Newsflash! Bali is not only Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and the southern coast. Once you get out of these dense and touristy areas, there are places just waiting for adventurous souls to discover – some of them really off the beaten tracks. Some are well kept, pristine and unspoiled, and others are remotely located.
You’ll certainly find your own piece of heaven if you look beyond Bali’s tourist capitals. Take a boat ride and escape the mainland to the Nusa islands, or venture to the central highlands for scenic treats and to be close with nature. Coincidentally, these are also popular places for backpackers in Bali. Whatever your budget, here are some of our favourite places in Bali to escape the crowds.
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Nusa LembonganOffshore, Southeast Bali
Nusa Lembongan offers a great castaway experience, roughly a 45-minute fast boat-ride southeast of the mainland. It's the most popular among the 3 Nusa islands, where you can experience some good diving, snorkelling, and surfing in its surrounding waters. Lembongan's southwestern coast is where most of the hotels are, so you’ll want to explore the south and western side where beautiful beaches and cliffs make for a relaxing retreat.
Ceningan is a smaller island, connected to Lembongan via a bridge. Here, seascapes dotted with traditional fishing boats and seaweed farms, as well as mangrove forests and turtle nesting beaches abound. Motorboats, fast boats, ferries, and charters depart for Lembongan from the coast of Sanur, Padang Bai and Benoa Harbour.
- Location: Jungutbatu, Nusapenida, Klungkung, Bali, Indonesia
Nusa PenidaOffshore, Southeast Bali
Nusa Penida offers the real ‘unbeaten path’ experience. As the largest among Bali’s 3 Nusa islands, Nusa Penida features very limited tourism infrastructure but promises an exotic scene of natural beauty and cultural allure through its barren landscapes and mystical temples.
One of the striking temples on Nusa Penida is Goa Giri Putri, also known as the Karangsari cave temple, which is filled with limestone stalactites and stalagmites and meditational spaces. Nusa Penida is also the bird sanctuary for the endangered and endemic Bali Starling, initiated and overseen by the Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF). Most ferries and charters to Nusa Penida depart from Padang Bai Harbour in East Bali. Read More...
- Location: Nusa Penida, Klungkung, Bali, Indonesia
Amed and TulambenKarangasem, East Bali
Amed and Tulamben are remote coastal towns which share the barren topography of the easternmost region of Bali. It’s underwater beauty, though, is cherished by divers from all over the world. Both Amed and Tulamben are main dive sites in East Bali.
The village outskirts offer beautiful coastal scenes with quiet beaches and hilly bays lined with traditional jukung fishing boats parked in neat rows. Wake up early for the enchanting sunrises as the fishermen set out with their boats and fill the shimmering waters with their colourful sails. Both destinations are in the remote coastal area of East Bali, an approximate hour’s drive north from the main Candidasa area. Read More...
- Location: Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia
Tenganan PegringsinganKarangasem, East Bali
Tenganan Pegringsingan is one of the 3 main ‘Bali Aga’ (old Balinese) villages that are located in isolated areas. The village is just several kilometres north of Candidasa. It is known as being the home to the rare geringsing double ikat weave cloth, produced only in this village and from which the village gets its name.
Also, a major highlight here is the Perang Pandan or Mekare-kare, which coincides with a temple anniversary around June or July and sees village boys coming of age battle in friendly fights – using thorny pandan leaves as weapons. To get there, start off at the Candidasa main area. Tenganan village is only a short drive up a hill.
- Location: Tenganan, Manggis, Karangasem, Bali 80871, Indonesia
Penglipuran VillageBangli, East Bali
Penglipuran is one of Bali’s iconic mountain villages, known for its row of traditional Balinese houses that are laid out in a neat and uniform row. The village is surrounded by dense bamboo forests and coffee plantations. Penglipuran is one of the Bali Aga villages where the people uphold ancient traditional values and a set of strict moral codes.
Each family compound features a traditional split gateway. Old bricks still stand in their place, traditional kitchens are covered in soot from the billowing wood fire hearths, and the compounds are uniquely laid out, each following old Balinese spatial and architectural set of rules. The village is in the Bangli regency and is often included in regular tours to Besakih Temple.
- Location: Jalan Penglipuran, Kubu, Bangli, Bali 80661, Indonesia
PadangbaiKarangasem, East Bali
Padangbai is one of Bali’s less-explored beaches on the eastern coast, mainly thanks to it being a transit point for travellers who go on ferry crossings to the neighbouring island of Lombok. Some who spare time to explore the region are in for good treats, as the fishing village has some stretches of sand that are quite idyllic.
The waters around Padangbai are good for snorkelling and diving, and several hotels and lodgings here serve as great bases from where to explore East Bali. Padangbai is within only a 12 km transfer from the main Candidasa hub.
- Location: Manggis, Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia
Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung Water PalacesKarangasem, East Bali
The majestic palaces of the Karangasem royal family include 2 of the island’s famous water palaces and gardens, namely Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung. Tirta Gangga was built in 1946 during the reign of the late king of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem (1887 - 1966). The former royal hillside retreat is now open to the public, covering 1.2 hectares of mountain spring-fed pools, ponds and fountains amongst beautiful gardens lawns adorned with stepping stones, ornate statues and tropical gardens.
Taman Ujung is located near the south-eastern coastline, and features a water complex with a combination of Balinese and European architectural features surrounded by three large ponds and elegant bridges and pathways. Mount Agung and the Indian Ocean serve as perfect backgrounds to this exotic site.
- Location: Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia
JatiluwihTabanan, West Bali
The tranquil village of Jatiluwih lies at the foot of Mount Batukaru in the Tabanan regency, famous for its wonderful expanses of green rice terraces. These terraces pretty much cover the whole region, and the cool highlands and breathtaking scenery make for a soothing retreat with great photo opportunities, far away from the crowds.
The landscape was once a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site candidate, well-maintained by a traditional water management cooperative known as ‘subak’, dating back to the 9th century. A few action-adventure operators in the area provide ATV rides and off-road tours through quiet village roads and river crossings. Read More...
- Location: Penebel, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
LovinaSingaraja, North Bali
Bali’s northern coast of Lovina Beach offers a very low-key beach scene compared to its southern counterparts, with calmer waves, black-sand shores, and overland features worth seeing. Sunrises and sunsets in Lovina are equally magical, and the former sees traditional boats setting out for dolphin watching tours, which the area is also famous for.
Up in the hills nearby are tranquil vineyards growing Alphonse Lavallée grapes and the Brahmavihara-Arama Buddhist monastery with its mini Borobudur temple. A few kilometres from here is the Banjar Hot Springs, which offers a great spot to soothe and unwind up in the forested hills. Read More...
- Location: Jalan Raya Singaraja, Temukus, Kaliasem, Banjar, Buleleng, Bali 80117, Indonesia
West Bali National ParkJembrana, West Bali
The West Bali National Park covers most of the island’s central-western region. This includes over 19,000 hectares of densely forested hills – the original habitat of the endemic Bali Starling. The park’s northern coast consists of pristine coastal areas that include Menjangan Island, a favourite snorkelling and dive site with protected coral reef gardens. Another is Pemuteran, famous for its world coral restoration projects and pearl farms and mangroves.
Overland, you’ll come across barren savannahs and forests home to over 300 different species of animals and birds. Menjangan Island itself is home to the Javan rusa deer. There are a few great resorts here which allow you to escape the crowds and experience Bali’s nature at its best. Read More...
- Location: Gilimanuk, Jembrana, Bali, Indonesia