The best things to do in Bali include not-to-be-missed cultural treasures and some of the most iconic landmarks and landscapes that you can find around this magical island. There are innumerable temples, historical sites, and spots of natural beauty spread across Bali’s 8 regencies, which were formerly kingdoms.
This compilation of great things to see and do in Bali will help you discover the best the island has to offer. Go east to see the majestic 'mother temple' and magnificent royal water palaces or travel to the island’s lush interior where rice paddies offer scenic photo opportunities. From Bali’s scenic vistas to exotic cultural performances, there is something for everyone.
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Tanah Lot is among the island's most iconic temples, positioned on top of a rock and surrounded by the waves of the open sea that constantly crash against its base. The temple is scenic by day against the blue ocean and sky, but the scene is most dramatic during sunsets with its silhouette creating one of Bali’s picture postcard images.
Tanah Lot pays homage to the guardian spirits of the sea, and it’s also among Bali's key sea temples. The onshore site is dotted with smaller shrines and visitors’ leisure facilities such as shops, a cultural park where regular dance performances are shown regularly, restaurants where you can enjoy a sunset dinner with the memorable view. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 7am to 7pm
- Location: Jalan Raya Tanah Lot, Beraban, Kediri, Tabanan, Bali 82121, Indonesia
Uluwatu is one of Bali's most important sea temples, positioned on a tall cliff edge on the island’s southwestern Bukit peninsula. By day, you can take in the picturesque seascape from over the temple’s walls and cliff borders and occasionally spot grey long-tailed macaques that inhabit the surrounding forests.
In the late afternoon, you can wait for the dramatic sunsets, or book early for a spot at the open-air amphitheatre nearby, where Kecak fire dances are performed with the sunset and ocean as an exotic backdrop. The waves below the cliff and the temple are hailed as among Bali's best and internationally-known surf spots. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
- Location: Jalan Raya Uluwatu, Pecatu, Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Besakih Temple, the 'mother temple' of Bali, sits on the south-western slope of Mount Agung – Bali’s tallest peak. Besakih is the largest of all temple complexes in Bali, comprising 18 separate sanctuaries that each belong to different caste groups. They surround a central complex with 3 main temples that are dedicated to the Hindu trinity, namely Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu.
Besakih was nominated as a World Heritage Site in 1995, but as yet remains unvested. There are at least 70 ceremonies or religious celebrations held each year here, as each shrine has its own anniversary. The best visiting times are in the early mornings and in the evenings when the temple complex is much quieter. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
- Location: Besakih, Rendang, Karangasem, Bali 80863, Indonesia
The rice terraces of Tegallalang offer one of the best views that you can take in while up in Ubud. The village of Tegallalang is just up north from the main Ubud centre. Along the main road of Jalan Raya Tegallalang, there are roadside stalls and art shops offering items and curios of all kinds, together with small restaurants offering lunch or dinner with the great view over the deep and lush valley.
The Tegallalang rice terraces spread down below and to the far opposite side of the valley. Besides enjoying the view from up high, you can also go down and follow the trail through the rice fields to greet farmers and enjoy the paddies from up close. Read More...
- Location: Jalan Raya Tegallalang, Tegallalang, Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
Ubud Monkey Forest is a natural forest sanctuary that’s home to a horde of grey long-tailed macaques. Officially the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, it is one of Ubud’s most popular attractions and the site is well-preserved thanks to a community-based management program. The forest is within easy walking distance from Ubud’s town centre.
Besides watching playful monkeys in their natural habitat, swinging through canopies, lazing along pathways or feeding on bananas, you can take cool walks along paved pathways through the leafy nutmeg forest. Beautiful ancient temples with eerie guardian statues covered in moss also call the monkey forest their home. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8.30am to 5.30pm
- Location: Jalan Monkey Forest, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
- Tel: +62 (0)361 971304
Ubud Art Market is one of the landmarks in central Ubud, conveniently just across the road from the Ubud Royal Palace. The market has countless small shops that are run by local vendors who sell a wide range of items such as beautiful silk scarves, lightweight shirts, handmade woven bags, baskets and hats, statues, kites and many other locally sourced and handcrafted goods.
Most of the goods found at the Ubud Market are made in the neighbouring villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan. Naturally, bargaining is essential. The Ubud market starred briefly in the Hollywood movie Eat Pray Love, which shows a scene with actress Julia Roberts strolling through the stalls which are bustling with activity in real life. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
- Location: Jalan Raya Ubud, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Kintamani is a mountain village in central Bali that’s home to Mount Batur, which is Bali’s second tallest peak, and the Batur caldera lake. The village is located in the Karangasem regency in east Bali and is a popular spot for sightseeing thanks to vantage points such as Penelokan, which aptly means 'scenic stopover'. Penelokan is the best site for panoramic views, with Batur's rugged features of dark lava slopes and black molten rocks in view.
The still-active Mount Batur volcano erupted about 24 times since 1800, each time reshaping the surrounding landscape. It’s popular among mountain hikers, with the early sunrises from the ridges being its highlight. Read More...
- Location: Songan, Kintamani, Bangli, Bali 80652, Indonesia
Bali Safari & Marine Park is Bali’s largest animal theme park, home to over 60 species roaming within enclosures that closely mimic their natural habitats. Bus safaris take visitors on tours 'around the world' with animals from different continents, and there are animal talent shows held regularly in an open stage. A different section is dedicated to aquatic animals, with aquariums holding exotic fish specimens such as piranhas.
After enjoying the safari bus rides, families travelling with children can have a blast together at an adjacent water park and a park filled with a variety of amusement park rides. The park is also home to Bali Theatre, which shows the modern Bali Agung shows at scheduled showtimes. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm
- Location: Jalan Profesor Ida Bagus Mantra Km 19.8, Serongga, Gianyar, Bali 80551, Indonesia
- Tel: +62 (0)361 950000
The Jatiluwih rice terraces offer one of the island’s most famous rice field landscapes. The vast fields make up a considerable area of the cool highland village of the same name in the Tabanan Regency and can be a soothing retreat away from the common crowds of the island’s southern beach resort areas.
Once a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site candidate, the Jatiluwih rice terraces cover 600 hectares following the flowing topography of the Batukaru mountain range. They are maintained by a traditional water management cooperative known as subak, which dates back to the 9th century. The cooperative itself was a top reason for Bali’s ‘cultural landscape’ entry on the heritage list. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8.30am to 6pm
- Location: Jalan Jatiluwih, Penebel, Tabanan, Bali 82152, Indonesia
Goa Gajah is one of Bali’s most significant archaeological sites. Believed to be a former hermitage, the complex features a stone relic-filled courtyard before a temple and the focal attraction of a central meditational cave. The courtyard also has exotic bathing pools and sculpted fountains. To the unknowing, Goa Gajah’s name which translates to ‘Elephant Cave’ can be slightly misleading – there are no pachyderms here.
At the complex’s southern end are beautiful rice fields and small streams that lead to the Petanu River – another site entwined in local legends and where you can find more interesting stone relics submerged in the water. You can reach Goa Gajah west of Bedulu village and about 6 km east from central Ubud. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 4pm
- Location: Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Pejeng Kawan, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali 80582, Indonesia
Surfing in Bali
Surfing in Bali is one of the scenes that helped develop tourism on the island. It started along the island's southern shores, where rolling waves and quiet, beautiful beaches evolved into the popular wave riders' playgrounds we know today. The island’s first wave-riders discovered the incredible surf back in the 1930s, and more have flown in ever since.
Bali's surfer crowd comprises experienced riders and beginners who want a piece of the action. Pros can head to the outer reef breaks of the southern Bukit Peninsula, while newbies can try smaller waves in the lagoons. Bali is a great place to pick up the sport, with board rentals and surf schools widely available.
Bali seafood and sunset dining
Sunset and seafood dining go in good tandem in Bali, particularly on the western coasts. While the restaurants at Tanah Lot Temple offer memorable dining with a view, Jimbaran Bay and its small group of so-called seafood cafes is also a great spot in Bali for memorable sunsets together with grilled snapper served with local sambal chilli sauce.
Kedonganan is a coastal village just up north from Jimbaran Bay and south from the airport’s runway in Tuban. The restaurants here tend to be slightly more upscale, with setups that allow you to dine with ocean views and your feet in the sand. Most venues open from afternoon until late, sometimes with live traditional Balinese dance performances added for good measure.
Partying in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak
Bali’s nightlife scenes are mostly focused around the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak strip and which cater to a wide range of crowds, styles and budgets. There are beach clubs to chill-out at sunset and well into the wee hours, night clubs to get loose with live DJs, rooftop bars, theatre shows, or simply an easygoing sunset dinner cruise, all prove that you can enjoy life after dark in Bali.
These 3 closely-knit beach resort areas in Bali have long been the epicentre for drinking, dining and dancing after sunset, thanks to its rows of bars, pubs and nightclubs that each offer their own set of specialties in attracting their steady flow of late-night revellers.
Explore Bali's beaches
Bali has a rich assortment of beaches, each of which is a favourite destination on its own. Bali beaches range from palm-fringed white sand coasts on the island’s south such as Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur, to the cliff-guarded ‘hidden’ shores of Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Dreamland and Bingin. Bali beaches also comprise striking black sands on the north and western shorelines, with sleepy undisturbed coves in-between.
Once the haunt of surfers, Bali's beaches now welcome visitors in search of paradise with superb hotels and excellent facilities. You might as well discover your own favourite coast in Bali – there are some ‘secret’ and ‘hidden’ beaches around the southern Bukit peninsula just waiting for you to explore.