Things to Do in Banff in Winter

By now everyone has seen pictures of the beautiful turquoise lakes of the Canadian Rockies. Banff and Lake Louise are the epicenter of the Canadian wilderness, and are equally worth a trip in Summer or Winter. Here is everything you need to know to visit Banff in Winter - where to stay, the most impressive natural wonders, and how to pack for your trip.

 

Sunflare through snow covered tree in Banff

 

Make sure you don't miss our top five tips to make the most of your visit to Banff at the end of this post!

 

Banff National Park

 

Banff National Park is one of the most popular of Canada’s national parks. And for good reason! Banff is full of beautiful glacial lakes, majestic flowing rivers, and towering snowy peaks.

 

View from Fairmont Hotel Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Banff National Park was formed in 1885, making it Canada’s oldest national park. The park encompasses over 2,500 square miles (6,600 square km) of beautiful Canadian wilderness. With this much space, you can definitely find your own picturesque slice of nature.

 

View of Fairmont Springs Hotel in Banff - The Next Trip

 

The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in the early growth of the park, building two of the most famous Canadian hotels here, the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise. These magnificent hotels established Banff National Park as a popular tourist destination.

 

View of Banff - The Next Trip

 

Winter tourism in Banff was fairly limited until 1968, when the Banff Springs Hotel modernized and became winterized! Previously it was only open during the warmer months of the year.

 

Getting to Banff in Winter

 

Even though Banff is in the middle of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, it is relatively easy to get to any time of the year.  If you don’t already live within driving distance, you will most likely be flying into Calgary, which is about an hour and a half drive away. In comparison, our drive from Vancouver, took about 12 hours.

 

Toyota Tacoma driving in the snow - The Next Trip

 

If you don’t want to drive through the Canadian Rockies in the middle of Winter, there are a number of shuttle buses driving from Calgary to Banff.  Additionally, once in Banff there is a good public transportation system, and you can visit some incredible off the beaten path destinations with tours, such as the Winter Wonder Tour.

That being said, if you have your own vehicle, or a rental car, you can explore all that Banff has to offer at your own pace! Ensure that you have winter tires, as they are mandatory on all highways during the winter months until April.

 

Bow Valley Parkway

 

The Bow Valley Parkway is the scenic alternative to drive between Banff and Lake Louise. The road stretches 31 miles (50 km) with many great sights along the way. It's the perfect place to start exploring Banff National Park and you can't miss out on what it has to offer.

 

View from Bow Valley Parkway - The Next Trip

 

 

Johnston Canyon

 

One of the best stops along the Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon is dramatically carved into the limestone bedrock with steep canyon walls, and plunging waterfalls. During winter, the falls freeze over, forming dramatic ice features. This is a very popular spot for ice walking and ice climbing and the views don't disappoint.

 

Entrance Gate to Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

Frozen lower falls at Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

The two main falls, Lower Falls and Upper Falls, are a relatively easy 0.7 miles (1.1 km) and 1.6 miles (2.6 km) hike from the parking lot. If you're like us and are visiting in Winter, we recommend you wear good traction hiking shoes or bring ice cleats. The path can be quite slippery and difficult to master without the right shoes. The temperatures can be a few degrees cooler at the falls than in the parking lot. Bring your warm jacket to ensure you don't get cold during your hike!

 

Ice Climbers on Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

Morant's Curve

 

This is, not surprisingly, one of the most photographed spots in all of Banff National Park. And for good reason, as you can snap some epic pictures here. Canadian freight trains curve through Banff National Park, with the Bow River in the foreground and large mountains in the background.

 

Girl in Red Dress at Morant's Curve in Banff - The Next Trip

 

Finding Morant's Curve is relatively easy as it is well signed. Once you get onto the Bow Valley Parkway (driving from the North), it is a short five to ten minute drive. There is a small parking lot right across the street from the viewpoint. However, getting an iconic photo with a freight train is the difficult part. The freight trains passing through here do not run on a schedule and run at different times every day. As such, you can wait for hours and not see a train, or you may spot one in just a few minutes. Either way, make sure you're prepared and bring snacks and water, and a lot of patience.

 

Snowy Winterland View from Morant's Curve Banff - The Next Trip

 

We visited the Morant's Curve twice during our stay in Banff. While we did not get to see a full freight train, we did see a small locomotive and snow plough come through Morant’s Curve.

 

 
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Lake Louise

 

Lake Louise is another one of the quintessential Canadian Rockies “must-sees” that should be at the top of your list any time of year. You might know the lake due to its striking blue waters. In Winter, the lake is covered in ice and snow, but it is no less beautiful.

 

Ice Hockey Game at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Instead of canoeing, you will find the lake turned into a hockey rink, an ice castle, and the perfect place to snowshoe and cross-country ski.

 

Ice Castle at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Girl Twirling at Ice Castle Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Girl Twirling at Ice Castle Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Lake Louise is easily accessible by car and is a 40 minutes drive away from Banff. If you're planning to visit during the holidays or on weekends, make sure you get there early in the day. It can be very busy and the parking lot fills up quickly. Also be sure to check the weather before you plan your trip there as it can be dramatically different from Banff.

 

Girl Jumping at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Vermilion Lakes

 

The Vermilion Lakes are actually less than 2 miles from the town of Banff, and yet they feel like they are a million miles away! You may have seen pictures of beautiful reflections of Mount Rundle at any time of the year, and this is where the pictures were taken from!

 

View at Vermillion Lakes - The Next Trip

The great part about going to Vermilion Lakes in the Winter is that there is almost no one there. We spent a few hours one afternoon at Vermilion Lakes. During our time we only saw a handful of other people out enjoying the beautiful weather. This makes Vermilion Lakes easy to schedule into your itinerary any time of day.

 

Couple standing on frozen vermillion lakes - The Next Trip

 

 

Girl throwing snow at Vermillion Lakes Banff - The Next Trip

 

If you are feeling adventurous, Vermilion Lakes is a great place to test the waters, quite literally, and take a polar dip.  There are a few areas of the vast lake that are not covered in ice, if you are in need of a refreshing dip! Just be sure to have a warm car waiting for you.

 

Girl doing Polar Dip at Vermillion Lakes Banff - The Next Trip

 

Where to Stay Near Banff


We were hosted by  the Grande Rockies Resort and had a wonderful time at the resort. We are excited to share our stay with you. As always, all of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Girl twirling at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Canmore is a great place to base your adventures of Banff National Park, as accommodation, food, and all other essentials are easier to come by and more affordable in Canmore compared to Banff and the entire town is less busy. We stayed in nearby Canmore, at the Grande Rockies Resort.

 

Driveway at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Sunrise at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Our stay was in a one-bedroom suite which was perfect for our time in Banff National Park as it allowed us the room to relax in the evenings by the fireplace and make a delicious home cooked meal.

 

Kitchen at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Fireplace at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

If you're looking to explore the trails around Canmore, the Grande Rockies Resort has fat tire bikes and snowshoes that can be reserved for free. We took the fat bike on a spin and it's incredibly smooth to ride in the snow. They also have a wonderful indoor swimming pool, indoor-outdoor hot tub, and heated indoor parking!

 

Fat Bike driving in Canmore - The Next Trip

 

What Should I Pack for Banff in Winter?

 

The weather can get properly cold in the Canadian Rockies during the Winter. During our visit the nightly low temperatures reached -18C (0F), but -30C (-22F) would not be unheard of. That means you should be fully outfitted in winter gear from head to toe with a toque (Canadian warm winter hat), scarf, warm jacket, gloves, warm pants, and winter boots. If you are spending a few hours outdoors a very worthwhile investment are the glove warmer packets! We used these each day outside, and they easily lasted the whole day.

 

Girl standing on frozen lake with backpack and suitcase - The Next Trip

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Banff in Winter:

 

1) Prepare for the cold

This is Winter in the Canadian Rockies, and as we already mentioned it can get really cold! Even if you already live somewhere that has cold winters, it pays to be prepared for your trip to Banff. Often when we travel we spend a lot more time outdoors, so be sure to pack all warm clothing and hand warmers!

2) Stay Hydrated

We noticed that our skin was very dry during our stay in Banff. This is partially due to the cold and dry air outside and the hot dry air inside from the building heaters. Another important factor is that we tend to drink less water when it is cold outside! Packing a thermos with some warm water, tea, or broth on your outdoor adventures is a great way to stay hydrated and warm at the same time!

3) Cook your own meals

While there are some fantastic restaurants in both Banff and Canmore, as they are located in a small remote resort town, they are priced accordingly! The easiest way to save a large amount of money on your trip to Banff is to cook a few meals in your hotel room. Our one-bedroom suite at the Grande Rockies Resort was perfect for us to cook some of our meals ourselves!

4) Hit the slopes

While we didn't have enough time on our trip to get some skiing and snowboarding in, this is a fantastic area for winter sports. Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise are by far the biggest and most popular ski mountains with tourists. Smaller Norquay is nearer to Banff, and can be a great alternative to escape the crowds.

5) Have a flexible schedule

This is the number one mindset to have to enjoy your trip to Banff in the Winter.  Winter weather is unpredictable, and can be rather unfriendly towards Winter travelers. On our trip we encountered multiple road closures, rain, snow, and sunshine. You never really know what the weather conditions will be, but you just have to be able to roll with it. That being said, it's great to always have a secondary plan in the back of your mind if your first plans don't work out due to weather.

 

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Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

 

Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

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Explore Banff National Park with Winter Wonder Tour

Banff National Park is a dream to visit in Winter! In case you didn't know, Kyle is from Canada (read about our story here), and we love exploring Canada. Read about our Canada East Coast adventures here. However, we have not visited the Canadian Rockies in Winter until now. The snow-covered mountains and trees make for the perfect fairy tale getaway. There is no better way to start off your romantic trip than with the Banff Winter Wonder Tour. The tour takes you to some of the main highlights of Banff National Park in Winter. Hence, it provides you with a quintessential Canadian experience along the way!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff - The Next Trip

 

All of the below locations and activities were included within the Banff Winter Wonder Tour, which we enjoyed on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We were taken between all locations by coach bus. This allowed us to heat up after each outdoor activity and leave our belongings in a safe space when we didn’t need them. Take a seat as we take you through all of the tour activities!

 

Disclaimer:  Our tour was provided by Brewster Sightseeing and we loved it. As always, all of our opinions on our experience and how many Canadian treats you should eat are completely our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Views of Two Jack Lake

 

The first stop of the tour is a viewpoint of Two Jack Lake. The lake is named after two local Jack’s who used to work in the area and frequent the lake. Two Jack Lake is relatively unknown compared to some of the most famous nearby lakes. However, it is no less beautiful!

 

Two Jack Lake Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

The sun reflecting off the frozen lake is magical!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka

 

Lake Minnewanka is a large glacial lake in Banff National Park, and was one of our favorite stops on the tour! It is very popular in the Summer, but equally as beautiful in the Winter.

 

Showshoeing at Lake Minnewanka with Pursuit Collection - The Next Trip

 

Here we went on a short snowshoeing walk through the forest and along the lake. It had snowed the night before, so there was fresh snow everywhere. As a result, it was a lot of fun bounding through the deep snow. As the lake was entirely frozen and covered in snow, we even walked out onto the ice!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

Bettina tried using some old-style snowshoes made with a wooden frame and dried caribou hide webbing. However, as they didn’t have the metal ice picks on the bottom like modern snowshoes do, it was slippery! Luckily, she didn't fall!

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Cave & Basin National Historic Site

 

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is an interactive place to learn about the birthplace of Canada’s national parks, as well as local history and culture.

 

Cave and Basin Natural Hot Spring Banff - The Next Trip

 

The site includes access to an underground natural hot spring, which is protected to preserve the habitat of the Banff Springs snail. This minuscule snail has adapted to live in the harsh environment of the natural thermal springs. The snail lives in just five of the nine Banff hot springs, and is considered ‘at risk’ or endangered.  Additionally, there is only one hot springs open to the public (the Upper Hot Springs) to preserve these little Banff Spring snails.

 

Bow Falls

 

These waterfalls on the Bow River are located very close to Banff town center. The viewpoint here allows you to see the beautiful ice-covered falls in the Winter, as well as the nearby merger of the Bow and Spray rivers.

 

Bow River Banff National Park

 

We also enjoyed a cup of warm hot chocolate and a traditional Canadian sweet, Nanaimo Bars while taking in the beautiful Bow Falls!

Banff Gondola on the Winter of Wonder Tour

 

The last stop on the tour is at the Banff Gondola. The gondola climbs 2,292 feet (698 meters) to the top of Sulphur Mountain. On your way to the top you will have glimpses of the town of Banff and the mountain views that await.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The eight-minute journey to the top is totally worth it when you arrive to magnificent views like these!

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

At the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Winter Wonder tour includes a delicious sampling of a traditional Canadian snack. We tried bannock with maple butter and a cup of hot apple cider. Both the bannock and apple cider were freshly made upon our arrival. As a result, they were absolutely delicious! So much that we even had seconds!

 

Canadian Treat Bannock - The Next Trip

 

After our snack we had an hour of free time. You could take photos, walk the boardwalk to nearby Sanson’s Peak, or explore the gondola summit.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Igloo at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

After our time at the summit, we took the gondola back down to the mountain base. The coach bus drove back to the town of Banff, and we said goodbye to our excellent tour hosts. The Banff Winter Wonder tour is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon exploring Banff National Park in Winter and complete with outdoor Winter activities, historical facts, classic Canadian treats, and most importantly all those iconic Canadian Rockies views.

 

Alpenglow Festival

 

The Alpenglow Festival was not specifically included in our Winter Wonder Tour, but we wanted to highlight it as it is a must see if you’re in Banff on a Winter weekend. During the festival you can enjoy an evening of more amazing views and live music at the top of Sulphur Mountain. It happens every Friday and Saturday night between the end of January and April.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The festival is included within a Banff Gondola ticket, and provides a warm and cozy atmosphere at the top of Sulphur Mountain. Inside the gondola summit there is the Glow Bar Lounge, with live music, signature drinks, and tasty treats.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

If you feel like venturing out onto the rooftop, don't worry about the cold! You will be rewarded with a heated igloo, where you can eat a delicious s’more after roasting it yourself on the firepits! Our roasted s'mores were perfect! We enjoyed a relaxing Friday night at the Alpenglow Festival and can highly recommend it as an evening out on top of the town of Banff!

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

Pin this post to your Banff and Canada board to help plan your next trip!

 

 

Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!

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South Bali Itinerary for 3 Days

Welcome to South Bali! Whether you’re planning to stay on the island for only a few days or explore it for longer, South Bali is a must see! If you love staying at all inclusive resorts, the beach life, a few one-day excursions, South Bali is for you! This is your three day South Bali itinerary, including everything you can't miss!

 

Nusa Dua Beach Water Hammock in Bali - The Next Trip

 

South Bali is the most popular part of Bali. It is surrounded by incredibly beautiful beaches, luxurious beach resorts, and often a party destination. It is equally as beautiful as the rest of the island, but has distinct vegetation compared to north or west Bali.

If you're an adventurous traveler and want to visit the jungles of Bali, make sure you read our Guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing. For everyone trying to get away from tourism and wanting to relax, West Bali is the best place for you! We share how to get there and why we fell in love with West Bali here.

 

Where to Stay in South Bali - Bali Luxury Resorts

 

At the southern tip of Bali is an enclave called Nusa Dua which is resort heaven for all resort lovers! It includes over 20 resorts and has some of the best Bali luxury resorts. It has everything to offer that you could possibly think of.

 

Pool at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa - The Next Trip

 

Spa Pool at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa Hotel - The Next Trip

 

We stayed at the Nusa Dua Beach Resort & Spa which is located right on the beach. The hotel is very distinct as it authentically represents the Balinese culture. When you drive up the hotel, the first thing you’ll notice is the huge Bali gate followed by a beautiful water garden with many fountains. It is by far the prettiest Bali gate I saw on the island.

 

Bali Gate Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

The resort is built with traditional Balinese style in mind and features a lot of detailed wood carvings. To bring the culture to you, the hotel showcases the Legong Dance during dinner on Wednesdays and a Beach BBQ and Fire Dance on Fridays.

 

Bali Gate Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

What to do in South Bali

 

Being right at the beach, you have the best part of South Bali steps from your hotel room! The water in South Bali is amazingly clear and surprisingly warm to swim in. That being said, there are a few attractions in South Bali you can’t miss out on. Since three days can go by in no time, we are summarizing the best places to see in South Bali, and put together a South Bali Itinerary below.

 

Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa Entrance Garden - The Next Trip

 

Admire the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue

 

The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue is almost in the center of South Kuta (the southern-most tip of the island), yet you can see it from almost everywhere in South Kuta. That's because it is 400 feet (122 meters) tall and thus almost 100 feet (30 meters) taller than the statue of Liberty!

 

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It is immensely impressive, and we’re disappointed we didn’t have the time to see it from up close. It is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Make sure you add it to your itinerary by combining a visit with the drive to Uluwatu Temple.

 

Watch the Sunset at Uluwatu Temple

 

On the opposite side of Nusa Dua is the Uluwatu Temple. The temple itself might not be the prettiest or the most intricate in all of Bali, but the temple setting will leave you speechless! Built on top of a 230 feet (70 meter) cliff, it provides the most spectacular views, especially around sunset.

 

Make sure you visit the temple 1 to 1.5 hours prior to sunset. That way you can avoid the crowds and still get the most incredible sunset views. The best viewpoints are from vantage points to the north and south of the temple. While watching the sunset, you can befriend the cute monkeys which are believed to guard the temple from bad influences. Keep your belongings stowed away or hold them close to you to make sure a monkey doesn’t mistake it as a gift.

 

Go for a Sunrise Stroll at Nusa Dua Beach

 

South Bali has some of the best beaches in Bali! Get up before sunrise and stroll along the beach while watching the sun rise. You will have the beach almost to yourself and may only see a few joggers and hotel staff setting up for the day.

 

Sunrise at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

Nusa Dua beach is full of photo opportunities. If you enjoy taking photos this early in the morning without anyone interrupting you, make sure to bring your camera.

 

Morning Stroll at Nusa Dua Beach

 

Admire the Water Blow

 

Only a short walk away from Nusa Dua beach is the Water Blow. A water blow is basically a combination of high waves hitting steep cliffs, thereby creating a large water spray. This particular water blow can be extremely intense depending on the waves and with spectacular sprays. It’s another great location to take photos.

 

Treat Yourself to a Balinese Massage

 

There is nothing better than pampering yourself when you’re on vacation, especially after a full day of exploring. So why not go for a traditional Balinese massage? The Balinese massage combines acupressure techniques with skin rolling, flicking, firm and gentle stroking and the application of essential oils.

 

Balinese Massage at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

We enjoyed a full Balinese massage at the Nusa Dua Resort & Spa and it was such a blissful experience. The massage started out with a foot scrub, followed by a full body massage. As part of the tradition, the masseuses used essential oils which we got to pick beforehand. I chose a flowery jasmin oil which smelled heavenly.

 

Spa Pool at Nusa Dua Beach Resort and Spa - The Next Trip

 

South Bali Itinerary for 3 Days

 

We put together a South Bali itinerary for you to make it easier for to plan your stay in South Bali and make sure you get the most out of your 3 days there!

 

Day 1 in South Bali:

Morning:

Arrive in South Bali

Relax by the beach after a long trip

Afternoon:

Treat yourself to a Balinese massage

Evening:

Enjoy a dinner on one of the best beaches in Bali

 

Dinner at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa Bali - The Next Trip

 

Day 2 in South Bali:

Morning:

Get up early for a stroll along the Nusa Dua Beach

Walk to the water blow and enjoy the view

Afternoon:

Drive to the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue

Enjoy the sunset at Uluwatu Temple

Evening:

Have dinner in a bamboo house and enjoy live music at Pirates Bay Bali 

 

Day 3 in South Bali:

Reserve one day to stay at the beach to do watersports, bike rides along the beach, or just enjoy the beautiful water before leaving the area.

 

@travelwithtalia and I enjoying local fruit at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa

 

Bali is an incredible island and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! If you are spending more time on the island and are looking to explore other areas, make sure you read our Guide on Munduk and the famous Bali Swing and our best kept secret travel tip: visiting West Bali!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Travel Tips for Nusa Dua

 

1) Bring Snorkeling Gear!

South Bali has amazing snorkeling opportunities which you don't want to miss out on. Make sure to bring your own snorkeling gear if you own some. Otherwise, your hotel might rent out gear.

 

2) Bring Mosquito Repellent

Bali can have a lot of mosquitoes due to its tropical climate. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent to protect yourself.

 

3) Bring Sunscreen

Given that your South Bali Itinerary likely includes long hours in the sun, make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen. I was surprised to find that it is difficult to find high SPF sunscreens in Bali and was glad I had brought my own.

 

4) Book a Massage in Advance

Massage spots can fill up fast, so to ensure that you get a time that works with your schedule, book a time slot as soon as you arrive at your hotel, or even beforehand.

 

5) Schedule South Bali at the Beginning or End of Your Trip

As South Bali includes Denpasar International Airport, it is best to schedule your time here at the beginning or end of your time in Bali to minimize driving times, and relax either before or after your flight.

 

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3 Day Itinerary to Nusa Dua, South Bali! Here is everything you can't miss out on and how to plan your stay.

 

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Your Guide To Munduk Bali and the Famous Bali Swing

If your visions of a Bali vacation include chasing waterfalls, wandering through lush jungles, and sampling delicious coffee, you will want to visit Munduk, Bali! This is the place of incredible mountain views, the famous Bali swing, and the iconic infinity pool.

 

Bettina and Kyle at Munduk Moding Plantation Infinity Pool in Bali - The Next Trip

 

Munduk is located in the mountains of central Bali. Some people say this is where the true beauty of the island is hidden. Given its higher elevation, Munduk is a couple degrees cooler than the rest of the island and is incredibly green. It is known for its lush forests, hills, culture, temples, lakes and waterfalls. Munduk, Bali is highly distinct from South Bali and is perfect to get away from the sun, learn more about the Balinese culture, and explore the outdoors. If you're looking to get away from tourists completely, you would love spending time in the tranquil West Bali!

 

Bettina at Munduk Moding Plantation in Bali - The Next Trip

Revolve Dress

 

How to get to Munduk, Bali

 

The most common way to get to Bali is by flying into Denpasar Airport. If you're looking for tips on how to book cheap flights to Bali, check out our 5-step guide here. Once you get to the airport, the easiest way to get to Munduk, Bali is by car. You can either rent a car or rent a car with driver. Estimate at least 2 hours get from Denpasar to Munduk without traffic. We left right during the evening traffic and it took us almost double the amount of time. The roads in central Bali are winding and narrow, but incredibly scenic. If you're driving during the day, you're in luck! Every corner you turn is a new incredible viewpoint.

 

View of Munduk Bali - The Next Trip

 

If you decide to drive by yourself, make sure your travel insurance covers you in case of accidents. We have heard about quite a few people getting into scooter accidents because of the way the roads are designed and how bad traffic is. Accidents are never fun but without the proper coverage, things can get worse quickly.

 

Where to stay in Munduk, Bali

 

The ultimate Munduk experience is not complete without staying at a hotel in the middle of the jungle with the most iconic infinity pool! We stayed at the Munduk Moding Plantation which is a gorgeous hotel consisting of private villas, situated in its very own coffee plantation. The hotel is known for its incredible infinity pool views blending in with the surrounding hills.

 

Bettina at Munduk Moding Plantation Infinity Pool in Bali - The Next Trip

ModaPosa Dress / ModaPosa Scarf

 

View of Infinity Pool at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Infinity Pool at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

The villas feature indoor and outdoor showers, as well as private relaxing areas. Depending on which villa you’re staying at, you will also have your very own pool.

 

Villa at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Outdoor Shower at Munduk Moding Plantation - The Next Trip

 

Outdoor Relaxing Area at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

The main hotel area includes two infinity pools with incredible views as well as a Jacuzzi. Even though the hotel was relatively booked, we had plenty of alone time at the pool and were able to fully relax and take in the views.

 

Jacuzzi at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

@travelwithtalia and I relaxing at the Munduk Moding Plantation Jacuzzi. / Swimsuit

 

Pool and Breakfast area at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Pool Area at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Munduk Moding Plantation also offers a variety of daily activities on the property such as a coffee plantation tour, where you learn everything about growing coffee to making coffee, trekking tours, as well as mountain biking tours.

 

Coffee Plant at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

They even have four Bali ponies which can be booked for horse back riding trips.

 

Horse Back Riding at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

Talia's dress / Bettina's dress

Disclaimer:  We were hosted by Munduk Moding Plantation and had a wonderful time! We are excited to share our trip with you here. As always, all of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

What to see around Munduk, Bali

 

Munduk and Central Bali is the culturally richest area in Bali and if you like visiting temples, you can easily fill 3-4 days. However, a visit would not be complete without seeing some of the most impressive waterfalls on the island and taking a picture with the famous Bali Swing!

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls (Wanagiri)

 

The Banyumala Twin Waterfalls are located at the north end of central Bali and are relatively lesser known than other waterfalls. They are only a 30 min drive from Munduk itself. The waterfalls are absolutely worth a visit! The falls can be accessed by car, followed by a relatively steep decline. Make sure you wear good footwear, especially if it has been raining, as the path might be slippery.

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

Banyumala Twin Waterdalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

Once you get to the falls, you are rewarded with the most amazing views of multiple waterfalls ending in the same basin. The basin itself is not overly deep but great to swim in.

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfall Tips

 

Location: North/Central Bali

When to go: mornings are least busy, but it’s not overly touristy so you can also go in the afternoon.

Cost: IDR 50,000 (roughly 3.50 USD)

What to pack: Make sure you bring good shoes to walk to the falls and bring a swimsuit if you can brave the cold water.

 

Banyumala Twin Waterfalls Bali - The Next Trip

 

We also recommend seeing Munduk Waterfall and Leke Leke Waterfall as we have heard great things about them. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see them ourselves, given our tight schedule.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a major Hindu Shaivite water temple on Bali. It’s actually a temple complex and consists of five compounds of temples. During rainy season or at the end of the rainy season, you will understand why it is called a water temple as the main temple appears to be “floating.”

 

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tag someone who’d love to visit this water temple in Bali ✨🙏🏽 @thebaliexpert. ... Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is both a picturesque landmark and a significant temple complex located on Lake Beratan in central Bali. The smooth reflective surface of the lake surrounding most of the temple creates a unique floating impression while the mountain range encircling the lake provides a beautifully picturesque backdrop. ... Photo by: @dotzsoh Location: Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Bali. . . . . . #ulundanuberatan #temple #watertemple #bali #baliindonesia #indonesia #balilife #ig_color #beautifuldestinations #traveltheworld #awesomeearth #earthpix #travelstoke #wanderlust #igtravel #travelstoke #roamtheplanet #destinationearth #бали #thebaliexpert

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During dry season, the temples are not floating but the complex is just as beautiful.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

Dress from Red Dress / Sandals

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

The temple is very popular among tourists and can get quite busy. We were there early in the afternoon and it was very busy. We’d recommend going earlier in the day, preferably in the morning to avoid the crowds.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Tips

 

Location: Central Bali at the Beratan lake

When to go: the earlier in the day the better. Opening hours are 7am – 7pm.

Cost: tickets to enter the temple grounds are IDR 100,000 (roughly 7 USD).

What to pack: Make sure you bring water. It can be very hot there and as with every tourist destination, buying water there is more expensive than bringing it.

 

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

Lake Tamblingan and Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan

 

Lake Tamblingan is a quiet lake at the foot of Mount Lesung in central Bali. It’s relatively unknown and the perfect getaway if you’re looking to escape the tourists. The lake is home to the Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan, a spectacular floating temple. You may have seen some incredible photos on Instagram showing the temple and the lake during the rainy season. During the dry season, the water levels at Lake Tamblingan are low which makes is perfect to walk around the temple grounds but takes away the “floating” temple views.

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Floating Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Floating Temple Bali - The Next Trip

The dress is forever old but you can find a similar one here / Earrings

 

If you visit during, or at the end of the rainy season, you can rent a canoe to get all the way to the temple and snap some beautiful photos.

 

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Tips

 

Location: Central Bali at Tamblingan Lake

When to go: The lake is very quiet and the perfect escape from mass tourism. Any time of the day would be great to visit.

Cost: Park entrance is IDR 10,000 (roughly 0.7 USD). You can rent canoes starting at IDR 200,000 (roughly USD 14).

What to pack: Since you’re right at the lake, make sure you pack insect repellent and sun screen. Even though the temperatures are mild compared to other places in Bali, the sun is just as intense.

 

Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan Floating Temple Bali - The Next Trip

 

The Famous Bali Swing & Hidden Hills Wanagiri

 

While this is not a Bali-native attraction but mostly created for Instagram, it has become a very popular attraction and is just as stunning as other sights. If you don’t believe in taking a photo with the Bali Swing and feeding the hype, no hard feelings. Feel free to skip this paragraph and jump to our 5 travel tips for Munduk, Bali.

 

Bali Swing Hidden Hills Wanagiri Bali - The Next Trip

Swimsuit / Chicwish Skirt

 

Wanagiri Hidden Hills & the Bali Swing have gained huge traction with tourism around the globe in the recent years. It’s a photo area in central Bali, set up to take staged photos with an incredible backdrop of Lake Buyan and surrounding mountains. There are several different places along Jl. Raya Pancasari road to take these types of photos and each of them has a slightly different set-up. Every stand is equipped with some dress rentals, a changing room, and the locals are super friendly and help you take the perfect photo. They even have a reflector to create the perfect lighting for you.

 

Wanagiri Hidden Hills Bali - The Next Trip

Revolve Dress

 

Hidden Hills Wanagiri Bali - The Next Trip

Revolve Dress

 

It’s a very popular destination to stop at and if you don’t like to be rushed, we recommend going early in the morning. We paid IDR 100,000 (roughly 7 USD) as entrance fee but heard that the price is going up over the years.

 

Bali Swing and Hidden Hills Wanagiri Tips

 

Location: Jl. Raya Wanagiri in Central Bali, if you're going there with a driver, show them a photo and they will know exactly where you want to go. If you're driving yourself, look for little huts/stands on the lake side of the street. Upon getting closer, you will notice the photo ops set-up.

When to go: The Hidden Hills Wanagiri are extremely popular so expect to wait in line to take your photo. The earlier in the morning you arrive, the less people will be there. We were there around 10am and once we left, it got very busy.

Cost: We paid IDR 100,000 (roughly 7 USD) to access the park area but heard that prices are on the upswing. Also, getting access to the big Bali swing costs extra.

What to pack: There are quite a few different photo spots. If you want additional variety in your pictures, make sure you bring some clothes to change into. They have a changing room so you can easily switch between outfits. If you don't have any outfits you like, the operators provide long and flowy dresses there which you can borrow/rent.

 

Wanagiri Hidden Hills Bali - The Next Trip

 

Note that the famous Bali gate is very close to the Wanagiri Hidden Hills. We wanted to take some photos there also. However, as we drove past, we saw that the wait was already at least 1 hour. Bali has so much to offer that we didn’t think it would worth waiting in line.

 

Pool View at Munduk Moding Plantation Bali - The Next Trip

 

Overall, Munduk is a beautiful area to explore and you can easily fill 3-4 days visiting temples and waterfalls. It is not as busy as South Bali and a few degrees cooler, making it a great getaway!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Travel Tips for Munduk

 

1) Rent a car or have a driver.

Getting to and from Munduk, and getting around Munduk is difficult without a vehicle. We recommend renting a car or hiring a driver for the days when you're exploring. Talk to your hotel if they can recommend a driver for you.

2) Make sure you bring cash!

Bali is very cash-centric and doesn’t accept cards everywhere. Most of the sights/attractions in Munduk are paid attractions and require you to pay cash. There are some ATMs around Munduk but they generally don't let you withdraw more than 1,000,000 IDR (about 74 USD). We found this maximum to be the case in South Bali also. We paid our driver 680,000 IDR (about 50 USD) for the drive from Denpasar Airport to Munduk. For a day driving around Munduk, we paid our driver around 400,000 IDR (around 30 USD).

3) Bring Mosquito Repellent

Being located in the jungle with regular rain fall, there can be a lot of mosquitoes in Munduk. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent to protect yourself.

4) Bring Sunscreen

This is true for almost every outdoor destination. Even though it's a few degrees cooler than on the beach, the sun is just as intense in Munduk. Usually, higher elevation destinations require more sun protection.

5) Eat all the Fresh Fruit

There are a ton of fruit stands in Munduk on the side of the road. I am usually not a fruit person, but we sampled almost everything and had the best fruit I have ever tasted! I can highly recommend the passion fruit which are just picked from the trees.

 

Save this post to your Bali travel Pinterest board for when you plan your next vacation!

 

 

Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.
Your guide to Munduk and the famous Bali Swing! We cover stunning waterfalls, temples, where to stay, how to get around, and how much cash to bring.

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West Bali: One of the Best Places to Stay in Bali

What is your idea of heaven on earth? Welcome to our personal heaven! There are a lot of great places to stay in Bali and picking where exactly you want to go can be difficult. Each geographic area has its own appeal and unique history.

 

View of West Bali from Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Why West Bali is One of the Best Places to Stay in Bali

 

West Bali is the least known, unspoiled, and uncrowded area of Bali, which makes it one of the best places to stay in Bali! It is the perfect place to get away from your busy every-day life. The days you will spend here are utter bliss and there is no better place to just disconnect.

 

Sunset View of West Bali at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

West Bali is dominated by the West Bali National Park, a mostly uninhabited jungle. It is home to quiet and deserted beaches, great places to surf, and shallow waters perfect for snorkeling and diving. Most tourists don’t know much about West Bali and don't venture this far west on their Bali trip. Not even the locals visit the “wild west.” This provides for a very quiet surrounding and the perfect base for a retreat and exploring nature.

 

How to Get There

 

West Bali is relatively secluded but still accessible via car or scooter. There are two ways to get to West Bali, taking the road along the south shore or along the north shore, via Munduk. Either route will take around 4 hours, depending on traffic. Since the roads are quite narrow and windy, this makes for a long drive but trust me, it is completely worth it!

 

What is the best month to go to West Bali?

 

West Bali has relatively constant temperatures throughout the year, due to its proximity to the equator. However, there are two main seasons: the wet and the dry season. October – April is usually the wet season. During this season, the weather can be quite unpredictable and as the name suggests – wet. April through September is called the dry season and will have relatively little rain. This might sound great, but the lack of rain also affects the vegetation and might leave forests and hills looking more dried up than expected.

 

Pool View at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

In our opinion, the best months to go to Bali are April – June. It’s right at the end of the rainy season / the beginning of the dry season. This means humidity levels are slightly lower than during the wet season and the vegetation is lush and green. Further, if you travel outside the peak season, flight prices are likely cheaper. If you would like to learn more about saving money on cheap flights, check out our 5-step guide to booking cheap flights.

 

Where to Stay in West Bali

 

West Bali is truly a place where you can fully relax. With the weather being perfect almost every single day, it is one of the best places to stay in Bali and the perfect place for a retreat.

 

Pool and Bali Villa at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

Koy Resort Beach Cover Up

 

Pool View at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

Chicwish Dress / Earrings

 

We stayed at Sumberkima Hill in North West Bali. The hotel consists of private Bali villas with a main area for yoga classes and spa treatments. You stay in your very own villa, which includes a personal pool, a kitchen, living room, dining room, bedrooms, and bathrooms. It is basically your new luxurious home away from home. Sumberkima Hill has 2 main restaurants on site to either dine in or order from so that you can dine in your own villa.

 

Living Room at Sumberkima Hill Bali Villa - The Next Trip

 

Living Room at Sumberkima Hill Bali Villa - The Next Trip

 

If you like spending time in the pool, you will love the opportunity of having a floating breakfast. You can let the staff know a day in advance when you place your breakfast order and they will serve it on a floating tray. There is really nothing quite like having a smoothie bowl and a coffee with these pool views.

 

Floating Breakfast with @travelwithtalia at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

@travelwithtalia and I enjoying our floating breakfast at Sumberkima Hill.

 

In case you ever feel like leaving your villa (which we didn’t), Sumberkima Hill offers yoga classes for beginners or seasoned yogis with the most breathtaking views. You can also enjoy a spa, massage or reflexology treatment onsite. This was one of our favorite places to stay in Bali and we are already planning to go back.

 

Falling into the Pool at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

Target Swimsuit

 

Jumping into the Pool at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Disclaimer:  We were hosted by Sumberkima Hill and had a wonderful time! We are excited to share our trip with you here. As always, all of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

What to Do in West Bali

 

The best thing about West Bali is the chilled lifestyle and the ability to completely relax. However, West Bali also has some of the most amazing natural sites on offer which brings it to the top of the best places to stay in Bali.

 

Sunset View at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Snorkeling in North West Bali

 

In North West Bali, you can find the largest area of shallow reefs in Bali! Given the shallow water, the experience is perfect for beginners but also has plenty to offer for intermediate snorkelers and divers. Since the North West Bali reefs are relatively unexplored by tourists, you’ll also be sure that nobody ruins your view or bumps into you as you’re trying to take a photo of Nemo.

If you’re an avid diver, a tour of the coral garden at Menjangan Island is definitely worth the trip. In addition to an abundance of small fish, there is also the possibility to see larger fish cruising by the outer reef. Think reef sharks, tuna, eagle rays, sting rays, and wild sea turtles.

Most hotels in the area will offer to organize snorkeling and diving tours for you, including a personal guide.

 

Canoe Trip in the Bay of Sumberkima

 

The Sumberkima Bay is lined with mangrove trees which provides for amazing views when canoeing. The trees with their high arching roots are a spectacular sight to see for anyone who loves exploring nature. Rent a canoe or book a canoeing trip with your hotel to explore the area. Depending on the tide, you can also reach Gili Putih, a small white sand island which is located in the bay. During high tide, the island is relatively small, almost not visible, and only accessible by boat. During low tide, you can walk to the island from the mainland which is about one mile (1.5 km) away.

 

Night Hike on Mount Ijen and the Blue Flames

 

Possibly the most exciting excursion you can think of is hiking Mount Ijen. Mount Ijen is located on East Java, Indonesia’s most populated island. It’s a 2-hour ferry ride away from the west Bali harbor Gilimanuk. The Gilimanuk harbor is very close to Sumberkima Hill and. This makes Sumberkima Hill a great place to stay for a Mount Ijen hike.

 

Top of Mount Ijen in East Java - The Next Trip

 

Mount Ijen is famous for the electric-blue sulfur flames and the stunning views from the top of the crater. The blue sulfur flames are a result of the burning of sulfuric gas which emerges from the cracks of the volcano. The volcano is the largest blue flames area in the world and the locals call it blue fire.

 

Blue Flames at Mount Ijen - The Next Trip

 

Blue Flames at Night

 

As the blue fire is only visible at night, night hikes are the best way to see them. We booked our night hike with Sumberkima Hill who organized everything for us. The entire hike was seamless and well planned. This was our first time going on a night hike and we forgot to adjust our sleep schedule! Trust me when I say we were incredibly tired in the end. If you are planning to do a night hike, we highly recommend you take a longer nap in the afternoon, or sleep at least 4 hours before embarking on your hike.

 

Blue Fire at Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Mount Ijen Night Hike – The Experience

 

After a 30-minute car ride to the ferry port, a 1-hour ferry ride, another 1-1.5 hour drive to the base of Mount Ijen, we started our hike at 2am. The entire hike is guided but completely in the dark. You wear headlamps so that you see where you step and a gas mask to wear in the crater of Mount Ijen. The hike is relatively steep but the terrain is easy, which makes for a great cardio work-out.

Depending on your speed, you will reach the rim of the crater in an hour or two. You will then start your descent into the crater, which takes about 40 minutes. The descent is technically more challenging, and for anyone who is scared of heights also emotionally challenging. The drops on either side of the path are significant, and can be deadly. That being said, our guides were extremely helpful. One guide even took one of our co-hikers by the hand as she is terrified of heights. Even though she didn’t love every second of the hike, she was still extremely happy she did it!

 

Warning Sign at Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

View of the Crater Hike of Mount Ijen in East Java - The Next Trip

 

On your way down into the crater, you will pass mine workers. Sulfur miners extract sulfur pieces and manually carry them out of the crater. These mine workers face extremely dangerous working conditions on a daily basis. They walk up and down the crater multiple times per day and often carry a load of 50lbs or more. Whenever you pass a mine worker, make sure to step to the side as sign of respect and to make things easier for them.

 

Sulfur Mine Worker at Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Sulfur Pieces from Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Sulfur Mine Worker on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Once you get closer to the crater, your guide will ask you to put on your gas mask as the smoke from the burning sulfur can make it very difficult to breathe. Seeing the blue flames at the end of the hike makes it worth all of the effort! There is no better way to describe it than spectacular. We have never seen anything like this before and it was an incredible feeling to stand there and stare. The flames’ size and shape varies by the minute as different amounts of sulfuric gas emerges from the ground. It’s an incredible experience and a must see if you like adventurous travel.

 

Selfie with the Blue Flames on Mount Ijen - The Next Trip

 

The hike back up the crater is relatively quick and timed in a way that you reach the top of the crater rim in time for sunrise.

 

Crater Rim on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Crater Rim on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

View from Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

Mount Ijen Famous Instagrammable Spot

 

Instead of heading back to the bottom of the volcano, we asked our guide to take us further along the crater rim for a better view of the Mount Ijen crater lake and the area. The crater lake appears in a bright turquoise blue due to the high acidity and is an incredible sight.

 

Famous Instagrammable Tree on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

Chicwish Skirt (also available in red, yellow, blue, and black) / White Top / Other Similar White Top

 

View of the Mount Ijen Crater Lake, East Java - The Next Trip

 

View of the Crater Lake on Mount Ijen, East Java - The Next Trip

 

 

Instagrammable Tree on Mount Ijen - The Next Trip

 

If you are planning a trip to Bali but don’t know where to go, we can highly recommend spending a few days in West Bali. The serenity of the area together with the natural wonders makes it one of the best places to stay in Bali. Especially if you are looking to avoid the other overly touristy areas.

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in West Bali

 

1) Be ready to relax!

With West Bali being the least populated and touristy area in Bali, it is one of the best places to stay in Bali to kick back and enjoy some peace and quiet. All areas of Bali have spa-like retreats, but we were most relaxed while at our Sumberkima Hill villa in West Bali.

 

Floating Breakfast at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

2) Plan out the activities you would like to do in West Bali.

Some of the water activities are highly dependent on the tides and won’t be as worthwhile every day. We had initially thought of doing a canoe trip, but the tides didn’t line up with our schedule so we had to pass until next time.

3) Plan on visiting towards the end of the wet season.

The best time to visit is between April and June, to get the most amazing view of the lush surrounding hills. We visited West Bali in November which is at the end of the dry season. As a result, the majority of the flora was relatively dry.

4) Hike Mount Ijen!

It is hands-down one of the best experiences we have every completed and worth every minute of sleep deprivation. Since it is relatively cold at night on the volcano, make sure you dress warm for the hike and bring a scarf just in case.

5) Enjoy the best sunsets!

We saw the most amazing sunsets from Sumberkima Hill in North West Bali. Make sure you plan a few evenings at your villa and have your camera ready and charged to capture those precious moments! As Bali is so close to the equator, sunsets don't last very long.

 

Sunset at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

Bright Red Sunset at Sumberkima Hill, Bali - The Next Trip

 

 

Save this post to your Bali travel Pinterest board for when you plan your next vacation!

 

You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!

 

You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!
You booked a trip to Bali and don't know where to stay? West Bali is one of the best places to stay in Bali! We share how to get there, where to stay, and the best excursions!

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Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

Bangkok is one of the quintessential cities in Southeast Asia with its amazing food, huge nightlife scene, crazy traffic congestion, and intense heat – it truly is a full-out assault on the senses.  This however, doesn’t mean that your trip to Bangkok needs to be hectic, stressful, or overwhelming.  While three days is not quite enough time to see everything, it is the perfect amount of time to get a true sense of the city, so read on for our recommendations on the best things to do in Bangkok in three days.

 

Bettina and Kyle at Wat Arun - The Next Trip

 

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on things to do in Bangkok in three days, click here.

 

Is Bangkok Worth Visiting?

 

Absolutely! Even if you only have three days in Bangkok, the city is worth it as it has a little bit of something for everyone! Bangkok, officially known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, has a population of over 11 million inhabitants who welcome over 20 million visitors every year. This makes Bangkok one of the most visited cities in the world, and it is not hard to see why.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The tropical metropolis is extremely tourist friendly and offers everything from a vibrant street and nightlife, to hundreds of ornate temples and cultural sites, to bustling markets, to relaxing spas and wellness, all topped off by delicious and affordable food. The busyness of the city is exactly why Bettina fell in love with it.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

In addition, Bangkok has two large airports, and is an aviation hub of Southeast Asia, meaning that it is often more affordable than you think to fly here from virtually anywhere on the globe. If you’re interested in learning more on how to book cheap flights, check out our Five Step Guide.

 

Where to Stay in Bangkok

 

As Bangkok is such a huge city with so many diverse sights spread across the city, a hotel with a central location and access to public transit is ideal. For our time in Bangkok we stayed at the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok, which worked out perfectly. The Shama Lakeview Asoke hotel is located in a quiet area of the Central Business District and is an easy 10-minute walk to BTS Skytrain and MRT metro stations, as well as shopping malls and restaurants galore. This location allowed us to take public transportation when we were out exploring for the day!

 

View from Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

What makes the Shama Lakeview Asoke especially great for those on an extended Southeast Asia stay is every room in the hotel is an apartment style suite so you have lots of room to relax, and have some of the conveniences of home. Our one-bedroom lakeview suite included a fully stocked kitchen, comfortable work space, and washer and dryer, all of which we greatly appreciated.

 

Hotel Room at Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

When not relaxing in your room, the hotel amenities include a huge outdoor pool and large gym, and a few fun activities like a ping pong table and indoor golf driving range.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Last but not least, there are two restaurants you can choose from for breakfast! We ended up eating all of our hotel meals at the Coffee Club café. It was so good that we even came back here for late night snacks, dessert, and drinks each night.

 

Breakfast at Coffee Club Cafe

 

If you are looking for a centrally located place to stay in Bangkok, which is comfortable, incredibly clean, and full of amenities, we can highly recommend the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok.

We were hosted by  Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok and had a wonderful time and are excited to share our trip with you. All of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Thai Food

 

Thai food is world-renowned for its diversity in flavors and attention to detail and happens to be one of our favorite cuisines in the world. If Bettina could pick just one favorite meal, for her it is absolutely Thai Green Curry. As a result, we went on the search for green curry every day in Bangkok!

 

Basil Chicken Thai Food at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

With a three-day visit to Bangkok, there is a lot to see in a short amount of time. One thing you don’t need to be too worried about, is having great food. There is amazing Thai food around every corner. For our time in Bangkok we enjoyed every meal, and didn’t really do any significant prior research.

 

Street Food in Thailand - The Next Trip

 

That being said we recommend a quick peak on Google Maps restaurant ratings when you are ready to eat. We found that while there were a lot of highly rated restaurants, there were also a surprising number of poorly rated restaurants (which we would generally say is less than four stars out of five, however there were a lot below three stars when we searched).

Some of our other favorite Thai dishes which are definitely worth trying are Pad Thai, Yellow Curry, a fresh Thai Salad, and so many others.

 

Streetfood in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

You may be wondering "is street food safe in Bangkok?” and to that we can say that we sampled street food too many times to count and we never got sick. We highly recommend you try some local street food as it is an essential part of the Bangkok experience! There are so many street vendors on every corner, you can and should be picky about where you eat. Choose the vendor with a clean looking cart, and where the meat is being freshly grilled, as opposed to looking like it has been sitting in the hot sun all afternoon.

 

Fun Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

 

A trip to Bangkok can be very different for each individual person, depending on your interests.  If you want to party all night long, the city can certainly deliver, but we opted for a visit focused primarily on exploring some of best wats (Buddhist temples) the city has to offer.

 

Temples in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Before you visit any temples, make sure you are respectful to the religion and culture and dress appropriately. For women, this means covering your shoulders and knees. If you are wearing a short skirt and revealing top, make sure you bring a large scarf to cover up your knees and a cardigan to cover your shoulders and chest area. Men should wear long pants and either short- or long-sleeve shirts (no tank tops). No worries if you forget to dress properly though; most wats also have clothes rentals.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun

 

Wat Arun is one of the best known in Bangkok, and is one of the few main tourist sites located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. Getting here is fairly easy as it is a short walk from one of the MRT Blue Line stops. Wat Arun towers in the distance, as its central spire is over 70 metres (200 feet) tall, and is covered in colorful porcelain.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 50 baht (about $1.65 USD). Due to its popularity, we highly recommend arriving early in the morning to avoid the worst of the thick crowds. We also heard that the morning sun reflects off the temple to give a nice pearly glow.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Most people arrive at Wat Arun by taking one of the many ferries that cross the Chao Phraya River, which is another experience worth doing! The ferries are inexpensive, and the quickest way to cross over to the next main attraction!

 

Crossing Chao Phraya River on a Ferry - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

 

In addition to Wat Arun, Wat Pho is another of the best known Bangkok attractions, together with the nearby Grand Palace. This temple has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, and also includes the famous Reclining Buddha, built in 1832 and lying 46 meters long (151 feet).

 

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 100 baht (about $3.30 USD) and is worth it! We again recommend arriving early due to the huge crowds that come to see the Reclining Buddha. Even if you don't arrive early, the entire area is not overly crowded. That means you can easily walk around and enjoy the sights.

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you have enough time and truly are an early bird, be sure to check out The Grand Palace. It is the most famous landmark in Bangkok and Thailand's most sacred site. Tickets to the palace are 500 baht ($16.60).

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

More of Wat You Want

 

During our time in Bangkok, we toured two additional wats, although there are hundreds more that we didn’t get to.  Wat Ratchanatdaram is stunningly beautiful, with a style that is slightly simplified and symmetric compared to most other wats that we saw.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The best part about this wat is that there is no entrance fee. As it is further away from the main tourist area, it is also not very busy at all. We arrived in the late afternoon, and there was only a handful of other people visiting at the same time.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Only a tuk tuk ride away is Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, our favorite wat in Bangkok.  We arrived just before sunset, and had the place almost all to ourselves.

 

Tuk Tuks in Bangkok, Thailand - The Next Trip

 

This wat is also known as the marble temple; and you can see why from the photos! Entrance to Wat Benchamabophit was 50 baht (about $1.65 USD), and definitely worth it.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

 
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Chatuchak Weekend Market

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market is another quintessential Bangkok experience and is one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days. It is the world’s largest and most diverse weekend market with more than 15,000 stalls selling almost everything you could imagine.

 

Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Entrance to the market is free, so you can save your baht for shopping and eating! We purchased a few souvenirs at the market, but since we were most excited about the food, we arrived hungry and sampled as much as we could! If you like coconut, you will love the Thai coconut ice cream! It comes in a coconut and with toppings of tapioca pearls, peanuts, shaved coconut, etc.

 

Dinner at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Thai Coconut Ice Cream at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

We visited Chatuchak Weekend Market on a Friday evening which is less busy than during the weekend. However, not all market stands were open so we didn't get to experience the full size of it. We'd recommend visiting on a Saturday or Sunday for shopping, but Friday night for eating.

 

Accessories at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Food court at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Getting to Chatuchak Weekend market is relatively easy as both public transport systems, BTS and MRT,  have nearby stations to the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

 

How to Get Around Bangkok

 

Not only is Bangkok a large city population-wise, but also geographically. This means you will be spending time trying to figure out how to get between the amazing sightseeing opportunities here. Traffic congestion can also be a problem, which can seriously cut into your time enjoying the city.  We primarily used the MRT (metro) to get to and from our hotel to various areas of the city. As the MRT travels underground, you don’t have to worry about traffic.  The same goes for the BTS Skytrain, which travels above the city streets. Another great reason to take the MRT is that it is cheap, safe, but more importantly, air-conditioned which comes in super handy on those hot and humid summer days! As a bonus, with stations looking as pretty, taking public transport is a sight in itself!

 

Metro Station in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you find yourself too far away from a MRT or BTS Skytrain station, we can highly recommend Grab, which functions just like Uber or Lyft. We also used Grab to get to and from the airport, without any issues.

Of course, no trip to Bangkok would be complete without a trip on a tuk tuk! Be sure to agree upon a price prior to getting in, and then sit back, and hold on!

 

Spas and Thai Massages in Bangkok

 

We were pretty jetlagged when we arrived in Bangkok, so decided to pamper ourselves with a famous Thai massage. The Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok offers in-house Thai massages and we couldn't resist to book one for each of us. We both received a set of pants and top to put on before getting situated on the massage bed. Thai massages are very different to Swedish massages and combine acupressure and yoga postures. If you are looking for a relaxing massage, Thai massages may not be your best choice. Bettina chose a "medium" strength massage but I'm pretty sure I heard her say "ouch" at some point! 🙂 The massages can be a bit painful but we felt extremely relaxed afterwards and were able to sleep off our jetlag.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you are looking to get your nails done, Bangkok is one of the best places to do so! Bettina and I picked a place in a nearby shopping center and received and incredibly detailed and gentle pedicure. It is also very reasonably priced, making it another one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days.

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days:

 

1) Prepare for an assault on the senses. Sometimes your expectations can make or break a trip. While Bangkok is absolutely amazing, it is not the most relaxing place to be. If you are prepared to experience extreme heat and humidity, smell delicious food mixed with raw sewage nearby, see extreme wealth and poverty juxtaposed, and are prepared to battle the insane traffic congestion, you will have a great time! Part of traveling is just rolling with the local scene, even if it is not what you are used to. It's Bettina's favorite part about traveling!

2) Stay Hydrated. Building on top of our first point, almost no matter what time of the year you visit, it will be hot. Nothing takes the fun out of travelling like a good headache, sunburn, or dehydration. We carried water bottles and sunscreen with us everywhere we went and absolutely needed it. You can buy water bottles almost everywhere from street vendors. However, if you are in tourist area, prepare to pay 2-4x the “regular” price compared to a stand just a few blocks away.

3) Use the BTS Skytrain and MRT metro!  Before arriving, we planned to walk and take tuk tuks mostly everywhere, but after a half day in the heat, taking a tuk tuk spitting out exhaust fumes, while sitting overtop the hot engine in a traffic jam, was less than appealing. Our rides on the MRT were an nice air-conditioned break, rejuvenating our energy for the next activity.

4) Take out enough cash. Cash truly is king in Bangkok.  There were very few places that we went that accepted credit cards, so make sure to have enough Thai Baht currency for all of the wat entrance fees, street food, and market shopping for your trip. ATM machines are plentiful to take out more cash if you run out.

5) Eat the street food. This is absolutely part of the Bangkok experience. If you still have concerns, inspect each street vendors stall carefully to look for reasonable food preparation conditions. Look for stands where they cook the meat in front of you. You can even ask them to cook it longer if you prefer. Another tip is to seek out the food vendor that has the longest line of locals getting food.  If locals line up to eat there it should be delicious and safe.

 

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Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat at Chatuchak Weekend Market, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.

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Happy Camper Farewell and Why We Left Chicago

So Kyle and I did a thing – a big thing! We decided to completely change our lives, take what we learned and experienced, and follow our dreams. If you follow us on Instagram, you probably already know what I’m talking about. Kyle and I decided to quit our jobs, leave Chicago, and travel the world! No, we’re not kidding!! But let me back up a bit and share the entire story with you.

 

 

 

Our Story and Why We Left Chicago

 

A couple of years ago, 8.5 years to be exact, Kyle and I met studying abroad in Finland, fell in love, and started travelling around Europe. You can read our full story in the About Us section. That’s when the travel bug bit us. And as they say, there is no cure for it! Fast forward a few years, Kyle started reading a few overland blogs and that’s where he got the idea of travelling through South America in a car and tent. It took him a few years to convince me that this was a great idea but after I spent a few years working on my career in finance, I was also dreaming of exploring the world. Other than the tent thing. I couldn’t envision myself sleeping in a tent for more than 5 days (we tried that in Colorado, read about our scary bear situation), so we decided on a pop-up camper instead, which we call Swifty (it's the Four Wheel Campers Swift Model).

 

 

In September 2019, we sold our apartment in Chicago, bought a pop-up camper for our truck, and set sail to spend some time with Kyle’s family in Vancouver, Canada before we would venture to South America in our camper. If you want to follow along our trip, make sure you follow us on Instagram and sign up for The Next Trip newsletter!

Of course, leaving Chicago was not an easy task. During the 4.5 years we lived there, we met amazing people and made wonderful connections. Saying goodbye to our friends would require an adequate goodbye party!

 

The Farewell Party at Happy Camper

 

I was dreaming of having a party and inviting all the amazing girls I met in Chicago over the years. And no place would be more fitting than having the party at Happy Camper – a really cool restaurant with an airy and super cute decorated rooftop in Wrigleyville! I worked with Brianne from Marquette Avenue Events to put everything together! I don’t know what I would have done without her as I was so busy preparing for our move that I hardly had time to think about planning the Farewell!

 

 

Happy Camper reserved part of their rooftop for us and made sure we got delicious food and drinks all night. I personally am a fan of the Mom pizza, which is a veggie pizza with no cheese but just as good as a regular pizza! If you’re not familiar with Happy Camper and have never been, I can highly recommend a visit to either their Old Town or newly opened Wrigleyville location.

 

 

 

Both locations feature real camper caravans inside the restaurant and the Wrigleyville location is decorated to melt every Instagrammer’s heart.

 

 

From the turquoise chairs (you know they had me then), to the yellow umbrellas, disco ball, and chandeliers, everything is designed with a lot of thought.

 

 

 

 

The outdoor rooftop area is covered in fake grass to give you the perfect summer vibes, even if the Chicago weather doesn’t always comply.

 

Farewell Party Guest Gallery

 

The Farewell party would not have been the same without my incredible guests and wonderful blogger community I have met in Chicago. All of these girls have become a substantial part of my life and I am incredibly grateful for each and everyone of them. Talking to bloggers in different cities, they describe their local industry as very competitive – contrary to Chicago. In Chicago, I truly had the feeling that everyone wanted to support each other and help each other succeed.

 

 

One of the most supportive people I have met in this industry is Marii, the owner and founder of Swirl and Sparkle and Sparkle in the City PR. She started her business by creating her own make-up brush cleansers which are the only thing that got me to clean my brushes (I’m sure you know what I mean when I say washing brushes is a task) and I am sure she will go far in life. As a party favor, she created The Next Trip branded cleansers which are so cute – I wanted to keep them all.

 

 

 

These are the girls that made my night at Happy Camper. I am grateful to have met all of them and will miss them dearly.

Thank you to Happy Camper Wrigleyville and Brianne from Marquette Avenue Events to make this Farewell Party so special!

 

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How to Spend a Weekend in Alaska – the Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a great place to spend a (long) weekend in Alaska. It is perfect for getting a quick taste of wild Alaska, as it is relatively close to Anchorage. Prepare to see majestic mountains, beautiful glaciers, historic towns, and a chance at wildlife during your trip to the Kenai Peninsula. Be sure you have your camera charged and ready at all times! Unlike Bettina, wildlife doesn't pose and wait for you to be ready. 🙂

 

A weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

We worked with Pursuit Collection to be able to share the full Alaska wildlife experience with you! As always, all our opinions and photos are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us. 

As you may know, it is our goal to visit all 50 U.S. States and Alaska has been a state neither of us had been to yet! You can check out the progress of our states visits on our U.S. States map. You can also read about our previous adventures offroading in Colorado, our cultural immersion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and our weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Laying in the grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We spent the July 4th weekend in Alaska and used the holiday to make it a 4-day trip without missing too much at work. Despite it being the height of summer, temperatures in Anchorage are usually around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius).

Our trip on the fourth of July weekend was unique as a number of record high temperatures were recorded in Alaska that week. This made for a much warmer trip than we expected! For us, summer is definitely the best time to visit Alaska.

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula.

 

Welcome to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

What is the Kenai Peninsula?

 

The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240km) southwest from Anchorage and includes mountain ranges with glaciers, many lakes and rivers, historic towns, and the famous sounds and fjords of the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula doesn’t include all of the popular sights of Alaska, but it is a great starting off point. We highly recommend it for your first trip to The Last Frontier.

 

River in the Summer at Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

 

How to Get To The Kenai Peninsula

 

You will almost certainly be flying into Anchorage, which is the largest city in Alaska, and also has the largest airport.  All major US carriers fly here multiple times per day throughout the Summer.  Flight frequencies drop off significantly once the weather gets cold.

 

Plane Landing at Anchorage Airport Alaska - The Next Trip

 

You can also fly seasonally from Canada, Germany, Russia, and Iceland! Due to the distance from Alaska to the lower 48 states, there are a lot of flights that arrive and depart late in the evening (for example we arrived at 1am and then flew a red-eye back to Chicago leaving at 8pm and arriving at 4am!).

 

Once in Anchorage, we highly recommend you rent a car to explore the peninsula as it makes getting around much easier and you can make the most out of your weekend in Alaska. You don’t need to rent an SUV or truck to get around, as a car will easily reach all of the main sights.

 

Where to Stay in the Kenai Peninsula for a Weekend in Alaska

 

If you are planning to see all of the Kenai Peninsula in a weekend or extended weekend, having a base somewhere near the middle of the peninsula is a great way to go. That way you can explore each day without having to pack up and stay somewhere new each time. We spent the night in a hotel near the airport as we arrived late the first night. For our next night we used Airbnb to rent a cute cabin in the woods! Our cabin was near the small town of Soldotna.

 

AirBnB Cabin in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

There are so many other options available all over the Kenai Peninsula on Airbnb. We also saw single rooms, small cabins, or massive houses all to yourself; just pick your favorite! If you haven’t used Airbnb before you can signup using this link to get a $40 discount on your first booking.

 

Our cabin was brand new and included a small kitchen with outdoor barbecue, bathroom with shower, and a loft for sleeping which was super fun!

 

Living Room AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip         Loft at AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

Seward, Alaska as the Perfect Base for Your Weekend in Alaska Exploration

 

The city of Seward, founded in 1903, is located at the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. That means you can get to Seward by car, train, boat, or by air! Seward is an easy drive 2.5 hours south of Anchorage and so we drove there on our first day. We were more than excited because it was the base for our Kenai Fjords tour! Seward’s harbor and location makes it one of the best bases to explore the Kenai Fjords National Park.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Seward has a number of restaurants and other places to stock up on groceries for your visit. One of the major attractions of the Kenai Fjords National Park is just a few minutes outside of Seward and is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska, the Exit Glacier.  Unfortunately for us, the heavy forest fires in the area resulted in lots of smoke in the air, so we weren’t able to catch the best view. Also be aware of the mosquitoes here, the hike is not long, but the bugs are all over, be prepared!

 

Exit Glacier in Wildfire Fog Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 
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Kenai Fjords National Park

 

Kenai Fjords National Park Sign Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We partnered with Pursuit Collection to do their Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which was for 6 hours out on the open water. We had the potential to spot whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and puffins! Their tours are a great addition to any Alaska getaways.

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The friendly staff at Kenai Fjords Tours checked us in and as we were a bit early, they were actually able to get us out on an earlier boat. We started off in thick sea fog and wondered if we would see anything at all on this trip!

 

Foggy Harbor at Seaward, Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Lifting Fog at Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

No sooner than five minutes in, we came across a small group of sea otters. The otters were just bobbing in the water relaxing, without a care in the world!

 

Floating Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Our tour continued onward to a few small islands where a large number of birds were nesting, including puffins! Right next to them was a group of Steller sea lions sunbathing on the rocks.

 

Puffins on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions and Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

It was a bit of a longer boat ride, allowing us to dig in to the provided lunch. Once finished, we reached the piece de resistance of this tour, the Aialik Glacier.

 

Lunch on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

As we approached the Aialik Glacier you could feel a great silence come over the boat and stillness in the air. The size of the glacier is unlike anything we have seen before. To fully appreciate it, it should be seen in person.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Bettina and Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The captain turned off the boat motors and we sat in the bay listening to the cracking of the glacier with the odd bit of ice falling into the water. We witnessed some fairly significant calving while we were watching.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Calving is when a glacier suddenly releases a mass of ice. The deep and loud booms of the ice cracking echoed across the bay. This is followed by the silent mid-air fall of the ice, and the final plunge into the ocean. Our boat rocked back and forth from the rippling waves, almost a half mile away.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We captured the calving on video for you to get a better impression of how majestic it is. Click to the right to see the video below.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzmDASpgB1r/

 

Bettina even managed to snag a picture with some glacier ice!

 

Bettina holding Ice from Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On the boat ride back to Seward we came across a few separate pods of whales. However none of them decided that they wanted to do a full 'Free Willy' jump out of the water. As a result we were left trying to snap a few tail photos off in the distance. You might be more lucky though as these are some of the best places to spot whales!

 

Whale Hump on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Whale Tail on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The boat soon returned to Seward harbor, indicating the end of the tour. We were very impressed by how much wildlife we saw during the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour.

 

Exploring Homer Spit, Alaska

 

To be honest we didn’t expect much of Homer, it seemed to be just the end of the road, or the end of the Sterling Highway, on the edge of Kachemak Bay. Given that we only had an extended weekend in Alaska, we spent all of our time here at the Homer Spit. The Spit is one of the main highlights of Homer, and is a gravel bar that sticks out 4.5 miles (7.2km) into the bay.

 

Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once you make it to Homer Spit, you can walk around the harbor and stroll along the colorful houses on the promenade. Most importantly, try some Alaskan fish and chips!

 

Bettina in Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Boardwark at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The sea fog was still thick, well into the afternoon, and provided for a magical atmosphere on the beach!

 

Fog at the Beach at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once the sun pokes through, you should be able to see the surrounding mountains which are worth a trip themselves. Bettina on the other hand, was most excited when we found a swing underneath the boardwalk.

 

The Swing Location Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

This may look like the perfect shot; however it was the result of hundreds of ill-timed attempts on the swing. If you want to get the perfect Instagram shot, check out the swing! It's located under the promenade near 4350 Homer Spit Road. It's best to access the swing from the beach.

 

Explore the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

 

With your rental car you can explore a large portion of the Kenai Peninsula, with additional side trips to Whittier, Chugach State Park, or wherever your heart desires.

 

Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

During our trip to Alaska there were a number of forest fires burning in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula. Smoke drifted all the way to Anchorage. This meant that you couldn’t see the beautiful mountains all around, and sometimes hardly the car in front of you. As a result, we  spent more time on the western edge of the Kenai Peninsula where the sun was shining and the air was much clearer.

 

Laying in grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On our drives we pulled off onto a few side roads and even spotted a few elk out for lunch. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elks in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

If you have time, you can also venture to Captain Cook State Park to take in the late afternoon sun and go for a walk along the beach.

 

View in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Before arriving, we knew that the sun would rise early and set late for the month of July in Alaska. However, we weren’t quite prepared for how much sun there was. The sun rose around 4:45am and set around 11:30pm. That meant never truly became ‘dark.’ The benefit of this is that we were out sightseeing and driving to 9pm, and we didn’t have to rush anywhere to see something before the sun set. There were so many sunny hours in the day! However, falling asleep was somewhat difficult given that it was still broad daylight at 10pm. If you plan your trip to Alaska, make sure to read our 5 top tips below!

 

We loved our weekend in Alaska, exploring the Kenai Peninsula and can absolutely recommend as it is a great beginner’s “taste of Alaska” to start your adventures in the state.

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in Alaska - the Kenai Peninsula

 

1) Rent a car.  There is no better way to see the Kenai Peninsula than by driving the open roads. This gives you the flexibility to stay exactly where you like. When driving, you can stop at any viewpoint along the way, including when you see wildlife! Some tour buses will stop when wildlife are near the road, but you don’t want to be on the one that drives right by!

 

2) Prepare for the sun. While it may not get as hot as the lower 48 states, Alaska can still have long days of sun during the summer months.  Don’t take this to mean that the sun is less intense. It is just as intense in Alaska as it is in other places, and sometimes more so depending on elevation. In addition, as the days are longer you will have more exposure to the sun each day. It helps to prepare with sunglasses and sunscreen during the day. For the night, don’t forget a good sleeping mask to sleep properly when it is still light outside!

 

3) Prepare for the unknown.  Despite the Kenai Peninsula being relatively populated compared to the rest of Alaska, this is still “wild Alaska.” You should always know where you are and where you are going, without relying on any cell service. You should also always make sure to have enough gas in the car and water and snacks, in case you end up stranded somewhere. Even if you don’t end up stranded, it can be a long drive to the next town if you get hungry or thirsty. Furthermore the temperatures can drop drastically. So make sure you pack right for the perfect weekend in Alaska.

 

4) Bring your best camera and a zoom lens. Moose, deer, and bears don’t generally walk up to your car so they can be nicely framed in your phone’s camera. The animals are generally a bit further away, and if they are close you should probably back away, so be prepared by bringing your best camera with an excellent zoom lens.

 

5) Book a tour. We are staunch believers in doing your own thing when traveling. However, sometimes it is not always reasonably possible, and a tour is the best way to go.  For Alaska, you are likely here to see nature and wildlife, and the best way to do that can be to go with someone who knows the area best. We highly recommend setting aside time for a whale watching, glacier, or other tour that intrigues you the most. We toured with Pursuit Collection and the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which we can highly recommend.

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. and Alaska destinations boards to save all your ideas about the Kenai Peninsula and a weekend in Alaska!

 

 

A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway