10 Things to See and Do in Bali

Bali is known for silky white sand beaches, open air restaurants, towering volcanic mountains and a backdrop that is worth a thousand words. Besides the breathtaking scenery of this provincial jewel of Indonesia, Bali offers over 20,000 temples to explore, lush rolling hills of rice fields and local cuisine that will have you begging for more. With abundant marine life, cheeky monkeys and playful dolphins; Bali offers all visitors the chance to get closer to nature. Discover the extraordinary friendliness that the local Balinese people portray and dive into a world where relaxations, meditation and tranquility make for a beautiful way of life. Here are ten things EscapeHere recommends not missing out on while in Bali.

10. Jatiluwih Rice Fields

Escape the heat of Bali and head to the breathtaking land known as Jatiluwih Rice Fields. Dug deep into the hillside, the ribbons of green are surrounded by coconut trees. Watch the local Balinese hard at work in the fields and make conversation with them to learn more about the process. You will find yourself running out of words for the color green as the brilliant shades seem to go on forever. Getting to the rice fields takes a couple hours but once you arrive; it is all worth it.

Choose to drive through them, hike amongst them, take a horseback ride or even scooter around the fields. Come in the morning and stay for lunch in one of many traditional restaurants that overlook the fields. This breathtaking scenery is not only a part of life for the locals but also a testament to how Bali is more than just beach. Step off the beaten path, escape the throngs of tourists and find peace in the spectacular Jatiluwih rice fields.

Rice Fields Bali

9. Try your Hand at Organic Cooking

With eye opening flavors, delicious local cuisine and the freshest of ingredients; eating is something everyone will enjoy in Bali. From hundreds of open air restaurants serving exotic creations to the freshest seafood one can get; the opportunities are endless. We encourage you to take a day away from these ever popular spots and try something new. Head to the organic farm in Sidemen for a truly unique and authentic experience.

A family member will pick you up from your hotel and first take you to the Klungkung Market where you will sample local food and drink. Once you have explored the market you will head to the Organic Farm and discover the local villages and learn more about the houses, traditions and rice farming. Don a rice farming hat and head to the rice paddies where you will pick the vegetables you will use in the cooking class. An open-air kitchen sets the mood and your guide will take you through the act of preparing an amazing meal with fresh local ingredients. After indulging in your feast take a dip in the nearby river before returning back to your hotel with full bellies and amazing memories. Step out of the ordinary and experience a once in a lifetime Balinese cooking experience.

Indonesian cooking

8. Snorkel or Dive the Reefs

There is so much above ground to explore in Bali that we cannot forget about what is under the ground. Discover a tropical paradise packed with colorful fish, sea turtles, Manta Rays and teeming with beautiful coral reefs. Manta Point is where you will want to head to see the incredible Manta Rays that inhibit the water but weaker swimmers beware; the swells are rough and the water is sometimes murky.

For a different kind of snorkeling grab a boat ride out to the eastern coast of Nusa Penida and experience drift snorkeling. The boat drops you off on one end of the current and picks you up at the end. As you drift along discover the huge schools of fish, in the hundreds with brilliant blue, red and orange hues. The enormous amount of fish and the variety that is offered is enough to make you want to do this snorkel over and over again. If diving is more your forte you won’t want to miss out on diving the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben. An underwater maze of hidden rooms housing incredible corrals and fish is a unique diving experience found nowhere else. From snorkeling to scuba diving to free diving; take some time in Bali to go underwater.

tropical fish Bali

7. Climb Mount Batur

A visit to Bali isn’t complete without a trip up the volcanic mountain that rises high above a picturesque lake. It is recommended to hike in the wee hours of the morning as the sun rising into the fresh air is a sight you will never forget. Starting as early as 4am you will hike the straightforward path around black sand and lava deposits under the twinkling stars. An experienced guide will lead you up the mountain arriving at the summit in time to see the glorious sun rise over Bali’s largest crater lake with the mist filling the void around the mountain.

Enjoy a volcanic breakfast of banana and eggs that are cooked using the volcanic steam either by your guide or by you participating in this unique cooking technique. Bask in the warm glow of the sun while you explore the other caves, peaks, craters and valleys that Mount Batur offers before descending down the mountain. Because you have left so early, prepare to be down the mountain by 11am and have the whole day to keep enjoying this beautiful place.

Mount Batur Bali

6. Visit Rock Bar

You may have to wait in line for this bar but if there is one bar to visit in Bali it’s the Ayana Resort and Spa’s Rock Bar. Just as the name states this bar is perched high on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea that crashes onto the rocks below. Grab a seat and indulge in a few exceptional cocktails while listening to the powerful sounds of Mother Nature.

Make sure to reserve seats and be on time as the cable car will whisk you down from the hotel grounds to the cliffs. If you do have to wait in line, just head to the hotel grounds where you can get your night started. Dancing, drinking, eating and great company awaits you all night long. If you are feeling up to it at the end of the night, tackle the steep steps back up the hotel grounds instead of the cable car. With tasty food, a laid back atmosphere and one of the best places to watch the sunset in Bali; dance and drink the night away at Rock Bar .

Photo by: Ayana Resort and Spa
Photo by: Ayana Resort and Spa

5. See the Dolphins

Explore the brilliant blue Indian Ocean while aboard a boat crashing through the waves while playful dolphins jump and splash beside you. Dolphins are majestic creatures that offer visitors plenty of fun and laughs. There are a lot of opportunities in Bali to see the dolphins whether you want to see them in the wild or whether you want to go to the infamous Dolphin Lodge.

The Dolphin Lodge consists of a sea pen where rescued dolphins are housed and visitors have the opportunity to interact in the water with them. A boat will take you just a short trip off shore to the dolphins where hugs, pets and games with the dolphins are encouraged. Enjoy an hour in the water with them and discover how playful and intelligent these creatures really are. Or choose to take a trip out into the ocean where an experienced captain will take you to spots where pods of dolphins live. Watch as they play in the waves from the boat and follow you around for hours. You haven’t seen dolphins in action until you have seen them in Bali.

jumping dolphins

4. Ubud Monkey Forest

A visit to the nature reserve and temple complex is a must when you are in Bali. Housing 605 Crab-eating Macaque monkeys that are separated in four different groups over different territories in the park; a walk through this park is unforgettable. Along with the hundreds of monkeys there are three holy temples situated here. Walking through this park won’t take you all day but prepare to spend an hour or two and don’t forget your camera to capture some great shots!

This sanctuary has an ‘Indiana Jones’ feel to it and is not for the faint of heart. Since these monkeys see a lot of visitors, they’re not of the shy variety, so we have a couple tips to make your trip more enjoyable: Be aware that the monkeys will grab anything they can off of you, this includes jewelry, glasses, earrings, hair clips and anything else that looks interesting and easy to snatch. There are sellers with bananas as you enter the park but know that once you have those bananas in hand, the monkeys will do anything to get them from you. Be quiet, calm and playful as you take in these incredible creatures and you will thoroughly enjoy this experience.

Ubud Monkey Forest

3. Visit the Beach

From sleepy beaches with sunbathers stretched across the sand to the bustling 12 km’s of beach known as Kuta; there is no shortage of choice when it comes to sand, surf and sun in Bali. If you are looking for a laid back beach where gentle water laps the sand and tranquility is what you seek; hop on a short boat ride to Nusa Lembongan. Soak up the views of Mount Agung while indulging in a foot massage or try your hand at stand up paddle boarding.

If you are looking for a fun and lively atmosphere the beach choices are almost endless. Head to Kuta Beach where the sweeping arc of the sand sets the atmosphere for a day of fun in the sun. Visit any one of the many surf shops that line the beach and hop on a board out to one of many hot surfing spots in the area. Or head to the rolling area of Balian Beach with sand dunes and knolls overlook the pounding surf. Whatever beach you choose to visit, whether you go to one or five; Bali’s beaches are some of the best in the world and beg to be discovered.

Dreamland Beach Bali

2. Visit a Temple

With over 20,000 temples scattered throughout Bali, the choices are truly endless as to which ones you should explore. First, make a visit to perhaps the most famous temple in Bali; Pura Besakih. Known as the holiest temple in Bali it is located 3000 feet up Gunung Agung and contains 23 temples in total. A major stop for tourists and devout followers of the Hindu faith; this site is the perfect place to start your temple journey. The next must visit temple is Goa Gajah which translates into Elephant Cave. Although you won’t find any elephants here, you will find a fascinating entrance to the cave where the rock is carved into a face with the mouth agape. Inside you’ll find statues of Hindu deities and a Hindu worship area.

For a completely different temple experience head to Tirta Empul where a sacred spring feeds the temple and provides holy water for priests and bathing for the Balinese. A dip into these waters is believed to bring good health and fortune. Make sure to make an offering at the temple before you head into these waters to bathe and meditate. The temples throughout Bali are breathtaking and beautiful so make time to visit not only the above mentioned sites but many more as well.

Pura Besakih Temple Bali

1. Experience the Kecak and Fire Dance

Balinese dance and music is unlike any other and is something you will want to experience while in Bali. Head to the temple of Uluwatu for a night of incredible dancing, performance and an unparalleled sunset view. The traditional Balinese Kecak involves a large group of men wearing checkered cloth around their waists chanting and waving their arms in the air. In the open air theater set on the cliffs beside the Uluwatu Temple you will witness three incredible dances; the trance, monkey and fire dance.

Head to the theater half an hour before the show starts to grab your seat that faces the beautiful sunset, the best seat in the house. Be prepared for incredible dances, chants and the occasional monkey running around trying to steal your belongings. Make sure to stay around after the performance as the performers will be happy to take photos with you. The Balinese truly have a unique dance style and the best place to see this is overlooking the crashing sea high on the cliffs beside the Uluwatu Temple.

Kecak Bali

More On MapQuest

A Walking Tour of Prague: 15 Historical Landmarks
Wildlife Adventures in the Galapagos Islands: The Land Before Time
Top 12 Mountain Biking Trails in North America
Modern Hotel Room with Queen BedBest Hotels Near Reagan National Airport
Riding the Rails in Ecuador: The Devil’s Nose
The 10 Coolest Log Buildings in the World
Top 10 Ways to Enjoy the Snow in BC (Without Skis)
5 Most Interesting Neighborhoods in San Francisco