You’ll find this tourist’s paradise concentrates most of the development to the southern peninsula around Denpasar. This helps to protect the culture and lifestyle of the Balinese people, but it also concentrates the impact of tourism within the Denpasar area. As you venture throughout the island from your beautiful, unique hotel room, you’ll find the more traditional culture and lifestyle of the Balinese people still exists. Here are 15 things to do in Bali to help you plan your trip.
Things to do in Bali: Beaches
Denpasar is the largest city and most things to do in Bali are located there. However, you’ll find small coastal towns with enchanting beaches all along the island. Many of these have become part of the larger Denpasar metropolitan area, but they still retain a distinctive local flavor. Here’s a list of some popular – and less known – beaches and towns to explore while you’re in Bali.
Sanur is one of the most popular destinations for Europeans travelling to Bali. This is an upscale resort area that is great for middle-aged and older families. While the area is slightly more expensive than other parts of Bali, you get the benefit of a fully developed tourism sector. There are cooking classes that will teach you traditional Indonesian cuisine, lots of dive shops, a few spas, and a wide array of restaurants.
Close to the airport and world renowned by surfers, Kuta offers a long white-sand beach that is family friendly and close to most tourist venues. You’ll find great restaurants and easy access to transportation. Kuta is on the east side of the southern peninsula that just off Bali, and Sanur is on the west side of that peninsula. There are also a number of entertainment spots and bars along the beach and throughout the Kuta area.
Further south along the tourism peninsula, you’ll find the town of Tuban. This area surrounds the airport and is known for its shopping mall and water park, Waterbom. The beach here is filled with family and young children. The proximity to shopping and an amusement park makes it an ideal destination for families visiting Bali.
4. Jemeluk Beach
When you’re looking to get away from the well-worn path most tourists take while visiting Bali, Jemeluk Beach is the perfect. Located along the east coast of Bali, in the town of Amed, it takes about three hours to reach Jemeluk Beach from the airport in Kuta. The atmosphere is more in line with local villages, and you’ll also be giving up many of the conveniences in touristy spots.
Things to do in Bali: Temples
The majority of temples in Bali are named for and maintained by the local villages that surround them and offer breathtaking views of seaside cliffs and romantic sunsets. There are opportunities to relax on world-class beaches, explore ancient temples, and witness religious ceremonies – all with the backdrop of exotic tropical locals.
5. Seven Sea Temples
During the 16th century, the Hindu monk Nirartha travelled around Bali and instructed the people to construct seven temples to worship the sea god. In order of the monks arrival at each location on the island, these temples can make for a great series of excursions around the island.
- Pura Gede Perancak – Occasional bull run and turtle conservation program.
- Pura Rambut Siwi – Location of Nirartha’s offering of his hair to the gods.
- Pura Tanah Lot – The second most visited temple in the series (described in detail below).
- Pura Luhur Uluwatu – The most visited temple in the series (described in detail below).
- Pura Mas Suka – One of the least visited temples and often closed.
- Pura Sakenan – The two best times to visit are pujawali (grand celebration) and piodalan (temple anniversary).
- Pura Pulaki – The largest in a group of three area temples, also very close to one of the best diving areas in Bali.
6. Pura Blanjong Temple
This archaeological site was only discovered in 1932, and it offers a treasure trove of artifacts that continues to grow. The structures at Pura Blanjong were constructed around 914 and includes inscriptions written in old Balinese and Sanskrit. The exterior wall is composed of corral and covered with intricate carvings.
7. Jagatnatha Temple
The Jagatnatha Temple was built to honour the supreme god of Balinese Hinduism, Sanghyang Widi. While they do honour many gods, these are all considered to be manifestations of the one supreme god. This concept makes this version of Balinese Hinduism conform with monotheism. That makes this a very interesting temple – one dedicated to the monotheistic sect of Hinduism.
Things to do in Bali: Palaces
Most of the palaces in Bali date back to the late 19th century an early 20th century. Even still, many of them have been at least partly destroyed by earthquakes in recent decades. With earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in 1963, 1975, and 1979 – Balinese palaces don’t tend to hold up well against these destructive forces.
8. Ujung Water Palace
This palace was devastated by earthquakes in 1963, 1975, and 1979. However, the beauty of the location and some of the original architectural details can still be appreciated. Only 5km southeast of Amlapura, Ujung Water Palace is worth a visit to explore the surviving pavilions. It blends European and Balinese architectural influences to create a unique aesthetic for visitors.
9. Puri Kanginan
Built in the 19th century, Puri Kanginan is a castle that was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1963. Today, there are three main parts of the palace that are still in good condition – the social hall, gardens, and royal residence. The secondary courtyard and formal lake can be toured for a small fee. Much of the mansion-like structure is decorated in a combination of European and Balinese architectural details.
10. Tirta Gangga Royal Bathing Pools
The Tirta Gangga Royal Bathing Pools are a special treat for any visitor interested in architecture. This place brings together influences from Bali, China, and Europe. It’s a great location for introspection and architectural inspiration. Pay close attention to the carvings along the doors and windows to find details from Chinese decorations.
Things to do in Bali: Museums
Much of the history of Bali can be experienced in its parks and at the various temples that dot the seaside. After visiting these museums, it’s a good idea to connect the artifacts found here with the temples they came from.
11. Le Mayeur Museum
After travelling the world, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres fell in love with a Balinese woman, Ni Pollok. After success in the art world, he bought land and built a home. After his death in 1958, Pollok transformed their home into the Le Mayeur Museum and continued living there while managing the art exhibits until 1985. Today, their former home remains a museum displaying a selection of works by Le Mayeur and a collection of artifacts along with traditional Balinese art. Take a virtual tour of the Le Mayeur Museum.
12. Bali Museum (Denpasar Museum or Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali)
In the heart of Denpasar, the Bali Museum offers a good overview of Balinese history. It’s not very well organised. Rather than spending money for a guide, it’s better to plan on spending some extra time at the museum to figure things out on your own. There are English descriptions for most exhibits, but you’ll need to make connections between artifacts on your own.
Things to do in Bali: Amusement parks
Take a break from the cultural exchange and just relax with your family at one of these parks. Tuban is the best area in Bali for families on vacation because this area offers easy access to amusement parks and other family-friendly amenities.
13. Waterbom Bal
When you’re tired of all the sand at the beach but still want to play in the water while you’re in Bali, check out Waterbom. This water park offers rides and games to entertain children of all ages. Take the whole family and spend the day playing the water without getting any sand in your shoes. You’ll find water slides, wading pools, and much more to keep your family entertained for hours.
14. Bali Safari & Marine Park
Take a ride through the safari, explore the fresh water aquarium, or just take in a show at the Bali Theatre. Getting your children excited about animals and nature conservation doesn’t get any easier than a visit to Bali Safari & Marine Park. You’ll learn about local and international wildlife conservation efforts while experiencing the majestic creatures in their natural habitats. Bali Safari & Marine Park brings a zoo and aquarium together into a single destination for your family.
Things to do in Bali: Kites
15. International Kite Festival in Sanur
If you like kites, you’re going to love the International Kite Festival in Sanur. Typically held in July, this festival draws more than 10,000 people with more than 1,200 kites. This has been a regular event for the past 34 years and it continues to draw more and more people from around the world. Some kites are a large as 4 meters wide and 10 meters long. The largest kits requires teams of up to 20 people just to get them flying.