There are so many incredible things to do in Bali, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide where to start. Bali, A.K.A the land of gods, is one of the most picturesque islands in South East Asia. In our minds, it’s the very definition of tropical island paradise.
When it comes to the beaches, you’re in for a treat and spoilt for choice. From pearl-grey to soft white sand, no two beaches are the same. With the medley of seascapes available to you, you’ll be kept busy for days. Bali’s beaches aren’t the only attraction, though. Discovering wild waterfalls and hiking up larger than life volcanos are other great adventures to be had.
Still not convinced? Bali takes you to emerald rice paddies, vivid flowering fields and cliff views overlooking glistening turquoise waters. You’ll also witness some of the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets the world has to offer. With so many beautiful sights to see, travelling Bali could be a full-time job and one we would take up in a heartbeat.
Having spent quite some time here, we put together a list of our favourite adventures. We recommend adding some of these highlights to your travel itinerary for an unforgettable Indonesian experience.
1. Mount Batur – Sunrise Trekking
Mount Batur is the most visited volcano in Bali. It’s situated 1,717m above sea level and is still active! Sunrise from Batur’s summit is spectacular. Rays of light burst out from behind Bali’s prized possession, Mount Agung. Adding to this beautiful scene is the low hanging mist stretching over glassy Lake Batur.
We highly recommend adding this popular event to your itinerary. It’s genuinely breathtaking, and a moment you won’t forget! Don’t worry about the crowds; the view from the summit with the sun peering around Mount Agung will make you forget about everyone else. At Batur’s peak, we had a great time exploring the crater, mingling with other hikers and some of Bali’s cheeky monkeys.
2. Tukad Cepung Waterfall – A Natural Wonder
Most Bali waterfalls are in areas just outside of Ubud. Timing is everything when visiting them! We found that if you get to the popular ones early enough, you could have the whole area to yourself! On the other hand, arriving at midday means you’ll have to share the experience with the crowds and queue for picture opportunities.
Each fall in Bali is a little different to the other but all spectacular nonetheless! Tukad Cepung Waterfall stands out as being the most picturesque one we saw. It’s worth waking up a little earlier and making it out to this location before the crowds do.
We’ve provided details on an array of waterfalls, how to get to them (with a location map), best times to go, associated costs, photography tips and what to expect at each one.
3. Kuning Waterfall – A Hidden Gem
On our way back from seeing the very popular Tukad Cepung waterfall, we drove around aimlessly and landed up at a secluded spot where we discovered Kuning Waterfall.
Only once we got to this location, we realised we were quite a bit off the beaten track. Our walk down to the fall showed no sign of restaurants or curios selling the usual souvenirs. It was quite a breath of fresh air, so to speak.
The terrain surrounding Air Tejun Kuning is incredibly lush with spirts of water trickling down rocks, watering the greenery surrounding it. It’s an adventurous walk down to the main attraction with wobbly wooden planks for walking on. The waterfall may not be the biggest or tallest, but the setting it’s in is unmatched and full of Bali’s raw beauty. You could spend a few hours in this majestic area, bathing in the rock pool beneath the fall and exploring the meandering paths leading down to the valley floor. We highly suggest visiting this hidden spot before it becomes another one of Bali’s peak tourist attractions.
4. Tegallalang Rice Terraces – Lush Green Wonder
If Bali is known as the island of gods, I’m pretty sure the rice terraces are the stairway to heaven.
Visiting this UNESCO heritage site is a truly unique experience and gives great insight into the local way of life on this magical island.
The terraces lie in a beautiful valley dotted with high palm trees and vivid flowering plants. It’s a place where Bali’s locals and tourists come together and appreciate the heritage of this great island! Even though the locals people go about doing their daily farming, they’re happy to welcome tourists into these lands. As you walk through the cascading fields, you grow an appreciation for the Balinese way of life . You get to enjoy the sound of water trickling through channels beneath your feet. This irrigation system called Subak is indigenous to Bali and world-renowned.
We highly recommend visiting the fields on your next Bali trip. It’s a place of peace and tranquillity intersected with nervous laughing and screams from Bali swingers and zip-liners. All walks of life come to this spot to enjoy its great atmosphere. Get ready to fill your Instagram feed with beautiful shots of lush green farmland.
5. GWK Cultural Park – An Iconic Landmark
When we’re not climbing volcanos and chasing waterfalls, we’re engrossed in learning more about the fascinating Balinese culture. A culture still standing strong, despite growing tourism and western influence. The GWK cultural park celebrates everything Balinese.
The park is located in the Bukit Peninsula, south of the island. Standing on the hills of the Peninsula, you’re able to see an incredible panoramic view of the entire island from the park. The archetypal park celebrates Bali’s heritage through colossal statues, dance and song performances and Balinese cuisine. The highlight of visiting this location is the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue. This monument took over 29 years to complete and stands over 120 meters tall (that’s 30 meters taller than the Statue Of Liberty!). It’s well worth visiting this recently completed statue. It’s visible from just about any point on the island. Need we say more!
6. Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan – An Island Paradise
Most people aren’t aware that four islands make up Bali. The other 3 Nusa islands are a quick 40-minute fast-boat ride away. These Smaller islands are home to some of Bali’s most iconic spots.
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are tiny islands joined together by a famous yellow pedestrian bridge. These islands are known for being laid-back nature and enjoyed by those looking to escape crowds and party-goers. The beaches on these islands are some of the best we’ve seen in Bali. Check out our article on Visiting The Smaller Nusa Islands for the full details.
7. Nusa Penida – Adventure Island
Nusa Penida, a remarkably bigger piece of paradise, is located next door to the other two islands. This adventure haven has a raw beauty reserved for those in good shape and eager to explore. It’s hidden treasures are much less frequented by the crowds. We loved our time on Penida and would highly recommend dedicating a few days of your trip to visiting well-known sights here. Check out our articles on Nusa Penida: Ten Things To Know Before Visiting The Island and Ten Things To Do On Nusa Penida Island.
8. Diamond Beach – Cliffside Beauty
Stepping should be considered a Balinese sport. If you’re up for it, get ready to tone your legs and bum going up and down uncountable steps, cunningly placed on steep cliffsides. The reward awaits as you make your way down them to undisturbed tropical beaches. You know what they say, The best view comes after the hardest climb. Take it from us; this is the absolute truth, and these harder to reach destinations are worth seeing for yourself.
9. Kelingking Beach – A Top Class Beach
With Bali’s countless sandy adventures, you’ll have trouble deciding where to start!
From small secluded bays to vast stretches of open sand, Bali has every kind of beach imaginable. Even if you don’t stay on Nusa Penida island you should consider visiting Kelingking beach anyway. Day trips to Penida from Bali are reasonably priced and will definitely include Keligking beach on their itinerary.
We stayed on Nusa Penida island for some time and made it our mission to visit as many of its beaches as possible. After seeing all of them, one thing we can tell you, no two are the same! Our favourite one had to be Kelingking Beach . A was definitely our favourite. A beach reserved for thrill-seekers, adventure couples and those searching for postcard paradise.
10. Uluwatu Temple – Marvel At The Kecak Fire Dance
Uluwatu’s sacred temple is at the southern tip of Bali. It sits on top of a limestone cliff overlooking the vast ocean. You’re able to walk along a meandering path within the grounds, following along the edge of the sea cliff. The view from this stretch is spectacular and a perfect spot for witnessing Bali’s signature sunsets.
Most tourists come to Uluwatu temple for the Kecak fire dance. This performance includes singing and dancing while showing off some of the traditional Balinese outfits. It costs 30,000 IDR for entry into the temple and another 100,000 IDR for the dance. We enjoyed the dancing, and the sun setting behind it made for some great photos.
For us, the best part of visiting this temple was watching groups of thieving monkeys interacting with crowds of tourists. These smart primates sit on the walls of the temple and low hanging tree branches, waiting for the opportune time to steal sightseers belongings. It’s funny to watch the negotiations begin as possession are offered back to owners in exchange for fruit! All along the temples’ walkway, you’ll find bits of sunglasses and remnants of high-value items from when negotiations failed.
11. Firefly Eco-Lodge – Cozy Up In A Bamboo Birdsnest
We had the opportunity of staying in a birds nest at Firefly Eco Lodge in Ubud. It was one of the most exciting overnight stays we’ve had. Located in the heart of Ubud, Firefly lets you escape from Bali’s rowdy surroundings to enjoy nature at its best.
We stayed in one of 4 woven nests, stacked one above the other. We were in the highest one, rising 50 meters above the ground and overlooking the rice paddies. You have to climb up a bamboo ladder to reach the nests, and because we stayed at the top we had the farthest to climb. Once you’re up there, the entire area is only big enough to fit a double bed mattress and a handful of your precious belongings. If you’re comfortable with heights and don’t mind sharing your bed with a bug or two, then we highly recommend this. It’s an incredible experience falling asleep to the sounds of crickets and trickling water from a nearby stream
Firefly is not the only place offering unusual accommodation. Bali, Ubud in particular, is known for cost-effective luxury stays in weird and beautiful settings. Keep an eye out on Airbnb for the specials and discounted rates on some of the more lavish or fancy stays.
12. Jungle Fish – Poolside Paradise
Sometimes you feel like spending the whole day lounging around and doing the bare minimum. There’s no better place to do this than at Jungle Fish in Ubud. It’s situated 20 minutes from the centre of Ubud at this location.
For a reasonable price (600,000 IDR/person), you get 400,000 IDR worth of food and drinks, a beach towel and spot around their oversized Infinity pool. Surrounding the pool are lounges, sunbeds, tables and chairs and couches. It’s your choice what spot you pick at no extra cost.
The pool has an incredible view of Bali’s lush green rainforest.
Most of the 5-star luxury hotels in Bali offer passes to day visitors. If you’re attempting some of the more challenging excursions on this list, you should consider rewarding yourself at the end of your stay with this relaxing treat.
13. Bridges Restaurant – Fine Dining In Ubud
Bridges is a fine-dining spot in the heart of Ubud with all four levels of the restaurant overlooking the Campuhan River. At night the candlelit tables sparkle in unisons, lighting up the vast valley below. The tasting menu is 400,000 IDR/person for vegetarians and 550,000 IDR/person for meat lovers.
We ordered one of each and, as much as we tried, could not finish all the courses served to us. The food is delicious and served as small works of art. Dining experiences like this usually don’t sit well with a backpackers budgets but at Bridges the prices are very reasonable. We highly recommend a small splurge on a feasting experience here.
14. Bingin Beach – BBQ Fish and Sunsets
At Bingin Beach the coarse white sand stretches as far as the eyes can see. A row of restaurants and bars perch on stilts making their way up the coastline. Bingin is a popular surfers area, with the main attraction being a foodies delight. It’s the place to go to enjoy the days catch grilled over an open flame, right on the sandy shoreline. Most of the restaurants put tables and chairs out across the beachfront offering you a view of Bali’s perfect sunset while you enjoy this beach dining experience. Lucky Fish bar is one of the many spots offering this bbq fish experience with laid back live music and cheap cold drinks.
15. Crystal Bay And Manta Point – Cyrstal Clear Snorkelling
With waters so clear and an abundance of marine life, it’s no surprise that some of the world’s best snorkelling and diving happens to be in Bali. Having a closer look at this incredible marine life is a must when coming to this tropical paradise.
The east and west coasts offer far superior diving experiences with visibility reaching as far down as 50m at times. Tulamben and Amed in the east and Menjangan Island on the west are some of the most popular spots.
Day trips are also available for snorkelling and diving at various locations around the Nusa Islands. Here you’ll get the opportunity to spot manta rays, sea turtles and dolphins in abundance. Within the first few minutes on our snorkel tour to Crystal Bay, we spotted a giant sea turtle and a group of dolphins passing by.
16. Uluwatu Cliff – The Edge Of Bali
If you’re planning on visiting the Bukit Peninsula on your trip, we highly recommend seeing this location. You’ll have to drive off the tar road for 200meters to visit this secluded spot sitting at the southernmost tip of the island.
Uluwatu cliff is probably the highest cliff point in Bali, found 70 meters above crashing waves. Its name is Karang Boma but referred to as Uluwatu Cliff. The Uluwatu temple sits right beside it, and both locations overlook the endless blue ocean. The position of the cliff point is perfect for a dreamy Bali sunset but visiting it at midday is also spectacular. There’s a minimal charge to enter the area (10,000 IDR), but that’s if the guard is even around when you arrive. If you’re big into photography or droning this area is one of the best spots for both.
17. Monkey Forest Sanctuary – Mischievousness Is About
Monkey Forest is in the heart of Ubud. Walking distance from popular points of interest in the area. Its opening hours are from 8:30 AM – 6 PM every day and costs 80,000 IDR per person for entry.
It’s a reserve for free-roaming monkeys that’s made quite a name for itself on Instagram. People come here in hopes of getting a perfectly posed selfie with a cheeky monkey by their side.
All over the reserve are messages and signboards warning tourists not to interact with the monkeys or encourage their ‘bad behaviour’. Although no cases of rabies have been reported from these monkeys, I wouldn’t get too friendly! They’re known to bite and scratch, especially when overexcited. Don’t be surprised when you see a few visitors walking around sporting bandages and large plasters covering wounds on their arms and legs.
Other than the somewhat fun but dangerous encounters with these naughty primates, the sanctuary has a few other things to offer. Three impressive temples are found on the grounds and date back as far as 700 years! Sculptures are displayed all over the grounds and symbolize the energies supporting the powers of these temples. There’s also a Holy Spring Temple pool that you’re welcome to throw coins into for good fortune. The reserve is a great day outing and one we enjoyed. With the plethora of trees and forest, it’s a delightful break from some of Ubud’s more urban surroundings and noisy scooter-infested roads.
18. The Flowering Fields Of Mount Agung
Sometimes the best adventures and discoveries happen spontaneously. We took a drive out east on our scooter to experience a more rural side to Bali. The further east we drove the bigger Mount Agung was getting. We decided to keep going all the way to the base of the volcano. To our surprise, bright orange marigold flowers surrounded us in every direction. Amongst the marigolds were flowering fields of kasnas. These white flowers spread out as far as the eyes can see, creating a snow-like visual wonderland.
There’s a natural beauty throughout this area. It’s a place with endless valley views and fresh, crisp air. The terrain is also different from the usual tropics seen throughout Bali. Blankets of white Kasna flowers cover the grounds and pine trees hide behind big clouds swirling up mount Agung. You’d swear you were nowhere near a tropical island! We were standing in the flower fields on the lower levels of Mount Agung when the clouds settled, and we were able to see the volcanos summit.
Adding this experience to your next Bali trip will allow you to see a side to the island you never thought existed. It’s also a great escape from all the tourists.