Bali is paradise if paradise has TERRIBLE traffic. You should still go because it’s paradise!
You can stay a week or a month (if you want to stay longer you need a special visa). A week gets you the highlights without feeling too rushed. Next time, (I already know there will be a next time) stay in Ubud because it’s more centrally located. And maybe Singaraja to explore the north.
The volcanic nature of Bali (Mount Agung has erupted more than 10 times in the past 3 years) built mountains, not roads. If you look at a map of Bali you’ll see a ring road around the island and a lot of north-south roads. Embrace the chaos that is Bali traffic. Scooters are everywhere. Some are more entertaining than others. Some are scarily functional. It’s not unusual to see 4 people on a scooter. (Makes me question all my friends that have SUVs because they NEED more space! =)
My recommendation is don’t drive! Drivers are available and not expensive. We did a very long 14.5 hour day (extra 1.5 hours due to thunderstorms and flooding) for a nice air-conditioned SUV for $60. There are some pre-made itineraries or you can create your own. And be open to recommendations. We had a good “local” lunch at a warung for $1.40 each after asking our driver for a recommendation. Some warungs cater to foreigners, but we were definitely the only foreigners at that one.
- Buy a sarong, many temples require women and men to wear one. You could rent one but you can buy a cheap one for the same price. I got this one for $3.50. (PROTIP don’t sit on any bench wearing the sarong and a wet swimsuit, mine was permanently stained brown, but for $3.50 I’ll survive.)
- Be prepared for lines. The temple had a 2.5-3 hour line for the Insta-famous photo. Or do what we did and climb to the top for a view of the whole temple with no waiting.
- The water palace had a 2-hour line.
- Ask your driver to pull over if you want to take a photo!
You can explore the interactive Google Map of our trip below for our recommendations for an overview of what do with your one week in Bali.
The interactive map with photos from our trip in March 2019.
Turtle Island Sanctuary Video
If you have more time I recommend island hopping Lombok is the easiest and most think it’s Bali 10-15 years ago with mosques instead of Hindu temples. For more epic adventures hop to Flores Island (hiking, snorkeling, diving, dragons, and mantas!!) Map and post coming soon!