There are so many Bali attractions that you could spend months traveling across the most famous island of Indonesia and still don’t know it. However, most of the main Bali attractions are in the east of the island, so, with a good itinerary, you can visit at least the most important of the highlights.
To help you plan a trip to Bali, we have selected a list with the 30 best things to see in Bali (Indonesia) to make your trip perfect. For that, we have collected the best of the two trips that we have taken to the island, Dan, in November during a Bali 10-day itinerary and me in June during a Bali 7-day itinerary.
In addition, at the end of the article, you will find a map with all the top-rated Bali attractions, which will surely be useful so you don’t miss anything.
What to see in Bali?
Best thing to see in Bali – The temples
Without a doubt, there is nothing like the Bali temples, so the first thing you have to do is locate the most important ones.
- Besakih Temple: The Mother Temple is the largest and most sacred temple in Bali and therefore one of the most touristic on the island. In fact, Besakih is made up of 22 temples, so you’ll need practically all day to see it entirely. It is located a little away from other Bali attractions, so if you are not renting a scooter in Bali, the best way to get there is by booking this tour to eastern Bali.
- Ulun Danu Beratan: Located on the shore of the lake Bratan (Bedugul) and considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this temple is one of the most photogenic in Bali. For us, it is one of the 10 best places to visit in Bali. It is surrounded by mountains and rice fields, making it one of the best places to see in Bali. You can get to it by motorcycle, or with this tour through northern Bali.
- Pura Luhur Uluwatu: At the edge of a cliff 230 feet at the west of the Badung Peninsula (the southern peninsula of Bali) this temple is one of the best to see the sunset. In addition, this temple is popular for celebrating traditional Kecak Fire & Trance dance. You can book a guided tour with pick up here.
- Tanah Lot: The Tanah Lot temple is located on an islet which access is only possible with low tide. The best time to visit it is at dusk when the monks will be giving blessings in exchange for a donation in a small cave in the temple. We visited it during this one-day trip that runs through some of the most interesting Bali attractions, being one of the top-rated tours in Bali.
- Pura Tirta Empul: Although this temple has nothing special to the naked eye, it is the perfect place to learn more about the Balinese rituals. The highlight of the temple is a pool with 12 pipes giving off purifying water, 2 of which cannot be used because they are reserved for the dead. The Balinese are very open and even if you are a tourist, they will not be bothered if you enter the pool as long as you show respect.
- Goa Gajah: Just a bike ride from Ubud you can find this temple, which stands out for a cave you can get in through the mouth of an evil monster. This small cave is known as the Cave of the Elephant, because of the figure with the shape of this animal that is inside. Outside the cave, we also find a pool where divinely shaped sculptures drain water.
- Tirta Gangga: The gardens of the Water Palace are one of the most incredible places to see in Bali. The landmark of this temple is a pond full of lotus flowers where you can walk on small platforms that will make you like walking on water.
- Lempuyang Temple: The Gate of Heaven is one of the most popular postcards to see in Bali. The famous photo with Mt. Agung reflected on what looks like a pond is nothing more than a trick that locals made up to increase the popularity of this temple, as they place a mirror right under the entrance. Even so, the visit is worth it, although being quite far from the rest of points of interest, as well as Tirta Gangga, I recommend that you visit this two temples together with this tour.
Best Bali Attractions – Rice fields
The rice terraces are the best of Bali. Rice is the base ingredient in the Balinese cuisine, and as such, rural life revolves around the cultivation of this cereal. If you choose the best time to visit Bali, you will be rewarded with green rice paddies and unforgettable landscapes.
Although there are many rice terraces in Bali, these are the best ones:
- Tegalalang: The rice fields of Tegalalang are the most popular rice paddies in Bali because they are accessible by bicycle from Ubud. Although admission is free, farmers will expect you to give them a tip. Nowadays it is fully equipped for tourism, with souvenir shops, coffee shops, swings and the typical I LOVE BALI sign that I am sure you have seen more than once.
- Jatiluwih: The Jatiluwih rice fields is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its beauty is unsurpassable, but, being a little further away from other Bali attractions, they aren’t the most visited rice fields. To not spending too much time, combining it with the Ulun Danu Beratan temple is the best way to visit it.
Best villages to see in Bali
The traditional villages are something you must see in Bali because they are full of art and good vibes. In them, you will have the perfect opportunity to learn more about Balinese culture and traditions.
- Ubud: In the heart of Bali, Ubud is renowned for being the cultural capital of the island. Despite having become a very touristy place, a visit is still a must do in Bali. I recommend visiting the Monkey Forest and some of its temples, such as the Pura Taman Saraswati or the Ubud Traditional Art Market, some of the best things to do in Ubud. Also, given its central location, it is one of the best places to stay in Bali.
- Penglipuran: This traditional village located in the center of the island has gained popularity for preserving the old Balinese traditions. It is forbidden to enter with a scooter or even bicycle. All waste is recycled as fertilizer for the crops, which are cultivated in the traditional way. The entrance price to the Village is IDR30,000 although if you want to spend a day learning from locals, I recommend that you hire this tour.
- Canggu: Canggu is another town that you must see in Bali. In this coastal growing village, is easy to find many young Balinese who want to make a living out of teaching what they love the most: surfing. If you are planning to visit the south in Bali, it’s a must stop, even if you don’t practice surfing. Hipster cafes and the best Beach Clubs are located here with a fresh atmosphere completely different from other touristy areas like Kuta or Seminyak.
Best beaches to see in Bali
Taking a trip to Southeast Asia and not planning some time over the beach is a sin. Most of Bali’s best beaches are not found on the main island, but on the small islands surrounding Bali. These are the beaches that you should not miss.
- Nusa Islands: Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, located very close to Sanur, east of Bali, have amazing beaches and some of the best hotels in Bali. You cannot miss Kelingking Beach and Broken Beach. The fastest and cheapest way to get there is by taking this ferry to Lembongan.
- Balagan Beach: The turquoise blue water of Balagan Beach is one of the best in the Uluwatu area. The sunset from the lookout that is located at one end of the beach is something you have to see in Bali.
- Jimbaran Beach: If you want to enjoy a grilled fresh seafood dinner on one of the best beaches you’ll find in Bali, I recommend visiting Jimbaran. Its relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals will make you feel at home.
- Pasut Beach: This beach is one of the few in which traveling by motorbike is allowed. You cannot miss your photo of the crooked palm tree at sunset.
- Kuta: Kuta Beach is the favorite of Australian tourists who come to the island to surf and party. If you want a beach where you can meet people to go out and love the crowds, it might be a good place for you. You can also go to the BeachWalk shopping center right on the other side of the beach, where you’ll also find a Food Court where you can buy both local and international food.
- Seminyak: Seminyak, which is becoming more touristy, but still with the magic of the surf beaches of Bali, is the last of the beaches that we recommend you see in Bali. If surfing is not your thing, I recommend that you relax at sunset in a colored puff on “La Plancha” and drink a Bintang while watching other people catching the waves.
Volcanoes to see in Bali
Bali is a volcanic island that still shows a great activity. In addition, the volcanoes of Bali, are not just part of the landscape. The religion, customs, and traditions of the Balinese people are intimately linked with the volcanoes of the island.
- Batur Volcano: Batur volcano is the most active volcano in Bali, erupting every few years. Currently, its crater can be visited, where dozens of fumaroles show the activity. To do the trekking that leads to the top, I recommend you hire this tour at sunrise that includes pick-up and breakfast (banana pancakes and boiled eggs cooked with the volcano steam). Seeing the sun rising above the sea from the top of Mt. Batur is one of the essential things to see in Bali.
- Agung volcano: The top of the Agung volcano is Bali’s highest point and was the last volcano that erupted in 2017. Although there are tours to reach the top, you need to hike at least 5 hours uphill and 5 hours downhill. Therefore, many people prefer to see it from any of the places with a decent view of the volcano which are easier to reach, such as the viewpoint of Bukit Cinta (Abyandauh), the beach of Amed or the Gate of Heaven of Lempuyang Temple.
Top-rated attractions in Bali – Waterfalls
Visiting the waterfalls of Bali is the best way to get rid of the stifling heat. In some of them, you can even have a bath. Although most are far from the most touristic sites, on this tour you can see three of the most important Bali waterfalls.
- Nung Nung: After descending a long staircase, you can reach the most popular waterfall in Bali, with a drop of 230 feet. The strength of the water is impressive, and best of all, the water stays in a natural pool, making it the perfect waterfall to take a bath.
- Tukad Cepung: This waterfall is located inside a cave and surrounded by a lot of vegetation. It is still a place not visited by many tourists, despite being one of the most beautiful in Bali.
- Banyumala: This waterfall is located in the north of Bali, in the area of the lakes Buyan and Tamblingan. Although it is a little far away from other places of interest, lately this area is gaining a lot of popularity because it is one of the most beautiful on the island.
- Tegenungan: Tegenungan waterfall is located only 20 minutes away from Ubud, so it is one of the most visited waterfalls in Bali and one of the best for swimming. Near the waterfall, you will find shops and warungs where you can relax and have a drink.
Other things you see in Bali Indonesia
The list is endless! But below you will find the last five best things to see in Bali.
- Handara gate: The door to the Handara Golf Course is, surprisingly, one of the most popular things to see in Bali. Nowadays, there is an entrance fee for passing by and taking the typical photo. However, the landscape is worth it.
- Goa Lawah: The cave of this temple is popular for being full of bats hanging from the ceiling. It is not a very touristy place since it is not included in most of the Bali itineraries, but it is visited mainly by Balinese people.
- Wanagiri Hidden Hill: If you want to visit a totally different place, then I recommend to go to this place full of swings, straw nests, and baskets where you can take fun pictures.
- Abandoned airplane: If there is something curious to see in Bali, it is the abandoned Boeing 737 in Nusa Dua, which not even locals know how it ended up there. It is unknown who was the owner or how it landed there since there is no road nearby.
- Karang Boma Cliff: Finally, I recommend you visit the cliffs located in the south of Uluwatu. From there, you will have spectacular views of the sea at sunset.
You can find all the places to see in Bali mentioned in the article in the following map. Also, you can download this Bali map and others here.