Best of Bali

  • 1 Week

Seven days will fly by on this trip that covers Bali's best.

Start at a beachside hotel in Seminyak, Kerobokan or Canggu; shop the streets and spend time at the beach. Enjoy a seafood dinner on Jimbaran Bay as part of a day trip to the monkey-filled temple at Ulu Watu.

In the east, take the coast road to wild beaches like the one near Pura Masceti, followed by the well-mannered royal town of Semarapura with its ruins. Head north up to breathtaking Sideman, which combines rice terraces with lush river valleys and cloud-shrouded mountains. Then go west to Ubud, the crowning stop on any itinerary.

To spoil yourself, stay in one of Ubud's many hotels with views across rice fields and rivers. Sample the offerings at a spa before you try one of the myriad great restaurants. Bali's rich culture is most celebrated and most accessible in Ubud and you'll be captivated by nightly dance performances. Check out local craft studios, including the woodcarvers of Mas. Hike through the surrounding rice fields to river valleys, taking a break in museums bursting with paintings.

Bali Day Trips

  • 1 Week

This is for the traveller who wants to unpack only once, seeing what's possible on Bali during a series of relaxed day trips. Base yourself at a beachside hotel in Sanur. In between your days out, soak up the mellow beach vibe and let your cares float away at a spa.

Day trip one starts with the short drive to the markets and museums of Denpasar, followed by a visit to the shops of Seminyak and Kerobokan. Finish up with a sunset seafood grill at Jimbaran.

Day trip two heads to Ubud for a half-day strolling the streets, looking at shops, galleries and museums. Take different routes there and back so you can enjoy sights such as the temples of Pejeng, the carvers of Mas and the village market at Sukawati.

Day trip three follows the wave-tossed volcanic beaches along the east coast. Stop at Lebih, which has a temple and mica-infused glittering sand. Go inland to the temple ruins and market at Semarapura, then head north along beautiful Sideman. Next, loop west and head back down through the tidy regional centre of Gianyar, where you can check out traditional fabric showrooms and feast at the night market.

Bali & the Gilis

  • 2 Weeks

See an incredible cross-section of Bali and enjoy the most popular parts of a Bali trip, including the Gili Islands.

Start your trip in Seminyak, which has the best places to go out for a meal or a drink or to buy a new frock. Allow at least three days to experience the refined charms of Kerobokan, the beachy pleasures of Canggu and the wild nights of Kuta. Once you're sated, head north, driving through the rice terraces of Jatiluwih and on to Pura Luhur Batukau, a holy temple up in the clouds. Head northwest to the mellow beach resorts at Pemuteran, from where you can snorkel or scuba Bali's best dive site at Pulau Menjangan. Next, driving east inland, stop in Munduk for some hiking to remote waterfalls.

Carry on via Candikuning to Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali. Nights of dance and culture are offset by days of walking through the serene countryside. Do a day trip to the ancient monuments at Gunung Kawi. Then head down to the cute little port town of Padangbai and catch a fast boat to the Gili Islands. Wander the islands, enjoy the pulsing nightlife of Gili T and go snorkelling to spot a turtle.

Total Bali & Lombok

  • 3 Weeks

You'll visit six islands and countless beaches on a trip that takes you to the most interesting sites and places across Bali, Lombok and the Gilis.

Begin your trip at Bingin. Settle back in the sand and let the jet lag vanish. Then move to Canggu for Bali's hippest scene. Transit through Denpasar for a purely Balinese lunch and head up the hill to Ubud to get a full taste of Balinese culture. Next, tackle Gunung Agung, the spiritual centre of the island. Start early to reach the top, and take in the views before the daily onslaught of clouds and mist.

Having climbed Bali's most legendary peak, head west to the village of Munduk, which looks down to the north coast and the sea beyond. Go for a walk in the area and enjoy waterfalls, truly tiny villages, wild fruit trees and the sinuous ribbons of rice paddies lining the hills. Then head south to the wonderful temple of Pura Luhur Batukau and consider a trek up Bali's second-highest mountain, Gunung Batukau. Recover with some chill-out time on popular Balian Beach, just west.

Next, bounce across the waves from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, the island hiding in the shadow of Nusa Penida. The latter is visible from much of the south and east – it's almost unpopulated and makes a good day trip. Take in the amazing vistas from its cliffs and dive under the waves to check out the marine life.

Head to the Gili Islands on the direct boat from Nusa Lembongan for more tranquil time circumnavigating the three islands above and below the idyllic sapphire waters fringing them. Take a boat to Senggigi, but ignore the resorts and head south. Still off the beaten path, the south coast near Lombok's Kuta has stunning beaches and surfing to reward the intrepid. The seldom-driven back roads of the interior will thrill the adventurous and curious, with tiny villages where you can learn about the amazing local handicrafts. Many of these roads lead up the flanks of Gunung Rinjani, the volcanic peak that shelters the lush and remote Sembalun Valley.

Bali at a Slow Pace

  • 3 Weeks

Find accommodation close to the beach in Kerobokan. Be sure to get to the trendy restaurants and cafes of Canggu before you leave this part of south Bali behind. Maybe you can learn how to surf, or at least brush up on your skills, before you head south to Bingin and its groovy cliff-side inns overlooking fab surfing. Make the short drive down to Bukit Peninsula's spiritual centre (and monkey home) Pura Luhur Ulu Watu and explore the secluded beaches at the bottom of Bali like Green Bowl Beach.

Take a trip through Denpasar and stop at the excellent local restaurants and museum. Next, Bali's ancient rice terraces will exhaust your abilities to describe green. Sample these in a drive up to the terraces of Jatiluwih followed by the lyrical Pura Luhur Batukau. Make your way over the mountains via the Antosari Road, pausing at a remote hotel on the way. Head west to Pemuteran where the hotels and resorts define relaxation. Dive or snorkel nearby Pulau Menjangan in Bali Barat National Park. It's renowned for its coral and sheer 30m wall.

Lovina is a good break on a route around the coast to Tulamben, where scores of people explore the shattered hulk of a WWII freighter underwater. Get some serious chill time on the Amed Coast before the short jaunt to Tirta Gangga and hikes through rice fields and up jungle-clad hills to remote temples. Continue to Padangbai. This enjoyable port town is an ideal place to hang out for a couple of days before you take back roads to Ubud. Find your favourite cafe and let the world wander past, or rid yourself of travel kinks at a spa. You might consider staying at one of the iconic family homestays, taking gentle walks through rice fields by day and marvelling at dance performances at night.

When you're ready and rested, get a fast boat from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan. This little island has its own buzz, with a string of hotels – from basic to semiposh – lining its sands. It's a timeless travellers' scene with a backdrop of excellent surfing and splendid snorkelling and diving.

Surfing Bali

  • 2 weeks

Ease into a tour of Bali's best surf in the Kuta area. Halfway Kuta is the best scene for beginners; Legian beach has more powerful breaks. North of Kerobokan, on the northern extremity of the bay, Batu Bolong (often called Canggu) has a nice beach with light-coloured sand and a cool party scene.

Next, head west to classic surfer hang-out Balian Beach, where there are a few peaks near the mouth of Sungai Balian (Balian River). Further up the south coast of western Bali is a soft left called Medewi, a point break that can give a long ride right into the river mouth.

End the circuit in South Bali, where surfing sparked tourism on the island. Balangan is a fast left over a shallow reef; Bingin has short but perfect left-hand barrels. Padang Padang's super-shallow, left-hand reef break is a very demanding break that only works over about 6ft from mid- to high tide (if you can't surf tubes, backhand or forehand, don't go out). Ulu Watu, the most famous surfing spot in Bali, has about seven different breaks (observe where other surfers paddle out and follow them; if you are in doubt, ask someone).