You won’t have to look hard for fun things to do in Bali, no matter what your definition of fun may be. There’s no shortage of attractions and activities for the single traveller, an active family or a couple in love. Our list of what to see in Bali covers all the bases, from the typical to the mystical, and everything in between. All you have to do is get there.
Ubud & Monkey Forest
Ubud and its whimsical forest make everyone’s list of favourite Bali experiences. Utterly photogenic, the region is everything you imagined Bali to be.
Complete with ancient temples, charming hilltop restaurants and a storied arts and crafts scene, Ubud’s peaceful nature is contagious. Browse the local handicrafts or join a yoga class, but leave some time for the dramatic stone statues overtaken by nature and the band of curious monkeys that watch over them and give the forest its name.
Ubud and Monkey Forest are an absolute must for any visitor to Bali. Don’t forget your camera, and hold on to it tightly! (those cheeky monkeys)
Bali may be a small island, but it’s big on breathtaking beaches. While the south coast sees most of the action, with sandy meccas like Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua, there are plenty of alternatives to explore if you want to change up your scene.
Kuta Beach is by far the island’s busiest and can be a tad overwhelming for those looking to get away from the bustle. A good escape is Legian Beach, a little further north. Keep heading north and you’ll come across dramatic tones of black volcanic sand, culminating in Canggu Beach, famous for its great surf.
If you find yourself in the resort-heavy Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa area, make your way to Geger Beach and its stunning clifftop temple. Oh, and if you’re into prawns the size of lobster tails, don’t miss dinner in the sand at Seminyak.
Some of Bali’s temples you’ll find by accident, like when visiting Monkey Forest. Others, you should make a point of seeking out. Bali is a predominantly Hindu island, dotted with stunning ancient temples that range from ruins overtaken by forest vines to intricate clifftop shrines perfectly set against the crashing sea.
Tanah Lot is probably Bali’s most photographed, and rightfully so. Its unique offshore setting makes for memorable sunset visits and is a postcard favourite. Uluwatu Temple is just as dramatic, perched high above the ocean with a nearby amphitheatre featuring traditional Kecak performances.
You could spend a whole day touring Besakih, Bali’s ‘Mother Temple’. Its grand complex of shrines hold up to 70 celebrations annually, and its surrounding stalls offer some great batik textiles, too. There’s also Goa Gajah, the ‘Elephant Cave’, dating back to the 11th century, the seemingly floating Ulun Danu Beratan and Gunung Kawi, Bali’s most unique archeological site, all worthy of a visit.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
There may not be a more peaceful place on earth. Looking out over the terraced, vibrant green rice paddies blankets you in a serene calm, and in their stillness, they’re almost hypnotizing.
Just a half-hour drive from Ubud, the Tegallalang Terraces and the surrounding villages of Pejeng and Campuhan make for a perfect day trip into the relaxed countryside. Bali’s harmonious nature is on full display here with the subak, the co-operative irrigation method still used in this region dating back to the eighth century.
It isn’t unusual to stumble upon a colourful procession of children, masked and marching down a rural road to exotic percussive rhythms. It’s equally typical to wake up to a ‘Day of Silence’ (Nyepi), void of boisterous celebration and alcohol, held for meditation and fasting. And then there are Bali’s many forms of dramatic and captivating song and dance.
Head to the ARMA Museum in Ubud for authentic trance dances, the Barong and Kris dance, and the not-to-be-missed Legong. Chanting dance performances of the Kecak are featured at various temples usually offering sunset shows.
If you like to keep active on your holiday, catching a sunrise atop Mount Batur should definitely be on your activity list.
Located in the fertile Kintamani region, the volcanic peak of Mount Batur slopes down to Lake Batur. The charming villages and lakeside hot springs are where many spend the night before embarking on the 3-hour trek to the summit for the sunrise of a lifetime.
After your volcano trek, get back to the beach for more of what Bali does best: watersports. Surfing and kite surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, scuba and snorkelling are all on the menu here, and Bali’s ideal conditions make them that much more enjoyable.
Surfing was brought to Bali in the 1930s and remains one of the most popular activities on the island, offering both challenging breaks for pros and calmer bays for beginners. Kuta and the surrounding beaches are packed with surf shops and lessons are widely available.
If you’re coming to scuba dive, avoid the rainy season (Oct-Apr) for optimal visibility. Most dive sites are located off Bali’s north coast and range from reefs and wall dives to drop-offs and shipwrecks.
Bali’s hilly terrain makes for some great cycling, too, and rentals are available throughout. Golfers can rejoice in a number of beautiful courses that blend seamlessly into their surroundings or overlook the crashing ocean. Want more? There is great white-water rafting in the hills and even a fun go-kart track.
Waterparks & S.O.S. From the Deep Escape Room
Whether you’ve got the kids in tow or not, Bali’s waterparks make for a fun day out. Waterbom Bali is the largest, featuring almost 20 thrilling rides, slides and games for all ages.
Another good option is the New Kuta Green Park within the Pecatu Indah Resort, complete with a Wave Pool, Lazy River, Bungee Trampoline, paintball and rides like the Flying Fox.
Unexpectedly, Bali also has a number of fun Escape Rooms if you’re looking to get out of the sun. The most fascinating (and educational) is S.O.S. From the Deep Escape Room, the world’s first NGO-backed and designed escape room, focused on the conservation of marine ecosystems. Here, guests escape their chamber by learning about coral reefs to solve puzzles and all proceeds go towards preserving Bali’s reefs.
Found throughout Bali’s central highlands are a number of scenic waterfalls, a perfect reward for a sweaty rainforest hike.
The most popular is Gitgit. A relatively easy trek via a wooden boardwalk over a small gorge leads you to a refreshing rocky pool where the falls’ 130-foot dramatic drop empties, flowing in both the wet and dry seasons.
Sekumpul, in northern Bali, dazzles with up to six slim cascades piercing thick jungle and pristine bamboo forest. On the way, visitors pass peaceful rice paddies, rambutan, durian and coffee plantations, and sleepy rural villages.
The most scenic of all Bali waterfalls, however, is the tandem majesty of Munduk and Melanting. The journey is half the fun with ample stunning vistas and even some exotic wildlife en route.
Bali is known for its healing powers, and it could be something in the water. Spread throughout the island’s interior are both cool and hot natural springs, allowing visitors to take a refreshing or soothing dip as locals have done for centuries.
Some of Bali’s temples were built around a natural spring, considering it holy water. One of these stunning water temples is Ubud’s ancient Tirta Empul, circa 960AD. The source of the holy mountain spring is inside the temple and feeds various purification pools, all cool and crystal-clear. The dress code to enter the pools is strict and a traditional kamen wrap and sash must be worn (available at the temple).
After some trekking, surfing, rafting or just because, there’s nothing like slipping into a hot geothermal spring. On the shores of Lake Batur, overlooking the caldron of the famous volcano, are the community-run Batur Natural Hot Springs, or Toya Bungkah. Offering wellness mineral pools that reach 40°C, as well as an incredible view, the sometimes bumpy ride to get there is well worth it.
Come for the beaches but stay for the temples, the hot springs, the waterfalls, and more. And we haven’t even mentioned the food! As you can see, Bali covers the spectrum of amazing things to do, no matter what you’re into. It’s much more than just a beach vacation at every stunning turn. Get there now!