Where to go in Bali
Bali has become a beloved destination by many travel enthusiasts craving a unique experience unmatched by any other on Earth. It’s the paradise where David Bowie called “Heaven on Earth”. We tend to agree with Mr. Bowie, and we will tell you why.
Bali is not a large island but it is diverse. The crazy vibe filled with tourist, parties, beaches and amazing sunsets in the South; The cultural and spiritual heart of Bali in the middle; The quiet black sand coastline in the North; The quiet fishing villages in the East with the ever powerful mountains and volcanos; And who can forget the southeastern islands with its three very different and very beautiful islands.
So where to go in Bali? How do you choose? Where to stay? What to do? This article gives the roundown of the must see locations in Bali and what they are all about. Use this to help you with planning your trip to Bali and knowing how to get the most out of it. We have separated our list by each region of Bali for your convenience when planning your trip.
The South of Bali is by far the most popular. This is because the airport is situated here and its a great spot to start and end your trip. If you have time, I advice getting to the other parts of the country. Do not just stay in Kuta, explore the rest of the island. Certainly make the most of the tourist facilities and liveliness here in the South.
Kuta is a busy and crowded beach resort town on the southern coast of Bali with tourists flocking from all over the world. If you’re after an authentic Bali experience, you will not find it here. The influx of countless resorts and hotels have turned Kuta into a tourist trap area. With that being said, if you want to hang out on a beach for a while with cocktails and a good atmosphere and are not afraid of large crowds, then Kuta is worth a few hours of your time! Not only is Kuta Beach Bali’s ultimate surfing spot, but it is also is actually a nice beach with a lot of photo opportunities. Additionally, the nightlife scene is one of the best in Bali due to its party atmosphere. So if you are a single person and want to mingle a bit, this is a perfect spot for you. Kuta is a good starting place for travelers to Bali, but we urge you to explore more destinations on this list in order to experience the true Bali.
When you have partied a little too hard in Kuta, its time to move on to Seminyak. Seminyak is known for its spas, to which there is an abundance! Kill off that Kuta hangover with some R&R and some more beautiful beaches. Seminyak is another beach resort area so the tourist facilities are still plenty. However, Seminyak has a different vibe and offers more extravagant and elegant fun. There are many luxury hotels, spas, and boutiques located here. In fact, it is the ritzy area of Bali and many travelers love to come here for shopping at high-end stores. Seminyak Beach is still a little crowded but not as bad as Kuta Beach and in addition, there are incredible views of the Indian Ocean that encapsulates the serene tranquility of the area. Seminyak also has some fantastic art galleries and you really shouldn’t miss the Double Six beach with its bean bags sprawl out on beaches making a fantastic atmosphere. Another recommendation is to visit Baku Dapa for Manada good food, good prices. High recommended If you are looking to be pampered or want to experience some luxury lifestyle, then Seminyak is the place for you. It’s a pretty good resort area for a honeymoon or couples that want to have a relaxing getaway in Bali.
Moving on to a place a little closer to civilization, but still breathtaking. Uluwatu is located on Bali’s Bukit peninsula and is famous for its clifftop temple. You can take in the breathtaking sunset views or revel in a traditional Balinese fire dance known as “kecak”. The hilly area of Uluwatu offers some of the best views in all of Bali as well as scenic villas and resorts. There is also the Rock Bar here which is a favorite among tourists. It is a rooftop bar famous for the best sunset destination. You can relax and enjoy a drink while watching the outstanding Bali sunset. Ulutwatu is a wonderful destination for honeymooners and romantic couples, as well as single people. The beautiful views are what make this place really special.
This beach town on the east coast of Bali used to be a fishing village, but today is one of the favorite destinations of both locals and international tourists. Sanur was the original resort area of Bali which was developed specifically for tourism and it still contains some of the island’s best hotels and resorts. There are a lot of attractions and entertainment venues geared towards family fun here, and the actual beach is very romantic allowing couples to soak up the beauty of Sanur while intertwined. The vibe here is mostly relaxed and the crowd tends to be a bit older, but there are still plenty of bars and eateries where visitors can unwind and have fun at.
Canggu is located between Seminyak and Tanah Lot and it might be your best bet if you are looking for a relaxing and rewarding vacation to Bali. The miles of flawless beaches along with the large selection of world-class restaurants make it a top destination for vacationers. The beaches here are known to attract surfers from all over, and the rural area nearby has picturesque rice fields that are adjacent to Bali’s pristine villas and resorts. Canggu has a relaxed and laidback vibe as opposed to the more trendy Seminyak and energetic Kuta as we previously mentioned on our list. The villas in Canggu are actually some of the nicest places for tourists wondering where to stay in Bali. Villas offer a much more custom experience as opposed to the “one-size-fits-all” approach of the more flashy resort areas of Bali making Canggu a great option for singles and couples. All are welcome at Canggu, and it is sure to please a variety of visitors.
Tanah Lot literally means “Land in the Sea” in the Balinese language, and that is what this site basically is. It is a temple housed on a large rock off of the coast. Tanah Lot is the place to worship the sea gods and is an integral part of Balinese traditional folklore. As legend has it, this temple along with seven others perched along Bali’s coastline help to protect the sacred island and ward off evil spirits. There are also large venomous sea snakes that are reported to infest the waters near the temple rocks. Tanah Lot is quite popular with tourists, so if that is not your scene, then you may want to focus on visiting a site like Ubud or Pura Besakih where you can get your fill of temples. If you do choose to visit, it is a lot of fun.
Pasut Beach is a great getaway from Canngu if crowds begin to become overwhelming. You will not find many tourists here as the black sand shores are mostly just known by locals. The route to Pasut Beach is about 40 minutes drive from Canggu winding through beautiful Bali countryside which in and of itself is a worthwhile adventure. Once you arrive at Pasut Beach, you will be greeted with the familiar black sands and calmness of the area will take over. While there are not many restaurants or businesses here, the beach is quiet and relaxing. Pasut Beach is a hidden gem, and if you want a chance to explore Bali’s beaches with little interaction with other people, then this is your best bet!
Ubud is located in the heart of Bali and considered by many to be the island’s “cultural heart”. There are tons to explore in this town such as museums, art galleries, and cultural centers. Ubud is home to the Bali royal family and there are gorgeous ancient temples that can be explored. Just outside of Ubud, are the absolutely stunning Tegallalang rice terraces and the unique Ubud Monkey Forest which houses three holy temples and is home to the infamous Balinese macaque monkeys. This is a top spot to go if you are wondering where to go in Bali in order to experience the exciting culture. Many travelers will stay here for days or maybe even weeks if they are lucky. There is definitely a lot to explore in Ubud beyond the museums and art galleries, but if you are a lover of art and culture, then you should spend plenty of time here. This area is a great place for the whole family, but singles may find their “zen” here.
This lovely mountain town will be sure to give you that authentic Bali feeling that makes so many people fall in love with this island paradise. This location is often overlooked by tourists and a little more off the beaten path. Munduk has amazing waterfalls you can check out, the Banyumala Twin Waterfall and Munduk Waterfall. There is also the lovely Twin Lake that is cradled by gorgeous mountains. There is even a swing called the Wanagiri swing. Visitors who travel to Munduk are often delighted by the cooler climate, cute hidden villages, and the twisty scenic drive taken to get there.
Located in north-central Bali, this stunning mountain village is full of mystery. There is a lot to explore here including the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan water temple, the gorgeous Lake Bratan, and also Bali Botanic Garden which is the largest botanical garden in all of Indonesia. You can hike at the Banyumala waterfall or enjoy the miles of other hiking trails in the area. Bedugul is a must-see for those who love the outdoors and want to experience nature. There might be fewer tourists here so if you are traveling alone and want to gather some peace of mind or meditate, this is a great spot!
Next, we give you a place in Bali that is true to the core of the island. Jatiluwih is a cultural heritage site and has been preserved for centuries. The site houses miles of beautiful rice terraces that farmers have preserved in order to maintain the traditional ways of Balinese culture. Bali has a long history of traditional agriculture, and this destination is a fine example of the importance of farming specifically rice farming for the island. With its vast rice paddies built into the hillsides, the strange but impressive scenery of rice terraces cascading for miles must be seen to be believed. These majestic green terraces are watered using the same ancient irrigation technique that originated in this region over 1,000 years ago! This area is far less touristy then the Tegallalang rice terraces in Ubud.
This holy temple complex is the most sacred place in all of Bali. Located in eastern Bali on the slopes of Bali’s highest mountain, Mount Agung, Pura Besakih is actually a complex of 23 temples on six levels which are terraced remarkably into the slope of the mountain. The temple complex dates back to prehistoric times and was built in order to protect Bali from evil spirits. All 23 temples sit on parallel ridges, and there are flights of stairs you can climb to explore courtyards and fantastic gateways. Eventually, you will be led to the main tower called the Meru tower. The central sanctuary of the temple complex is called Pura Penataran Agung. This is the symbolic center and also features the lotus throne, or padmasana, which is the central focus of the whole complex. Everything is lined up along a single axis and is designed to guide the person up and closer to the top of the mountain which is a sacred spot in the Hindu religion. For those interested in Bali culture, Hindu religion and of course out of this world architecture, Pura Besakih cannot be missed. It is a beautiful and tranquil site on Bali’s highest mountain that will give you a peaceful feeling. You will also surely marvel at the incredible temple structures and design while exploring the area will ensure for some breathtaking views!
The iconic Mount Batur sits on the northwest edge of Mount Agung in Kintamani. The vistas seen from Mount Batur are some of the best views in all Bali. Many tourists choose to climb Mount Batur because it is an easy hike and the sunrise seen from the top of the mountain is an unforgettable view. If you want to get a true feeling of Bali, then you must experience this special mountain. Mount Batur is a destination that is perfect for adventure seekers and those wanting to truly experience Bali. The hike to the top is relatively easy so most people will be okay hiking this mountain. Bring your camera, because there will be many photo opportunities on your journey.
This small island off the coast of southeast Bali is another popular attraction with tourists. The beaches, aquatic life, and astounding coral are the main draw. Usually, people just make a day-trip excursion out of their voyage to Nusa Lembongan where they can walk along the beautiful sandy beaches and snorkel along miles of coral reefs while enjoying the company of marine animals.
Nusa Penida is a great place to spend the day. You can also just chill out on the island and relax. This experience is a unique one, and while it is getting more crowded, we still recommend checking out Nusa Penida or all three small islands off the coast of Southeast Bali. They may even end up becoming a highlight of your trip.
The views on Nusa Ceningan are unmatched. The tiny island overlooks Nusa Lemobongan’s dramatic coastline with waves crashing agains the rocks. This island is turning into a big playground as a fun cliff jump area and zipline over a lagoon has been built in recent years.
Kicking off our list is a relaxed resort town with a backdrop featuring lush green hills. Lovina is located on the northern coast of Bali and is much more laid back and low-key than other Bali resort towns like Kuta (see number 3 on our list). Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular here because the waters are calmer on the north coast. There is plenty of marine wildlife to satisfy your intrigue including dolphin watching! There is also nearby Pura Meduwe Karang which is the most impressive temple in north Bali. It’s definitely worth a trip when you are in the area. The thin crowds and slower atmosphere make Lovina one of the best destinations for people who just want to relax.
We don’t talk a lot about West Bali. West bali is known for the West Bali National Park and the ferries to Java. I have no doubt that there is a lot to see if you have the time. Sadly most tourist skip this area. Most of the west is covered by forest and highlands. It is sparsely populated. This area is much more isolated then the rest of the island.
Medewi is a beach village and a tiny remote village at that. It isn’t great for the surf but provides a look at how the island was before mass tourism hits. It’s a fantastic place to relax and see a different side of Bali
A small village that is becoming increasingly more popular with tourist but is still very far off the tourist route. Check out BioRock and Coral Reef which are unique and very rare. This part of Bali offers a lot that many don’t get to see. Cliffside temples, stunning coastal views, a monkey temple and even early morning dolphin watching.
West Bali National Park
You wont find your Kuta party mates here! West Bali National Park is way off from the schoolies and hens parties. The national park was set up to protect the exotic White Bali Starling. A stunning, beautiful white bird. It is now home to over a hundred species of protected wildlife. On top of this, the lush green forest, might mountains ranges and beautiful blue crystal clear waters and pristine beaches. Would you want to miss all of this?
So where to go in Bali?
Everywhere! Everywhere that you have time for. Explore. Bali is very cheap and easy to explore, be in via scooter or taxi or tours. Bali has so much to offer!