Bali is a beautiful island in Indonesia. There are so many things to see and do, from hiking volcanoes to snorkelling with turtles, that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by how much there is to this beautiful island and not know where to start! If you’re planning a trip there and are wondering what to do in Bali or what the best places to see are, here is a list of top 10 destinations and activities that you can’t miss!
10 Must-See Places in Bali
1. Gili Trawangan, Lombok
Kind of ironic that my number one “must-see” on a trip to Bali, isn’t actually in Bali. Gili Trawangan is part of the three Gili islands, in Lombok. Since it is just a short two hour ferry away, most people visit the Gili islands during their stay in Bali. The three days I spent in Gili Trawangan were the highlight of my Bali trip, which is why I’m ranking them as my number one. Gili T is entirely pedestrian, meaning the only way around the island is either cycling or by horse cart. We spent three days cycling around the island, snorkelling with turtles just off the shore from our hotel, and relaxing on beautiful white sandy beaches with turquoise water. For anyone looking for the chill beach and island vibes, while also having the opportunity to snorkel with turtles, you should definitely pay the Gili islands a visit on your next Bali trip!
2. Pura Bratan Temple
Bali is the land of temples, if you had to pick one to visit on your trip, Erin of Have Compass Will Travel recommends Pura Bratan! “Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or Pura Bratan is a stunning water temple in Bali situated on the shores of Lake Bratan. This temple has significant meaning to the local people. It serves as a place of worship and offerings to the water, lake and river goddess, Dewi Danu. This temple is situated in the heart of Bali about a 50Km drive north of Denpasar, this temple is a little hard to get to making it less touristy. The temple sits on a lake which provides a beautiful reflection if you go at the right time of day. Surrounded by mountains, Pura Bratan is a very unique water temple and one worth visiting.” You can follow Erin’s adventures and see more of her photos on Instagram!
Ubud is a town in central Bali, and a very popular tourist destination. The town is dotted by temples all throughout it, has a lovely market, is surrounded by rice fields, and there is also a Monkey Forest! What’s not to love about it? While the main streets in town can be very busy, walking around the rice fields is very relaxing, as you often won’t see any other tourists for quite a while. The Monkey Forest is also a fun place to visit, just remember not to bring food with you unless you want to be attacked by monkeys!
4. Sekumpul Waterfalls
Bali isn’t just the land of temples, it’s also the land of temples, and some of the most scenic ones according to Jess from My Feet Will Lead Me are the Sekumpul waterfalls! “Who doesn’t love a “take-your-breath-away” waterfall. They are plentiful in Bali, but perhaps known as the most beautiful of all is Sekumpul Waterfalls, around 2 hours north of Ubud, which is actually a cluster of 7 waterfalls, cascading down the mountainside. It is a long drive, and a bit of a trek, however the entire journey is incredibly scenic. The trek will include passing by local homes, seeing rice terraces in the distance, mountainous jungle as far as the eye can see, and great views of the falls. A massive decent down steep steps and across the river will finally bring you to the impressive falls where you swim.
At the parking lot, there are guides for hire when you arrive, and although you can refuse their pushy services, having a guide has its benefits. They will lead you on the route with the safest and easiest places to step, as you are walking through the river some of the time, and take pictures for you. Plus, it’s an opportunity to learn about the country by asking a local questions. Accessing Sekumpul waterfalls requires traveling down (and back up) many stairs and along slippery rocks across a river but it’s well worth the effort. A swimsuit, water shoes, dry bag, towel, and drinking water are necessities. Because the journey is a bit more difficult than other falls, it is not crowded and you may even find yourself one of the few people there. The invigorating energy of these falls will leave you mind blown.” You can read more about Jess’s experience in Bali here, or follow her adventures on Instagram!
5. Tukad Cepung Waterfall
While we’re talking about waterfalls another one you can’t miss according to Sasi is Tukad Cepung! “Bali has many amazing waterfalls, but Tukad Cepung deserved a place in Bali Top 10 because the waterfall is located inside a cave & it’s a hidden gem since not many travelers know about this place. It’s located in Bangli, around 1,5 hours from Kuta/Seminyak or 40 minutes from Ubud by car/motorbike. Once you get there, from the parking area you will find a locket where you can buy the ticket for a small fee to help the locals maintain the place, then your adventure begins! You will need to walk down through some stairs & trek through the forest to get to the river. Then you have to walk a bit in the shallow stream & walk through the narrow cave to get in. Once you get inside you will be amazed by everything, water falls from the opening on top of the cave the way the sunlight hits the waterfalls, also there’s a beautiful valley with big rocks that you can climb.”
6. Mount Batur
There is nothing more exciting than a night hike, especially when you know there is a beautiful sunrise and view waiting for you at the top. Oceana of Maps and Mandalas says; “If you’re looking to see the Island of the Gods from heaven itself, Mount Batur is the place to do that. An active volcano that last erupted in 2000, Mount Batur is among the island’s sacred sites, and the mountain is the centre of both lore and legend. However, there are no limitations on hikers summiting the peak, providing they do so with a registered guide.
The big draw for Mount Batur is to arrive at the peak as the sun is rising. This means making the upward climb at night after being picked up from your hotel sometime in the very, very early hours of the morning. It’s a thrill once you get to the top and realise how far you’ve come, and even more of a thrill on the way down when you realise how perilous the climb was, but absolutely worth it the entire way through.” Read more about Oceana’s experience here, or check out more of her photos on Instagram and Facebook!
7. Kawah Ijen, East Java
While we’re talking about volcanoes and sunrise hikes, figured I couldn’t not talk about Kawah Ijen. Once again this isn’t actually in Bali, but on the neighbour island of East Java. We went there on a 24 hour trip from Bali so figured it should also be included in this list! We set off on our hike at 2am, and after climbing up under a beautiful starry sky we made it to the top in time to see the electric blue flames, a natural phenomenon visible only here. We then waited for the golden sunrise and explored the crater of Kawah Ijen, which is actually filled with water and is the largest acid lake in the world.
8. Manta Ray Point, Nusa Penida
Manta Ray Point is an area in Nusa Penida, an island just 20km South-East of Bali, where it is possible to snorkel and scuba dive with manta rays at their feeding point. Michelle from Intrepid Viajera got to scuba dive with these beautiful animals, check out her video below! She says; “Manta Ray Point is a must see for snorkelers and scuba divers alike. It was my first time seeing manta rays and I’ll never forget their grace as they swam by.”
9. Tirta Empul Temple
Pure Bratan isn’t the only temple you should pay a visit to on your trip to Bali, Anika recommends the Hindu Balinese Water Temple Tirta Empul. “This traditional spring water temple is a peaceful oasis not far from Ubud and the Tegalalang rice terraces. It’s a sacred place for Hindus, and the water is supposed to be spiritually cleansing. Whether you bathe in the holy water, look at the traditional Hindu temples and architecture, or simply walk around and enjoy the gardens and tranquillity it is definitely worth a visit whilst in Bali!
There are several pools of water within the temple complex, and many buildings to explore. It’s a beautiful place, and a very nice change of scenery for most as you are able to see the traditional side of Bali and the Hindu religion. Entrance is 15.000 IDR, and when visiting you should dress in appropriate temple attire – or make use of the colourful sarongs offered when entering.”
Seminyak is a part of Bali very popular for its beach bars and surfing. While it is a very touristy spot of Bali, it’s a fun area to check out if you like surfing. There are lots of places along the beach that will rent you boards for as little as £5 a day. After a long day of surfing you can then enjoy a relaxing meal and drinks sitting on the bean bags of one of the many beach bars.
11. Potato Head Club
I know we’ve already reached our top ten, but after so much exploring around Bali; chasing waterfalls, snorkelling with turtles and manta rays, hiking volcanoes, and visiting temples, I thought I’d include a number eleven and tell you about one of the best beach clubs where you can go relax and have fun. Inma of A World To Travel recommends the Potato Head Beach Club; “Designed by a renowned architect, the Potato Head Beach Club in Bali has a couple of restaurants, a bar, a tropical garden, an infinity pool to die for (check it out yourself in the picture!) and superb sunset views. Indeed one of our Indonesia adventures highlights!” You can see more of Inma’s adventures and photos on Instagram!
You are now ready for your next trip to Bali, knowing the top 10 (+ 1) must-see places to visit! Want to know more about Bali? Check out this Bali travel guide, or read here the 10 things you should know before travelling to Bali. If you’ve been to Bali before, do you agree with us? Do these places make your Bali top 10 list? Let me know in the comments below!
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