Bali has gone from an off-the-grid surfer haven to an ever-popular backpacker paradise island in just a few decades.
I personally love Bali and am basing myself here for the next couple of years! Bali is one of the best places to work, relax, party and get fit in Paradise.
There’s more to do in Bali than just surf and party, however, so I’ve put together the epic list of 101 AMAZING things to do in Bali! I’ve included some of the best Bali clubs, temples, and beaches in this epic guide as well as some of the most awesome places you simply have to eat…
I’ve also done much of the legwork for you when it comes to finding off the beaten track things to do in Bali. That means this guide includes lesser-known urban exploration, little-visited villages, weird festivals, off the grid sites, and some of the sickest temples this island has to offer.
Note that some of the best stuff to do in Bali is actually not in Bali… but a short hop away by boat in Nusa Pineda, Lembongan or the Gilis… I’ve included some of these highlights in this guide too 🙂
Table of Contents
- The Absolute Top Things to Do in Bali
- Things to Do in Bali at Night
- Romantic Things to Do in Bali
- What to Do in Bali for Culture
- Best Free Things to Do in Bali
- A Quick Note on Where to Stay in Bali
- Unusual Things to Do in Bali
- Best Things to Do in Bali with Kids
- Some Healthy Things to Do in Bali
- Some Not-so-healthy Things to Do in Bali
- Some More Adventurous Activities in Bali
- Other Unmissable Things to Do in Bali
- Bali Packing List
- Day Trips from Bali
The Absolute Top Things to Do in Bali
1. Visit the stunning Handara Gates
You might recognise the gates from #wanderlust Instagram posts, and that’s because they’ve become a popular spot for Instagram posers to stop off and snap a selfie or two as they whimsically walk through the gates towards the mountains behind.
The gates are actually the entrance to a golf course, but still… it’s a nice spot for a pic if you’re way up in the north of the island.
2. Hit the Surf
Bali is a mecca for surfers. Surfers with flowing douche-bag hair can be spotted all over the place, board in tow, in search of the best breaks this side of Bondai.
Why not join in and catch a wave, or just learn how to stand up on a board, in one of the best places in the world for surfing? For lessons head over to Odyssey’s Surf School and get to grips with the basics.
3. Watch the Sunset
Bali is the dream destination for honeymooners, backpackers, and holidaymakers, and that’s because it’s freaking beautiful. A trip to the idyllic Indonesian isle would not be complete without sitting and watching the sunset over the sea – one of the best things to do in Bali.
Simply catch the sunset from the beach in Canggu, picturesque Uluwatu, or even Ubud… Pretty much any west facing place on the island.
4. See a stunner of a temple at Uluwatu
All of the Balinese Hindu temples are pretty sick, but this one is my favorite. That’s because this sea temple, dating all the way back to the 11th century, is balanced on a cliff right out over the sea.
Not only do you get to see the temple’s cool architecture, but you also get a stunning panorama of the sea. And if you’re a sucker for sundowners, you cannot beat this spot. Comes complete with temple monkeys.
5. Take a look at Pura Tanah Lot
Ok, this temple may have become a popular spot for tourists, but it’s not hard to see why so many people make the journey to visit.
Perched on a strange rock formation in the sea and overflowing with greenery, the temple is a mesmerizing spectacle especially at sunset.
Pura Tanah actually means ‘Land in the Sea’ and holds huge spiritual importance to Balinese people.
6. Catch a sunrise from Sanur Beach
Sure, everyone goes on about the mystifying sunsets from Bali’s west-facing beaches, and there are plenty of places to watch it (not least ‘Sunset Beach’ itself, which is another name for Kuta Beach).
Well, on the east side of the island you can catch a pretty nifty sunrise too. And you can do so from Sanur Beach, also known as – you guessed it – Sunrise Beach. Just east of Denpasar, all you need to do is get up super early or stay out all night. We think the latter may actually be easier.
7. Eat platefuls of tasty seafood at Jimbaran
Are you a seafood fan? Then get yourself over to Jimbaran at night. It’s sort of midway between Kuta and the Bukit Peninsula. It’s literally famed for being a haven of seafood (as we said in No. 21), with dozens and dozens of seafood places right on the sand along Jimbaran Bay.
Walk around, find a spot you like, pick your seafood, watch it grilled in front of you, and enjoy with a beer or three. Tasty.
8. Marvel at the holy waters of Tirta Empul
Tirta Empul temple was built around a spring in 962 AD, making this a real thing to do in Bali for history lovers. The main draw here, for locals, is the holy water of the spring itself.
Bathing in it was cool once upon a time, but the government has advised against that because of its E.coli. contamination… Still, it’s a cool place to see in Bali.
9. Check out the ancient cave of Goa Gajah
This cave is properly ancient. Built in the 9th century, Goa Gajah is recognizable for the myriad monstrous faces carved into rock; because when it was ‘discovered,’ one of the main faces looked like an elephant – or because of the statue of Ganesh inside – it’s also known as Elephant Cave.
But there are no elephants here; it’s thought to have once been a meditation sanctuary. Go inside and check out the serene fountains.
10. Hike up an active volcano
Yep, that’s right; you can hike up an active volcano in Bali. Just head to Kintamani in northeast Bali where you’ll find Mount Batur.
It’s an 11km ascent that takes about two hours, and it’s not too taxing if you’re in moderate shape. You can hike alone, but going with a tour group is better for a more hassle-free excursion. Expect lava rocks and actual steam coming out of the ground. Go for sunrise to really max out your wanderlust levels.
11. Gawk in awe at luminous green rice terraces
No trip to Bali would be complete without a visit to the famous Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Sure, they’re not exactly one of Bali’s hidden secrets – it’s a pretty touristy thing to do – but there’s a good reason for that.
With hundreds of terraces stepping down the side of the mountains at Tegallalang, near Ubud, there is not a person in the world who would look and at this and not say ‘wow’. Wow indeed.
12. Get Inked
Bali is home to a whole load of trendy tattoo parlours; it’s a top place to get a new tat (just don’t tell your mum we told you that). Some awesome new tattoo places have opened up in recent years in the cool Canggu area and Seminyak.
If you’re in the market for some new ink, you can get a professional and safe tattoo for a considerably lower price than your hometown. I recommend Artful Ink.
- Party at Old Man’s Bar or Deus
- Get your yoga on in one of the countless yoga studios
- Check out Tanah Lot – one of Bali’s most important temples
13. Walk through the gateway to heaven
The gateway to heaven has been found in Bali. While it might not lead to actual heaven, it is the actual gateway to the Lempuyang Temple, one of the oldest and important temples in Bali.
To get there you have to hike up 1,700 steps, but you can distract yourself from the leg burn by visiting the other temples along the way as well as the gangs of grey long-tailed macaques that live in the surrounding mountainsides.
14. Go marvel at Tukad Cepung Waterfall
Bali is a landscape littered in waterfalls, but this one, in particular, is well worth seeking out. This isn’t a tourist spot but in recent years it has quickly become one of the top things to do in Bali. To get there you’ll have to climb down a hundred or so steps, but the sight of the falls is worth the effort.
Enter an almost enclosed circle of rock, which feels like a magical cave. Look up into the sky to see the waterfall gushing down.
15. Spend the day at one of the most beautiful beaches in Bali
Known as Perasi Beach, Virgin Beach, Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach), and Hidden Beach, this is a beautiful stretch of beach. It’s not so hidden anymore, but it is secluded – being set between two dramatic hills – so it definitely looks the part.
In some ways, the umbrellas and food stalls are a nice convenience. You’ll find this beach between the villages of Bugbug and Perasi in the east of Bali. Need more inspiration? Check out this guide on the best beaches in Bali here.
16. Tuck into coffee and cake Bali style
Bali has a strong cafe scene and plenty of perfect spots for a cup of coffee and a slice of delicious cake. One of the best cafes has got to be Sisterfields in Seminyak.
Everything from the Insta-worthy decor to the detox juices is top notch quality. Spend a few hours sampling their various cakes and coffees before you hit the heat of the streets again.
17. Go nuts with Go-Jek
Allow me to introduce you to the single greatest fucking app of all time… Go-Jek.
For less than a buck, you can have food from pretty much any restaurant delivered. But Go-Jek ain’t no common food panda – Oh no! Go-Jek allows you to order literally fucking anything for delivery by motorcycle… Massages, manicurists, cleaners, shopping – whatever you need. I love Go-Jek.
Things to Do in Bali at Night
18. Hit the dance floor at the Mirror
For some late night nocturnal mischief, make your way to Mirror. The dark, gothic-themed interiors at this club feel like you’re spending the night in a cathedral, except the walls are all made of – you guessed it – mirrors. Tiny mirrors.
It’s a fun place to dress up in your finery and pull some shapes to a revolving line up of resident and international DJs (who play from an altar up high to a baying congregation).
19. Sip cocktails at Woobar
Woobar is another one of Bali’s hip and super chic drinking holes, a super divine place to enjoy a well-mixed cocktail or two.
As if Bali didn’t have enough places to enjoy its sumptuous sunsets, Woobar steps up to the plate with its amazing beachside terrace, complete with a pool, a load of loungers, and some tasty tapas. Sink into your seat with a drink in hand as the sun slips into the ocean, all soundtracked by the chill beats of poolside DJs.
20. Go party on the roof of an abandoned mall…
… With an equally abandoned airplane on the roof. Yep, we told you it was a thing. The Gate 88 Mall in Badung was apparently planned to be a futuristic offering for the locals and tourists visiting Bali, but for some reason or another it never took off!
The tail end of the airplane now gets covered in lights when the rooftop area plays host to DJs and parties – a cool thing to do in Bali if partying is your thing.
21. Join the cool crowd at Canggu
Canggu is quickly becoming the coolest place to hang out on the island. Away from the tourist traps, busy beaches, and chain hotels, this surfer hangout is the place to be.
The charming seaside town is spread out across three main areas, entwined with rice paddies, amazing restaurants, and private villas. I live here and I FUCKING love it.
22. Get your night market on
Haven’t eaten enough food? Then you should check out the numerous night markets that dot the island.
Grab some sick lamb satay at Sanur Night Market, browse the various wares at Gianyar Night Market at Ubud, the large Pasar Kereneng in Badung (please try the Javanese nasi canur), and the night market at Amlapura, different for its multicultural offerings thanks to Muslim and Chinese minorities. There are so many more markets to choose from too.
Romantic Things to Do in Bali
23. Enjoy sundowner cocktails at The Lawn
My favourite place for a cheeky drink in Canggu, the Lawn has epic happy hours over the weekends and is one of the best places to soak in some gorgeous sunset views…
24. Shop for stylish homeware
Stop off at homeware boutiques such as Bungalow Living Bali, or Gaya Ceramic & Design and you can take a piece of the Balinese beauty home with you and make your home an enclave of cool style too.
25. Travel around on horseback
Live out your actual movie star dreams in real life and take a horse ride along a blissful Balinese beach on the back of a horse. No, seriously, this is like something right out of a movie and it’s really easy to do.
You can even choose to trot across grassy hillsides or through paddies. It’s a super calm way to experience the amazing island landscapes and a little bit more laid back than nipping around at top speed on the back of a motorbike.
26. Dine in actual luxury at Merah Putih
Eating is one of the best things to do in Bali, that much we can establish. But when it comes high-class dining experiences, Merah Putih is the winner.
The interior is like a cathedral, with pillars that catch rainwater. Serving up modern takes on Indonesian food, this peng spot is somewhere you’re going to want to spend all night indulging in tasty food.
27. Visit lovely Lovina
Spend the day exploring the Lovina’s charming villages on Bali’s north coast and get swept up in its romance.
Lovina is made up of several traditional fishing towns nestled among lush mountainsides far from the busy south side of the island. Walk on the black sand beaches and hang out with locals at the beach bars.
28. Stay in a luxury villa
Bali has some of the BEST value accommodation in the world and there are incredible villas for rent that suit pretty much EVERY budget.
29. Swing over the treetops
Swings seem to be a thing when it comes to paradise locations and Bali is no different. In fact, Bali has upped its swing game with a whole load of rustic looking swings hung in pretty picturesque places all over the shop.
Zen Hideaway boasts one of the best swings for an impromptu photo shoot, or you can choose to swing over Lake Buyan, or why not combine your new swing obsession with a trip to the Bali Chocolate Factory, who actually have one with a sea view.
What to Do in Bali for Culture
30. Learn about Bali’s Hindu heritage and watch a Kecak dance
Unlike the rest of predominantly Muslim Indonesia, the island of Bali is Hindu majority, though with its own unique culture, which shows in pretty much all aspects on the island including arts.
A great way to witness Balinese culture is to go and watch a Kecak dance, a music and dance bonanza based on the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic. This is a must see when it comes to things to do in Bali – catch it in Ubud or Uluwatu.
31. Pay your respects at Pura Besakih
Near the flower village of Temukus, you’ll find Bali’s most important religious site: Pura Besakih. This holiest temple dates back (officially) to the 13the century and is pretty dang picturesque with Mount Agung in the background.
It’s built on six levels and involves a lot of stairs, walking through Balinese split gateways and marveling at the pagoda-like mera towers.
I mean, when it comes to amazing architecture this has gotta be one of the best things to do in Bali. Full stop.
32. Hit up a local beach festival
The annual Kalibukbuk Beach festival is held every September as a way of celebrating local life and promoting Balinese culture.
Spread across three days, the festival commences with a parade, music, and dancing, and continues with Balinese traditions like flower offerings, a bull race, and puppet shows.
It’s a great chance to chat with the locals, try local food, drink, and enjoy a bit of live music. The festival closes with performances of traditional Northern Balinese dances.
33. Support the written word at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
Calling itself “Southeast Asia’s leading festival of words and ideas,” the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is a great shout if you’re inclined to all things literary.
It’s the main event hosted by not-for-profit Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati and was conceived as a healing response to the Bali bombing of 2004. The festival celebrates emerging writers, and puts on poetry readings, talks, and workshops, amongst other things. Takes place 24-28 October each year.
34. Admire the art at Agung Rai Museum of Art
If you’re an art fan (and even if you’re not), you should take a little trip to the Agung Rai Museum of Art a.k.a. ARMA. Set up by Agung Rai, who made a lot of money in the 1970s selling Balinese art to foreign buyers, ARMA is dedicated to showing art from and about Bali.
There are works from the 19th century all the way up to pieces by contemporary artists – both homegrown and foreign. Interesting to say the least.
35. Wander around Ubud Palace
That’s right, Ubud isn’t all homestays and hippies. There’s a stunner of a palace at Ubud with a cool complex of architectural gems to wander around.
It was formerly the residence(s) for the Ubud royal family, and was mainly destroyed in an earthquake in 1917, so the buildings are mostly rebuilt… but you could’ve fooled us. Go in the late afternoon for peak golden light.
36. Eat nasi goreng
C’mon, you’re in Indonesia, how could you not try some nasi goreng!? If you’re scratching your head, don’t worry, it’s basically fried rice with crunchy fried shallots, fresh salad slices on the side – usually cucumber and tomato – and a well-fried egg slapped on top. You literally MUST eat this. Find it everywhere and enjoy.
37. Chow down on more local food!
Looking for MORE things to eat in Bali? Try bakso, these Chinese style meatballs made from meat paste; they’re usually beef in China but since it’s Hindu majority in Bali, they will be pork.
You’ll get them served in a soup with some other tasty bits, sometimes with a fried wonton or rice vermicelli noodles in the soup. It’s quintessential Indonesian street food and you’ll find it pretty much everywhere (e.g. Kuta Beach food stalls).
38. Catch a Balinese gamelan performance
In case you didn’t know, a gamelan is a traditional Indonesian music ensemble featuring a lot of bronze instruments for a super dreamy sound. Since Bali is known for its arts, you should catch a gamelan performance here.
The Cenik Wayah Children’s Gamelan and Dance Group put on a good show – complete with a backdrop of Ubud Water Palace. Elsewhere you can catch the all-woman gamelan orchestra at Bale Banjar Kelod. There are more places to hear this, of course.
Best Free Things to Do in Bali
39. Participate in a Beach Cleanup
As beautiful as Bali is, the beaches can become washed up with trash and plastic. Thankfully, locals and expats are doing their part to clean up the beaches and keep Bali beautiful. There are weekly beach cleanups around Canggu. Check out this page for more information.
In 2018, 20,000 people participated in the beach cleanups hosted by One Island One Voice! Beach cleanups are a great way to volunteer, meet other people, and do your part for the environment.
40. Adventure to a rice paddy
Wow, wow, wow. The rice paddies in Bali are literally immense. Like an actual picture from a Natural Geographic but for your own eyes; you just have to make the effort to tear yourself away from the beachside towns and out to the terraced paddies in the countryside.
Make sure to take your camera because you’re not going to be able to stop snapping pics.
41. Check out Petitenget Temple
Visit this temple if you have no intention of traveling outside of Seminyak. This one’s pretty eerie, and it is said it wards off evil forest spirits.
42. Watch some exploding water at Waterblow
Though there is not a whole lot going on in Nusa Dua apart from 5-star resorts, a golf course, and a country club, there is the cool Waterblow, a place where conditions are just right for waves to properly smash into the cliffs and create a feeling that the water is ‘blowing up’ – hence ‘Waterblow’.
It’s pretty cool if you want some pictures of foamy waves rising up a few meters over the cliff edge.
43. Get cultured at Pandawa beach
An important cultural site, Pandawa beach takes its name from the five heroes of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata. You can check out the statues of the heroes on the beach, which is also a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon.
Pandawa’s soft white sand slowly slopes into turquoise waters, making for a great spot to head out on a canoe and explore the different shades of water.
A Quick Note on Where to Stay in Bali
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for the best places to stay in Bali.
Best Hostel in Bali – Puri Garden Hotel & Hostel
This boutique hostel almost feels like a luxury hotel. Sure it’s a bit pricey but the free breakfast, free yoga classes every morning, and beautiful swimming pool make it worth the price. The staff is incredible. They make it a very welcoming place where it’s easy to meet other travelers. They organize tours, have an all-you-can-eat dinner, and hold events such as BBQ’s and other social activities. All of these elements make Puri Garden the best place to stay in Bali for backpackers.
Best Airbnb in Bali – Kuta
This newly built, private bungalow is located between Kuta and Legian Beaches, tucked away down a quiet road. It’s a great place to stay for a couple who want to be near the action but feel like they’re worlds away.
The room overlooks a well-kept swimming pool and fragrant garden.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Bali – Padang-Padang Inn Uluwatu
This is a perfectly located hotel for beach hopping in Bukit Peninsula. It’s located just a short distance from Padang-Padang beach, one of Bali’s best surfing beaches. Other incredible beaches such as the ones listed about are a quick scooter or taxi ride away. Wind down from a day of exploring sitting beside the pool in one of their many comfortable pool loungers. We believe this is one of the best places to stay in Bali for surfers.
Best Boutique Hotel in Bali – Taman Nauli Boutique Rooms
Located in Kerobokan, Taman Nauli Boutique Rooms offers a year round outdoor pool, and bed and breakfast. Guests can relax in the big and beautiful garden or hire a bike to go cycling. Canguu Club is less than 2 miles away! This is one of the best places to stay in Bali to relax and chill.
The rooms are clean, spacious, and amazingly decorated. Best of all, the staff are friendly, smiley, and always helpful.View on Booking
Unusual Things to Do in Bali
44. Visit a Civet Coffee Shop
If you’re visiting Bali and would love a cup of coffee then visit a coffee farm! Ever heard of civet coffee?
Well, at one of these farms you can find out how these very cute, but actually pretty furious, fluffy fellas get fed coffee beans and poop them out for excellent coffee. Sure, it’s weird, but the coffee is actually quite tasty and you get to sip on it surrounded by rice terraces.
Note: Make sure you find an ethical civet coffee operation that does not use caged animals for its coffee production.
45. Get fishy at Jimbaran Fish Market
Peep into the everyday life of Balinese people with a trip to this beachside fish market. Not your everyday visit to a market, here you can pick up the freshest fish possible.
Get yourself up at the crack of dawn and get down to Jimbaran beach to see the local fishermen returning to shore with their outrigger boats filled with the day’s catch.
If you can’t get up in the morning, you can also snap up a whole colorful array of sea life from the market throughout the day and get it cooked over hot coals right then and there (see No. 49).
46. Flower fun at Desa Temukus
Looking for something different to do in Bali? How about exploring a sea of flowers? Marigolds (or gemitir) and the amazing white katana flowers are important parts of Balinese religious ceremonies. They are easy to reach in the east Bali village of Temukus.
47. Go to the Goa Gala-Gala
Want to do something a little bit weird? How about navigating an underground labyrinth? (Well, it’s not an actual labyrinth but it is pretty maze-like.)
Goa Gala-Gala is on Nusa Lembongan and it’s basically a subterranean home, for lack of a better word, that was carved right out of the limestone itself. It’s pretty cramped and a bit stifling, but it’s an… interesting experience. Not for the claustrophobic – nor the tall. Oh and bring a headlamp. Good for something different to do in Bali.
48. See a 500-year-old banyan tree
Banyan trees are considered to be sacred in Bali; in fact, they’re thought to be inhabited by spirits. This big banyan tree in the village of Gesing is over 700 years old, an amazing sight to see.
The roots of the tree have created a maze that you can actually explore, so you can see why it was used as a hideout by Balinese fighters during the independence war against the Dutch. Super cool.
49. See some weird stone carvings
Here’s a strange, but intriguing sight: the side of the Pura Dalem Jagaraga temple is home to intricate stone carvings that depict a vintage car, an airplane crashing into the sea, bicycles, and somebody drinking beer.
The seemingly out of place 20th-century western objects are a reflection of the Dutch colonial power and its conflict with the Balinese kingdom.
50. Visit a graveyard with a difference
This might be one of the weirdest things to do in Bali but bear with us. Trunyan is an isolated village set in the folds of a mountain on the shore of Lake Batur.
It’s home to the Bali Aga (indigenous Austronesian people of Bali), who worship a volcano god called Bhatara Da Tonta. The dead are not buried, but dressed in cloth and set under bamboo cages in the shade of banyan trees, whose scent apparently stops the smell of decay.
51. Go and see a really, really old drum
It’s more impressive than it sounds. The Moon of Pejeng is a huge single-cast bronze kettle drum. In fact, it’s the largest drum in the world, made in 300 BC by the Dong Son people in Vietnam!
How did it get to Bali? Legend says it was the wheel of a chariot that pulled the moon, came loose, was urinated on by an angry thief (who then died because it was so hot), and then the wheel cooled down. Makes… sense. It’s located in Pejeng, near Ubud.
52. Bat-watch at Goa Lawah
Do you like caves? If so, you’ll love Goa Lawah. It’s also known as the ‘Bat Cave’ temple and that’s for a good reason. Literally, hundreds and hundreds of bats call this place home, which is pretty freaky, but as dusk falls, the bats take to the air and fly around to catch tasty insects.
You’ll want to time your visit to the bats making their rounds. The temple itself dates back to 11th century and is rumoured to have a link via a tunnel to Bali’s holiest temple, Pura Besakih.
53. Witness a makare-kare fight
When it comes to weird things to do in Bali, witnessing the Usaba Sambah Festival at Tenganan (another Bali Aga village) is up there. Makare-kare fighting is a big part of this festival; young men of the village wield razor-sharp bunches of pandan leaves and fight each other, with only small bamboo shields for defense. Ouch.
Yes, there’s blood. It’s all to impress the unmarried girls of the village, who are wheeled around on wooden swings. See this in May or June.
Best Things to Do in Bali with Kids
54. Go bananas at Monkey Forest
This is a temple that is overrun by monkeys, which is not an unusual sight in Southeast Asia, except this one is an actual monkey refuge.
When it comes to things to do in Bali, a visit to Ubud Monkey Forest is always a lot of fun: just make sure you don’t rock up with your lunch because those cheeky monkeys will sniff it out and have it for themselves. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
55. Lunch at a beach shack on Double Six Beach
Double Six Beach is a pretty popular spot for beachside action. There’s literally room for everyone on this huge beach; it’s the sort of place where you can rent an umbrella and chill on a beanbag for a day of snoozing in the sun – so don’t forget your sunglasses!
Of course, you’re gonna get hungry. There are a ton of eateries lining the beach; you can’t miss ‘em. Choose one for a decent burger, a tall glass of juice and some chill music playing over the speakers.
56. Cool off at the waterpark
Release your inner kid and cool off from the heat with a trip to a waterpark. WaterBom in Kuta is perfect for a day spent slipping down waterslides, zipping along in rubber rings, and flinging yourself down flumes.
It’s a spread across a huge park and there are loads of places to chill out in the shade and eat.
57. Go dolphin spotting
Catch sight of the beautiful bottlenose dolphins that play in the waters just off of Bali’s north coast. Head out on a fishing boat just after sunrise (to miss the tourist crowds).
The spectacular sight of hundreds of dolphins swimming together in the glistening waters is super special and a pretty cool way to start your day on a tropical island.
58. Visit the real-life Jurassic Park
Up for more urban exploration in Bali? Visit the Taman Festival in Bali. This is an abandoned amusement park that closed when, apparently, the crocodile pit got out of hand. Ok, so it’s not exactly Jurassic Park, but crocs knocked around with dinosaurs, so it’s got the same kind of, um, nuance.
Amazing cathedral-like interiors here as well.
59. Snorkel through an underwater temple
What?! We know, it sounds super cool, right? So get yourself over to Nusa Lembongan and book a snorkelling trip to the Ceningan Channel (between Nusa Lembongan and the smaller Nusa Ceningan).
Here, you’ll be able to swim with views of a seated Buddha statue underneath you. Free dive down for a closer look; it’s pretty dang magical. Sadly this statue isn’t some eastern Atlantis. It’s recent art. But still.
Some Healthy Things to Do in Bali
60. Get super fit at Crossfit Wanderlust
I’m a Crossfit fanatic… And I can say with some authority that Crossfit Wanderlust in Canggu is one of the best Crossfit gyms in the world. It’s actually a major part of why I’ve now moved to Bali…
If you see me in there, come by and say hey!
If you’re looking for something more, there are loads of fitness retreats in Bali.
61. Eat the Incredible food at Motion Cafe
By far my favorite restaurant in the WORLD. Motion Cafe serves up delicious and nutritious food. I usually order from here twice a day – it’s the fucking tits.
62. Board your bike
Yes its true: Bali is bloody beautiful but it’s also pretty big and the main roads can get busy with traffic. Get yourself a bicycle for a day or two or join a tour and pedal away from the crowds to explore the tiny villages, lush mountainside, and crumbling temples.
A simple, easy and eco-friendly way to see some hidden gems that you might not stumble across otherwise.
63. Have a chuckle at laughing yoga
We all know about yoga right? Well, in Bali you can try out yoga with a twist. Yes, it’s laughing yoga, which might sound like you’re going to be sitting on a mat, surrounded by strangers all twisting and stretching and laughing their heads off… And that’s essentially what it is.
But having a laugh and saluting the sun is meant to be really uplifting and – who knows? – you might just end up soaking up all that positive energy and leaving a newer, better version of yourself.
64. Power up on a Poke Bowl
A favorite of Balinese clean eaters, the Poke Bowl (no, not a Pokeball) has been gaining popularity in recent years – my mate Mark is obsessed with them.
Pronounced poh-keh, the delicious dish is actually a Hawaiian specialty but trendy eateries in Bali have taken it and made it their own.
Tuck into a bowl filled with rice, vegetables, topped with tuna and finished with ginger, soy sauce, and a little spring onion. Try it out at Moana Fish Eatery or Pokeh Bali and feel the tasty goodness.
65. Work off your hangover at Milk & Madu
We all know what it’s like: you’ve had one too many drinks the night before and you’re in severe need of fried food and a big, cold refreshing drink.
Make your way to Milk & Madu, the perfect place for a massive helping of all-day breakfast. The chilled out vibe is soothing for a sore head and they serve big ol’ burgers, overflowing wraps, and a load of other mouthwatering hangover cures.
66. Take a dip in healing pools
After your hiking adventures, late night drinking, and delicious Balinese dishes, you’re probably going to want to relax and heal.
The Banjar Hot Springs is set in a serene spot in the north of Bali and close to a Buddhist monastery. Swimming in the sulphuric waters of the hot spring is said to be therapeutic and (supposedly) can cure all sorts of skin problems and rheumatic ailments.
67. Take a (cream) bath
Yep, that’s right, one of the best things to do in Bali is to take a cream bath. It doesn’t actually involve getting into a bath of cream, just getting your hair intensely massaged with creamy essences while your neck and shoulders are rubbed with oil.
Your hair is then put under a steamer for half an hour and washed off with a tonic. This heavenly process is a traditional Balinese treatment and will leave your locks amazingly silky, shiny, and bouncy.
68. Drink afternoon tea at Stonehenge
Yes, you read that right, and yes, you are still reading a list about the best things to do in Bali. Standing Stones Restaurant has, for some reason, recreated Stonehenge in their garden amongst their restaurant which serves up a mean afternoon tea, complete with fresh cakes and biscuits.
69. Grab a healthy lunch at the Shady Shack
This is one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Bali! The food is great (whether you are vegetarian or not), and the cafe overlooks the rice fields of Canggu.
70. Get an IV drip hangover cure
Yes, you read that right. Maybe you’ve heard about this, but you can actually get a vitamin-filled IV drip for a hangover cure.
There are a surprising 6 companies – with names like The Dose and Hangover Lounge Bali – which can treat you ‘in-clinic’ or literally come to your villa to administer the IV drip. A lavish and odd way to cure a horrific hangover doubling up as an unusual thing to do in Bali (though for Bali it’s not that unusual).
Some Not-so-healthy Things to Do in Bali
71. Get silly at Mrs. Sippy’s pool party
If spending a day surrounded by beautiful people, and sipping drinks to the sound of funky tunes at a pool party sounds good, this will definitely be at the top of your list of things to do in Bali.
Mrs. Sippy puts on poppin’ parties every Sunday; there are free-flowing drinks, tasty bar snacks, and bumping beats to get the party going. Grab yourself a daybed and cocktail, and get vibey to the poolside DJ.
72. Feed your sugar cravings
Those of you who are chocolate addicts are going to love this place. The Big Tree Farms Bamboo Chocolate Factory is basically a farm for chocolate… and what a farm it is.
The whole place is run with eco-practices in mind and works with marginalized farmers to create a product where everyone gets a fair share of the profits. Of course, you get to try out a whole load of the good stuff when you visit too.
73. Get some amazing beachside satay
Satay fan? Food fan? We’re both, so we definitely recommend grabbing some of the delicious – and cheap – satay at Petitenget beach, near the temple of the same name (more on that later).
This satay is delicious, and munching on these skewers of tender, peanut-sauce-drenched beauty is pretty lavish when you do so on the beach.
74. Get drunk on frozen margaritas and tacos at Motel Mexicola
At Motel Mexicola the tacos are bite-sized meaning you’ll feel like a literal lord as you order plate after plate of these mighty morsels. The frozen margaritas here are also on point. And to top it all off, this place turns into a club at night.
When you feel like you can’t dance anymore, order one of their espresso martinis served in a takeaway coffee cup.
Some More Adventurous Activities in Bali
75. Chase some waterfalls
What better way to have an adventure in Bali than to trek to a waterfall? The spectacular Sekumpul Waterfall in the North of Bali is surrounded by amazing views lush rice terraces and towering trees.
If you’re in Bali during the rainy season you’ll be treated by no less than five waterfalls. Five, we tell ya!
76. Make the pilgrimage to one of the best surf spots in Bali
Uluwatu isn’t all clifftop temples, Kecak dancing, and whimsical sunsets. You’ll find some of the best surf on the whole island in the rolling waves below.
Uluwatu is an amazing place to surf and owes its reputation to the classic surf film “Morning of the Earth” by Alby Falzon and David Elfick. When the film was made (in 1971), the only way down to the beach was a rocky path from the temple.
Today it’s much easier to sample these tasty waves yourself, thanks to actual roads. Surf’s best from May to October.
77. Escape the heat in Munduk
The mountain village of Munduk in Bali’s central highlands has been a popular spot to take a break from the humid heat since the Dutch set up a hill station here in the 1890s.
Spend time in Munduk learn from locals about how the village was founded by a mountain tribe after they fled a volcanic eruption. Make sure to check out the crumbling colonial mansions and cocoa, coffee, and vanilla plantations left behind by the Dutch too.
78. Wander around an abandoned plane
Yep, there’s an abandoned plane to explore in Bali, and yep, you can actually walk inside, step onto the wings and sit in the pilot’s seat for mad selfies and such like.
This is an adventurous thing to do in Bali for anyone with an interest in urban exploration, even though it’s not actually urban at all. It’s downright tropical! Just get yourself to South Kuta and search for a Boeing 737 near Pandawa Beach. It’s one of several abandoned airplanes in Bali, which is a weird phenomenon.
79. Ride the rapids
Pump up those endorphins with a trip down the Ayung River, a great spot to try out white water rafting in Bali. Its meandering course through the pleasant, natural scenery takes about two hours to complete with some good drops and rough water to contend along the way.
If you want to test out your skills somewhere more extreme, visit in the wet season when water levels (and danger levels) rise. This is definitely one of the top adventurous things to do in Bali.
80. Set sail on the high seas
It would be more than rude to make it all the way to blissful Bali and not take a trip out to sea. There are numerous ways to set sail, from those lucky enough to have a luxury yacht at their disposal to boat tours or just a plain old fishing boat.
Explore the island’s coastline from the water and see a different side of this already captivating isle.
81. Discover Uluwatu Cave
Everyone knows about Uluwatu Temple, and the cliffs and amazing surf to be had here. But did you know about the cave system at the bottom of the cliffs? You’ll find the caves by descending the concrete steps that go down to Suluban Beach – and therefore Suluban Cave, too.
Less cave and more overhangs and pinnacles, it’s a cool place to capture through a lens, and fun to explore and walk around. It can get quite busy at times since it’s a cool spot for surfing as well.
82. Go muck diving at Amed
Never heard of muck diving? Well, basically, not all offshore undersea spots are beautiful coral reefs. Some of them are downright dirty. Discarded equipment from local fisherman has left a load of places for fish to hide, so you can get to see some interesting species too.
83. Release your inner Indiana Jones at Yeh Pulu
This archeological site is one of the most underrated things to do in Bali. Treat yourself to a bit of an adventure as you go in search of the Yeh Pulu archeological site with carvings that date back the 14th century.
The only way to reach the Yeh Pulu is on foot from the village of Goa Gajah. After about an hour of walking through rice fields, you’ll come across the carvings in a ravine alongside a sacred well. Pretty dang cool.
84. Discover the Secret Canyon of Sukawati
This secret canyon is one of the most adventurous things to do in Bali. Get yourself over to Sukawati and discover the incredible world of Beji Guwang. Otherwise known as the ‘Hidden Canyon,’ this place isn’t what we’d call a secret, but dang it’s cool.
It’s set on a stretch of the Oos River and is basically a gorge of twisting, intricate rocks, and blissful looking pools. Your socials will light up over this one.
Always Be Insured
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Other Unmissable Things to Do in Bali
85. Do some boutique shopping
Bali’s chic, unique, and neat aesthetic is visible all over the island, with a focus on cool, simple silhouettes and laid-back living. In recent years there has been a spate of stylish shops opening up pretty much everywhere.
Take a break from the beach and step inside the super trendy boutiques in Seminyak to pick yourself up something hippy-dippy to wear.
86. Swim in an infinity pool
Affordable luxury is the name of the game in Bali, and nothing is more luxurious (for some reason) than an infinity pool.
The best place to find one of these babies is the 18-meter long beast boasted by Munduk Moding Plantation, cantilevered off the side of a hill. Serious luxe here. Check yourself in for a cheeky night of design heaven and Insta treats.
87. Take a drive through an actual tree
Yes, another banyan tree cracks our list of the best things to do in Bali, but this one you can actually drive through.
The awesome Bunut Bolong is an enormous tree with a tangle of equally massive roots that straddle the street. The sacred tree is revered by locals of the nearby Manggisari village, who tie yellow cloths around the roots and, given how sick this tree is, you can definitely see why.
88. Visit some pretty beautiful spots at Bedugul
Speaking of waterfalls, the views from one of these falls in Bedugul is the pretty sublime as you can view the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple on the shores of Lake Bratan.
This 17th-century temple is used to worship Dewi Danu (the Balinese Hindu water goddess) and boasts an 11-story Meru tower dedicated to Shiva.
The surrounded area is beautiful thanks to the glassy lake and Bali Botanic Gardens, Indonesia’s largest botanic garden. The climate in Bedugul, located in central, mountainous Bali, is cooler than the sometimes sweltering lowlands.
89. Check out the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
Although the idea of a slight commercial cultural park with a huge statue of Vishnu may feel a little bit tacky, this is definitely something worth seeing if you’re into huge statues.
To be exact, this 133-meter tall copper statue of Vishnu riding his trusty bird steed, Garuda, is one of the tallest statues in the world.
In the area literally carved out of limestone they hold big festivals gigs, like the dance festival Djakarta Warehouse Project held here in 2018.
90. Visit a secret garden
Samanbagan village has been labeled the Secret Garden, and while it might have just been a way that local tour guides could cash in on the tourist dollar, the place is a slice of sheer beauty.
With a local guide, hike into the landscape surrounding Sambangan village immersed in the luminous green of the jungle as you trek to an Eden-like waterfall.
91. Treat yo’ self to something custom made
If you want something made just for you then Bali is the place to get it. When it comes to made to order products, the options are endless. You can get yourself a spanking new suit or a shiny pair of shoes as well as custom-made furniture and ceramics.
Good luck getting those back home though… maybe just stick to a handbag or two.
92. Shop ‘til you drop at Kumbasari Market
If you want to fill up your bag with handmade trinkets for your mates back home or just browse for handmade textiles and local art, get yourself up early and head to Kumbasari Market in Denpasar, a fun place to shop for locally made goods. Make sure your barter game is strong as there are some great bargains to be had here.
93. See the huge stalactites at Goa Gong temple
For even more cave action, head over to Goa Gong temple. It’s set back from the resort area of Jimbaran, making for a nice little trip. This cave temple is also known as the Stalactite Temple because there are huge stalactites that basically acts like a huge gong inside the cave itself.
It’s still rung in ceremonies. The atmosphere is serene and tranquil though. Oh, and you can’t go in unless the priest is there. Fairs.
94. Go see Pura Kehen
Set in a wooded hilly area, Pura Kehen makes for a different temple experience in Bali if all you’ve seen are water temples. Dating back to the 9th century AD (yep, it’s proper old), this Balinese temple is cool to visit. There are Chinese porcelains embedded into the walls and a huge banyan tree with a monk’s house up in the trees. Pretty cool.
95. Get up early for Badung Market
If you’re after some seriously fresh local produce or just some good old fashioned people watching, get yourself up nice and early and head to Badung Market.
One of Bali’s many, many, many markets, Badung opens before the sun comes up and is packed full of locals selling brightly coloured fruits, various meats, and all sorts of other tasty traditional tidbits. You can even treat yourself to some freshly cut flowers grown on the farms in the central highlands.
96. Soak up the regal vibes at the Ujung Water Palace
Head to the less touristed eastside of Bali in the Karangasem regency for something pretty dang beautiful. Here, in the village of Seraya, you’ll find Taman Soekasada Ujung, better known as Ujung Water Palace.
Visiting this palace is one of the coolest things to do in Bali thanks to its stone bridges over three pools (not for swimming), beautiful terraced gardens, and ornate buildings… Yep, this is one for the ‘gram.
97. Cross the rickety bridge in Bali
There’s a famous rickety bridge in Bali – we’re not sure if there’s any other name for it other than literally, ‘the rickety bridge’ – which you’ll find at Batu Belig Beach in Canggu.
It used to be more, um, rickety, but it’s still a wooden bridge that might scare a few people off of it who don’t fancy falling in the sea. The best thing about this bridge is the super, super cute cafe (La Laguna) set in a couple of old gypsy-style caravans and rustic wooden terraces.
Bali Packing List
1. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottle are tough, lightweight and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are. For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!
2. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
3. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
4. Camera or Cell Phone Camera Accessories: One thing’s for sure – Bali is has some of the most photogenic architecture out there. If you’re relying on your mobile phone camera exclusively, enhance your lens with accessories to make those photos really pop!
5. International Adapter: Bali outlets accommodate typical European type C two-pin plugs; if your plugs are of a different variety, you’ll need an adapter. Save yourself the hassle of trying to track down an adapter at your destination and paying twice as much than planning ahead by buying one online.
Day Trips from Bali
98. Take a trip to Deer Island
The barking deer that live on the little island of Menjangan just off of Bali’s northwest coast are seriously living their best life.
Take a trip to the tiny island to see the deer casually cooling off in the sea, catching some rays on the sand, and drinking cocktails at sunset…
99. Island hop the Gili Islands
Were you expecting unspoiled paradise in Bali? Well, yeah, though you CAN find it, the island itself is pretty built up now, and unless you want to spend hours circumnavigating the island on a scooter looking for secret beaches, most beautiful spots are populated and at least somewhat developed.
Enter the Gili Islands: three actual paradise islands with coral reefs just off-shore, palm-fringed, sugar white sand, and turquoise seas. You can even spot turtles swimming off Turtle Point on Gili Meno! TURTLES!
100. Hang out in a treehouse in Nusa Penida
The Batu Molenteng tree house is located high above the white sand of Atuh Beach. You have to climb up the wooden stairs to reach the treehouse but once at the top, the views are mesmerizing.
Spend some time enjoying this really chill spot, sit and soak up waves lapping the shore and the surrounding cliffs and hills.
101. Visit a vehicle venerating temple
Do you think if you’ve seen one temple, you’ve seen ‘em all? Dead wrong. Head over to nearby Nusa Penida – the largest, less touristed of the three islands in this little group – and look for Pura Paluang on a 200m-tall outcrop near Bunga Mekar.
Locals call it ‘Pura Mobil’ and travelers call it the Car Temple. There are carvings of two cars venerated here on stone plinths. It’s still a temple so show respect. There are even stories of the locals hearing car noises coming from the temple at night.
Final thoughts on our best things to do in Bali guide
There you have it friends, some of my favourite things to do in Bali! Come say hey to me if you fancy a workout at Crossfit Wanderlust.
Between the temples, Balinese culture, surf, beaches, and unique things to do in Bali, you’ll never get bored.
There are also tons of tasty local specialties to try, so make sure you head out and grab some of the best Balinese food from the boutique cafes and local warungs alike.
Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking Bali Travel Guide
- Where to Stay in Bali • Our No Stress Guide
- 32 Best Hostels in Bali • Epic Insider Guide
- 11 Reasons Why Bali is the Ultimate Romantic Destination
- Backpacking Indonesia Travel Guide
- Is Bali Safe?
- Epic Lombok itinerary
- Top Fitness and Yoga Retreats in Bali
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Writer and entrepreneur. Adventurer and vagabond. Master of the handstand pushup. Conqueror of mountains, survivor of deserts and crusader for cheap escapades. Will has been on the road for thirteen years, travelling to far-flung lands on a budget. Today, he runs a number of online ventures, including The Broke Backpacker – the world’s largest budget travel blog. He is passionate about solving the plastic problem and cleaning up the oceans. Currently, Will is based in Bali where he plans to open his first Tribal Hostel in 2020.