11 BEST Things to Do in Bali, Indonesia

The common notion is that an adventure begins when you reach your destination. The real adventure is during the planning phase, it just culminates when you reach your destination. The island of Bali in Indonesia reverberates scenes of romantic holidays in the first go, but it is much more than that.

Bali is an island in Indonesia popular for its forested mountains, coral reefs, beautiful temples, beaches, and iconic rice fields. History buffs can enjoy their day by spending time at the temples. The combination of magnificent culture, friendly people, and glorious beaches has made Bali one of the best tourist destinations.

Although Bali has smaller size comparing to Java, Bali offers everything (literally) that Java have, from beaches for surfing to mountain for hiking, rice fields, ancient temples, art gallery, yoga parlor, cultural performances, shopping malls, decent restaurants, co-working spaces for digital nomads, to lively nightclubs. With smaller size, Bali is easier to explore for tourists with limited time.

There are plenty of things to do in Bali including hikes, treks, several hidden waterfalls, museums, lesser-known but beautiful temples, fantastic places to eat, adventure sports and stunning hotels to stay at.

Bali is not Indonesia. But it is. Indonesia is a country made up of thousands of islands, dialects, and cultures. Bali is a celebrated part of Indonesia, but it is very different from most other parts of the country. Bali also has its own language, cuisine, artistic style, and culture. This is why if somebody is going to visit Bali, they tend to say they’re going to Bali (not Indonesia). Some people don’t even realize that they are one and the same.

Bali is undoubtedly on the list of those places that every one of us must visit at least once in our lifetime. The reason behind this ranking is not just the beautiful places, but the amazing things that one can do there. It's not a surprise why Bali is ranked top in the best romantic budget international destination for couples.

It has everything that can entice a couple from the first day of the honeymoon to the last day of the trip. From exotic resorts to enigmatic islands, from luscious greenery to prismatic beaches, this Indonesian island is what honeymoon dreams are equipped off. If you want to visit a less touristy yet culturally rich and beautiful place then visit Sanur.

If you want to relax on pristine beautiful beaches, do some island hopping, enjoy water sports and spend time in accommodations overlooking the stunning sea view, then visit Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida.

best things to do in Bali

Here is the list of the best things to do in Bali that will leave you mesmerized.

1. Party Hard in Kuta

The first and the foremost thing that every one of us must know about Bali is its amazing nightlife. So, the experience that you cannot miss out any cost is the nightlife of Bali. It is most popular for the amazing and the stylish cafes and bars. The awesome experience that it gives to the visitors coming is divine in every way.

There are many amazing Bali tour packages. So, one should assure that there are such places in this package that you should enjoy the nightlife fully.

You can just take a stroll down the beach in evenings if you are staying near Kuta beach, it also has a lot of shopping centers and restaurants. Do bring back the wooden crafts, paintings or the dream-catchers or the kite, the price varies as per bargaining.

Local crafts especially the ones made of wood are available citywide, the dream-catchers in different shapes and sizes are amazing. You will get enough chances to negotiate with the vendors

2. Go on City tour of Ubud

The second one on the list is visiting the city of Ubud. After the beach if you want to explore further to the more spiritual, religious and more green rather than just the beaches, you can visit Ubud. A lot of people when they go to Bali, never head north. They just chill in the south that’s famous for all the clubs and night life.

Ubud is where you can explore the culture of Bali. There are loads of temples, museums, etc. You can check out the Balinese traditional dances as well. The architecture is just gorgeous. The culture and people are truly friendly and welcoming.

Ubud is just 1.5hrs away from the airport. Beautiful town with a lot of nice foods, waterfalls, green rice field, hindu temples and a monkey forest temple as well. The pace is slower in Ubud. So do expect there are not so many parties like those in the beach areas but more jamming live music, health and wellness services, etc.

If you want to know the culture of Bali and want to explore museums, waterfalls, stunning temples, besides indulging in some adventures, then visit Ubud. If you plan to visit the wonderful Bali island, you cannot leave it without having seen its great pearl. And if it had crossed your mind to commit such a crime, we will show you the best places to visit in Ubud that you cannot miss during your trip to Indonesia.

Ubud is again a very popular place in Bali and is known for its spiritual and artistic appeal that it provides to the tourists. There are a lot of museums here that will tell you about the beautiful history and culture of this place. Continuing north 1 more hour you will reach the Gitgit Waterfall. The waterfall is just beautiful and you can go swimming in the pool of water underneath. If you enjoy rock balancing, this is the best place to practice the art.

There are tons of some truly amazing pools and you will have the time of your life swimming in there.

Jalan Raya, Jalan Goutama, Jalan Dewi Sita streets are full of beautiful temples, charming corners, beautiful restaurants, craft shops, cafes with a lot of charm. To the north, 1 hour from Ubud by motorbike is the famous Pura Ulun Danu Temple, a temple that rises above the waters of Lake Bratan (the second largest lake in Bali). In fact almost in all the photographs in Bali travel guides you will see its image.

The Gates of Heaven are famous across the world. On Instagram, the hashtag #puralempuyang (the name of the temple) has over 35,000 posts. You will find a lot of beautiful places while exploring the city. The streets in Kuta and Semniyak are filled with cafes and crafts. Get a scooter rental to reach these places easily from Ubud.

Traditional Balinese massage is undoubtedly something that you should try. If you want to enjoy a good Balinese massage, in Ubud you will find many places. Bali is known for many things and one of those is the beautiful and comfortable Spas that it has. So, when you are tired of traveling and want to chill you can come to one of the local Spas and you will definitely enjoy the time.

Ubud market is located right in the center of the city. The Ubud market is mecca of handcrafted decor stuff like dreamcatchers, ceramic items, tree of life wall hangings, plant hangers, jute and bamboo purses and whatnot.

3. Surfing in Bukit Peninsula

Surfing is what started tourism greatly in Bali. It began along the island’s southern shores, where huge waves and peaceful, wonderful shorelines advanced into the prominent wave riders’ play areas we know today. The island’s first wave-riders discovered the unimaginable surf, thinking back to the 1930s, and more have flown in from then.

Bali has some of the most beautiful beaches and chilling on the beach can be one of the most relaxing things to do. Additionally, if you are into surfing, you can go surfing! The surfing points in Bali are just marvelous. There are also some really amazing hidden beaches to check out in Bali.

Go to the Suluban beach which is mainly a surfers beach. You can see many surfers coming in and out of the ocean and people doing photo-shoots there - for Instagram and such. Tanha Lot has a famous temple on a sea side rock. People go there to mainly see the sunset from the rock.

After Ubud if you want to travel further North, you will meet a city called Singaraja where Lovina beach is located. If you want to see dolphins, this is the place. Lovina Beach in Bali is different from other beaches in Bali. It has black sand due to the volcanic ash and high mineral content in it. Another exciting thing to try and do on this beach is watching the dolphins!

Take a boat ride in the waters of Lovina and enjoy the blissful show of the dolphins. Many visitors visit Bali mainly to go to this unique beach and watch the dolphins here.

4. Watch Balinese dance in Denpasar

Out of everything that you experience in Bali, one thing that you will enjoy the most is the Balinese dance. This is something in which you do not have to do any work. You just need to relax and watch the amazing performances of the artists in Bali and you will definitely get mesmerized after watching it.

5. Art and crafts in Tenganan

What is not important to you may be the world for others. Same is the vase with the craftsmen in Bali. The next experience that we are talking about is watching the different artists doing their exquisite work on the island with such basic tools that you could not even think can be used for doing such beautiful artwork. Watching these artists doing their work finely is a very unique experience of its own kind.

6. Taste Balinese Traditional Food in Canggu

When we are talking about having the best experiences in Bali, how can we forget the beautiful Canggu city? This place comes in the rank of the trendiest tourist spot of Bali. The beauty of this place is increased by the series of beaches that it has all around it. Also, it has a sun temple around, so those who love to visit temples can come to this place.

Not just this, this place is growing very fast and the reason behind it is the crowd that comes every year. The prominent reason for people coming to this place is that the beaches around it are very beautiful and provide an exceptionally good nightlife to its visitors.

If you know even a little about Bali, then you must know that the food that this place has to offer has some magic in its taste. So, if a person is in Bali he can never say no to the cuisines that are made here locally. One of the most popular dishes that one should not miss at any cost is the roast suckling pig that is called Babi Guling in the local language.

Due to this popularity of the amazing dishes of Bali, you will spot many restaurants and cafes here and there. This clearly means that having a good quality local food is very easy in Bali. In Indonesia, the cheapest food but very filling can be found in the small eating joint called as Warteg (Warung Tegal). The bigger the warung, probably the rate of food in that warung is slightly more expensive.

You can find warteg in so many places in Bali. Basically, in a warteg, they sell many types of side dish and condiments that you can eat with rice. Balinese staple food is rice. So the cheapest version of food if you want to choose from a warteg is rice with tofu, tempeh, and vegetable. Rice with Eggs or Abon is one of the most simple menu before Indomie.

Abon is made by dried meat that shaped like cotton. It doesn't needed to be cooked since it’s already ready to serve. Rich with eggs were very simple, you just need plain rice and fry eggs. To get rice, you can make it from rice cooker of buy it instantly from the nearest stalls. Adding proteins like egg or meat will definitely raise the cost of the entire meal.

So in order to be more filling, sometimes people ask the gravy from other meals such as the sauce of chicken with soy sauce (just taking the sauce but not the chicken) or people eat their meal by adding sweet soy sauce to their rice. So this is the cheapest version but filling enough you could possibly get in Bali. Nasi kecap is more simple rather than before, just need some rice and sweet soy sauce (kecap in Indonesian means sweet soy sauce, not ketchup).

Finding sweet soy sauce is really easy, it is sold in every warung stalls.

Of course, there is a cheaper type of food, like Nasi Kucing but the portion is too small and not filling enough. This food originally came from Surakarta and Yogyakarta. Even though the real name means cat rice, but it’s not made by cat’s meat. The name is derived because the portion is small, just like people would serve it to pet cat. It consist of sambal and dried fish. Sometimes stallers add some extra toppings if they like it.

Indomie is the cheapest food and the most simple food when you’re really hungry and have no money. With less than quarter dollar, you can afford this food. You just need to boil it in less than five minutes. Or you can buy it at Warmindo (Indomie stall).

Burjo or Bubur kacang ijo literally means green (or mungs) beans porridge. Just like the name, it is made from mung beans served with coconut milk and palm/cane sugar. Sometimes burjo is also served in Warmindo. The price is around Rp 6.000 (40 cents US Dollar). You can added ketan item (black glutinous rice) as a topping too.

The next experience that we are going to talk about is incredible and one cannot even think about this in their dreams. The thing that we are talking about is living like a local. Yes, you read it right. There are places in Bali where you can feel exactly like home. You will feel like you have been living here for ages.

In spite of taking a hotel and booking that for your stay, you can simply stay in a house. This is possible in Bali that you can live in a house. There are families here who let the visitors live in the rooms that they are not using. So, when in Bali do try a homestay or one of the hostels in Canggu.

Balinese calendar is an intricate thing, worth paying attention to if you wish to do business with people here - even if that business is eating at a local restaurant, whose hours will change according to ceremonies.

Ayam Geprek is basically fried chicken, mashed in a stone masher bowl and mixed with chilies and also you can add toppings such as cheese, eggs or fried tofu. Burjo Place is the most popular to hang out, drink cheap coffee and smoke cigarettes till early morning since they open 24/7. Burjo means bubur kacang ijo or green bean porridge.

Nasi pecel is salad with rice and peanut sauce. Usually eaten with omelette, tempe (fermented soybean cake) and kerupuk (some kind of crisps). They are really popular for breakfast or brunch.

There are vegetarian Balinese but their number is extremely low. Most Balinese food contain pork, fish and chicken, even in salad called “Lawar”, However its not impossible to find vegetarian food in Bali, there are a lot of Vegetarian and Vegan expat community living in Bali. Most foreigner area like Canggu, Umalas and Ubud have abundance of restaurant and healthy food cafes.

There are even cafe called “Vegan cafe”. Most major hotel will be able to comply with your request and have them available in the menu. Problem is most of them are not authentic Balinese food, if you want a taste of true Bali.

People from all over the world are (or were) known to visit the Melasti beach just for their pre-wedding photos.

Interesting Reads: Best Diving Sites in Bali

7. Go Paragliding at Benoa Bay

Paragliding is an eternal experience for people with adrenaline rush and offers one to glide alongside the ocean line of the beach from a cliff. The view from this point is beautiful. This is not crowded unlike a lot of tourist destinations.

8. Have coffee at Jimbaran

Another important thing that Bali is known for is its festivals. The festivals that are celebrated here are full of colors and involve a lot of activities. You can just grab a coffee and can sit on any roadside café and then enjoy the beautiful sights.

Nyepi is celebrated around the Balinese New Year. Everything - everything! - shuts down, including the airport. Nobody drives anywhere, nobody even speaks. It is a favourite holiday for many Balinese, and an amazing thing for a foreigner to experience. Just be aware of this day in your trip-planning, as you won’t get anything done on this day.

9. Walking Around Rice fields in Tegalalang

The last thing that one cannot miss out is visiting the rice fields of Bali. The rice terraces are picturesque, serene and are one of the best places to go hiking in Bali, especially, early in the morning. You can club these with temples, beaches or caves around. Visiting these fields is important because first, they are amazingly beautiful and second they are far away from the crowd and the monotonous life.

Coming to these places will make you realize how beautiful life is when in the lap of nature. See the rice terrace fields and also the Bali swings.

To the west of Ubud (you can do it walking) are the Campuhan rice fields. They are not as impressive as Tegalalang (7 km from Ubud), but they are also beautiful to see. The original Bali swing is actually not near the Rice Terrace.

Guidebooks love to mention Jatiluwih, Sidemen, Campuhan, or Tegallalang. Less than a handful of them mention Belimbing. This village is located on the less-traveled roads between Bubunan and Pupuan in the western part of Bali. Compared the more famous rice terraces, Belimbing tend to be much more quiet and charming.

Belimbing offers a magnificent view of rice terraces unfolding on the bottom of Mount Batukaru. If you are lucky, you can greet some monkeys who love to hang around this place on early morning. During the rainy seasons, fog sometimes covers the terraces creating surreal nuances in the village.

10. Pura Kehen

Considered as one of the oldest temples in Bali, Pura Kehen is ironically unpopular compared to the grander temples like Besakih. The existence of Pura Kehen was also mentioned in literatures as early as from the 9th century in around the same century with the establishment of the oldest temple in Bali, Pura Lempuyang Agung.

Pura Kehen is iconic in Bangli region of Bali. It is regarded as its holiest temple, so it’s extraordinarily popular among locals. However, strangely it sees fewer tourists and is seldom being mentioned in guidebooks. Pura Kehen was once the official place where oath ceremonies took place for royal officials, where those who are proven unfaithful will be subjected to the terrible curse.

Kuning Waterfall is quite known, however only few people bothered to trek the forest just to visit Kuning Waterfall. The waterfall is situated next to a black rock of towering cliffs below the thick jungle of Central Bali. If you visit this place outside the peak seasons, chances you will see nobody around.

The way down can be quite slippery, so please be careful. It is not recommended to visit during the rain because it can be really dangerous. The best time to visit Kuning Waterfall is around late afternoon. And since it is maintained by local villagers please always respect local customs and do not litter.

11. Mount Batur Trek from Bangli

For those who don't know, Mt. Batur is a sunrise trek quite famous in Bali which starts at around 4:30 am in the morning and lasts for 2 hours one way. As you reach the top, the sun rises up and the view is quite spectacular. Most people see Mount Batur from its southern ridge, where the touristic Kintamani resorts are located.

Few tourists made it to the western slope, where they can observe Mount Batur from an angle that not many people have ever seen. The place is located several kilometers from the northern plains named Serongga village. It has thousands black volcanic rocks scattered around the sandy plains. The lava field can still be observed from Kintamani above, however to see it closer you need extra-efforts to traverse the plain.

Puncak Kedaton is the peak of Mount Batukaru, whereas you can find a small temple on plain near its top. To reach this holy site, you need to trek for four hours from the bottom of Mount Batukaru (2,200 meters above sea level), either from Jatiluwih or Pujungan.

Since the path is seldom traversed, it is often covered by thick grass and bushes. You will need to carefully follow the established path since it is usually not clearly visible, let alone being marked. Remember that it is considered as taboo to mention negative words along the way, including “tired” or “bored”. Keep your mouth shut.

So, these are experiences that you must have on your Bali trip. A lot of sites mention that a Visa is required however if you are staying there for less than 30 days, you don’t need additional Visa. The prices for both hotels and other villas are affordable and vary as per your requirements and luxury.

Local people are well verse in English so communication is not an issue. You might however find a little bit of difficulty in conversing with small shop vendors or street stalls which can be dealt with some of the Dumb Charades skills! You will not get free water anywhere, not in temples or restaurants. You can either carry your own bottles or buy the bottles everywhere.

The things that are mentioned in the article are something that you won’t find everywhere. Therefore, one should make sure that when they are on their Bali trip they should do each of these things.
Kalyan Panja