Things to Do

Things to do in Bali: Top 10 Must-do’s for First-time Visitors

Creating a list of the top things to do in Bali? Indonesia’s beautiful Bali has definitely become one of the go-to’s for travelers looking to “eat, pray and love”. After all, with its lush greenery, friendly locals, gorgeous temples and breathtaking views, it’s not hard to see why people keep coming back and exploring Bali’s tourist attractions.

1. Walk through Bali’s Tirta Empul Temple

Tirta temple
Image Credit: Gabor Kovacs Photography/ Shutterstock.com

Dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu God of Water, the temple’s name translates to “holy water spring” in Balinese. The temple is divided into four main parts: the central courtyard, the Jabah Tengah (has two purification pools), the Jeroan (inner courtyard) and the Koi pool.

The widely popular bathing ritual at Jabah Tengah is reserved for the local Balinese and Hindu worshippers. Locals believe that the water in the pools have magical powers and that after dipping themselves under the 30 spouts, they’d be purified.

  • Location: Jalan Yoga Perkanthi Jimbaran, Jimbaran, Kuta Selatan
  • Operation Hours: 9AM to 5PM (daily)
  • Fees: PHP 57 (adults) and PHP 29 (kids)
  • What You Need to Know: As with all temples in Bali, it is important to follow their dress code. Visitors, especially women, are often asked to wear the traditional “kamen” wrap with a sash around the waist.

2. Climb up Mount Batur

Mount Batur

Climbing up Mount Batur reveals gorgeous views of neighboring Mount Agung and Mount Agang once you’ve climbed to its summit. Considered a fairly quick climb (two to three hours total), most treks start early in the morning so that climbers are treated to beautiful sunrise.

To ascend the volcano, it’d be best that you have a guide – most of which usually confirm your trip with a simple WhatsApp message (so, don’t be surprised!).

If climbing with a guide, you can opt to go on a private tour or with a group – though plenty opt for the former as it allows you to move at your own pace.

Most trek fees already cover pick-up and drop-off from your hotel, the guide, water, flashlights, a simple breakfast at the summit and lunch at a nearby restaurant after the hike.

  • Location: Kintamani, Bangli
  • Operation Hours: Treks can start as early as 3:45AM. Best time for panoramic views are from 10AM to 3PM.
  • Fees: PHP3,150 per person (minimum of two people)
  • What You Need to Know: Hiking up Mount Batur usually takes two to three hours, going up and down. Regardless of your expert level, it is best that you have an official guide accompany you as self-titled “mountain guides” may be pushy with fees and tips. Since Mount Batur is active, it is best to check its volcanic activity before planning your climb.

3. Go Diving at Tulamben

Tulamben

World-renowned Tumbalen is a popular dive site known for its breathtaking view of the cargo ship USAT Liberty wreck which was torpedoed by the Japanese during World War II.

The wreck was formerly ashore Tulamben beach before lava from Gunung Agung’s volcanic eruption in 1963 pushed the Liberty off of the beach and to its current location, breaking it into several pieces in the process.

  • Location: Tulamben, Kubu, Karangasem, East Bali
  • Fees: Dependent on tour availed
  • What You Need to Know: The wreck is completely covered with corals and is home to over 400 species of reef fishes. If you choose to go night diving, you’ll easily spot flashlight fishes hidden among the black corals. Nearby are other dive spots worth visiting: coral garden, rugged wall, Alam Anda Reef and Batu Kelebit Reef.

4. Visit the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Once a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site candidate, the Jatiluwih rice terraces make for a gorgeous view leading up to Mount Batukaru.

The terraces’ well-maintained irrigation system, known as “subak“, sustains the greenery and dates back to the 9th century. Tourists can opt to go trekking through the fields, or to simply take a photo with the breathtaking view.

  • Location: Jatiluwih, Penebel, Tabanan
  • Fees: Dependent on tour availed
  • What You Need to Know: Most treks offer lunch stops at restaurants that overlook the rice terraces, but a couple of favorites are Billy’s Terrace Cafe and Warung Jatiluwih 259. Also, while most treks happen during the day – the rice terraces offer an equally stunning view at sundown. Especially when the fireflies light up the sky and when the sounds of nature emerge.

5. Visit a special Banyan Tree at the Trunyan Village

Banyan tree

This should definitely be in your top five of things to do in Bali! In the remote village of Trunyan, the locals have a unique burial ritual that many travel to observe or to at least see where the deceased are laid to rest.

When a villager passes away, they aren’t cremated like the rest of the Balinese Hindus, but are instead wrapped and laid out by a large old tree.

While you’d think the air would be reeking of decomposition, locals say that with the mountain’s cool air and fragrance that the tree gives off, the smell is masked. There is also an area where you can see a stack of skulls and bones.

  • Location: Kintamani, Bangli Regency
  • Fees: Dependent on tour availed
  • What You Need to Know: You should bring your camera – the stack of skulls and bones make for a macabre backdrop.

6. Learn about authentic Balinese Dishes 

Balinese dishes

They say one of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in a destination’s culture is by eating it’s food – even better if you learn how to cook it and learn about its significance. Learn more about the Balinese culture by starting off your day with a trip to the market.

Familiarize ourself with new ingredients, fresh produce yand more. Then back to the center where you will be taught how to cook Balinese dishes using authentic methods and instruments – all of which end with a delicious meal.

  • Location: Paon Bali Cooking Class comes highly-recommended and is located in Laplapan Village, Ubud Gianyar
  • Operation Hours: 8:30AM (Morning) and 4PM (Afternoon)
  • Fees: PHP 1,329 per person
  • What You Need to Know: The afternoon class has no market place tour, but don’t fret. You’ll still be working with Balinese chefs who speak english and well and who’d love to tell you all about Balinese food and culture.

7. Offer up a Prayer at Bali’s “Mother Temple”

Bali Temple

Considered Bali’s biggest and holiest temple, Besakih Temple is over a 1,000 years old and sits on the slopes of Mount Agung. It’s compound is home to at least 86 temples and shrines, with locals celebrating around 70 religious ceremonies a year (each shrine or temple is celebrated on its own anniversary).

  • Location: Besakih Village, Rendang Sub-district, Karangasem District
  • Operation Hours: It is open 24 hours as a place of worship, but tourists are welcomed from 8AM to 5PM
  • Fees: PHP 228 per person
  • What You Need to Know: The best time to visit the temple is either early morning or in the evening, as not only is it much quieter, but self-proclaimed temple guards or guides would’ve also been gone by then. While not necessary, you can hire an official guide who are easily identified by their symmetrically patterned Batik shirts. As with all temples, a strict dress code is followed – hence sarongs and sashes are available for rent.

8. Enjoy drinks and the sunset at Rock Bar Bali

Rock bar Bali
Image Credit: Sirintra Pumsopa/ Shutterstock.com

Perched atop a limestone cliff, Rock Bar Bali has become the go-to for cocktails, great music and a gorgeous view of the sunset. The establishment’s minimalist designs blends seamlessly into the rock formation and is highlighted by ambient lighting from the bar, sunset and lanterns.

There are two lines to get here – the fast and regular line. The former is reserved for guests of the Ayana Resort and Spa, which is where Rock Bar Bali is.

  • Location: Ayana Resort and Spa Bali, Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran
  • Operation Hours: 4PM to 1AM (Daily)
  • Fees: No entrance fee
  • What You Need to Know: Set against a backdrop of the Indian Ocean, with music by world-renowned DJ’s playing – enjoy Rock Bar Bali’s best selling drinks which include Punch Rock and Rockberry Martini. You can also take a sip of Spa on the Rock which has vodka, blackcurrant liqueur, blueberry and cranberry juice.

9. Take one IG-worthy shot after another 

Nuda Bali

No trip to Bali would be complete without shots taken at some of their most IG-worthy locations. After all, these gorgeous photos may be one of the reasons why you’ve decided to fly over in the first place.

Some places worth shooting at are Nusa Penida (Maldives of Bali), Tengenunan Waterfalls, LaLaguna Bali, Motel Mexicola and more.

  • Location: Various locations across Bali
  • Operation Hours: Dependent on establishment
  • Fees: Dependent on establishment
  • What You Need to Know: Be respectful of local rules and customs – if taking photos at a temple, make sure that you are wearing the proper clothing. If an establishment says no picture taking, respect it.

10. Monkey around at the Ubud Monkey Forest

Monkey tree

Known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, the popular tourist spot is home to several grey long-tailed macaques. Visitors can expect to see the monkeys swinging from tree to tree, boldly coming up to guests, feeding on bananas and more.

While it’s great to see the monkeys in their natural habitat, its best that you don’t touch, try to feed them or wear loose clothes or jewelry. They are, after all, still wild animals and may be tempted to snatch your items.

  • Location: Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud
  • Operation Hours: 8AM to 6PM (Daily)
  • Fees: PHP 158 (adults) and PHP 115 (kids)
  • What You Need to Know: The best way to enjoy the Monkey Forest is to have a local guide with you. Not only will they assist in retrieving “items stolen by monkeys”, but it pays to have someone tell you about the significance of the many sites and temples within the grounds.

These are just some the of the hundreds of things to do in Bali that you should find yourself doing. After all, there’s always something new to explore, love and to discover on this gorgeous Indonesian island that you may never want to leave.

Ready to eat, pray and love in Bali? Make sure you book your flight and hotel with Traveloka!


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