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Bali is a spiritual center, an island paradise, a hub for people looking for yoga and a great immersion in Indonesian culture. A holiday to Bali can easily last for weeks, exploring the many places that this gorgeous island has to offer.

It is such a magical and special place that will undoubtedly hold a place in your heart for years to come.

If you have just 5 days to explore the island, you will definitely have to do your research to find out what it is you really want to see and do. You could spend 5 days in themselves enjoying one of the many beach towns lining the coast, or immersing in yoga in Ubud. But to really get a feel for the variety of the island, create a 5-day itinerary from some of these awesome places:

Ubud

Ubud culture via Allan Wilson

Ubud culture via Allan Wilson

Ubud is the spiritual capital of Bali, made famous by the book “Eat, Pray, Love.” But don’t avoid it just because it’s got a bit of a touristy appeal. Ubud is a great place to experience an arts and cultural scene, try cooking or jewelry making classes and enjoy the amazing food that’s abundant in this town. Ubud is well-known as a yogi’s paradise, and you can join one of the many yoga studios here for daily classes. In the evenings, you can join a sound healing or group meditation to wind down your day. Spend at least a full day and night here in Ubud so you can experience some of the great organic cafes and healthy vegan and gluten-free treats available. At many cafes, you will find visitors chilling out and jamming on guitars or other instruments. It’s a great place to relax and just enjoy the vibe of Bali.

In Ubud, you can visit the Monkey Forest which is really just right in the middle of town. For just a few dollars, you can explore this monkey-filled jungle and even take a picture with one of the creatures on your shoulder.

A spa day can be a perfect way to enjoy luxury at a fraction of the cost you would pay at home.

If you’re into outdoor adventures, just outside Ubud you can take whitewater rafting tours or go bike riding through the mountains. You’ll find plenty of people advertising these sorts of excursions and you can rent a bus or van for quite cheap to take you there. In Ubud, you can also rent a motorbike for just a few dollars a day to take you around town. Don’t forget to indulge in a wonderful and cheap massage or reflexology treatment while you’re here.

Seminyak

A colourful café in Seminyak via Michael Brewer.

After exploring Ubud, you might feel that you want to spend more than a day or two here, but it’s time to move on and see some more of the island. Hire a taxi or driver to take you to Seminyak, which should only cost you around $20 or even less. This is a great place to try the food at a local warung, or Indonesian cafe. Some local specialties include Nasi Goreng, or fried rice, and Gado Gado, a local specialty of steamed veggies with tofu, tempeh and sweet peanut sauce. The local cuisine is flavourful with lots of vegetables, and is very cheap at just a dollar or two per dish.

At night, you can explore some of the bars in Seminyak to grab a drink, although the nightlife here isn’t too crazy. The next day, head to the beach in the morning to catch sunrise and an early swim. You can even get a massage on the beach, enjoying the relaxing treatment while taking in the sand and the waves. After beach time, head to Seminyak Square to browse through the markets. Dinnertime can take you to one of the great seafood restaurants on the beach serving up freshly grilled fish, shrimp and squid.

South to Kuta and Uluwatu

The paradise of Uluwatu via Pecatu.

After exploring Seminyak, hire a taxi or driver to drive you down south to Kuta where you can choose to stay if you’re into the party scene. Otherwise, continue south to Uluwatu to experience some true surfing culture in Bali. If you haven’t surfed before, this is the place to start! You can take a surfing lesson from a local and get out there in the waves with all the others. The waves are great here and the vibe is super chilled and laid-back. You can find excellent places to eat and drink in and around Uluwatu, and at night the surfers hit the restaurants to enjoy some grilled seafood and a few beers while recounting the tales from the day on the waves. As far as accommodations go, expect to score a beachside bungalow for quite cheap, around $20 per night. You can also stay in homestays on the cliffs overlooking the ocean for some great views.

Extra time: Gili Air

Gil paradise via Kien Lam

If you find yourself hurrying through this itinerary, book a boat to one of the Gili Islands. We recommend Gili Air for the great combination of gorgeous scenery, laid-back atmosphere and lively vibe. If you’re into snorkeling or scuba diving, you’ll love Gili Air. The boat ride here takes just an hour and a half from the main island, and prices vary depending on where you buy your ticket. Once here, book a bungalow and hit the beaches.

There is more snorkeling and scuba diving off Gili Air than there is surfing, so relax and enjoy the calm waters.

Dine at the many beachside cafes and watch the sunset as you enjoy a cocktail by the water. If you are feeling more of a craving to party, take a boat to Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, as this is where the party scene is happening. And Gili Meno is more on the relaxed side, even less inhabited than Gili Air, ideal for couples on a romantic vacation.