A chilled-out tropical vacation in Indonesia can be as varied as its many islands. Between Bali and the Gili Islands, travelers with various interests will enjoy cultural encounters, beach time, and active pursuits such as snorkeling and gentle hikes. Start in Tanah Lot and Ubud, learning about Balinese culture, before heading to tiny Gili Air off Lombok for snorkeling and deep relaxation. End on the beaches of South Bali, where you can enjoy free time to do whatever you like.


  • Tour the Balinese countryside around Ubud in a VW convertible
  • Hike to the summit of Mount Batur at sunrise
  • Mingle with the marine world on snorkeling excursions in the Gili Islands
  • Watch a spectacular sunset fire dance at Uluwatu Temple

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bali, Transfer to Tanah Lot Tanah Lot
Day 2 Tanah Lot Trek Tanah Lot
Day 3 Transfer to Ubud, Free Time Ubud
Day 4 Free Day in Ubud Ubud
Day 5 Temples, Rice Terraces & Palaces Tour by Convertible Ubud
Day 6 Cultural Workshops, Suwat Waterfall Ubud
Day 7 Sunrise Trek to Mount Batur Ubud
Day 8 Speedboat to Gili Air, Free Time Gili Air
Day 9 Gili Islands Snorkeling Gili Air
Day 10 Free Day on Gili Air Gili Air
Day 11 Return to Bali, Uluwatu Temple Sunset Jimbaran
Day 12 Free Day in Jimbaran Jimbaran
Day 13 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bali, Transfer to Tanah Lot

Welcome to beautiful Bali! Enjoy free time in Tanah Lot

Welcome to Bali! Upon arrival at the airport in Denpasar, your driver will meet you and transfer you to Tanah Lot on Bali's southwest coast. Depending on your arrival time, you may want to relax at your hotel simply or take the opportunity to get out and explore. Tanah Lot is most famous for its beautiful island temple and the cliffs along the coast, so you'll get your first glimpse of these.

Day 2: Tanah Lot Trek

Hike through villages and around the coastline of Tanah Lot

After a good night's sleep, explore Tanah Lot further today on the two-hour Tanah Lot Trek. Wander through villages, past rice paddies, and along the cliffy coastline to reach the Tanah Lot Temple. This sacred place is most impressive at high tide when the waves crash onto the rock on which the temple rests. This hike can be done at any time of day, but if you want to make the most of the sunset views from the temple, start the walk in the late afternoon.

Day 3: Transfer to Ubud, Free Time

Explore some of Ubud's many Hindu temples

Travel inland today to Ubud, about an hour northeast of Tanah Lot. Ubud is renowned for its culture and temples, and after dropping your bags off at your hotel, you'll tour several of the most beautiful and impressive. Your first stop will be the Taman Ayun Temple, built by the ruler of the Mengwi Kingdom in 1634. Wander around the temple complex and explore its traditional architecture, gardens, and courtyards.

From there, visit Taman Mumbul, which is said to have purifying waters. Learn about water purification rituals as you see them performed. Next up is Goa Gajah Temple, the "Cave of the Elephant." Don't be alarmed by the intimidating Boma figure that blocks the entrance, as it's their job to protect the temple from evil spirits. 

Day 4: Free Day in Ubud

Indulge in spa treatments or poolside relaxation in Ubud

Enjoy a free day in Ubud today. If you'd like to visit more temples, take a stroll through town and perhaps visit the Ubud Water Palace or Pura Dalem (Temple of Death), with their intricate stone carvings and serene ponds and fountains. All over Ubud you'll find small offerings outside temples that invite you to stop and take a closer look. You might prefer to take it easy with rejuvenating activities like a massage or spa treatment or by relaxing by your hotel pool. In the evening, attend a traditional Balinese dance performance held outside on the grounds of one of the temples.

Day 5: Temples, Rice Terraces & Palaces Tour by Convertible

Visit the Tegallalang Rice Terraces on a tour in a convertible vehicle

Head out into the countryside today on an exciting tour in a vintage VW convertible, a stylish and fun way of getting around. The first stop will be a short walk to see the Tibumana Waterfall, where you can swim in its inviting waters. The next stop is the 11th-century Gunung Kawi Temple, which translates to "Valley of the Kings." You'll need to walk down many steps to reach the elaborate shrines carved into the cliff face in a deep ravine. 

Continue to Pura Tirta Empul ("sacred source"), a water palace in the village of Manukaya. Explore this holy temple, the water of which is sourced from the Pakerisan River. Balinese Hindus come to the temple to perform purification rituals on special occasions. Afterward, your guide will take you north to the village of Tegallalang, known for its terraced rice fields cut into the hillside, forming giant steps.

Once back in Ubud, walk through the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, full of temples, stone carvings, and cheeky monkeys. Watch your sunglasses, backpacks, and anything not attached to you as bands of monkeys roam free and jump between the trees. At the end of the day, visit Ubud's Gianyar Market to sample local street food such as satay grilled meat, lawar (a mixture of meat, vegetables, and coconut), and various rice dishes. 

Day 6: Cultural Workshops, Suwat Waterfall

Take a refreshing swim in Suwat Waterfall

Today you'll learn more about Balinese culture and traditions through immersive, experiential activities. Start the day by seeing how sarongs are made. These garments are important in Bali and reflect historical and religious practices. Then take a walk along paths through rice fields and plantations. Finally, see how ordinary Balinese farmers live.

Join a mini cooking class, learning how to grind flour and cook Balinese recipes over a wood fire, followed by joining a workshop to see how Balinese manuscripts are made. Dried palm leaves are cut into strips and transformed into rectangular pages on which Sanskrit texts are written. Learn about the Balinese alphabet, Aksara Bali, and try writing on the sheets, making a nice souvenir to take back home. Finally, you'll prepare some jamu, a traditional plant-based drink known for its health benefits, and your own version of Tiger Balm, a healing ointment for aches and pains. End this morning of learning with a delicious traditional lunch.

In the afternoon, check out Suwat Waterfall, considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Bali. Carefully follow a narrow, steep path down to the falls, where you can swim or go for a fun canoe paddle before retiring early for the evening to rest up for your early start tomorrow. 

Day 7: Sunrise Trek to Mount Batur

Sunrise trek to Mount Batur
Climb Mount Batur before sunrise
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Rise early this morning, around 3 am, to travel to Mount Batur to begin your ascent before sunrise, climbing to a height of around 5,577 feet (1,700 m) above sea level. The trek will take between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on how fast you walk. Emerge at the top of the volcano in time to watch the sun rise above the clouds. Down below, you may see Lake Batur's outline and, in the distance, the other volcanoes of Bali: Abang, Agung, and Batukaru. After a well-deserved break watching the sunrise, trek down again to meet your driver, who will be waiting for you.

Before returning to Ubud, visit the temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur, where you can relax weary muscles in the natural hot springs.

Day 8: Speedboat to Gili Air, Free Time

Gili Air Beach
Transfer to Gili Air, an island off Lombok
Leave Bali behind (for now) as you transfer by speedboat to Gili Air via the port at Padangbai and Lombok. The Gili Islands are three small islands off the northwest coast of Lombok. With coral reefs, palm trees, sea turtles, and no cars whatsoever, a true paradise. You'll stay on Gili Air, the smallest of the three islands, ideal for a few days of relaxation. Upon arriving at Gili Air's dock, walk to your hotel or catch a ride in a horse cart. Then, rest or go on a snorkeling excursion and watch the sunset.

Day 9: Gili Islands Snorkeling

Explore the underwater world of the Gili Islands

See the Gili islands differently with an underwater snorkeling adventure today. In the morning, board a small wooden boat. Your captain will take you to different snorkeling spots, where you can jump into the water with fins and a mask and observe the underwater wonders. See multicolored fish and coral and feel the freedom of floating. You may even have a chance to snorkel alongside turtles, often spotted here. Finally, you'll have lunch on one of the islands before returning to Gili Air.

Day 10: Free Day on Gili Air

Enjoy your time in paradise
Enjoy your time relaxing in paradise
Spend today relaxing on Gili Air's white-sand beaches and taking advantage of more snorkeling and diving adventures. If you want to see more of the Gili Islands, charter a boat to cruise around Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. If you'd rather stay on land, walk or ride a bike around this tiny island while enjoying the tropical atmosphere (it will take you about an hour of cycling or two hours walking). After this peaceful journey, settle down on a beanbag on the beach to enjoy the sunset with a cocktail in your hand and your feet in the sand. 

Day 11: Return to Bali, Uluwatu Temple Sunset

Visit the cliffside Uluwatu Temple

Return to Bali today by speedboat and transfer from Padangbai to the south of Bali. Drop your bags at your hotel in Jimbaran before continuing to Uluwatu Temple. Located on the edge of a cliff, walk around this beautiful temple to enjoy the landscape and surrounding scenery. And then, at sunset, you'll attend a Kecak (pronounced "ketchak") show. This is one of the most impressive Balinese dances, and fire is used as a backdrop; hence it's common English name, "the fire dance."

Day 12: Free Day in Jimbaran

Spend a day relaxing around Jimbaran

Your last full day in Bali is yours to spend as you wish. The waters at Jimbaran are calm and suitable for swimming, and there are many seafood restaurants along the shore. If you want to venture farther afield, check out the surrounding beaches like Padang Padang, Balangan, or Thomas Beach. Celebrate your last evening in Indonesia with a special meal at a restaurant overlooking the beach.

Day 13: Depart

Farewell, beautiful Bali!

You may have time for some last-minute souvenir shopping this morning or to have a final swim in the pool or walk on the beach before your driver picks you up and takes you to the airport in Denpasar in good time for your flight. Selamat tinggal!

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Map of Culture & Beaches in Indonesia: Bali & Gili Islands - 13 Days
Map of Culture & Beaches in Indonesia: Bali & Gili Islands - 13 Days