Bali is the most beautiful place in all of Indonesia’s archipelago. It is a place that stimulates the senses. In the thick tropical air hangs an intoxicating scent of clove oil and incense. Roadside stalls sell peanuts; petal-strewn offerings are found on busy streets, while traditional gamelan music is heard against the hum of mopeds.
Despite all the chaos and clamor of the tourist areas, the island has natural beauty that will appeal to every type of traveler. Surfers visit for the famous swells. Hikers can climb up volcanic peaks to see misty waterfalls. Bicyclists can ride through lush landscapes dotted with traditional villages and rice terraces.
Another draw is the island’s rich arts scene. If relaxation is your priority, spa treatments and shopping in Bali are fantastic – and very affordable. Bali is a paradise for spirituality, with top attractions like the temples and sacred Hindu ceremonies.
The popularity of this beautiful island has been highlighted in the film Eat, Pray, Love. However, you can still enjoy Old Bali if your travels take you off the beaten path. Our list of top attractions and places in Bali will help you find the best of Bali.
“Pura Tanah Lot”
Pura Tanah Lot, which means “temple” in Balinese, is located 20 km northwest of Kuta. It’s one of Bali’s most famous temples. The stunning seaside setting on a rock islet, surrounded by crashing waves is what makes it stand out.
It is considered one of the most sacred sea temples on the island by the Balinese. To see the sunset behind the temple, thousands of tourists come from Kuta and Legian every evening.
Pura Tanah Lot was constructed in the 16th century. It is believed that it was inspired by Nirartha, a priest who requested local fishermen to construct a temple after spending the night on the rock outcrop.
Foreigners are not allowed to enter the temples, but you can still walk over to the main temple at low tide. You can also enjoy the beautiful setting by wandering along the paths and taking photographs.
You can walk along the tropically-planted pathways from Tanah Lot to Batu Bolong. This is another sea temple perched on top of a rock outcrop that has an eroded causeway connecting to it.
You can relax after visiting the temples and shrines by taking a break at one of the cafes or restaurants on the cliffs. Here you can also enjoy the Kopi luwak (civet) coffee. In many cafes, friendly civets can be seen snoozing on the tables and offering photo opportunities that are Instagram-worthy.
Respectful dress is important when visiting temples in Bali. Wear a sarong or sash.
Every day, hundreds of tourists begin their trek to Mount Batur’s summit at 1,700 meters. They can see the sun rising above the dense mosaic of mist-shrouded hills and the caldera below as they climb to the summit. This is a great place to go with your partner if you are looking for romantic activities in Bali.
This sacred volcano is located in Bali’s central highlands in Kintamani District, approximately an hour drive from Ubud. It is a relatively easy hike along well-marked trails that takes between two and three hours. Guided treks usually include a picnic breakfast with eggs cooked in the steam of the active volcano. The views are stunning on clear days, with the caldera of Batur and surrounding mountains visible. Lake Batur is the main source of irrigation water for the island.
It’s important to have sturdy hiking shoes. Layers are also recommended as temperatures can drop before sunrise.
A trip to Bali can be combined with a visit at Pura Ulun Danu Batur on the lake’s northwest side, or a relaxing soak in the hot springs at Toya Bungkah, a village on the banks of Lake Batur.
Because of its spectacular clifftop setting, Uluwatu temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most popular temples). It is perched on the clifftops of one of Bali’s most popular surf spots.
Balinese words for “tip” or the “land’s ending” are “Ulu” and “Watu”, which means rock. This is a fitting name to the Bukit Peninsula temple, located at the island’s southwest tip. Sunset is the best time of day to visit Pura Tanah Lot. It’s when the sky and the sea glow in the late afternoon sunlight.
The temple’s megalithic origin is suggested by archaeological evidence. It dates back to the 10th Century. The temple is believed protects Bali from evil sea spirits. Monkeys living in the forest next to the temple are believed to guard it from negative influences.
From the temple’s entrance, a scenic path leads to breathtaking views. The temple is only open to Hindu worshippers. However, the stunning setting and daily sunset Kecak dance performances are well worth the trip. It is located approximately 25 km from Kuta.
“Ubud Monkey Forest”
One of the most popular things to do in Ubud is to visit the Monkey Forest. Also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. If you are an animal lover, or a photographer, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Bali. It is only 10 minutes walk from Ubud’s town center.
The jungle setting is a major draw, not only for the many grey long-tailed macaques who make their home here but also for the amusing troops. Paved paths lead through dense forests of giant banyan or nutmeg trees. Here, moss-covered statues, ancient temples, and other artifacts can be seen through the thick foliage. It gives off an almost mystical feeling.
Forests are intended to symbolize harmonious coexistence between animals and humans. It is also used to preserve rare plants and as a research site for macaque behavior, especially their social interaction.
One of three temples can be found on the southwest side: the Pura Dalem AgungPadangtegal, a 14th-century temple. Here, hundreds upon hundreds of monkeys swing in the trees and climb over the walls.
An ancient bathing temple, Pura Beti, is located in the northwest corner of the forest. It’s right next to a stream, making it a stunning backdrop for the monkeys’ antics.
When you visit the forest, be sure to lock your items and not touch the animals. Smileys can also be taken as aggression. It is also a good idea to not bring food into the forest.
“Ubud Art & Culture”
Ubud, which is best known for the movie Eat, Pray, Love, is also the epicenter for Balinese culture and art. The modern Balinese art movement began here, with the royal palaces and temples surrounding acting as the main patrons.
Many excellent galleries and museums in the area celebrate its history and traditions. You can enjoy art gazing here because many collections are housed within traditional Balinese buildings that are surrounded by tranquil tropical gardens.
Agung Rai Museum of Art, (ARMA), and the Neka Art Museum are the best places to start for a comprehensive overview of Balinese arts. They are located within a few minutes of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Both museums have a variety of works, from traditional to modern, such as photography and kris (ceremonial daggers), as well as contemporary art.
The Ubud area also has other art galleries and museums that may be of interest to art enthusiasts. These include the Setia Darma House of Masks & Puppets, which features ceremonial masks from Asia; Museum Puri Lukisan with a variety of Balinese artistic styles; as well as the Don Antonio Blanco Museum at the artist’s former studio and home.
Ubud Art Market is a great place to shop for art. The Ubud Art Market is a maze of stalls that sell carvings, sculptures jewelry, sarongs and paintings. It is also a popular tourist attraction. Bargaining is important. A good rule of thumb is always to offer half off the asking price, then barter your way up, always smiling.
The Puri Saren Royal Ubud Palace, located opposite the market is well worth a visit. A traditional Balinese dance performance is one of Bali’s top activities at night, especially for families. Young and old will be captivated by the colorful costumes and the hypnotic music. It’s a great place to take photos of some of the architectural details and walk through the gardens during the day.
“Tegallalang and Jatiluwih Rice Terraces of Bali”
You want to see the stunning emerald-hued fields of rice that you see in all the Bali tourist brochures or Instagram photos? If you are a photographer, the Tegallalang and Jatiluwih rice terrasses should be on your top sightseeing list.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces, located about a 30-minute drive from Ubud are one of the most popular areas to capture these stunning landscapes and soak in their beauty. Locals may ask for donations along the popular rice field trail. Many also request fees to park and entrance along the road. One of the many cafes and restaurants that overlook the fields is a relaxing place to take in the beautiful scenery.
The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are located approximately 90 minutes from Ubud. They cover 600 hectares of rice field fields on the hillsides of Batukaru’s mountain range. It’s also easier to explore the area and walk around without being hounded by tourist touts.
“Pura Ulun Danu Bratan”
One of Bali’s most beautiful temples is the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, which dates back to 17th century. It is located on a small island near Lake Bratan’s western shore, in central Bali’s cool highlands. The temples are set against the backdrop of Gunung Bratan. They reflect the lake’s surface and appear to float on it when the water level rises.
Lake Bratan, one of Bali’s major sources of irrigation water and drinking water is where the temple complex is located. It is dedicated to Dewi Danu the goddess of the sea, lakes and oceans.
The unusual feature of the Buddhist stupa, which is located to the left of the first courtyard’s entrance, features Buddha figures meditating in the lotus posture in niches at the square base. Balinese Hindus adopted Buddhist beliefs through the stupa.
It is best to visit the sacred Hindu temple complex early in the morning, before the tourist buses arrive. In the morning light, the temple looks beautiful with the cool mist that sometimes covers the lake and mountains. To explore the meru (thatched shrines), you can rent a canoe to paddle out onto the lake.
The Bali Botanic Gardens (Kebun Raya Bali), which is located near the temple complex, are also worth a visit. It features beautiful bamboo forests, begonias and an orchid collection as well as medicinal plants.
You’ll find some of the most beautiful examples of Balinese design on the streets of Seminyak. Bali is famous for its extravagant designers and amazing shopping. You can find the most cutting-edge fashions, jewelry, furniture and homewares at these chic shops and bustling market stalls.
Biasa and Magali Pascal are top boutiques. Sea Gypsy is a popular choice for jewelry. Drifter Surf Shop & Cafe has a selection of skateboard and surf gear.
Seminyak Square is the main shopping center, and Seminyak Village is the village. However, you will find better deals at the smaller shops along the streets.
Are you looking for real bargains? You can find bargains at the Seminyak Flea Markets located near Seminyak Square. There are stalls filled with jewelry, clothing, carvings, and handicrafts.
Seminyak also houses some of Bali’s most renowned beaches, restaurants, art galleries, and hotels.
“Nusa Dua Beach”
You want to escape Bali’s urban bustle? Nusa Dua Beach is the perfect escape from Bali’s urban buzz. You can relax on a sunbed, with a cool drink in your hand, while listening to the soft, smooth surf on the white sands. Although you won’t find the same cultural experience as elsewhere in Bali, this gated resort area is on its own peninsula. However, if you are looking for peace and relatively clean sands, you will find it here at one of Bali’s most beautiful beaches.
This stretch of beach is home to some of Bali’s most luxurious resorts. The staff works hard to maintain the beach clean and free of litter. You can stroll for miles along the beach, swim, surf, parasailing and sunbathing at Nusa Dua. However, you may need to pay a fee to use the resort’s sun loungers. Nua Dua is a great choice if you want a top Bali beach experience.
You can also sign up to pamper yourself at a resort spa, or shop at Bali Collection, an outdoor shopping mall. For off-sand walking between resorts and attractions, a paved promenade runs along the shore. Nusa Dua is a top choice for honeymoon in Bali because of all the relaxation.
“Besakih Temple (Pura Besakih)”
Pura Besakih, more than a thousand year old, is the Mother Temple. It’s Bali’s holiest Hindu temple complex and also the largest.
Pura Besakih, located at an elevation of 1,000m on the southern slopes Mount Agung’s Mount Agung, is a collection of temples that serve as the spiritual centre for the Balinese. The largest is Pura Penataran Agung.
This temple complex is surrounded by lush rice paddies, forests, and important festivals. You might even be able to witness one of these important events during your visit.
It is recommended that you spend at least three hours exploring the temples. Comfortable walking shoes are a must as you will need to travel a lot and climb many steps.
Insider’s Tip – Although locals try to sell sarongs and incense at the gates, your ticket covers everything you will need throughout your visit. Pura Besakih can be visited best in the morning, before tourists arrive.