Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia and one of the top places to see in Indonesia. Considering so many people visit Bali, there are very few places left in the Indonesian province that are not overcrowded by tourists. Spend 1 day in Sanur and you will see that it is one of those places.
If you have a week or 10 days to spend in Bali, then I’d suggest you devote at least a day to explore Sanur. That is why I have come up with a comprehensive 1-day Sanur itinerary to show you the best things you can do to maximize the duration of your stay and to give you a better idea of where to stay and where to eat.
What to do in Sanur in 1 day – A Practical Itinerary
Would a day be enough to explore Sanur? With the right planning, a day can be enough to explore this beautiful land of laid-back beaches. Here is the ideal itinerary to help you experience the best of Sanur.
1. Le Mayeur Museum
Start your day by exploring the wonderful artworks at the Le Mayeur Museum. The museum opens at 8 am so I’d suggest you visit the place early to avoid queues and to have plenty of time to do the rest of the activities.
The museum is situated north of the Sanur beach and houses the paintings made by a famous Belgian artist named Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur. His work reflects his fascination with the physical beauty of women.
What makes the museum special is that in a culturally censored climate of Bali, it promotes and advocates liberalism by appreciating and celebrating the sexuality of women.
Apparently, Adrien came to Bali and fell in love with a Balinese dancer Ni Pollok. He wanted to capture her beauty on a canvas. So he made her his muse and convinced her to model for him. In fact, Ni Pollok’s friends also modelled for him, as he painted them doing the most basic routine activities.
After a few years, he married Ni Pollok and settled in Bali. He was so inspired by Ni Pollok that he built a beachside house in Sanur just to continue making paintings of her.
Unfortunately, he had to move to Belgium to get treated for ear cancer. After his tragic demise, Ni Pollok was left alone and continued to live in their Sanur home. She too died after a few years (in 1985), after which their home was turned into an art museum.
An interesting thing about the place is that besides the paintings, you also get to see the various artifacts of those times. The artifacts are well preserved in a small mansion within the museum premises itself.
The mansion contains characteristic features of Balinese architecture like intricate wood carvings and decorations. The entry fee for the museum is 50,000 IDR (3.5 USD approx.) per person and it’ll take you 30 minutes to an hour to explore this place.
2. Bali Orchid Garden
After enjoying the beauty of the artworks at the Le Mayeur Museum, head to the Bali Orchid garden. Here you’ll get to see more than 100 species of the rarest orchids.
If you have a love for nature, then you’ll enjoy your time at this place. With an entry fee of 1,00,000 IDR (7USD approx.), the experience is a bit pricey but hey, getting to see 100+ species of gorgeous orchids doesn’t come cheap, does it? After buying the ticket, the staff greets you with a refreshing welcome drink and assigns a guide to you to give you a tour of the garden.
The guide gives you detailed information about every individual orchid species that you can see. The flowering plants belonging to the orchid family fill the atmosphere with a pleasant fragrance and vibrant color.
You get to observe a variety of exquisite orchids like butterfly orchids, rabbit orchids, leopard orchids, and scorpion orchids among others. There are separate washrooms inside the garden premises, besides a cafe, and a souvenir store.
You can sit at the cafe and enjoy a taste of Bali’s famous Luwak coffee. At the souvenir store, you can buy species of orchids that are up for sale in sterile and hermetically sealed jars. The store also sells orchid perfumes and Luwak coffee. The place is a must-do in your Sanur itinerary.
3. Sanur Sea Walker Tour
Imagine wearing a helmet on your head and walking on the sea-floor, while different species of fish vroom past your helmet. That’s exactly the kind of magical experience that Sanur offers you in the form of a sea-walker tour.
Several water sports companies, with their centers around the Sanur beach, offer you this experience. The average cost per person for the Sea Walker adventure tour (no matter which company you choose) is 50 USD.
You have to make the payment upfront so be sure to take the receipt from the billing counter before going to change inside the changing rooms. You are assigned lockers where you can keep your belongings.
The tour begins with them giving you your swim fins. Make sure to check if they match your foot-size. Then the staff takes you into the sea on their boat, which, after traveling some distance, drops you to a yacht.
The staff members present on the yacht make you wear a helmet and ask you if you’re comfortable with it. They connect it to the oxygen cylinders already placed on the yacht. Then the trained experts take you underwater with them and guide you as you walk along a fenced path. The activity lasts about 30 minutes.
Underwater, you’ll see different species of colorful fish greeting you from close quarters. You not only get to see the fish but also get to feed them fish food. The whole sea walker experience feels surreal as you hear the sound of every breath you take and time seems to move in slow motion.
After the underwater journey ends, you are brought back safely on the yacht. The staff also clicks pictures of you on request and then drops you back to the company center. This activity is one of the best things to do in Sanur, irrespective of whether you’re a trained swimmer or not. You’re going to love this activity even if you’re not a water-baby.
4. Genius Cafe
After the underwater adventure, it’s time to enjoy some tasty food and drinks at the Genius Cafe. Genius Cafe is a lovely beachfront cafe that serves the best vegetarian food in Sanur. The relaxed ambience of the cafe is popular with the guests.
The cafe has both – an indoor and outdoor seating, with the latter giving you an unobstructed stunning view of the sea.
The plush bean bags scattered by the beachside give a laidback feel to the place. As the water currents aren’t strong, you can head for a swim in the pristine blue waters of the sea and then satiate your hunger by gorging on some lip-smacking dishes the cafe offers.
The cafe menu includes – quesadillas, falafel, tacos, nachos, guacamole, soups, salads, burgers, pizzas, cocktails, fresh fruit juices, fruit platters, mocktails, smoothies, desserts, etc. The menu also includes vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free dishes.
If you wish to relax by the beachside and enjoy tasty food while listening to good music, then Genius Cafe is an ideal place for you.
5. Turtle Conservation and Education Centre
It takes a 15-minute drive from Genius Cafe to reach the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre at the Serangan island. As the name suggests, the centre is devoted to protecting, rehabilitating, and studying different species of turtles. The place is run entirely by volunteers.
When you enter, the centre offers you a free tour and assigns a volunteer to show you around. The volunteer from the organisation gives you information about the endangered species, taking you to the hatchery and explaining the hatching process.
After that you will go to the pools where the turtles are sheltered before being released in the wild. The center, in a way, adopts injured turtles, gets them in good shape, and once they’ve recuperated, puts them back in their natural habitat.
You get to feed the turtles from your hand and also get to hold a new baby turtle on your palm. The place educates you about how human actions are putting the lives of these magnificent creatures at risk. It makes you empathetic towards them.
Some of the species of turtles that you can find here are Olive Ridley turtles, Hawksbill turtles, and Green sea turtles among others. The entrance is free but you can donate towards the cause of their protection if you want to.
6. Blanjong Temple (Pura Blanjong)
Blanjong Temple, also called Pura Blanjong, is a small Hindu temple that shows you things of architectural and archaeological interest. Situated at the Jalan Danau Poso street in southern Sanur, the temple is sacred to the Hindus.
The temple was built as a cenotaph of Sri Kesari Warmadewa and celebrates his journey to the east. Sri Kesari was a Buddhist apostle who established the Mahayana convent in the Blanjong village and founded the famous Borobudur temple. He was the first king of the Balinese Warmadewa dynasty.
One of the oldest and most popular artifacts in Balinese history, ie. the Blanjong pillar (“Prasasti Blanjong” in Indonesian) is found here.
You can see the Blanjong pillar housed in a glass enclosure, decorated with flower offerings, and covered in a cloth. On the pillar, you can read a long inscription written in Nagari (Sanskrit) and Balinese scripts.
The inscription describes the successful military campaign of Sri Kesari Warmadewa. It is a symbol of the power and authority of the king. On certain days there are Hindu ceremonies performed in the temple. So do watch them and understand the culture if you get a chance.
Nearby is one of the oldest and most authentic Balinese restaurants (warungs) called “Warung Blanjong”. Here you can taste some lovely Balinese food before moving to the next stop.
NOTE – As a mark of respect for the Balinese Hindu culture, do wear a sarong before you enter Pura Blanjong.
7. Tree Bar at Maya Sanur
Enjoy the best sunset views while having exotic cocktails and scrumptious bites at the Tree Bar at Maya Sanur. Located at Jl. Danau Tamblingan road, the Tree Bar is a three level open-air retreat overlooking the stunning Sanur beach.
The place has happy hours from 5pm-7pm and 9pm-10pm so make the most of the 50% discount offer during this time. They also have local bands performing live on the top floor open deck.
My cocktail recommendations are devilish mojito, fabuloza, berry mule, exotic bubblegum, passion club, burning mandarin.
The place looks particularly alluring at night with glowing lights hanging on the trees giving it a dreamy vibe.
8. Pasar Sindhu Night Market
The Pasar Sindhu night market offers you a window into the local food culture. The market is located on the northern end of Sanur’s Jalan Danau Tamblingan road.
Here you can taste delectable Indonesian cuisine at non-touristy prices. The Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) and Mie Goreng (fried noodles) with egg and vegetables are local dishes that you must try. Each plate costs 15,000 IDR (1 USD) and feeds at least two people.
Fresh fruit juices are available in abundance because of the tropical climate. Smoothies like mango, pineapple, banana cost just 15,000 IDR (1 USD) per glass. Hygiene isn’t an issue as the food stalls/warungs are clean.
The market is a hub for cheap shopping with shops selling footwear, wallets, clothes, and bags. If you are a family traveling with little kids, the market has a small play ride (located at the left of the entrance) to keep your kids engaged.
Planning your 1-day Sanur trip
1. Find a perfect hotel
It is advisable that you book your hotel/accommodation near the city centre area so you don’t waste your time commuting from one place to another. Here are my Sanur accommodation recommendations –
1. Kembali Lagi Guest House (budget) – If you’re looking for a budget stay, then this guest house is the best bet. Click here to book your stay.
2. Griya Santrian beach resort (value for money) – If you’re looking for affordable luxury, then book your stay at this lovely beach resort by clicking here.
3. Hyatt Regency Bali (luxury) – For a stay amidst absolute luxury, look no further than the Hyatt Regency. Click here to book your stay.
2. Get to the city centre from the airport
The Sanur city centre is approximately 15 km away from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. To get to the city centre, you can either arrange for your accommodation to provide an airport transfer or book a TripAdvisor recommended driver for the whole day.
The latter option provides you with your own private car for the entire day which is preferable considering you’re spending just a day and would like to save commute time.
Hiring a private car for the whole day (including airport transfers) can cost you anywhere between 50-60 USD depending upon the travel season.
You can also hire a taxi from the Arrivals Hall at the airport to get to the city centre. But this would be expensive as it could cost you between 1,70,000-2,00,000 IDR (12-14 USD).
3. Know where to eat
There are several good places to eat in Sanur. If you want to have authentic Balinese food, then you can eat at Warung Jawa (Jalan Danau Poso street) or Warung Blanjong (near Pura Blanjong).
If you want fresh fruit juices or smoothies to go with staple Balinese food, then you can eat at the food stalls in the Pasar Sindhu Night Market.
If you feel like having inexpensive local food and a chilled beer by the seaside, then Warung Pantai Indah is the place to be at. It’s located next to the Peneeda View Beach hotel. For exquisite cocktails and starters, Tree Bar at Maya Sanur is the apt choice.
For dessert lovers, an Italian food joint Massimo offers the best gelato in Sanur. It’s located at Jalan Danau Tamblingan 228.
Author Bio: Vaibhav Mehta is an actor, travel-blogger, and personal growth writer from India. He is a traveler who inspires people to explore the world in an offbeat and adventurous way. He took his first solo trip to Spain while working as an actor in a Bollywood musical in Dubai and has never looked back since. “Have Money, Will Travel” is the mantra he lives by. Exploring every country on the planet and hosting a travel show are his future travel goals. You can find more of his inspiring travels and ‘slice of life’ blogs at The Wandering Vegetable.
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