Rice paddies, surf beaches, Hindu temples, yoga studios, volcanoes and beach bars: Bali is Indonesia’s most famous destination. And even if it has a very touristic side, its beauty and its relaxed way of life manage to charm almost all types of travellers!
Here are 19 experiences to taste the magic of the “Island of the Gods”:
1. Get lost in the small streets of Ubud.
In the heart of the jungle and the rice fields, Ubud is the cultural and artistic center of the island of Bali. There is an abundance of yoga studios, shops and small cafes as well as a community of digital nomads and expats who we understand well enough not to want to leave! To soak up the essence of the city, discover its temples hidden in the jungle, its artisans, its art museums and its quiet corners.
2. Stroll through cafes in Canggu.
Villas in the rice fields, small hotels, shops, bars, restaurants of all kinds… Canggu brings together a mixed international crowd and a little hipster, in search of a good time. You will find a multitude of cafes where you can enjoy an espresso, a flat white or a cappuccino. Hungry Bird Where Crate Cafe are to be included in your itinerary, among others.
3. Discover the Tanah Lot temple.
Pura Tanah Lot, built on an islet, is an iconic temple in Bali located about 20 minutes from Canggu. It is worth seeing, as are the Penataran Agung Lempuyang, Besakih and Luhur Uluwatu temples. Impressive.
4. Eating too many banana pancakes in a warung!
A warong is a simple little restaurant where you can enjoy local dishes such as nasi goreng or gado gado, as well as delicious banana pancakes. These establishments are everywhere, abuse them!
5. Soak up the “surf scene” in Uluwatu.
Uluwatu Beach, with its cave and golden sand, is famous for its excellent surf spots. They are not for beginners, but you can appreciate the atmosphere of the place while strolling through the surf shops restaurants, bars and terraces overlooking the ocean.
6. Go see Uluwatu Temple (and its thieving monkeys).
Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple is not far from Uluwatu beach. It is built high above the ocean and dates back to at least the 11th century. Be warned: the monkeys that colonized it are known to steal items from tourists. They’ll probably give them back to you in exchange for food, but still!
7. Marvel at the rice terraces.
Bali’s traditional rice terraces are UNESCO-listed because of their ingenious irrigation system. They are spectacular. To admire them, you can join the crowd in Tegallalang or Jatiluwih, not far from Ubud.
8. Sit down with your feet in the sand on Bingin Beach.
Bingin Beach is one of our favorite beaches on the Bukit Peninsula in southern Bali. It is lined with warungs, “surf shacks” and steep cliffs where cling nice little accommodations. In the evening, we go down there for a dish of freshly caught grilled fish and a very cold Bintang beer, which we savor with both feet in the sand.
9. Rent a scooter.
We are going to be very clear here: traffic in Bali is not zen, at least not in urban areas! But if you feel up to it, renting a scooter is a fa-bu-leu-se way to get off the beaten track. It only costs a few dollars a day.
10. Go for a ride to the Gili Islands.
The Gili are 3 paradise islands attached to Lombok, the neighboring island of Bali. There, Hindu temples are replaced by mosques, motors are prohibited and the beaches are too beautiful! Choose Gili Trawangan if you want action (and a photo on the Ocean Swing), Gili Meno for a vibes very local and Gili Air for a great mix of both.
11. Take a Balinese cooking class.
If you’re a foodie at heart, find yourself a traditional cooking class! There are choices no matter where you go. You can search among others on Airbnb.
12. Take a sunrise hike on Mount Batur.
Do you like hiking? Meet at the top of Mount Batur (1717m) at sunrise. You will have to leave in the middle of the night to climb it before the first rays, but you will be rewarded with a crater with turquoise lakes and unforgettable views of the Agung volcano (3142 m).
13. Also take a hike on the Agung volcano.
A trek on Mount Agung is also on your list if you are a good hiker; it is the highest mountain (3142 m) and the most sacred in Bali. It is currently not recommended to approach it due to the risk of eruption, however.
14. Go north to Lovina.
Most travelers stay in South Bali. But the north is worth it for a small dose of adventure. Go to Lovina, a seaside of about 8 km with small villages and black sand beaches. Hiking, dolphins, thermal springs, snorkeling, Balinese cuisine… the good life, without the big crowds and at a good price!
15. Party in Seminyak.
Kuta Beach is probably the first place that comes to mind when it comes to partying in Bali. But it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Seminyak has a reputation for being more chic. Go there for the “beach clubs”, boutique hotels, brunches, spas and the multitude of local shops.
16. Practice your sun salutations in nature.
Easy to find a yoga center in Bali, especially known places like Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak. In Ubud, the big studio Yoga Barn is a classic.
17. Spend a night in Nusa Lembogan.
Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan are islands near the coast of Bali. They’re not totally off the beaten path, but they offer a different vibe. Nusa Penida is famous (especially on Instagram) for its beaches like Diamond Beach or Kelingking Beach, but we suggest you bet on Nusa Lembongan, smaller and more relaxed.
18. Rent a bamboo villa in the jungle.
There are LOTS of dream accommodations in Bali, and they are often affordable. There are in particular very stylish jungle villas, for example the Relief Villa in Ubudthe Balia Bamboo in Canggu or the Munduk Pinneaple House in Kecamatan Banjar.
19. Learn to surf.
The most famous surf spots in Bali are not for beginners, but you will find schools everywhere, as well as surf camps. Kuta and Canggu are good choices to start your “career”!
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19 things to do for a magical trip to Bali
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