It may be relatively small in size, but Bali packs a pretty big punch when it comes to amazing things to do.
Popular with everyone from backpackers on a budget to families who vacation in style, it’s one of the most beautiful and diverse tourist spots in Asia – with a distinct spiritual vibe that follows you wherever you roam.
Here’s a guide to the very best things to do in Bali to get the most out of your stay.
The best things to do in Bali
Visit the oldest temple
Soaring up from the bottom of a lush green river valley is one of the region’s largest and oldest temples, Gunung Kawi. Carved into a sheer cliff face opposite the sacred Pakrisan River, it consists of 10 separate shrines believed to be memorials of an ancient king and his many wives. This temple complex is one of most important archeological sites, and it’s one of the best things to do if you’re interested in the island’s fascinating history. Gunung Kawi is easy to get to if you follow the signpost from the main road in Tampaksiring village.
Wash in holy water
Also in the town of Tampaksiring is the Tirta Empul temple, famous for its ‘holy’ spring water. This splendid site dates back to the 10th century and is built around hot ‘sacred’ springs that still bubble in the central courtyard. Balinese people bathe in the waters regularly, believing them to have magical powers. Visitors are welcome to bathe too, as long as they follow certain rules clearly displayed at the entrance to the pools. The complex is open daily and the entrance fee is Rp 15,000 (just over $1) for an adult and Rp 7,500 for a child.
Hang out in Kuta
Yes it’s very touristy in Kuta, but it’s also a lot of fun. Since the tourist boom in the early 1970s the area has become Bali’s most popular beach town and it’s packed with things to do for all the family. There are restaurants, bars, shops, spas and even a water park, but the number one attraction in the town is Kuta Beach, a prime spot for sunbathers, surfers and swimmers.
Feed wild monkeys
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Bali for animal for animal lovers, you’ll find cuteness by the bucket load at the Ubud Monkey Forest. This popular tourist attraction is home to hundreds of long-tailed Balinese macaques, plus 3 impressive holy temples and around 115 different species of trees. You can observe the monkeys at close range, and even feed them with bananas that are sold on-site. Note that the monkeys keep a close eye on passing tourists in the hope of handouts – or an opportunity to just help themselves!
Splash around at a water park
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Bali, the Splash Water Park is a great venue for a day of family-friendly entertainment. Featuring world-class water slides, numerous pools, a kiddie splash playground and a range of food outlets, there’s plenty to keep all ages entertained. Splash Water Park is located in Canggu and is open daily from 9am to 6pm. Entrance is Rp 350,000 per adult and 230,000 per child.
See a dance show
Traditional dances are an integral part of Balinese culture and are regularly put on for special religious events. A great way to enjoy a dance show is to make an evening of it at one of the many restaurants that offer dinner and dance packages. Laka Leke in Ubud is located in beautiful natural surroundings close to the Monkey Forest (see above) and hosts lively dance shows most nights of the week. It also runs afternoon workshops for those interested in learning more about Balinese arts and crafts such as wood carving, bamboo plaiting and kite painting.
Enjoy a romantic meal under the stars
With its lush landscape, beautiful beaches and stunning views from every vista, there are no shortage of dreamy settings for an evening meal. Romantic things to do in Bali abound, whether you want to dine under the stars on the nearby island of Gili Trawangan, or at a fantastic beachfront restaurant like Arwana, or even on the terrace at a private beachfront haven.
Wander around a water temple
Explore the arts and crafts capital
Rightly regarded as the arts and crafts capital, the area around Ubud is home to an array of art shops, galleries and workshops dedicated to various genres of Balinese art. In the center of Ubud is the Museum Puri Lukisan, the oldest museum, and to the east of the region is the Agung Rai Museum of Art, the island’s center for visual and performing arts. The Neka Art Museum is in the village of Kedeweten about 3km west of central Ubud, and the areas around Ubud are known for their wood carving, silver-work and stone carving.
Wash endangered elephants
For something different to do, you can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Elephant Safari Park, just north of Ubud. Home to around 30 endangered Sumatran elephants, the park features 8 acres of forests and grounds with elephant-ride trails, a lake where visitors can help wash the elephants, a restaurant, a museum, a research center, and dozens of exotic botanical gardens. There are a range of packages available starting from around Rp 1,000,000 ($75).
Tee off on top golf courses
Playing golf on top courses is fast becoming one of the most popular things to do, especially for golfers in search of picturesque courses. You can expect to find plenty of award-winning courses on the island, all seamlessly landscaped into some of Bali’s most beautiful locations. The Handara Golf Resort in Singaraja attracts golfers from around the world and is recognised as the best golf course in Asia, and one of the top 50 golf courses on earth.
Chill-out on one of Bali’s best beaches
One of the best beaches in Bali, Jimbaran’s 4-km long sandy bay is the perfect place to kick back and relax. There’s peace and quiet if you want it, but if you’re looking for things to do there’s no shortage of places to get a drink, a snack, a seafood meal or to rent a sunlounger. There’s a coral reef surrounding the bay which keeps the waters calmer than at Kuta Beach, but you can still get some good surf – it’s ideal for bodyboarding.
Take the kids to the zoo
If you’re traveling with all the family and you’re looking for things to do in Bali with kids, then head to Bali Zoo. You can take the little ones on an elephant expedition, have breakfast with an orangutan, hold baby animals and enjoy a scrumptious meal at any of the zoo’s 2 restaurants. Admission starts at around $25 for an adult and around $15 for a child aged 2-12.
Chill out at a luxury villa
There are an abundance of places to stay, and even the most beautiful Bali villas are available at affordable prices. Villas are located in exquisite oceanfront destinations, and come complete with bright airy living spaces, spacious en-suite bedrooms and infinity pools with hot tubs. If you don’t fancy heading out, you can wile away the hours lazing by your own private pool, soaking up the sunshine and stunning sea views.
Go volcano trekking at sunrise
You can see a stunning sunrise from the summit of the Mount Batur volcano, believed to be the most sacred mountain in all of Indonesia. The 4-hour trek starts in the early hours of the morning and includes a light breakfast, brunch and a swim in the hot springs at the top. The 1700-meter-high summit can be reached via 2 different routes, the sunrise path for beginners and a more challenging route for experienced trekkers.
Sip cocktails at a beach club
The nightlife is more about hanging out by the beach rather than clubbing ’til the early hours. Seminyak is one of the best areas for beach bars boasting a spectacular coastline and some amazing chill-out spots. The Potato Head is a must-visit beach club, home to 2 restaurants, 3 bars, an infinity pool and an expansive lawn that all look over the Indian Ocean. You’ll get some of the best sunset views here.
Get a chocolate body treatment
Whether you’re looking for the royal treatment, or just a quick massage, the spa options seem almost endless. If visiting a spa is on your list of things to do in Bali, we recommend trying a Chocolate Indulgence Package for the ultimate in Bali spa bliss. Chocolate has been used as a skin-softener on the island for many years and is thought to have nourishing antioxidant effects. This to-die-for treatment includes a full-body massage, a skin buff and an indulgent chocolate and honey body treatment followed by a flower and milk bath.
Dive a ship wreck
Bali is home to some of the best dive sites in the world, so a day spent underwater should top every bucket list. The most famous dive site can be found off the north coast around the wreck of the USS Liberty, an American vessel built in 1918 and sunk by a Japanese torpedo in 1942. You can book a range of diving packages for all experience levels with Adventure Scuba Diving Bali.
Propose in a helicopter
Romantic things to do don’t get much better than popping the question on a special marriage proposal helicopter flight. You and your loved one will fly for 30 minutes around the stunning Uluwatu Coastline in Bukit, before heading over the beautiful Taman Bhagawan gardens where you can surprise your partner with a massive ‘Will You Marry Me?’ note on the manicured lawns below. Prices are around $2000 including transfers, flights, personalized lettering, champagne and photos.
Go shopping at a local market
Try your hand at white-water rafting
White-water rafting is one of the most adrenaline-pumping but fun things to do in Bali. You should always go on an organized tour rather than try it on your own, and whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rafter you’ll find plenty of options. You can go on a certified white-water rafting trip along the famous Ayung River which has around 3o mid- to high-speed rapids. Along the route you’ll pass through miles of rich rainforest and picturesque countryside – although if it’s too choppy you may not get a chance to enjoy the views!
If you’re thinking of booking a Bali vacation and you need advice on the best places to stay then contact us today. Additionally, our dedicated concierge team can arrange any added extras you need such as great-value car hire.
You can see all our Bali villas here.