Jump right in and discover the beauty of Bali and the Gili Islands on this 12-day adventure through the Island of the Gods. Start your adventure in  Ubud with a vintage VW safari through the rice paddies and a sunrise trek up to Mount Batur before visiting some of the island's holiest and most beautiful temples. Then, head to Sidemen for a taste of traditional Balinese culture in the countryside, and spend a few days relaxing in tropical island paradise on Gili Meno before winding up in Uluwatu, where your trip ends with a mesmerizing Kecak dance performance as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean.

Highlights

  • Take a scenic trip around the island in a vintage VW
  • Watch the sunrise from the top of Mount Batur volcano
  • Visit ancient temples and learn about Bali's fascinating culture
  • Explore the underwaterworld of the Gili Islands
  • Check out the sunset Kecak show at the Uluwatu cliff temple

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival at Denpasar Airport and transfer to Ubud Ubud, Bali
Day 2 Ubud & Balinese Cooking Class Ubud, Bali
Day 3 Volkswagen Safari Tour Kintamani/Mt Batur Ubud, Bali
Day 4 Sunrise trekking on Mount Batur Ubud, Bali
Day 5 Ubud to Sidemen via Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul, & Pura Kehen Sidemen, Bali
Day 6 Sidemen Countryside Tour Sidemen, Bali
Day 7 Sidemen to Gili Meno Gili Meno
Day 8 Gili Archipelago Boat & Snorkeling Trip Gili Meno
Day 9 Free Day on Gili Meno Gili Meno
Day 10 Gili Meno to Jimbaran Jimbaran, Bali
Day 11 Bukit Peninsula Beach Tour & Kecak Show in Uluwatu Jimbaran, Bali
Day 12 Departure from Denpasar  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Denpasar Airport and transfer to Ubud

Welcome to Bali
Enjoy the Balinese hospitality

Welcome to Bali! Upon arrival at the airport in Denpasar, you will be met by your private driver who will take you to your hotel in Ubud. The drive from the airport out to the island can take a couple of hours, depending on traffic, but it's a beautiful one, passing through small villages and endless rice paddies.

Once you arrive in Ubud, you're free to do as you please. Relax and enjoy the legendary Balinese hospitality, enjoy a massage or a cocktail, or go for a wander around the neighborhood and head out for some food in the charming center of the old town, which has plenty of shops, cafes, local warungs, and fine dining options to suit everyone.

Travel Time: 1+ hr
Travel Distance: 22 miles (35 km)

Day 2: Ubud & Balinese Cooking Class

Take an optional visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest this afternoon
Take an optional visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest this afternoon

Enjoy a relaxing day in Ubud today with a traditional Balinese cooking class. Visit your chef's home, where you will be welcomed warmly and taught the secrets of fine and delicate Balinese meals. Learn how to combine spices, vegetables, and other fresh, local ingredients into culinary masterpieces that you can recreate at home.

Once you have finished cooking, set the table in the garden and sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor. After lunch, you're free to explore and sightsee to your heart's content. Wander around town, visit the Palace or a couple of temples, and take a stroll through the market, before going on a walk along the Campuhan Ridge, or a stroll through the Monkey Forest.

Day 3: Volkswagen Safari Tour Kintamani/Mt Batur

Drive through the rice paddies on your VW safari
Take a drive through the countryside on your VW safari tour

Get the day off to an exciting start with a vintage VW convertible safari tour through the beautiful Balinese countryside. You will be picked up from your accommodation by your driver in a colorful open-top VW car, before hitting the open road and exploring the island in style.

First, you'll visit the rice terraces around Ubud, driving along beautiful winding roads through little villages, and past waterfalls and historic temples. Stop off at Tegallalang Rice Terrace, where you can walk through the paddies, take a ride on the famous Bali Swing, go shopping for souvenirs and trinkets along Tegallalang Crafts Street, or sit in a little cafe sipping on a kopi  (Balinese coffee) or a beer and enjoy the view.

From here, drive through the fertile heart of Bali with its orchards, vegetable gardens, and lush coffee farms and cacao plantations, before arriving in Kintamani. Take a stop to enjoy the amazing views over the caldera Lake and see the dramatic peak of Mount Batur, which you will be climbing tomorrow.

Go for a drive around the lake through little villages and a walk on the ancient lava fields, before swinging by Tibumana Waterfall, and Gunung Kawi Sebatu, a historic water temple, and rounding off your trip with a visit to Gianyar, where you can sample some local street food from the bustling market stalls. From there, you'll take a leisurely drive back to Ubud, where your evening will be at leisure.

Day 4: Sunrise trekking on Mount Batur

Climb Mount Batur at sunrise for amazing views over the countryside
Climb Mount Batur at sunrise for amazing views over the countryside

Around 3 am, take to the road to Mount Batur. Once you arrive, you'll start the ascent of this active volcano before sunrise. The trek takes around 1.5-2 hours and will take you up to a height of more than 5,577 ft (1700 m) above sea level.  When you finally reach the top, you'll be able to watch the sunrise above the clouds, before being rewarded with an amazing view over the island. 

Directly below you, you can see Lake Batur, and through the clouds in the distance, you can spot Bali's other volcanoes, Abang, Agung, and Batukaru on the right. After the sunrise, make the short trek back down where you will meet your driver.

Depending on how you feel after the trek, stop off at the Pura Batur temple. One of the most important temples of Bali, Pura Batur represents the direction of the north. The original 17th-century temple was actually all but destroyed during a volcanic eruption in 1926, with the only thing remaining the 11-tiered shrine and some priceless heirlooms, which were all recovered from the lava and transported to the new temple in the rebuilt village, which was completed in 1926.

After exploring the village, take a dip in the nearby hot springs to rejuvenate, before heading back to Ubud, where you'll have a free afternoon. Go for a massage, visit a spa, or take a relaxing yoga class, or if you're feeling up to it, take a wander through the numerous cafes, boutiques, and art galleries that line these ancient streets. 

Day 5: Ubud to Sidemen via Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul, & Pura Kehen

The holy springs in Tirta Empul are said to have magical properties
The holy springs in Tirta Empul are said to have magical properties

This morning you leave Ubud and head out to Sidemen Valley, about an hour's drive east of Ubud. On the way, stop off to visit the Cave Temple, Goa Gajah, the 'Cave of the Elephant', Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul, and Pura Kehen.

These UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples are amongst the most famous in Bali, and for good reason. Built sometime between the 9th and the 11th centuries, Goa Gajah was lost to time until 1923, when it was rediscovered by Dutch archaeologists. You can reach the temple by entering the mouth of the carved stone creature at the entrance and descending down the stairs.

From here, you'll visit the imposing 11th-century rock shrines of Pura Gunung Kawi, which are carved into sheer cliff faces on either side of a small river. Located at the bottom of a tiered valley surrounded by lush rice paddies and waterfalls, these historic temples are said to be part of the burial complex of King Anak Wungsu and his many wives.

After that, make your way to Tirta Empul. One of the most famous Hindu temples in Bali, Tirta Empul means 'sacred source' in Balinese, and the waters here are said to have magical powers. Watch as people cleanse themselves in the purifying waters in the ancient pools, following a tradition that dates back centuries.

Your last stop before you reach Sidemen is in Bangli to visit Pura Kehen. Built in 1206, this temple has an impressive 11-tiered meru, a pagoda-like structure with multi-tiered thatched roofs.

Once you arrive in Sidemen Valley, check into your accommodation and relax and put your feet up after a long day of exploring.

Travel Time: 1-2 hr
Travel Distance: 25 miles (40 km)

Day 6: Sidemen Countryside Tour

Go for a leisurely hike through the countryside around Sidemen
Go for a leisurely hike through the countryside around Sidemen

Enjoy a more leisurely-paced day today with an easy 2-3 hour guided hike through the countryside around Sidemen. On the way, stop to visit farmers as you make your way through rice paddies and lush forests. Pass by fruit orchards and spice plantations and learn about cloves, salak, cocoa, and other tropical fruits and spices that grow here in the fertile soils, and admire the stepped rice terraces and natural views.

Less touristy than other spots around Bali, Sidemen has retained a much more traditional, local vibe than other places around the island, which makes it the perfect place to escape the tourist trail and enjoy a more authentic experience of life here on the Island of the Gods.

In the afternoon, return to the village and relax for a while before heading out to enjoy a local dinner under the stars.

Day 7: Sidemen to Gili Meno

Watch the sunset over the Gili Islands
Watch the sunset over the Gili Islands

Today, leave one tropical island paradise for another. Say goodbye to the lush countryside around Sidemen, and make your way east to the coast, where you will take the fast boat from Padangbai Harbor to Gili Meno.

Located closer to Lombok than Bali, the Gili Islands consist of three small islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Gili Meno is the most laidback of the three and has the best beaches, which makes it the perfect place to relax for a few days.

When you arrive on the island, check into your accommodation and go exploring.  The rest of the day is free for you to spend as you please. If you feel up to it, you can walk all the way around the island on the Gili Meno Coastal Path in 90 minutes, but you could also just go for a stroll around the neighborhood and find the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or a coconut whilst watching the sun go down over the ocean.

Travel Time: 1 hr + 1.5 hr fast boat
Travel Distance: 19 miles (30 km)

Day 8: Gili Archipelago Boat & Snorkeling Trip

Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles as you cruise through the ocean
Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles on your snorkeling tour

This morning, make your way to the port to board a traditional wooden boat for a trip around the Gili Islands. Your captain will stop off at the best snorkeling spots around the islands so you can admire the beauty of the underwater world and the coral reefs and tropical fish that call this archipelago home. 

Check out Gili Trawangan and Gili Air from the water as you cruise past to find the best snorkeling spots, before returning back to Gili Meno after lunch. Spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach or exploring the island at your own pace.

Day 9: Free Day on Gili Meno

Spend a free day exploring Gili Meno
Spend a free day exploring Gili Meno

Relax and enjoy a free day on Gili Meno today. Renowned for its white-sand beaches and untouched jungle, Gili Meno is tropical island paradise. Spend the day exploring this tiny island, relaxing on the beaches and swimming in the clear water, or going for a stroll or a bicycle ride. 

The coastal path that loops around the island offers some amazing views over the archipelago and Lombok in the distance, and you can also visit the lake and Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary. If you're keen on diving or snorkeling, you can also head out on a fun dive or go snorkeling by the derelict jetty and the sunken pontoon on the west coast. You can also try your luck at seeing sea turtles if you go snorkeling in the shallow waters on the northern side of the island.

Day 10: Gili Meno to Jimbaran

The beaches here are said to be some of the most beautiful in Bali
The beaches here are said to be some of the most beautiful in Bali

Say goodbye to the Gilis today as you make your way to the harbor to board the fast boat back to Bali. Meet your driver on arrival at Padang Bai, and then head down to Jimbaran on the south coast for your last few days on the Island of the Gods.

Once you've checked into your hotel, the rest of the day is free. Jimbaran Bay has a sheltered beach that's perfect for swimming, but you can also head out to nearby Tegal Wangi beach, which is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Bali. You can also go for a wander through the town, and, if you feel like treating yourself, stop by one of the high-end spas for a traditional Balinese massage.

Travel Time: 2 hr + 1.5 hr fast boat
Travel Distance:  40 miles (65 km)

Day 11: Bukit Peninsula Beach Tour & Kecak Show in Uluwatu

Take a tour of the beaches of the Bukit Peninsula
Take a tour of the beaches of the Bukit Peninsula

Spend your last day in Bali on a tour of the beaches of the Bukit Peninsula. Swing by Padang Padang Beach, Thomas Beach, Green Bowl Beach, and Pandawa Beach, spending as little or as long as you like at each spot. After that, visit Uluwatu and take a quick tour of the town before returning to your hotel to relax for a little.

At sunset, head back out to Uluwatu Cliff Temple to see the amazing Kecak Show. Pronounced 'ket-chak', this traditional dance is one of the most impressive Balinese dances, and watching it as the sun sets over this 11th-century Hindu temple is the perfect way to round off your trip.

Day 12: Departure from Denpasar

Say goodbye to Bali
Say goodbye to Bali

After an amazing trip exploring the Island of the Gods, it's time to say goodbye to Bali.

Depending on the time of your flight, you might want to spend your last day squeezing in some last-minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping before making your way to the airport to begin your onward journey.

Map

Map of Discover Bali: Temples, Trekking, Volcanoes & Gili Islands - 12 Days
Map of Discover Bali: Temples, Trekking, Volcanoes & Gili Islands - 12 Days