I spontaneously booked a trip again during the seat sale last January, but this time I prepared a detailed itinerary of things I should do. I was able to book Bali-Manila for PHP 5,000+ roundtrip, which isn’t bad considering that it’s only a month away. It was for four days as a birthday gift to myself.
I had a budget of PHP 8,000 for the joiner tour, entrance fees, and private car rental for the whole stay, excluding food and accommodation. Accommodation costs PHP 3,000 in total, which is already cheap for a room in a villa with a pool and bathtub. The food budget was at PHP 3,000, because I wanted it to be fancy enough. So if you compute that with the airfare, my whole Bali trip is about PHP 20,000. I didn’t really think it through because it’s my birthday so I have an excuse to splurge.
Needless to say, I had a Bali itinerary in mind but things didn’t go that way.
Planned Bali itinerary (and what happened instead)
I am going to share both my planned itinerary and what I did instead. You may use the itinerary as these are carefully thought of but you have to double-check if the spots are open.
Day 1 – Ubud
Here’s my supposedly itinerary:
|DAY 1 UBUD||Activities|
|8:00 AM||DPS Airport|
Tegalallang Rice Terrace
Campuhan Ridge Walk
|1:00 PM||Monkey Forest|
Tirta Gangga Temple
|6:00 PM||Art Market|
BUT, here comes the trip itself. For Day 1, I was only able to do Tegalallang, then Coffee Plantation and Bali Swing, which was not even on my itinerary. I didn’t do the swing because I found it a bit impractical. It could be a good experience, though!
I visited Tirta Gangga next. I underestimated the time and distance (pretty much everything) that I was SO tired. Lempuyang temple was closed until March 3, so it sucks.
At the end of it all, I was like “fuck it” and rebooked my Seminyak Airbnb for three days instead of the original two. I didn’t want to stay in Ubud anymore because I just wanted to drink along the beach after that long day. I didn’t feel content at all—that’s how badly I needed a drink.
Day 2 – Ubud/Seminyak
Day 2 UBUD/SEMINYAK
UBUD Airbnb pickup
|4:00 AM||Mt Batur trek|
Tanah Lot Temple
|9:00 PM||Dinner out/Bar|
So because I didn’t stay in Ubud, I found it tiring to travel from Seminyak to Mt. Batur. Again, another activity I’d never get to cross off my list. Honestly, I didn’t feel bad. I felt like I underestimated everything that I thought I could cram it all together in three full days. I didn’t do Mt. Batur.
What did I do instead?
Kynd Community was only a few steps away from my Airbnb so I ate breakfast there at 9 AM. This smoothie bowl is so yummy.
Then I went for a walk to Seminyak beach at around 10:30 AM, which was also a bit crazy because I wasn’t able to put on some sunblock, so hi tan lines!
I didn’t have any restaurant in mind but I heard La Plancha was good at night. I figured it would also be a nice spot for brunch, so I ordered a massive burger and a bottle of Bintang.
I finished around 1 PM. I was gonna go to Tegenungan Falls and Tanah Lot but I didn’t. Again, I just didn’t feel like doing those things when I already saw pictures on the web. It’s a bad justification for my laziness, I know.
Instead, I soaked in a loooong bath and ate at a local restaurant for some Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng. Then finally, I had dessert at Honeybees. Balinese pancakes are so good.
I stayed for a few hours at Honeybees just writing, which honestly made me feel like I didn’t miss much after breaking my itinerary again. I was home around 10 PM.
Basically, my second day was a gastronomic trip.
Day 3 – Nusa Penida/Seminyak
Day 3 NUSA PENIDA/SEMINYAK
SEMINYAK airbnb pickup
|8:00 AM||Sanur Harbor|
|9:15 AM||Nusa Penida|
|11:00 AM||Angel Billabong|
|11:30 AM||Broken Beach|
|2:00 PM||Kelingking Beach|
Back to Nusa Penida Harbor
Back to Sanur Harbor
|7:30 PM||Chill at a bar|
The third day is my birthday, so I pushed the Nusa Penida tour. I just didn’t know that because it’s a day tour, we couldn’t go down to each beach. My favorite is Broken Beach—it also has an interesting myth.
Anyway, so it’s all picture-taking with the backdrop of the view. I was one of those Instagram babes posing, pretending like I was looking somewhere else.
I was tired (and burnt in my summer outfit) but it’s okay. The little hikes, rough roads, and tan lines were all memorable experiences that I’d always treasure because this is my first birthday celebrating abroad. I felt free.
I got back to port around 3:30 PM. There was still time to explore so I went to The Monkey Bar at Bella Kita for some drinks and good food. I also wanted to watch the sunset so there’s that.
On my way back, I also dropped by Starbucks Dewata, which is the largest in Southeast Asia. I got home around 9:30 PM, then went out for dinner, packed, and passed out around 11 PM.
Day 4 – Seminyak/Manila
Day 4 SEMINYAK
|6:00 AM||Off to Airport|
|6:30 AM||Buy souvenir|
|8:30 AM||Flight to MNL|
The fourth day was my flight to Manila. Since I already had my boarding pass, I went out late and even had the guts to buy souvenirs at Krisna Oleh Oleh. It’s the closest to the airport, and my host also recommended it to me because it’s open 24 hours.
Why didn’t I follow my Bali Itinerary?
Now you may ask, what did I do? Why didn’t I follow my itinerary?
The answer may be because I’ve always been too controlling and planned. It gets tiring after some time, making everything worse than ever. People think I’m spontaneous because I always take risks, but really, deep inside there’s this old lady screaming every time I don’t go as planned.
So instead of sticking with my hectic itinerary, I chose to be lazy BUT had more relaxation. After all, I really only wanted to unwind in Bali. I didn’t want to be one of the social media enthusiasts posing at every tourist spot (I did in Nusa Penida, but still).
In all honesty, I didn’t want to go to a tourist spot again to be left disappointed after my first day. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bali. It’s a beautiful paradise, but there’s nothing new to see. I relaxed instead of cramming everything. I enjoyed the views around me instead of going to touristy spots just to take a few photos and leave.
But that’s not really the point.
For me, Bali is more of a wellness haven. True, there are lots of Instagrammable places where you can pose and brag about your photos but there’s so much more than meets the eye. As a solo traveler, I’ve learned by now that traveling to a strange country may leave you disappointed if you’ve seen better places. There’s always a comparison involved. Now I realized that it’s not really about the places, it’s about the people you meet along the way even if it’s as simple as the local who gave you directions when you were lost, a little Balinese girl smiling at you, or that one who served your food. It’s about the culture.
Bali for me is trying local and fresh organic food, meditating for the first time, and even knowing their beliefs, traditions, and folklore.
It’s about wandering in nature with serenity in my heart even if I don’t know which way is home. It’s about the experiences and the lessons I learned rather than the concrete things.
People warned me about meeting someone and falling in love in Bali—but in my case? I learned to be a little kinder to myself. I disconnected from the world yet had more time to reflect.
(PS: You may follow my ideal itinerary if you want, especially if you’re up for a packed 3-day tour. I carefully planned it, but you can also research to know more.)
For more Asia travel posts: