Bali is an Indonesian island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches, and coral reefs. Here are the top 10 most attractive tourist attractions. Article Image:
1. Mount Batur
Every day in Bali’s predawn darkness, hundreds of visitors begin the trek up the 1,700-meter summit of Mount Batur to watch the sunrise above the lush mosaic of mist-shrouded mountains and the caldera far below.
This sacred active volcano lies in Kintamani District in Bali’s central highlands, about an hour’s drive from Ubud, and the hike to the summit to watch the sunrise has long graced the list of top things to do in Bali.
The hike along the well-marked trails is relatively easy and usually takes about two to three hours. Guided treks typically include a picnic breakfast, with eggs cooked by the steam from the active volcano.
On a clear day, the views are spectacular, stretching all the way across the Batur caldera; the surrounding mountain range; and beautiful Lake Batur, the island’s main source of irrigation water.
2. Uluwatu Temple
Presiding over plunging sea cliffs above one of Bali’s best surf spots, Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) is one of the island’s most famous temples, thanks to its magnificent clifftop setting.
In Balinese, “Ulu” means “tip” or “land’s end” and “Watu” means rock, a fitting name for the location of the temple on the Bukit Peninsula along the island’s southwestern tip.
Like Pura Tanah Lot, sunset is the best time to visit, when the sky and sea glow in the late afternoon light.
3. Ubud monkey forest
Only 10 minutes’ walk south of the town center in Ubud, the Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, is one of the top attractions in this tourist town and a must-see for animal lovers and photographers.
Besides the entertaining troops of grey long-tailed macaques that make their home here, a large part of the appeal is the evocative jungle setting where the monkeys roam free. Paved pathways lead through thick forests of giant banyan trees and nutmeg, where moss-covered statues and ancient temples loom through the dense foliage, imparting an almost mystical feel.
The forest is intended to represent the harmonious coexistence between humans and animals. It also conserves rare plants and is used as a location for researching macaque behavior, particularly their social interaction.
4. Tegallalang and Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in Bali
If you’re a photographer seeking to capture Bali’s beautiful emerald-hued rice fields, the Tegallalang or Jatiluwih rice terraces are a must-see.
About a 30-minute drive north of Ubud, Tegallalang Rice Terraces are one of the most famous areas to photograph these iconic landscapes and absorb their timeless beauty. Be aware that locals ask for donations along the most popular trail through the rice fields here, and many request fees for entrance and parking along the road.
A relaxing way to enjoy the lush landscapes is at one of the many restaurants and cafes overlooking the fields.
5. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
On a small island along the western shore of Lake Bratan, in the cool highlands of central Bali, the 17th-century Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of Bali’s most picturesque temple complexes.
Set against the imposing backdrop of Gunung Bratan, the thatched temples reflect on the lake, and when the water levels rise, they seem to float on its surface.
Lake Bratan is one of Bali’s main sources of irrigation and drinking water, and the temple complex is dedicated to Dewi Danu, goddess of the sea and lakes. An unusual feature is a Buddhist stupa on the left of the entrance to the first courtyard, with figures of Buddha meditating in the lotus position in niches on the square base.
The stupa reflects the adoption of Buddhist beliefs by Balinese Hindus. This sacred Hindu temple complex is best seen in the soft morning light before the tourist buses arrive when cool mist sometimes cloaks the lake and the mountains beyond.
You can also hire a canoe and paddle out on the lake to explore the Meru (thatched shrines) at close range.
6. Kuta Beach
Yes, it’s crowded and persistent hawkers stalk the beach, but this famous stretch of sand, along with neighboring Legian and Seminyak Beaches just to the north, is still a fun day out, especially if you’re a beginner surfer or you just want to soak up the scene.
You can book surf lessons and rent surfboards, boogie boards, sun loungers, and umbrellas directly from vendors set up on the sand, and plenty of cafes and restaurants border the beach.
Beach vendors are easily dissuaded with a polite “no thank you,” but an icy cold coconut sloshing with juice served directly to your sunlounger can be a blessing on a sultry day.
For a more peaceful slice of coast on the island, head to the soft sands of Sanur, Jimbaran Beach, or Nusa Dua (Geger Beach here has public access).
Surfers should check out Dreamland, Canggu, Balangan, Bingin, Padang-Padang, or the cliff-fringed hidden coves of Uluwatu
7. The Nusa Islands
If you’re craving a slower-paced Bali, without the crowds, traffic, and tourist touts, the Nusa Islands are where you’ll find it.
The most popular of the three islands is Nusa Lembongan, about 20 kilometers offshore from Sanur and easily accessible by speedboat.
Surfing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and paddle boarding are the main activities here, and the top attractions include beautiful Dream Beach; Mushroom Bay; and the Devil’s Tears rock outcrop, with views of crashing surf erupting over the rocks.
Many locals still make their living from seaweed farming, and you can watch them harvesting it by the shore.
8. The Sidemen Valley
About 90 minutes’ drive northeast of Ubud, the emerald-hued Sidemen Valley evokes the feel of Old Bali, before the tourist throngs descended on the island.
Sleepy villages snuggle in the valley amid cascading rice terraces, and cloud-capped Mount Agung looms in the background like a benevolent sentry. A highlight of a visit here is strolling around the small villages, surrounded by farmland and rice paddies, where the locals still tend to their traditional activities.
You can also hike through the countryside to the summit of Mount Agung or trek through the rice fields and lush countryside past cocoa and coffee plantations. Other popular things to do here include rafting the rivers; yoga retreats; and taking part in cultural activities such as dancing, carving, or traditional weaving.
Homestays and B&Bs are particularly popular in this area, but you’ll also find some luxury villas overlooking the rice fields.
9. Sekumpul Waterfall
In the Singaraja region in Bali’s north, Sekumpul Waterfall, actually a series of about seven falls, is considered by many to be Bali’s most beautiful falls.
Most hikers hire a local guide to do the three- to four-hour round-trip trek, which passes by bristling rice terraces and local villages rimmed with rambutan and durian trees, and continues through dense tropical jungle.
It can be strenuous in parts, as you need to hike down slippery steps and slosh through a river, but once you arrive, you can cool off with a refreshing swim at the base of the falls. This is a great adventure for nature lovers who want a taste of wild Bali far from the touristy resorts.
Location: About 66 kilometers north of Ubud.
10. Tirta Empul Temple
Dating from around 960 AD, Tirta Empul Temple (Pura Tirta Empul) in the lush tropical forest of Central Bali, offers a glimpse into a sacred purification ritual.
This important temple complex, a national cultural heritage site, is divided into three courtyards, and the focal point is the large rectangular pool, fed by a holy mountain spring, where locals come to pray and soak in the healing waters that gush from a series of sculpted spouts.
If you wish to join the locals in the cleansing ritual, it’s best to ask an experienced guide first to make sure you respect the customs. You must enter the water fully clothed, wearing a sarong and sash, and it’s best to explore the temple complex first as you are not allowed to drip water in the courtyards.
To avoid the tourist buses, early morning and late afternoon are the best times to visit the temple.