Bali has always fascinated me, but I am not sure why. Maybe it was after watching the movie Eat, Pray, Love or hearing endless stories from travelers. After visiting Bali, I realized why I secretly admired this place and longed to go there. An Island of the Gods with temples, mountains, waterfalls, beaches, lush green rice fields, barren volcanic hillsides, and most importantly, friendly locals makes this place a paradise on earth.
There’s for sure enough to do in Bali for everyone. I was overwhelmed by the things that we could do in Bali. Being a nature lover and a seeker of adventure and local experiences, I was looking for activities that would enrich my experience. Also, since South East Asia is unfamiliar territory for me, I wanted to spend time doing research and getting our Bali itinerary sorted.
To help you avoid the overwhelm and hopefully make your trip enjoyable, here’s my list of top 7 things that you must do in Bali:
1. Get swept away by beautiful views at Nusa Penida.
My soul longed to see more natural beauty, and when I saw pictures of Nusa Penida online while I was on my Bali research spree, I knew where I needed to go.
On our second day in Bali, we set out to Nusa Penida. It is a beautiful place and a highlight of our trip.
A 40-minute speedboat ride from Sanur harbor, this place is filled with white sand beaches, azure waters, high coastal cliffs, beautifully carved rocks, an underwater Buddha temple, untouched nature, and lots of magic.
To find out more, read my post on 4 things to see in Nusa Penida — A paradise near Bali.
2. Rekindle your adventurous soul by trekking up Mount Batur to watch the sunrise.
Located in the Kintamani area, Mount Batur is an active volcano.
I love hiking and am used to hiking in the Norwegian mountains. I was a little out of touch since I moved from Norway to Singapore and thought that some trekking in Bali would be an ideal way to rekindle my adventurous soul. I imagined the trek would be easy for me. A few minutes into it, I realized how unprepared I was for it, and I wish I had known a few things before signing up for it.
Guided by an 18-year-old girl, I was amazed to see how she kept our spirits high, and we managed to reach the top well in time to enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
To find out more, read my post on all you need to know before a sunrise trek to Mount Batur.
3. Indulge yourself in a Balinese spa and natural hot water spring.
Bali is well-known for its relaxing and rejuvenating spas. We thoroughly enjoyed our spa experience at our villa, but there was another place we discovered on our way back from the 4-hour-long trek to Mount Batur. It’s called Toya Devasya. This place has natural hot water springs and is a massive wellness resort, colored in shades of purple with mini elephant statues scattered everywhere.
On reaching there, a lavish breakfast welcomed us. It was much-needed and well deserved after a tiring trek. After a sumptuous breakfast, we dipped our weary selves into the natural hot springs. The water was therapeutic. There was also an infinity pool which offers breathtaking views of Lake Batur, Mount Batur, and Mount Abang. A place not to be missed!
4. Enjoy the beautiful rice terraces in Ubud.
The beautiful Tegagalang Rice terraces of Ubud took me back in memory lane to my Geography lessons when I could only imagine what the rice terraces would look like in reality. I was finally seeing them right before me.
5 minutes after entering the terraces, we got rained on. It was a blessing in disguise. With a fresh downpour, the rice terraces looked greener. I loved the smell of rain on the beautiful green paddies. Outside the rice terraces were street markets, an ideal place to buy locally handcrafted beautiful merchandise at bargainable prices.
5. Conquer your fear by jumping on to Bali swing.
One of the most touristy things to do was experience the Bali swing. It was fun. Even though there were sufficient safety measures, I felt my heart skip a beat with the first push on the swing. The view is beautiful.
One tip — I felt this place was very crowded with tourists. There are similar swings on Tegalalang Rice Terraces. They are less crowded and probably not as pricey as the Bali swing. So do try that first.
6. Enjoy the sunset in Uluwatu Temple with the Kecak dance show.
Uluwatu temple is on a cliff with stunning views. Plan to watch the setting sun from this temple, then watch the cultural Kecak dance performance in an open-air theatre at 6 pm. After enjoying the lovely sunset, you can stop at Jimbaran Beach and have dinner with the view of the waves crashing along the coast. Here, you can also enjoy a few cultural shows. If you are lucky, you may also find a bunch of singers singing a romantic song or two for you and your better half. It is a great place to relax, walk along the seashore, enjoy live performances, and have a great evening.
7. Taste the world's best Coffee.
Luwak coffee is known to be the world’s best coffee. Our local driver helped us visit a coffee plantation on our way to the Uluwatu temple, where we saw how this famous coffee was grown. The coffee harvesting process came as a bit of a shock to me which I will leave up to you to find out. ;)
If you are more of a tea person, you can get to try an assortment of teas. Among all the teas I tried, my personal favorite was Mangosteen tea. The best part is that it’s all organically made with little or no sugar.
Some Useful Tips:
1. How to plan?
Bali has so many things to offer that planning ahead of time is valuable for an unforgettable experience.
Here’s a sneak peek into our personal Bali itinerary:
Day 1: Arrived in Bali. After checking into our villa, we headed to the Uluwatu temple to enjoy the beautiful sunset and the 6 pm Kecak dance performance in the open-air theatre.
Day 2: Explored Nusa Penida — A paradise near Bali.
Day 3: Visited Ubud Village including Bali swing and Tegalalang Rice terrace.
Day 4: Relaxed with a Balinese spa and enjoyed the evening at Ku De Ta.
Day 5: Trekked Mount Batur to watch the sunrise and then relaxed in the hot water spring at Toya Devasya.
Day 6: Back to Singapore.
2. Where to stay?
We stayed at Mahagiri Villas at Sanur. After considering many options, even booking and then canceling later, we finally settled for Mahagiri Villas. We were glad to make this choice. It was a villa with a private pool, the choice to have breakfast in our villa or at the restaurant, a tropical fruit basket refilled every day with fresh fruits, a complimentary spa and dinner with a Balinese dance show, free shuttle to the airport, and Sanur area, and most treasured of all — exceptional service from the people working there. These perks made our trip memorable.
3. How to travel within Bali?
Traveling from one place to another within Bali can take hours. It’s a must to get a local driver. They know all the local places and will create a personalized experience for you. Although most people are very good in Bali, it is hard to find someone you can trust to show you around in an unknown place. If you ever need a local driver, contact our Balinese friend Gede on WhatsApp (+62 813–3716–3222), and he will happily show you around Bali.
4. Where to Eat (Specially Vegetarian food)?
Bali has plenty of eating options. However, for vegetarians, finding good food can be a little daunting.
Indonesian local cuisines like Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, and Laksa are must try food. Most restaurants offer to make a vegetarian version of these. Also, you can find many other Vegetarian and Vegan restaurants in Bali.
Some more places to try for eating or experiencing Bali’s nightlife are Finn’s Beach Club in Canggu, Ku De Ta, Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak, Ayana rock bar for sunset cocktails, and Swept away by Samaya, and Sundays Beach Club in Uluwatu.
So much for this time. If we had more time, we would have loved to see Tanah Lot temple, snorkel with Manta rays, visit Gili islands, and a few more beaches like Kuta, Dreamland, Lovina, and Padang Padang beach, etc. Well, there’s always a next time!
If you have been to Bali, what are your treasured experiences? If not, when are you planning to go? I would love to know. :)