Photo: Temple detail, Ubud.

Bali is so rich in both sights and experiences that you could spend an entire lifetime on the island and barely scrape the surface, but if you don't have a lifetime to give the island, what could you do in two weeks?

Two weeks is enough time to see some of the beaches, along with some of the interior, without needing to run around like a chook with its head cut off. Follow the diversion links for more ideas for side trips or diversions for those who have a little longer.

Start in the hills: Ubud
Save the beach for later and upon arrival at Bali's international airport, get a taxi up to the island's cultural heart Ubud. With tourists by the busload (and the traffic to match) it's far from the laidback, idyllic hippy paradise it's sometimes still painted as, but it does form a good introduction to the island. Do a ricefield walk and see a traditional dancing show by the palace. Allow two nights.

Smile you're in Bali!
Smile you're in Bali!

A pretty valley: Sidemen
It's a common refrain regarding Ubud that "you should have been here 20 years ago" but just a couple of hours drive to the east, you can do pretty much just that -- no time capsule required. The rice valley that encompasses Sidemen lacks the gourmet scene of Ubud, but it also lacks the tour buses and the hordes they carry. Spend your day doing a ricefield walk and the evening admiring the sea of stars. See Gunung Agung, Bali's tallest -- and holiest -- peak in the early morning light. Allow two nights.

Early morning light near Sidemen.
Early morning light near Sidemen.

Swim with the fish: Amed
From Sidemen head northeast to the coastal bays of Amed in east Bali. Formed by a half dozen or so beautiful black sand bays, the area is well regarded for its snorkelling and diving (though divers spend more time at Tulamben to the west of here). There is also plenty of scope for ricefield walks and mountain biking. It's also possible to go out on a fishing boat for dawn, from where you can watch the sun rise over Gunung Rinjani on neighbouring Lombok. Allow three nights.

Sunrise over Lombok.
Sunrise over Lombok.

Dolphins and munching: Lovina
From Amed, it's a long slow drive up over the north coast of Bali to Lovina. While we're not the biggest fans of the beach here, you can do a boat trip to see the dolphins that frequent the waters here. The black sand beach is very attractive as well. Allow one night.

The calm waters of Lovina.
The calm waters of Lovina.

Back up into the hills: Munduk
After a day frolicking with the dolphins, head a little further west, then take a left for the gorgeous drive up to Munduk. Perched on the mountain side with magnificent views to the coast and across the valley, Munduk has a cool climate and plenty of great old-school places to stay. Spend one day on a ricefield and village walk and another visiting some of the beautiful waterfalls in the area. Allow two nights.

Forest offerings.
Forest offerings.

Beach and beers: Seminyak
Leave Munduk early for the lovely, windy drive to Balian on Bali's south coast. From here it is a straight-up run to Seminyak, where you can choose from a staggering range of accommodation and rest your laurels by the Indian Ocean. Once the sun has set throw yourself into Seminyak's impressive food and drinks scene. Allow two nights.

Late light at Seminyak.
Late light at Seminyak.

Surf's up: Bukit peninsula
For your last stop, head to Bali's Bukit Peninsula where you can choose from brash five-star resorts or surfer homestays. Spend your last two days enjoying some of the most spectacular beaches in the area. We've got a soft spot for Balangan, but there are plenty of others to choose from. Allow two nights.

Bingin beach views.
Bingin beach views.

The above is just a sample of what you could cover. Also worth considering are the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Cenningan, which are very easy to reach and could easily absorb a few more days.

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More itineraries

Where to go, how long to stay there, where to go next, east or west, north or south? How long have you got? How long do you need? Itinerary planning can be almost as maddening as it is fun and here are some outlines to help you get started. Remember, don't over plan!


Burma lends itself to a short fast trip with frequent flights thrown in or a longer, slower trip where you don't leave the ground. There isn't much of a middle ground. Ground transport remains relatively slow, so be wary about trying to fit too much in.


Roughly apple-shaped, you'd think Cambodia would be ideal for circular routes, but the road network isn't really laid out that way. This means you'll most likely find yourself through some towns more than once, so work them into your plans.


How long have you got? That's not long enough. Really. You'd need a few lifetimes to do this sprawling archipelago justice. Be wary of trying to cover too much ground - the going in Indonesia can be slow.


North or south or both? Laos is relatively small and transport is getting better and better. Those visiting multiple countries can pass through here a few times making for some interesting trips.


The peninsula is easy, with affordable buses, trains and planes and relatively short distances. Sabah and Sarawak are also relatively easy to get around.The vast majority of visitors stick to the peninsula but Borneo is well worth the time and money to reach.


So much to see, so much to do. Thailand boasts some of the better public transport in the region so getting around can be fast and affordable. If time is limited, stick to one part of the country.


Long and thin, Vietnam looks straightforward, but the going is slow and the distances getting from A to B can really bite into a tight trip plan. If you're not on an open-ended trip, plan carefully.

The region

This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.