What to do in Bali: Amazing experiences you need to try
If you’re looking what to do in Bali during your vacation, make sure you don’t miss these amazing experiences! Watch a fire dance, chase a sunset, soak up incredible natural beauty and so much more.
What are the best things not to miss out in Bali?
Look beyond the great beaches and surfers’ paradise image, and you’ll find that Bali is an island of variety and endless attractions. With unparalleled natural beauty, UNESCO World Heritage sites, cool markets and stunning temples, there’s enough to keep you occupied for a week, a month, or even a year.
If you really want to round off your Bali vacation experience, we’d suggest choosing one activity from each of the following categories. Try all the activities, and you’re in danger of moving to Bali permanently!
- Enjoy Bali’s natural beauty
- Check out a sunrise and sunset
- Visit world heritage sites in Bali
- See the most iconic Hindu temples outside India
- Dive into the local cuisine
- Stroll around colourful markets
- Make a big splash with water sports
- Relax and unwind at a retreat
Are you ready to experience Bali? Here’s how…
Revel in the stunning natural beauty of Bali
The natural beauty of Bali comes in many forms. From its pristine beaches to the enigmatic rice fields, there’s barely a moment when you can’t see something that doesn’t need to be shared on Instagram right away! Here’s some of the natural wonders of Bali to include when visiting the island.
Go on an Instagram frenzy at the Tegalalang Rice Fields
The Tegalalang Rice Terraces are one of the most well known spots in Bali. Photos of the rice fields are often used on marketing promotion materials for the island, and it’s easy to see why. There’s something enchanting about the understated simplicity of the setting. A peace and stillness that masks the hard work behind planting and harvesting the rice. The layered Tegalalang Rice Fields are located just a short drive from Ubud. If you have your own transport, they’re easy to find. If you don’t have your own transport, various day trips offer stops by these most beautiful rice fields in Bali.
Stroll around the colourful markets of Bali
If you love street markets, then you have come to the right place! There seems to be a market for everyone in Bali, whether you want to stock up on fruit and veg, treat yourself to new clothes, pick up some DVDs or buy souvenirs to take back home. Some of our favourite choices for markets include:
Ubud Traditional Art Market, located just opposite the Royal Palace in Ubud, this market is open daily. Specialising in handmade clothes, silk scarves, and bags, you might get Deja-Vu walking among the stalls. This is where one of the scenes from Eat Pray Love was filmed.
Badung Market – This large traditional market attracts a mix of tourists and locals alike, all on the hunt for bargains as well as to stock up on goods for the week. We particularly love the baskets of colourful fruits and vegetables on display!
Taman Sari Market – This night market in Seminyak adds a little colour and life to the area. The contrast between high end restaurants and outrageously cheap fruit can be hard to get your head around at first! If you’re renting a villa in the area, it’s a good place to buy groceries.
An epic jungle hike to Sekumpul Waterfalls
The Sekumpul Waterfalls are one of the lesser visited waterfalls in Bali, but perhaps one of its most spectacular. It does take a little effort to get there – picture steep jungle treks and a river crossing or two, but the rewards are more than enough. Some people do manage the trek by themselves, but it might be advisable to take a guide to the Sekumpul Waterfalls to help with navigation and river crossings.
Embrace the day with a sunrise trek to Mount Batur
Mount Batur is an active volcano, but also considered to be a sacred mountain in Bali. The views from the top are incredible, but first of all you have to get there! This is normally done in the form of a morning trek which starts early on at 4am. The trek up Mount Batur is timed so that when people reach the top, they can then witness one of the most impressive sunrises anywhere in the world. As the sun rises over the crated, the lake around the mountain is revealed, as are views that go on for miles. The Mount Batur trek is a must for anyone looking for outdoor activities in Bali.
Soak up the perfect sunrise and sunsets in Bali
Sunrises and sunsets on Bali are always unique. Choose the right spot, and it feels like there’s a touch of magic in the air whether sharing a sunset with a loved one, or enjoying the peace and quiet of a sunrise. Here’s a few places in Bali to see sunsets and sunrises you might like.
- Seminyak – Head on over to the Double Six beach for sunset drinks at a perfect location!
- Canggu – Batu Bolong beach is a surf beach by day, and positioned for incredible killer sunsets in the evening!
- Uluwatu – A few companies offer sunset tours to Uluwatu along with the Fire Show after. If you have your own wheels, you can easily do this yourself.
- Jimbaran Bay – If romance is in the air (or if you would like it to be!), a sunset dinner at Jimbaran Bay wins extra points with your partner!
- Tanah Lot Temple – The best sunset viewing points are not at the Temple itself, but higher up. Once you’ve visited the temple, walk up to a clifftop restaurant before anyone else works its out, and grab yourself the best seat in the house!
- Ubud – It might not be the most obvious choice for sunset chasers, but locals recommend Tjampuhan Ridge.
- Gili Islands and Nusa Lembongan Island – Ok, technically not on Bali itself, but certainly worthy of inclusion here.
- Munduk – We haven’t mentioned sunrises yet, but here we go! Munduk is a village located in the mountains of central Bali, with numerous hiking possibilities. Early risers should plan out their sunrise positions the night before, and then get ready to start the day off the right way!
Check out the beautiful world heritage sites of Bali
There seems to be some disagreement as to if there are three or five World Heritage Sites in Bali. Officially (at least from everything we can work out!), there is only one UNESCO Heritage site in Bali, known as the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy.
The confusion may come about, because within this official title, there are included five rice terraces and their water temples. Still, it doesn’t matter if you think there are one, three of five sites in Bali, you definitely need to check it out!
The significant areas within Subak World Heritage area include:
- Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
- Pura Taman Ayun
- Pura Ulun Danu Batur
- Lake Batur
- Pakerisan Valley
There’s more information about these areas in other sections of this “What to do in Bali guide”.
The most iconic Hindu Temples outside India
Bali is home to some of the most beautiful Hindu Temples outside India. 10 Temples in Bali that shouldn’t be missed are:
Serenity and sunsets at the majestic Tanah Lot Temple
Visiting the Tanah Lot Temple in Bali is often considered one of the ‘must dos’ when visiting the island. It’s certainly one of the most unique Hindu temples anywhere in the world, and sits on a rocky outcrop just off the shore accessible only at low tide. The Tanah Lot temple complex is also one of our favourite sunset spots in Bali, although certainly not one for tranquility as a lot of other visitors for Bali have the same idea!
Enjoy a fire dance at Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu Temple is another Instagrammable temple in Bali, located perfectly on a cliff edge. Anyone heading to the area surfing should drop by here, as should anyone who loves sunsets. In a nearby amphitheatre, the famed Kecak fire dance takes places. An entertaining end to any day!
Celebrate at The Holiest Temple in Bali: Besakih
This is considered to the holiest temple in Bali, and is located on the east of the island. It’s a huge complex, containing 23 different temples, the oldest of which date back to the 10th century. Whilst fully exploring the temple complex can take a day, most visitors settle for the Pura Penataran Agung area. With up to 70 celebrations held at the different shrines and temples throughout the year, there’s a good chance you’ll catch something going on when visiting Pura Besakih in Bali.
Harmony and shrines at Gunung Kawi Temple
Not to be confused with Gunung Kawi Sebatu, this temple complex is one of the most unique in Bali. Although they are all unique in their own way! What separates Gunung Kawi Temple from the rest, is that the shrine reliefs are carved into a rock face. With views of rice terraces, there’s a feeling of stepping back in time, and a recognition of a harmonious relation with the natural beauty of Bali when visiting Gunung Kawi Temple.
Bathe in the sacred waters at Tirta Empul
There are many Balinese myths and legends associated with the Tirta Empul temple, such as the sacred spring that feeds it being created by the God Indra. A swim in the waters here is thought to bring about good fortune when an offering is first made at the temple.
Are you brave enough to enter Goa Gajah Temple?
It might be known as the Elephant Cave, but you won’t find any elephants here! Instead, you’ll discover that Goa Gajah in Bali has an almost frightening entrance where guardians have been carved into the rock cave entrance. Inside is a statue of Ganesha.
Admire stunning Balinese Hindu Architecture at Taman Ayun
A stunning example of Balinese Hindu architecture greats visitors to Taman Ayun. As a royal public temple, it has courtyards and enclosures, as well of course as those very distinctive tiered roofs.
Don’t miss the stunning Ulun Danu Water Temple
Located on the shores of Lake Bratan, this is a temple of high significance to the farmers of the rice fields in Bali. Its design seems to show that it is part balanced on the mainland, and part hovering over the waters. It is an important connection between water and land, water and crops.
Share a cave with bats at Pura Goa Lawah
Hundreds of bats live in the cave surrounding this temple in Bali. Are you brave enough to enter?!
Drop by peaceful Pura Taman Saraswati Temple in Ubud
If you are spending any time in Ubud, this centrally located temple is worthy of your time. Ponds and lotuses compliment the Balinese architecture, and admission is free of charge.
Tickle your tastebuds with Balinese cuisine
Balinese cuisine uses plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and spices. It’s a mix of traditional localised cuisine and Indonesian dishes. There’s also a contemporary touch, with fusion dishes added to the mix with Western influence. In short, your tastebuds are in for a treat in Bali!
You can experience Balinese cuisine on an everyday basis, or decide to take a deeper dive by taking a cooking class or food tour. Our suggestions include:
Take a Balinese cooking class in Seminyak
If you’ve eaten one mouthwatering dish after another in Bali, and want to find out the secrets behind it all, a cooking class is the way forward! Take a Balinese Cooking Class in Seminyak, and cook your own Balinese dishes to perfection. You’ll also get a chance to connect with a local, and learn more about life in Bali. There’s plenty of cooking classes to be found in Seminyak. You can book before your class with Viator and even AirBnB, or alternatively find out more when in the area. If you ever wanted to discover how to make Nasi Goreng, this is your chance!
Find the best Babi Guling in Bali
Suckling pig, or Babi Guling, is one of the signature dishes in Bali. But where do you find the best Babi Guling? Each town and even village has a place worthy of trying. Our suggestions of where to try Babi Guling in Bali include Ibu Oka’s in Ubud, Babi Guling Pak Malen and Naughty Nuri’s in Seminyak and Ubud and Warung Babi Guling Sanur.
Make a splash with fun water sports in Bali
We’ve already mentioned that Bali is known as something of a surfers’ paradise. It’s not the only water sport activity available though, and not all of them take place in the sea. If you like your activities adrenaline fuelled, wet and wild, try a few of these water sports in Bali.
Surf’s up in Bali: Don’t miss these cool beaches
Let’s start with the water sport that is most commonly associated with Bali – surfing. Bali has some of the best surf spots in Asia, with Kuta being perhaps the most famous beach. It’s by no means the only beach in Bali for surfing though, with Balangan Beach, Uluwatu Beach, Padang Padang, Medewi, Green Bowl, Keramas, Impossibles, Nusa Dua, and Canggu all awesome places to check out!
Never surfed before? There’s no need to miss out! Take a couple of surf lessons to get started, and then head off to Batu Bolong in Canggu and Kuta and Seminyak as these beach breaks are great for beginners.
The best scuba diving in the world
Crystal clear waters, coral reefs and colourful fish all contribute to Bali having some of the best scuba diving sites in the world. If you’ve never dived before don’t worry – Bali is the perfect place to become certified! Already an experienced diver? These dive sites shouldn’t be missed:
USAT Liberty Wreck, Tulamben – Just 40 metres offshore and 20 metres down, diving at the Liberty Wreck in Bali offers diversity of marine life with the excitement of wreck diving.
Manta Point, Nusa Penida – If the name didn’t already give it away, you can expect Manta Rays!
Blue Lagoon, Padang Bai – A sheltered location and clear waters make this a suitable dive for beginners who love marine life.
Temple Garden in Pemuteran – You might think that you’re diving at a sunken temple, but this is actually a conservation program. Something a little bit different!
Other fun water sports in Bali
There are numerous other water sports in Bali you can try during your vacation. If you’re not already tired from all the other activities you’ve tried, kite-surfing and windsurfing are two great examples. For more, take a look at our guide to 15 exhilarating activities in Bali.
One place to get started with kitesurfing is Sanur Beach, where a kitesurfing school can give lessons to beginners and more advanced people alike. Sanur Beach is also the place to head for windsurfing.
For think outside the box water sports in Bali, try the Cable Waterpark for wakeboarding, and white water rafting on the Ayung and Telaga Waja Rivers.
It’s time for a retreat
Finally, have you thought about undertaking a health and wellbeing retreat when in Bali? The surroundings are perfect for connecting both with yourself and nature. There a number of retreats run all through the year, including meditation retreats, Vipassana retreats, and yoga retreats in Bali.
2019 Yoga and Meditation Retreats in Bali:
There are literally thousands of different retreats held throughout the year in Bali. Some might be low key affairs, whilst others are much larger. The ones listed below give you a starting point to plan you own yoga vacation in Bali.
Blooming Lotus Yoga – This yoga retreat in Ubud offers teacher training courses, retreats of varying lengths, and workshops.
Prana Veda Bali – Located on the north coast of Bali, this centre has an off the beaten track feel to it. We would describe this as a wellness and healing centre, with all types of therapies and courses on offer.
Bagus Jati Health and Wellbeing Retreat – Situated 20 kms north of Ubud, this holistic retreat in Bali is the place to get away from it all, and get back in touch with yourself.
To find out the best 20 villas to stay in Bali click here.