The best things to do in Bali include cultural treasures and some of the most iconic landmarks and landscapes that you can find around this magical island.
Some information about Bali
Bali is in the province of Indonesia and the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is located east of Java and west of Lombok. There are provinces that include the island of Bali and a few smaller neighbouring islands, which are Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan.
Denpasar is the provincial capital and it is the most populous city in the Lesser Sunda Islands and Makassar is the second largest in Easter Indonesia. It is the only Hindu-majority province in Indonesia, with 83.5% of the population adhering to Balinese Hinduism. Did you know that Bali’s second-largest city is the old colonial capital, Singaraja, which is located on the north coast and is home to around 100,000 people?
Bali is the main tourist destination in Indonesia. Known for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, painting, sculpture, leather, metalworking and music. Bali was awarded as the world’s top destination by Trip Advisor in its Travelers’ Choice in 2017.
Bali has the highest biodiversity of marine species is a part of the Coral Triangle. Over 500 reef-building coral species can be found. This is about seven times as in the entire Caribbean. Bali is the home of the Subak irrigation system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bali is home to a unified confederation of kingdoms composed of 10 traditional royal Balinese houses, each house ruling a specific geographic area. The confederation is the successor of the Bali Kingdom. Royal Houses are not recognized by the Indonesian government of Indonesia, but they originated before the Dutch colonization.
Do not miss in Bali
The best things to do in Bali include cultural treasures and some of the most iconic landmarks and landscapes that you can find around this magical island. There are innumerable temples, historical sites, and spots of natural beauty spread across Bali’s 8 regencies, which were formerly kingdoms. This compilation of great things to see and do in Bali will help you discover the best the island has to offer.
Tanah Lot Temple in Beraban
One of Bali’s most important landmarks, famed for its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops. An ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop amidst constantly crashing waves. Tanah Lot Temple is simply among Bali’s not-to-be-missed icons.
The onshore site of the Tanah Lot temple complex is dotted with smaller shrines together with visitors leisure facilities that comprise restaurants, shops and a cultural park where regular dance performances are shown regularly. The temple is located in the Beraban village of the Tabanan regency, approximate 20km northwest of Kuta. It is often included on sightseeing and cultural tours to Bali’s western and central regions.
Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, known for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 meters above sea level in The Bukit, as Uluwatu is locally called. As one of the 6 key temples considered to be Bali’s spiritual pillars, the splendid sunset backdrops as that of Tanah Lot Temple, another important sea temple located on the island’s western shores.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu is definitely one of the top places on the island to go to for a delightful sunset, with direct views overlooking the beautiful waves of the Indian Ocean and daily Kecak dance performances held at an amphitheatre nearby. Balinese architecture, traditionally-designed gateways, and ancient sculptures add to Uluwatu Temple’s appeal.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Situated in Ubud and famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies and the innovative irrigation system. Known as the subak, the traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system. It is said to have been passed down by a revered holy man named Rsi Markandeya in the 8thcentury.
Tegallalang forms the 3 most splendid terraced landscapes in Ubud’s shared region, with the others being in the villages of Pejengand Campuhan. It offers a scenic outlook that spreads down before you and away to the far side of the valley. The high roadside location is cool and breezy and it’s a well-known spot for tourists to stop and take photos. Painters and nature lovers also enjoy visiting this place and numerous art kiosks and cafe’s near the ledge.
Known as Bali’s ‘mother temple’. A grand complex of at least 86 clan temples and shrines on the south-western slopes of Mount Agung. Each shrine has its own anniversary, at least 70 celebrations are held at Besakih yearly. It is also considered to be the biggest and holiest of Bali’s temples. It offers spectacular views with rice paddies, hills, mountains and streams. Besakih is only the temple to open every devotee from any caste group. It will take one day to explore the whole site.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Known for the sanctuary of Grey Macaques in Ubud. Home to over 700 grey long-tailed macaques. It is also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, this natural sanctuary has paved pathways through a leafy nutmeg forest as well as several ancient temples under dense foliage. It’s a popular wildlife reserve in Bali thanks to its community-based management, location and ease of access.
Mount Batur Volcano
Mount Batur or The Kintamani Volcano is an active volcano and very popular for trekking. Surrounding the 13 square kilometres Batur Caldera Lake. Those who are adventurous can take a winding road down to the lakeshore. It will lead you to Toya Bungkah, Ulun Danu Batur Temple and hot springs. It consists of three (3) main villages, Penelokan, Batur and Kintamani.
There are also some Balinese villages around Batur Lake, often called the Bali Aga Villages. If you want a vantage point at the southernmost part of the crater rim, you will find it in Penelokan. Also known as the popular stopover for some tourists. From Penelokan, you can enjoy the captivating views over the magnificent Bali volcano.
Ubud Art Market in Bali
Shopping! It is a good place to find beautiful silk scarves, lightweight shirts, statues, kites, handmade woven bags, baskets or hats and many other hand-crafted goods. It is locally known as Pasar Seni Ubud, located opposite the Puri Saren Royal Ubud Palace and it is open daily.
You may find most of the goods are made by the neighbouring villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan. Its location itself is centred among the art producing villages, makes it a strategic shopping place for handicrafts and souvenirs. Bargaining is essential when you go here.
Bali Safari and Marine Park
Bali Safari and Marine Park has around 400 wild animals from Indonesia, India and Africa. You’ll find spotted deer, Himalayan bears, blackbucks, African hippos, zebras, camels, ostriches, baboons, and Indian white tigers. Their signature Safari Journey takes you through the manmade habitats of Indonesia, India and Africa on modified safari trams. See the park’s wildlife living naturally in the open range regions from the comfort and safety of the air-conditioned safari tram.
Key exhibits in Bali Safari and Marine Park include Ranthambore, a replica of an ancient Indian fort in the city of Rajasthan where majestic white tigers roam, Kampung Gajah (Elephant Village), a sanctuary for retired working elephants, and a showcase of komodo dragons. There are also fun close-up photo opportunities with some of the animals. The Bali Agung Show takes place at Bali Theatre, where 150 Balinese dancers, musicians and shadow-puppetmasters perform together.
A visit to the Bali Safari and Marine Park will consume a full day to enjoy all the park has to offer. You should have your own transport or at least a return transfer to your hotel. It can really be hot so keep yourselves hydrated throughout your visit. Make good use of the free attractions and photo opportunities found throughout the park. The location is quite far, so it’s a good idea to plan some stopovers on the way to or from the park. There is also a water park and amusement park adjacent to the Safari so it is best to bring extra clothes, a towel and swimwear.
Goa Gajah Temple in Bali
A Must-See Historical Site on Tours to Ubud. Gajah ‘Elephant Cave is an archaeological site on the cool western borders of BeduluVillage, 6 km out of central Ubud. To the unknowing, Goa Gajah’s name can be slightly misleading, often creating an impression that the site is a gigantic dwelling full of elephants. After taking the flight of stone steps down to the Goa Gajah temple complex, you often don’t need more than an hour to explore and admire the relic-filled courtyard and view the rock-wall carvings.
The site contains a central meditational cave, bathing pools and fountains. As with any temple visit in Bali, women during their periods are forbidden entrance and wearing a sarong and waist sash is compulsory. These are also available for rent at the entrance. Goa Gajah temple celebrates its piodalan temple anniversary every ‘Anggara Kasih Prangbakat’ Tuesday on the Balinese 210-day Pawukon calendar. This day corresponds to different dates on the Gregorian calendar each year.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
The Jatiluwih rice terraces in the namesake upland village in West Bali are most famous for their dramatic and exotic landscapes. It is an acultural landscape heritage site in Tabanan. The cool highlands and the breathtaking scenery of this village at the foot of Mount Batukaru make for wonderful photo opportunities and serves as a soothing retreat away from the island’s crowded south.
It is once a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site candidate, the Jatiluwih rice terraces comprise over 600 hectares of rice fields that follow the flowing topography of the Batukaru mountain range. These are maintained by a traditional water management cooperative known as ‘subak’, which dates back to the 9th century. The cooperative itself eventually won recognition as a dominant factor in Bali’s ‘cultural landscape entry on the heritage list.
Most tourists on tailored tours normally enjoy the scenery by day, the rice fields are equally impressive at sundown, complete with fireflies and the sound of nature that emerge and become more appealing in the evening.
Surfing in Kuta
Bali is a surfer’s paradise since the 1930s. It is the island’s first surfer’s beach. This white sand beach attracts beginner up to intermediate surfers. This is one of the most popular beaches in Bali. The first surfer in Bali, and therefore in Indonesia for that matter was the American expatriate named Robert Koke, as early as 1938. Kuta has grown substantially since then. This is the adventure you’ve been waiting for, and it’s the first of many you’ll have during your getaway in Bali, Indonesia.
White water rafting in Ayung River
Explore Ayung River in Bali, the skilled and friendly raft guides will take you on a thrilling, safe and fun trip while riding on an inflatable raft, paddling, sailing and navigating across a rushing river, taking risks and finishing strongly with your skills. Be sure to try white water rafting in the most beautiful and longest river of Bali, the Ayung River.
Snorkeling in Amed
Located in the east of Bali, Amed as they call it is actually a long coastal strip that runs starting from the village of Culik through seven other villages namely: Amed, Bunutan, Lipah, Banyuning, Jemeluk, Selang and Aas. The sand in the Amed area is mostly black due to its location near Mt. Agung, but you might find some patches of white sand as well. Amed is a bit remote and most people usually go there to dive and snorkel so on the beaches.
Scuba Diving in Bali
You’ll find Bali’s dive spots scattered around the island. Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali is famous for its beautiful beaches, legendary surf breaks, rich culture and world-class dive sites. In the northwest part of the island are, Secret Bay, Menjangan Island and Pemuteran. Secret Bay is a diving critter hunt. Menjangan Island, on the whole, offers calm diving mostly on walls. It’s possible to see Sharks and Manta Rays, Mola Mola (sunfish) here. An incredible wreck and colourful reefs will leave even the most seasoned of divers spellbound.