Bali has a bit of a love-hate relationship with Aussie tourists. With programs like A Current Affair consistently showing the negative party side to Bali there’s no wonder the stigma exists.
But for those in the know, Bali is forever evolving into a beautiful city rich in culture. The locals are always happy to welcome newcomers with open arms.
If you love your party vibe then sure, stay in the heart of Kuta and get amongst the locals and have a ball. But if you are more on the conservative side, there is so much more to Bali than bars and cheap eats.
Bali is home to incredible scenery and vivid sunsets. Take a drive through the rich tapestries of Ubud, hike up Mount Batur or relax on the white sandy beaches that line the coasts.
So here are our top 10 things to do in Bali.
#1 Visit a Temple (or two)
With a strong Hindu culture, Bali is home to some of the most fascinating temples in Asia. We have picked out three that we think are the standouts.
Tanah Lot Temple
Perched on a large rock meters from the shore, the Tanah Lot Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples in Bali. It is one of the 7 ‘sea’ temples that form a chain around the southwest coast of Bali and is frequented by many people each day. Make sure to visit this temple at low tide so you can cross the rocky path to gain access.
Known as the ‘Mother Temple’ the Besakih sits high on the slopes of Mount Agung and is one of the largest temples in Bali. Set amongst stunning scenery, the site is home to over 86 different temples. If visiting, beware of pushy locals looking to make a few dollars.
Sitting precariously on the tip of the peninsular, the Uluwatu is another ‘sea’ temple that dots the coastline. Walk your way past ancient sculptures and traditional gateways and be rewarded with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. Stay until sunset to take in the brilliant pink and red sky that Bali is famous for.
#2 Lovina Dolphin Tours
Lovina Beach is a small town community that was once a backpackers delight. With Kuta becoming overrun with tourists, it now accommodates for older couples and families looking for a quiet place to holiday.
The main drawcard of Lovina is their Dolphin tours which start very early and go until late in the afternoon. The very knowledgeable guides know exactly where to go to see the Dolphins and will speed alongside them as they jump in and out of the water. A tip from the locals is to avoid the morning crowds and opt for an afternoon tour.
Situated just 3 hours drive from Kuta, the best way to get there is to hire a driver for the day or be daring and rent a scooter.
#3 Jimbaran Bay, Bali
If you love your seafood fresh from the sea, then a stroll to Jimbaran Bay for dinner is an absolute must. At nightfall, the beach is full of open air restaurants lit by hanging lanterns and candles.
There are 17 beach side restaurants to choose from each offering a slightly different menu at very competitive prices. For a mere $50 you get a 3-course meal including a huge seafood basket with the works, (yes even a lobster) a real foodies paradise.
So if you fancy dinner by the sea with your toes in the sand watching the sun go down over a seafood platter and cocktail, this is your destination.
For a holiday away from your holiday, Ubud is the relaxing upmarket armchair away from all the craziness of Kuta.
The cultural hub of Bali, Ubud is home to some of the best museums in the country. A walk down the main street will delight with dozens of shops selling wood carvings, art, textiles, antiques, and jewelry. Visit the workshops of the surrounding villages that specialise in wood crafts. Or drop into the many galleries for one of a kind artworks from talented Balinese artists.
The Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud is a favourite with tourists. But if the idea of walking through a forest with overly intelligent criminal monkeys doesn’t appeal, (no seriously, they’re plain evil). Then head to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces for some breathtaking scenery.
#5 The Rock Bar
Perched on the cliff edge at the award winning Ayana’s Resort and Spa, The Rock Bar is THE place to be in Bali.
Often referred to as one of the best bars in the world, the minimalist open air Japanese inspired decor is the perfect setting for one of the best locations in Bali to see the sunset. With this in mind, the bar does get packed out just before the sun goes down, so make sure you get there early to avoid the line.
At nightfall, the band and DJ fire up to get the party going. There’s a strict dress code that applies to get into the bar, so leave those Bintang singlets in the hotel!
#6 Nusa Dua
Nusa Dua is located a short 20-minute drive from Kuta and has a lot to offer the day tripper or as a place to unpack the suitcases and stay a while.
With Balis most popular golf course and convention center, 5-star resorts, and pristine white sandy beaches there’s no wonder Nusa is known as the Tourism District.
The famous beach is perfect for swimming, surfing, and snorkeling. There are plenty of beach huts where you can hire out jet skis, or boats that take you parasailing or diving. If water sports aren’t your thing, you can jump on a camel with Nusa the only place to book a camel safari.
#7 Waterbom Park
Touted as the best water parks in Asia as well as reaching number 2 in the world on trip advisor, Waterbom is THE place to go when in Bali on a hot day.
Right in the heart of Kuta, Waterbom boats some of the world’s scariest and longest tube rides. With names like Constrictor, Viper, and Python, we can see how they got their stellar reputation.
But don’t worry, if you would rather relax the day away and let the youngins do their thing, the Lazy River is for you. Jump in a tube and lay back while the river floats you through a tropical forest setting with waterfalls and relaxing music.
Tickets into the park will set you back about $45 for adults and $34 for kids.
Seminyak was once something of a backwater town only ten years ago. Now with developments happening at lightening speed, it is overflowing with designer hotels, luxury restaurants and happening bars. It is also home to some of the most lavish spas and boutiques in all of Bali.
From people riding horses along the beach, surfers taking on the famous waves and adrenalin junkies bungee jumping. There is literally something for everyone.
The private villa experience has taken off over the last six years in Seminyak. From super luxury with butlers and your own personal chef to the simple villa with a private pool. Some villas are also large enough to accommodate groups or big families. So if you don’t feel like sharing a resort with tourists, then a private villa is the way to go.
# 9 Gunung Kawi
Northeast of Ubud you will find the 11th-century temple complex Gunung Kawi.
The shrines that surround the complex have been meticulously carved out of a sheer cliff face. They stand 7m tall and are a sight to behold. The nine temples on the compound are said to be dedicated to the Kings and Queens of the Udayana dynasty.
Like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, the temples are a bit of an adventure to get to. Some 300 stairs lead to the compound which can be quite a challenge and not for the faint of heart. While climbing you will be rewarded with sweeping views of ancient rice terraces, fountains, and streams making it all worthwhile.
#10 Taman Ujung Water Palace
Located in Karangasemin a little village called Tumbu is the most spectacular Palace and garden estate that you simply must put on your itinerary.
As the name suggests the Taman Ujung is a palace that sits amongst pools of water and is surrounded by an impressive 11 hectares of land. You could spend hours here just meandering through the landscaped gardens while marvelling at the Balinese and European architecture.
Once home to the last King of Karangasem, the palace is now open to the public. It boasts incredible views of the ocean on one side and the cliffs of Mt Seraya on the other. A truly one of a kind place that you must visit.