusable bottle.
- Use reputable ATM’s
- The blue taxis marked ‘Bali Taxi’ are the most honest & reliable.
The bottom line
There is something in Bali for everybody. This two day itinerary covers the major attractions but ultimately there are so many, to choose the ones you like best will depend entirely on your preferences, taste, budget and how quickly you want to travel.
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About the Guest Writer: Jo is the creator of the travel blog WanderwithJo. She is a globetrotter based in India. Follow her adventures on Instagram