Bali is one of my favourite places in the world. So much so, I’ve visited this magical island three times in the past decade, at various stages on my life. Twice for backpacking, and once as an ‘adult’. The Indonesian island is known mostly for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs and there just so many fun things to do in Bali. And the island is also home to religious sites such as cliffside Uluwatu Temple. I love everything that this small island has to offer, from temples to swings, and beachside bars to rice terraces. The island is also known for its yoga and meditation retreats, offering hundreds of classes a day, yoga retreats, juice bars and co-working spaces for nomads. Here are my favourite 25 Fun things to do in Bali….
Bucket List Adventures to do in Bali
To the south, the beachside city of Kuta has lively bars, while Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua are popular resort towns and are great for surfing too. The best surfing spots on the island are Padang Padang and Uluwatu. Further inland is Ubud, a hill town known for its spa treatments, yoga and ecotourism, which may include a trip to a monkey preserve. But if you are better placed in the ocean then make sure you stop by for a snorkel at one of the islands many coral reefs teeming with sea life. Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species and in this area alone, over 500 reef-building coral species can be found. Here are 25 fun things to do in Bali….
READ MORE: Ultimate Guide to one week in Bali Itinerary
1. Head to a yoga retreat in Ubud to find some real zen!
One of my favourite places in Bali is Ubud. This is where you want to go for amazing food, yoga and rice field adventures. And it’s also home to monkey forest and stunning temples, as well as hundreds of juice bars, yoga studios and wellness retreats. I love Ubud but it can get quite busy so if you can, go out of season to really enjoy it’s comforts.
2. Wander through Monkey Forest and keep your valuables safe as the monkeys are brave!
As with my point above when in Bali, you should take a walk through monkey forest. The complex is full of over 500 monkeys and the three temples that still stand here date from the 14th century. Entry is 50,000 IDR but make sure you keep your wits about you, as the monkeys are super cheeky and are so used to tourists now, they will take any belongings left around, and even take sunglasses off the top of your head. BEWARE! Don’t bring in any food and keep valuables like cameras attached to you.
3. Visit the world heritage site The Elephant Cave – one of Bali’s historic temples
Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is located on the island of Bali near Ubud, in Indonesia. Built in the 9th century, it served as a sanctuary. And what makes this place even more unique is that it is both a Buddhist and Hindu temple. Despite its name you won’t find any elephants here unfortunately but instead you will find intricate patterns and scary demons carved into the rock faces. It is an interesting place to see if you’re interested in history and religion as this temple dates back to the 11th century.
4. Climb the active volcano Mount Batur and watch the sunrise at 4am!
This is worth the views – TRUST ME! I may mean an early start but its worth it when you look out across Bali and see the best scenes I’ve ever seen! We hiked this in the early hours of the morning to watch the sunrise and it was takes about two hours to the summit. Your guide will supply torches and usually a snack to eat at the top which cost about 300,000 IDR per person.
5. Take a dip at Tibumana Waterfall
There are so many wonderful waterfalls in Bali, but if you want to see one, make sure you stop by at Tibumana Waterfall. The waterfall drop from plant ferns in to a bright blue pool at the bottom, and its just magical. Another fun things to do in Bali! Why not spend some time here wading in the beautiful water, take a dip under the falls, or get out your camera to get a great shot.
6. Take a boat over to the Gili Islands and chill out on the laid back tropical paradise island
One of the top 5 things to do in Bali is to visit the Gili Islands! There are three islands to choose from including: Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno and all are worth a visit. I’ve visited Gili T and Gili, and found them both super different, Gili T was the party island, whereas Gili M was like a paradise island. Getting to the islands is easy, with boats leaving from Padang Bai on the mainland and it takes about two hours to reach the islands. When you’re there why not head in to the water for some snorkelling, wander around the island talking to locals and try and find some wild sea turtles.
7. Go on a snorkelling day trip and spot sea turtles and an array of colourful fish at Padang Bai
If you love snorkeling Padang Bai is the best place on the island. And it is most famous for its diving! There are seven different dive sites that can easily be reached after a short boat trip from the shore and whatever your diving experience there is something for everyone here. You can get PADI certified and there’s a good chance of seeing sharks, turtles, and waving fans and coral gardens.
8. Take a visit to Tanah Lot Temple
Another beautiful wonder of Bali is the Tanah Lot Temple. Its possibly one of the most famous attractions in Bali and it’s no surprise why! Tanah Lot is a Hindu temple that sits atop a large and scenic rock formation and over the years was separated from the mainland. At high tide the rock is surrounded by water making is one of the most beautiful sights when you are visiting Bali. Many flock here for sunset for epic views!
9. See impressive architecture at Besakih Temple
Balinese Pura temples are the final must-see during your trip and the Besakih is no different. The Hindu temples hold high significance with the locals, and as such should be treated with the utmost respect. Besakih Temple has a stunning architectural structure, with the added bonus of a majestic background and in the background you can even see Mount Agung, Bali’s most famous active volcano.
10. Jump on another boat and head to Nusa Lembongan, and go on the hunt to spot Manta rays
A little island just off the East coast of Bali is the wonderful Nusa Lembongan. The island is just magical with white sandy beaches, mangrove forests, local villages and the most wonderful place to go snorkelling and diving! This island is most well known for it’s amazing offering for tourists to scuba dive with Manta Rays!
11. Enjoy island life on Nusa Penida
If you’ve been on Instagram at any point since time began, you’ll have no doubt have seen a very similar shot of the beautiful Nusa Penida, taken at Kelingking Beach viewpoint. Another island located just off the coast of Bali and best way to explore is by motorbike. Make sure you head to Broken Beach and Blue Stairs. Nusa offers plenty of tours to swim with sea life such as Manta Rays and dolphins too!
12. Stay a night in the unique Bali Bubble hotel and sleep under the stars!
One of the most famous places to stay in Bali is the Bali Bubble Hotel in Uluwatu. The accommodation comprises of six small-to-medium transparent bubble tents perched on Nyang Nyang Beach at Uluwatu, and takes minimalism to another level with only a bed and views across the Indian Ocean.
13. Be cliche and head to the Bali Swing
You can’t go to Bali without heading to the Bali Swing just outside Ubud. But beware this place gets busy so go at opening time. It also has that beautiful soft light which is perfect for getting a photo without harsh contrasts and shadows.
14. Watch the traditional Kecak dance performance at Uluwatu temple
Uluwatu Temple is arguably one of the most famous sights in Bali and stands 70 meters above the sea. The temple was constructed on the side of a cliff overlooking the raging waters below and if you want truly spectacular views and ornate architecture then make sure not to miss this off the itinerary. The temple is known for its monkey population so keep your camera strapped to you, and be open to losing your sunglasses!
15. Marvel at the stunning Tegallalang rice terraces
You can’t come to Ubud without going to witness the rice paddies. Tegallalang is the most famous one because its stunning terraces that make it look like a stairway. You can enjoy a coffee facing the rice terraces in one of the cafes overlooking the rice paddies.
16. Take a stroll around Pura Tirta Empul
You may recognize Tirta Empul which was used as a location in the film Eat, Pray, Love which featured Julia Roberts. It is a little temple just outside of Ubud, but here you can watch the locals bathe and pray in this unique water temple. The waters here are said to be sacred and Hindus from all over Bali come here to bathe.
17. Take a visit to Pura Gunung Kawi
The temple of Pura Gunung Kawi is carved into the side of a cliff and surrounded by vast rice terraces, making it a beautiful place to explore. It is not far from Pura Tirta Empul and is another spot fewer people go to, giving you time and space to see some authentic Balinese culture.
18. Party the night away in Kuta where there is one of Asia’s biggest clubs (I spent many a drunk night here and can say I’ve had some of the best nights of my life here!)
One of the most fun things to do in Bali is head out for a night in Kuta! Bali’s top nightlife venues and best clubs are mostly spread throughout its southern regions of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, and several spots around Bukit. My favourite place in Kuta is Sky Garden Lounge; the revolutionary enterprise that encapsulates all backpackers! With a range of different venues where you can hang out, drink and dine, the complex’s top floor is where everybody heads first, with great value buffets, cold beers and funky beats spun by a live DJ.
19. Take in the views at Kanto Lampo Waterfall
This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Bali, and it is a beauty. The waterfall cascades over the rocks and there are plenty of opportunities to get an under waterfall shot. It’s a good place for a dip although much of the water is a bit shallow for actual swimming.
20. Laze around at Jungle Fish retreat and swim in the infinity pool overlooking the jungle
Another fun things to do in Bali is head to Jungle Fish Bar in Ubud. It is a split-level restaurant with a pool, that fuses Balinese elegance with understated mid-20th century Danish styling. You can eat amazing food and then take a dip in their classy club-like swim-up pool bar section, where you can listen to music, while enjoying a cocktail and snacks.
21. Become Instagram famous at Handara Gate
Another iconic Instagram shot to capture whilst in Bali has to be Handara Gate! In fact its the feature photo for this article! What many people don’t know is that Handara Gate is actually the entrance to a golf course. Nothing religious about the gate, other than its welcoming presence!
22. Take a Balinese cooking class, learn how to make all the favourites!
Balinese cooking classes have become increasingly popular thanks to its rich ingredients, changeable spiciness levels for every palate, and preparation techniques. Courses are often packaged with early morning fish and farm market tours, before you get stuck in with a hands-on experience recreating traditional dishes – from satay varieties, fresh salad mixes with spicy sambal sauces and dips, to a range of healthy desserts.
23. Relax on Balangan Beach
After all this exploring it’s probably about time you actually relaxed. For true relaxation, head to Balangan beach, which is a beautiful place to chill out after a week of exploring!
24. Head to Jatiluwih
Another famous rice terrace worth visiting is Jatiluwih, a Unesco World Heritage site. The rice terraces go on for miles in all directions and have the stunning backdrop of Bratan, another active volcano. You can also head out for a few walking trails through the rice paddies to get you up close to the terraces.
25. Grab a Balinese massage at one of the many spas dotted across the island
A holiday in Bali just wouldn’t be complete without a traditional Balinese massage, and it’s worth doing your research before picking a place too! Grab yourself a Balinese massage which includes dynamic movements, aromatic essential oils, and acupressure techniques. it is the perfect accompaniment to afternoons spent hiking through jungles to reach volcanic craters, splashing into wet and wild water activities, or exploring cultural legacies at waterfront temples.
Where to stay in Bali: Regions
South Bali includes Kuta, Western Bukit and Uluwatu, Canggu, Denpasar, Jimbaran, Legian, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Seminyak, and Tanah Lot. Here you are in the most visited part of the island by far, with tourists flocking to world renowned Kuta Beach and chic Seminyak.
Central Bali includes Ubud, Gianyar, Bedugul, and Tabanan. This region is the cultural heart of Bali and the central mountain range.
West Bali includes Negara, Gilimanuk, Medewi Beach, and Pemuteran. You have here access to ferries to Java and the West Bali National Park.
North Bali includes Lovina, and Singaraja. You can enjoy quiet black sand beaches and the old capital city.
East Bali includes Amed, Besakih, Candidasa, Kintamani, Klungkung, Mount Agung, Padang Bai, and Tirta Gangga. Here, you can discover another atmosphere with laid back coastal villages, an active volcano and the mighty Mount Agung.
Southeastern Islands includes Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Ceningan. These quiet offshore islands in the southeast are very popular for diving activities.
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