Despite the fairly small size, there are so many things to do in Bali. From white water rafting, diving and volcano hiking to wellness and yoga retreats, wildlife watching and temples. Check out this list of things to do and see in Bali to get the most out of your stay.
1. BIKE AROUND THE RICE FIELDS
Price: 350,000 Rupiah ($29)
In Ubud you can find an abundance of tour companies offering bike trips around the island. The typical tour is a 40 km mostly downhill bike trip that includes breakfast at the top of a mountain, a visit to a coffee farm and a traditional Balinese village on the way down. You’ll stop at a restaurant before heading back, but this meal is not included in the tour price.
2. VISIT THE BUTTERFLY PARK
Price: 50,000 rupiah ($6)
Visit Bali butterfly park and get the chance to see a butterfly be born. The park has really nice surroundings for the animals plus a nursery where new butterflies are being hatched every day. The park also has other insects such as the Rhinoceros beetle, huge walking sticks, leaf insects and the most adorable little critter.
3. TAKE A STROLL THROUGH THE RICE FIELDS
Price: Free activity
Bali’s most charming feature is without doubt its rice paddies. If you stay in Ubud, you will have easy access to a walk through the terraced fields. The most popular ones are Tegalalang and Jatiluwih which are in the same area. On the latter, the vast expanses of green rice paddies are stepped along an entire mountain, from its peak to where its foot meets the sea. Plus Jatiluwih Rice Terraces is a UNESCO site. It’s truly stunning.
4. EXPLORE THE TEMPLES
Price: 12,000 – 35,000 Rupiah ($1-3)
Bali is enriched with temples. The island has over 20,000 in total and although it’s not necessary to visit them all, a handful of them are definitely worth a visit, especially Taman Ayun which is a UNESCO site. Some temples can be seen within a single trip while others may need a little more advance planning.
5. DO A YOGA RETREAT
Price: 4,000,000 Rupiah ($333) for 1 week
Whether you’re an experienced yogi or a curious newbie, a yoga retreat is a great way to refresh and rejuvenate. Imagine practicing the cobra pose to the sound of a running waterfall while looking at a lush rice field – that’s what a retreat in Bali is like.
6. LEARN HOW TO SURF
Price: 85,000 – 185,000 Rupiah ($7-15) per day for board rental
Bali is one of the most iconic surf destinations in the world. A good time to enjoy Bali’s waves without the crowds is from October to April with the most popular season being May through September. You’ll get perfect waves, offshore winds, warm water and sun all year round.
7. WALK THROUGH MONKEY FOREST (IF YOU DARE)
Price: 25,000 Rupiah ($3)
If you feel particularly adventurous, then check out the notorious monkey forest in Ubud. This forest is home to over 600 aggressive and rather cheeky monkeys. Although the place is visited by hundreds of tourists every day, the word is that people often get attacked, bit or mugged by these spoiled macaques.
8. VISIT A COFFEE FARM
Price: Free activity
For coffee connoisseurs, this is mandatory when in Bali. Lots of organized tours around the island include a visit to one of the famous coffee farms where they explain the process of the coffee and show you around. At the end of the tour, they serve free tastings of tea and coffee.
9. CLIMB MOUNT BATUR AT SUNRISE
Price: 450,000 Rupiah ($37)
Feeling adventurous and in good shape? Then hike Bali’s most active volcano at night and reach the summit in time to catch the sunrise. It’s a magnificent view from above the clouds.
10. SEE A KECAK TRANCE CEREMONY
Price: 80,000 Rupiah ($6,6)
Bali is rich in culture and religion, and no matter where you are on this island, you’ll get the chance to see a traditional dance with exotic masks and mythic storytelling. There are several performances to choose between, but I was particularly impressed by the kecak trance dance. I watched it in Ubud, but supposedly it is prettier in Uluwatu because of the scenic view.
11. INDULGE IN THE HEALTHY FOOD OF UBUD
Price: 48,000 – 72,000 Rupiah ($4-6 ) per meal
Ubud is a food mekka and no matter where you look you’ll find lots of amazing vegan, vegetarian, raw food and microbiotic restaurants. This healthy food is worth going all the way to Ubud for!
12. AAH, A SPA
Price: 85,000 – 300,000 Rupiah ($7-25)
Balinese masseurs are the best in the world so you shouldn’t leave without getting at least one massage. End of discussion.
13. WATCH THE SUNSET AT TANAH LOT
Price: 30,000 Rupiah ($2)
Bali has the most beautiful sunsets and some pretty awesome places to watch it from. My favorite spot was without doubt Tanah Lot which is a temple at the sea. Hundreds of people were gathered on the lawn in silence while watching the sun set in the horizon. It was magical.
14. RIVER RAFTING
Price: 850,000 – 970,000 Rupiah ($70-80)
Enjoy the excitement of river rafting set to a backdrop of wild unspoiled jungle, towering gorges and scenic rice terraces. The tours usually last three to four hours with the option to take a shower and get lunch. Head over to Alex in Wanderland for a description of white water rafting in Bali.
15. JOIN A COOKING CLASS
Price: 300,000 Rupiah ($24)
Discover the secrets of authentic Balinese cooking by joining a cooking class. The classes are often packaged with early morning market tours that let you explore the variety of fresh tropical vegetables and aromatic spices before you learn to make your own traditional dishes from satay to spicy sambal sauces.
16. VISIT THE TURTLE BREEDING SANCTUARY
Price: Free Activity
The turtle breeding sanctuary has a turtle hatchery and is run with support from WWF. It’s free to visit, but you have the option to return the turtles back into the sea for a donation of 100,000 Rupiah ($8). Note that the sanctuary is not the same as Turtle Island, which supposedly is a tourist trap.
17. SNORKLE, DIVE OR SWIM
Price: 754,000 Rupiah ($62) per dive
While you shouldn’t expect to find squeaky white sand and turquoise waters, Bali still has a rich assortment of beaches from those with big rocks created by corals or lava to those covered fully with white or black sand.
Because of the enormous waves, some of the beaches lining the Southern coasts are not suited for swimming, but there are good spots for snorkeling on the north side. As for diving, I’ve heard good things about Nusa Lembongan, Amed and Pemuteran.
18. GO ON AN OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
If you find yourself restless after spending time at the pool or doing yoga all day, then get your adrenaline pumping with some outdoor adventure sports! ATV beach rides, elephant trekking, tubing and buggy tours are some of the popular options.
19. VISIT A BEACH CLUB
Price: Free entrance
Bali offers a fine selection of beach clubs with ocean front and gorgeous settings. Days can be spent in the infinity pool with swim-up bar, while nights are filled with the sounds of live DJs and ocean waves drinking aphrodisiac cocktails and expensive beer. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
20. ATTEND A BUFFALO RACE IN NEGARA
Price: Free activity
On Sundays, accessorized water buffalos line up and drag jockeyed chariots around an oval course like cans behind a car. The buffalo races start very early on every other Sunday during the dry season (July to October) around 7am.
Where to stay in Ubud and Seminyak
Pro tip: I stayed in Ubud most of my time in Bali. It’s cheap, and there is a great variety of tour companies here that offer day trips around the island. I recommend staying here and do day trips.
- The Alaya Ubud
High-end hotel in Ubud. It’s right next to the Yoga Barn (best yoga place in town) and in close range of restaurants, city center and the Monkey Forest.
- Aya’s Room
Mid-range hotel in Ubud. It’s 1o minutes walk to Monkey Forest and only 5 minutes from the city center.
- Jati Homestay
Budget homestay, close to Monkey Forest. The accommodation is basic but comfortable.
- L Hotel Seminyak
High-end hotel at Petitenget beach.
- Horison Sunset Road-Bali Hotel
Mid-range hotel at Legian beach. It has everything you expect from a 3 star hotel, and then some. The airport can be reached within 20 minutes.
Great vegetarian restaurants in Ubud
- DOWN TO EARTH – My favorite! Everything about this vegetarian restaurant is so thought through from the macrobiotic chef and all organic foods to only using local supplies and supporting the community. The meals are exceptionally tasty and beautifully presented. I give them 10 out of 10 stars!
- CLEAR – A tiny bit expensive (around $8 for a meal including drinks), but the food makes up for it! With its temple-like interior and menu full of enticing elixirs, Clear is the perfect place to indulge in raw food, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes.
- ALCHEMY – A raw food vegan cafe offering delicious organic meals, raw chocolate and amazing garden surroundings.
- WARUNG SOPA – All organic, tasty meals! This vegetarian restaurant with an emphasis on wholesome and organic food offers a mix of Japanese and Balinese dishes.
Did I leave something out? What’s your favorite thing to do in Bali?
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