Think of Bali and you might cast your mind to a culturally- and spiritually-rich island, all pristine with its white-fringed beaches and numerous temples.
Bali’s uniqueness is tremendous. If you’re in the island, start of your journey in Kuta, a popular area for nightlife among tourists. Your choices of places to hit range from casual bars to high-concept clubs. The district will also satisfy your hunger for local Indonesian chows – be sure to head to the Kuta night market for grilled and fresh food.
South-west of Kuta lies Dreamland, an underrated area where you can (or could) find the nicest beach on Bali. If you’re an avid surfer, the high waves will impress you; but beginners and weak swimmers would have to be more cautious here.
North of Kuta is Seminyak, home to clubs, restaurants and plenty of expats. Don’t let that deter you from heading there, however; the area is also a scene of many temple-based ceremonies. The stretch from Pura Luhur Ulu Watu to Tanah Lot holds a string of sea temples well worth visiting.
Further up and a shuttle bus ride away is Ubud, a town you should highly consider making your base while you're in Bali. The area will give you plenty of access to the various temples and cultural centres, as well as handicraft shops for souvenirs and knick-knacks. Don't forget to check out the dance performances and the 'monkey temple' while you're here.
You can organize a full daytrip from Ubud. Rent a motorbike with or without driver and head first to Gunung Batur for a view of the volcanic and mountainous region. Bali’s highest temple, rising to 1745 meters, is also located here.
Next stop on your daytrip should be Pura Besakih, the biggest temple complex in Bali. Don't let the hassling guides deter you from enjoying the temples. The Pura Penataran Agun is the biggest and most important temple of the 23 in the area.
Then, head to Klung Kung, which used to be the centre of an important Balinese Kingdom in the 17th century. You'll still be able to see some of the ruins and remnants of the palace, which was mostly destroyed during the Dutch colonial period. Klung Kung is also rich in artistic culture.
Pura Tanah Lot is a great place to check out the sunset view and visit even more temples. Be sure to reach Tanah Lot at the right time, however – too late and you’ll be amongst a swarm of tourists (and tourist traps), as everyone shows up for sunset.
Your last stop lies on an offshore island – Nusa Lembongan – where you can chill out, enjoy the beaches and dive with giant mola-molas during the season.
(This itinerary is based on our Bali Backpacker CheatSheet, a visual guide available for free download. We offer Backpacker CheatSheets for many more countries.)