But you can't and shouldn't miss out on at least one of the many temples in this area, Pura Maospahit. Definitely the best one, Pura Maospahit is a very old temple, unfortunately much of it was destroyed during an earthquake, but many of the original parts of the temple are still standing.
After a walk around and visiting the temple, you can either find a place in Denpasar, or even better head down to Kuta for and find a place to sleep.
But anything else you chose should be fine, and better for that matter. Once you have ticked that off your list, you will need to find a good map of Bali if you haven't already prepared one. That is not hard to find in Kuta.
Now you are ready for the road trip.
You don't need to worry about food; you will most definitely find something on your way. In fact there is a very nice restaurant after about an hour on the road out of Kuta, surrounded by rice fields, I forgot the name but I'm sure all the restaurants you find will be great.
We had a great local meal, which was made up of chicken cooked in banana leaf, with rice and chutney, and the local sambal (chilli).
From Kuta, head north to Bedugul. This area of Bali is of natural beauty. With its three crater lakes and the huge botanical garden, you will be amazed by the views you can get on a beautiful clear day. The whole area is at an altitude of over 700 metres, and it can get very cold up there. Even though you think you might not need it at the beach, it can come in handy to have something warm with you.
The people in Bedugul are very kinds, but don't speak much English. Nevertheless they understood us perfectly and greeted us with great respect, which I was not expecting. Finding a place to stay once you are there is pretty easy. There are many hotels or homestays. We stayed in a homestay and the family was really nice. We had the traditional banana pancake and tea waiting at our door, for a very early breakfast.
On your night in Bedugul, don't hesitate to go outside and visit the area at night. People are out, there's local food on the streets, and even though it's cold, you'll appreciate the walk.
If you arrive during the day, don't miss out on the Bedugul market, and visit the botanical garden while the sun is out.
Day 3 – Bedugul to Lovina
Don't wake up to late for this journey, as there are a couple of stops and the roads are long before arriving to destination.
I would even suggest waking up very early and heading to one of the lakes and watching the sunrise on the lake. The scenery is breathtaking and the fresh mornings up there are very invigorating.
After that hit the road, still heading north, and make your way up to Singaraja. There you can wander around the area, eat more local food and walk through markets. Once you're done wondering around, head back on the road and drive west to Lovina.
Lovina is another famous place in Bali. A lot of tourists come here to escape the south of the island. The beach of Lovina is 12km longs, with many resorts stretching all the way down the coast.
Kalibukbuk is the most developed village of this area, although it has just two streets comprised of shops, hotels, bars and restaurants. There are a wide range of accommodations which will suit all taste and budgets. There are two clubs and many bars here, but the nightlife is usually relaxed and quiet, compared to the town of Kuta.
Spend the night in Lovina and enjoy the place, food and people. It's a very enjoyable place.
I can suggest Gede Homestay Bungalows. The people there are really nice, and like to stay up late. We had a few drinks with the people working at the restaurant and they suggested us places to visit. Gede Homestay has a few bungalows, which makes it more private, and is located right on the beach, and not too far from the main street of Lovina. Quite a perfect spot actually.
There are many things to do here. Lovina's black sand beaches are quite amazing and there's a lot you can explore walking down the beach. You will notice the many colourful traditional boats on the shore along the beach. This is a typical reminder of the fishing community they have there. Be aware though, when walking on the black sandy beaches, as you might not notice the amount of rubbish in the sand. Nonetheless, the sea is very calm here and swimming is pretty safe. So, if you simply want to relax on the beach with a cocktail, you can do just that. But what about those great spa and massage facilities? Lovina is filled with them. The service is great - are are the prices.
The Air Banjar hot springs are located west of Lovina. Relax in the hot springs, with the natural hot water pouring out of stone-carved pieces, among enchanting and natural scenery. Go in the morning if you want some peace and quiet, - you will have the place to yourself if you get there before 9am. Don't forget to offer a small donation.
There is a small road that brings you down to the beach of the main coast route at Kalibukbuk. If you go there, you will notice at the end of this road, on the beach, is a rather nice stature of a dolphin. Which is what brings us to the main reason why tourists come to Lovina, dolphins obviously.
Early in the mornings, you can go on a dolphin trip. These trips start very early, and are great fun despite the number of criticisms. Snorkelling is also possible on the reef just offshore from Kalibukbuk. You will still need to hire a boat for this. Snorkelling and scuba diving trips leave from Kalibukbuk and other northern places to take you to the diving spots.
For the spiritual ones, there are many temples and monasteries in the area.
One of the most popular being Brahma Vihara Arama, Bali's largest Buddhist monastery. Located near the village of Dencarik, this monastery is quite a charm. But despite its amazing views and ornamentation, it is a location quite hard to reach. I would suggest visiting this location and the Air Banjar hot springs on the same day.
If you are more into trekking and sightseeing, there are many places to visit. There are many trekking tours available around the area. Some of them better than others, at a reasonable price, will take you to places you've never imagined existed. The day usually starts early in the morning once again, you start on small foot paths, leading you into small jungles and rivers, into valleys, stopping at waterfalls and fresh water pools to relax and enjoy Mother Nature's company.
The area of Kintamani offers a great dramatic view of the Mount Batur volcano, which is still active, and a peaceful scene of the Lake Batur. It's worth stopping for food and photos.
Further down the road is Kedisan. This farming village, with foodstalls, gardens, shops and more, is a quiet place. The people are also very kind here, even though they keep trying to sell you stuff. There are many accommodations here, and it's always easy to find a place even last minute. Many of them are great looking and have a great spot, minutes from the lake. These are the best places to stay in even if you are passing through. The best thing to do is to take a boat trip on the Batur lake. This lake is very clean, and nice to swim in. It's very chilly though.
Day 7 – Kedisan to Amed
Now this was the hardest and most unexpected moment of this trip. Especially with scooters. The road from Kedisan to Amed is very long and 'bumpy' at some stages. Driving south from Kedisan, you take the turning point to Rendang, heading towards Amed. Some maps will not be good enough; the best way is to ask around when you're not sure.
Once on the road to Amed, you will go through many tiny villages. Follow the signs for Culik, Amed is accessed by turning east when you arrive at that point. Then follow the road until you have reached your destination.
Amed is host to many accommodations all along the coastal road. There's something for everyone. The prices really vary from one place to another, so I suggest looking around for some advice and prices, or else just head to where we stayed, at Bamboo Bali Bungalows & Restaurant.
The place is very nice, people are very welcoming and the bungalows are very cute. The whole place has a very relaxing atmosphere, and across the road is the beach and a pool you can enjoy. The place also has a main restaurant and a bar down near the pool area. The prices for the bungalows vary but are still pretty cheap. Depending on the time of year you are visiting Bali, make sure to buy mosquito repellent - in Amed they can be quite annoying.
Day 8 - Amed
The coastal road of Amed is stunning. Driving along you will notice many viewpoints, so don't hesitate to stop because some sceneries are breathtaking and there are many photos to be taken. I reckon it's the perfect place in Bali to spend a quiet and relaxed holiday. This village is quite a recent development in Bali, which makes all the most pleasant. The pace of life is very laid back, the people are very nice and no one tries to sell you things like in the other villages.
Here in Amed, the most common thing tourists come for are the snorkelling and diving sites. The USS Liberty wreck at Tulamben is the most famous one. But there are many others to experience. You can do the usual things like trekking and visiting temples, one of the best ones to visit is Bali's most sacred temple, Besakih. It is a beautiful temple. Amed is also famous for its beaches, which all have a huge amount of those traditional fishing boats lined up on the shoreline. The beach there goes from volcanic black sand at Amed village beach, to softer and clearer sand as you move further east. The prettiest bays are most probably Jemuluk and Lipah.
Other than that, there's not much to do, but that's what's perfect in this little area of the island. No one will bother you, you can enjoy a day at the beach, snorkelling, diving, visiting, eating, basically just enjoy being on holiday. This is the place and moment to relax after all the intense hiking and trekking.
After visiting Amed, your next stop will be Ubud. There's a lot you can do in Ubud, luckily from Amed it doesn't take that long to get there, a couple of hours, but still have an early start. On this journey to Ubud, you will be stopping in the village Amlapura for a quick stop.
Amlapura is located south east of Bali and is the island's major transport terminal. Some people might know Amlapura under the name of Karagansen. So, watch out for the name on the signs or when you ask around. The village changed names after the eruption of the Agung volcano, to be reborn as Amlapura, apparently to rid itself of any badluck. Karagansen also once had a king, and his palace although very old is nice to visit. The Taman Ujung water Palace is also a nice place to check out and is only a couple of kilometres south of Amlapura. It's not a big detour.
From Amlapura, take the coastal road to Gianyar regency. Ubud is located in this area. There are many things to experience here. On the road from Gianyar to Ubud, you have the eleventh century cave, built on the hillside, which is one of the most visited places in this area. It's worth stopping. Besides the cave, the scenery of the Gianyar regency is simply amazing. The magic in this region is very simple to find, many stunning stone carved walls, the green rice terraces, the fields and the fresh water surrounds you.
Once you've wondered around Gianyar regency, head to Ubud village and check in at any of the many amazing hotels.
Day 10 – Ubud
Located at an altitude of about 300 metres above sea level, Ubud is a very cool and refreshing place. Even though Ubud is not a recent development like Amed, the environment is almost as untouched as Amed is. Ubud is another of many major tourist destinations on this island. It is also a very popular source of inspiration for artists.
For me, Ubud is the best place to use as a base if you're visiting Bali. It has a central location; therefore it is as easy to get to the mountains from Ubud, as it is to get to the beach. Plus, Ubud has everything people come looking for in Bali; nature, culture, art, temples, rice fields, mountains, rivers, great traditional food, and a range of cheap to luxury hotels. There are also many nice restaurants in Ubud, but if you get the chance to taste the traditional Babi guling, which is the Balinese roast suckling pig. I had already had pig on a spit, but that, and only that, is the best thing I have ever tasted. Usually served with rice, vegetables, the stock on the side and spices and sauce. The pork in unbelievably tasty and the crackling skin is the best you will ever find, all for a total of $2.
Some of the main things to see and experience in Ubud are the Puri Saren Palace, the traditional art market, and of course the Monkey Forest.
The Puri Saren is the local royal palace of this artistic capital of Bali. It holds many incredible dance performances almost every night.
Ubud's art market is a must. Specially if you are into art, and even though you might no be you can be sure to find something that will catch your eye. The painters have incredible talent, and some of the artists are European and have adopted Ubud as their home. It's such an inspirational place for them.
Finally the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary of Padangtegal is the best and as natural place. The sanctuary has hundreds of macaques monkeys wondering around, small temples and sacred places surrounded by a jungle forest.
Day 11 - Return Home
Time to head back to Denpasar for your flight.
Depending on the time of you departure you can either head straight to Denpasar Airport from Ubud, or you could go to Kuta for the day for some last minute shopping and one last local meal.