Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Bali
A Balinese Hindu site, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is populated by some 700 long-tailed Balinese macaques that live in and around the forest. The monkeys are believed to protect the area and the three Hindu temples within—Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji, and Pura Prajapati—from evil spirits.
Nusa Dua’s answer to Ubud’s art museums, Museum Pasifika, which opened in 2006, is dedicated to the art of Asia Pacific. Balinese artists and expatriates working on the island are well-represented, but galleries showcase art and sculptures from Papua, Vanuatu, Polynesia, historical Indo-China, and beyond.
Not far from Ubud, Tegenungan Waterfall foams in a white cascade over black stone cliffs into a quiet pool. At around 66 feet (20 meters) high, it’s an impressive flow, and that’s not all the site has to offer. Besides climbable cliffs, a secret smaller waterfall, and simple food stalls, a charming grotto houses a sacred spring.
Bali’s first beach hotel opened back in the 1930s on Kuta’s epic sweep of golden sand and metronomic surf. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Australian surfers popularized the place, and today Kuta Beach is the epicenter of Kuta, Bali’s liveliest and most touristic district. If great waves and beach boys float your boat, Kuta won’t disappoint.
Bali is known for it beautiful beaches, but the interior has its own appeal. Here you’ll find one of the region’s most active volcanoes, Mt. Batur (Gunung Batur), rising 5,633 feet (1,717 meters) above sea level In the highlands of Kintamani.
Considered to be the Bali that time forgot for its unspoiled landscape, Penida Island (Nusa Penida) sits about 10 miles (15 kilometers) off the Bali coast, alongside the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Besides snorkeling and diving—the island is known for mantas and mola-molas (the world’s largest bony fish)—Penida offers unspoilt villages, rugged landscapes, and sacred temples.
The stunning Tegalalang Rice Terrace, part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises cascading emerald-green fields worked by local rice farmers. Just outside Ubud, it has become a destination for travelers making their way between Bali’s sandy beaches, towering mountains, and steaming volcanoes.
Bali’s most popular sacred spring, Tirta Empul Temple dates back more than 1,000 years. Travelers from around the globe flock to its holy waters to bathe beside Balinese pilgrims; accept blessings from healers, priests, and shamans; or simply soak up the atmosphere. The temple is northeast of Ubud in Tampaksiring, not far from Gunung Kawi.
The classically Balinese combo of rice fields and river gorges is what makes Ubud’s landscapes so beloved, and the Campuhan Ridge Walk, the best-known walk in Ubud, is the perfect way to appreciate them. Starting at Pura Gunung Lebah, choose between a 2-hour circular route around Campuhan and Sanggingan or a longer hike to Keliki and Taro.
With a history dating back more than 1,000 years, one of Bali’s holiest Hindu sites (and most popular attractions) is a grotto covered in carvings of mythological creatures. While Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) has uncertain origins, it's believed that Hindu priests dug it out by hand to use as a hermitage.
More Things to Do in Bali
The regency of Karangasem in east Bali was once a powerful kingdom ruling over much of Lombok. Today, it offers a sleepy, untouched charm beneath the towering presence of volcanic Mount Agung (Gunung Agung). Highlights include historic Amlapura, the district capital; traditional villages; Besakih and Lempuyang temples; Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung water palaces; and Amed and Tulamben for diving.
Tanah Lot Temple is one of Indonesia’s most popular religious attractions. Commonly referred to as the “temple of the rock,” this temple off the coast of Bali is set upon a black-stone peninsula that juts into rippling waters. Incredible ocean views, clear mountain air, and a deep spiritual connection draw visitors to this unique sight.
Situated just outside Kuta on Bali’s southwestern tip sits an ancient temple perched atop towering seaside cliffs. At Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s most important directional temples, Ganesha statues welcome visitors who’ve come to enjoy spectacular views, observe wild monkeys, or watch a traditional Balinese dance at sunset.
About an hour north of Ubud in Bali’s northeast highlands lie the village known as Kintamani and the region of the same name. The star attractions here are Mt. Batur, an active volcano above a lake with hot springs, coffee farms and spice plantations, rice field landscapes, and villages populated by the Bali Aga minority.
Set on the shores of Lake Bratan (Danau Bratan), close to the town of Bedugul, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of Bali’s most photographed temples. Built, like Taman Ayun Temple, by the king of Mengwi, the combination of multi-roofed shrines with mountains and reflecting lake is incredibly photogenic—one reason it’s so popular with tourists.
A strip of golden sand with calm, gentle waters perfect for families—and stand-up paddleboarding—Jimbaran Bay is a popular beach renowned for its beauty. Besides the charms of the ocean, Jimbaran offers stunning Balinese sunsets and a wealth of restaurants serving Indonesia’s signature dish: grilled fish (ikan bakar).
Bali’s original beach resort, Sanur Beach offers golden sands, child-friendly waters, and a port that’s the jumpoff for trips to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, and the Gilis. Besides watery fun such as the Bali Seawalker experience, cultural highlights include the Le Mayeur Museum, the former home of a Belgian artist and his Balinese wife.
Home of Ubud’s royal family since the late-19th century, Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Palace or Puri Saren Agung) sits in the heart of downtown Ubud near the traditional art market. Explore the pavilions and gardens. There are also traditional Balinese dance performances in the courtyard each evening, a must for any visitor to Indonesia.
One of a cluster of craft villages in Bali’s Gianyar regency, Celuk is known as the “silver village” for its jewelry production. Artisans here create silver and gold jewelry and handicrafts in their homes and workshops as they have for centuries. A visit to Celuk gives travelers a chance to see the artisans in action and buy direct.
A royal water temple, built for the kings of Mengwi, Taman Ayun Temple (also known as Pura Taman Ayun and Mengwi Temple) forms part of Bali’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. With some 50 buildings, including many tiered shrines, a moat, river, park, gardens, and streams, Taman Ayun is one of Indonesia’s most beautiful Hindu temples.
Long an under-the-radar destination for surfers, Bali’s Canggu beach district boasts some of the island’s most vibrant nightlife. Set on the west coast north of Seminyak and south of Tanah Lot, it draws party lovers, surfers, and yoginis with a vibrant blend of wave-pounded beaches, serene rice fields, and top-notch bars and restaurants.
Located north of Kuta Beach and Legian Beach, Seminyak Beach is a sweeping strip of sand that’s drawn those in-the-know to Bali for decades. More upscale than Kuta or Legian, Seminyak is home to some of the island’s most iconic beach clubs and restaurants, as well as fun surf breaks. Behind the shore, Seminyak proper is a shopping and dining mecca.
Waterbom Bali provides water-themed activities for the whole family, with slides, saltwater pools, adrenaline-pumping rides, and kiddie pools—plus dining, shopping, and shaded gazebos. The park is set in a tropical garden and provides habitat for endangered species, with more than 50 percent of its area maintained as natural green space.
Known for its distinctive painting style, the village of Batuan, outside Ubud, remains an artists’ community. Unsurprisingly, Batuan Temple is a classic piece of Balinese architecture, with split gates, stone guardians, thatched shrines, and detailed carvings. It’s one of three village temples dedicated to the gods of the Hindu trinity.
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