Bali just made it to the number one global travel destination in 2017 in TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards ahead of London, Paris and Rome. What makes Bali truly unique and popular among travelers is that it combines all things many travelers are looking for. It has a tropical climate, delicious food, a vibrant culture, stunning nature, a relaxed vibe, picture-perfect beaches and underwater world. And on top of it all, it is easy to get around and easy to enjoy regardless of the money amount you want to leave here.
But popularity can often crush the soul of a destination and make it more difficult to find the hidden gems. Many travelers like me don’t like being surrounded by other tourists. Therefore, I am always on the hunt for the undiscovered and more unique places.
To make your life easier and help you find the best places to visit when in Bali, we have compiled a unique 3-week Bali off the beaten track itinerary for you. Curious? Read on!The itinerary that I have chosen combines culture, nature and beaches. It takes you to the hidden gems of Bali.
Start your holiday in hip and relaxed Canggu
Canggu is a coastal village with a laid-back hipster vibe. It boasts a number of amazing organic places to eat, some great surfing and beautiful rice fields. It is the perfect beginning of your Bali holiday.
What to do
Recharge at Desa Seni and get into that traveling mode. It offers amazing yoga classes, wellness and an organic restaurant that serves delicious food. Have a full day of zen!
Ride the waves of Batu Bolong Beach or Berawa beach. The first one is the easiest to surf and best for beginners. Berawa beach has one long break that offers great opportunities to catch a wave. The more you go to the right the easier it gets to catch one as it is often less crowded.
Have a sundowner at The Lawn beach club, grab a mat and chill on their lawn, swing in their hammocks, or grab a bite in their restaurant. It is a perfect place to end your day.
Where to eat
Canggu has some amazing places to eat. Below my best picks.
Betelnut serves delicious healthy food every time of the day. From delicious shakes, healthy wraps to the incredible Naga bowl, full of superfoods. You’ll want to come back for sure! Try their Nutter Smoothie which is out of this world! It has a great open terrace as well. A lovely place!
Jl. Batu Bolong 60, Canggu 80361
If you are craving a good cup of coffee and some freshly baked croissants, then go to Monsieur Spoon. It is a French designed cafe with a wonderful view of the rice fields with a great choice of amazing pastries. That’s a perfect way to start your day.
Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong no. 55, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361.
Xich Lo Warung is a small Vietnamese restaurant on the crossing of Kerobokan to Canggu. The back of the restaurant is open and gives you the chance to enjoy your food while overlooking the rice fields and Mount Gunung Agung. The food is delicious, fresh, healthy and for a great price!
The Savage kitchen has a gorgeous setting and a beautiful outside garden area. The dishes are stunning and very unique in the way they are prepared as well as presented. The atmosphere hits the right note for a relaxed upscale dining experience.
Jl. Canggu Club | Canggu Plaza, Canggu
Where to sleep
Villa Kudos is a beautiful two-story villa set in a lovely garden. It is complete with a pool and enjoyable sun deck in the heart of the Balinese village. It is close to Echo Beach and other great places in Canggu.
Stay at the beautiful home of Suparna in the middle of Canggu set in the most amazing tropical garden. The rooms are nicely decorated and clean. Enjoy the stunning outdoor shower while gazing at the stars.
Chateau is a beautiful, quiet place nestled next to the rice fields. The décor is spectacular and the room on the first floor has a great bath tub. The house is close to many shops and restaurants. A very nice place to stay when you are in Canggu.
Visit vibrant Ubud
Ubud is the cultural center of Bali bustling with life. Here you’ll find all kinds of local artisans, crafts, yoga schools, amazing accommodations and restaurants. It is surrounded by tropical jungle and stunning rice terraces. A must see when you are in Bali.
What to do
A great way to explore the surroundings of Ubud is taking an herbal walk. Westi & Lilir are two passionate Balinese people who know everything about traditional medicine making of herbs and plants. Join them on a 3-hour walk through the beautiful countryside of Ubud.
Stroll over Ubud’s organic market and shop for some fresh fruits, coffee, tea, fresh baked goods, locally produced honey & jam and many more. The market takes place every Wednesday from 9 am until 2 pm at UFC Tebesaya and every Saturday (same timing) at Pizza Bagus.
The rice fields of Jatiluwih are world famous and a must see. The landscape is both dramatic and truly exotic. Jatiluwuh is an 1.5-hour drive from Ubud. Combine it with a delicious 3-course organic farm lunch, just a 10-minute drive from Jatiluwih. Pick your own vegetables, walk around the farm or enjoy a freshly brewed coffee.
If you want to learn to make delicious Indonesian food even when you return from your holiday, then there is no better way than learning it first hand from Wayan. All traditional techniques will be taught in his own home near Ubud where you will meet his family and get a true local experience. Wayan’s mom will also show you how to process coconut oil. The food is to die for! Pick-up can be arranged by Wayan. Doing a cooking class is one of the top activities and most exciting things to do in Bali.
Where to eat
With so many good restaurants in Ubud, it is difficult to choose where to eat. Below there are some places I can recommend.
Dapur Bunda is a hidden gem tucked away in a quiet alley just off the bustling central Jalan Raya. As soon as you take the steps upstairs you will find yourself in a cozy vintage-style room. All meals are traditionally home-cooked . The food is truly delicious and very affordable.
Jalan Sri Wedari No. 4, Ubud
Moksa will awaken your senses and let you experience food in a completely different way. They have their own permaculture garden and bring your food from the farm to the table. Even non-vegans are raving about this place.
Puskesmas Ubud II, Gg. Damai, Ubud
Wild Ginger has a lot of spirit. This is a small local family-run place with a great local fare. The food is fresh and authentic. Putu is a charming and welcoming host.
Jl. Jero Gadung | Br Kutuh Kelod, Ubud.
For fine dining go to Blanco par mandif for excellent and surprising food and choose from their 7, 9 or 13-course menu. Kubu is also a wonderful place to enjoy stunning views with the sound of the river while tasting some extraordinary Mediterranean food. All courses are a degustation of surprising flavors, innovative combinations and a discovery of textures.
Where to sleep
It is very difficult to restrict myself in picking only a few accommodation options in Ubud as there are so many great places to sleep.
Jungle Villa is the place to be if you are looking for a secluded private villa, off the beaten path near Ubud. I have found this lovely villa with unique furniture pieces, hand-carved wood staircases and outdoor shower. The villa is just a stone’s through away from Ubud’s delicious cafes and restaurants. You will be welcomed with fresh coconuts, fruit, and tea. This is a place that will steal your heart.
Zen Hideaway is a once-in-a-lifetime experience just 20 minutes outside Ubud. You will never forget the swing, the stunning views and the beautiful interior. It is a truly unique riverfront 150-year-old teak villa with a huge iron wood deck shooting into the valley. The villa is located in a small village where you can meet friendly locals.
Explore hill station Munduk
Munduk is a misty hill station with amazing, steep rice terraces and a lot of coffee, tea and vanilla plantations. It is still undiscovered by mass tourism and will give you a true authentic feel of Bali. Munduk is also wonderful for hiking.
What to do
Learn more about the coffee and tea plantations by visiting Munduk Moding Plantation. It is a boutique resort and coffee plantation in one. You can do various activities like horse riding, hiking, or join one of their workshops.
Go for a hike on one of the several hiking trails. This is a perfect way to see the various coffee, vanilla, and clove plantations. Along the way take a dip in one of the highest waterfalls in Bali and walk among terraced rice fields. Near Munduk you will also find the biggest Banyan Tree.
Visit the Aling-Aling waterfall where hardly any tourists go. It is just 10 minutes away from the popular Gitgit waterfall and 20 minutes outside Singaraja in the northern part of Bali. If you dare you can jump off a 7-meter high cliff. It also has a natural slide.
Go for a cycling trip and bike among rice paddy fields, crystal clear rivers, local villages or the lake district.
Where to eat
For a true authentic Balinese meal go to Warung classic. You can find all types of local delicacies. Not only the food is yummy, the view over the rolling hills is also very Instagram-friendly.
For some great Luwak coffee and food go to Eco Café 1 on Jl. Raya Desa. Try their spring rolls with coffee peanut sauce! Apparently there is also a ‘fake’ eco cafe which tries to lure you to their place. The false one is named, “Eco friendly coffee shop.” The real one is not next to the waterfall, but 200 meters up.
Made and his wife Putu of Warung Made serve some super fresh homemade Balinese food. The tiny warung also offers some wonderful views. Try the “Dada Gulung” a sweet pancake with coconut and palm sugar filling, it is sooo delicious! I can’t rave enough about this lovely place.
Jl. Denpasar – Banyuatis | Dusun taman, Munduk
Where to sleep
As mentioned previously Munduk Moding Plantation also offers you a boutique stay with beautifully designed villas and suites hidden between the lush vegetation. The villas boast superb views of the rolling hills, overlooking the rice fields. Not only can you enjoy their pool and other facilities, they even offer you a complete program to experience Balinese culture to the fullest. A beautiful stay guaranteed!
The amazing mountain bungalow of Chris has some superb views on the surrounding hills. The rustic bungalow has a great jungle infinity pool and is close to the temples of Munduk and the lake district.
Don Biyu is located at 1,200 meters on the hills surrounding Munduk. They offer six nice rooms with great views. The restaurants serves some delicious Balinese food. From Don Biyu it is only a few minutes to Lake Buyan & Lake Tamblingan, Ulun Danu temple and Candi Kuning market.
Stroll the rice terraces of Sidemen
Wake up by the local roosters to the stunning views of Mount Agung. Welcome to Sidemen, a laid-back village at the foot of Mount Agung and known for its beautiful rice terraces. If you want to experience the true Balinese countryside, then this is your cup of tea. It is Ubud 30-years back. Sidemen Bali provides a lot of information what to do and where to stay.
What to do
Sidemen is the perfect place to organize a hike to the Mount Agung Volcano. All necessary permits can be arranged in the village. There are two starting points for climbing the Mount Agung. One is starting in Puru Pasar Agung and the other one in Besakih. The first one will take you 4-5 hours to reach the summit and the second one 6-7 hours.
Hiking the Mount Agung is not a leisure climb and is more strenuous than climbing mount Batur. If you have a good level of fitness you don’t have to worry.
Take a walk through the rice fields as this is what Sidemen is famous for. You can either explore it by yourself or go with a local guide who can be easily arranged by your homestay or hotel.
Where to eat
Sidemen doesn’t have a large option of restaurants to choose from. Most of the accommodation in Sedemen will provide you with lunch and dinner. Nevertheless, if you want to get a local feel, then I suggest heading out to try one of the local warungs. On your way out of Sidemen, if you’re heading north you will find Warung Organic. It has lovely views over the rice terraces and some delicious food.
The Bukit Artha is a great little warung offering some fantastic food. It has a simple setting, but the food is good, and healthy. It is run by a lovely couple who immediately make you feel at home. It has some true authenticity to it! Their Ikan Peku is worth a try.
Br. Tabola, Karangasem
Warung Ume Anyar is a scenic warung with some yummy food. If lucky, you can even see Mount Agung on a clear day. You will need a good walk or a motorbike to visit this lovely warung in the hill village of Ogang, above Sidemen. The owner is super friendly and helpful.
Where to sleep
Pondok Bidadari villa is created by celebrated designer Made Wijaya. It combines traditional Balinese design with a modern twist. The villa overlooks working rice terraces and has a view that stretches all the way to the Sanur coast. The bedrooms are spacious and bright. Spend your time on the large veranda or by the private swimming pool.
Hideout is a unique getaway in the middle of nature and hidden in the mountains of Gunung Agung volcano. The house is situated at a beautiful riverside among rice fields. Get off the grid and experience authentic life of Balinese village. Wayan and his wife will warmly welcome and treat you as their own family. A very memorable place.
Villa Shantiasa is nestled within the beautiful rice paddies of Karangasem and with the best view of Sidemen. It is a stunning villa with 4 bedrooms that can be rented out separately. It’s an incredible relaxing place and the surroundings are difficult to beat. The rooms are bright with great double beds. They have an infinity pool with a magnificent view. They also offer spa and massage treatments. Wow, what better way than enjoying your stay on Bali!
Visit fishing village Candidasa
Candidasa is a tranquil village on the east coast of Bali. The pace of life here is much slower and therefore a perfect place if you want to relax and get a feel of Balinese local life.
What to do
See the original Balinese village of Tenganan
This is an isolated community in almost every way. The village is separated from the rest of the world by a solid stone wall that entirely encompasses the village. Tenganan produces some of the finest woven basket-ware, and a fabled double weave ikat fabric.
Visit two of the most stunning beaches in Bali. Virgin Beach and Bias Tugel Beach are relatively undiscovered. Virgin beach has already some more activities like a few warungs and is great for snorkeling. Bias Tugel Beach takes some more effort to get to and is very secluded. Depending on the weather the swimming conditions are not always good here as the current can be strong.
Take a yoga class at Gedong Gandhi Ashram. The ashram offers yoga classes based on donation. The classes are held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 4:30pm.
Dive at one of the most amazing dive spots. Candidasa is in the center of all the famous dive hotspots. From wreck-diving to muck diving. Be aware that currents here are often very strong so it is only suitable for experienced divers.
Where to eat
Start your day with a freshly-brewed coffee and some delicious breakfast or pastries at Loaf. Their coffee is outstanding and all pastries are home-made.
Jl. Raya Candidasa
For some great Balinese food head to Warung Lu Putu. This tiny restaurant is set in a lovely tropical garden. They can even pick you up at your hotel. Service is excellent.
Where to sleep
Meet Wayan and his family and experience true Balinese village life and hospitality during this village stay. Wayan’s wife cooks delicious homemade Balinese food, and Wayan can take you on a hike through the rice fields, let you meet friendly villagers and let you go home with an amazing experience. All included in the price! His homestay is close to Candidasa.
Villa Kupu is perched high up on the mountain above the village and offers you amazing views of Mount Gunung Agung. The front balcony has an incredible 180-degree view from the ocean to the lush green forest and mountain range. The villa is just a stone’s throw from Candidasa’s main hustle and bustle, but it feels like you are right in the countryside.
Aquari is a quiet eco resort with a rustic feel. It is a little private retreat in Candidasa. The place is such a heaven to go to. The rooms are well equipped with a comfy bed, mosquito nets, a/c, fan, hairdryer and shampoo. Breakfast is a real feast with fresh fruit and juices that vary daily.
Relax at Nusa Lembongan
In 2008 I visited Nusa Lembongan. At that time, it was a very quiet place with hardly any travelers, just some surfers and backpackers, a few accommodation options and a handful of places to eat. Although its popularity has grown over the years it has still kept its mellow vibe with simply more options to choose from. A very peaceful place to spend your final days on Bali.
What to do
Explore the island by bicycle and cycle over to the even more remote island Nusa Ceningan. Visit the stunning beaches of Dream Beach and Sunset Beach that have pretty soft, white sandy beaches.
Climb the cliff at the right side of Dream beach for sunset. It will provide you with magnificent sunset views.
On the southern-most tip of Nusa Ceningan, there is a beautiful little inlet named The Blue Lagoon. Worth a visit too!
Ride the waves if you love surfing, this is a must-do too. Nusa Lembongan has options for beginners as well as advanced surfers. There is the Playgrounds (left & right), Lacerations (fairly shallow right hander), Razors (fast left hander) and the iconic Shipwrecks (a fun wally right hander).
Nusa Lembongan is also a wonderful spot for snorkeling and diving and seeing manta rays, the mola-mola fish, hammerhead sharks and many other species. It has clear waters with some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in all of Indonesia. There are many diving options available. A great way to spend your day if you are not a dive fan is going out on a local fisher boat for snorkeling. A very peaceful and beautiful way to spend your day.
Where to eat
For one of the best coffee on the island head to Two Towers. It is set on a hill with a little garden just outside Jungut Batu. They serve some delicious pastries, breakfast and lunch options and have great Wi-Fi.
Jl. Raya Lembongan
For the best smoothie bowl’s and fresh juices go to B’Fresh Juice bar at Jungut Batu area. A very tiny place run by a local. A great way to start your day.
At the top of Ancak Village is a small warung called D’Mas Warung. It is run by Denny, a Lembongan local who knows how to cook. It has a great view of the ocean and Nusa Penida. Denny serves a nice variety of food and everything is delicious.
Lembongan Ancak Sari
Papa Tarros Bar is run by the very friendly Kodak. It has a nice family atmosphere and good Wi-Fi too! You can choose between western or Indonesian cuisine with some good vegetarian options. All food is really delicious. The good thing is that it is close to Devil’s tears and Dream beach so a perfect place to end your day.
Go to Bali Eco Deli if you are in for some organic, healthy food that nourishes your body. All food is freshly made from organic produce of nearby farms. You can find Eco Deli at the main street behind Jungut Batu beach.
Where to sleep
Villa Chantique is a stunning one-bedroom private villa situated on the hill in Lembongan that offers breathtaking views of the ocean and Mount Agung. It is quiet although it is close to many shops and restaurants. It is a bit on the higher price, but if you are looking for an amazing stay this is it.
Villa Pasir is right on the beach of Jungut Batu. It is beautifully designed with a lot of eye for detail. It consists of 4 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.
The Villa’s at Dini is located at a very quiet and peaceful location on the southern part of the island. The ocean is at your doorstep. Plunge in the infinity pool, order some delicious food or visit Devil’s tears and dream beach that are both close by. You will have your own villa with a private outside shower. If you want to go out for dinner then go to Mama Mia. They serve some amazing food.
If you are with a group of people then Opera Villa is amazing!
If you are looking
Let me know what you think about the above itinerary and please share your unique hideaways as well!