What to Do in Bali: Best Things to Do, See and Taste

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Bali is a remarkable corner of Indonesia that captivates with its vibrant charm and rich culture. It’s long been a “get-away” destination where people feel like they can go to leave their cares behind – if only for a little while – and possibly find peace and spirituality. Some of that is thanks to Eat, Pray Love, but there has always been a sense of tranquility associated with Bali.

If you’re planning your itinerary and wondering what to do in Bali, you’re likely looking at adding some spiritual landmarks, plenty of beach time, and a few thrilling adventures. I would encourage you to consider adding cultural activities as well so you can witness some of Bali’s heritage and history.

Sunrise on Bali Beach
Sunrise on Bali Beach

Beyond that, I would also caution you to keep your expectations in check, because Bali has become a major tourist destination over the years, attracting a lot of influencers and partiers as well. The beach can be polluted rather than pristine.

In any case, Bali’s natural beauty will still blow you away. The island’s landscapes are a veritable playground for both relaxation and adventure seekers. Whether it’s savoring the local cuisine or venturing into the richness of underwater life, every moment in Bali is an opportunity to create memories.

Bali’s Pristine Beaches

Bali’s coastlines are adorned with some of the world’s most stunning beaches, each offering unique attractions from serene shores to vibrant surf spots. Whether you’re a sun-seeker, a surfer, or someone in search of peace, Bali’s beaches have something for every kind of traveler.

South Bali’s Beaches

Jimbaren Beach
Jimbaren Beach

In South Bali, you’re treated to the iconic Uluwatu and its world-class surfing breaks. The area is not only a paradise for surfers but also a haven for beachgoers seeking powdery, white sand and dramatic cliff-top views. For a cultural twist, watch the mesmerizing Kecak dance performed against the sunset at an Uluwatu temple. Make sure to visit the pristine Green Bowl Beach, a hidden gem less frequented by tourists.

White Sand Beaches and Diving Spots in the East

Traveling to the East, you’ll discover lesser-visited white sand beaches, ideal for long sun-soaked days. This region includes spots like the tranquil, clear waters of Amed, well-known for scuba diving and snorkeling. If you’re interested in marine life and coral gardens, the eastern coasts are your go-to destinations.

North and West Bali: Tranquility and Snorkeling

Head to the tranquil beaches of North and West Bali for serene and less populated shores. Pemuteran and Lovina offer calm waters perfect for snorkeling, where the sands are soft, and the sunsets are beautiful. Lovina is also famous for dolphin-watching tours at sunrise.

The Famous Kuta Beach and Surrounding Areas

Kuta Beach is undoubtedly the most famous beach in Bali, known for its lively atmosphere and consistent waves that draw surfers of all levels. Just north, Legian Beach and Seminyak offer a blend of relaxation and beach activities, with plenty of restaurants and bars nearby. Enjoy a seafood dinner on the sands of Jimbaran or visit the iconic Tanah Lot Temple for a touch of spiritual awe to your beach experience.

Cultural Bali

Ubud Monkey Forest
Ubud Monkey Forest

Bali’s cultural heart beats loudest in areas steeped in art, history, and spirituality. You’ll find yourself immersed in a vibrant tapestry of cultural experiences, from the creative pulse of Ubud to the profound serenity of its ancient temples.

Ubud: The Artistic and Spiritual Hub

As you wander through Ubud, the artistic and spiritual hub of Bali, the air is thick with creativity and reverence. This destination isn’t just a place; it’s a mood, an aspiration, a tropical state of mind.

Ubud’s streets are lined with galleries and workshops, each offering a glimpse into the island’s artistic heritage. Here, the Sacred Monkey Forest, also known as the Ubud Monkey Forest, is not just a nature reserve but a complex of ancient temples guarded by a troupe of playful but sacred monkeys.

Marvel at Bali’s Iconic Temples

Bali’s landscape is dotted with temples that stand as serene guardians of the island’s culture and history. Pura Luhur Uluwatu, perched on a cliff’s edge, offers panoramic views and a sense of timeless tranquility. Meanwhile, Tirta Empul, a water temple, is renowned for its holy springs and purification baths. Each of these sacred sites offers a unique window into Bali’s soul, often alive with floral offerings and incense.

Cultural Shows and Traditional Dance Performances

Immerse yourself in Bali’s age-old traditions with mesmerizing cultural shows and traditional dance performances. The Kecak Fire Dance, a spectacular display often performed at sunset, combines chorus-like chants and captivating drama. These performances are more than entertainment; they are a bridge to Bali’s mythological past and a vibrant part of the spiritual and cultural identity that defines the island.

Adventurous Bali

Bali is a haven for adrenaline seekers and those yearning to connect with nature. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer, an avid hiker, or simply in search of breathtaking natural wonders, this island offers a myriad of activities set against stunning backdrops.

Surfing and Water Sports

Kuta Beach Surfing
Surfers on Kuta Beach

Bali’s beaches are a surfer’s paradise, particularly the renowned breaks of Amed and the smaller islands like Nusa Lembongan. Here, the waves cater to all skill levels, from gentle rollers perfect for beginners to challenging swells for the pros. Aside from surfing, you can indulge in a variety of water sports like snorkelling and scuba diving amongst vibrant coral reefs, or even take high-speed jet-ski rides along the coastline.

  • Surfing Hotspots: Amed, Nusa Lembongan, Kuta
  • Water Activities: Snorkelling, Scuba Diving, Jet-Skiing

Hiking the Peaks of Bali

Your lust for venture can be satisfied by trekking to the peaks of Mount Batur and Mount Agung. Embark on a guided hike to witness the sunrise from atop Batur, an experience that’s as rewarding as it is physically demanding. For a more challenging ascent, Mount Agung awaits, promising panoramic vistas from Bali’s highest point. Ensure you’re prepared with suitable gear and hydration for these treks.

  • Hikes to Consider:
    • Mount Batur: Ideal for sunrise views, a moderate climb
    • Mount Agung: For experienced hikers, offers extensive views

Waterfalls and Natural Wonders

Beyond the beaches and peaks lie the cascading waterfalls and sacred sites. Aling-Aling Waterfall presents the thrill of cliff diving into its crystal-clear pool, while the serene setting of Pura Lempuyang invites a more contemplative adventure. Engage in canyoning adventures or simply take in the sights of these natural masterpieces.

  • Must-See Sights:
    • Aling-Aling Waterfall: Dive or slide into its waters
    • Pura Lempuyang: A spiritual journey with scenic views

Bali’s Culinary Journey

Bebek Betutu
Bebek Betutu

Embark on a delightful exploration of Bali’s gastronomic delights, where traditional flavors meet modern culinary innovation. Your palate will be treated to a tapestry of tastes ranging from the zest of local spices to the freshness of the ocean.

Local Delicacies and Fine Dining

As you venture through Bali, indulge in a variety of local delicacies that define the island’s culinary landscape. Pay a visit to a traditional warung to savor dishes like Babi Guling (suckling pig) or Bebek Betutu (slow-cooked duck), both known for their rich, aromatic flavors that embody the essence of Indonesian spices.

For a touch of luxury, explore upscale restaurants in Jimbaran, where you can dine on expertly prepared seafood while overlooking the stunning coastline. Jimbaran is particularly famed for its nightlife and beachfront seafood haunts, where food becomes a revelatory experience with the freshest catch from the local fishermen.

Cafes and Beachfront Bars

Bali’s cafés are sanctuaries of relaxation, offering more than just a caffeine fix. Visit a coffee plantation to learn about the coffee production process and enjoy the rich, bold flavors of Balinese coffee. In places like Ubud, cafes often integrate organic produce into their offerings, presenting a healthy and sumptuous menu.

As the sun sets, the vibe shifts towards the energetic bars of Gili Trawangan. Here, you can sip on creative cocktails to the backbeat of the ocean waves, perfecting your evening in tropical bliss.

  • Must-Visit:
    • Sisterfields in Seminyak for a trendy brunch scene with artisanal dishes.
    • Single Fin in Uluwatu for panoramic ocean views and memorable sunset sessions.

Relaxation and Wellness in Bali

Bali is a haven for those seeking peace and rejuvenation. With its serene environment, it’s the perfect backdrop for enhancing your well-being. Here, you can indulge in transformative yoga retreats and experience luxurious spa treatments that elevate both body and mind.

Yoga Retreats and Meditation Centers

The island’s rich cultural tapestry and tranquil landscapes provide an idyllic setting for yoga and meditation. You’ll find centers nestled in the heart of Ubud, where the jungle’s calm resonates with your search for inner peace. These retreats offer a wide range of yoga styles, catering to both beginners and advanced practitioners.

Meditation courses also help you tap into mindfulness, further promoting your sense of wellness. Take the opportunity to attend a retreat in Uluwatu, where the cliffside provides a dramatic and inspiring view, enhancing your spiritual journey.

Luxury Spas and Wellness Treatments

Bali’s luxury spas are sanctuaries of relaxation, many with stunning infinity pools overlooking lush landscapes or the ocean. In Seminyak, you can experience a blend of traditional Balinese healing and modern therapies. Treatments are designed not only to relax but also to detoxify and rejuvenate your body.

Utilizing natural, locally sourced ingredients, these wellness rituals are a tribute to Bali’s heritage. Whether it’s a massage that eases every muscle or a skincare treatment that leaves you glowing, you’ll find an exceptional level of service and sophistication waiting for you.

A Shopper’s Paradise

Ubud Art Market
Ubud Art Market

Bali is an island renowned for its vibrant markets and exclusive designer boutiques. Whether you’re searching for high-end fashion or traditional crafts, Bali’s shopping scene caters to your every desire, especially in Seminyak and through the showcasing of local talents.

Markets and Designer Outlets of Seminyak

Seminyak stands as the stylish and sophisticated heart of Bali’s shopping. In this upscale neighborhood, you can wander through a myriad of designer boutiques that feature both international and local brands. The shopping experience here is unlike any other in Bali, offering a seamless blend of high fashion and unique designs.

  • Designer Boutiques: Expect to find chic clothing and accessories that reflect the latest trends.
  • Local Brands: Discover boutiques such as Bamboo Blonde or Drifter Surf Shop that bring you an authentic Balinese touch to contemporary design.

Unique Souvenirs and Local Crafts

As you delve into the world of Balinese shopping, seek out souvenirs and crafts that tell a story of the island’s rich culture. Ubud, in particular, offers a treasure trove of handcrafted goods that embody the spirit of Bali.

  • Ubud Art Market: For a vibrant array of local arts and crafts, look no further than the Ubud Art Market. Here, you will find Balinese wood carvings, stone carvings, and intricate silverwork which can serve as perfect mementos of your trip.
  • Handmade Crafts: Alongside these, soak in the multitude of local handicrafts ranging from colorful fabrics to handmade jewelry, ensuring you leave with something truly special.

Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:

🧳 Travel Packing List | ✔️ Why You Need Travel Insurance | ✈️ What to Do Before You Leave Home

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What to Do in Bali: Best Things to Do, See and Taste

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