Bali Top 10 – A Bali Itinerary for First Time Visitors to the Island of the Gods

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Bali is known as the Island of the Gods. By name alone, that seems like such a fitting place for a dragon to explore, doesn’t it? That’s why when Allison from Flights to Fancy invited Adventure Dragon to tag along on a journey to the beautiful but mysterious land, the little guy wasted no time in powdering his nose polishing his wings and soaring off to a new adventure.

If you’re visiting for the first time, you may be overwhelmed by the overabundance of things to do (it’s hard to choose just a few from hundreds), so we sorted through all our favorites to compile a list of the Bali top 10 activities you won’t want to miss. Here it is wrapped up all nice and neatly in a little itinerary for ya. (It would have had a bow as well, but Dragon ate it. Sorry. Never trust a dragon to do your blogging for you.)

Traverse the Terraces | The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces - Bali top 10 | Bali Itinerary Things to Do

Located in a rural area, the terraces require a bit of effort to get to (we recommend arriving by dragon-back), but it’s well-worth the trip. If you don’t have your own personal mythical creature to escort you, you can alternatively hire a driver, stay in a nearby resort, or opt for a top reviewed day tour. The great part about treading a little further off the path is that it enables you to snap loads of gorgeous pictures without worrying about flocks of tourists picking their noses, swatting babies, and digging out buttcracks in the corner of your shots. And for those of you who’ve been a little too busy riding dragons to brush up on your farming knowledge, here’s a helpful nugget – the terracing technique helps to decrease soil erosion and surface runoff so that the crops can be irrigated without damaging the soil. Presto – you’ve got minute rice! Visiting Jatiluwih gives you a peak inside the lives and culture of rural Bali, and it’s even a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it’s an experience you definitely won’t want to miss!

Take a Trip to a Temple | The Royal Temple of Mengwi

Royal Temple of Mengwi - Bali top 10 | Bali Itinerary

Built by a king of the Mengwi dynasty 1634, the Royal Temple of Mengwi comprises just one of a complex network of directional temples designed to protect Bali from evil spirits. Also known as Pura Taman Ayun (or the Taman Ayun Temple), its name in Balinese translates to Garden Temple in the Water.  Completely surrounded by canals, the temple is accessible only by a bridge leading to a single gate which enters into the first of a series of courtyards and even more canals. On the innermost courtyard, tiered shrines represent Balinese gods, and the entire island symbolically mirrors Mount Meru, the home of the gods that forever floats in the sea of eternity.

Read Next: Bali Temples Guide – 15 Best Temples in Bali Indonesia

Temple etiquette tips — wear a shirt that covers your shoulders and a sarong to cover your legs. Many temples will provide sarongs that you can rent if you don’t have your own, but you might want to have your own just so that you’re always prepared.

Bring your Booty to the Beach | A Rainbow of Options

Bali Itinerary - Head to Bali Beaches - Bali top 10
Dragon sunbathing at Kuta Beach

White Sand. Black Sand. Golden Sand. Bali has it all. Here’s a list of some of your options categorized according to their dominant characteristics (Dragon nicknamed them himself. Because dragons are clever.) For details on each, check out our beach article here (coming soon) where we rank them all according to our favorites.

  • Shipwreck Beach
  • Volcano Bay Beach
  • Fresh Seafood Beach
  • Hidden Cave Beach
  • Bali’s Most Popular Beach
  • Hidden Pools Beach
  • Camels on the Beach Beach
  • Eat Pray Love Beach
  • Black Sand Beach
  • White Sand Beach

Binge on the Local Beer | Bintang

Bali Beer Bintang - Bali top 10 | Bali Itinerary

Just kidding – don’t binge. We meant to say taste. Or sip. But neither of those words begin with a “B,” so we opted to become alcoholics instead. Sorry. We’ve been drinking, and we make bad decisions when we’re drunk. Hiccup.

Fancy Some Fruit | Dig into Dinner

what to eat in Bali - Bali top 10 | Bali itinerary

If this is your first visit to Bali (and you’re not vegan), you’ll probably end up trying the chicken satay – a scrumptious meal of skewered meat, grilled and smothered in peanut sauce. One of the most popular dishes on the island, it’s served everywhere from street vendors to upper class restaurants and luxury resorts. My favorite treat, however, remains the rambutan, a hairy-looking fruit with a juicy-sweet, fleshy center that tastes a lot like lychee. Dragon made friends with it (look how cute they are together), and then he ate it (don’t ever trust a dragon). It’s okay, though, because the buffet had plenty more. And Dragon’s heart soon went-a-fluttering for something new and exciting, so he embarked on a different love affair with some cutesy crepes. (They lured him in with that dazzling drizzle.)

For delicious vegan options, we recommend this guide to the best vegan restaurants in Canggu by blogger Eating Bali. They specialize in foodie guides to multiple locations all throughout Bali, so you can turn to them for all the top vegan hot spots.

Primp at the Pool | A Private Pool in Our Hotel Room

Bali Itinerary - Bali private pool hotel - Bali top 10
Gotta make sure you get an even tan :p

We stayed at the Magani Hotel and Spa while in Bali, and our room came complete with its very own private plunge pool. Perfect for dragons who like to soak their scales far away from the gawking stares of other tourists (it’s like they’ve never seen a dragon before psshh). The premier pool room also includes free wifi and buffet breakfast (we’re not saying dragons eat a lot, but…well, yes…yes, we are), so we were just a tad bit excited by this setup (but only a tad — dragons never lose their composure, and those excited wings you saw flapping away in the night definitely must have belonged to a bat).

Soak at a Spa | Melt into a Massage

Bali Itinerary - Bali Massage Spa - Bali top 10

Spas are pretty cheap in Bali, so take time to rest your tired toes and dreary dragon wings. At Yes Spa, Dragon relaxed under a four hand massage with two therapists for just 170,000 IDR for 60 mins. In US dollars, that’s only $12.75. Or AUD $16.43 for you awesome Aussies. (We’re not sure what that price is in Dragon dollars though — sorry.)

Ponder the Past | Bali’s Bombing Memorial

Bali Itinerary - Bali Bombing Memorial - Bali top 10

In 2002, a bombing attack in Bali killed over 200 people, many of them Australian tourists. Today a memorial monument bearing the names and nationalities of those killed draws a respectful crowd of both locals and tourists wishing to remember and honor those lost on that day.

Mingle with Monkeys | Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Bali Itinerary - Bali Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary - Bali top 10 Things to Do

Perhaps the most unique entry on our Bali top 10 list, this nature reserve and Hindu temple complex in Ubud houses around 700 monkeys and 186 species of trees in 12.5 hectares of forest, temples, and statues. You are free to roam, as are the monkeys, so don’t be alarmed if they approach or try to climb on your shoulders. But please don’t try to pick them up. You may even encounter local villagers who come to give offerings and prayers to Balinese gods as well as to the spirits of trees and statues in the forest. An important part of Balinese heritage and everyday life, the Ubud Monkey Forest (and other sanctuaries like it) exist to maintain harmony between humans, nature, and the cosmos while renewing contact with the spiritual world. Many of the trees are considered holy, and each has its own role to play during festivals. The Majegan is used exclusively for building shrines. The Berigin gives its leaves for use in cremation ceremonies. And the most important of all — the Pule Bandak — even embodies the spirit of the forest, so its bark is used to make powerful masks (after first asking permission from the tree spirit, of course). If you visit the monkey forest with a tour or guide, you may be able to have an expert point out these different trees for you.

Entrance costs IDR 50,000 (which is about US $3.75 or AUS $4.80).

Care about the Culture | Canang Sari

Bali Itinerary - Canang Sari - Bali top 10 Things to Do
The canang sari inside our hotel

It’s impossible to enjoy a holiday in Bali without at least once coming across the canang sari – daily offerings made to the gods. An essential component of their Hindu religious beliefs, Balinese locals make these offerings every single day because the small act demonstrates self sacrifice through the time and effort required to prepare them.

Important Etiquette Tip — If you come across one lying on the ground, please step around it, never over it. Especially if the incense is still lit. The smoke from the incense carries the offering to the heavens, so stepping over one can interfere with this sacred process. Regardless if you subscribe to the beliefs of Christianity, Atheism, Hinduism, or one of the world’s other many religions, you’ll want to remain respectful when you are a guest in someone else’s country or culture.

How to Spot the Canang Sari

    • All daily offerings are comprised of the same essential components: 
    • THE BASKET: a small basket made from woven palm leaves which is then filled with flowers and a stick of incense.
    • KEY COLORS: the color and placement of the flowers chosen are never random, for each has a very specific role to play. In every canang sari, you’ll find four hues — white flowers in the east of the box for the god Iswara, red for Brahma in the south, yellow for Mahadeva in the west, and blue or green for Vishnu in the north.
    • A LIT INCENSE: the smoke from the incense carries the sari – the essence of the offering – to heaven. When lit, the offering is considered sacred. Once the incense has burnt out, the offering has made it to the gods, so the basket goes back to being just a basket.

Dragon paid his respects at the canang sari we found inside our hotel, but you’ll find them almost everywhere — at temples, on small shrines inside homes or shops, and even outside on the ground.

We owe a huge thanks to Allison Smith for inviting Adventure Dragon to be her fire-breathing bodyguard little sidekick buddy while exploring beautiful Bali. All photos of Dragon in this Bali top 10 list are courtesy of her amazing photography skills, and you can read more about her own adventures in Bali on her travel blog Flights to Fancy.

For more information on the average costs of traveling in Bali, you can check out Bali Travel Costs on Budget Your Trip.

We adored our stay in Bali, but it’s not for everyone. So if you’d like to read an alternative perspective before making your decision to visit, you can check out Untold Wanderlust and their 5 Reasons to Dislike Bali article over on their travel blog.

Please do not copy or reproduce any of the photos or content on this page without permission. It makes dragons sad. And nobody likes a sad dragon. Except for maybe sad people. Away with you, you poopy pirate.

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Jillian Michelle
FAIRY DRAGON MOTHER at Adventure Dragon. Artist. Writer. Dreamer. Adventurer. I still believe kindness can change the world. I just want to inspire.


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