How we made the most of 3 weeks Island hopping in Indonesia on a mid range budget.
Fancy a 'backpacking' experience but without the intrepid inconveniences of an un-ventured route? Bali and it's surrounded islands could be the place for you.
We decided to venture to Bali for a couple of main reasons.
1. We had itchy feet. We wanted to have the feel of adventure and 'travelling' without having to quit our jobs and up and leave our lovely little London lives.
2. Annual leave. We only had 3 weeks annual leave from our jobs, so we didn't have much leeway in terms of time, and needed to be able to stick to a planned schedule.
3. We were stressed. We wanted to relax and didn't fancy the stress of actual backpacking, with chicken buses and the like to get to each destination.
4. We had a budget of £1,500 each (inc flights). We wanted a tropical island retreat where we could eat and live like kings for three weeks, without the Maldives price tag.
Basically, Bali is a great place to go if you want a cheap, relaxing and easy trip. In our 3 week trip we managed to visit: Canggu, Ubud, Mount Batur, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Cennigan & Nusa Pennida. If we had longer, we would have loved to go to Lombok, but with our time restrictions we didn't want to waste too many days traveling so we decided against it. I would definitely recommend going to Lombok if you are backpacking as it has a bit more of an adventurous feel than the more popular destinations. We also decided against the Gili Islands, purely because we were there for a relaxing time not to party, but if you are younger/want more of a partying scene I would definitely recommend visiting them.
We arrived in Bali by plane at around 1am local time, so we headed straight for our Air b&b in Canggu. We got a taxi from the airport which was super easy to do, we managed to get our cab for about £14 British pounds. We actually arrived with zero Indonesian cash which I wouldn't recommend as on arrival there was a huge queue for the cash machine (which took hours) and the cash machine itself was very temperamental (took us 5 different bank cards before we could get any money).
During our time in Canggu, we stayed at MADE NELAYAN VILLA CANGGU which cost us £92 for 2 nights. This works out at £23pp per night. This was for a private room with a pool, if you wanted cheaper you could definitely have found a hostel or less luxurious accommodation. This room was perfect for us, very clean and very close to the main high street plus just a 5 minute walk from the beach.
We only scheduled 2 nights in Canggu as we had heard from friends that it was nice, but there was much nicer places to spend our time in Bali.
Eating - some of the best food we ate in Bali was in Canguu for sure. As it's the most developed place we visited, if you want a splash out meal I would recommend having it here. Some of my favourite places were:
- Billy ho - the best meal I had in Bali, amazing Japanese fine dining restaurant. We had a three course meal with drinks for £25pp.
- The Loft - If you're hunting for the best Poke or Accai bowl for your IG grid then The Loft if your kinda eatery. Their Poke bowl was actually voted as the best in Sydney by Timeout Magazine so they must be doing something right!
- Musubi - if you like Japanese food & brunch then you have to visit this place.
- District Canguu - The best 'food with a view' that we found in Canguu. Lovely view of rice paddies, very easy to whittle away an afternoon here.
Nightlife - If you're after a bit of a boogy or want to make some waves on Bali's nightlife scene then Canguu is the place to be. There's a beach club every 50 metres on the beach, the most famous being Finns beach club. If you like house music, tattoo sleeves and boob jobs then you'll want to frequent this joint. It definitely wasn't our scene, but our curiosity did get the better of us one evening and we did end up popping our heads in.
Shopping - If you're wanting to pick up a few bits for your trip, I would do it in Canguu. The highstreet is booming with boujee fashion boutiques, although the prices are pretty comparable to London prices so I would make sure that you're converting the money correctly. If you want to go bargin hunting, there's market stalls off the main strip where locals will sell you a knock off pair of Nike shorts or two.
We got a taxi from Canguu to Ubud as it was only around £20 and was the quickest/easiest route. Again, there are cheaper ways to do this if you're on a tighter budget. We arrived at our second air b&b of the trip - Tirta Asri Ubud. This air b&b wasn't in central Ubud, it was about a 45 min walk from the Ubud highstreet but the location was perfect for us as it felt pretty isolated from the hustle and bustle of Ubud and was situated in the most idylicc location. The walk into central Ubud was also beautiful and quite a famous walk in Bali called the Campuhan Ridge walk. We paid £180 for 4 nights here, which is about £22.50pp per night. You could definitely find a lot cheaper but this suited our budget.
Walking - Some of my favourite Ubud hikes were:
- Rice terraces walk
- Campuhan Ridge walk
- Jalan Kajeng walk
Rice paddies - People come to Ubud just to marvel at the dramatic rice paddies and they don't disappoint. To make the most of them I would recommend the Rice Terraces walk.
Temples - Ubud is also packed with culture, we stumbled upon lots of different temples and ancient ruins on our strolls. If you want a serious temple experience I would recommend the Mengwi temple and monkey forest. There's also the Teman Ayun temple and the Pura Lahur temple.
You can either get a tour to Mount Batur from your accommodation or you can head there yourself. The tours are either at sunrise or sunset and we opted for the sunrise. This did mean leaving our accommodation at 3am which was a bit of a shock to the system but not too much of a sacrifice. Now, on the whole would I recommend Mount Batur? I think so. As a hiking enthusiast I was desperate to climb at least one mountain whilst on this trip, and as we didn't have enough time to get to Mount Rinjani on Lombok island, we settled for Mount Batur. I usually hike to escape the crowns and for the zen like experience, not the reach the top (although the views do help), so this is where Mount Batur failed me a bit. There was about 200+ people doing the hike at the same time as us which made it a bit less special and was ironically the busiest place we encountered on our entire trip. If I were to do it again, I would do it at a different time (not sunrise/sunset) to escape peak times. If you have the time and are a fellow hiking fanatic, I would definitely opt for Rinjani over Batur.
After our hike we spend the day lounging in a natural hot-springs spa at the bottom of the mountain overlooking lake Batur. For a private mountain tour and the spa we paid about £20pp.
We got a taxi from Ubud to Sanur harbour, and got the half an hour ferry to Nusa Lembongan from there. During our time on this island we stayed at Ketut Losmen Bungalows on the beach. This cost us £225 for 4 nights which works out £28pp per night. This was my favourite of all the islands, really peaceful with lots to explore, breathtaking views and delicious food.
Nusa Lembongan highlights
Beach sunsets - We spent most of our time in Nusa Lemongan doing absolutely nothing. Our accommodation was on the beach so we mostly read, watched the beautiful sunset and drank £2 Bintang beers.
Eating - As this is the most built up of all the Nusa islands, the eateries were very good indeed. My favourites were:
We got a taxi from Nusa Lembongan to the port, and then walked across the famous yellow bridge to Nusa Cennigan and to our accommodation. If you didn't want to walk, your accommodation should be able to pick you up from the port. We stayed at Villa Trevally tawasan during our time here and I would recommend this air b&b, however I think we stayed here a touch too long as there wasn't a great deal to do or explore on Nusa Cennigan. This cost us £140 for 2 nights which works out at £35pp.
Nusa Cennigan highlights
Swimming in the pool - We spent a lot of time chilling out and swimming on this island as to be honest there wasn't a great deal else to do. I also think the pool water made us a bit ill as we both had dodgy stomachs for a few days after. I would come to this island if you want a few days of blissful peace and quiet disconnecting from the world.
To get to Nusa Penida we got a taxi to the port at the yellow bridge and then from here a boat to Nusa Penida. From the port at Nusa Penida we got a taxi to our accommodation. We stayed at Rama Beach house which was actually on the beach. This cost us £92 for 3 nights which worked out at £15pp per night, the cheapest of all our stays. The room was quite basic but fine for us.
Nusa Pennida highlights
Exploring - We hired a scooter from our accommodation for around £10 per day and went exploring around the island. Nusa Penida is the largest of the Nusa islands, and the least developed. I would definitely suggest hiring a scooter here if you can as there's so much to explore, but you have to be extremely careful as lots of the roads are bumpy.
Beaches - The most dramatic beaches we visited were on this island. I would suggest:
- Kelingking beach
- Atuh beach
Some other amazing things to visit:
- Rumah Pohon Treehouse
- Thousand Island Viewpoint
- Crystal Bay
We had a great holiday in Bali and would seriously consider going back to see Lombok and some of the other areas we didn't get to visit. You can watch a short video montage of the trip below.