19 Things To Do Around Bali

Bali - Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Love Bali sign at Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Bali is one of those places that is at the top of everyone’s bucket list.  The island of Bali, known as the ‘Island of the Gods’, is one of the most beautiful places on earth, It’s no wonder that this popular travel destination welcomes over 10 million foreign tourists to its shores each year.  Surrounded by lush green rice fields, misty waterfalls, and ornate temples – there is something to do for everyone.

19 Things to do in Bali -Tegalalang Rice Terrace

While it’s true that Bali is a very touristy destination, there are still some places that haven’t quite caught on yet.  We spent the majority of our two week vacation in Ubud, also known as Bali’s cultural hub visiting the surrounding areas.  We got around the island with all different kinds of transportation to seek out the Instagram-worthy sights.  I spent the last three weeks putting together this massive list of things to do in Bali that I couldn’t wait to share with all of you!

Bali - Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot at sunset

Bali - Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot at sunset

Visiting Temples

1. Pura Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot is a rock formation off the main island of Bali, home to an iconic temple that is popular for both tourists and locals. Located just 30 minutes north of Canggu, this important landmark attracts over a million visitors each year. This ancient Hindu temple was built centuries ago, but still remains a site of religious significance to the Balinese people today. There are often religious ceremonies performed here every Friday.

Bali - Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot during blue hours

Bali - Pura Tanah Lot

Visitors coming to Pura Tanah Lot

The best time to visit the temple is at sunrise or sunset, but be aware of the massive traffic congestion that will undoubtedly occur because there is only one access road.  When we were there late Friday afternoon, the place was filled with families, all dressed up in white religious attire and carrying colorful offerings, rushing down to the temple.  The festive music drifting out from the rock, mingled with the giddy laughter of children brought a smile to my face.  As the sun slowly set, it cast a lovely pastel hue over the cliff and water.  At that moment, I forgot about the crowds and traffic and just reveled in the moment that I shared with a thousand other strangers.

Location: North of Canggu

Entrance Fee: IDR 60,000 per adult + IDR 5,000 for parking

Bali - Saraswati Temple

Saraswati Temple

Bali - Saraswati Temple

Saraswati Temple

2. Saraswati Temple

Saraswati is a quaint temple located right in the center of Ubud, right off of the main Jalan Raya Ubud road. This Balinese Hindu temple was built in 1952 and dedicated to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom.  Walking around the complex, you’ll be able to admire the temple architecture and the intricate sandstone bas relief carvings of the goddess. The calming atmosphere inside the temple is an oasis in the center of the chaos that is downtown Ubud. On either side of the walkway leading to the central courtyard are two massive koi ponds filled with lotus blossoms. In the evening, the courtyard is turned into a stage that hosts traditional dance performances.

Location: Center of Ubud

Entrance Fee: Free

Bali - Pura Tirta Empul

worshipers at Pura Tirta Empul

3. Pura Tirta Empul

Balinese Hindu worshipers have come to Pura Tirta Empul (Holy Water Temple) for more than a thousand years.  Its water source is said to be from the sacred springs created by the God Indra and possess curative properties. The tradition continues to this day where worshipers and tourists still flock to this place to bathe and purify themselves. The Holy Water Temple is located in the village of Manukaya, on the outskirt of Ubud.

Bali - Pura Tirta Empul

Pura Tirta Empul

Tirta Empul is a large temple complex. As soon as you pass through the stone gate, you’ll enter the courtyards divided into 3 sections. In the innermost courtyard, you’ll find two sacred purification pools. Devotees enter on the left side and stand in the pools waiting to dip their head under the holy water in a purification ritual known as ‘melukat’. This process is repeated until they have cleansed themselves under each of the 13 spouts.

Pura Tirta Empul

Bali – Pura Tirta Empul

As with any of the sacred temples around Bali,  you’ll need to dress properly in a sarong and sash before entering the grounds. Women during their monthly cycles are prohibited from entering the sacred site. Anyone who wants to enter the pool has to put on a green bathing sarong that you can rent on the premises.

Location: Outskirt of Ubud

Entrance Fee: IDR 30,000 / person

Bali - Pura Kehen

Gate at Pura Kehen

 

Bali - Pura Kehen

Pura Kehen

4. Pura Kehen

Kehen Temple is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Brahmen, the god of fire.  Located about 40 minutes North of Ubud, it is one of the most important temples in the region. The complex has many interesting and ornate architectural features including intricately carved stairs that lead to a beautifully decorated gate.

Bali - Pura Kehen

Pura Kehen

Bali - Pura Kehen

meru shrine at Pura Kehen

Inside the courtyard, you’ll find a huge banyan tree, casting its shadow over the surrounding shrines and altars. At the north end of the courtyard, is a lotus throne dedicated to the three main Hindu gods Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu with elaborate carvings of a turtle and snake wrapped around the base to symbolize the underworld. Since this is a holy temple, visitors must be appropriately dressed with their legs covered.  Both men and women have to put on a sarong and sash.

Location:  Outskirt of Ubud

Entrance Fee: Donation

Bali - Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

5. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a water temple located on the shores of Lake Bratan set in the highlands of Northern Bali.  Built in 1633, this Shaivite temple is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the goddess of the waters. It is one of nine Kahyangan Jagat Temples, making it one of the most important temples in Bali, especially for Hindu followers.

Bali - Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

The iconic landscape of the meru shrine reflected in the calm water and silhouetted against the mountainous backdrop is depicted on the IDR 50,000 note as well as countless travel brochures.  It’s the image most often associated with this beautiful island.  This place is popular with both domestic and international visitors who come on a pilgrimage to pray for fertility, prosperity, and well-being.  Standing by the shore, breathing in the crisp air, and watching the ripples form over the still water stirred by gentle breeze had a calming effect on my soul.

Location: Northern Ubud

Entrance Fee: IDR 50,000 / person

Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Pura Lempuyang Luhur

6. Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Pura Lempuyang Luhur, is one of the most highly regarded temples in Bali, part of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad, or the six holiest places of worship on Bali. It is also believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island. The temple is located at the top of Lempuyang mountain, overlooking Mt Agung, the active volcano that erupted a few months ago.  The Pura Lempuyang Luhur complex consists of 7 levels with the main temple lying at the peak of the mountain, 1,175 m above sea level.  To get to the top you have to climb 1,700 steps.  Locals undertake the spiritual journey, usually during holy celebrations,  which could take 6 – 8 hours by foot from their village. The Balinese believe that anyone with a heavy heart will not complete their pilgrimage.

Bali - Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Bali - Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Since this place is outside of the usual tourist zone, you will not run into too many people here.  I only found out about it when pictures of the temple in the clouds  circulated around Instagram. To get to the Gateway to Heaven, you only have to go up to the first level, about a 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot. From this vantage point, you can see the surrounding area.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy the day we went and all we could see was the glorious view of a gate reaching up to the sky, surrounded by clouds.

Location:  East Bali

Entrance Fee: Donation

Rice field in Bali

Rice field in Bali

Visiting Rice Terraces

Bali is well known for its rice fields and terraces.  Rice is a staple food in Bali and its people have been planting rice for almost 2,000 years.  Rice fields can be found almost everywhere, and the countryside is filled with lush green rice paddies as far as the eyes can see.  The hills were carefully carved out by hand with simple tools many generations ago to create the stunning terraces that we see today.

Imagine walking around these lush fields, your feet unexpectedly sinking into the soft mud, feeling a sense of liberation that often comes when it’s just you and nature.  Nearby, the frogs and crickets let you know that you’re not alone.  It’s this feeling that has captured the heart of many visitors making the rice fields a must visit on every trip to Bali.

Bali - Canggu Rice Fields

Canggu Rice Fields

Bali - Canggu Rice Fields

Canggu Rice Fields

7. Canggu Rice Fields

The Canggu rice fields do not make it on tourists’ radar as frequently as the Tegalalang rice fields, but they really should.  Their less well-known status have kept tour buses away and give it place a more authentic feel.  The only people you will see for miles around are the hardworking farmers bending over the field in the hot sun tilling the rich soil.  Since the paddies are spread out, the best way to explore them is on a moped or a bicycle that you can rent from your hotel.  We visited the paddies along Jalan Padang Linjong, just a few minutes drive from the center of town.

Location:  Canggu

Entrance Fee: Free

Bali - Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

8. Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tegalalang are the most well-known rice terraces and one of the main tourist attractions in Bali. They are located about a 20 minutes drive north of Ubud. This is one of the places that I’d seen in pictures and had always wanted to visit; and it’s not hard to see why with the swaying palm trees and lush green fields.  From the top, you can see the ‘Love Bali’ sign and the picturesque view of the rice paddies, but to explore the area fully, you will need to go down into the valley.  The place is quite compact, but you’ll still need at least an hour to see the area.

Bali - Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Early morning at Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Bali - Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

This place is usually full of tourists by 9 am, so you’ll need to get there early to avoid the crowds. It’s also better to go early before the heat and humidity kicks in.  We got there around 8 am and had the place mostly to ourselves.  Funnily enough, we ran into a few Instagram friends unplanned from half-way across the world. By the time we left, the place was full of tourists.

Location: Center of Ubud

Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000 per person

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

9. Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih rice terraces are very different from the Tegalalang terraces in that they are massive and spread over 53,000 hectares and they are not overrun with tourists.  This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most striking examples of terraced rice paddies in the world and home to the oldest and most complex example of the subak, which is Bali’s community-based irrigation and water management system created in the 9th century. The panoramic views from the top of the hill show the gently sloping terraces, nestled in the shadow of Mount Batukaru.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

The Jatiluwih rice terraces are located in the middle of Bali making it harder to get to without a car or driver.  Their inaccessibility keeps the crowds away and makes the place feel more authentic.  When we got there at 8:30 am, there was no one around except for a few farmers hard at work.  We followed one of the shorter trails that took us into the heart of the rice paddies where the only sounds we heard were the cows mooing – they were probably wondering if we were lost.  The morning walk was peaceful and one of my favorite memories from the trip.

Location: Tabanan

Entrance Fee: IDR 40,000 / person

Nature Destinations

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang

10. Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang is a river surrounded by stone walls that was formed from erosion thousands of years ago. Tucked away in Sukawati in the outskirts of Ubud, it is a popular destination for a fun excursion.  Visitors have to be physically fit, because you have to trek and rock climb through the canyon.

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang

While some venture out at their own risk, a local guide is advised to help you navigate through the steep, slippery rocks. We would have died many times in that canyon without our guide. You have to climb the rough rocks and wade waist-deep in the chilly water, so make sure you are dressed appropriately. In some tricky parts, you’ll need to cling onto the tiny footholds carved into the side of the canyon while trying really hard not to fall. It was especially challenging during rainy season when the water level is much higher and the current is strong.  A few times, I slipped and almost got washed away by the river.   We both came out of the canyon with a few scratches and a feeling of exhilaration from the adventure.

Location:  15-20 minutes east of Denpasar

Entrance Fee: IDR 120,000 to hire a guide

Tegenungan Waterfall

Tegenungan Waterfall

Tegenungan Waterfall

Tegenungan Waterfall

11. Tegenungan Waterfall

Tegenungan is one of the most popular waterfalls in Bali due to its proximity to Ubud.  Hidden within the dense jungle valley of Bali, this raging fall tumbles over black stone cliffs into a shallow pool below. Getting there, you’ll have to walk down 165 steps.  The path down is well maintained and easy to walk,  so you don’t need any hiking shoes. At the bottom, you’ll find people swimming beneath the falls or lounging on the nearby rocks. There are even some savvy locals setting up lounge chairs that you can rent for the day.

In recent years this place has gotten overly crowded and touristy.  There are souvenir shops near the entrance and many instagramable stops set up along the way to attract visitors.  Thousands of people visit this place each day, so you have to make sure to get there early to have the place to yourself.   We didn’t get there until noon and there were hordes of people around. This was not one of our favorite stops on the trip.

Location:  10 km from Ubud

Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 per person

 Tukad Cepung Waterfall

Tukad Cepung Waterfall

 Tukad Cepung Waterfall

Tukad Cepung Waterfall

12. Tukad Cepung Waterfall

Tukad Cepung is a relatively unknown waterfall, hidden away inside a canyon and still untouched by mass tourism. The falls are difficult to find and even our local driver had never heard of it – which goes to show that there are still plenty of undiscovered places left to be explored in Bali.

Tukad Cepung Waterfall

Tukad Cepung Waterfall

Getting to the fall was mini adventure in itself.  From the main road, you have to hike down to the lush jungle valley, passing children frolicking in the shallow stream.  At the bottom of the ravine, you have to squeeze yourself between two huge boulders to finally feast your eyes on the most enchanting view.  The waterfall is well guarded by the surrounding cliffs that open at the top, casting soft dappled light on the surface at the bottom.  The glistening water, falls down the side like a misty veil projecting from the sky.  It’s not hard to see why this was our favorite waterfall in Bali.

Location:  Near Ubud

Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000 per person

Monkey Forest

Monkeys grooming at Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest

13. Monkey Forest

You can’t come to Ubud without visiting the Monkey Forest, the main attraction in the city. The large nature reserve also contains three temples dating back to the 14th century. The complex was converted into a sanctuary for macaque monkeys, who are also the spiritual animals that guard the temples. The moss-covered temples and gnarled banyan trees reminded me of a scene out of Indiana Jones.

Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest

Naughty monkeys in Monkey Forest

The monkeys are the prime reason most people visit this reserve.  When they are not busy jumping from tree branch to tree branch and chasing each other, they can be coaxed to take a photo with visitors. But be careful when you’re around the cheeky primates, because they can be quite naughty – especially when you have food.  I saw them shamelessly jump on a woman and grab her bag of bananas. Also make sure you’re not wearing sunglasses or carrying anything that they can easily snatch.

Location: Center of Ubud

Entrance Fee: IDR 50,000 per person

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk

14. Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk is an easy hiking trail overlooking the lush jungle valley below.  The 1.5 km scenic pathway starts at Gunung Lebah Temple in the center of Ubud and meanders out to the rice fields in the outskirts of town. Along the ridge you’ll find tall coconut trees swaying in the distance and hear the soothing sounds of the river rushing along the deep gorge below. You might even run into a photo shoot or two because this stunning scenery is the perfect backdrop for any picture.

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Swing on Campuhan Ridge

This gorgeous path is the preferred place for locals and visitors who want to avoid the congested city center.  You’ll often run into people out on their morning jog.  The best time to go for a walk is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is not at its peak since there is very little shade along the trail.  The heat and humidity was unbearable when we got there well before 9 am.

Location: Center of Ubud

Entrance Fee: Free

Other Interesting Stops

Bali - Tirta Gangga

The grounds of Tirta Gangga

Bali - Tirta Gangga

Bridge in Tirta Gangga

15. Tirta Gangga

Tirta Gangga draws visitors to its beautifully designed water garden filled with koi ponds, ornate statues, and tropical plants.  Located in East Bali, it was designed and built in the late 1940’s by Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem, who was the last Raja (King) of Karangasem. This lavish water garden was the favorite retreat of the royal house of Karangasem.  After the Mt Agung eruption in 1963, most of the garden was destroyed and had to be rebuilt.

Bali - Tirta Gangga

Feeding koi fish at Tirta Gangga

Bali - Tirta Gangga

Stepping stone at Tirta Gangga

In Balinese, Tirta Gangga translates to “holy water from the Ganges”, a site of religious significance for Hindus. Locals believe the water to be holy with healing powers like that from the famous river in India.  During the visit, you can buy some fish food and feed the giant koi or go for a quick dip in the spring fed pools that will help heal your travel-weary body after a long day in the sun.

Location: East Bali

Entrance Fee: IDR 15,000 per person

Bali Pulina

Bali Pulina

16. Pulina Coffee

We were really curious about Luwak coffee, long considered to be one of the most expensive coffees in the world, costing up to $30 per cup in North America.  We asked our driver to take us to Bali Pulina, where they grow, process, and make the coffee in-house.  Bali Pulina is an agro tourism plantation where visitors can learn about the the various plants, spices, and coffees grown in Bali.

Bali Pulina

Bali Pulina

When we arrived, the guide walked us through the garden and explained the production process.  Kopi Luwak coffee, also known as civet coffee is made from the beans digested and excreted by a civet – a cross between a cat and a weasel native to tropical Asia and Africa. They enjoy eating coffee fruit, which passes through their digestive system. The excreted beans are then collected, processed, and roasted to prepare the coffee beans. The digestion process reduces the bitterness and increases the smoothness of the coffee’s flavor. The process can be very time consuming and as demand grew, farmers realized it was easier to keep the civet cats in captivity. This raised some ethical issues, especially if the civets are not treated well.

Bali - Pulina Plantation

Pulina – coffee and tea tasting

The tour ended at an open air café overlooking the rice fields where we were offered a complimentary coffee tasting.  There are eight different types of coffee and tea.   But if you want the Luwak then you have to pay an extra IDR 50,000 for cup. I am not a coffee connoisseur, but we didn’t think the luwak coffee was worth the hefty price tag.

Location: Ouskirt of Ubud

Entrance Fee: Free

Bali Swing

Bali Swing

17. Bali Swing

If your Instagram feed is anything like mine, you’ve probably seen pictures of a girl swinging over the jungles of Bali, seemingly floating in midair between the coconut trees without a care in the world.  You’ve probably wondered if it’s real and where it is – at least I did. Curiosity got the best of me and when we planned our trip to Bali, I decided to find out more about this place. Located right in Ubud, Bali Swing is a cross between a tourist attraction and an amusement park, designed to draw visitors with its Instagram worthy set-up.   There are five swings of varying heights (16 ft, 33 ft, 50 ft, 66 ft, and 255 ft), a tandem swing, and a cute bird nest all overlooking rice fields, the Ayung River, and a waterfall in the valley below.

Bali Swing

Bali Swing

To ride the swings, you’ll need to be strapped into a safety harness and pushed out by one of the staff.   You’ll find yourself soaring high above the treetops in the jungle. If you are not scared of heights, then the adventure is quite thrilling. Normally I don’t like roller coasters, so this experience was terrifying for me. For a brief moment when I was at the top and my adrenaline kicked in, time seemed to slow down, and I was able to forget my fear and enjoy the moment. The great thing is that we were there on a rainy day and didn’t have to wait around in line for our turn on the swings. You can go as many times as you like, but on a busy day, it could take forever to wait for your turn to get on one.

Bali Swing

Bali Swing

Due to its popularity, the price tag has gone up substantially in recent months to about $40 USD.  Considering how cheap everything else in Bali is, that cost seems quite excessive to me. It’s probably more than the average Balinese person earns in a week.  It was a thrilling ride, but I am not sure I’d come back or even recommend it.  I’d rather save that money and do something else.

Location: Outskirt of Ubud

Entrance Fee: IDR 470,000 per person

Bali - Gate of Handara Golf & Resort

Gate of Handara Golf & Resort

18. The Gate of Handara Golf & Resort

This iconic gate in Northern Bali is one of the most Instagramable spots on the island. You have probably seen countless pictures of people under this Balinese gate, but what you probably didn’t realize is that it’s the entrance to a golf resort.  The resort is located in Singaraja with undisturbed views of the surrounding mountains.

Bali - Gate of Handara Golf & Resort

Gate of Handara Golf & Resort

On our way to the twin lakes, we stopped here to take pictures.  The beautiful entrance can be seen from the main road and is not as secluded as it looks in photos.   Since this is a popular spot, don’t be surprised to find a line of cars and people waiting for their turn to get the perfect shot.  Although this is a good pit stop if you’re on your way to Lovina, I would not recommend going out of your way for a photo op, especially since you can find many other similar gates closer to Ubud.

Location: Northern Bali

Entrance Fee: Free

Bali - Wanagiri Hidden Hill

Wanagiri Hidden Hill

19. Wanagiri Hidden Hill

The name Wanagiri Hidden Hill has gained significant popularity over social media in 2017. Enterprising locals built the lookouts to attract selfie-happy travelers to the region – everything from tree swings to human-size bird nests and everything in between.  As the saying goes: ‘if you buid it they will come’, and without fail, thousands of Instagrammers have checked in here since its debut in 2017.

Bali - Wanagiri Hidden Hill

Birds nest at Wanagiri Hidden Hill

These photo stands overlook the idyllic scenery depicting surrounding mountains, trees, and lakes.  In addition to the panoramic views, the cool and fresh mountain air attracts people who want to get away from the hot and humid city.  Usually this place is full of people lining up for their photo op, but on the day we were there it was a ghost town – the pouring rain kept everyone else away.  There was a thick layer of fog obscuring the view, but since we drove so far, I didn’t want leave without taking a few pictures.

Bali - Wanagiri Hidden Hill

Swing at Wanagiri Hidden Hill

I grabbed my umbrella and climbed up onto the metal swing, while praying to god that I don’t get struck by lightning.  At one point, I was shivering uncontrollably while lying in the bird’s nest because I was completely drenched. Fausto was also a trooper, trying to balance holding an umbrella and making sure he got a shot of me. The locals were looking at both of us like we were crazy.  In hindsight, it was probably a pretty stupid thing to do, but you know how it goes, #doinitforthegram.

Location: Northern Bali

Entrance Fee: IDR 20,000 per person

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19 Things to do in Bali -Bali Swing

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple - 19 Things to do in Bali

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31 thoughts on “19 Things To Do Around Bali

  1. Beautiful photos and great post! Some of those temples I didn’t get to visit my first time around….. So hoping to get them on my next visit (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later!).
    Weren’t you terrified at the Monkey Forest? I sure was! Hopefully you can sneek a peak at my posts as well http://www.Filipinaaroundthe world.com

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nice compilation of top things to do in Bali- I’ve hit almost everything on your list but these destinations are getting more and more crowded, by the day it seems! I tried to get to Tanah Lot one day and gave up after getting stuck in traffic. Jatiluwih was my favorite. I was blown away by the view!

    Like

  3. omg! I just discovered we are going to Bali for my surprise birthday and will be using all of your tips! thanks so much for this post and loving all of your pictures!!

    Like

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