5 Perfect day trips for first-time Bali visitors
Sightseeing opportunities are endless in Bali so we’ve put together 5 perfect day trips to suit first-time travellers to this beautiful holiday island.
Bali’s natural attractions are many. Visit the mountainous north-central part of the island, explore Mount Batur and Mount Agung, go white-water rafting, visit the monkey sanctuaries or simply laze away your day on a beautiful secluded beach.
No matter how long you stay, in Bali there really is something for everyone. To get the best out of your holiday we suggest a minimum of 10 days to give you ample time to relax and chill out.
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5 great day trips when visiting Bali
Day trip 1: Explore Southern Bali – Pandawa, Dreamland and Uluwatu
If you’re in the mood for a lazy beach day and want to visit some of Bali’s beautiful beaches then head to Southern Bali. Go kayaking at Pandawa Beach and head to Uluwatu to enjoy the magical sunset.
Once known as Secret Beach, this beautiful white sand beach is laden with beach chairs & umbrellas. Nearby stall holders offer Bintang beer and snacks for sale. It’s a great place to test your kayaking skills, but be careful of waves and ocean rips in the area!
Dreamland Beach is a private beach tucked into the northern end of Uluwatu. This beach is near the New Kuta Golf Course, and recently famous as the beach where Julia Roberts filmed the movie Eat, Pray, Love. We settled in for lunch and an ice cold Mojito at the bar overlooking the surfers riding the shore-breaks
Uluwatu, is one of the best places to head for sunset whilst you’re in Bali. Endless views overlooking the Indian Ocean and the daily Kecak dance performances make this a great destination. A small forest lies along the headland which is home to hundreds of monkeys who are notorious for snatching visitors’ belongings. They can usually be persuaded into trading the items for fruit, although I suspect this only encourages them to steal more.
Restaurants to try
Warung Cikgo: Stop in for lunch at this popular Uluwatu restaurant which has rave reviews on Trip Advisor. A quaint traditional Balinese open plan dining area with antique furnishings and a wall of beautifully carved Indonesian doors. We were served one of the best Massaman beef curries ever and a perfect Nasi Goreng!
Meads Bali: Meads Beach Bar & Grill has a great menu with steak and a range of seafood options. The whole fish with a Balinese flavoured sauce was spectacular. We’ve been to Meads several times previously and it remains one of our favourite restaurants!
Day trip 2: Bali Safari Park & Sanur Beach
Bali Safari & Marine Park
This wildlife park is proud of its near natural environments for the animals. Rare and endangered species such as the Javanese Leopard, Sumatran Tigers and the White Tigers are well worth seeing and learning of the work that goes into their preservation.
There were plenty of interesting exhibits including a mythical dance extravaganza and an elephant pantomime featuring the Sumatran elephants.
Lunch was fun with the restaurant overlooking the lions .. or were the lions overlooking us? It was certainly a unique place to lunch with a view of the lions lazing on rocky citadels high above the restaurant. See our earlier post: Zoos are for Big Kids Too.
Enjoy sunset at Sanur where fisherman run their nets in the shallows of an outgoing tide. Chic boutique shopping and trendy restaurants are in abundance in this relaxed part of Bali. We’ve decided to spend more time exploring this region next time we visit.
Restaurants to try
Kampung Bule: This restaurant suggested by our driver Irun was a mix of traditional Balinese and Western style dishes. Choices ranged from their popular Balinese Herb & Spice BBQ and a variety of Balinese seafood selections and for those who want western style cooking, there were some old favourites as well.
Moscow Mule: Mix Vodka with Lime Juice, muddle some fresh mint leaves and add a splash of Ginger Ale and dress with a slice of lime. You must try it!
We were impressed by the seafood choices and started with a shared serving of Prawn Spring Rolls followed with Lobster Thermidor for our mains … just because!
The seafood was delicious although the lobster was a little expensive, however for a special night it was well worth the expense!
Day trip 3: Garuda Cultural Centre, Bali Bird Park & Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Garuda Cultural Centre – GCC
Touted to be the tallest statue in the world once complete, this statue has been under construction for approximately 20 years. Check out the extraordinary views right across Bali, including smoking Mt Agung in the distance with magnificent statues and vantage points throughout.
Bali Bird Park
A unique and educational attraction for the whole family. This bird park has almost a thousand exotic birds from the Indonesian archipelago and around the world. The Bali Bird Park is a fun park for bird lovers with hundreds of different bird species throughout the park grounds in aviaries and individual enclosures. We just loved this Plain-pouched Hornbill from Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago in the Malay Peninsula.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Ubud is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak which is the traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system, which according to history, was passed down by a revered holy man named Rsi Markandeya in the eighth century. The Tegallalang rice terraces are a spectacular sight on the slopes across the valley.
Treat yourself to a great lunch or afternoon tea overlooking the spectacular views of these rice terraces.
Read more: Ubud – Refresh, Revitalise and Rejuvinate
Day trip 4: Do a walking tour of Ubud
Ubud has a good selection of boutiques, silversmiths, woodcarvers and artists as well as local markets where you will find a range of clothing and exquisite jewelry and unique artifacts.
Don’t forget to use your shopping in Bali!
Life in Bali rolls along at a slow pace most of the time and nothing will change that. Ubud is a peaceful place where you will find yoga and relaxation classes, art and craft workshops and other creative opportunities.
Take the time to explore the shops in the lanes and alley ways that are tucked away out of the main traffic zones. You may find some unique bargains!
We found a great selection of restaurants and cafes to try along our walk so watch for our next post featuring our favourite food haunts in Ubud … coming soon.
Sacred Monkey Forest
One of my favourite places to visit in Ubud is the Sacred Monkey Forest. The monkey’s fascinate me. They are curious, cheeky, sneaky and always playful. Make sure your glasses and hats are secured, and backpacks and purses zipped up – they will attempt to steal anything they think may be food!
Read more: Sacred Monkey Forest
Ubud’s Royal Palace
Ubud Royal Palace (Puri Saren Agung Ubud), is one of Bali’s most interesting attractions located right in the centre of Ubud. The royal family is in residence most of the time and most nights during the week the Royal Palace hosts authentic Balinese dance performances, such as the Barong Ubud dance.
Check out all the antiques, wood carvings and shops full of unusual nick-nacks.
Restaurants and Cafes to try in Ubud
Monsieur Spoon: Start your morning off with a visit to Monsieur Spoon, a family-run French Bakery-Cafe started by two Parisian cousins based in Ubud. This cafe was our favourite holiday discovery during our last visit to Ubud. Monsieur Spoon serves handmade French pastries, cakes, artisan bread and savouries – to die for!
Oops Bar and Cafe: We stumbled on this bar on our Ubud walk. What a great find. Just an ordinary pub on the outside, but a delicious lunch with icy cold mojitos on the inside!
Day trip 5: Inner Bali – Temples and Terraces
An early 9 am pickup by our driver Irun who took us into the hinterland beyond Ubud to view some of the most significant temples in Bali and world heritage listed rice terraces.
Goa Gajah – the Elephant Cave
Located just 10 minutes from Ubud, Goa Gajah is a significant Hindu archaeological site. The Elephant Cave is surrounded by a courtyard of rock-wall carvings, a central meditation cave, bathing pools and fountains.
Its a peaceful setting with Hindu guides who provide details of the history of this serene place. A visit to Goa Gajah is definitely a ‘must see’ and well worth including on your itinerary.
Read more: Goa Gajah – Bali’s Sacred Elephant Temple
Taman Ayun Temple
Pura Taman Ayun as a beautiful temple with it’s own surrounding moat located in the village of Mengwi Bandung. People come to worship the ancestors of the royal family of Mengwi.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
Located on the shores of Lake Bratan, this temple is just one of many temples and shrines supporting the subak irrigation system in central Bali.
Known as the Lake of Holy Mountain, Lake Bratan is the main source of irrigation in central Bali. Built in 1633, this temple holds a ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu.
Lunch at Gong Jatiluwih in Central Bali
Lunch at Gong Jatiluwih in the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Central Bali was a perfect Balinese lunch experience. This restaurant is a popular lunch stop when visiting the inland regions and has spectacular views over the rice terraces.
Here’s 5 day trips for first time visitors to Bali. If you like it, pin it to Pinterest.
Have you been to any of these places when visiting Bali ? Or perhaps there is somewhere that made such an impact on you that you’d consider going back to?
If I’ve left out somewhere that you think should be included .. I’d love to know .. let me know in the comments below.