What to see and do Bali
The Indonesian island of Bali, famed for its forested volcanoes, tropical beaches, kaleidoscopic coral reefs, emerald rice paddies, and welcoming local people is a phenomenal place to visit, for one week, two weeks, or longer (if you’re lucky enough to have a few weeks to travel!). Also hailed as the ‘Island of the Gods’ thanks to its unique tropical scenery, Bali is perfect for families, couples, honeymooners or anyone looking to get out of their comfort zone and into the adventure of a lifetime in a fascinating spiritual culture the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else. Travelling around Bali is an eye-opening experience and with a local guide, you’ll ensure that you get to see all of the top highlights as well as some local spots and hidden gems that you would never have come across on your own.
Planning a trip to Bali with one of Evaneos' carefully-selected local travel agents will give you an insider’s perspective on the climate and the best time of the year to visit particular areas, giving you the most useful insights for planning your perfect Bali tour. Above all, they can be your on-the-ground support for everything, whether you need tips on the best beaches for surfing or you’re experiencing a problem. With so much to see and do in Bali, from watching the sunrise over mysterious temples to yoga lessons overlooking miles of turquoise-coloured coastline, a local agent is a sure-fire way to pinpoint what interests you most and to ensure that you don’t miss it.
Best things to see and do in Bali
What to see in Bali
As one of the 17,000-odd paradisiacal islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is just a stone’s throw away from other islands like Lombok, Flores, and Java, making it an ideal holiday destination for island-hopping. If, however, you’re looking to spend your entire holiday time discovering Bali - and believe us, there are enough sites and activities in Bali to entertain even the toughest travel critics - the first thing you'll need to decide is what you'd most like to do in the time you have. To help you out, here’s a quick travel guide to the highlights of Bali, including a handful of the best places to visit during your trip:
- Paradise beaches: it's no secret that Bali's sprawling coastline and tropical conditions make it a beach-seeker's paradise. Most tourists come to Bali's palm-fringed beaches to snorkel or scuba dive, but if you're not a fan of getting in the water and are planning a relaxed beach holiday, rest assured, you can have just as much fun watching the sunset from the sand and overlooking the crystal-clear waters of Kuta, Jimbaran, or Seminyak. Bali's capital city, Denpasar, also offers white-sand beaches to put your feet up on, so pretty much every region in Bali comes complete with beach opportunities.
- Ancient temples: regardless of which regions you choose to visit, there's no shortage of historical or religious sites in Bali. One of the island's most famous tourist attractions remains Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Sitting majestically atop Lake Bratan, the temple complex is surrounded by wildlife, lush scenery, and tropical gardens. For more temple sightseeing, you’ll also want to head to Tanah Lot north of Canggu, an ancient Hindu temple and pilgrimage site sitting on a rock in the sea, or the Brahmavihara-Arama Buddhist Monastery. Set upon a mystic backdrop of mountains, the temple boasts impressive architecture and is home to a miniature replica of the Javanese site of Borobudur. The iconic, 70-metre-high cliff-top temple of Uluwatu is also well worth a visit, as is the Pura Besakih temple complex, which was referred to as Bali’s ‘Mother Temple’ for over 1,000 years. ‘Complex’ is the key word here; this is the largest and most sacred Hindu temple in Bali and is comprised of over 20 jaw-dropping temples staggered up a mountain.
- Cascading waterfalls: with a central focus on mindfulness and spirituality, Bali is a country synonymous with tranquility and there are fewer places in the world where you'll feel more in harmony with nature. Bali's waterfalls are a perfect example of this and can be found more or less all over the country. Our favourites are the natural swimming pools at Gitgit Waterfall, where you can soak and relax in the azure pool surrounded by jungle scenery. The lesser-known Tukad Cepung Waterfall more than matches Gitgit in beauty and the area benefits from fewer crowds. The same can be said for Sekumpul Waterfall, which is hidden within miles of dense wilderness and is a much easier excursion to make with a local guide at your side.
- Caves and canyons: just a side-note, but if you’re into your history and geology (or just want to spend the afternoon seeing what it would be like to be Indiana Jones), you’ll want to take a day trip to Goa Gajah at some point during your tour. Easily accessible from Ubud, Goa Gajah is a beautiful cave covered in stone carvings of Hindu gods dating all the way back to the 9th century. Alternatively, for something a little 'different,' an experienced local guide can take you to the majestic site of the Beji Guwang Hidden Canyon, which can be found along the Oos River, a short distance east of Denpasar. The trail through the ancient canyon isn't for the fainthearted, but it's an adventure-lover's playground and a great, if challenging, activity for travellers looking for a more active holiday.
- Cities and towns: no trip to Bali would be complete without visiting the city of Ubud. A monkey forest, arts and crafts, and the palace of one of Bali’s royal families are all synonymous with the culture centre. Located amid flourishing rice paddies and the impressive foothills of the Gianyar Regency, you could spend the bulk of your trip here without getting bored. The port town of Singaraja, in contrast, is better known for its colonial Dutch warehouses lining its waterfront. History lovers will be in their element here, with the cultural delights of Buleleng Museum on its doorstep. Finally, if you don’t mind making a detour slightly west, head to the ancient capital of Semarapura and its bustling marketplace, a feast for the senses with its colours and unique atmosphere.
- Balinese villages: Negara, the capital of Bali’s Jembrana Regency, is the ideal choice for travellers looking to get off-the-beaten-track and to soak up authentic Balinese culture in a lesser-visited spot. A home-stay in a local village is a great way to experience Bali, and why not go a step further by rolling up your sleeves and helping out in a rice paddy or coconut or coffee plantation? Last but not least, the highland village of Mundluk is the ideal place to discover the legendary tranquility of the Balinese people.
What to do in Bali
Now a destination widely-recognised as being one of the world's best places for diving, Bali attracts millions of tourists seeking to discover its rich and diverse marine life every year. The attractions and excursions on offer in Bali certainly don't end there though; travellers will find everything from outdoor adventure activities to art galleries, eco lodges, and hiking trails. Without further ado, here's a short list of the best activities to consider if you're looking to visit Bali:
- Surf the waves: for an activity-filled itinerary, sign up for a surfing lesson or afternoon of water sports in Kuta - a family favourite! If not, a short venture south of Nusa Dua will take you to the picturesque Bukit Peninsula: a huge limestone peninsula that boasts some of the best surfing spots in Bali. Almost all of the major beach resorts in southern Bali are ideal for surfers of all levels, but bear in mind that depending on the time of year that you visit, you'll likely be sharing the waves with many other tourists. Don't get us wrong; crowds aside, surfing in Bali is definitely worth it!
- Go diving or snorkelling: Bali’s is rightly praised for being one of the world's diving capitals. Its coastline is dotted with resorts or traditional fishing villages from which you can embark on any number of scuba diving or snorkelling trips to discover some of the best conditions on the planet. The seaside town of Candi Dasa draws travellers in with its freshwater lagoon. Amed Beach is the more popular choice for underwater explorers - you’ll even find an ancient shipwreck beckoning from the seabed. Located within the coral reef gardens of West Bali National Park, it’s not surprising that Menjangan Island is as a haven for scuba divers and snorkellers looking to explore diverse marine life. Serious or experienced divers might want to look to Pulau Menjangan instead, an island paradise just off the north-western tip of Bali. Finally, if you’re taking a detour north during your trip, the coastal resort of Lovina Beach should probably be on your list. It’s a great place for a family holiday, offering dolphin-spotting opportunities and gentle beaches where first-time snorkellers can enjoy coral reefs bursting with colour.
- Go jungle trekking or hiking: Bali's not a holiday destination you travel to with the aim of staying indoors. If you chose the island for its trekking opportunities, grab your walking boots and head to Mount Batur, one of Bali’s most popular sites, where you can stop off for a photo of the stunning lake at its foot before you even start climbing. Once you do start your trek, you will encounter little villages along the way, each one more remote and interesting that the last, before you reach the summit and the incredibly rewarding view that awaits you. The 77,000 hectare West Bali National Park is another great place for walking and trekking, and has a range of trails and paths to suit all ages and abilities. You can even try your luck at spotting some of the park’s resident birds and animals during your excursion through its lush mangrove forests, or opt for a bird-watching tour with an experienced local guide. No landmark in the east of Bali is more famous than the mighty Mount Agung, the highest point of the island and an active volcano. Photography fans can expect to find a stunning panorama here, made even more so if you’re willing to have an early morning hike to watch the sunrise from the summit.
- Try a yoga session: just 3 miles from Lovina you’ll find the perfect excuse for a zen-filled day out at the Banjar Hot Springs, complete with tropical gardens, thermal pools and showers, and a luxurious spa. You can even take part in the rich traditions of yoga or meditation that are practised here, set amid dense tropical forest; it doesn't get more 'zen' than that. No matter where you travel in Bali, yoga studios will never be far, offering sessions for beginners looking to learn the craft or advanced yogis who want a truly enriching mindful experience surrounded by serene jungle scenery or the sound of morning waves sweeping over a beach.
For the best tips, information, and inspiration to plan your holiday to Bali, ask the experts: Evaneos' hand-picked local travel agencies based there. As well as providing unparalleled local knowledge including access to hidden gems and advice on how to avoid tourist-traps, they'll organise the trip of a lifetime for you based around your needs and interests.
Best time to visit Bali
The best time to visit Bali will depend on where you plan on travelling and what you plan on doing during your time here. If you're stuck deciding when to go to Bali, here's a quick breakdown of the island's most popular months to visit:
- The best months to visit Bali are undoubtedly the shoulder season months of April, May, June and September, where prices are cheaper but the weather is good and all the perks of high season are in full swing but without the crowds.
- Heading to Bali in April or May is the ideal time to visit for those wanting to snorkel or scuba dive, since the waters are clear and you will have the best view of the underwater paradise that awaits you.
- June in Bali in is the perfect time to visit attractions that are usually crowded during peak season, such as temples and theme parks, since these can be significantly better with fewer tourists.
- September is great for hiking and trekking, or any other outdoor activity where humidity will affect your enjoyment.
- December and January are hot and rainy months in Bali, but since the rain only lasts for an hour or two each day, this won’t really affect your trip and you could save money by booking during the off-peak season.
- During February and November, the rainy season is similarly still present, but it's much lighter and eases off a little.
- Bali in March is beautiful, with all the greenery still lush from the now finished rainy season and the promise of sunnier skies.
- Being the summer holidays back home, August is one of the most popular times to visit Bali, so if you do plan on going during this period, you may have to book accommodation and activities further in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
Travel tips and advice for travelling to Bali
Visa regulations for Bali
The visa regulations for Bali are fairly simple; a Bali visa stamp is available on entry, without the need for a formal visitor, for all residents of the UK and the US. Visitors are allowed to stay for up to 30 days, without the possibility of extending the visa once this period is complete. For more information or for specific circumstances, we advise you to check the visa regulations website of your local embassy just to be sure.
Vaccinations for Bali
Before heading off to Bali, book in an appointment with your GP to ensure that you get all the right vaccinations for your upcoming trip. Injections for Bali will vary depending on where exactly you are visiting and what you plan on doing, but as a general rule you will need to be vaccinated against Diptheria, Polio and Tetanus (all of which are administered in one injection), Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Cholera.