One thing a lot of people get wrong is that Bali is not a country. It’s an island in Indonesia, just east of the mainland. When I started travelling full-time in 2015, Bali was just coming out of its shell, and it wasn’t a big deal yet.
But only 2 years later, it became one of the most desired destinations in Southeast Asia. I let my curiosity win and decided to finally visit. I only had 10 days available at that time, but I could easily see why one can spend 3 weeks in Bali.
This is exactly what I did this year. I went back to Bali to revisit all the places I went to, plus other spots I missed. In this article, I will share how you can spend 20 days in Bali, what to see and do, things you should prepare, cost, where to stay, and dishes to eat.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO BALI
It can be overwhelming planning a trip to someplace you haven’t been. It’s almost like gambling on your limited annual vacation. Fortunately, Bali is so popular, and you know you can easily get travel tips online. To start you off, here are some basic but vital information you should know:
When is the best time to go to Bali
The best time to visit Bali, Indonesia, is between April and October, during the dry season, offering pleasant weather for exploration and beach activities. Peak tourist season falls in July and August, coinciding with summer holidays.
The rainy season spans from November to March and is met by heavy, short bursts of rain, especially in December and January.
Shoulder seasons, April to June and September to October, provide a balance of good weather and fewer crowds, making them ideal for those seeking a more serene experience.
Are 3 weeks enough for Bali
Yes, 20 days just around Bali Island is plenty of time. But don’t assume that you’ll get bored. Apart from the top areas, with that much time, you can also explore unbeaten paths and even go to the nearby islands of Lombok or Gili.
What to pack
Aside from swimsuits, you should also pack bug repellent, especially if you plan to visit just after the rainy season or stay in rural areas or near farms. You must also bring breathable clothing because of the high humidity.
You will definitely be seeing some temples, so modest clothing that covers the shoulders and down to your knees is required. If you are planning to hike the famous Nusa Penida, bring comfortable shoes as well.
How to get around
In Bali, the most convenient way to get around is by renting a scooter or motorbike, ideal for navigating traffic and exploring at your own pace.
For affordability, local buses and minibuses called “bemos” are the cheapest options. Taxis and ride-hailing apps like Grab and Gojek offer a balance of convenience and affordability, especially for longer distances.
Domestic flight is the best option when leaving or arriving in Bali. You can use ferries or boats when transporting between islands.
The taxi mafia is a thing in Bali. They are an underground group of taxi drivers formed to fight against ride-hailing apps. While this sounds like rebelling against the big corps, it has made getting around Bali more complicated.
Now, the taxi mafia has massive control over this specific mode of transportation, especially at the airport. This means that the cost of getting a taxi from the airport of Bali (Denpasar) is a lot higher (getting a taxi in general), while ride-hailing drivers from Grab or Gojek have a hard time picking people up from the airport.
The taxi mafia would even stop cars they suspect to be a driver from Grab or Gojeck and force the passengers to get out of the car and walk on foot. However, using Grab or Gojeck is not illegal in Bali.
To combat this, I highly recommend you book an airport pick-up instead, either from a transportation agency or from your hotel. Plus, a driver holding a sign with your name will be easier than figuring out where your Grab or Gojeck driver is parked.
- When booking Grab or Gojek, don’t get picked up from the main street. Instead, book a pickup in a smaller, quiet alley.
- When you find a Grab or Gojek driver you like, ask them for their WhatsApp and contact them directly when you need to book a service back to the airport or for a day trip.
- When a local asks you if you’re waiting for a Grab/Gojek driver, tell them no and say you’re waiting for your private driver.
- Sit inside the restaurant or your hotel lobby while waiting for your booked driver, only come out when you’re sure the driver is outside. Don’t stand on the street looking at your phone.
- Some local drivers will pretend that they are your driver, check the plates first.
- It’s best to book a Grab or Gojek motorbike since those are not in direct competition with the taxi mafia.
- If you’re in a hurry, you can use the price on the Grab/Gojek app to negotiate with a taxi driver right next to you for a better rate and faster transaction.
- Renting a motorbike and driving yourself around might be a better option too.
Language and currency
The official language of Bali is Indonesian, also known as Bahasa Indonesia. However, Balinese, a local language, is widely spoken among the native population.
For tourists, English is commonly used in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants, making it relatively easy for English-speaking visitors to communicate and navigate around the island. Many Balinese involved in the tourism industry speak English to some degree, ensuring a comfortable experience for travellers.
The official currency in Bali, Indonesia, is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). While some larger hotels and businesses may accept major foreign currencies like USD or Euros, it’s not common, and exchange rates can be unfavourable.
Cash is preferred, especially in local markets, small eateries, and rural areas. ATMs are widely available for withdrawing Rupiah.
Credit cards are accepted in many hotels, restaurants, and shops in tourist areas, but it’s always advisable to carry some cash for smaller transactions and places where cards are not accepted.
Average travel cost for Bali
Bali is indeed an affordable destination in Southeast Asia, especially in terms of accommodation. I was able to rent an entire villa with a mini kitchen and a pool for $20 a day.
However, it’s now getting more expensive with digital nomads using Bali as their current home base. To combat this, it’s best to book your accommodation in advance. Here’s a quick idea on the cost of 3 weeks in Bali:
- Affordable: Budget travellers can expect to spend around $30-$50 per day. This includes staying in hostels or guesthouses, eating at local warungs (eateries), and using public transportation. Total estimated cost: $600-$1,000.
- Midrange: For a more comfortable experience, with stays in mid-range hotels or private villas, dining in a mix of local and tourist restaurants, and renting a scooter for transportation, the daily budget might be around $60-$900. Total estimated cost: $1,200-$1,800.
- Luxury: Luxury travellers can spend $200+ per day, enjoying high-end resorts, fine dining, private tours, and spa treatments. Total estimated cost: $4,000+.
These estimates cover accommodation, meals, transportation, and basic activities. Additional costs like shopping, main flights, and travel insurance should be added on top.
Indonesia has now removed the visa-free policy and requires many foreign visitors to apply for an evisa or get a visa on arrival (both for a fee). If you’re a passport holder from the ASEAN countries, you can still enjoy visa-free during your visit.
I prefer getting the evisa online to avoid the long queues at the airport. It takes less than a week to get the evisa. All you need to do is submit your personal and travel details, pay, and wait for your evisa. Print this and also keep an offline digital copy.
Other travel tips
PINNED MAP OF MUST-SEE PLACES IN BALI
Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google
TRIP COST CALCULATOR
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3 WEEKS IN BALI ITINERARY
This travel plan is perfect for those visiting Bali for the first time, looking for some adventure, and/or those who enjoy travelling slower to ensure you’re making the most out of your trip.
Below is an itinerary for 20 days in Bali featuring top sites and some areas where you could skip the big crowds and enjoy the serene atmosphere of this glorious place.
We also have a 3-week Indonesia travel itinerary if you decided to see more than Bali.
Denpasar for 7 days
Depansar is a massive area on Bali island that a week might not even be enough. This is where you’ll find the main airport of Bali and the areas called Canggu, Seminyak, and Kuta – so you can imagine the amount of activities to do here.
You will arrive at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). From here, Canggu is about an hour’s drive. Seminyak on the other hand, is a 30-minute drive. Both areas are popular places to stay, Canggu being a more backpacker’s area and Seminyak is closer to most attractions.
Kuta is even closer to the airport, only a 15-minute drive. But it’s busier, and many accommodations are a bit pricier.
It doesn’t really matter where you stay in Denpasar in terms of getting to the top attractions since most travel agencies and tour operators will pick you up from your hotel. Unless, of course, you decide to rent a motorbike and get around on your own. In that case, Seminyak might be a more suitable location.
Things to do in Denpasar
- Tanah Lot
- Canggu Beach
- Bajra Sandhi Monument
- Day trip to Nusa Peninda
- Upside Down World
- Seminyak Beach
- Waterbom Bali
- Go surfing
- Karang Boma Cliff (South Kuta)
- Uluwatu Temple (South Kuta)
Accommodations in Denpasar
- Affordable: The Tipsy Gypsy Hostel or Serenity Eco Guesthouse
- Mid-range: The Calmtree Bungalows or D’djabu Villas
- Luxury: Regali Villa or Blossom Exco Luxe Villas
Ubud for 5 days
You are now leaving Denpasar and heading north of it. Ubud is about an hour away from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (36.6 km). A bit less if you’re leaving from Canggu (28.7 km).
Ubud is the place to go if you’re looking to visit the famous Monkey Sanctuary/Forest, attend a yoga class, go to a meditation centre, visit rice fields, and eat vegan dishes all day long.
There are various ways to get to Ubud, from Denpasar/Canggu/Seminyak/Kuta. You should be able to find a private van or bus leaving from all these areas in Denpasar. You don’t need to travel from Canggu to Kuta to board a bus.
The most convenient option is a private transfer or a bus. The private transfer will drop you off right to your accommodation in Ubud, while a bus means you need to get on your own from the bus station to your hotel.
Getting to Ubus on a motorbike is also possible. But it’s only suitable if you’re a backpacker with limited luggage or only looking to do a day trip.
Things to do in Ubud
- Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
- Ceking Rice Terrage
- Goa Gajah
- Campuhan Ridge Walk
- Pura Tirta Empul
- Pura Taman Kemuda Saraswati
- Aubu Art Market
- Tegenungan Waterfall
- Ubud Palace
Accommodations in Ubud
- Affordable: Kamar Suci House or Dijumahrai Homestay
- Mid-range: Goya Boutique Resort or Alamdini Resort
- Luxury: Beehouse Dijiwa or Villa Kayu Lama
Munduk for 3 days
Munduk is a small village in the northern part of Bali known for rice terraces/rice paddies, waterfalls, hiking, and a great place to stay with a local host or a homestay and learn more about the Balinese culture.
Both Denpasar and Ubud are now busy places. So, if you’re looking for a more peaceful, serene scene and an area surrounded by greenery, Munduk is a great place to visit.
From Ubud to Munduk, the travel time is around 2 hours, covering 64.3 km. If you have a motorbike, you can get here in under 2 hours. You can also book a private van or a bus; the travel time is around 2 hours, and costs, and a limited schedule is available, so arrange your transportation in advance.
Things to do in Munduk and around
- Bali Handara Gate
- Rice Terraces Munduk
- Golden Valley Waterfalls
- Air Terjun Munduk
- Melanting Waterfall
- Bali Botanical Garden
- The Blooms Garden
- Puncak Wanagiri
- Wanagiri Hidden Hill Bali
- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
Accommodations in Munduk
Gili Islands for 3 days
Gili Islands is not part of Bali, but it’s one of the most popular islands near Bali and definitely an awesome place to add to your 3 weeks in Bali trip.
Now, most people would simply book a day trip to Gili Islands from Bali and call it a day. But since you have plenty of time, you should really consider spending a few nights there. This will allow you to see more than one island (there are three Gili Islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air).
You can stay either in Trawangan or Air, making the latter have fewer choices. Another great thing about staying on these islands is that it’s just a ferry or a boat tour away from Lombok.
And to be honest, if you want to skip South Kuta, you can instead spend a week around the Gili Islands and Lombok instead. It all depends on what activities you plan to do.
Travelling from Munduk to the Gili Islands can be tricky. You most likely have to travel back to Denpasar. The ferries will be leaving from the Ferry Dock at Denpasar Selatan/Kota Denpasar.
To make it simple, book your boat tickets from a travel agency and they’ll tell you how to reach the dock or ask you to arrive at the agency’s office where they’ll transfer you from.
Things to do in Gili Islands
- Gili Beach
- Turtle Shore
- Turtle Paradise
- Sunset Point Gili Trawangan
- Gili Meno Beach
- Go diving
- Go snorkelling
Accommodations in Gili Islands
South Kuta for 3 days
It’s time to travel back to Bali island. It’s sometimes better to end your trip on mainland Bali than on the islands since you’ll have to catch your flight here.
Kuta Selatan/South Kuta is not the same area as Kuta, which is north of the airport. South Kuta of Kuta Selatan is south of the airport; it’s where you’ll find the Uluwatu Beach and Temple.
This area of Denpasar is less busy but has plenty of things to do. Plus, you have the beach and some opportunities to go surfing or simply enjoy the sun and sea – a perfect way to end your 3 weeks in Bali itinerary.
From the Uluwatu area to the airport is a 45-minute drive – best to reach by a private transfer or book a Grab or Gojek.
Things to do in South Kuta
- Uluwatu Temple
- Uluwatu Beach
- Pantai Nunggalan
- Nyang Nyang Beach
- Padang Padang Beach
- Karang Boma Cliff
- Melasti Beach Ungasan
- Pantai Batu Barak
- Pandawa Beach
- Go parasailing
- Pura Geger Beach
Accommodations in South Kuta
MUST-TRY BALINESE DISHES AND DRINKS
While the food from Java Island and Bali are similar in some ways, the Balinese always add something to make it unique for them. If you’re looking to try local dishes in a vegan version, you shouldn’t have a hard time either. You can definitely find loads of smoothie bowl spots around Bali, especially in Ubud.
- Nasi Goreng: A flavorful Indonesian fried rice dish, often served with vegetables, egg, and your choice of meat or seafood.
- Mie Goreng: Similar to Nasi Goreng but with noodles, this dish is a mix of vegetables, meat or seafood, and savory spices.
- Nasi Campur Vegan: A vegan version of the classic Balinese dish, it features white or red rice served with a variety of vegan sides such as tempeh, tofu, vegetable curry, and sautéed greens.
- Sayur Urab: A Balinese mixed vegetable salad made with green beans, spinach, bean sprouts, and grat
- Bebek Betutu: Slow-cooked duck in a rich blend of Balinese spices and herbs, known for its tender and flavorful meat.
- Sate Lilit: Minced meat, usually fish or chicken, mixed with coconut, lime leaves, and other spices, then wrapped around bamboo sticks and grilled.
- Gado-Gado: A traditional Indonesian salad made with a mix of boiled vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, tofu, and peanut sauce.
- Dadar Gulung: Green pancakes made from rice flour and pandan leaves, filled with sweet coconut and palm sugar.
- Klepon: Sweet rice cake balls filled with palm sugar and coated in grated coconut.
- Pisang Goreng: Deep-fried bananas, often served with a sprinkle of sugar or honey.
- Bali Coffee: Known for its strong taste and unique preparation method, often served black.
- Arak: A traditional Balinese spirit made from distilled rice or palm sap, usually enjoyed in cocktails or as a shot.
SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN BALI ITINERARY
Bali is super popular right now. It’s a place known for backpackers, digital nomads, family travellers, honeymooners, and even as a wedding destination.
Whether you’re looking for sun and sand, surfing, an affordable vacation, a romantic getaway, or a cultural experience – Bali has all these to offer.
I hope that this 3 weeks in Bali itinerary has been helpful in assisting you in deciding if Bali is the place for you or if you’re already looking at making your travel arrangements.