Eight Days in Bali

Last Updated on May 28, 2024

Ubud Rice Terraces

The island of Bali, Indonesia is a popular tourist destination. We spent three nights in Sanur, three nights in South Kuta and two nights in Ubud in late July 2023. The weather was warm under the sun but just right in the shade. The three destinations were fairly crowded with tourists and locals alike. Traffic was heavy at Ubud.

Sanur was relaxing as we decided to just take walks by the beach and forego any tour activities. South Kuta was pretty much the same. We saw the rice terraces and visited the Monkey Forest in Ubud while passing up on any temple tours.

Pandawa Beach

Middle section of Pandawa Beach during low tide

We asked locals that worked at the hotel we were staying which beach near South Kuta was their favorite. Majority said Pandawa Beach. Pandawa Beach is about a 15 kilometer ride from Denpasar International Airport. The beach is quite long. There is a 35K IDR entry fee per vehicle that needs to be paid to get to the beach.

The beach has warungs or family restaurants and small shops. Some even rent kayaks. Despite the number of warungs and shops, Pandawa Beach is long enough such that you would not have any problem finding a quiet spot.

The beach is golden brown in color. The water is dark blue and turquoise depending on the ocean bottom which either has sea grass that gives the dark blue color or white sand that gives the turquoise color. Overall, Pandawa Beach does not have the “wow” factor compared to other beaches we have seen in Indonesia.

There is a plateau overlooking Pandawa Beach. We watched paragliders take off from the plateau and soar above the beach area.


Typical golden brown beach in Sanur with its calm water even on a windy day. Dark line on the beach are seaweeds that have washed ashore. The shared bicycle and pedestrian pathway parallels the beach for almost the entire length.

Sanur is on the Bali’s east coast directly east of Denpasar. One of our transport driver suggested Sanur as it is a less expensive and quieter option than the famed Nusa Dua. We spent three nights in Sanur. The weather was warm in the sun but absolutely perfect in the shade.

Sanur has a long shore line, somewhere around 5 kilometers when scaled from Google Maps. It has golden brown sandy beaches with a shared bicyce/pedestrian pathway adjacent to it. Most of the pathway has shade trees but there are sections that are exposed. It is very popular with tourists and locals taking a stroll, jogging or riding a bicycle. The best time to get your steps is in the late afternoon as the sun rays no longer reach the pathway. Add the afternoon ocean breeze to cool you down and it is just perfect.

The pathway is lined with cafes, restaurants, shops and warungs. We do our afternoon walk then go to dinner afterwards before walking back to our hotel. Or you can enjoy your favorite beverage while sitting on a chair, looking at the ocean and feel the breeze cool your body down. For those who get cold easily, putting on a second layer may be more comfortable. The cafe and restaurant food and drink prices are reasonable but you can get more by dining or having a drink at a warung.

The waters of Sanur are green in color, unlike the the turquoise waters typically found in white sandy bottom beaches. The water clarity is not crystal clear but the bottom is visible. There were sea weeds that were washed ashore. Some of the businesses rake up and remove the weeds to keep the beach clean.

There must be a shallow reef offshore as the waves crashes anywhere between half a kilometer to a kilometer from shore depending on location. This makes the water near the beach relatively calm even on a windy day. All we saw were ripples on the water and there were no waves that crashed on shore. This makes Sanur’s water ideal for taking a dip.

We saw several tour companies offering excursions and other water related activities in Sanur.

south kuta

Sunset at South Kuta

Most likely, south Kuta would be the place you would be staying if it was your first time in Bali, especially if your flight arrives late or you have an early flight out. South Kuta is near Bali International Airport in Denpasar.

South Kuta has several beaches along Bali’s western coast. The beaches goes on for miles. The water of South Kuta is similar to Sanur where the waves crash out in the ocean, resulting in calmer water by the shore. However, South Kuta’s water do have some waves, especially at Pantai Segara where there are surfers on the water. The waves of Pantai Segara reminds us of Selong Belanak Beach which looked easy to ride, hence a lot of surfers.

Similar to Sanur, South Kuta has a pedestrian only walkway along the coast that starts not too far from the airport runway and heads north. We walked this path for an hour and we did not reach the end so it goes a long way. The walkway gets hit by the sun all day from morning to afternoon (in July when we were there). Plan on getting your steps early in the day or late in the afternoon so it would not be so hot.

Most of the real estates adjacent to the beach are occupied by hotels. So independent restaurants, shops and warungs are few and far in between.

Unlike Sanur, the beaches that we walked in South Kuta were grayish in color. Some trash were present in areas where there were no shops, restaurants or warungs. The water in South Kuta has a darker green color than Sanur. We noticed some people swimming but not in the same numbers as that in Sanur. However, there were more people in the water at Pantai Segara, primarily because of the surfers.


Downtown Ubud Traffic

It takes around an hour and half to reach Ubud from South Kuta although Google Maps shows it to be a mere 38 kilometers away from Denpasar Airport. Ubud is a cultural town. The main attractions in Ubud are the rice terraces, Monkey Forest and buddhist temples. We only experienced the first two as we were “templed-out” after seeing the gigantic temples in Yogyakarta, Java. We saw several tour companies in Ubud offering waterfall, rafting, sunrise trekking and other outdoor excursions. There were also advertisements for traditional Balinese dances.

Rice Terraces

We went to the Tegallalang rice terraces north of Ubud. We parked in front of the Tis Cafe and Restaurant and went in the restaurant. The restaurant overlooks the Mupu rice terraces on the other side of the creek. There is a footpath to get across the creek and on to the rice terraces. We placed our small denomination bills in the donation box and continued walking until we got to the base of the zip line.

Mupu rice terraces

The rice terraces south of the Mupu have entrance fees even though it is less than 200 meters away. There are locals holding ticket booklets while guarding the different entrances to the rice terraces. The price of admission was 25K IDR, even if you want to go the restaurant or shops that overlook the rice terraces.

Monkey Forest

One of the many docile monkeys in the Monkey Forest, just do not make eye contact

The Monkey Forest is a park about a 30 minute walk from the City Center. Foreign tourist admission price is 80K IDR. The park closes at 6 PM but they stop issuing entry tickets at 5PM. The park is not that big. We spent less than hour strolling its grounds.

The park’s main draws are the docile monkeys (to a certain extent), a couple of temples and the large banyan trees. There are monkeys even before we entered the park. The monkeys are not aggressive unless they see something that looks like or may contain food. We saw a woman that was holding a plastic bag close to her chest as she was trying to hide it. A monkey saw part of the plastic bag and immediately climbed over the woman’s back and grabbed the plastic bag. The monkey ripped the plastic bag then left when it discovered that it was only a tissue box that was in the plastic bag.

Inside the park, there are park employees (we think they are as they were wearing an id), that do monkey selfies. It costs 50K IDR. The way the monkey selfie works is a mature monkey will sit on your lap while the park employee takes pictures of you and the monkey. The monkey is only interested in the corn kernels that the park employee hands over every so often. So the monkey is pretty much well behaved because it is being rewarded with food as long as it is sitting on someone’s lap.

Monkey Forest’s main temple taken from behind the closed temple gate

There are two temples within the park, the small Holy Springs temple and the Main temple. But the gates of both temples were closed during our visit. All we could do was to take photos of the temple grounds from its closed gates.

The banyan trees within the park are big. Its prop roots are extensive. Some of the trees have benches underneath making it irresistible not to take a seat, especially at midday. However, there are so many monkeys roaming around such that it becomes impossible to relax as we needed to always be on guard.

what to expect

The area between Denpasar and Ubud is pretty much developed. Unlike Lombok where there were a lot of open areas along the road, this section of Bali lacks that openness. There are a lot more people here. It reminded us of Yogyakarata, Java. Traffic is bad. Motorcycles are everywhere. Frankly, we do not understand why people would want to go to Bali as it costs more to stay and eat here compared to other places we visited in Indonesia.

Getting around

Taxis (Bluebird), Gojek and Grab were our mode of transportation in Bali.

At the airport, carry a lot of patience when you get out of the airport. People will call you offering a ride. Some will even get on your face and would not take no for an answer. We had a hotel shuttle on our first time. They still would not leave us alone even if we told them that the hotel was picking us up.

On our second time, we booked a hotel without a shuttle. Our flight arrived close to 9 PM. We figure we just book a rideshare because our hotel was about one kilometer as the crow flies and three kilometers when driven. We were surprised that Grab and Gojek were wanting almost 150K IDR for the short trip. The airport taxi drivers and private drivers were wanting 200K. As a comparison, our Gojek ride from Sanur to south Kuta was 100K IDR and the driving distance was almost 15 kilometers.

We ended up going through the parking garage and crossing the road adjacent to the airport. From there, we flagged a Bluebird taxi what was driven by an elderly gentleman. We showed him the hotel’s address and he quoted 50K IDR (we probably should have negotiated or used the taxi meter but we were too tired and just wanted to get to the hotel).

We also used the same taxi driver to take us to Ubud as he gave us a price that was reasonable. Then it was Gojek from Ubud to Sanur and Sanur to South Kuta.


Bali has been a popular tourist destination for many years. We went to Ubud to visit the rice terraces and Monkey forest. We had a relaxing time at Sanur as we passed up on doing any excursions and just did daily beach walks. Same can be said at South Kuta.

Traveling between these three places, we saw that part of Bali was well developed. There were hardly any open spaces along the road. It was structure next to structure. These parts of Bali were just packed with cars, motorcycles and people, locals and tourists alike.

The water and beaches of Sanur and South Kuta were not as appealing as other places we have been to. You will have to book a tour if you want to do something else other than eat, sleep, walk and get wet in the water.