Making the most of a short stay: how to spend 5 days in Bali

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 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.


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

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

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.

Weekending in Amed: Bali’s best-kept secret fishing village

We’re always trying to escape the crowds in Bali. Kuta, and even Seminyak, have become dirty words in the traveller’s vocabulary that suggest bad taste and invite disdain. They’re not all that bad, and Bali’s central hub “is what it is”. But it’s true that there’s much more behind the back door if you’re willing to get on the road for two to three hours (or even more).

Amed is a bohemian fishing village that unfolds over a 10km stretch of homestays, warungs, cafes and diving shops. We even stumbled across a few trendy clothing boutiques selling western style sun dresses. Go figure!

The best travel is a leap in the dark. Arriving in a strange place under the cover of night. Not in the brightly lit capitol, but through the back door.

Fast boats to the Gilis from Amed only take 40 minutes (IDR250,000 for a one way trip), versus an hour and a half from Padang Bai. The town is just over an hour past Padang Bai, but most travellers don’t go the extra mile. Trust us, it’s worth the drive. The village is gloriously laid back, and there’s more things to do here than you’d expect.

Did we mention a black volcanic sand beach, calm cool waters and a breathtaking view of Mount Agung? It’s pretty special. On the fringes of high season, there aren’t too many tourists at all. However, the place gets much busier over the summer vacation months (June to August).

The crowd in Amed


The Japanese shipwreck pulls in the diving crowd. It’s a spot on place for diving with superb visibility and barely a trace of a current. The Fusion free diving school based in Sanur is slowly migrating here as the waters are more ideal (and interesting) for the courses they run.

The crowd in Amed is a mix of solo travellers, groups and couples young and old. You hear the buttery accent of the French more than any other tongue here. Perhaps the authenticity of the village and remoteness of the town appeals to them. It certainly appealed to us.

Why should you check out Amed?

If you’re taking the fast boat to the Gilis and you’re looking for an alternative departure point to Padang Bai, here it is. Travel agents in central Bali should really recommend Amed more often – sadly they don’t. It’s possibly a matter of conflicting interests (how far they think you’re willing to go, and a slice of ticket sales).

A more curious reason to visit Amed is to be close to Mount Agung. Its energy is believed to enhance creativity, heal emotional wounds and bring you closer to God. Whatever your spiritual reasons, it beats a visit to the shrink.

This is a great spot for drawn out mornings in a village café, sunbathing on the beach in the day, playing in the ocean in the late afternoon and watching the sunset from Jemeluk (15 minutes on foot from the center of the village). So far off the beaten track, you successfully avoid the weekend playcation crowd, and have yourself a perfect seaside holiday. Bless!

Where to stay in Amed

hoky home stay-amed

Accomodation in Amed is, for the most part, homestays with two to ten rooms. On the side of the road facing the beach, rooms are IDR150,000 a night during low season (IDR200,000 – 250,000 to be right on the beach with a view). On the village side you can get a room for as little as IDR100,000 a night.

We stayed at Hoki homestay (IDR150,000 a night), run by a local fisherman named Made. There are only two rooms here, and his café is the busiest in town, especially in the evenings. The food is great, there’s a lively atmosphere from the hive of activity among his family and staff. He returns in the late afternoons with still-breathing barracudas and juicy prawns. Meals cost between US$2-4. It just doesn’t get any better.

The people of Amed


In Amed, the women run the warungs, cafes and homestays. The young men speak perfect English and are the town’s tourist guides and drivers, while fishermen like Made take you out to the snorkeling reefs on traditional boats. And there’s a rotation of foreign dive instructors based here during high season.

But it’s the children of Amed that make this place. During the day, gangs of children trawl the beach selling packets of local salt and beaded bracelets. They speak pretty English in cute high pitched voices and scurry away while chanting your name if you buy one. In the evenings (when they’re off duty) they swim around you in the sea and ask you the handful of questions they learn in school, over and over again.

The CIMD runs a school here that teaches English, and provides medical care for the community. Organizations like this one play a pivotal role in improving the lives of future generations in remote communities. If you’re in Amed for the weekend and have a fabulous time, don’t leave without giving a little back. Find out how you can contribute to the Yayasan school and social project in Amed.

A dozen wonderful things to do in Amed

For a modest fishing village that’s three hours away from Denpasar, the laid-back town of Amed has a deceptively large number of brilliant things to do. The best time to visit is on the fringes of the high season between June and August, before the homestays and cafes fill up. Besides, it’s the sort of place you want to have to yourself.

The upside of the long drive to get there from Denpasar is that prices for food, accommodation and activities drop significantly. Now you’re in the real Indonesian economy.

where to eat amed

Rooms in a homestay cost between US$10-20 a night. You can get fed at a café for US$1-4 and the food is pretty good here. You’ll find fresh seafood, salads, spring rolls, homemade soups, burgers and pizzas on the menu. Places to eat aren’t in short supply, although people tend to gravitate to Fusion Dive school café and Hoki homestay and café for lunch and dinner.

Here are a dozen wonderful things you can get up to in Amed.

#1 Dive the Japanese shipwreck and USS Liberty



The Japanese shipwreck site in Lipah rests on a sharp slope that’s about 10 meters deep. It’s an easy dive; the small wreck is inhabited by soft and plate corals, red skeletons and fluorescent gorgonians. The larger USS Liberty wreck offers a variety of challenges for the beginner to the pro diver. The best time to explore these wrecks are in the morning.

And those are just two of many, many dive sites in Amed. At the Tulamben drop off, you’ll come face to face with reef sharks and graceful stingrays. Along the main wall, you’ll encounter a rainbow of sea life. Then off Jemeluk you’ll find the freckled eel, octopus and giant trevally.

Dives cost around US$75-85 for two dives. Check out Baruna Dive Centre (+62) 852 3838 9529 or email for more info.

#2 Get your PADI

If you’ve been meaning to get your PADI, stop putting it off. Diving courses in Amed are too reasonable to pass up. The three-day open water license costs US$350. And if you want to get really serious about getting certified, a month-long Divemaster course with unlimited dives is only US$1,000. As an added bonus, you’ll find dive courses in English, French and Spanish here. What are you waiting for?

#3 Witness sunrise on top of Mount Agung

Locals believe that Mount Agung is the source of Bali’s divine spirituality and pure energy. What better way to channel Bali’s sacred spirit than by climbing to the holy summit? The most profound time to stand on top of the mountain is when the sun is rising. From the peak, you can see as far as Lombok.

The treks begin the night before at 11:45pm. By 6am you reached the top in time for the special moment (as your legs give way beneath you). The good news is that it only takes four hours to get back down to Besakih Temple, the pick up point.

Visit Bali Sunrise Tours for more information.

#4 Walk around the village



The single most endearing thing about Balinese rural life is the industrious spirit of the people. Walking around the village you’ll come across small poultry and produce farm plots and hear the banging of nails into wooden boards. With Mount Agung ever present in the backdrop, photo-ops are endless.

#5 Ride a motorcycle through the village

The best way to get to know the village is by zipping around a motorbike like the locals do. Renting a motorcycle costs only IDR50,000 a day (that’s right, a fiver). There’s plenty to see along the Amed coast that goes on for 10km before you’re officially in the next village.

#6 Go fishing in a traditional outrigger boat

Does the idea of eating what you catch whet your appetite? Barracuda, Mahi-Mahi and mackerel are abundant in these waters. A two to three hour fishing trip on a traditional outrigger boat costs about IRD150,000 and a little more during high season.

#7 Contemplate the meaning of life

The volcanic black sand beach in Amed takes a little over an hour to cross from tip to tip; the omnipresent Mount Agung standing magnificently in the distance. You can’t help but draw on the positive vibes in the air. Just the state of mind you need to make groundbreaking decisions in your life.

#8 Learn to freedive



Freediving is all about interacting with the ocean on a more intimate level. It’s also a great way to overcome your fear of the ocean (if you have one) and learn to breathe more efficiently in your daily life. The benefits of this are immense.

Fusion freediving school runs beginner, intermediate and advance courses over two to four days (IDR3,000,000 – 5,500,000), as well as specialist courses for surfers (IDR1,250,000) and specialized yoga. Visit their website to find out more about this intriguing art of diving.

Find out more on their website.

#9 Buy locally harvested salt and beaded bracelets from the local children

Admittedly, there’s only so much salt and so many bracelets one person can buy, even at $2-4 a pop. But the kids around here are really sweet and work really hard to create opportunities for themselves to get an education and contribute to their families at such a young age. Every little bit helps, so make a point to give a little love while you’re here.

#10 Take a fast boat to Gili or Lombok

The crossing between Amed and the Gilis or Lombok takes only 40 minutes, much closer than Padang Bai. Tickets are IDR250,00 each way. The Sea Express to Lombok departs at 9:30am daily. The Pacha Express makes one trip at 9am and one at 4pm, in case you want a little more time in Amed.

#11 Backtrack to Sanur by sea

If you’re heading back down to central Bali and dread the idea of the three hour drive, simply hop on the Sea Express and take a joy ride around the Gilis to end up back in Sanur.

#12 Snorkle in Jemeluk

If you’re on a shoestring budget, you don’t need to get a fishing boat out to the snorkeling reefs to have a good time. You can rent snorkelling gear for IDR30,000 and walk over to Jemeluk where you’ll see plenty of sea life just off the shore.

A parting note from Amed… this village is one of the most recent rural areas in Bali to be developed for tourism. The first tarmac roads were only laid down in 2000! Thriving tourism businesses run mostly by local families wait patiently for the recognition this magnificent ocean side spot deserves. Help them spread the word & share this article on Facebook!

Gili Meno: the ultimate destination

Claiming there’s an “ultimate destination” in an archipelago as intoxicatingly beautiful as Indonesia is a big call. But here at InBali, the vote is unanimous: Gili Meno, the middle child of the Gili trio, is our winner hands down.

Blend the surreal ocean edges and perfect sunsets with other-worldly horse and cart transportation and simple living, and you have yourself an idealistic escape just a boat skip from Lombok. Unwind, disconnect and enjoy a little time in paradise. If those photos have your inner travel bug itching, here’s a complete travel guide on the best that Gili Meno has to offer, from our very own Gili Insider at

Getting to the Gilis in style

The most stylish way to get to the Gili island from Bali is via a 45 minute helicopter charter, operated by Air Bali.

Departing from the state-of-the-air helipad in Benoa, the Bell 206 Long Ranger flies over the Lombok Strait and lands in Paradise Sunset beach in Gili Trawangan. The views of Bali and Lombok’s mountain peaks and the birds’ eye view of the Gili islands from above will take your breath away. The helicopter charter operates on Fridays and Sundays at a special rate, or you can charter the aircraft on any other day for the full charter price.

Air Bali, Benoa Harbour Jl. Raya Pelabuhan, Benoa Pesanggaran, Denpasar 80222, Tel: 62 361 767466 or 62 361 766582 (during Bali office hours 08.30 – 17.00 pm) Email:

Another way to cruise to the Gili islands in style is on the recently-launched Bounty Cruise; A 44-meter luxury catamaran that carries up to 650 passengers from Benoa Harbour in Bali to Gili Trawangan. The boat sets sail at 9am and arrives at noon, allowing plenty of time to settle in and enjoy the day.

Special introductory rates for this daily service are IDR650,000, which includes breakfast. Or IDR1.2 million for a return trip. Contact Bounty Cruises for bookings at 62 361 726666 or 62 812 389666.

Fast boat from Bali to Gili Meno


For most visitors, the voyage to paradise begins at Padang Bai harbour in Bali. If you’re spending a day or two in Bali before visiting Gili Meno, you can get fast boat tickets in Kuta, Padang Bai, Amed and a few other hotspots across the island.

Gili Fast boat tickets from Bali to Gili Meno cost between IDR300,000 to IDR450,000 depending on the which fast boat operator you go with, and the time of year. The most reputable fast boat operators are Blue Water Express, Gili Cat, and the newly launched Semaya One fast cruise. Organise your fast boat tickets at least 24 hours before you cast off to the Gili islands (a last-minute booking premium applies, even if the boats aren’t full).

People tend to wonder if they should spend the night here or get a shuttle bus from Kuta at around 7am to make it to the jetty in time for the 9.30am ferry. Padang Bai is a wonderfully charming place when night falls and the tourist guides and hawkers shut their doors.

There’s plenty of budget friendly places where you can spend the night quite comfortably. Padang Bai is also surrounded by some of the best dive sites in Bali, so why not? It certainly beats grappling with the crowds in Kuta. Plus, you’ll get to check out White Sand Beach, which is absolutely stunning.

Gili Meno accommodation & resorts

Aerial view of the resort
Aerial view of the resort


BASK Gili Meno
You’re hearing it here first: A new luxury beachfront development, featuring a clutch of divine boutique villas, is underway in Gili Meno. Now you can own your very own slice of paradise. That’s all we can tell you for now, if you want to find out more, sign up for news and updates from Bask Gili Meno.

Karma Beach Gili Meno
Away from the crowds of its more visited neighbours lies a stylish boutique resort near Gili Meno’s jetty. A day well spent at Karma Beach Gili Meno involves doing very little. Spend the afternoon lounging on a plush daybed, and top it off with an indulgent visit to the divine Karma Spa, set right on the beach. Contact Karma Beach Gili Meno at

Mahamaya Gili Meno
Mahamaya boutique resort is known for having the best sunset vistas in Gili Meno, and the most romantic dinner tables on the island. Set right on the water’s edge, it’s a toes-in-sand dining experience at its finest.

If you’re looking for authentic Sasak style beach bungalows in Gili Meno, on the other hand (that are friendly on the pocket), we recommend Meno Dream Resort, Ana Warung & Bungalows Gili Meno, and Mao Meno Resort.

We also suggest booking your accommodation in Gili Meno in advance. The small island fills up quickly in high season and if you’re on a budget, you might find yourself roaming around the island trying to find a place to sleep. Contact the resorts via their website, or find accommodation in Gili Meno on (we’ve spotted some pretty interesting island bungalows, at a very sweet rate).

Contact Mahamaya Boutique Resort Gili Meno at +62 888 7155 828 or email:

Where to eat & drink in Gili Meno

There are more beach bars, warungs and restaurants dotted around Gili Meno than you’d expect for such a tiny island. You’re never far away from somewhere interesting to sample culinary delights from, and you should be sure to linger and indulge in a late afternoon tipple. The resorts and beach bungalows mentioned above all have superb restaurants that serve everything from authentic Sasak cuisine and Indonesian fare, to pastas, pizzas and even organic juices and salads. Adeng-Adeng beach bar is a quality spot for a tropical seafood BBQ right on the beach.

Then on the northeast tip of the island you will find Sunset Gecko, a no-frills bar and restaurant perched right on the doorstep of the best snorkelling reef in Gili Meno.

If you’ve stumbled on a great place to eat and drink in Gili Meno, we’d love to hear about it! Leave us the details in a comment below.

Gili Meno’s salt lake

A walk to Gili Meno’s salt lake should be on any visitor’s itinerary. The collection of flora and fauna you’ll find is utterly remarkable for such a small island ecosystem. If you have a bird whistle, this is the place to put it to use. Migratory birds, rare blue kingfishers and tropical feathered creatures can be spotted in the foliage above, and swooping into the water below. The salt lake is also home to the shy, but enormous monitor lizard.

Diving in Gili Meno

bask gili meno underwater sculpure
Gili Meno is home to the best dive sites and snorkelling reefs in the Gili islands. Turtles are often spotted by snorkelers in the shallow reef, but if you want to encounters larger groups of turtles, you’ll find them in the Gili Meno Wall, a dive suitable for all levels. You’ll also encounter crustaceans, Spanish dancers, crabs, lobsters, cuttlefish, scorpion fish and an enchanting array of other ocean critters.

Blue Marlin Dive and Divine Divers are the go-to dive centres in Gili Meno. They organise diving trips around Gili Meno’s dive sites and around the Gili islands to suit every level. If getting your PADI is on your bucket list, then Gili Meno’s tranquil waters is the place to do it.

More things to do in Gili Meno

Gili Meno has a reputation for being uber relaxing. Unlike Gili Trawangan and Gili Air, nightlife is non-existent here, but there are enough island activities here to keep you, and the little ones entertained.

Gili Meno Bird Park is home to an impressive collection of birds, much more than you’d expect to find on a remote island. More than 300 birds, including brightly coloured tropical parrots and macaws, pelicans, eagles, hornbills and many more species of feathered friends will keep the kids entertained for hours. At the turtle sanctuary, the young ones can learn about environmental conservation, and if they’re lucky, witness turtles hatching. For a small donation towards the cause, you can release baby turtles back into the wild. When you get the urge to explore the other Gili islands, the local ferries operate between the three Gili islands in the morning at 9.30am, and again in the afternoon at 4.30pm from the public jetties. Tickets cost just IDR30,000.

A real highlight is a day spent on Lombok Strait, exploring all the little islands that look like peanuts in the sea. Local outriggers can be chartered for snorkelling day trips, costing around US$60. It’ll give you a chance to explore the other 23 unmapped Gilis. Lastly, a walk around this tiny island that measures 2km by 1km, getting lost in the network of paths that lead into the villages and back to the beach, is a must-do. It takes less than two hours to walk around the perimeter of the island, but you could really spend an entire afternoon getting to know the locals and Gili Meno’s unique island life.

and more….

You’ll start the day exploring the island on foot, or in a cidomo (horse cart), the ubiquitous transport of the Gilis and Lombok. Then kick back on a deserted shore with an icy Bintang at sundown.

Unwind from the gruelling demands of city life, switch off your phone and take a little time to relax in Gili Meno.

So. What’s that you used to say? You’ve shoved the Gilis in the “Save It For The Honeymoon Box”? Sandwiched somewhere between Tahiti and the Maldives? Because there’s no point oohing at paradise if there’s no significant other that can ahhh right back? Shame on you.

Reach back in that box and snatch it back out. This instant. This is an island as much for honeymooners and families as it is for singles and groups of friends. Paradise isn’t picky.


Gili Meno Paradise

What’s that you say? You’ve shoved the Gilis in the “Save It For The Honeymoon Box”? Sandwiched somewhere between Tahiti and the Maldives? Because there’s no point oohing at paradise if there’s no significant other that can ahhh right back?

Shame on you. Reach back in that box and snatch it back out. This instant.
Find more about this wonderful island on our Gili Meno guide post.