36 Popular Things to Do in Bali in 2018

An iconic Aussie holiday destination for many years, the Indonesian island of Bali doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down in popularity.

And while there’s nothing wrong with lying on a beach drinking out of a coconut, there’s plenty more this tropical destination has to offer. Here we have rounded up 36 popular things to do in Bali to help you soak up that Indonesian culture and natural beauty.

1. Nourish your body, mind and soul at Blooming Lotus Yoga

With 94% of Trip Advisor reviewers giving the centre a five-star review, it certainly appears the team at Blooming Lotus Yoga in Ubud have got a good thing going. Specialising in four- and seven-day yoga retreats as well as 200-hour yoga teacher training, the main focus of the Blooming Lotus Yoga studio is to help clients explore the spiritual and meditative practice of yoga.

Surrounded by lush Balinese jungle, and to the soundtrack of the local wildlife, the retreat aims to enable you to fully immerse yourself in the calm, serenity of the island, and hopefully emerge refreshed and reinvigorated.

2. Explore Sidemen in the southeast

Watched over by the imposing (and sometimes disruptive) Mt Agung, Sidemen represents a lush green area of the island of Bali that has remained relatively untouched by development and tourist industries.

Described by Green Guide Bali as the place where time stands still, Sidemen features small villages surrounded by rice fields and agricultural land, creating the perfect backdrop for peaceful hikes alongside cheerful locals. You could also hire a bicycle and cycle through the winding paths along rice fields, mountains, through the valleys of the Unda river and past countless coffee and cocoa plantations.

Source: Cheryl Ramalho (Shutterstock)

3. Visit the silversmith village of Celuk

Located approximately four kilometres southwest of the Sukawati District, the village of Celuk is Bali’s major centre for goldsmiths and silversmiths.

The local craftsmen have a reputation for their skills and industriousness and according to Hotels.com, almost every household in the village is home to families with generations of finely tuned artistic skills in developing and executing intricate jewellery designs and ornate patterns.

You can browse the main road of Jalan Raya Celuk where galleries and workshops line the road for approximately 10km and hunt for beautiful and unique souvenirs from this specialised corner of Bali.

4. Embrace the legend of Tanah Lot Temple

Described by Hotels.com as one of Bali’s most important landmarks, the Temple at Tanah Lot honours the story of Dang Hyang Nirartha, a high priest from the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java who travelled to Bali in 1489 to spread Hinduism throughout the island.

Legend says, when he was met with opposition from the village chief, the priest shifted a large rock that he meditated on out to sea and transformed his sashes into sea snakes to guard at its base. Today, an ancient Hindu shrine sits upon the sea-bound rock formation, honouring the high priest, providing panoramic views and cultural offerings.

The impressive Tanah Lot Temple. Source: Marius Doblias (Shutterstock).

5. Watch a traditional Kecak Dance at the Uluwatu Temple

Traditional Kecak Dance shows can be found across the island, but the display at the renowned Uluwatu Temple known as Pura Luhur is said by TripSavvy to be a unique experience.

The performance attracts visitors from all around the world as they simultaneously take in the temple, which is of great significance to the spiritual lives of the Balinese people.

The local villagers use the dance to tell the story of the famous epic Hindu story of Ramayana; chanting rhythmically beneath the telling of the story of Rama and his wife Sita who was kidnapped by a demon.

The show is said to provide an enthralling insight into the local culture and can provide tourists with an up-close-and-personal look at traditional Balinese culture.

Tourists watch traditional Balinese Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple on Bali, Indonesia. Kecak (also known as Ramayana Monkey Chant) is very popular cultural show on Bali. Source: Alexander Mazurkevich. Source: Alexander Mazurkevich (Shutterstock)

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6. Witness the majestic Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

Located in the Bedugul region about an hour and a half from the capital Denpasar, the Ulun Danu Temple sits atop a plateau in the midst of the Beratan Lake, overlooking the clear, calm water and surrounded by mountainside.

Built in honour of the Goddess Danu, the temple is a testament to traditional Balinese architecture. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, if you arrive in time to catch the early-morning chill, a thin mist often rises from the lake and hangs in the air, surrounding the temple and giving it a somewhat surreal appearance.

Take a deep breath and let the serenity wash over you.

7. Witness Jembong Waterfall – the most organised waterfall in Bali

Tumbling down the hillside surrounded by lush Balinese jungle, Jembong Waterfall has been described by Trip Canvas as Bali’s most organised waterfall.

It is a two-storey high fall with strong currents of flowing water bouncing off stepped rock walls. It involves a bit of a hike to reach the fall itself, but feeds straight into a calm natural pool, where tired hikers can cool off after the journey.

Jembong Waterfall is located around two and a half hours’ drive from Denpasar.

8. Hold on to your valuables at the Monkey Forest Temple

The Ubud Monkey Forest lies within the village of Padangtegal and is home to around 700 monkeys along with three main temples, built around the middle of the 14th century.

Visitors can wander through the site, play with the local monkeys and aim to get the perfect selfie with the furry residents.

Be warned though, they’re light fingered and have a reputation for frequently lifting phones, wallets, caps or other items from distracted tourists.

The sacred monkey temple in Ubud. Source: Kasakphoto (Shutterstock)

9. Channel Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love in the sacred waters of Tirta Empul

You may recognise the long stone pools of Tirta Empul from the quintessential ‘travelling to find yourself’ film, Eat, Pray, Love. But this site has a history that extends long before Julia Roberts hit the water with her film crew.

Since its founding in 962BC, Balinese people have taken ritual baths in the waters of Tirta Empul, believing the waters to possess healing powers for both physical and spiritual presence. The Indonesian Ministry of Tourism encourages worshippers and non-worshippers to bathe in the waters, but be aware that the last of spouts in the first pool are reserved for purification after funerary rites.

People come from all over the world to bathe in the waters of Tirta Empul. Source: Travfi (Shutterstock)

10. Get in touch with your inner hipster at Love Anchor

Walking along Jalan Batu Bolong after the sun sets could get your Instagram senses tingling.

The Love Anchor Markets are a collection of restaurants, bars and shops, decorated with fairy lights and beach-inspired furnishings, proven to be a must-have snap for tourists.

The weekends see it transformed into a lively bazaar with plenty of pop-up stalls featuring island fashion, accessories and homewares, although be warned –  some Trip Advisor reviews say the prices can be a little higher here than other markets around the island.

11. See the journey of chocolate from bean to bar at Pod Chocolate Factory

Travel through the Balinese jungle, past the Bali Elephant Camp and to the grounds of the Pod Chocolate Factory where you could witness skilled Pod Factory staff turn the humble cocoa bean into delicious bars of chocolate or other chocolate-based treats.

The factory can be experienced through a guided tour, during which you are given the opportunity to handcraft your very own chocolate elephant.

12. Watch the sunrise from the peak of Mt Batur

With hikes usually starting as early as 2am you’d be forgiven for questioning the prospect of this activity over staying in bed.

But the Mt Batur trek has been described by one Intrepid traveller  as one of the shorter and more manageable climbs – not exactly a walk in the park, but not likely to push you to limits of your physical abilities.

And with the early start you’ll have yourself perched at the top, hot drink in hand from one of the mountain top cafes waiting to watch the first light spread across the Balinese island. Once you’ve had your fill of natural beauty, you are more than welcome to head back to your accommodation to reward yourself with a well-earned nap.

Sunrise from the peak of Mt Batur. Source: Koah (Shutterstock)

13. Go white water rafting on the Ayung River

One for the more adventurous – the enigmatic Ayung River plays host to many thrill-seeking spirits with a white water rafting trip that could leave you invigorated and most likely soaking wet. Ranked as the second best water sport activity in Gianyar by Trip Advisor, the tours are a particular favourite amongst visitors to the region.

Many of the tours say they feature quiet, slow starts that give your local guide the opportunity to teach you about the native flora and fauna and point out hidden waterfalls through the jungle.

For more information, you can check out Wira Rafting Bali.

A birds eye view of the Ayung River rapids. Source: Liem Men Sang (Shutterstock)

14. Spend the day on Menjangan Island

Roughly a three-hour drive from Kuta and a short boat ride off the northwest coast of Bali, Menjangan Island spans approximately 3,800 hectares and represents an untouched paradise within the Balinese archipelago.

The island is home to the rare Javan Rusa deer and according to Hotels.com, a coastline featuring calm waters and coral gardens teeming with marine life offering diving and snorkelling, said to have excellent visibility year round.

The island also features a collection of shrines including Segara Giri Dharma Kencana Temple with its imposing seaward-facing Ganesh statue.

You’ll need a park guide and permit, which you can arrange with most tour operators or hotels in the Pemuteran Beach area, or obtained at the park office in Labuhan Lalang. Permits are around 20,000IDR or roughly $1.85AUD and guide fees range upwards from 350,000IDR or roughly $33.00AUD.

Ocean swing on Menjangan Island. Source: Dwi Prayoga (Shutterstock)

15. Embrace the ancient art of stone carving at Batubulan

The little village of Batubulan, about half an hour’s drive from Denpasar, is Bali’s major centre for stone carving.

Stone carving is a historical Balinese art form, often lining roads and workshops across the country.

According to the Lonely Planet, traditionally the people of Batubalan produced works for temples and palace gateways, but the goods on display in the village are available for sale. Just keep in mind your weight restrictions when flying back to Australia!

16. Cool down in the Sekumpul Waterfall

Claimed by the Bali Bible to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Bali, the Sekumpul waterfall is located in the Singaraja region, about two hours’ drive from Denpasar.

The waterfall is made up of a cluster of six narrow cascades surrounded by lush green bamboo jungle.

There are two ways to enjoy the falls, either through the main trek to the purpose-built gazebos where you can view the falls from a distance, or through a three-hour return village trek that leads you down to the rock pool at the base of the falls.

Sekumpul waterfall. Source: Kasakphoto (Shutterstock)

17. Support the plight to save sea turtles on Serangan Island

As travellers, we are often aware that not all conservation centres are as they seem, with a number of questionable animal management techniques coming to light in the media.

However, Serangan Island’s Turtle Conservation and Education Centre is said to be doing fantastic work with the local turtle population. The centre aims to save the ever-dwindling sea turtle population in the archipelago, and some reviews say the staff are well informed, with excellent English, ready to answer any questions you might have.

You can also get up close and personal with the local wildlife and ‘adopt a turtle’ to release into the ocean.

Helping the dwindling turtle population one turtle at a time. Source Klaas Slot (Shutterstock)

18. Bathe in the Goa Gajah fountain of youth

Not far from Ubud is the temple of Goa Gajah, popularly known as the Elephant Cave.

The cave entrance is carved into the cliff face and dates back to at least the 11th century. But that’s not necessarily the most interesting part about this landmark.

Before you enter the cave you will come across a large flat courtyard featuring two bathing pools. Described by the Bali Advertiser as a ‘touch of an ancient world‘ the temple is one of the more popular temples on the island. Legend has it that the pools were once considered to be the fountain of youth and that bathing in the pools could allegedly keep you young forever.

Beyond rumours of a fountain of youth, the site actually has a number of attractions both inside the cave and in the temples that surround it. Hidden away in the thick foliage is the ruins of a Buddhist temple, one of the only examples of which can be found on the predominately Hindu island.

Some people believe the waters of Goa Gajah possess the power to give infinite youth. Source: Vladimir Dolgov (Shutterstock)

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19. Spend some time with Canggu’s Old Man(’s)

He might be old, but apparently this man knows how to throw a good market.

With up to 150 stalls gathered at Old Man’s in Canggu, stocking everything from bohemian jewellery and clothing to organic food, chances are you’ll find something for you at the Old Man’s Market. It’s on once a month, the dates can be found on their Facebook page.

20. Feel like royalty at the Ubud Royal Palace (Puri Saren Ubud)

Featuring well-preserved traditional Balinese architecture and a beautiful garden, the Ubud Royal Palace is known among locals and Lonely Planet authors as one of the best places to settle in for evening dance performances supported by a gamelan orchestra.

The palace grounds are a regal setting with grand entrances and exotic architectural elements.

Tickets to events are usually sold in the afternoon, but it’s free to walk through and take photos during the day.

21. Get wet at Gitgit Waterfall

Located around two and half hours from Kuta, Gitgit waterfall is a popular destination and it’s easy to see why.

The waterfall is easy to access from the road. Just a few minutes’ walk through the lush Balinese jungle and you will find yourself staring up in awe at the 40 metre-high cascade that pours into the rocky pool below.

For more information on how to get to the falls, Charlie and Lauren of Wanderers and Warriors lay out more specific directions.

The falls are often referred to by the locals as the ‘twin falls’ or Air Terjun Kembar Gitgit, due to its two streams.

40 metres of tumbling water make up Git Git waterfall. Source: Jack Mazur (Shutterstock)

22. Go dolphin spotting on Lovina Beach

Lovina Beach is a unique black sand beach on the north coast of Bali, located around two and a half hours’ drive from Denpasar known for smaller crowds and calmer waves than the south coast, as well as dolphin spotting.

It’s a popular tourist destination, and with articles like Why We Love Lovina Beach (Hint: We Saw Hundreds of Dolphins) by travel bloggers In Bali, it might just be worth a visit.

A popular activity is to jump on board a colourful traditional motorised jukung outrigger, offered by Herman Lovina Tours to catch a glimpse of several different species of dolphin playing in the water.

Tickets go for around $14AUD and the company operates most of the year, except from February to April when the wind and rains are heavy and irregular leading the dolphins to move to calmer regions.

Sunrise and sunset are among the best times to see the dolphins. Source: Nattapol Studio (Shutterstock)

23. Experience the dancing fingers at the Jari Menari Spa

Hosting the highest concentration in Southeast Asia, Bali’s spas have developed quite the reputation and are on the to-do lists of many travellers.

What sets Jari Menari apart is an all-male staff with a focus on giving opportunities to local men, as well as training in massage, anatomy, English language skills and customer service.

Jari Menari has been described by Travel and Leisure Asia as ‘zen-like’ and definitely worth a visit. Certainly one for consideration if you are in need of some R&R.

nina.tovey

Jari Menari was without a doubt the best massage I had in Bali. Pure bliss. – Nina Tovey, Editor, Canstar

24. Enjoy solitude on your own private beach

Down a mysterious dirt track close to the Uluwatu Temple, you will find a sign saying ‘Nyang Nyang Surfing Beach’.

Taking note of the Lost Guide’s directions; if you follow the sign, cross a field, and stroll past the only drinks stall in the area, you will find yourself met with a flight of approximately 500 stairs.

At the end of the stairs you will be let out onto a beautiful Balinese beach that is often deserted.

A little further adventuring could also lead you to discover a nearby sunflower field, just in case your friends back home needed to be a little more envious of your trip.

Be careful climbing on board, injuring yourself on a shipwreck might not be the kind of story you were planning on bringing home. Source: Darkwing Duck (Shutterstock)

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25. Marvel at the Broken Sea

Known to the locals (and TripCanvas) as Pasih Uwug, the Broken Sea is located on Nusa Penida, an island approximately 30 minutes by boat from the island of Bali.

The land formation of Pasih Uwug progressed from a former cave in the cliff face, to an arch, and, following the collapse of the floor of the cave, the area became a deep natural pool, fed into by the ocean.

It may be broken, but it doesn’t look like it needs fixing. Source: Tropical Studio (Shutterstock)

26. Experience nature’s infinity pool at the Angel’s Billabong

Also located on Nusa Penida, the Angel’s Billabong is a hidden natural pool not far from Pasih Uwug.

The ‘billabong’ is beautiful to look at, but is also described by travel blogger the Back Country Cow  as an amazing experience to swim in; though this is perhaps for the more adventurous – you will need to climb down one of the sides of the coral wall to reach the water.

Allegedly, the green floors of this particular pool are so comfortable to walk on that it actually feels as though it’s carpeted.

Nature’s infinity pool, the Angel’s Billabong. Source: SoXWhite (Shutterstock)

27. Witness a local spiritual festival

Every 210 days, or eight days after the Kuningan festival, the local residents of the Kesiman village practice a unique ritual known as Ngerebong, and it’s not likely something you will have seen anywhere else in the world.

The ritual aims to achieve a balance between the natural and spiritual realms with the whole ceremony culminating in the local participants behaving in what one Trip Canvas writer described as a shocking and bizarre manner – as if possessed by spirits.

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28. Stargaze to your own soundtrack at Spa Village Resort in Tembok

The Spa Village Resort team has been said to have taken star gazing to a whole new, relaxing level with this unique experience available only to resort guests.

Healing Lifestyles describes the experience as the ‘cornerstone of healing’ and calls every aspect of the spa’s healing and treatment programs a reflection of the spirit of the island.

The resort says as you float in the resort’s infinity pool, carefully selected music lulls your brain into a hypnotic, dream-like state, linked with increased memory and learning potential.

The resort draws inspiration from the spirit of the island and the local way of life to help guests unwind.

29. Get enlightened on a ‘7 Temples of Enlightenment’ Tour

This tour could very well be your crash course in UNESCO world heritage temples and monuments of the island of Bali as well as the origins of the Balinese Hindu religion, and of the development of the local region.

Apparently, many of the temples and destinations visited on this tour are unknown even to locals, so it’s a rare and exciting opportunity to get first-hand experience up close and personal with such important and sacred sites.

One such tour is conducted by Professor and Curator of the Sukarno Centre, Enog Ismail, with reviews saying his wealth of knowledge is impressive to say the least. If you only do one organised tour while in Bali, this is said to be one of the most thorough.

A misty morning at Plaosan Temple. Source: Abdul Aji (Shutterstock)

30. Soak in the healing Banjar hot springs

With a 4 out of 5 star rating on Travelfish, the Banjar Hot Springs were an obvious choice for our list. Located in the north of Bali, the Banjar Springs have a history that dates back to before Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War II. Some people have even said they believe the waters of the hot springs have ‘cured various skin problems as well as rheumatic ailments‘.

Allegedly, the recreational and therapeutic experience comes primarily from the water’s high sulphuric content, similar to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Those not interested in bathing in the healing waters can enjoy the tropical garden, on-site restaurant or shopping at the art shops just outside.

The Banjar Hot Springs draw tourist from all over the world, hoping to be cured by the ‘healing’ waters. Source: Eszter Szadeczky-Kardoss (Shutterstock)

31. Stand in the gateway to heaven at Pura Lempuyang Luhur

A cherry on top of most trips to Bali is the Instagram photo taken between the imposing stone pillars of Pura Lempuyang.

You might have to brave 1,700 steps to reach the peak, but even if you’re not focused on keeping on top of your Insta-game, you’ll still be rewarded with beautiful views. From the peak you can see all the way across the Balinese jungle to neighbouring Mt Agung, atop which sits the Besakih Temple.

Atlas Obscura provides more information about how to get there and why it is so popular.

Sunrise at the Pura Luhur Lempuyang Temple. Source: Eszter Szadeczky-Kardoss (Shutterstock)

32. Tour Bali’s World-Heritage-listed Tegalalang rice terraces

Located just a short drive from Ubud, the view looking down into the Tegalalang rice terraces could be considered one of the most recognisable spots on the island.

The terraces are cut into the landscape like enormous green stairs, allowing for water to drain down to the lowest levels of rice plants.

You can visit the Tegalalang terraces on your own with this guide from the Little Grey Box but if you’re a rice terrace nut, there are a few tours that can take you to a number of  spectacular locations around the island.

Layers of green at Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Source: Elena Ermakova (Shutterstock)

33. Take a day trip to Lombok Island

A popular choice for tourists looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Bali is to jump over to its neighbour Lombok for a day (or longer) for sun, sand and exploring.

The island of Lombok is a little less developed than Bali and according to the Guardian Australia it feels a little bit closer to traditional Indonesian life.

Lombok is also a great base to explore the three Gili islands, so if snorkelling or lazing on beautiful untouched beaches is your thing then this could be one for the list.

Anak Rinjani crater and lake view of Mount Rinjani from Senaru rim. Mount Rinjani is an active volcano in Lombok, Indonesia. Source: Ye Choh Wah (Shutterstock)

34. Watch the rainbow of boats on the shores of Sanur

As the sun rises on the eastern side of the island, the shores of Sanur beach in Denpasar play host to a rainbow of traditional jukung boats as the local fisherman sail in with their catch to sell at the local seafood markets; before sailing out to do it all again at night. Described by My Guide Bali as a peaceful family-friendly beach, Sanur could be the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Kuta or Seminyak and relax with the family.

The sight is a colourful one, but if you don’t fancy waking up before the dawn to see the boats come in, the jukung are also available for hire from My Darling Boat Charter to surf or snorkel at offshore reefs or nearby islands.

Traditional Balinese boats on the shores of Sanur. Source: FiledIMAGE (Shutterstock)

35. Discover the unknown beauty of Tukad Cepung waterfall

A more recent addition to the NOW!Bali tourist trail is the Tukad Cepung waterfall located in Bangli, around an hour’s drive from Denpasar. For now it is one of the least known of Bali’s array of waterfalls.

To reach the hidden oasis, like a number of destinations on this list, you will have to tackle a number of stairs – so make sure you bring sturdy footwear.

Once you reach the bottom, take your time to look up and take it all in – the cliff face will surround you and the waterfall flows in from a river above.

Importantly – be aware of the river water levels before you head for the falls, as rapid flooding can occur.

Tukad Cepung waterfall well hidden in the lush Balinese jungle. Source: Tapasr (Shutterstock)

36. Explore the secret gardens of Sambangan

Another beautiful destination in the north, the village of Sambangan holds its lush flora close to its chest, known as the Secret Gardens of Sambangan, described by the Green Shoestring as ‘a thrill seekers dream’.

A chain of natural pools and cascading waterfalls are hidden within dense Balinese rainforest with the gardens featuring sevens falls in total. You can visit them all in a three-hour trek that will take you deep into the heart of the jungle.

The scenery is remote and unspoiled, helping you get your jungle love hit, although hopefully more Blue Lagoon than Lord of the Flies.

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