The Indonesian archipelago has more than 17,000 islands, and Bali is the undisputed favourite among them. Famed as the Island Of Gods, Bali is located just over two kilometres from the eastern tip of the island of Java and west of the island of Lombok. The island has gained its reputation as the quintessential tropical paradise and not without reason. It offers rich natural beauty with beaches, forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, and coral reefs to explore, along with a fascinating culture which is a unique mix of Hindu-Buddhist religion and Balinese customs. The island also allows you to take part in various colourful ceremonies, with magnificent temples welcoming those interested in history and spirituality. It’s also known for being home to many gifted artists who produce beautiful artwork in paint, stone, wood, silver and whatever can be shaped. With so many things to do, you might get a bit confused on your first visit there. Don’t worry! We have compiled a list of places to visit in Bali!
The Best Tourist Places To Visit In Bali
1. Luxe Spa Capital Of Bali: Seminyak
Located in the west coast of Bali, Seminyak is the centre of life for hordes of the island’s expats. This beach town is a mix of tourist and residential areas and is very popular for scores of restaurants and clubs, and a wealth of creative and designer shops and galleries. Enjoy idyllic beaches such as Seminyak Beach and Petitenget Beach, luxury spas such as Prana Spa or Seminyak Royal Spa, designer boutiques such as Auguste The Label or SOUQ, lively restaurants like Lacalaca Cantina Mexicana and Sarong, bars such as La Favela and KU DE TA, villas, and interesting crafts and furniture shops that stay open until late.
2. Largest And Holiest Hindu Temple In Bali: Pura Besakih
Also known as the Mother Temple of Bali, Besakih Temple is the largest of all temple complexes in Bali. It is the holiest Hindu temple in Bali and is perched at an altitude of about 1,000 metres above sea level, on the southwestern slopes of Mount Agung, Bali’s highest mountain. This unique temple complex consists of 18 separate sanctuaries, each belonging to different caste groups, which are then surrounded by a central complex with three main temples. The main temples are dedicated to the Hindu trinity: Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. Pura Besakih is considered the most important of the kahyangan jagat (the nine directional temples built to protect the island from evil). One of the best places to visit in Bali, this temple hosts more than 70 religious ceremonies or celebrations every year which are attended by devotees from all over the island.
3. Most Active Volcano Of Bali: Mount Batur
Mount Batur is actually a volcano inside an older, larger, volcano; it is located at the centre of two concentric calderas north-west of Mount Agung. Sitting at 1,717 metres (5,633 feet) above sea level, this active volcano offers breathtaking views of Lake Batur, black lava from the last explosion, and the surrounding mountains. Also called Gunung Batur, Mount Batur last erupted in 2000 and is one of the best places to visit in Bali. You can hike up this mountain to watch the sun rise above the lush mosaic of mist-shrouded mountains and the caldera far below. Lying in Kintamani district in Bali’s central highlands, about an hour’s drive from Ubud, the two-hour trek to the summit will bring you to one of the island’s most dramatic landscapes. A lot of people also combine their trip here with one of Bali’s most important temples, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, which is located on the lake’s northwest shore.
4. Cultural Icon For Photography: Pura Tanah Lot
Set offshore, Pura Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s directional temples (kahyangan jagat) and one of the most famous Hindu temples in Bali. As the temple is built on a large coral rock on the coast of Beraban village in the Tabanan regency, it looks spectacular against the backdrop of a dramatic sunset and the sea. Its location has turned it into a religious and cultural landmark, cherished for its natural beauty. Soak in the enchanting beauty of this Hindu pilgrimage site which dates back to the 15th century, and was built by a priest named Nirartha. Set on top of an outcrop in the midst of large waves, Tanah Lot is also believed to be a part of Balinese mythology.
5. Natural Habitat Of The Balinese Long-tailed Monkey: Ubud Monkey Forest
Also known as Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, the Ubud Monkey Forest is located at Padangtegal Ubud, Bali. It is a natural forest sanctuary which is home to over 700 grey long-tailed macaques. This complex is a lush forest, home to a temple and is the natural habitat of the Balinese long-tailed monkey (scientific name macaca fascicularis). The Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal or Ubud Monkey Forest is spread over 27 acres of land and is a popular tourist attraction in Ubud. Often visited by over 10,000 tourists a month, it also contains at least 115 different species of trees. Visit the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple as well as a Holy Spring bathing temple and another temple used for cremation ceremonies here at Ubud Monkey Forest. You can take cool walks along paved pathways through the leafy nutmeg forest or watch the playful monkeys in their natural habitat, swinging through canopies, lazing along pathways or feeding on bananas. You can also explore the beautiful ancient temples with eerie guardian statues covered in moss.
6. Rice Terraces Of Bali: Jatiluwih
Enjoy nature at the Jatiluwih rice terraces that are located in the namesake upland village in west Bali. These Balinese sculptured rice terraces comprise over 600 hectares of rice fields that follow the flowing topography of the Batukaru mountain range and offer some of the most dramatic and exotic landscapes in Bali. Once a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site candidate, the Jatiluwih rice terraces are maintained by a traditional water management cooperative known as subak, which dates back to the 9th century. Sitting under the gaze of Bratan (a nearby volcano), the terraces offer tourists a chance to enjoy nature, and can be a soothing retreat away from the crowds of the island’s southern beach resort areas.
7. One Of The Sad Kahyangan: Uluwatu Temple
Locally known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Uluwatu Temple is a Balinese Hindu sea temple which is located in Uluwatu in South Kuta, Badung. Built on the tip of a rock, this temple is one of the nine main directional Hindu temples in Bali. It is perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above the waves, and was founded in the 11th century. Due to its magnificent location, this unique piece of architecture is well known for its splendid sunset backdrops, as dramatic as that at Tanah Lot Temple. While visiting this tourist place in Bali, you can take some memorable pictures during the golden sunset hours as the higher altitude of the temple provides broader seascapes. Don’t miss the statues of Ganesha that flank the entrance to the temple complex, and the traditional dance drama performances which take place every evening at sunset.
8. Home To Many Unique And Authentic Pieces: Ubud Art Market
Referred to as Pasar Seni Ubud by locals, Ubud local Market is located directly in the centre of Ubud town. The market is the most popular tourist market in Bali and is considered the cultural hub of the island. Standing at the junction of Jalan Raya Ubud and Jalan Monkey Forest, the market is home to many traditional artists producing unique and authentic products that represent the island. Visit the countless small shops here that offer a wide range of items such as beautiful silk scarves, lightweight shirts, handmade woven bags, baskets and hats, statues and kites. As one of the best places to visit in Bali, this market brings you the unique art culture of Bali. Most of the goods are made in the neighbouring villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan. The market was also featured in the Hollywood movie ‘Eat Pray Love’, in a scene with Julia Roberts strolling through its stalls.
These Bali Attractions Should Be On Your Must-Visit List!
Rich in natural beauty, art, culture and history, Bali has something for every kind of traveller. While some areas in Bali have suffered from over-commercialism and over-tourism in recent years, there are still places to visit in Bali that appear untouched by time. Skip the usual clamour and chaos of the main tourist areas and add these hidden gems to your list of the top attractions for sightseeing in Bali. If you’ve been to Indonesia’s most evocative and popular tourist islands, tell us all about your experiences in the comments below.