Best Things To Do in Bali
You want it? Bali's got it. For relaxation, simply stay put at your resort of choice, which will most likely boast a beautiful beach, an exotic spa and an array of dining options. For adventure, traverse this magical island in search of hidden shrines and ancient temples – Tirta Empul Temple is a traveler favorite. And for families, Waterbom offers exhilarating rides.
Updated December 28, 2018
- #1View all Photos#1 in BaliChurches/Religious Sites, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Monuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
While Bali's other temples may be larger or more jaw-dropping, Tirta Empul, which can be translated as "Holy Water Spring," possesses a unique serenity that cannot be matched. This active prayer site inspires both Balinese Hindus and visitors of different beliefs. While there are several shrines and other structures on the premises, the temple's tranquility is best seen in the large rectangular pool at the complex's center. You'll see worshipers enter the water to pray, so be respectful of the Balinese customs and do not disrupt them. Travelers, too, are welcome to enter the water, known for being a holy mountain spring. Keep in mind, though, that you're expected to enter the water fully clothed (and must wear a sarong as well; they are available to rent for free on-site), so visitors suggest bringing a change of clothes along.
This ancient temple can be visited from about 7 or 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. daily. Adults should expect to pay around 15,000 rupiahs (roughly $1) to enter, while children are charged about 7,500 rupiahs ($0.50). Travelers often visit Tirta Empul Temple on their way to or from the village of Kintamani or Gunung Kawi, another religious site. The site is most easily reached by car.
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Travelers rave about Uluwatu Temple's stunning cliffside locale and beautiful architecture. This combination is rendered only more dramatic by the crashing of waves more than 200-some feet below. But don't think that you'll have this isolated sanctuary to yourself. Uluwatu Temple is popular with not only tourists and locals but also some sneaky monkeys – many visitors warned to be on the lookout for the monkeys, who snatch up things like hats, purses and glasses from unsuspecting travelers.
Though many travelers were impressed with the stunning views, they also warned that this is not a good place to come for peace and quiet as it is usually crawling with tourists, especially around sunset. Others were disappointed with the restricted temple access.
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Most jaws drop at the sight of Tanah Lot Temple. This stunning religious complex (and impressive architectural feat) sits on a gigantic jagged rock that rises out of the ocean on Bali's southern coast. And while you'll have to wait for low tide to reach the temple, many say it's worth it, adding that snapping a photo of Tanah Lot Temple at sunset is a must. There are also many stalls with vendors nearby selling everything from food and drinks to souvenirs.
Recent travelers warned that while the view is nice and makes for a great photo op, the area does get very crowded with tourists.
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Once upon a time, Jimbaran was a quiet and quaint fishing village with an equally humble shoreline – but that's no longer the case. Signaled by the oceanfront perch of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, this town is now one of Bali's most luxurious destinations. Aside from the opulent resorts that reside here, the town has gained acclaim for its succulent seafood and sandy shoreline. Many travelers come for a romantic sunset dinner on the sand, but they also note that this experience isn't cheap.
Jimbaran is just south of Kuta and can easily be reached by car or taxi. Many nearby hotels offer free shuttle service as well if you notify them in advance. The restaurants and shops maintain varied hours of operation, and sunset triggers a rush of tourists. Get here before the sun goes down to snag an ideal table on the beach.
- #5View all PhotosfreeKuta#5 in BaliEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Touristy? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. Kuta has swiftly become Bali's most popular beach town, and with that title comes the responsibility of feeding and entertaining flocks of visitors. Restaurants, bars, stores, spas and even a water park provide travelers with numerous diversions during the day and night. Still, the No. 1 attraction in this town is Kuta Beach. The sandy shore is a prime playground for surfers, sunbathers, swimmers, kite-flyers and more. This isn't the isolated Balinese beach that you've dreamt about, but it has plenty going for it.
Recent visitors said the beach here is soft and the swimming conditions are great. Travelers suggest arriving at the beach early to stake your claim to some sand, as the area typically gets crowded as the day progresses. Beachgoers noted the vendors selling souvenirs and trinkets can be annoying, and said you have to be a bit forceful in declining their goods or services to get them to leave you alone.
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Those who want to break up their beach time with some healthy exercise will want to venture to Kintamani. Located near the island's northeastern coast, 40-some miles north of Kuta, Kintamani is a gorgeous region that boasts a towering (and active) volcano and a large lake. Both landscape features are named "Batur," and their pairing makes for dramatic scenery. The two also offer an array of adventures for intrepid travelers. You can hike up Mount Batur for a bird's-eye view or take a boat out on the water. Many travelers recommend hiring a local guide once you reach one of its small lakeside towns or arranging a daytrip through your hotel in advance. You also shouldn't miss Pura Ulun Danu Batur, one of Bali's most important temples, which is located on the lake's southwestern shore.
Recent visitors highly recommended a sunrise hiking tour, though many noted the trek is a bit challenging. Those who completed the journey said it was worth it for the views and serenity from above. Bali Sunrise Trekking and Tour receives favorable reviews from past visitors, as does the Mt Batur Sunrise Trekking company.
- #7View all PhotosfreeSanur Beach#7 in BaliBeaches, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Sanur Beach attracts both locals and tourists alike with its soft sand and quaint boardwalk. Lacking the activity of rowdy Kuta Beach, these sands offer gentle surf that families with small children will appreciate, plus a more laid-back atmosphere. The shore's accessibility and conveniently located eateries and shops make Sanur an appealing option. Recent travelers were impressed by not only the calm water at this beach but also the colorful display of kites flying high in the sky. If you want to fly your own, travelers say a number of nearby vendors sell them for just that purpose.
You'll find this beach in the town of Sanur. Located along Bali's southeastern coastline, Sanur hosts numerous luxury hotel properties and is situated a little less than 10 miles east of Kuta and Ngurah Rai International Airport. You can access the beach free of charge all day, every day.
- #8View all PhotosfreeNusa Dua#8 in BaliBeaches, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
On the eastern side of the Bukit Peninsula, Nusa Dua is Bali's capital and tourist hub. With several golf courses, numerous spas and a handful of luxury resorts (including the St. Regis and Conrad Bali), this region competes with Jimbaran for wealthy patrons. However, all of the amenities and facilities can make Nusa Dua seem too artificial for some visitors. You won't find an abandoned coastline or a small fishing village here. Still, most travelers appreciate Geger Beach, the area's public shore. Some, however, say that the vendors hawking massage services can be a bit obnoxious and that in recent times, the beach has gotten a little dirty.
You can reach Nusa Dua from Kuta, Jimbaran or the airport via taxi or private hired car. You'll find extensive shopping and dining options, so bring your wallet. For more information, check out the Indonesia tourism board's website.
- #9View all Photos#9 in BaliParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The beautiful Tegalalang Rice Terrace, located north of Ubud, is actually an ancient irrigation system, dating back to the eighth century. Its series of sloping rice paddies just begs to be photographed, and indeed, the terrace is one of the most popular attractions among camera-toting tourists in this region of Bali. Plus, its elevation gives it a cooler climate, which is a nice change of pace from other areas of the island.
For a magical experience (or at least one without hordes of other tourists), get to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace before about 11 a.m., according to recent travelers. After strolling through the rice paddies, some travelers also recommend stopping for a cold drink at one of the restaurants that overlook the rice terrace. Because it requires a bit of a hike, past travelers recommend you wear comfortable shoes and clothes when visiting.
- #10View all Photos#10 in BaliHiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDHiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Gunung Kawi refers to a set of 10 shrines that are cut from a rock face in Bali's lush Tampaksiring region. The shrines are each about 25 feet tall, and thought to be memorials to Bali's 11th-century royals. According to lore, they were carved from the cliff face in just one night by Kebo Iwa, a legendary Balinese figure. Visiting the site will include some exertion: there are 270-plus steps to climb.
Some visitors recommend touring the memorial with a guide, who can offer the back story on the shrines. Others suggest bringing along your own water since the hike up can be quite strenuous, and the stalls located at the memorial can be expensive. All agree it is a must-visit when in Bali thanks to the beautiful scenery and serene temple.
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If you're with traveling with children, a trip to Waterbom is a must. With adrenaline-pumping rides like the Boomerang, Superbowl and Pipeline, kids will love the variety of slides at this water park. For a change of (much slower) pace, ride along the Lazy River. Recent visitors loved their time at this water park, with everyone noting that kids, teens and adults all enjoyed the fun slides and water features. Travelers were also impressed with the cleanliness of the park and the service from the staff.
Located in downtown Kuta, Waterbom welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. A single-day admission costs 535,000 rupiahs for adults (around $37) and 385,000 for children (around $27); however, this does not include rental rates for towels, lockers, gazebos or other amenities. Discounts are available for multiday packages. Some travelers were irritated by the rather pricey admission, but the vast majority said that the cost is worth the day of slipping and sliding. For more information, visit Waterbom's website.
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