Top 12 Things to Do in Bali: From History to Luxury

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The island of Bali in Indonesia is one of the world’s most picture-perfect destinations. Featuring some of the best beaches with crystal clear waters, mixed in among historic temples and even a monkey sanctuary, there are plenty of things to do in Bali. It may be paradise, but with so much to offer it is easy to not be sure what to do in beautiful Bali. Here are the top 12 things that we think cannot be missed in no particular order. 

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1. Take a dip in the turquoise waters at Padang Padang Beach

As one of the best beaches in Bali, Padang Padang Beach can become quite crowded — but that’s no reason to leave it off your list of things to do in Bali. The surf at this Bali beach attracts people from all over the world, and surfboard rentals are available if you want to try hitting the waves. Like most of Indonesia’s beaches, there is an entrance fee — in this case, IDR 10,000 (less than USD 1) for foreign visitors.

2. Relax and find bliss at a wellness retreat

Even before the popular book and movie Eat, Pray, Love, it’s been well-known that one of the best things to do in Bali is to relax at one of the island’s many wellness retreats and spas. Whether you’re looking to do some yoga, embrace mindfulness, or even want to try becoming a vegan, there are plenty of relaxing options around the island.

Tip: Daily, weekly, and even monthly retreats are available and vary in price — be sure to do your research to find one that suits you.

Relaxing in a wellness spa is one of the top things to do in Bali
With many options of spas and wellness retreats, Bali is your number one destination for a relaxed holiday

3. Snorkel with colourful fish at Lipah Bay

This is one of Bali’s most popular sites for snorkelling, and it’s easy to see why. Lipah Bay’s shallow waters make it an ideal spot for diving below the surface to spend some time among the coral, even for inexperienced snorkelers. The Bay is also home to the wreck of an old Japanese ship, so there is plenty to explore! A small entrance fee goes towards keeping the beach clean and tidy year round (price given on arrival). 

Snorkeling one of the exciting things to do in Bali
Colorful fish, clear turquoise waters, and snorkeling! Is there another perfect way to spend your holidays?

4. Hike to the bottom of the Tegenungan Waterfall

Though it may often be called the “Hidden Waterfall” of Tegenungan, this site is certainly no secret. In fact, the majestic waterfall at Tegenungan is often quite busy and is best visited during the early morning or late afternoon if you want to see it without the crowds. Take time to climb down the steep steps to the waterfall’s base, where you pop in for a swim if the water isn’t too powerful. Note that there is an IDR 100,000 (USD 8) fee to visit the falls.

Tip: Be sure to look up for breathtaking views of the falls surrounded by lush foliage. 

Visiting Tegenungan waterfall is one of the top things to do in Bali
Visitors gather around the amazing Tegenungan waterfall

5. Hire a bike and cycle among the Tegallalang Rice Terraces

While you can choose to walk among the lush, green fields that you’ll find on almost any Balinese postcard, one of the best ways to experience the Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud is by renting a bike! Entrance to the area costs IDR 5,000 (USD 0.37) per person, and bike rentals are available around Tegallalang.

Tip: It is best to visit the terraces in the early morning if you wish to avoid the crowds and the heat.

Visiting the Tegallalang Rice Terraces is a top thing to do in Bali
Famous amongst hikers and nature lovers, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces are famous for the scenic plantation of rice paddies

6. Scan the trees for monkeys at the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest

This monkey sanctuary and its 27 acres of protected forest are said to be home to around 7,000 monkeys, including babies - so you won’t have to look too hard to see them swinging among the trees. Just be sure to keep an eye on your belongings and avoid bringing snacks, as the monkeys are known to be expert pickpockets! Entrance to the forest is IDR 50,000 (USD 3.74) for adults or IDR 40,000 (USD 3) for children.

Visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest is a top thing to do in Bali
Spend some time with these cute furry friends on a visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest

7. Watch the sunset from Tanah Lot temple

Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most beautiful temples on Bali’s coast - and is undeniably one of the island’s most photographed sites. This Hindu monument sits atop a rock jutting out into the ocean along the south coast of Bali, making it the perfect location to catch a glimpse of the magical Indonesian sunset. Entrance to the temple costs IDR 60,000* (USD 5) for foreign visitors or just IDR 30,000(USD 2.25) for locals.

Visiting Tanah Lot temple is one of the best things to do in Bali
Tanah Lot means 'land in the sea' in Balinese language. Watch a breathtaking sunset from the temple sitting on this enormous offshore rock

8. Watch the fire dancers perform at Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Another one of Bali’s famous temples, Pura Luhur Uluwatu hangs atop a 70-metre-high cliff above the sea - so it probably isn’t a sight for the faint-hearted! However, if you’re willing to brave the incredible heights, you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic traditional dancing, beautiful Hindu temple architecture, and even a few monkeys! The temple’s entrance fee is IDR 40,000 (USD 3).

Visiting Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple is a top thing to do in Bali
Sitting on top a 70 meter high cliff, the Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple offers outstanding views of the sea and is also known as a 'sea temple'

9. Climb to the top of Kanto Lampo waterfall

If you’re an adventure junkie, perhaps a visit to the busy Tegenungan Waterfall doesn’t quite get you close enough — we understand! If this sounds like you, we recommend visiting Kanto Lampo. Less crowded than the falls we previously mentioned, you can actually climb Kanto Lampo waterfall, just be sure to bring water shoes with good grip. A visit to Kanto Lampo will cost you IDR 5,000 (USD 0.37) per person.

Tip: If climbing the rocky falls isn’t for you, you can simply swim in the shallow waters beneath. 

Visiting Kanto Lampo is one of the top things to do in Bali
Looking for a gorgeous waterfall with less crowds and one you can actually climb? Kanto Lampo waterfall is all of these things!

Indonesia has certainly been in the news for its volcanic activity lately, what with the eruption of Mount Sinabung. What better way to brag about your trip to Bali than by hiking an active volcano? To get the best experience possible, we recommend a sunrise tour. These tours typically depart at around 2am, but the early morning and two-hour hike are well worth the incredible views waiting for you at the top. A guided tour costs about IDR 350,000 (USD 26). 

Hiking Mount Batur is one of the top things to do in Bali
Hike to the summit of an active volcano? Check.

11. Explore the pools and structures of Taman Ujung Water Palace

Infuse your relaxing Bali vacation with some culture and history with a visit to the Taman Ujung Water Palace. Built between 1909 and 1921, this former palace was once used for entertaining the king’s guests and is full of Balinese architecture, sculptures, three large pools, and some fish ponds. Entrance to the park costs IDR 35,000 (USD 2.6) per person.

Visiting the Taman Ujung Water Palace is a top thing to do in Bali
The beautiful Taman Ujung Water Palace displays stunning works of of Balinese architecture and sculptures.

12. Take a spiritual cleansing bath at Pura Tirta Empul

Before finishing your visit to Bali and returning to your busy life, why not cleanse your body and soul at Pura Tirta Empul? This Hindu water temple has a long rectangular pool containing holy spring water and is open to locals and visitors alike. As when visiting any temple, be sure to wear a sarong (though you can typically buy one at the temple if necessary). The entrance fee for this temple is IDR 15,000 (USD 1).  

Tip: You may want to take in the atmosphere on a religious holiday, but be prepared for large crowds.

Visiting Pura Tirta Empul is one of the best things to do in Bali
A perfect way to end your trip to Bali? Take a dip in the rectangular pool and cleanse your soul from the many stone water fountains in Pura Tirta Empul

As you can see, there is so much to do in Bali, even if you’re someone who eventually gets tired from relaxing on the beach all day. Whether you’re looking to connect with nature or with Indonesian culture, there’s a thing to do in Bali for everyone! 

Published by Jane Andersen, updated on May 5, 2021

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1 COMMENTS We welcome your questions or comments to this article. Our travel experts will respond within 48 hours.
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    Pande Martha Oct 18 2018 REPLY
    Thank you for wring the article "Top 12 Things to Do in Bali: From History to Luxury. You have introduced the beauty of Bali to the world.