10 Top things to do in Bali
With it’s iconic paddy fields, volcanic mountains, incredible beaches, coral reefs, beautiful temples, prime surfing spots, amazing spa treatments, trendy cafes and extremely friendly locals, there is no wonder why Bali is one of the most famous islands in Indonesia. And that’s without mentioning the wonderful neighbouring Nusa Islands. I had been dreaming about visiting Bali for many years and despite its popularity amongst tourists, I enjoyed every single moment there and would love to go back one day to explore more.
I went to Bali for three weeks during the dry season in May and had the most perfect weather. I personally advise to avoid the wet season which runs from October to April. This post list the 10 top things to do in Bali which you can easily do yourself in 3 weeks.
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1.Explore the rice fields in Ubud
When you think of Bali, one of the fist things that probably comes to your mind are the paddy fields, especially if you’ve seen the film Eat Pray Love. When you’re driving around Ubud, you’ll see lots of rice terraces along the roads but the most famous ones to visit are the Tegallalang Rice Terraces (20 mins from Ubud - free entrance). An hour drive from Ubud, you will find the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces which are a lot bigger but you have to pay to enter. In Ubud, I also recommend going along the Campuhan Ridge Walk and having dinner at a local restaurant in the rice fields called Raditiya Café at sunset.
2. Sleep in a typical Balinese wooden hut
This is one of the ultimate experiences in Bali and there are plenty of options to choose from around the island. I stayed in some beautiful wooden huts at Kakul Villa in Ubud, De Sapphire Cliff Villa in Uluwatu, Tigerlillys (as pictured) and Sukanusa Luxury Huts on Nusa Lembongan. They were all reasonably priced and the staff was extremely friendly. Overall, Balinese hospitality is remarkable, everyone is so kind and they always go to the extra mile to make sure that you enjoy your stay.
3. Enjoy the crystal clear waters of Uluwatu
I must say that I wasn’t expecting to see that many incredible beaches in Bali so you can imagine how I was blown away by the crystal clear waters of Uluwatu! In addition to being a surfer’s paradise, Uluwatu has some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. Friends of mine went during the wet season and didn't get to see the beaches like this as the water was apparently very murky so do keep this in mind when you’re thinking abut when to travel to Bali. My favourite beaches in Uluwatu were Padang Padang, Dreamland, Balangan and Bigin.
4. Hike up Mount Batur at sunrise
Hiking up an active volcano at sunrise sounded like a real adventure to us and we thought there would only be a few other adventurers like us. But to our surprise, as we arrived there were lots of cars at the car park with other tourists eager to climb Mount Batur… The funny thing was that when we stared the hike with our guide we could already see a long tail of lights from people’s torches going all the way to the top of the volcano!
Despite the amount of people hiking up at the same time, it’s still a great experience and you will be mesmerised by the sunrise views over the clouds and the Mount Agung volcano. We booked this excursion directly with our hotel to get the best deal and they arranged for us to be picked up in the morning and dropped off at the hotel after the tour. FYI - do wrap up warm because it’s cold at night climbing up the volcano.
5. Check out the incredible spots on Nusa Penida Island
Located off the southeast coast of Bali, Nusa Penida is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Sanur port in Bali. You can also reach the island from Nusa Lembongan by taking a small boat. You can either stay a couple of days on Nusa Penida to explore all the island or simply go for the day to explore the most poplar spots with a private driver like we did. Please note that the island is very big and that the roads are in a bad state with lots of potholes meaning that it takes a long time to visit each spot so you won’t be able to see everything in one day. Do also bear this in mind when thinking about renting a scooter to get around the island…
The things you MUST see in Nusa Penida are:
Broken Beach (as pictured above) - beautiful arched tunnel in the cliffs and turquoise water.
Angel’s Billabong (as pictured below right) - be careful with the strong waves.
Kelingking Beach (as pictured below left) - the view from above is just incredible and you can even walk down to the beach. Look out for the manta rays!
Crystal Bay - small sandy beach ideal for swimming & snorkelling.
6. Try a Nasi Goreng & a Mie Goreng
These are two typical Indonesian dishes and you will seem them on the menus of all the local restaurants. Nasi Goreng is a fried rice dish and Mie Goreng is a fried noodles dish, both served with vegetables. You have to try both at least once but I’m pretty sure that if your spending a long time in Indonesia you’ll be eating them a lot and will have had enough of them by the end of your trip… They tend to be pretty spicy so if you’re not a fan of hot food then tell them in advance to go easy on the flavouring.
⇟ BALI PACKING LIST ⇟
7. Spot the monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a sanctuary for the Balinese long tailed Monkey and there are hundreds of them running around everywhere so don’t worry about not seeing any. Don’t feed the monkeys and I’d advise you to avoid touching or getting too close to them because they can be a bit agressive considering that they’re not domesticated. I doubt that you want to get bitten by one of them because they’re not vaccinated either… We saw a couple of incidents with people getting attacked by monkeys and one man even got his arm bitten! I was glad not to be in his shoes… There are several temples in the Monkey Forest so do dress appropriately.
8. Have lunch at a some of the trendiest healthy cafes & restaurants
As you may have already seen on social media, Bali is a foodie’s paradise with so many restaurants and cafes with trendy boho interiors serving healthy vegetarian dishes. Like myself, you’ll probably go to Bali with a list of over 50 places to try but realistically you won’t be able to go to all of them.. My personal favourites were Folk in Ubud (as pictured), Two Trees Eatery in Canggu, Drifter Cafe in Uluwatu , Coffee Cartel and Shelter Cafe in Seminyak. Give them a try because I’m sure you’ll enjoy them just as much as I did.
9. Chill out for a few days on Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan
Located off the southeast coast of Bali, these peaceful neighbouring islands are only a 30-minute ferry ride from Sanur port in Bali. Both islands are connected by the famous Yellow Bridge providing easy access between them. It’s definitely worth spending at least 3-5 days to explore these beautiful islands and to simply relax and enjoy the moment (you can also take a small boat from Nusa Lembongan to reach Nusa Penida). I definitely recommend renting a bicycle, scooter or buggy to get around the islands, however if you’re not keen on cycling up steep hills them maybe a bicycle isn’t the best option for you…
On Nusa Lembongan you need to visit: Dream Beach, Devil’s Tear, Sandy Bay, Jungut Batu Beach and the mangrove forest. You can also go on a half day snorkelling tour with manta rays (unfortunately I didn’t see any manta rays). On Nusa Ceningan you must go to: Blue Lagoon, Secret Beach, the little beach next to Secret Point Hut's, and chill out at Sea Breeze Ceningan (the earlier you go the better as the tide goes down in the afternoon and then it's not as pretty).
10. Watch a magical sunset at Seminyak Beach
The beach in Seminyak is a long stretch of fine sand that goes on for kilometres making it an ideal place to walk along. There are lots of hotels, beach clubs and restaurants to keep it very entertaining and it’s also a popular spot for beginning surfers. What I liked the most was walking along the beach at sunset. The bright pink, orange and purple colours of the sky together with the reflections on the beach made it such a magical sunset.
Do you have any other places or things to Do in bali to add to this list?