25 Things to Do in Bali
Planning a Bali Vacation?
Whether you’re traveling to Bali for your honeymoon, a family vacation, solo adventure or just to get some much needed R&R, the Island of the Gods offers an assortment of activities that are perfect for all age groups and interests.
Bali is known for its world class waves, and it doesn’t disappoint. Advanced surfers should head south to Uluwatu, while beginners can take lessons in areas like Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, and Canggu. While the waves have gotten decidedly more popular over the last couple decades, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect surf spot on your next trip to Bali.
#2 Sacred Monkey Forest
A beautiful and fascinating attraction in Ubud, the Sacred Monkey Forest is definitely a must-see for animal and nature lovers in Bali. While there are definitely a few items to note before visiting, like not carrying food and securing any loose valuables, the monkeys and jungle scenery are truly remarkable. Read our tips for visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest, and have a great time!
#3 Swim in a Waterfall
For many travelers, Bali means inexpensive massages on the beach, infinity pools and ice cold Bintangs in the sand. However, some of the best attractions (and swimming holes) are hidden within Bali’s jungle landscape. If you’re up for an adventure, Bali offers many popular choices, including Aling-Aling, Tegenungan, the famed Git Git Falls, Rang Reng Cave Waterfall, and seven falls of Sekumpul.
#4 Tanah Lot Temple
Located only a short drive west of Canggu, Tanah Lot is the most popular temple in Bali. Sunset hours bring large crowds, and although non-Balinese visitors are not allowed to enter, the offshore view of the temple is a stunning site. Remember to dress accordingly for a temple visit, and check the calendar for upcoming anniversary dates, which often include festive parades.
#5 Balinese Cuisine
When in Bali, try Balinese cuisine. Warungs offer excellent local food at great prices, including popular items like Nasi Campur, Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Satay, and Gado-Gado. Specialties like Crispy Duck and Babi Guling, in particular, are also excellent choices! Ask locals for their favorite warung recommendations in the area, and you won’t be disappointed.
#6 Browse Local Markets
No matter what you’re searching for, Bali’s local markets probably have it. Artwork, souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, prepared food items, fresh produce, spices and more, we highly recommend browsing at least one morning market. Ask around and look for the most popular ones in locations like Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta and Ubud.
#7 Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Located only a quick 20 minute motorbike ride north of Ubud, the Tegalalang rice terraces offer spectacular views, friendly locals and otherworldly greenery. Take a steep hike through the rice terraces, and grab a seat at one of the many small cafes at the top to enjoy a fresh fruit juice and meal with a view. Don’t forget your camera, and carry small change for ‘bridge fees’ throughout the walk.
#8 Drinks with a View in Seminyak
Seminyak is widely known for its array of posh bars, clubs and restaurants. Order a craft cocktail to enjoy with friends or a loved one at one of the most popular sunset spots in town, such as La Plancha, Ku De Ta, and Potato Head Beach Club, though many other beachside bars offer great views. Bean bags, pool bars and candlelit tables sound like a dream come true? You’re in the right place.
#9 Sunset at Uluwatu Temple
One of the most memorable places to enjoy a sunset on Bali is Uluwatu Temple. Set high atop a cliff, get here early (we suggest around 4pm) to grab seats for the fascinating Kecak Dance performance, held nightly from 6 to 7pm. One of six major spiritual temples in Bali, the divine powers of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are believed to become one here. Be aware of monkeys, and make sure to prearrange a taxi or driver, as public transportation in the area is extremely limited.
#10 Scuba Diving
For scuba divers, Bali and its surrounding islands is a dream come true. With warm water, a year-round diving season and unique marine life, be sure to book a scuba diving trip when traveling to Indonesia. On Bali, we recommend the USS Liberty wreck in Tulamben, Menjangen National Marine Park, and Padangbai, as well as a trip to Nusa Lembongan or the Gilis. Research the best times of year to see incredible species like the mola mola (sunfish), whale sharks and huge manta ray population!
#11 Spa Day
On any vacation, it’s important to reserve time to kick back and relax. Luckily, Bali is one of the best places in the world to do just that! Known for its inexpensive and extensive spa offerings, we highly recommend a luxurious full body Balinese massage, body scrub, scalp massage, hydrating hair cream bath, or spa pedicure and manicure.
#12 Seafood Dinner at Jimbaran Bay
Located only a short drive from Kuta, Jimbaran Bay is an excellent place for a romantic date night. During the day, visitors and locals enjoy calm waves and uncrowded stretches of beach. But by sunset, this place transforms into a major hangout, and for very good reason. Seafood restaurants line the beach, offering inexpensive, fresh fish that’s barbecued to perfection. Make reservations for a beach table at Menega Cafe, and order up a delicious selection of prawns, lobster, red snapper, calamari, clams and more, all with an amazing view.
#13 Tour a Coffee Plantation
First brought to Bali from Lombok in the early 20th century, coffee plantations in the Kintamani area flourish as the most popular growing region on the island. When visiting Bali, take a tour of a coffee plantation or farm to get an inside look at what it takes to produce a single cup of coffee. Sample the famous Kopi Lewak, as well as several other varieties, and ask a driver or local which plantations near you accept visitors.
#14 Beach Hop on the Bukit Peninsula
In our opinion, the most beautiful beaches in Bali are located on the Bukit Peninsula. Rent a motorbike or hire a driver and spend the day hopping around to some of the area’s best beaches, including Padang Padang, Suluban (‘Blue Point’), Bingin, Dreamland, Balangan, or the private, and therefore less crowded, shores of Finn’s Beach Club or Karma Kandara. Expect lots of steep stairways, caves, and great views of surfers beyond the reef!
#15 Relax in Amed
Located approximately a 3 1/2 hour drive from Kuta or Seminyak, Amed offers a quiet, scenic getaway on the shores of East Bali. A fishing village with calm waters and excellent snorkeling and scuba diving conditions just offshore, head to this remote area of Bali to enjoy fresh seafood, friendly locals, cheap prices, and epic views of Mount Agung. Be sure to take a fishing trip on a local outrigger boat, and stay in one of the many friendly homestays around town.
#16 Lake Batur
Located in central Bali in the caldera of Mount Batur, Lake Batur is the largest lake on the island. Rent a boat and explore the sites, including the half submerged house and Trunyan, an above ground cemetery and the only one like it on Bali. Enjoy a calming ride around the lake, and take in the stunning views from the water. While restaurants are a bit pricey, it’s really the view you’re paying for.
#17 Makepung Buffalo Races
A multi-generational tradition which celebrates the rice harvest, water buffalo races are held every Sunday in Jembrana from July to November. Buffalos are paired, along with jockeys and wooden ploughs, to race in several outdoor circuits in West Bali. Races begin at 7:30am and last 5 hours, and also include a fun ‘buffalo fashion parade’. This is definitely an activity you won’t forget, and a great way to experience a long-running local tradition on Bali.
#18 Cooking Class
Why just taste the local specialties when you can learn to make them yourself! Cooking classes often begin with a tour of a local market, where you’ll get the chance to choose your own spices, vegetables, fish, meat and fruits. One of the best perks of taking a cooking class is returning home with a whole new menu inspiration and appreciation of Balinese cuisine. Popular cooking classes include Warung Eny in Seminyak, Casa Luna in Ubud, and Bumbu Bali in Tanjung Benoa, though there are many throughout the island.
#19 Banjar Hot Springs
Known locally as “Air Panas Banjar”, Bali’s Banjar Hot Springs are located just south of Lovina in North Bali. With 4 pool sections, head here for a luxurious (and free) soak in the water, renowned for its healing powers. The surrounding lush garden only adds to the enchanting feel, and the warm sulphuric water may just be better than a day at the spa.
#20 Balinese New Year
A national holiday since 1983, Hari Raya Nyepi is the Hindu New Year celebration in Bali, and a fascinating time to visit the island. Celebrated on the first new moon in March, Nyepi Day is a day of total silence and self reflection, with no entertainment, traveling or work of any kind permitted. The days leading up to this, however, are complete with boisterous parades to scare away the ‘Ogoh Ogoh’, or evil spirits, as well as dancing, drinking, and celebration. Definitely a different way to ring in a new year!
#21 Pool Day
Bali, perhaps more than other popular tropical destinations, is home to a huge number of swimming pools of all varieties. Lazy rivers, shallow lagoons, private plunge pools, swim-up pool bars, and the ever popular infinity pools are a huge draw, especially considering the year-round hot temperatures. Spend a day enjoying poolside cocktails, panoramic views and optional spa treatments and thank us later.
#22 Visit Another Island
With so many islands only a short boat ride away, definitely consider extending your trip to explore some of Bali’s neighbor islands, including Lombok, Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan, the luxurious escape of Nusa Lembongan, or white-sand wonders of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, Gili Air, and Gili Gede. Ferries and fast boats run daily from Sanur, Padangbai and Amed, and definitely look for those with the best safety records, as rough waters are common in the area between islands.
#23 White Water Rafting
Bali’s Ayung River offers ideal opportunities for beginners to advanced rafters, with the bonus of amazing views of rice terraces, rainforest and jungle landscapes along the way. Bali Adventure Tours offer a popular guided option that’s great for families or groups of friends. Remember that wet season (November to March) can mean larger rapids and difficulty levels, and be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen on your adventure!
#24 Sunrise at Mount Batur
For those seeking a land adventure, we recommend sunrise trekking on Mount Batur. The hike to the summit, which reaches just over 5,600 feet, takes approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, and the skyline views from above the clouds is simply breathtaking. Make sure to wear appropriate footwear and clothing, as the summit is typically between 46 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy a warm drink at the top, hike around the crater, and watch as steam rises from the walls. Amazing!
#25 Tirtagangga Water Palace
Meaning ‘holy water of the Ganges’, the gardens of Tirtagangga were designed in 1948 by the last King of Karangasem. Three complexes make up the palace, which include ponds, pools, a water tower, and the former home of the King, who was known to work on the grounds himself. Tirtagangga is one of the most photo-worthy places on Bali, and a lovely day trip to see the beauty of the island and its unique garden architecture.