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copilot Jan 24th, 2014 10:46 PM

Bali - seeking feedback on 3-week itinerary
Seeking feedback on our 3-week Bali itinerary for Sept/Oct 2014.

This will be our first trip to Bali; we currently live in Bangkok and have traveled throughout Asia. I’ve done a lot of research, but want to nail down the basic plan before working out more details. We don’t want to pack too many places into our trip; based on previous travel, 3 home bases in 20 days gives us time to relax, wander, and explore…4 bases would be the absolute maximum. But…we also don’t want to spend too much time in a car making long day trips, so if it makes more sense to add a 4th base in a certain region, we’ll do that.

About us: we love local crafts and artisans, markets, museums, cultural events, gardens, temples, and exploring little neighborhoods and villages. My husband enjoys diving, but I don’t dive or snorkel, so I want him to enjoy dives in perhaps a few different places, but it’s not a primary driver for a particular location. Although we’re very active, some back and knee problems mean we won’t do any major treks, but walking and temple steps are fine. We look forward to some relaxing, and some beach time would be nice, but frankly we get bored after a few hours on the beach. We prefer to leave time each day to wander a bit or to stumble on something unexpected – those are usually the best parts of our travels, and we’d prefer to stay in fewer places but spend more time there, rather than feeling rushed and spending lots of time in transit.

We know we want to spend quite a bit of time in Ubud, and will look for a villa just outside the town. The Sidemen valley and Amed both look appealing, but Candidasa and Lovina don’t seem like our cup of tea. Bedegul/Munduk and the Jatiluwih areas also look really nice. I think we’ll probably skip the entire southern part of the island (Seminyak, Sanur, etc.) so that we can spend longer in other areas. Pemuteran looks interesting, but perhaps too quiet and focused on diving, so I’m not sure it’s worth the extra drive. Also, we’d prefer to focus on Bali rather than adding Lombok, though we’ve considered adding Gili Meno for a few days.

What are your thoughts on the below as “home bases,” and on the amount of time in each location? Also, which order would make the most sense? Appreciate any feedback and suggestions – thanks in advance!

Day 1: Travel Day
Days 2-7: Ubud (6 days)
Days 8-12: Sidemen Valley (5 days) – include trips to Amed and Tulamben (or stay in Amed instead of the Sidemen Valley?)
Days 13-17: Munduk or Bedugul (5 days)
Days 18-21: Gili Meno (1 travel day + 3 days on the island)
Day 22: Return to Bangkok (can we get from Gili Meno back to the mainland and on to Bangkok on the same day, or will schedules mean it takes 2 days?)

Thanks for your feedback!

marmot Jan 24th, 2014 11:43 PM

Aside from the coast/inland split, Bali is mostly culturally and naturally homogenized. It's fun to stay in different areas, and I don't mean to discourage you from moving around, but I wouldn't expect a major difference in scenery and village life among Ubud, Munduk and the Sideman Valley. You'll get some art and culture nuances and certainly a difference in elevation, but not a big contrast. The distances are not too great and day trips with time-out in your Ubud villa in between also makes sense.

Aside from diving/snorkling (which is great!) I'm not that keen on Pemuteran or the north coast. I haven't been to Amed for some time, but it's seems to be developing nicely into a relaxed beach-y environment (though the beach is just so-so).

I live in Seminyak and like the big wave sunset beach, laid-back surfer culture overlaid with a sophisticated restaurants, spas and shops.

Haven't been to Gili Meno. It's very small and not much going on that's not beach or ocean oriented.

I believe the best way to get from Gili Meno to Bangkok would be to fly out of Lombok airport.

Since beach-time isn't your focus, you might also consider combining Bali with another part of Indonesia, like Java, Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores or Sulawesi.

Java is quite accessible. You fly into Yogyakarta for Central Java and Surabaya for East Java. There are good connections to Bali and to Bangkok. In Central Java you can see the ancient sites of Borobudur and Prambanan plus the town of Yogya and the surrounding countryside. In East Java Mt. Bromo and Ijen areas and the countryside around Malang.

Kathie Jan 25th, 2014 08:44 AM

Like marmot, I'd also recommend a side trip to Java. If the idea interests you, take a look at my recent trip report:

copilot Feb 1st, 2014 08:09 PM

Thanks for your responses. So, we're thinking about skipping Gili Meno at this point, and while I'd consider a side trip to Java or another location, I want to first figure out the Bali portion of the trip. I can see that the distances aren't that great in Bali, but on the other hand, I think we would be frustrated if we spent 2 hours driving somewhere, and then there were so many great things to see that we felt rushed to see them all, still knowing that we had a 2-hour return trip to Ubud. So we don't mind staying in a few different places if that makes sense. For example, in looking at the Jatiluwih and Munduk/Bedugul area, there seemed to be a lot to see - worth more than a day trip, and I'd rather just stay in that area than do multiple day trips from Ubud. In Eastern Bali, the Sidemen valley also looked appealing, the Klungklung market looked fun, and we found info on interesting villages in the area. So…what if we did something like:
7 days Ubud
3 days Bedugul/Munduk
4 days Amed (travel there via Sidemen valley)
and then we'd have additional time to add a TBD side trip

Thanks for your feedback

marmot Feb 1st, 2014 11:33 PM

Staying in different places can be fun too. I'm sure you'll find a lot to keep you interested wherever you stay.

msjuly Feb 2nd, 2014 04:10 AM


I'd try to help with your plan.
First of all, I think you should give more days in Lombok instead just being around Bali.
Lombok, particularly in those Gilis (mean islands in local Lomboknese language) offer more beautiful snorkling as well as diving spots.
If you want to be away from the crowds, Gili Meno is the best choice. Last time I was there (2010), it doesn't have a backpacker choice of accommodation.
Most resorts have their own private beaches and they are so clear that you don't need to go snorkling so far to the middle and you get to meet the turtles and those colorful fishes.

Is your flight back to Bangkok from Lombok airport?
Gili Meno to mainland, that is Lombok, can be done in the morning. You will arrive in Bangsal Port and take a taxi to airport in south part of Lombok. In general, pls give about 2 hours for all those mobility.

I wish you a good time in Indonesia :)

progol Dec 18th, 2014 03:31 AM

copilot - How was your trip? Would love to hear more!

marianacardoso Dec 18th, 2014 07:35 AM

I'm happy you are considering my two favorite places in Bali: Amed and Sideman.
Lovina itself is not great, very dirty beaches. And seeing the dolphins at sunrise was amazing but at the same time very sad. Too many boats chasing the dolphins made it a weird experience.

Actually my favorite snorkeling site was around Amed. Not only you can do it from the beach, no need to hire boats, it had so much diversity and color it was the most beautiful thing I saw in Bali for sure. I did snorkeling also in Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. I did not love Gili Meno that much but mostly because I get a bit bored just lying on the beach. Gili islands are very pretty but I wouldn't stay in any of them for long.
I would consider adding Java at least Ijen for sure. It's very beautiful.

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