One of the planets most breath-taking destinations, Bali is a combination of idyllic beach stretches, stunning waterfalls and traditional farming villages. There are, as you can understand, a plethora of otherworldly places to visit in Bali, here is our list of the ones you should put on the top of your to-do list whilst in Bali…
One of Bali’s most iconic temples Tanah Lot sits 20km north of Kuta and is easily to get to from the nearby popular with travellers seaside town of Canggu too. What makes this temple unique and a stand out from the other is where it is set, sitting on a rocky islet out at sea you can admire a stunning sunset as you listen to the waves crash against the shore.
Built at the beginning of the 16th century by local fishermen and inspired by a travelling priest who goes by the name of Nirartha after spending the night stuck on the rocky outlet. Every evening, throngs of tourists from Kuta, Canggu, and Sanur find their way through a labyrinth of lanes lined by souvenir sellers to watch the sun setting behind the temple.
Although foreigners can’t enter any of the temples, you can walk across to the main temple at low tide, and it’s fun to wander along the paths taking photos and soaking up the magnificent setting. After viewing the various temples and shrines, you can relax at one of the clifftop restaurants and cafes here and even sample the famous Kopi luwak (civet coffee), while friendly animals sleep on the cafe’s tables.
From Tanah Lot, you can stroll along tropically landscaped pathways to beautiful Batu Bolong, another sea temple perched on a rock outcrop with an eroded causeway connecting it to the shore. When visiting any temples in Bali, be sure to dress respectfully, and wear a sarong and sash.
Every morning before the sun rises, hundreds of hikers begin the trek up to the summit of Mount Batur sitting at 1,700 meters to catch the sun rise above the lush surrounding mountains and the rolling landscapes below.
This sacred active volcano lies in Kintamani District in Bali’s central highlands, about an hour’s drive from Ubud, and the hike to the summit to watch the sunrise has long graced the list of top things to do in Bali. The hike along the well-marked trails is relatively easy and usually takes about two to three hours. Guided treks typically include a picnic breakfast, with eggs cooked by the steam from the active volcano. On a clear day, the views are spectacular, stretching all the way across the Batur caldera; the surrounding mountain range; and beautifulLake Batur,the island’s main source of water.
Sturdy hiking shoes are essential, and it’s advisable to wear layers, as the temperature can be cool before sunrise. You can also combine a trip here with a visit to one of Bali’s most important temples,Pura Ulun Danu Batur,on the lake’s northwest shore, and a therapeutic soak in hot springs at the beautiful village ofToya Bungkahon the banks of Lake Batur.
Presiding over plunging sea cliffs above one of Bali’s best surf spots, Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) is one of the island’s most famous temples, thanks to its magnificent clifftop setting. In Balinese, “Ulu” means “tip” or “land’s end” and “Watu” means rock, a fitting name for the location of the temple on the Bukit Peninsula along the island’s southwestern tip. Like Pura Tanah Lot, sunset is the best time to visit, when the sky and sea glow in the late afternoon light.
Archaeological finds here suggest the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating from around the 10th century. The temple is believed to protect Bali from evil sea spirits, while the monkeys who dwell in the forest near its entrance are thought to guard the temple from bad influences (keep your belongings securely stashed away from their nimble fingers). A scenic pathway snakes from the entrance to the temple with breathtaking viewpoints along the way. Only Hindu worshippers are allowed to enter the temple, but the beautiful setting and the sunset Kecak dance performances that take place here daily are more than worth the visit.
Ubud Monkey Forrest is the sanctuary or natural habitat of Balinese long tailed Monkey, sitting in the centre of Ubud this unique experience cant be found anywhere else. The forrest itself is something to behold with ancient trees giving the monkeys a playground to swing from branch to branch and a stream flowing through the centre in which you can spot monkeys taking a dip. As you wander through the forrest you will be certain to encounter a number of monkeys big and small just make sure your bag is fully zipped up and you have no food on your person as you may attract some unwanted attention. There is also a number of temples for you to explore while you are there.
On the southwest side of the forest is one of the three temples found in the forest, the 14th-century Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, where hundreds of monkeys swing through the trees and clamber over the walls. In the northwest of the forest, an ancient bathing temple, Pura Beji, nestles next to a cool stream and makes a beautiful backdrop for watching the monkey’s antics. While visiting the forest, make sure to secure your belongings and avoid direct eye contact with the animals (and smiling), as this can be interpreted as a sign of aggression. It’s also a good idea not to bring any food into the area.
Ubud provides a different experience to the other hotspots on the island as people tend to come to here to immerse themselves in Balinese culture including it’s Art & Culture. Your trip here should be all about finding your inner spiritual side as well relaxing at the same time, you will be spoilt for choice by the large number of art galleries in this area.
For an overview of Balinese art, your first stops should beAgung Rai Museum of Art(ARMA)and theNeka Art Museum,which lie within a short stroll of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Both span traditional to contemporary works, including kris (ceremonial daggers), photography, and classical wayang (puppet-figure) paintings. Other worthwhile art galleries and museums in the Ubud area includeSetia Darma House of Masks & Puppetsfeaturing ceremonial masks fromAsiaand beyond;Museum Puri Lukisan,spanning a range of Balinese artistic styles; and theDon Antonio Blanco Museum,at the artist’s former home and studio.
If shopping for art is more your style, don’t miss the theUbud Art Market.This labyrinth of stalls brimming with carvings, sculptures, jewelry, sarongs, paintings, and homewares is one of the top tourist attractions in town. Bargaining is essential, and a good rule of thumb is to counter with half the asking price and barter upwards from there, always with a smile. Opposite the market, thePuri Saren Royal Ubud Palaceis also worth a visit and hosts traditional Balinese dance performances during the evenings.
If you’re a budding artist or have children in tow, one of the popular things to do here is to sign up for an art workshop at a local village, which can include traditional painting, mask-making, and jewellery making.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace is around a forty minute journey outside of the centre of Ubud you can grab a taxi, scooter or even a day tour to visit these stunning rice paddies and the journey itself is all part of the experience. Once you arrive you can explore at your own will with foot paths taking you to the best view points of the vast paddies providing the perfect picture opportunities if that isnt enough hop on one of the swings and get a birds eye view whilst you swing across the valley.
If you’re a photographer seeking to capture Bali’s beautiful emerald-hued rice fields, the Tegallalang or Jatiluwih rice terraces are a must-see. Be aware that locals ask for donations along the most popular trail through the rice fields here, and many request fees for entrance and parking along the road. A relaxing way to enjoy the lush landscapes is at one of the many restaurants and cafes overlooking the fields.
About a 90-minute drive from Ubud, the Jatiluwih rice terraces cover more than 600 hectares of rice fields along the hillsides of the Batukaru mountain range and tend to be less crowded than Tegallalang. You’ll also find fewer tourist touts here, so it’s easier to walk around and explore without being hassled. Both of these locations use the traditional water management cooperative called “subak,” a UNESCO-recognized irrigation system that dates to the 9th century.