Many people visiting Indonesia just visit Bali. The island is on most travellers’ lists, even if it’s for just two days. It’s no surprise, there is plenty of things to do in Bali. If you organise yourself well you can do and experience a lot in one week and I want to share some of the best bits with you.
After an article about things to do in Jakarta and things to do in Yogyakarta, I want to share with you about things to do in Bali. I hope a compilation about things to do in Bali will be useful for first timers. On Bali island, the area you can explore is extensive, around 2,232 sq miles (5,780 km²).
In fact, there is more to Bali than just the main island. You can explore places like Lembongan Island, which is one of those must visit destinations that I managed to tick off my bucket list – so happy about it, and Lembongan is awesome! Feel free to check out my articles on Nusa Lembongan here, here and here.
So here they are in no particular order, things to do and see in Bali. I’ve done most of it by myself and had a lovely helping hand from another fellow Indonesian blogger for no. 11. Check out what activities that I personally recommend to you as a first timer in Bali.
1. Eat at a Nice Restaurant
There are so many nice restaurants in Bali. Way too many! It is like every week a new one pops up. This is especially the case around Seminyak. Realizing that I am quite bad at trying new restaurants/cafes, I tend to stick to one resto/cafe if I like them, I asked a helping hand from Cumi of CumiLebay.com. He’s always up to date reviewing funky restaurants around the island. You can find a few other recommendations below.
i). Sundara – Four Season Jimbaran
The special thing about Sundara, besides their tasty food, is that they provide a lot of free stuff. At the beach club, you can swim for free (and they even provide a towel) without any minimum order. Every 15 minutes, there will be a waitress that offers you free finger food so you can taste (until you are full up at the end). Until now, Sundara is not too busy, but the staff are super friendly. The Four Seasons Jimbaran is pretty good as well.
ii). Rimba Jimbaran
Lots of restaurants in Bali offer tasty food and fantastic views, however most of them make you pay a lot for the experience. If you want to enjoy the unique views, but with food and drinks prices that are still competitive, try going to the Rimba Jimbaran.
iii). Bambu Indah Resort and Spa, Banjar Baung, Desa Sayan, Ubud, Gianyar
Bambu Indah is perfect for people who like traditional things combined with nature. Visiting this restaurant will make you feel like you are in a village, perhaps from decades ago. In addition to the great food, drinks and service, the scenery at Bambu Indah is also spectacular. Candle light dinner with a view of rice fields cliff could be an unforgettable experience.
iv). Mak Beng Warung, Jl. Hang Tuah No. 45 Sanur
Warung Mak Beng has been running since 1941 and has not lost its lustre. People were willing to stand in line and eat food at Warung Mak Beng. Perhaps because the menu provided only two options; yellow fish soup and fried fish. Mak Beng has stayed focused and never fails to make the customers come back for more. The homemade sauce (sambal) is very spicy.
v). La Favela – Jalan Lakarmana Oberoi No. 177x Basangkaoa, Seminyak
Though this restaurant looks pretty tiny from the outside, like the old phrase: never judge a book by its cover, this restaurant is pretty spacious inside. The restaurant has a super cool interior design. It used a lot of old / used stuff that has been recycled, but it still looks pretty and tasteful. You should try the tasty mocktails.
2. Visit Lembongan Island
A lot of people say that Lembongan Island is a bit like Bali used to be (say 20 years ago or so). They basically mean that Lembongan is more relaxed and less developed. It’s the kind of place that you can go to and simply chill out by the beach and recharge your batteries. Definitely recommend adding a visit onto the end of your Bali holiday. If you have the chance check out Lembongan Beach Club. It’s a bit expensive, but well worth the money. Even if you don’t stay you can visit the restaurant (and the food is pretty great).
3. Visit Pura Ulun Danu – Tabanan
Super touristy? Yup.. no doubt about it. It is one of the most touristy places in Bali. And probably one of the most photographed spots in Bali… Still, Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is a very beautiful place to visit. It doesn’t take long to explore. You can wander around the complex in less than 10 minutes if you want to be quick, 30 minutes if you’re taking a peaceful stroll (recommended).
Entrance tickets to the temple are Rp. 10,000 per person. You can explore Pura Beratan area, the lake and of course the temple in the middle of the lake Beratan. There’s a Buddhist temple in the complex. If you want to get a really great photo I’d recommend renting a boat to take you to the middle of the lake.
4. Diving in Tulamben
There are so many places to dive in Bali. One place that was quite special for me, and I think is a great dive site to check out, is Tulamben. The most special thing about Tulamben is you can see a shipwreck that is only 10-15 meters away from the beach. If you don’t want to go diving you can always snorkel and do a bit of free diving.
Though Tulamben is famous for its shipwreck site and the big fish (plus one giant barracuda), if you dive deeper than 25 meters, you can see a decent amount of macro creatures especially nudibranchs. Other dive spot that is also worth visiting is Nusa Penida where at certain times, you can (potentially) dive with Mola-Mola/ocean sunfish. Manta point in Nusa Penida is also an awesome dive spot! You can dive with lots of manta rays. I’d recommend staying one or two nights in Nusa Penida (things to do in Nusa Penida and a sample 2 day 1 night itinerary), check here for the hotel recommendations in Nusa Penida.
5. Climb mount Batur (or/and mount Agung)
You can climb two mountains in Bali; Mount Batur and Mount Agung. People usually hike the mountains just before dawn so you can see the sunrise from the peak. Yup.. Bali isn’t always about beaches! Though I never climbed Mount Agung, from reading some sources online, it appears to be more challenging to climb than Mount Batur. I considered the climb up Mount Batur to be relatively easy – medium trekking.
I started trekking from Mount Batur basecamp around 3.30 am or 4 am and reached the summit around sunrise time. The view on the way up is amazing. If you fancy to do some exercise and hike a mountain during your holiday, check this post for full guidance that I’ve written for Indohoy.com on preparing your Mount Batur hiking. This article, by travelfish, on climbing Mount Agung is also useful.
6. Visit and Explore Tegalalang Rice Terrace
So many rice fields in Bali, well.. I should revise my statement. So many rice fields in Indonesia. That is true! One of the most beautiful rice fields that I ever saw are the rice terraces at Tegalalang. You can easily spot the Tagelalang rice terrace if you are travelling from Ubud to Kintamani area. It is located on the right side of the road. There are several cafes and restaurants (and also stores) where you can have a seat, relax and enjoy the view accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee. You can also walk around the rice terraces if you feel like it.
7. Go Cafe Hopping in Ubud
Do you do yoga? Of course you probably have Ubud on your list of places to visit in Bali. Btw feel free to check here for things you can do in Ubud. Do you have a healthy lifestyle and love organic food? Two of my favourite places to eat in Ubud until now are KAFE and Alchemy. The reason is simple; both restaurants offer tasty food and great service and all at a fair price. Check here if you want to know the ultimate list of Organic Vegetarian Restaurants in Ubud by Ivana of Nomad is Beautiful.
Out of all the organic vegetarian restaurants you can find around Ubud, I would also like to highlight Seniman cafe. You should definitely check it out if you happen to visit Ubud. I love Seniman cafe for their coffee and their creativity in almost everything. Pay attention to the way they serve the coffee at your table and the funky rocking chairs.
8. Swim with Mantas, Nusa Penida
Despite the fact I got super seasick while swimming at Manta Point in Nusa Dua (I probably puked more than five times, yes yuck!), swimming with manta rays was a great experience. Manta rays swim very bold and gently. They weren’t affected by the currents at all. Sadly, besides swimming with the manta rays, I also swam with a lot of plastic debris.
Speaking with some locals in Lembongan I learnt that the plastic around Manta Point is pushed their by the currents (the plastic originates from the Bali mainland). That is one of the reasons that we should reduce the amount of plastics that we are using. Please, check here to read more about the danger of plastic bags and how you can help Mother Earth.
9. Shop Till You Drop!
You name it, accessories, clothes, art pieces, even furniture, you can get it! There are many stores in Bali, especially around Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. My favourite place to do some window shopping (and eventually shopping too!) is Ubud. You’ll find a lot of shops along Hanoman and Monkey Forest Road in Ubud. There are also several furniture workshops and stores in and around Ubud. They are mostly created from vintage or recycled materials.
Speaking about accessories, I would like to mention to you Jewel Rocks. This shop is an Indonesian brand that produces beautiful jewellery, perhaps not your style, but definitely my style. The pieces of jewellery Jewel Rocks produces are unique, funky and simple at the same time (can I also say a bit hippie like). Find Jewel Rocks at Petitenget No.1 A, North Kuta. And no… I don’t have relation with this store, but I just love the design and the spirit behind it. Oh guys, Poppies Lane are perhaps the best place to get your Bintang t-shirts if that is what you are after!
10. Visit a Waterfall – I like Sekumpul
There are so many waterfalls in Bali. One of the most famous and pretty is Gitgit waterfall, but I have never been there so I’ll not go on talking about it. Sekumpul waterfall near Sudaji village at north part of Bali is a pretty waterfall though. It is not actually a waterfall, but several waterfalls. I think it might be more than 3 waterfalls all cascading over the edge of a cliff into a deep valley.
Trekking to Sekumpul waterfall isn’t that hard and perhaps you need one hour in total. The view around the waterfalls is really pleasant, which totally made it a very enjoyable trek. If only I brought extra clothes, I would definitely have taken a dip in the pool where the water falls.
11. Jump the Pond at Tirta Gangga
Tirta Gangga is probably my favourite place to spend the day in Bali. I always think that there is something special about this place. Not sure if it is the water, the koi fishes, the plants/garden, the sculptures or a combination of everything really. Tirta Gangga water palace is just a very peaceful and serene place to relax. You’ll love it! Oh, and you can swim there too.
12. Take a Bath at a Hot Spring
Though soaking in a hot spring in a tropical country might not sound a very exciting thing to do, taking a bath at Banjar Hot Spring in Singaraja is a great experience. Besides the fact it feels so amazing to have your back massaged by the hot water flows, it is also interesting to see locals enjoying the hot spring. While some of them play in the water, others actually pray.
13. Enjoy the Ocean!
Bali has a lot of beaches (well surrounded by beaches for sure!) There are so many water sports that you can do while you’re on the island. Yes A LOT! Canoeing, swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, jet skiing, canyoning, kayaking, rafting, surfing, kite surfing, or even stand up paddle surfing! I just tried that last one, and it wasn’t easy. One full day doing various kind of watersports can be such an enjoyable day!
14. Explore Nusa Ceningan (And Stay For A Day)
Nusa Ceningan is a small island off of the mainland that can be reached from Nusa Lembongan by crossing a small bridge. A lot of people say that not much happens on Nusa Ceningan and people only go there for the Blue Lagoon cliff jump. From my super short visit to Nusa Ceningan, I managed to soak in the chilled and relaxed atmosphere of Bali. I toured the Blue Lagoon and the seaweed farm, which was great, and met lots of friendly locals. I also discovered Le Pirate beach club, a super nice place to stay in Ceningan.
15. Enjoy Sunset by the Beach (With a Beer)
I shouldn’t say much about this. Sunset by the beach is super romantic and definitely you shouldn’t miss the chance. Stroll around, jog, sit on the sand or the bean bags at a beach club, it really doesn’t matter. I promise you’re guaranteed to enjoy yourself. Or sunrise? 🙂 I’d also recommend one of the beachside bars for catching the sunset.
*** Ooopps! Sorry this turned into a very long article! I hope it is useful though, especially for first timers to Indonesia! Btw, this is only a list of 15 things you know, you actually can do loads more things in Bali. The options are almost endless.
Have you ever been to Bali? Or are you planning your second (or third) visit? Let me know what I am missing out! Feel free to drop your input here and let other people know about other activities that you can do in Bali.
Bali selalu menggoda, Bali selalu bikin kangen, Bali punya banyak pesona dan Bali itu Indonesia
Kakak Cumi! Iya, Bali sama spesialnya kaya Yogyakarta kalau buat aku 😀
Semoga bisa ke Bali bareng someday ya Kak! Terima kasih udah mau direcokin minta info resto/beach club di Bali.
[…] I published several articles about Bali recently. There are a few articles about Nusa Lembongan, one of my favorite islands in Bali. You can check out my article about things to do around Nusa Lembongan, my review of the Lembongan Beach Club here and also the latest one about things to do in Bali. […]
Very useful Firsta :*
thank you,my resolution is doing water sports! Haha..
Hi Debby! Thanks for dropping by.
Yes, do more water sports! Resolusiku tahun ini —> harus bisa surfing. Lalalalaaaaa.. 😉
i drove motorbike from Lombok to Bali with my lit sister and we arrived to Tirta Gangga in the dawn! The sensation after reaching the treasure place was stunning!
i love your blog!
Template baru yaa..Keren =)
Hi Velyz, Thanks! Iya.. akhirnya ganti template yang lebih clean. Yayy!
Personally, I liked the Gunung Kawi temple very much! Maybe it was because of the rain, but there were only 1 or 2 tourists besides us. The atmosphere was very special and I can definitely recommend this place 😉
Niceeeeee. Setelah dipikir2 beberapa kali ke bali yang dikunjungin itu2 lagi. Ini kudu jadi kitab suci. Hahaha.. btw nice new theme. Akhirnya ada “latest post” dan tanggal. Ini yg kutunggu2 dari duluuuu…
Iyaaaaa…lebih segeer tampilannya, Kaak. 😀
Hehehe that’s right.. must be carefull about shpping (number 7).. because there’s no cheap product I think…
I’m planning on going Bali .! How about june .? Weather condition in June and how to dress in Bali are my greatest doubts .! Could someone help me with that .!
June is usually a dry season. Dress up in Bali is pretty easy, it is ok to wear shorts and tank tops or sundress. At certain places (like temples), you need to carry sarong to cover up your legs or you can rent it out there.
Thank you so much FIRSTA. .! It did help my packing 🙂
Bali selalu menggairahkan kak…
Kak Bolang, pemilihan kata yang tepat. Menggairahkan. :)))
Hi! do you have any clue how much is the diving in tulamben, and also with a manta? thanks
Diving in Tulamben back then in 2013 was Rp 350,000 per dive for local. It costs Rp 500,000 per dive for foreigners.
I don’t really know if you able to see Manta rays in Tulamben. You should check out Manta Point in Nusa Penida. 🙂 Good luck with your travels!
Jangan untuk first timer, yang udah beberapa kali ke Bali aja belum semuanya dalam daftar ini kesampaian. Aku pengen banget nyobain diving di Tulamben. nyelam di Manta Point atau lihat ikan Mola-mola langsung. Nice post kak, jadi pengen liburan 😀
[…] This week we will give the list Things To Do In Bali special for NOVEMBER SERIES, according to Discover Your Indonesia. Hope you like, enjoy and find […]
Thank you for this article, I found it very informative and not too long at all. =)
Going to Bali for the first time in September (2017) for two weeks and would like to know whether the Nusa islands (Lembongan, Ceningan, and Penida) are still as nice today or whether they have become too touristy and developed?
Have you hiked mount Agung in the meantime? And do you know what its like at sunset rather than sunrise?
Do you know how Jatilawuh compares to the Tegalalang rice fields? Do you know which one is better?
Also, is snorkelling possible on Nusa Penida? Or is it mainly for diving? I read that the currents can be quite bad.
Are there any other waterfalls you would recommend, definitely going to go to Sekumpul but I’ve also read there is one that smells like coffee, do you know how it is?
How busy has Ubud gotten? I hear its really bad?
Sorry for all the questions, and thank you in advance for your help =)
Kind Regards Kayla
Nusa Penida is less touristy than the other two Nusas. Yes, read my experience in Mount Agung here. It is more for sunrise. I never been to Jatiluwih, but I heard it is nicer than Tegalalang. Yes, it is possible to do snorkeling in Nusa Penida (Chrystal Bay and Manta point), but yes the current is a bit strong.
I love Banyumala waterfall 🙂 not sure about waterfall that smells like coffee :/ sorry.
Oh yes, Ubud is really popular destination so it is really busy. 🙂 but I personally think it is still managable.
Fantastic, thank you so much for the reply, I will definitely add Banyumala to my list. Ok great so I will keep Ubud as part of the holiday. Thanks again 🙂
For the first time you going to Bali, what do you think about Bali ? Bali is nice, Bali is beautiful right . yeaah, diving at tulamben is beautiful, but you can also try diving at pemuteran beach and menjangan island that’s really beautiful. And also tegalalang rice field is beautiful, is so totaly natural.
Hi Yolandita, yes so many beautiful spots in Bali.