Things to do in Bali: 10 must do day trips
1. Bukit the Majestic
The Bukit Peninsula is this round dot at the south end of Bali when you look at the map. It is famous for its crystal clear, unswimmable waters, sandy beaches and wild nature.
Surfer or not, you have seen pictures of Uluwatu Cave, hosting some of Bali’s most merciless waves. A visit to Uluwatu Beach, especially on a big swell day, is a must. While you enjoy your nasi goreng (a popular local dish, fried rice with vegetable or/and meat) from one of the local warungs on the hill, you can look in awe at the big gun surfers riding huge waves. Go down the stairs, all the way to the cave, to have a closer look at the beach. But beware, unless you are an experienced surfer, do not try to go in the water. The currents are strong here.
Since you are just next door, do pay a visit to Uluwatu Temple. The view and the wild nature is jaw dropping while the walls on the far end of the temple will remind you of the Great Wall of China. Make sure you take off your glasses and hide your mobile as the monkeys here are ready to grab them.
Dreamland & Padang Padang Beach
Dreamland Beach, loyal to its name, promises a dreamland of endless sand and crystal clear waters. Rent a sun lounger and an umbrella and enjoy the sun. And if you feel hungry, there are some local warungs overlooking the beach that will serve just fine.
Padang Padang Beach is also a must. Climb down the stairs to find more monkeys sun tanning on the rocks and get your towels out for some more sunbathing. If you look on the far left on a big swell day, you will be able to see Bali’s biggest wave.
For the more adventurous, you can also try some off the grid beaches such as Bingin Beach – get ready for a long climb down – Impossibles, and the more famous Balangan Beach.
2. Ubud: The centre of culture
Time to head off to the mountains and visit Ubud. This is Bali’s capital of yoga and meditation, made famous by the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ book. Yes, this is where the author stayed while she was in Bali.
Start off your day trip to Ubud with a visit to the Monkey Forest. It’s touristy but still so worth a visit. Feed the monkeys and if you are brave enough, allow them to climb on your shoulders. A ‘me and my monkey’ selfie is a must for the social media fanatics. The greenery, the temple, the waterfalls all make Monkey Forest a place to tick off your list.
Once you are done with Monkey Forest, it’s time to explore the hilly town of Ubud. Become a haggling master at its colourful local market selling anything from sarongs to sandals to home decor.
Then head off to one of its many cafés and restaurants in the town and enjoy a healthy brunch or a yummy Indonesian lunch. We personally love Alchemy, a raw vegan café and juice bar and all round organic health store. Casa Luna with its Bali chic vibe is another option for a delicious lunch. And if you fancy something a bit more glamorous, especially for dinner, do book a table at Bridges Bali, with its amazing river view sitting literally at the end of the two Campuhan Bridges. Apart from the jaw dropping scenery, this restaurant promises an Indowestern feast for the senses to please even the most demanding foodie.
3. Tegalalang: The queen of rice fields
Did you know that in contrast to the rest of Indonesia where rice fields are flat, rice fields in Bali are built in terraces? The Balinese pioneered this structure as the irrigation of the rice field works better this way. Once one terrace floods, the water immediately flows to the terrace below and so on.
Though you might think you have seen a lot of rice fields already, paying a visit to Tegalalang, the queen of rice fields, is a must. Buy a local rice field hat from the shops on the side of Tegalalang and pretend you are a rice field farmer for a day.
The walk around the rice field is very nice and the view A-MA-ZING. Arm yourself with some pocket money as the local farmers might ask for small change to continue your walk. This can be annoying but don’t let that spoil your walk. As it can be quite hot make sure you have some water in case you get thirsty.
Once you finish your walk, sit in one of the many warungs overlooking the rice field and enjoy a well-earned ‘nasi goreng’ (a common local Indonesian dish which is fried rice where you can add vegetables and meat).
The local shops surrounding the rice field, though very much geared towards tourists, sell some interesting art and crafts, and prices can be negotiated. A final walk around the shops after you finish lunch might worth your time after all.
4. The artisan villages near Ubud
Artisans in the villages around Ubud spend their lives dedicated to their own art and craft. Each village is famous for a specific craft and we plan to help you explore each and every one of them.
Batubulan & Celuk Villages
Start your visit with Batubulan Village (meaning ‘moon stone’) and admire the artisans carving demons, animals and gods in a porous volcanic rock known as ‘paras’. If you get lucky, you will be able to watch a Barong performance, which is not as casual as it seems. The Barong a lion-like creature, is the king of the spirits for Hindus. Watch its dance as it tries to battle Rangda, the demon queen.
Celuk Village, the centre of gold and silver smithing workshops, is your next stop. Watch children learning the craft from their elders in the street studios and be tempted to buy some traditional filigree style artwork.
Sukawati, Singapadu & Batuan Villages
Did you know that Indonesia has a vibrant ‘shadow puppet’ culture? And Sukawati Village is the heart of it. Visit the studios of the shadow puppet masters and learn the craft from its famous ‘dalangs’ (meaning puppeteers).
Our next stop is Singapadu. The real reason to come to Singapadu is to visit the homes of the mask makers. The masks here are still made in the traditional way and this is where the majority of mask performers buy their masks.
Do visit Batuan Village if you love painting. The village gave its name to a style of painting experimenting with ink-washed drawings on black backgrounds portraying daily Balinese life. If you go when there’s a full moon, you can watch in awe the Gambuh dance – a dance drama accompanied by traditional gamelan instruments.
The holy village of Mas is your last stop. When the great priest Nirartha migrated to Mas in the 16th century from Java, little did he know that this small village would become the centre of woodcarving in Bali. Wood carving skills in Mas are passed from father to son and that is why it is home to some of the best woodcarving you will see in Bali.
5. Pura Besakih Temple: The mother of all temples
Perched nearly 1000 metres up the side of Mount Agung, the largest and holiest temple of the Hindu religion, Pura Besakih Temple is waiting for you. On your way to the temple, do not be fooled by the sacred lady asking if she can perform a holy ceremony on your car. This will not be cheap.
The temple itself is annoyingly busy with tourists and vendors and the staff working there will keep asking you for money. Be patient and give the extra money they ask for as it’s really worth the visit.
The temple is built on six levels, terraced up the slope. As you climb up your heart will be pumping and your jaw will drop. The holy ceremony at the top temple that you will be forced to participate in will leave you with a weird feeling – like you have experienced something quite spiritual even though you know you it’s all set up for tourists.
Take your camera with you and get lots and lots of pictures. You will meet children selling stuff and asking for money. Do give something to them but only when they all gather around. Do not give to the first kid you will meet as then the rest will get jealous and chase you round for more.
6. Let’s take a walk on the wild side
A less mainstream adventure, Gunung Kawih temple and Tirta Empul will satisfy your hunger to understand Hindu culture.
The shrine reliefs carved into the face of the rock in Gunung Kawi Temple are popular with pilgrims especially during its ‘piodalan’ temple anniversaries. Facing the sacred Pakerisan River and surrounded by a lush valley and rice fields, this temple will transport you back in time.
Proceed through a stone archway and sprinkle the holy water onto yourself before you enter the main temple. Legend has it that this impressive seven-metre-high temple is the burial place of the deified Balinese King Udayana.
Refresh yourself at one of the warungs behind the temple and then get ready to cleanse your sins at Tirta Empul Water Temple, which is one kilometre north. Ask your local guide if you can try out the purification bathing ritual. Enter the crystal clear, cold mountain water and with hands pressed together, bow under the gushing water of the eleven spouts and ask for purification of your soul.
7. Bedugul: The coldest place in Bali
If you feel Bali is too hot and you want to cool down a bit, pay a visit to the misty Bedugul area. You should not miss Pura Alun Danau Beratan Temple by Lake Bratan, overlooking the mountains. Dedicated to the river goddess Dewi Danu, you might get lucky and see one of the many ceremonies held here to ensure that there is plenty of water for farmers all over Bali.
The largest botanical garden in Indonesia and your ticket to the coolest escape from literally everything is also here. With Asia’s best flora and fauna, Bali’s Botanical Garden is a stop not to be missed. For our adventure lovers, Bali Treetop Adventure park just next door, with an outdoor zip-line that flies through the trees, guarantees an amazing time.
End your day by Banyumala Waterfall, the best and least visited waterfall in Bali. Soak up the sun by the refreshing pool at the bottom and watch the sunset while chit chatting to the locals.
8. Tanah Lot Temple: Don’t bring your loved one!
Your to-do list is not complete without a visit to Tanah Lot Temple. Only 30 minutes away from Canggu and an hour from Seminyak, you are in for the most breathtaking sunset in Bali.
This sea temple is guarded by a black and silver striped snake and is accessible only at low tide. However, beware! Make sure you do not bring your loved one along – as myth has it that couples that visit the temple together are doomed to break up.
Sit back in one of the many warungs at the top, order a cold Bintang (local beer) or coconut and watch in awe as the sun sinks into the sea, giving the temple a golden glory.
9. Gitgit Waterfalls: The most popular falls in Bali
Gitgit is indisputably Bali’s most impressive waterfall. Getting there involves a nice trek down to the spectacular 40 metre waterfall. Bring your bikinis and board shorts and brave a dive at the cold spring lake formed at the very bottom. Swim closer to the waterfall and dare yourself to let the waterfall drop on your head.
On your way back to Canggu or Seminyak, you can stop to visit Jatiluwih rice terraces, once a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site candidate, which offers breath taking views of Batukaru mountain. This is one of Bali’s best panoramas, with endless rice fields spreading over 600 hectares of land.
10. Play with the dolphins
Wake up early and head to Lovina Beach in the very north of Bali. Hop on a dolphin watching tour and watch the dolphins swim along your boat as the sunset rises.
Once your tour ends, soak up the sun on this black sand beach and head off to Banjar hot springs for a therapeutic experience.
End your day with a visit Brahmavihara-Arama, Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery. This place also has a mini representation of the famous Borobudur Temple located in Central East Java.
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