Venture past the beaches and the beautiful Balinese resorts, and discover the authentic village life of rural Balinese people. Travel out to Lombok and see the pottery and crafts of the Sasak people. Sail across to Gili Trawangan and explore the island by bicycle and enjoy the car-free tranquility.
With a reputation for being Indonesia’s most beautiful destination, Bali entrances visitors the world-over with its sculpted emerald rice terraces, intricate temples, crashing surf, perfect white beaches and sleepy coves. For a small island, Bali packs a lot of punch with plenty of things to do and see from climbing misty volcanoes to facing down komodo dragons. You can even explore some of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites from our resort on the Sunda archipelago.
Here are our top 10 best things to do in beautiful Bali.
One thing you will have no trouble finding on Bali are temples. It’s estimated that the island has 20,000 with every village having at least three temples, each dedicated to one of the three gods that dominate Balinese life: Lord Brahma who created the world, Lord Wisnu who maintains harmony on earth, and Lord Siwa – the destroyer – who represents the dead. Visit the temple of Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world, or see Prambanan, the largest Hindu sanctuary in South East Asia.
Bali has a rich tradition of folk music focused around the iconic Gamelan. This traditional instrument is such a central part of Balinese music to the point that the whole orchestra is often called a gamelan. Coming together with other percussive instruments including gongs, metallophones, xylophones, drums and cymbals, and a few flutes, these orchestras create a trance-like magical style of cyclical music.
Bali is home to many exciting forms of traditional dance, used for a wide variety of occasions from sacred rituals to royal entertainment. Barong is an elaborate type of animal mask narrative dance which recreates the mythological battles between the good beast Barong and the evil witch Rangda. Meanwhile Legong is a graceful dance full of intricate, flickering gestures, usually performed by young women in beautiful costumes at official events. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a Balinese dance performance at your nearest temple.
One of Bali’s most prized cultural exports is shadow theatre, using cut out, wood carved or leather puppets backlit on a screen. Performances can last several hours and are generally based on the stories of a few Hindu texts. While they usually have a strong moral message they can also feature some surprisingly bawdy humour.
Balinese cuisine is rich, spicy and varied, drawing on sweet and sour flavour combinations and local ingredients such as palm oil and peanuts. One dish you’ll see everywhere is Nasi Goreng. Arguably Indonesia’s national dish and one of the best go-to foods in Bali, it consists of fried rice spiced with garlic, tamarind and chilli, often combined with fried eggs, meat or dried fish. Other favourites include gado-gado, a crunchy vegetable salad generously doused in peanut sauce, and Martabak, a thick pancake dish filled with bananas or duck eggs and fried in a large wok.
Bali is famous for the exceptional quality of its beaches. Balangan Beach near Nusa Dua is one of the best beaches in Bali and a haven for surfers with its white sands wedged between rocky cliffs, simple warung cafes and cheap beach huts. Near Padang Bai, half a kilometre down a steep and rocky path, Bias Tugal’s quiet powdery white sands and gently swaying coconut trees are more than worth the trek. Meanwhile, Ungasan on the island’s southern tip is one of Bali’s most picturesque beaches with incredible cliff-face views, delicately soft sand and deep azure waters – a true coastal gem.
Though not the natural home of the Komodo Dragon, there are plenty of places around Bali where you can see these amazing lizards. Follow zookeepers as they feed the dragons at Bali Bird & Reptile Park. Watch the lizards in an environment closely resembling their island home at Bali Zoo. Or see the Komodo Dragon showcase at Bali Safari & Marine Park and catch the dragons in action.
Bali boasts not one but three volcanoes: the stratovolcano and highest point on the island, Mount Agung, and the two calderas Mount Batur and Bratan. Mount Batur is the best volcano for hiking, with a short, pleasant trek to the top and panoramic views of the island. Time your morning hike just right and you can watch the sun slowly creep over the horizon, bringing Bali to life and illuminating Lake Batur below.
Whether they’re rising up in vibrant terraces or stretched out like a luxe green carpet as far as the eye can see, Bali’s rice fields are truly iconic. Part of the Balinese people’s heritage, this ingenious method of crop irrigation creates magical landscapes you simply have to see to believe. Take a 4x4 tour up through the rice terraces, cycle alongside emerald fields or raft down river next to tranquil villages and take in the greenery.
Feeling inspired? Try our top Bali sightseeing recommendations for yourself or discover your own must-see places in Bali on an all-inclusive holiday with Club Med.