There is never a shortage of fun or interesting things to do in Bali. In fact, that may be your problem. There are too many fun, interesting, and adventurous activities in Bali. It can be challenging to decide which ones are worth your time.
The best things to do in Bali include surfing, eating at restaurants like Old Man’s, and visiting nearby islands such as Gili Trawangan. Tourists can take in the breathtaking sights in Ubud’s rice terraces or Uluwatu’s cliffs. You can play with monkeys in the Ubud Monkey Forest or go snorkeling with Manta Rays outside Nusa Penida.
How can you possibly decide on your week’s activities when there are 100+ worthwhile things to do, see, and explore. We will help narrow the field so you know which activities to skip. We’ll also help you ascertain which activities are best for your personality type.
After you land in Denpasar, you will wait for your bags to arrive. As you look around, you’ll notice an extremely large number of people with surfboard-shaped luggage. Bali is the most popular destination in the world for Australian tourists. From Kuta to Canggu, Uluwatu to Seminyak, Australian surfers are around every single corner.
If you need a board rental, you can rent any type of surfboard for just $4-5 USD a day. We recommend starting out with a foam-covered longboard as they make balancing on the water much easier to accomplish. For beginners, head over to Old Man’s restaurant in Canggu and look for the surfboard rental shops.
You can request a private lesson from any of these rental booths. If you check out Airbnb Experiences, the most popular activity is definitely surfing. Whether it’s a guide who takes you to hidden beaches in Uluwatu or an introductory lesson in Kuta Beach, there is no shortage of opportunities to learn something new in Bali.
Other great beaches in Bali include Nusa Lembongan, Bingin Beach, and Serangan Beach. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, definitely explore Uluwatu. Padang Padang is another great option. Airport Rights and Keramas are two other great spots for those with experience.
Nusa Penida is the ultimate outdoor adventure for those visiting Bali. While certainly increasing in popularity (and understandably so), it’s still rather undeveloped and untouched. Nature here is stunning and jaw-dropping. We recommend spending the night so you get to immerse yourself in this beautiful outdoor haven.
There are two sides of Nusa Penida – equally beautiful. The West Coast and East Coast are both incredible, but if you’re on a short time frame, we recommend sticking to just one. Otherwise, you’ll spend most of your day in the car.
People visit Nusa Penida for the beaches. However, the creatures and life under the water are just as interesting. If you’ve ever wanted to freedive with giant manta rays, this is the place to do it. Between colorful reefs, sea turtles, and giant/rare fish, it’s quite obvious to see why Nusa Penida is becoming so popular.
The Gili Islands
If you’re looking to do something really different in Bali, we highly recommend the less popular Gili islands. If you’re interested in seeing sea turtles, head over to Gili Meno and Gili Air during your vacation. If you’re interested in seeing things in a different light, head over to the friendly psychedelic island of Gili Trawangan.
Gili translates to ‘small island’ in Bahasa Indonesian. While Indonesia is intensely strict regarding drug laws, these small islands seem to be immune from those laws. They are technically operated by a local tribunal council as the islands are too small to earn any government infrastructure funding.
At almost every restaurant in the Gilis, one can find advertising, signs, and menus that sell ‘magic mushroom milkshakes’. If you’re looking for something crazy to tell your friends back home, this is the place to experience said craziness.
There are no cars in the Gilis. They transport items and goods using horse-drawn carriages. We do not recommend getting on one of these carriages. Each island is so small that you can walk from destination to destination. Also, the horses are kept in very poor conditions so your money is better spent elsewhere – like the turtle conservatory on Gili Meno.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
While the Tegalalang Rice Terraces aren’t the only tiered rice terraces in Bali, they are certainly the most famous. The other popular spot is named Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. It’s 20 times larger, however, it is quite far away from anything else. If you visit Tegalalang, there are coffee spots, restaurants, shops, swings, and tons of infrastructure to support your time there.
At World365, we strongly believe that a trip to Bali without experiencing the Tegalalang Rice Terraces is a trip wasted. The Tegalalang Rice Terraces in Ubud are world-renowned for their stunning views of multi-tiered rice paddies and their innovative irrigation system (that’s over 1000 years old). This area is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s worth noting that this particular destination can become rather crowded as the day progresses. We highly recommend visiting in the early morning to beat the crowds. There’s nothing quite like having the entire rice terraces to yourself. It’s truly serene.
Eat at Bali’s Best Restaurants
Old Man’s is arguably the most famous restaurant/bar in Bali. There is always something spectacular going on at this place. The food at Old Man’s is delicious – and best of all, it comes with a view. It’s located in Canggu just beside a very popular surf spot.
No matter the time of day, you will always find people inside Old Man’s eating, drinking, playing with friendly-ish stray dogs, post-ocean showering, and (again) drinking. At night, Old Man’s hosts’ tons of free concerts and also holds weekly beer pong tournaments.
At LifesCrate, every main course item costs the same amount of money (approximately $4 USD). The portion sizes are absolutely massive, which explains why there is always a huge line. Despite the large line, they are efficient. You can expect to dig into your meal within 5-10 minutes of arrival. When the weather is nice outside, you can even see a volcano on the horizon.
KuDeTa is a staple of Balinese tourism dining experiences. It’s been around forever. As Bali’s original sunset destination, they offer a beach lounge to soak in panoramic views. We recommend making a reservation or showing up early if you wish to guarantee a good spot.
Ibu Oka Babi Guling is arguably the best local restaurant in Ubud. They serve fried pork, roasted pork, pork skin, and pork sausage on a plate of spicy rice. It’s truly incredible. If you visit Bali and are interested in sampling some of the traditional meals, look no further. Indonesia isn’t a great place for those who enjoy eating pork (due to Muslim food restrictions), but Bali (a Hindu island) is certainly an exception to that rule.
Green Kubu offers one of the prettiest views in Bali. Their food caters to both tourists and locals who want a nice dining experience. If you want to try classic Indonesian dishes (at classic Indonesian prices), then this is the place to visit.
Green Kubu sits above a beautiful rice terrace. They even have a life-size chessboard. We highly recommend their whiskey sours (but would like to personally advise against trying 6 of them).
Uluwatu Kecak Dance
If you’ve booked a tour of Uluwatu, you will almost certainly attend the Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Temple. Located cliffside on Bali’s southernmost point, your seat will show you much more than religious performance. You will also have the opportunity to observe a cliffside sunset that takes place in the background.
The performance begins with more than 50 dancers – they arrive on stage in traditional clothing with their arms in the arm as they chant Hindu choruses in unison. They perform a ceremony that is based on something called the ‘Ramayana’. If you haven’t observed any cultural happenings in Bali, this is a great place to see things for the first time.
Uluwatu is also home to a breed of extraordinarily mischevious monkeys. While that might sound cute at first, it is absolutely not cute. These creatures are little demons who know they can get away with whatever they want. If you have valuables (cameras, phones, earrings, jewelry, or anything that costs more than $10 USD), we highly recommend that you keep these items away from the little tricksters.
It’s quite common for these monkeys to steal water bottles, bags of chips, or anything remotely food-related. However, it’s worth noting that not all monkeys in Bali are as terrible as the ones present at Uluwatu Temple.
No trip to Bali is complete without seeing a religious dance. We believe that the Kecak Dance in Uluwatu is the best representation if you can only observe one. This can be very very crowded during certain days, so we suggest that you go there early enough to get a great spot. It will be pertinent to getting a seat that allows you to see the sunset while watching the dance.
Relax by the Beach
The most commonly accepted form of tourism in Bali – relaxing by the beach. You simply must find a chair rental, purchase a cold coconut, and enjoy the beautiful ocean views. We highly recommend the following beaches – Crystal Bay, Jimbaran, Kuta, Legian, Mushroom Bay (different than the Gili islands), Pandawa, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Bingin, and Melasti Beach.
There are often people who will walk by your seat with sarongs, sunglasses, or the promise of a life-changing foot rub. They will ask you if you’d like to purchase an item or service. You can haggle for these goods but keep in mind that they spend all day in the hot sun. Don’t haggle too much otherwise you’ll end up with a lackluster massage on the beach!
If you want to eat seafood on the beach, the best spot is located in Jimbaran. The entire stretch of beach is practically one continuous stream of seafood restaurants. On one side, you can find small seafood joints that allow you to select your own crabs, fish, etc. On the other side, one can locate a much fancier series of dining experiences. Located in the middle is a man with a spicy corn booth. He serves the best food in Jimbaran.
While at any beach, you can enjoy the water, local food, and the incredible sunsets. It’s quite fun to watch new surfers test their skills. It’s more fun to watch how they interact (read: frequently crash) into surfers with more experience under their belt. You can expect friendly beach dogs and happy people at almost every beach in Bali. It’s the number one attraction
Explore a Waterfall
We will recommend 4 waterfalls, however, Bali is known for hundreds of different spots. Some of them are unnamed and some of them are completely hidden to tourists. Bali has a tremendous number of natural waterfalls – it’s truly unparalleled.
One of my personal favorites (and arguably the most romantic) is the Sekumpul Waterfall. It’s quite a challenging trek as you have to cross a dirt road (that turns to mud during the rainy seasons), a crazy number of wet and slippery steps, then cross a river. Sekumpul is actually comprised of 7 separate falls, so it’s pretty easy to understand why the journey is worthwhile.
The Tukad Cepung waterfall is another popular spot. Hidden behind large rocks and cavern walls, this large waterfall is a perfect spot for early morning hours, as rays of light shine through the trees to give this particular zone a beautiful shimmering light.
Unfortunately, if you visit when the waterfalls are crowded, you should expect a line. People no longer seem to play in the waterfalls but rather prefer to create a line to take a picture, then leave. It’s almost as if they’d rather tell the world that they experienced a particular location, rather than truly experience the fun and joy associated with that location.
Another great waterfall is the Tibumana Waterfall. The reason this particular waterfall is great – you’ll almost always have it to yourself. You’ll rarely see a crowd. It’s perfect for those who want a little alone time to skinny dip – but be careful! You never know when someone else is going to show up.
If you want a waterfall all to yourself, we highly recommend exploring the Tukad Barong waterfall. After entering a tiny hole in a cliff, you navigate through 50 meters of caverns to reach a waterfall inside a cave.
There are banyan trees on either side of the gorge. Banyan trees are special because their vines turn to roots once they touch the ground. About 25 years ago, a farmer decided that he needed a way to cross the gorge. He was tired of walking 30 minutes to the nearest crossing, so he began his project.
He took the vines from one tree and placed them in the ground on the opposite side of the river. He kept doing this every day. So many vines have crossed this gorge, that now a natural bridge exists. Sediment was able to form between the 1000+ vines and it now exists as a land crossing. Outside Tukad Barong, one can find this natural bridge.
Ubud Monkey Forest
If you come to Ubud, you must visit the Ubud Monkey Forest. These little rascals are playful, adorable, and a little bit scary. It’s the perfect recipe for a good time. You can watch as the rascals jump into a small drinking pond, eating yams, and even procreate in front of hundreds of tourists.
The Monkey Forest closes before it gets dark (and rightfully so – those little creatures can get intense) so make sure you show up early.
Many people who visit Bali read about dolphin watching in Lovina. We suggest you avoid this activity unless you stay in Bali for more than 2 weeks. It’s a 4-hour drive to reach the area, which is why most short-term tourists never visit Northern Bali (also, it’s certainly not as glamorous or developed as the Southern part of the island).
If you do decide that it’s worth your while, you can hire a private boat and watch the sunrise/sunset as you chase tiny dolphins around the bay. It’s a very charming, fun experience. It’s just a bit far away from the traditional hustle and bustle of Bali.
What are the best things to do in Ubud?
The best activities in Ubud include the Monkey Forest, Tegalalang Rice Terraces, No Mas bar, CP Lounge, Ibu Oka Babi Guling, the Ubud Float Garden, shopping in Ubud City Center, and doing yoga at the Ubud Yoga Centre.
What are the best things to do in Canggu?
The best activities in Canggu include surfing, Tanah Lot, relaxing at the beach, receiving a massage, partying at Old Man’s, exploring the Black Cat Mini Mart speakeasy, skating at Pretty Poison, and eating at Lifescrate.