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Bali - seeking feedback on 3-week itinerary

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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!

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