Bali, the Island of the Gods, is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Indonesia. From sitting on the beach through to visiting temples or enjoying the great restaurants and nightlife there are plenty of things to do in Bali. Of course with so much on offer it can be hard to decide what to do.
Let’s get going with the complete list of things to do in Bali. I hope this gives you inspiration for places to visit and things to do when you’re on the island.
12 Best Things to do In Bali
1 – Hit the Best Beaches of Bali
Tourism in Bali starts at the beaches. It’s where you go to soak up the sun, put your toes in the sand or simply go for a swim. If you need some ideas of great beaches to visit we recommend the slightly unusual Green Bowl Beach, at the base of a cliff with funky caves where you can hang out in. Jimbaran Beach and Sanur beaches are more mainstream choices with lots of beachside restaurants and bars by luxury hotels. Two other beaches worth checking out are the picturesque Karma Beach and Dream Beach, which is a great place to catch the sunset. Speaking of sunset…
4 – Enjoy a Fruity Cocktail at Sunset
Watching the sunset over the horizon with an ice-cold beer or fruity cocktail in your hand is unbeatable. Probably the most famous beachside bars on the island are Ku De Ta and Potato Head. The bars are busy in the evening with a young cosmopolitan crowd. Rock Bar, Woobar, Cocoon and the recently opened Finn’s Beach Club in Canggu are also good choices.
2 –Dance the Night Away at a Trendy Club
Kuta is the most famous place in Bali for nightlife. The area has lots of bars, clubs and Austalian’s. Most congregate around Skygarden, Hard Rock Café and Boshe. A lot of the best clubs are out of the city though. Top of the list is Mirror Lounge and Bar. It is decorated like a cathedral. Make sure to add the club near the top of your list for things to do in Bali.
3 –Taste Delicious Dishes from Around the World
Bali has a great restaurant and café scene. You can find cuisine from all over the world. And local Balinese food is pretty great as well. Ubud, Sanur and Seminyak are my two favorite parts of Bali for food. If you’re interested in cheap and delicious Balinese food I recommend Nasi Campur Bahagia in Ubud. This fun website lists all of the restaurants offering Nasi Campur in Ubud. The Bali Bible has a good article for more inspiration of restaurants to visit in Bali.
5 – Shop till You Drop (and then shop some more)
If you enjoy shopping you’ll fall in love with Bali. Shops on the island cater to every type of traveller. You’ll find high-end boutique stores in Seminyak (nice article by In Bali on shopping in Seminyak), bohemian stores in Ubud (article by Travelfish) and great furniture stores all over the island. That’s more than enough inspiration for a weeks worth of shopping 😉
6 – Recharge Your Batteries in a Resort
Staying for a few days in a resort on Bali is a bit like putting yourself on airplane mode (you’ll recharge your batteries in no time). These luxury resorts cater for everything. You can spend your days lying by the pool reading a book, swimming in the sea, hitting the gym or simply indulging your waistline at a gourmet restaurant… A few of out favorites include Samabe in Nusa Dua (you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Santorini), Anantara Uluwatu and W Retreat and Spa.
7 – Hit the Waves with Your Surfboard
A bit like Hawaii, a big part of the appeal of Bali is the great surf. If you’re a first time visitor to the island you’ll probably hit up the beaches around Kuta… Don’t. The waves are small and the beach a bit dirty. Some nice alternatives to Kuta include Canggu, which has a very bohemian vibe, and Serangan. The offshore beak at Uluwatu comes highly recommended. Half the fun of this break is getting out into the ocean.
8 – Splash like a kid at Waterbom Waterpark
Waterbom is a 4-hectare site of rides, attractions, pools and fun slides. It’s amazing. In fact it’s one of the best watermarks in South East Asia. It’s basically heaven for small children. Though you don’t actually need children to visit the park. You can easily spend a whole day here relaxing by the pool, flying down the slides and just having a good ole’ time. Highly recommended. Tickets start at Rp 520,000 for a one day pass for an adult and Rp 370,000 for a child ticket.
9 – Dive with the Fishes and Enjoy the Coral
I’ve done a lot of diving around Indonesia, but Bali will always have a special place in my heart (I took my open water course in Bali). Some of the best diving in Bali is around the islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. It’s here that you can see the famous Mola Mola and also swim with rays at Manta Point (both highly recommended). A nice alternative to the two nusas is Tulamben, with its wreck dives and the beautiful coral wall and Menjangan Island. You can find more recommendations for dive sites in Bali here.
10 – Sail into the Sunset (and Enjoy the Ocean)
There are lots of fun alternatives to surfing when you are looking for things to do in Bali. There are lots of companies offering sailing packages around the island, including spending the night on a pirate ship. You can do some deep-sea fishing or even strap a water jetpack to your back. Then of course there’s the kite surfing and the wind surfing (you’ll have to forgive me, ‘surfing’ is in the name).
11 – Check out the Temples of Bali
I’m sure one of the reasons so many people fall in love with Bali is the culture. You see signs of the culture everywhere. Offerings are left in the morning at the door of every restaurant. There are shrines at hotels and you’ll see processions of Balinese dressed in white walking down the streets. The focus of many of these cultural activities is the Hindu temples that dot the island. While there are many iconic temples in Bali, Ulun Danu and Tanah Lot come to mind, I’d recommend a visit to some of the smaller ones. For example I highly recommend Gunung Kawi. You can find a list of some of the best temples around Bali here.
12 – Lie Back in an Infinity Pool
One of the special things about hotels in Bali are the number of amazing infinity pools. The most iconic are the double infinity pools at The Hanging Gardens in Ubud the best hotels in Ubud with infinity pools here). Where Hanging Gardens started many hotels followed. The Ayana Resort overlooking its own private beach is probably my favorite infinity pool. Rimba Jimbaran comes a close second. If you don’t want to stay at a hotel to experience an infinity pool you can get a day pass at Alila Ubud. Kalpa Beach Lounge and Potato Head are also options.
Ideas for Things to Do Bali
13 – Swing From the Palm Trees at Charlie’s
Visiting Charlie’s Chocolate Factory was one of my favourite things to do in Bali. This factory is like a place transplanted from an adventure story or Lord of the Rings. Everything about the complex is memorable. The buildings have a unique architectural style that is hard to explain. There’s a pirate boat for children, three huge swings and a Goose named Agus. The location is picturesque, surrounded by palm trees with a view out to the ocean. Find out more about Charlie’s Chocolate Factory and things to do around Candidasa.
14 – Stretch Your Limbs in Ubud
Visit any café in Ubud and you will see people dressed in skintight clothing preparing for or returning from their last yoga class. It’s one of the most popular past times in the city and there are classes for all experience levels. One of the most popular places for Yoga in Ubud is the Yoga Barn. The setting is beautiful and the teachers professional. However, the Yoga Barn does get very packed so arrive early if you plan to attend a class (you can find a schedule for the classes here).
15 – Feed the Monkeys at Monkey Forest
Located in the heart of Ubud, Monkey Forest is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations in the city. The area is calm and peaceful with broad paths surrounded by forest that contain chattering monkeys. In fact monkeys are one of the main tourism attractions. There are also Hindu temples within the park and it’s common to see Balinese in local dress visiting the temples. Don’t forget to try the Campuhan Ridge Walk if you’re in the city.
16 – Watch a Sunset Fire dance
The Kecak Fire dance is based on a traditional Balinese trance ritual performed by groups of males. The modern version of the Kecak that you can see performed all across Bali was actually developed in the 1930’s, by a German named Walter Spies in coordination with a group of artists, as a performance for Western tourists. Since its creation Kecak has combined old Hindu temples with dance, music and theatre for visiting tourists. One of the best places to see a performance is at Uluwatu temple.
17 – Visit the Juwuk Manis Waterfall
Juwuk Manis waterfall is a beautiful isolated waterfall in the Jembran Regency. The waterfall is an 800-meter trek from the village of Manggissari along a slippery path, but the journey is worth it. The water at the falls is cold and crystal clear. Luwuk Manis waterfall is only five-meters high. You can splash around in the small pool and take a shower under the falls.
18 – Trek Through the Rice Fields of Bali
While I’ve never felt the desire to be a farmer I do enjoy trekking around the countryside. And the countryside around Bali is beautiful (like Tegalalang, which is more Instagram hotspot than rice field)… You’ll find paddy fields interspersed with thick forests and rice fields. While you can trek through the countryside by yourself (check out Champuhan Ridge Walk), there are plenty of walking tours that you can join (a large number of which are around Ubud).
19 – Take the Bamboo Eco Tour
The Green Village is a luxury eco-village and school. Everything is built from bamboo… And it looks cool. Kind of like Harry Potter meets the Hobbits on acid. Or maybe just Alice in Wonderland… You can take a guided tour around the site. There’s a nice backstory about sustainability and green design, but you’re really there to be a large child in an oversized playground. Well worth a visit, especially if you get inspired by great architecture.
20 – Fly Into the Sky at the Kite Festival
You’ll probably never get to fly a kite as large as the ones you’ll see at the Bali Kite Festival. The biggest can be up to 10 meters in size. Teams of kite flyers from local villages, accompanied by gamelan orchestras and dancers compete to be the best kite team. The festival is held around July and August around Sanur, which is when the winds start in Bali. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to keep kids entertained.
21 – Join an Exclusive Jewellery Tour
The founder and funder of the Green Village was John Hardy, an artist who made his fortune producing high quality silver jewellery in Bali. A trip to the Green Village combines well with a visit to the John Hardy Silver Workshop where you can not only see some more examples of beautiful architecture, but also see how hand made silver jewellery is produced. It’s an interesting experience and the showroom is very beautiful.
22 – Learn to Cook Local Dishes
Balinese Cooking classes are a great chance to take your holiday memories home with you. There are classes all over the island where you can learn to cook local dishes. Most classes will start in the market, where you’ll buy your ingredients, and end with you eating the dish you prepared around lunchtime. There’s a nice guide to some of the best cooking classes in Bali in this post by Lady Iron Chef.
23 – Hug a Bear at Pod Chocolate
enjoy love chocolate. But it was the chance to see the Honey Bear that took Pod Bali Chocolate. The factory is a 15 minute drive outside of Ubud. You can take a tour of the factory and see how chocolate is made. At the end of the tour you get to try and probably buy some chocolate. You also get a chance to hug that Honey Bear I was talking about earlier.
24 – Celebrate the God of War
“Perang pandan” or Makere-Kere is a chance for the young men from the village of Tenganan to battle it out in a ritual fight. The two combatants are each armed. Both have a sword (actually it’s a prickly leaf, but a sword sounds better) and shield. They fights are a short test of strength. The biggest fights are held in honour of the Hindu God of War at the Ngusaba Sambah Festival in June. It’s a bit of a spectacle for tourists, but it’s fun and worth the visit.
25 – Cycle Through the Balinese Countryside
The countryside surrounding Ubud is perfect to explore by bike. The winding roads take you through Balinese villages, past paddy fields and through the forests. You’ll have the option of just renting a bike (which is actually pretty great) or joining an organised bicycle tour. The benefit of the tour is your itinerary is a bit more organised and you’ll pass some beautiful viewpoints. I’d recommend cycling either early in the morning or in the late afternoon as it can get pretty hot in the middle of the day.
26 – Take a Treetop Adventure
Bali Treetop Adventure is a large adventure playground (though it’s also suitable for children). The park is set among the treetops of the forest and everything is linked up through a mix of suspended bridges, spider nets, flying swings and flying foxes. Swing, hoist, balance and jump your way through the park. This is a great option for families where the kids have a lot of energy and the parents want to enjoy a bit of nature.
27 – Enjoy an Unusual Coffee
Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive types of coffees in the world. It’s produced in a strange way… First a civit, a small ferret like creature, eats the coffee beans. Then once it’s gone through the civit’s tummy and out the other end the beans are collected and roasted. This is Kopi Luwak… Ironically 100 years ago the only people who drunk the Kopi Luwak were the coffee pickers who were too poor to afford fresh coffee beans. Humans are funny creatures.
28 – Take a Sunrise Trek Up Mt Batur
Mount Batur is the second tallest volcano on Bali. The volcano rises 1,700 meters above sea level. It is an easy climb (it takes around 2-hours to get to the top). From the peak you get a great view over the lake and surrounding hills. As a climb I like it, but… It is rather expensive. The local Climbing Association that manages Mount Batur act like a local mafia. They hassle tourists who hike the volcano without a guide. If you have to choose between the two volcanos I’d recommend climbing Gunung Agung.
29 – Climb to the Roof of Bali
Gunung Agung is the highest point on Bali. You can join an overnight trek to conquer the volcano. You can either climb the easy route from Pura Pasar Agung that takes you to the crater rim (2,866 meters above sea level) or trek from Pura Besakih to the absolute summit. I’ve only climbed Gunung Agung once. I took the hard route, and it almost killed me (but it was well worth it for the view). You can read my experience climbing Gunung Agung here.
30 – Hit the White Water
There are three main rivers where you can go white water rafting in Bali. The first is Melangit River, which is located in Klungkung. The rapids here are mostly level 2-3 (suitable for beginner/ intermediate). The second river is Ayung, which is located close to Ubud. The majority of the rapids here are also level 2-3. The last and final river is Telaga Waja. This is the easiest river for rafting and most of the rapids here are level 1-2, though you can find more powerful rapids.
31 – Leap Off a Waterfall
Bali has a lot of waterfalls to explore. If you want to visit them and get an adrenalin rush then a day of canyoning could be just what you are after. There are a lot of companies that offer these packages around Bali and most of them start from $100 all-inclusive for a day. Most packages include abseiling down waterfalls, diving into pools, swimming, sliding and zip lining. Find out more about it here.
32 – Enjoy the Toya Devasya Hot Spring
Perched on the edge of Batur Lake, these hot springs offer an infinity pool experience with great views (you should definitely bring your camera). The resort and spa has several pools of different temperatures, so you can jump between them if you get too hot. Although the pools are well maintained and clean, the changing rooms and toilets need improving. This should definitely be on your ‘to do list’ after hiking Mount Batur.
33 – Join the Odyssey Submarine Tour
A trip on the Odyssey Submarine is a comfortable way to explore the underwater world. It feels like you are stepping into and aquarium. The submarine takes daily tours from Amuk Bay on the east coast of Bali. The tours last about 45 minutes and take you to a maximum depth of 90 feet. You’ll get to see plenty of fish and some coral reefs. Tickets cost $95 for an adult and $65 for a child. Here’s a link to the official website.
34 –Meet an Exotic Healer
A trip to the Doctor can be pretty routine, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ll find lots of local healers around the island offering traditional remedies to your problems (both physical and emotional) around Bali. Of course the most famous is the local healer from Eat, Pray, Love. You can arrange an expensive session with him to look into your problems… But we can’t guarantee you’ll end up with a Hollywood contract at the end of it.
35 – Feed the Elephants at Bali Zoo
If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming an elephant trainer then you’re going to enjoy the chance to be a Mahout at the Bali Zoo. The day starts early with washing, cleaning and feeding the elephants. Then after you’ve finished doing this you get taught how to be a Mahout. The lesson includes how to ride and guide your elephant, before you go on a cross-country ride. It’s a nice program that gives extra funding for the Bali Zoo, which goes towards caring for the animals. If you don’t want to learn to be a Mahout you can always just take an hour-long ride on one of the Sumatran elephants.
36 – Attend a Balinese funeral
You can’t plan to attend a Balinese funeral on your holiday, but should you be in Bali when a large one is held you should definitely attend. These funerals are very public events and offer an interesting insight into the local culture. I’ve only ever attended one Balinese funeral, which was for a member of Ubud’s royal family, and it’s something that I will always remember. The funeral was attended by thousands of people. There was a huge parade, which ended in a funeral pyre.
We tried to create a focused list of the best things to do in Bali. Of course the list of things to do in Bali could be a lot longer (the original post had ‘91 things to do in Bali’). However, we tried to keep it focused. We picked the best bits that I’d want to do if I was visiting the island for the first time. If you think I missed something (and have a recommendation for what to remove) let me know. I’ll be keeping this post updated to make sure it’s useful for you.
What was your favourite place to visit in Bali? Did I miss anything from the list? Let me know your favourite things to do in Bali in the comments below.