22 Incredible things to do in Bali & Beyond
Read any blog about Bali and the words Paradise and Heaven never fail to appear. But the truth is, Bali is beyond beautiful – vibrant, spiritual and awe inspiring. The Hindu culture, the friendliness of the people and the jaw dropping scenery are what really does make Bali an island of magic and beauty.
Located in the central region this is where you will find lush jungles and traditional village life.
1. Stay in an eco retreat on Mount Batukaru
High up on Mount Batakaru and tucked away in the trees, the Bali Mountain Retreat and Sarinbuana Guest house offer eco friendly accommodation and help support the local community through projects and employment.
We stayed at The Bali Mountain Retreat and loved everything about our stay - the happy and helpful staff and awe-inspiring views from the restaurant, this place was a paradise. You definitely won’t want to leave!
2. Take a hike up the mountain to the Jungle Temple
You can take a guided walk to the temple or walk it yourself - temple is easy enough to find, just follow the path up the mountain. We loved getting out and exploring the jungle, seeing tropical plants and listening to the monkeys high above. The temple is beautiful but it’s the journey there that makes it an incredible experience.
3. Watch the sunrise over Mount Agung
This is hands down my most favorite memory of our trip, and possibly even of all time. Watching the sun-rise over Mount Agung from the “birds nest” in Bali Mountain Retreat will have all your senses tingling. The scent of the incense from the morning offerings, the jungle chorus of the birds and monkeys, chanting and music from the nearby temples all fill the air as the sun rises. Really, don’t miss this – it’s worth the 5am alarm clock and will make your day.
4. Take a cultural class with Sarinbuana Guest House
The Sarinbuana guesthouse offers a variety of cultural classes. Learn to cook authentic Balinese food with natural ingredients fresh from the jungle. If cooking isn’t your thing you can try your hand at calligraphy or learn how to make the beautiful traditional offerings you see everywhere in Bali.
5. Mountain bike down to the beach
The 23km guided mountain bike tour is entirely downhill and can be booked through either Sarinbuana or the Bali Mountain Retreat and is well worth doing. Starting on Mount Batukaru you will cycle down through the beautiful mountain villages to the beach before being picked up by the jeep and being driven back to your hotel in time for lunch.
6. Watch the Balinese Dance at The Royal Ubud Palace
Another favourite memory of Bali. The dances are a significant part of Balinese culture with stories told through dance and intricate hand gestures. Not only are the dancers incredibly talented but the live Gamalan music will leave you speechless. Be sure to buy your ticket in advance and turn up early - shows start at 8pm but seating is first come first served so get there at least 30 minutes early to get a good spot.
7. Take a trip to Tegallalang Rice Fields
Tegallalang is about a 30 minute scooter ride outside of Ubud and is stunning. It does get busy with tourists so we recommend getting there early to enjoy the walks before the crowds descend. There are plenty of café’s to stop and have lunch or a coffee and take in the stunning scenery of the rice terraces.
8. Have a mind blowing meal at Mama Pacha’s
The food in Bali is incredible, and just about every meal was delicious but every now and then you experience a meal that’s truly mind blowing. Our meal at Mama Pacha’s was one of those moments. Don’t be put off by the Mexican menu, each dish has it’s own Indonesian take and was completely and unexpectedly the best meal we had in Bali. Who knew that Indonesian and Mexican food can go so well together? Seriously, try it, you won’t be disappointed!
9. Walk the Campuhan Ridge
We recommend setting out just after sunrise before it gets too hot to fully appreciate this walk. One of the few places in Ubud center that isn’t full of the usual bustle of the busy town. The Campuhan Ridge will take you past temples, forests and rice paddies.
10. Explore the Monkey Forest
A great day out in the center of Ubud is the Monkey Forest, it’s a great walk through the forest amongst several temples. The monkeys here are considered sacred by the monks as they are said to guard the temples from evil spirits. We didn’t have any problems with the monkeys but they can get aggressive so make sure any food, drink or snatchable items stay in your bag!
11. Get spiritual at the temples
Bali is full of temples, and you won’t have to go more than a few steps before coming across one. Here’s a couple of must see temples just outside Ubud
Tampaksiring Tirta Empul (Water Temple). The temple dates back to 962AD and was dedicated to Vishnu. Water is central to the Balinese Hindu religion and is used in almost every ceremony. Balinese Hindus travel miles to bathe in the natural spring water at Tirta Empul which is believed to have healing powers.
Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) Temple - The grounds of this temple are incredible - dating back to the 9th Century intricate statues and caves have been carved out of the rock and the site is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
12. Shop til you drop in the markets
Ubud is famous for it’s arts and crafts and the market is full of amazing souvenirs, paintings and clothes. Have fun haggling over the price, be amazed at the artwork and get lost in the tiered market place. Whether you’re there just to take in the atmosphere or are shopping for gifts to take home you’re going to need a bigger suitcase after visiting the market!
There are plenty of islands nearby to Bali. Hop on a ferry and explore the islands for quieter beaches
Only a 30 minute boat ride away lies Nusa Lembongan. Still an island of Bali you’ll find temples, beautiful beaches and great surf spots
13. Learn to dive and swim with giant Manta Rays
After a two-hour induction in the swimming pool to learn the basics we headed out for our first ever dive. Jess, our instructor was amazing and did excellently to calm my anxiety and make the experience unforgettable. We were fortunate enough to swim with Giant Manta Rays – their graceful movements and astonishing size are truly awe inspiring. Don’t forget to breathe!!
14. Chill out at the Blue Corner Dive bar in Jingutbatu Beach
After a morning dive head over to the Blue Dive Corner to for the well earned drink and chill out on the beanbags looking out to sea. The Blue Corner is an eco friendly Dive Centre and Bar that work to conserve the ocean and prevent plastic waste through education, beach clean ups and their zero plastic policy. There’s a real community spirit at this bar with happy vibes and a weekly fire party.
15. Watch the waves at Devils Tears
One spot that’s really worth spending some time at is Devils Tears – a dynamic stretch of coast with huge crashing waves. Be sure to keep back from the edge and don’t underestimate the strength of the waves here – a strong wave can come out of nowhere and will knock you off your feet easily!
16. Listen to the temple music at Dream Beach
Just a few minutes down from Devils Tears is a gorgeous white sand beach and temple. Gamelan music played from the worshippers in the temple whilst the waves crashed into the shoreline. Another magical moment that I will never forget.
17. Watch the most incredible sunset at Café Pandan
Still at Dream Beach, when the sun starts to set make your way up to the rooftop bar at Café Pandan to watch the most incredible sunset you will ever witness.
18. Have some lunch at Green Garden Warung
For truly feel good food head over to the Green Garden Warung - this café deserves a special mention not only for their healthy salads and traditional Balinese food but also for their charitable donations – 25% of their profits are donated to help fund sports activities, environmental initiatives and conservation projects on the island. The warung is fairly hidden away back from the main strip in Jingutbatu
19. Learn to Surf
If you’ve not surfed before Lembongan is the place! Visit NewBros on the northwest of the island for a lesson, these boys will you have you catching waves before you know it, even if its your first time. With short boat rides to the spots with predictable waves without the crowds, surfing on Lembongan is a must.
The Gili Islands have just about something for every taste – if partying is your thing Gili Trawangan is the island for you, if you want a romantic escape head over to Gili Meno but for those who want the best of both worlids, like us, Gili Air is the one to pick.
20. Discover the whole island on foot
It won’t take you long to get acquainted with this island - Gili Air is so small that the whole island can be circumnavigated on foot in about 2 hours (that’s the slow strolling pace dictated by the 30 degree heat), which is just as well as there are no cars or mopeds on the island – in fact the only means of transport here is either a horse drawn cart or your own two feet.
The beaches at Gili Air are stunning, white sand and soft lapping waves make for a relaxing sunbathe. There’s really nothing to worry about when on Gili Air, just sit back, relax and take in the sunshine.
21. See an underwater world snorkeling
Unlike on Bali and Nusa Lembongan the sea at Gili Air is calm and warm which makes for the perfect snorkeling conditions. It’s easy to get lost in time here, there’s so much to see under the water, sea cucumbers, tropical fish, urchins and if you’re really lucky you’ll be able to swim with the turtles.
22. Treat yourself to the best vegan cake at Mowies
Mowies Bar is right by the beach and serves great food and smoothies direct to your sun-lounger. We ordered the chocolate & dragonfruit vegan raw cheesecake and honestly I nearly passed out with sugary bliss
No photo of this sadly - I couldn't take the risk of it melting ;)