5-Day Itinerary in Bali for First-Timers

Are you planning a week in Bali, Indonesia? Make sure to implement this 5-day itinerary in Bali and you will probably love it. Bali is the paradise island that most people dream about!

I want to explain the 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers, that I followed as part of the Trip of Wonders campaign, which was organized by the Indonesian Minister of Tourism.

All opinions are my own, but this itinerary was put together by the minister, so clearly, it’s the absolute best itinerary for your first 5 days in Bali!

If you are planning to go to Bali, or you want to know what it looks and feels like to travel to Bali, then you will love this post.

On a side note, before travelling to Bali for the first time, it would help if you read some tips for first timers in Bali. If you are more focused on the spiritual side of Bali (if there is any left), here are some things to do in Ubud, Bali.

As part of our organized trip, we visited the following (and they all deserve to be on your 5 days Bali itinerary):

  • Ubud Monkey Forest
  • Tegallalang Rice Terrace (where rice field swings are)
  • Bali Pulina (a taste of some traditional tea and coffee from Bali)
  • Tukad Cepung Waterfall
  • Balai Gili water palace
  • Temple Of Lempuyang Luhur
  • Seen the Sahadewa Barong Dance
  • Sukawati Art Market Guwang
  • Seminyak

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5-Day Itinerary in Bali for First-Timers

Your Bali 5-day itinerary for first-timers (Bali itinerary 5 days / 4 nights)!

I’m going to share with you my tried and tested plan for a perfect Bali 5-day (4 nights) itinerary. However, if you don’t feel like planning all of this (for which you will either need a driver or rent a scooter), you might consider booking some day tours to avoid all the hassle.

Day 1 in Bali: Arrival in Bali

This is the first day of the 5 days Bali itinerary. I want to share a bit of my experience getting there to know what to expect upon arrival. If you have more time on this day, I recommend visiting Kuta, the capital of Bali.

If you’re arriving from outside of Asia, I guess you will be tired by the time you arrive in Bali. Make sure you are familiar with the time in Bali before you arrive. That way, you might want to slightly adjust your daily routines to the Bali time zone, and you’ll save some time when you arrive and feel less sleepy during the day.

Arriving at Denpasar airport, in Bali

It took me 14 hours to get there, 1 layover of 8 hours and a journey through 7 different time zones. It took forever. Hopefully, you will be able to sleep on the plane.

In my case, the flight also had a slight delay. I should have arrived at 17:30 local time, but it was after 18:00 that the plane actually landed.

It turns out Denpasar Airport has only one runway, and the plane I was on had to circle the island 4 times, before getting permission for landing. 

The immigration formalities took at least half an hour (the queue was huge), and then I had to wait for my luggage for about 20 more minutes. I think it was later than 7 pm when I walked into my hotel room, at the Novotel Bali Ngurah Rai Airport.

The good thing about this hotel is that you can literally walk from the airport to the hotel; it’s almost the same building. You can hear some airport sound going on, but it wasn’t an issue seeing how tired I was. The hotel itself is lovely. (Great food!)

If you still have time and energy, I recommend visiting Kedonganan Beach, which is close to the airport, and you can watch the sunset there.

Day 2 in Bali: Bali swing and coffee

Wake up early on the second day of your 5-day Bali itinerary. Get up around 9 am to have breakfast, which is lovely! Or so I hear, seeing as how I overslept.

Apparently, it takes me a few days to adjust to a new time zone. Pack your stuff, put your luggage in the car, and start exploring Bali.

As I suggested before, in the tips for travelling to Bali for the first time, renting a car with a driver is the best option for sightseeing. If you are more than 1, it’s the best option!

You can find local agencies basically everywhere on the island. Online and offline. You can even ask your hotel’s reception to help you find a driver. TripAdvisor and Instagram are other resources you can use for this.

Ultimately, and probably the best option, is to find an agent on the street or one of those taxi drivers waiting for customers and bargain for a good price after you clearly explain where you want to go.

Ubud Monkey Forest

Make your first stop at the Ubud Monkey Forest to get acquainted with the Balinese climate. I’m talking about nature, bugs, mosquitoes, humidity, and monkeys. They say it is the “natural habitat of the Balinese long-tailed Monkey”.

5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary

There is a set of simple rules to follow. DO NOT pet/feed/stare at the monkeys.

Also, keep all your belongings safe, as they can try to grab them and run away with them. I heard bad stories about the Bali monkeys, so please keep your important stuff safe. Because if the monkeys steal it, it’s bye-bye to your stuff!

But in other ways, monkeys are lovely creatures. Some of them are even sweet!

One of them was licking a stolen hand sanitiser, and although you could see from its expression that it tasted terrible, the monkey wouldn’t let it go! Consider yourself warned!

Tegallalang Rice Terrace

The second stop of the 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers is the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, where you can find all the rice field swings made famous on Instagram. I counted 5 or 7 swings.

As I visited in December, which is considered to be the low season, not all of them were attended. And it was almost raining when I was there (check my cloudy photos), and still, I had to wait to get on the swing!

The best way to explore this place is with a private guide (it’s not expensive).

5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary

Also, I was a bit disappointed because all the rice had already been harvested (and they have 3 crops per year). It was not my lucky month. Nevertheless, it was beautiful there!

Tip: Don’t linger around too much during the rainy season, especially on a cloudy day! The rain started as we waited for the car to pick us up.

Bali Pulina

The final stop of the day was at the Bali Pulina! This is a magical place to taste some traditional tea and coffee from Bali. When you visit Bali, many travel agencies will advertise Luwak coffee.

Bali Pulina 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary

A reservation is needed for a visit to Bali Pulina, especially for larger groups.

The entrance ticket is 250,000 IDR (July 2023), and it includes the coffee tour, 7 different kinds of coffees and tea tasting, a sweet snack (I had fried banana), and 1 full cup of tea/coffee of your choice.

Luwak coffee is a special and expensive type of coffee, and a visit to Bali Pulina will at least grant you an explanation of the process of making this special coffee.

You could also order it if you can afford it.
Luwak coffee is coffee that is prepared using coffee cherries that have been eaten and partially digested by the Asian palm civet (Cat). After tasting coffee, you will get to experience the swing over the jungle.

Arrive at the Sthala, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel in Ubud Bali, and make it your base for the next 2 nights! It’s one lovely hotel; I could live here for a while.

My honest opinion in planning a perfect 5 days Bali itinerary is that you need to try at least for one night a cool accommodation, like the ones you see on Instagram, right in the rice fields or in the forest.

If you are looking for something more budget-friendly, check out the many amazing budget-friendly accommodations in Ubud! It’s hard to pick one because all the hotels are so beautiful!!

Day 3 in Bali: The Gates of Heaven

Rise and shine! This is the 3rd day of your five-day Bali itinerary.

Have a morning swim at the hotel’s pool (most hotels in Ubud have a swimming pool), and keep your swimsuit on!

5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers

Tukad Cepung Waterfall

The first stop will be the Tukad Cepung Waterfall, and you will get wet even if you don’t intend to! Also, if you are going there to take some nice pictures as a memory, you will get really wet! Bring a GoPro and rubber sandals.

Tukad Cepung Waterfall 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers

Balai Gili Water Palace

The next stop will be Balai Gili Water Palace, where you can find some local restaurants where you can have lunch. I loved this place so much, and you will, too. Indonesians come here to take wedding pictures, and I can understand why!

bali 5 day itinerary 
Winning the #TripOfWonders December 2018 - Bali, Indonesia

When we were here, it was so hot; I couldn’t move! And still, it took me 15 minutes to walk around and take some beautiful pictures.

Lucky me, there weren’t too many people around. It was kinda empty, really, and the only other people I saw, except our group, were three little Indonesian boys. They were staring at us and giggling.

Right after we left, it started raining! And the tropical rain is something that one can never witness here in the West, so you’re in for a surprise from nature.

Gates of Heaven (Lempuyang Luhur temple in Bali)

The next stop was the famous temple with the Gates of Heaven! Instagram made #gatesofheaven famous.

To get there, the road goes through a few villages! Because the entire community needs our (the tourists’) help! So somewhere along the way, we parked our cars and jumped into a local’s car, and there was a per-person price for the transport.

I don’t think it was more than 50k IDR per person in 2018, but I don’t really remember. It took ten more minutes to use their car.

I find this kind of stuff annoying, especially if you are travelling on a budget, even if you’re in Asia.

I think it’s fair that everyone gets a cut, but it’s so exhausting finding all these details and how everyone is trying to get money from you, how no clear info is written anywhere!

But I guess this is one big downside of travelling to less-developed countries in Asia. However, we need to remember that we are a guest in their country, and they’re all trying to make a living. So remember to be kind.

As we arrived at the Lempuyang Luhur temple, the rain seemed to have stopped. But 2 minutes after getting out of the car, it started pouring like I never thought it could.

This was the heaviest, most violent rain I have ever witnessed.

bali rain 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers

We waited about an hour for the rain to stop, hidden inside a small tea shop next to the temple.

Remember you need to buy something if you want to sit down! And when tropical rain hits, you will want to be under a roof, for sure!

Lempuyang Luhur temple 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary
There are two locals taking pics for tourists. They ask for donations. They specialise in taking photos with your phone. They use a mirror under your phone’s camera to create that famous effect of water, which you saw on Instagram. I asked them to take a photo with my camera, and they said the mirror trick wouldn’t work with a camera. I didn’t care. I don’t want to be another speed in the herd.

The heavy rain stopped, and we put on the raincoats as it was still dripping a bit.

The temple was full of puddles, around ten other people were visiting, and two locals were taking pictures of the tourists at Heaven’s Gates!

Yes, this is the famous place where all those Instagram photos are taken!

The truth is, there is no lake but a mirror held by the man taking the pic, just under your phone’s camera, to have a reflection of the gates. And if there’s no clear sky, you can’t see the volcano through the gates.

Even with just a few people visiting, I waited a few minutes to take a picture in this famous spot.

I wanted a pic with my camera, but apparently, the mirror catch doesn’t work with a camera. It works only for smartphones. Of course, a donation is expected for the two local men taking pictures.

Back to Ubud

Head back to Ubud for dinner. We went to Milk & Madu Ubud, and it was very nice.

If Western food is what you are looking for, then this is a good place for you. If you are looking for a traditional and cheaper meal, look for a Warung – a type of small restaurant owned by locals. Bali has some amazing dining places, so make sure to check Bali’s best restaurants.

If you have more time to spend in Ubud, check out these ideas of what to do in and around Ubud, Bali.

There are a few bars in Ubud if you are up for an after-dinner drink on your 3rd day of the 5 days Bali itinerary.

Take a look at L.O.L Bar. They had live music. Lots of tourists around. Many bars in Indonesia have bands to perform live music. That is a nice touch.

Head back to your hotel and have a well-deserved night’s sleep.

Day 4 in Bali: Traditional Dance

Good morning, beautiful Bali!

By now, you should be accustomed to the heat, humidity, and local time. So this means you can really appreciate the perfect morning weather. Pack your luggage and take it with you because it’s time to change locations once more.

To tick off the touristic list of all the must-dos from in this 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers, you need to see the traditional Balinese dance (the Barong & Kris Dance or the Kecak & Fire Dance).

We saw the Barong dance, which was in the morning. The Fire dance was in the evening.

Sahadewa Barong Dance (traditional Balinese dance)

Sahadewa Barong Dance is the place we’ve been to and it was so nice.

It took me a bit to understand what was happening, but fortunately, they gave you a flyer at the entrance to explain the entire story of the show. I even took a pic with the cast at the end of the show.

Sahadewa Barong Dance 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary

Sukawati Art Market Guwang

The next stop is Sukawati Art Market Guwang. Buy all the souvenirs you need, including clothes, fruits, bags, soups, and home decorations.

Don’t forget to bargain, as everyone is trying hard to sell you stuff. I’ve been told this market is cheaper than the one in Ubud. Either way, I have to tell you the merchants from Bali are used to massive tourism, and what they are selling is not that cheap.

Sukawati Art Market Guwang 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary

For me, some of the stuff was cheaper back home in Romania than in Bali.

My advice would be to only buy something that you really like and can’t find at home. Otherwise, I wouldn’t carry it from the other side of the world.

Lunch at Nook

Ready for lunch?

Head over to Nook, a wonderful restaurant with a wide variety of Western and Indonesian dishes!

It looks so cute; people take pictures everywhere. And the food!

We were eight people at the table, and it took us 20 minutes to finish taking pictures of our food. It was beautiful! And delicious!

Nook  5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary

They even have a small shop for home decorations and small accessories. Luckily, everything has a price tag, and you don’t need to haggle.

Remember that if something has a price tag, it means it’s already a bit too expensive. I bought a nice set of bamboo straws from there!

Stay in Seminyak

Then head to Seminyak! Time for some Bali beach time and relaxation. And for beer. Bintang is the local beer, and it’s a must-try!

We stayed at the Montigo Resort in Seminyak, which was probably one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at (so far). It’s pricey but perfect for a week of relaxation, a honeymoon or just a group of friends.

If you decide to stay at Montigo, please try their spa! It’s heavenly!

bali 5 day itinerary

When I was a little girl, I wanted to own a hotel (I had a bright mind as a kid). Do you know why? Because I wanted to live in one. Well, if my dream ever becomes true, then I want a hotel like this one! 

Seminyak is where all the parties happen. Everybody is having fun (and drinking). It’s different and unexpected.

Seminyak 5-day itinerary in Bali for first-timers
bali 5 day itinerary

Seminyak is a fun place with a huge beach that is perfect for surfers. It was windy when I was there, but it’s a perfect place to watch the sunset, and the beach gets crowded around that time.

The huge offer of bars, pubs, hotels and hostels will make you want to stay at least for one night! If you are still into that. For complete silence and relaxation time, you should head back to Ubud.

bali 5 day itinerary

I went to Mexicola bar, to have a beer after dinner. It was funny to watch Asian people dance to Mexican music. Somehow, I could have never imagined such a thing.

But we all had a great time, locals and tourists together.

Day 5 in Bali: Relax & Departure day

Take your time and relax a bit before leaving. Hang out by the pool or at a spa. Take a jog on the beach. Do some souvenir shopping. Wherever you stay in Seminyak, you will find it easy to do all of those things and more.

If you need to get to the airport, remember to reserve at least 1 hour for the ride.

Seminyak isn’t far away from Denpasar Airport, but the traffic can be pretty bad. Also, I recommend using Grab app. It’s like Uber, but the Asian version. There are also the famous Blue taxis, but I heard some nasty stories about them.

But if you have more time in Bali, consider going North, where not so many travellers go, and doing a few nature hikes, such as this morning hike on Mount Batur.

Bali travel tips to know before planning your 5-day trip to Bali

Bali time zone

Bali is in UTC+08:00 time zone, and if you’re travelling there from Europe like I was, chances are that you will feel the jet lag.

My body had no idea that it had to go to sleep at midnight, and I couldn’t sleep until 4 am. Guess who missed breakfast on the first morning in Bali?! Well, that was me; I didn’t even hear the alarm.

My advice is to try to adapt to the local time in Bali before you arrive.

Try not to sleep on the plane and to go to sleep when you arrive if you arrive in the evening. If you arrive in the morning or during the day, plan your sleep schedule according to the Bali time zone. Otherwise, it will take a few days to get used to the time zone in Bali. And if you’re only in Bali for a week or so, then that’s such a waste of your time.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the time zone in Bali and the potential jet lag that comes with it.

Where to stay in Bali, Indonesia?

When booking a hotel in Asia, you can either use Booking.com or Agoda.

You’ll find most hotels here. If you’re keen on a popular place with limited rooms, make sure to book in advance.

Internet in Bali

Some years ago, the only way to get internet when arriving in Bali was to get a SIM card from the airport.

But if you want to make sure you’ll have an active internet connection the moment you step out of the plane, I strongly advise you to get Airalo.

You need a smartphone that supports eSIM to use it. Pre-purchase a data package, and you’re all set! I love this thing!

Bali weather

You need to prepare for the Bali weather.

If you’re going to visit Bali during the wet season (October – March), then you need to think about what you’re going to wear, what skin products you will want to use, and everything else.

If you’re coming from a dry climate, such as in Europe, then the first gasp of Balinese air will shock you and leave you breathless. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

The major issue is that it’s wet and hot during the day, and you’ll be constantly sweating, drinking water, and everything will feel moist and melting (including make-up or underwear). Bring thin clothes that can dry fast, and have multiple layers of clothes to use.

As for the make-up, don’t plan on using too much. Sunscreen is a must, but other than that, it’s impossible to wear makeup. That’s why I don’t recommend bringing too much make-up with you.

Ready for your dream trip to Bali?

This is my suggestion for a 5-day itinerary in Bali as a first-timer. I hope this Bali 5-day itinerary will make your holiday in Bali just the way you dreamt of it!

If you’re not convinced yet, here is a short 1-minute video I made with my highlights from Bali.

Here are a few more very useful resources for planning your first trip to Bali:

Enjoy your holidays!

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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