Are you looking for the absolute best things to do in Bali?
Are you looking for the most amazing things to do in Bali? Or perhaps you just want to know why everyone loves the Island of the Gods so much? We spent weeks exploring Bali and found many fun things to do and places to visit on this beautiful island in Indonesia. No wonder so many tourists love to visit. From beaches to temples, waterfalls to Yoga studios, we have you covered: we have rounded up what we think are the 27 most amazing things to do in Bali.
Bali’s verdant landscapes mean the island sees plenty of rainfall, but luckily they do have a dry season. It’s one of the best places to visit come April, and their dry season runs all the way to October. However, no matter the season, there are always adventures to be had in Bali.
Guest post by Natasha Alden of The World Pursuit.
More Reading about Bali and Indonesia on Breathedreamgo
Marvel at Aling Aling Waterfall
Bali is a tropical island, which means it has no shortage of waterfalls to discover. Aling Aling is one of the most impressive waterfalls on the island. Located in the north of Bali, it’s quite far from Ubud and Canngu, making it less popular than other Bali waterfalls and the perfect spot to enjoy nature.
There are three waterfalls around Aling Aling: Kroya is a waterfall you can literally slide down, there’s another that you can cliff jump from, and Aling Aling, the tallest, which you can just admire (although I have seen videos of some people jumping around it). All waterfalls are close together and connected via an easy path.
It costs 20,000 IDR to enter and view the waterfalls, but you will need a guide if you want to swim. The guide costs 175,000 IDR and is completely unnecessary and only there to watch you swim and make sure you don’t get in any trouble. We opted for the viewing ticket only. Don’t forget to stop at the rice fields, snap a photo on the way in, and grab a coconut on the way out.
Walk the Campuhan Ridge Walk
There are many inexpensive things to do in Ubud, but one of our favourite days was spent walking the Campuhan Ridge walk. The ridge walk is a stunning walk along a stone path through the jungle, overlooking rice terraces and the glorious landscape. If you are a runner, it’s also a good spot to get your sweat on (but go early, before the crowds arrive).
The Ridge Walk is best done around sunrise or sunset as it is not shaded and can get unbearably hot. If you are a photographer, you’ll have to arrive around sunrise for fewer crowds. The walk takes as long as you want to walk. We personally walked for about an hour enjoying the view and stunning sunset.
You can get to the Ridge Walk by following the road to IBAH villas. Keep walking until you see the beautiful Pura Gunung Lebah Temple and turn there. Keep walking past the temple until space opens up to the ridge.
Dive the USAT Liberty Wreck Dive
For avid divers, exploring the USAT Liberty is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary activities in Bali. If you’re new to diving, but eager to learn, Tulamben and Amed on Bali’s east coast offer affordable options to obtain your PADI Open Water certification.
Diving the USAT Liberty is exceptionally accessible, even for beginners, as it is one of the easiest large WWII wreck dives in the world. Its shallow depth and the absence of strong currents make it an ideal wreck dive for those just starting out.
With depths ranging from 12 to 30 metres, this wreck also presents a captivating challenge for advanced divers. The 125-metre long USAT Liberty, an American cargo ship torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese in 1942, was initially beached at Tulamben for cargo salvage. The eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 returned it to the water, where it now thrives as a spectacular dive site adorned with vibrant corals and abundant marine life.
Consider planning multiple dives to fully appreciate the Liberty’s underwater marvels. Given its excellent conditions for underwater photography, don’t forget to bring your underwater camera.
Escape the crowds at Pasut Beach
Since Bali is a major tourist destination, many of the most popular beaches can get extremely crowded and it might be difficult to find a quiet spot. I highly recommend skipping the main tourist beaches like Kuta and Seminyak. You will be rewarded if you drive up the coast for an hour. Drive past Tanah Lot and you will find the beautiful Pasut Beach.
Pasut Beach is still relatively undiscovered and incredibly beautiful. This black-sand beach is wide and long and therefore perfect for a stroll or a nice swim. There are several rock formations along the coast that are great for picture opportunities. There isn’t much around here, but we found one small resort that is a good place to get a drink or a snack at the pool bar.
When I arrived at Pasut Beach in the afternoon, I was the only person on the beach! Later in the day, a few more people (especially locals) showed up and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. It’s my favourite beach in Bali.
Bali is well-known for being an incredibly spiritual place and is often called the Island of the Gods. It’s considered one of the best places around the globe to engage in meditation and Yoga.
A trip to Bali is incomplete without trying out a Yoga class. Beginners are welcome everywhere! I would not miss my chance to experience the many great Yoga studios around Bali. Ubud, a town in the middle of Bali, is the spiritual mecca of the island. We spent three lovely weeks here eating vegan food and practising our downward dog.
My absolute favourite yoga studio is Intuitive Flow, located at the top of the Penestenan Stairs. The views over the jungle here set the mood for any yoga session, and its location away from town creates a quiet and peaceful environment.
A drop-in class starts at 100,000 IDR. Make sure to grab a fresh cold coconut in their reception after! Don’t miss Intuitive Flow, it’s one of the best things to do in Bali. [Editor’s note: Yoga Barn and Ubud Yoga Centre are two of the many other great Yoga studios in Ubud.]
Experience a Fire and Kecak Dance
Don’t miss seeing a Kecak dance while in Bali. Kecak is a Balinese form of dance that combines music and drama. It is one of the top-rated things to do in Bali.
A male chorus forms a ring to make an enclosure that sets the stage for the show. Inside the circle are actors and actresses in elaborate costumes vividly acting out a dramatic story from the Ramayana. The most popular place to see this dance is at Uluwatu Temple every night as the sunsets over the ocean.
Hang Out with macaque’s in Ubud’s Monkey Forest
Heading to Monkey Forest is a must do in Bali. You can spend a whole day exploring the Monkey Forest in Ubud. Wandering through the forest, you’ll stumble upon old statues hidden behind vines, intricate bridges over flowing streams, and even several temples from the 14th century.
Along with these cultural attractions, many people are drawn to the forest to see the Balinese long-tailed macaques. With more than 800 monkeys living in the forest, there are plenty to observe and enjoy – especially if you have never been around monkeys before! But please don’t feed the monkeys, it is frowned upon and can lead to monkeys fighting and getting aggressive.
These monkeys are adorable, energetic, mischievous, and most of all, wild. Many are seemingly tame due to the number of visitors each day, but it’s important to keep your distance as with all wild animals to avoid getting scratched or bitten.
See the Topeng Dance in Ubud
One of my favourite activities in Ubud is the Topeng dance (or masked dance show), performed at Arma Museum. Seeing a Topeng dance is one of the best things to do in Bali at night. Most people head to see the Traditional Dance at Ubud Palace, but the Topeng dance is a great alternative.
Masked dances form part of temple ceremonies in Bali. Topeng is an Indonesian form of dance drama in which one or more dancers wear masks and perform ancient stories, often concerning ancient or mythical kings and heroes. It is believed that the use of masks is related to the cult of the ancestors, which considered dancers the interpreters of the gods. The dancer alternates between refined and unrefined and movements and they are accompanied by gamelan music.
Expect a slightly strange start to the show as the gamelan sounds may take some getting used to. Pay attention to the dancer’s movements — you may find yourself completely absorbed. Tickets can be bought downtown at Ubud’s Tourist Information booth and typically include transportation to the Arma Museum as it is on the outskirts of town.
Explore Bukit Asah Village
Bukit Asah, situated in the village of Bug Bug on the eastern coast of Bali, is just a minute’s drive from Candidasa. Renowned for its hidden white sand beach and stunning 360-degree vistas from the cliff tops, Bukit Asah is a captivating destination that must be experienced to truly appreciate its natural beauty. It stands out as one of the top things to explore in Bali, offering a secluded charm that remains undiscovered by most tourists, drawing mainly locals.
Upon arrival at Bukit Asah, embark on a one-hour trek up the cliff, followed by an additional 30 minutes to reach the secluded beach. While there are no accommodations directly on the beach, camping options are available at the cliff’s summit.
A newly constructed road allows convenient access to the beach and cliff top by car. For those who appreciate tropical beaches with panoramic views of cliffs, palm trees, and coves, the journey down the cliff to the Pasir Putih (white sands) secret beach is a must. At this 500-metre-long beach you will find small warungs serving delicious local and international fare, as well as fishing boats available for hourly rentals.
Exploring the area for a few days provides ample opportunities to visit ancient temples like Goa Lawah and Lempuyang, and also immersion into the rich culture and heritage of Bali. Here, you can interact with local villages and salt farmers.
Bukit Asah also stands out as an ideal location for drone enthusiasts and photography lovers. The area offers breathtaking views of Mount Agung volcano, expansive rice fields, traditional Balinese houses, and local temples, making it a must-visit destination for capturing stunning shots in Bali.
Check out Pura Besakih Temple
Visiting temples is one of the best things to do in Bali. There are so many beautiful Hindu temples in Bali that it’s hard to visit all of them. Nevertheless, if you love temples, Pura Besakih should be one of your top choices. Pura Besakih, situated on the slopes of Mount Agung, was built more than a millennium ago and is considered to be Bali’s Mother Temple.
You will need a few hours to explore this gigantic temple complex that consists of 86 individual temples. It’s hard to tell whether the spectacular temples or the fascinating landscape are the main attraction.
The three main temples of Pura Besakih are dedicated to members of the Hindu trinity. Pura Penataran Agung is dedicated to Shiva, Pura Kiduling Kreteg to Brahma, and Pura Batu Madeg to Vishnu. The colours of the banners show you this distinction between the temples.
When you visit Pura Besakih, it’s quite probable that you will run into some kind of a celebration, since more than 70 ceremonies are held here throughout the year.
Beware of local people harassing you at the entrance trying to get you to hire a guide. This is untrue and you just have to ignore them as the only requirement is paying the entrance fee.
Explore Banyumala Waterfall
Exploring waterfalls is a must-do activity in Bali, and among the plethora of options, our favourite is just north of the tranquil village of Munduk. While many waterfalls in Bali attract large crowds, the enchanting Banyumala Waterfall is likely to offer a serene experience with only a handful of visitors, even in the middle of the day.
Reaching this special spot requires a bit of determination, especially if you opt for a motorbike journey. Once you make the turn from the main road, you’ll encounter a challenging three kilometre stretch of rocky terrain that can barely be considered a road.
The adventure doesn’t end there. As you navigate through the lush green forest, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of a colossal cascading waterfall. While taking a refreshing dip in the pool is an option, the force of the waterfall discourages swimming directly beneath it. The overall setting is awe-inspiring, making it nearly impossible not to be captivated by the sheer power and majesty of the waterfall.
Visit Penataran Lempuyang
If you need peace and quiet from the main areas of Bali consider visiting Pura Lempuyang. Near Mount Lempuyang in east Bali, it’s one of the oldest and most sacred Hindu temples in Bali.
Pura Lempuyang is a large complex that comprises seven temples. The first temple, known as the Gateway to Heaven, is the most popular. Social media users will recognize the picturesque white and grey gates. If the skies are clear, you can also get an amazing view of Mount Agung.
Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets
If you are looking for an unusual thing to do in Bali, head to Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets in Tegal Bingin, Sukawati. Just a 15-minute drive from the city centre of Ubud and often known as Bali’s best-kept secret.
Setia Darma houses more than 1,300 masks and 5,700 puppets from all over the Indonesian archipelago, Africa, China, Japan, and many other countries. The collection is vast and eclectic, but draws only a few tourists a day because of a general lack of awareness.
Setia Darma’s mission is to preserve the age-old art form of Indonesian masks and puppets and it is doing a great job. The colourful heritage items are properly labelled, stored, and displayed inside Javanese joglo houses surrounding an old Balinese courtyard.
As you enter each joglo you get a sense of Indonesia’s rich tradition of puppetry and mask-making and it makes you want to explore more. Additionally, the museum is surrounded by undulating paddy fields and a tropical Balinese garden making the whole thing a very pretty sight, and a rich storehouse of culture.
Enjoy Sekumpul Waterfall
Visiting Sekumpul waterfall is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Bali. Standing at 80 metres tall, Sekumpul is a sight to behold, hidden away amongst the dense forest of north Bali.
Although the path to the falls is fairly steep, it’s easily manageable for travellers of all ages. Make sure to take care as the path and steps can be quite slippery. On the way down you’ll pass a brilliant viewpoint, which is the perfect place to stop and admire the majestic waterfall and the beautiful surroundings. It’s also a good place to stop off for a break on the tough walk back up.
To get up close to Sekumpul waterfall you’ll need to cross a shallow river, so be ready to get your feet wet. It’s well worth it to witness the raging force of the falls up close. Once you’re there, you’ll be able to truly appreciate why Sekumpul is considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Bali.
Visiting Sekumpul waterfall costs about 20,000 IDR. Once you arrive at the town entrance at the top of the falls you will have locals telling you to pay 175,000 IDR to enter, however, this is not necessary unless you want a guide. The trek is not hard and you do not need a guide to take you to the waterfall, so just walk past the persistent locals (who even wear official shirts) and continue on your own. Sekumpul is a great waterfall to hit alongside Aling Aling.
Meditate in an ancient cave
Another top thing to do in Bali, Indonesia is get to Goa Ganjah, often referred to as Elephant Cave. It is a unique experience you certainly won’t find anywhere else. The site’s exact origins are uncertain but it is thought to have been built as a place for spiritual meditation more than 1,000 years ago. It is unique as both Hindu and Buddhist influences are seen in the architecture. Menacing figures were carved into the facade to ward off evil spirits.
Despite its nickname, Goa Ganjah has absolutely nothing to do with elephants. The name may be in reference to the stone statue of Ganesh (a Hindu god with the head of an elephant) located inside the cave. In addition to the cave, you can view a large in-ground fountain. I wasn’t brave enough, but I saw other tourists drinking from the fountain, which is said to be holy water. Tour guides are also available for a fee, but are not necessary.
To get to the cave entrance, you have to walk down a long flight of stairs. If you are wearing shorts, you will be provided with a sarong to wear for free. Kids can wear whatever they are already wearing. Once you reach the site, you can enter the small, dark, and damp cave. There isn’t much to see inside, but it’s still worth going in and admiring the atmosphere, imbued with burning incense.
Venture around Tegallalang Rice Terrace
Bali is famous for its epic, lush green rice terraces, usually dotted with soaring palm trees. If you want to see Bali’s scenery at its best, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces are probably the most famous. When I visited, I was totally blown away by the natural beauty of these jewel-bright rolling hills. They genuinely look like the unbelievable photos you see on Instagram, or a scene from Eat, Pray, Love.
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are a 20-minute drive from central Ubud, and the easiest way to get there is to rent a motorbike or hire a driver to take you there and back. They are also included on various day trips and tours.
My top tip for visiting is to get there as early in the morning as possible, preferably for sunrise or before 8 am. The rice terraces become very crowded from about 8 am onwards. Sunrise will give you the best photo opportunities with the fewest people.
There is a small donation fee to enter Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Plus, depending on how far you walk into the rice terraces, you may come across locals who have set up toll booths asking for small donations (10,000 IDR) to continue walking through the area, so bring some cash with you. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty!
Learn how to roast Indonesian coffee
Indonesia boasts some of the finest coffee in the world, with ideal climates from Sumatra to Toraja nurturing the flavourful beans. Exploring Bali’s coffee culture and mastering the art of roasting green beans is one of the most rewarding experiences in Bali.
Venture to enchanting Ubud to delve into home roasting at the delightfully trendy Seniman Coffee Studio. As pioneers of the third-wave coffee movement on the island of the gods, Seniman is a game-changer in delivering exquisite coffee experiences.
Beyond offering delectable treats, coffee cupping, a chic interior ambiance, and a variety of coffee styles, Seniman also provides bespoke courses in coffee roasting and barista skills upon request. The courses encompass essential theory, covering diverse local and international coffee-producing regions, and practical skills like achieving perfect roasting using just a pan, stove, whisk, and fan.
While the hands-on lessons demand effort, the rewards are immeasurable. Upon completion, participants take home the freshly roasted beans, or savour them through a hand drip, and enjoy a complimentary coffee of their choice. Personally roasting my beans has become a delightful routine, and I’ve even started sharing them with friends and family.
Visit a local market in Bali
Exploring a local market in Bali provides a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of the locals and the array of ingredients and foods that sustain them. As part of a cooking class, I took a tour of a traditional market in west Bali to witness the freshness of the ingredients and understand the significance of daily market visits, whether for a prepared meal or to gather fresh ingredients for later use.
Balinese markets are lively, colourful, and perfect for capturing the daily hustle and bustle. Balinese people are generally open to being photographed, but it’s a courteous practice to request permission either through your guide or with a friendly gesture, ensuring you respect the subjects’ comfort.
These local markets are not only great for sampling local fruits, snacks, and freshly prepared street food but also offer opportunities to explore Balinese crafts, art, and souvenirs, particularly in more tourist-centric markets. Bargaining for a souvenir becomes an enjoyable part of the experience, allowing you to bring home a meaningful memento from your visit to a local market in Bali.
Shop the Ubud Art Market
Exploring the Ubud art market is a highlight of any Bali trip. Locally known as Pasar Seni Ubud, it’s an artisan market showcasing and selling a variety of local handicrafts. Some items are sourced from neighbouring towns in Bali, adding to the market’s diverse offerings.
The market is a treasure trove of personal and souvenir items, including batik (traditional prints used in various clothing), clothing with native or bohemian designs, tote bags, rattan bags, and jewellery. Beyond personal items, there’s a range of home decor such as wall art, carvings, paintings, mirrors, and soap holders.
Whether you’re a shopping enthusiast or simply eager to learn about the island’s products, a visit to the Ubud Art Market is a must. Bali’s natural beauty is reflected in the aesthetics of the items available in this vibrant market.
Visit the fish market in Jimbaran
Don’t even think about buying frozen fish or heading to a fast food restaurant when in Bali. You can get some of the freshest and tastiest fish you have ever known at the Jimbaran fish market.
Jimbaran is world-renowned for its fish restaurants. They are set up on the beach at sunset, and the tourists flock there like moths to a flame. But you do not need to follow the herd. You can easily grab your own fish from the market and have a chef at a local eatery cook it up for you. The smell of the market may initially overwhelm you, but it will all be worth it when you taste that fresh fish in your mouth.
Take your cash money and your appetite. There are many fish of varying sizes to choose from, along with prawns, squid, and mahi-mahi. Prepare to barter with the fishmongers for a better price. The market is open each day from 6 am to 3 pm, but the best fish is available in the morning.
Indulge in a massage
The streets of Bali are lined with massage parlours. When you find one you like, just walk in and choose from an array of different massages. I usually look for the salons with the best reviews on Google. A massage in Bali may not be the same as back home, but it will no doubt be a good experience nonetheless. A 90-minute massage for approximately 90,000 IDR is a great deal and also a wonderful way to relax.
If you’re on your honeymoon or looking for a romantic thing to do in Bali, try a luxury spa for a couples massage. It will cost more, but you will get better service and facilities, and a more luxurious experience.
Witness sunrise at Sanur Beach
Sanur is a seaside town in the southeast of the island, just a 20-minute taxi ride from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. Its main street, Jalan Danau Tamblingan, has many car and bike rental shops. However, walking is a preferred mode of transport here. Distances are usually short, the streets are quiet, and Sanur has a great beachfront walking and cycling path that runs along the coast, crossing the entire town.
Sanur beach is known for shallow water, especially when the tide goes out. It’s a great place to see the sunrise, and to watch the jukung fishing boats ply the waters. Plus, it’s usually quiet at sunrise, and definitely quieter than other beaches like Kuta or Padang Padang. You’ll likely have the beach to yourself – along with a few other locals and sunrise fanatics.
People visit this destination to engage in Yoga and meditation retreats and cooking classes, and to enjoy the day and night markets. Other popular activities are diving, shopping, and witnessing the yearly Sanur International Kite Festival at Padang Galak Beach.
Enjoy Jatiluwih Rice Terrace
There are many things to do in Bali, but trekking at Jatiluwih Rice Terrace is one of the favourites among visitors. The natural beauty of Jatiluwih Rice Terrace is astonishing. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the massive Jatiluwih Rice Terrace is unique and worth visiting in north Bali.
If you are inclined, it is possible to trek around the rice terraces – you can select to embark on a short or long trek. It’s easy to follow the Jatiluwih trekking track. Plus, you will have the opportunity to learn about the ancient irrigation system still followed here and you can even work alongside the locals as they plant and plough the rice fields. They are very friendly and inviting.
Take a ferry to the Nusa Islands
The Nusa Islands are only 45 minutes away from Bali by boat. If you’re getting tired of the Bali crowds and are searching for adventure, more beaches, and a rugged experience, visit the Nusa Islands.
Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Penida make up the Nusa Island group. Nusa Penida island is the largest and most rugged of the three islands. However, it’s still a small and much less crowded version of Bali, with dream-worthy turquoise water, rolling hills, epic cliffs, coves, and white sand beaches.
Nusa Lembongan is the most popular of the islands and is where you can find many dive shop operators and excursions. In comparison, Nusa Ceningan is the smallest of the islands and makes for a great day trip.
We spent 10 days hopping between all three islands and found each to offer something different. Each is worth a few days of exploration, and all are worth the 45-minute speedboat trip.
Trek through the rainforests of Mount Lesung
Located in the highlands of Bedugul, Mount Lesung’s protected rainforest is a delightful escape from the tourist hordes. It contains hidden treasures that can only be found with local knowledge.
Several tour operators offer morning treks into the rainforest, which last 5-6 hours. This includes spotting wildlife and visiting several sacred temples on the mountain, like Bukit Temple at the summit. You’ll also get an amazing view of Bedugul’s twin lakes (Lake Buyan and Tamblingan), Munduk village, and more. The highlight of the trek is the stop at Lake Tamblingan during the descent.
If you’d like to discover more about the local culture around Bedugul, you can also request a shorter trek to visit a local coffee plantation and observe how coffee is processed.
Surf In Uluwatu
Every year, thousands of travellers arrive in Bali to enjoy the waves. Given its geographic location, the conditions for surfing are amazing every year. Depending on the season, the swell strikes one shore or the other.
Bali attracts surfers from around the world. One of the most popular surf spots on the island is Uluwatu, located in the south of Bali. Uluwatu has different breaks with waves for all difficulties, but it is generally not recommended for beginners. That being said, you can learn to surf at Baby Padang Padang.
Uluwatu beach is very beautiful, and you can visit the Buddhist temple nearby, which is also called Uluwatu. The Uluwatu temple is on the top of a cliff overlooking the coastline. It’s a beautiful spot and fun to spend a morning walking around it.
Surfing in Bali is a must-do during your visit, and if you don’t get the chance to get to Uluwatu, you can also do it on several other beaches around the island, like Kuta or Canggu. Just rent a big board and step into the ocean. You will not regret trying it.
Search for abandoned airplanes
Did you know that there are four abandoned airplanes in Bali that you can visit?
- A Boeing 737 is located south of Kuta
- An abandoned airplane can be found on Bali’s southern peninsula near Pandawa Beach. It is said to be owned by an Australian who wanted to transform it into an airplane restaurant.
- The back part of a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 can be found on top of Gate 88 Mall near Kuta
- The least known plane is probably the Boeing 737-200 in the Jembrana region. It is around 100 kilometres from Bali’s main airport, and no one knows how it got there.
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