From temples to beaches to mountains and more, there was so much to experience on a two-week vacation in Bali! I’ve narrowed my favorite island experiences down to my top 10 to share here.
1. Lempuyang Temple
Entrance/Transportation/Donation Fees: 50,000 IDR (~$3.50 USD)
There was a huge 42-day temple ceremony happening when I visited Lempuyang Temple, per the tour guide, it’s the biggest ceremony in about 500 years. Luckily for this stop, there was a bus that went the majority way up the mountain, and it was a short walk to the temple entrance, where a donation is made and sarongs are provided if needed.
Shoulders are required to be covered and a sarong is required to be worn, even if you are wearing a long skirt, so be pre-dressed for this, unless you want to end up like me and end up being given an extremely mismatched set of shoulder & sarong coverings that made me look like a scullery maid! Minus the forced fashion faux-pas, it was an interesting experience to visit this temple, but there wasn’t a whole lot for non-worshipping visitors to do other than get a photo taken.
Quick aside — I was able to visit all of the spots on the first half of this list via this Trip Guru tour. It was one looooong day, but if you’re not in Bali for very long, I’d highly recommend a tour like this or hiring a private driver, to pack in a lot of sightseeing around the island in one day.
2. Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Entrance Fee: 15,000 IDR (~$1.00 USD)
Be forewarned that though you’ll see all kinds of Instagram photos with girls wearing long flowy dresses here, it is quite a lot of climbing and hiking to get around the rice terraces. I was one said girl wearing a tiered maxi dress for the pics and had I known how active it would be, I would have work something like bike shorts and a tank top to actually make the trek, then throw on the dress over it only for the photos.
The small group I was with had a guide that led us around and even carried my bag for me through some of the tricky spots.
The view was beautiful from mid-way and from the top of the terraces, and I highly recommend checking them out as part of your trip!
3. Terrace River Pool Swing
Entrance Fee: 150,000 IDR (~$10.75 USD)
Bali has many swings to choose from, but this swing, in particular, has safety harnesses, which are an eyesore for photos, but did make me feel comfortable enough to actually try it! There were a few different swing options, and I choose the tamest swing because it was my first time and it was the cheapest option.
I was kind of terrified getting set up on the swing with the harnesses, and actually had my eye closed for the first push! But after the first swing, I realized it wasn’t scary at all — it was fun and exhilarating! I got a total of 15 pushes and opted for the professional photography package to document the experience. Overall, it was an amazing experience and there were also hanging nests to sit in that made for great photo ops even if you weren’t interested in swinging.
It’s right next to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, so you might as well do both on the same day.
4. Cepung Waterfall
Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000 (~$0.75 USD)
This was actually a 2-for-1 waterfall since there was a tiny fall to the right and the much larger fall to the left. If you come here and are not accustomed to walking on rocky beaches, make sure to bring water shoes or some kind of other waterproof sandals so that you can keep your shoes on while you walk to the falls since it’s all rocks.
Lots and lots and lots of stairs to get down to the base of the falls, which is obviously typical of any waterfall.
5. Tirta Gangga Water Palace
Entrance Fee: IDR 10,000 (~$0.75 USD)
This was by far the most beautiful and peaceful place I encountered during my visit. Had I not been under a time constraint, I could have easily spent a couple of hours enjoying walking around here.
As you walk in, you’ll see areas to buy fish food, which you should do, but make sure not to blow all your food on the main couple of pools of fish because you’ll find more pools as you walk around the water palace.
6. Tanah Lot
Entrance Fee: IDR 60,000 (~$4.30 USD)
Visiting Tanah Lot wasn’t an experience I initially planned for the trip, but the option for it came up randomly when I was searching for a tour to replace another canceled experience, and I decided to get a driver and go during sunset (which was recommended as the best time to go). I didn’t expect more than just a temple, but it’s an area that is fairly built up as a tourist attraction and is surrounded by restaurants and shopping.
I ended up being able to have a leisurely dinner at a cafe overlooking the temple while watching the sunset, which was phenomenal! It was a very calm low-key experience, which was ideal after a fairly active day.
7. Monkey Forest
Entrance Fee: 50,000 IDR (~$3.50 USD)
Monkey Forest had mixed reviews that made me consider passing on this spot during the trip, but it’s actually really worth a visit to get up close to the monkeys. Don’t be scared off by all of the warnings they give you at the beginning — the monkeys are very docile and mostly unconcerned with all of the visitors. Just don’t touch them and you’ll be fine.
The grounds were actually really beautiful, as is most of Bali’s natural areas, and is a great place for photos, with or without the monkeys.
8. Bali Zoo
Dinner with the Great Elephant Experience: 680,000 IDR (~$50 USD)
The Dinner with the Great Elephant was an unexpectedly amazing experience in Bali. I booked it as just a Valentine’s Day excuse to dress up a little and do something instead of just eating some street food for dinner, and didn’t expect it to be a highlight of the trip.
The evening began with included hotel pickup and a free welcome drink in the cafe after check-in. After that, our guide began to take us around the zoo, allowing us to stop and pet some of the free-roaming animals around the zoo and pointing out some of the zoo’s features.
We then rode a double-decker bus to see the lions, and tigers and bears (oh my!). After a brief walk from there, we headed off to the main event, which was a buffet dinner and time with the elephants.
Each of elephant trainers had outfits to match their elephants’ outfits, which was fun. And the tour leader gave us some interesting facts about elephants while they were being brought out, and let us all go up and touch them.
The elephants stayed out for the majority of our dinner, only departing when the Balinese dancers came out for their performances, which lasted past the end of dinner.
Dinner, by the way, was amazing, though I didn’t document much of that portion. They offered American, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and Balinese food in different stations around the eating area, so there was something for everyone! There were also fun drink specials if you wanted more than just the included water/soft drink.
Be sure to check out more of the fun options the Bali Zoo has to get up close and personal with the animals. Though it’s substantially more expensive than most Bali experiences, it’s well worth the cost: https://www.bali-zoo.com/tickets/list_ticket
9. Mengening Temple
Entrance Fee: Donation
While Tirta Empul is the more popular water temple to visit, visiting Mengening Temple is a quieter alternative, visited mostly by locals. It’s a place for ritual purification and I’d recommend enlisting a local guide to assist your visit to make sure you’re wearing the proper clothing and go through the correct process of prayer and offerings before entering the pool. I booked my visit here as part of an Airbnb Experience.
The temple has a separate pool for men and women, with separate changing areas. Once you enter the pool, there are four different spouts to cleanse yourself under, which are far from gently flowing falls – that water’s beating your head pretty hard going underneath! If you go through this experience, I’d recommend going through one cycle not worrying about meditation or cleansing, just getting used the water pressure and getting over generally feeling like you can’t breathe and might drown! The next cycle gets better because you’ve figured out how to stand underneath and still breathe, so you can focus on the ritual.
There are also some quiet spots around the temple for medication, and they are beautiful enough to stop and have a look at before you leave.
10. Seminyak Beach
My Seminyak hotel had a shuttle to Seminyak Beach, so thought it wasn’t one of the more recommended beaches to visit, I took a chance and spent the better part of a late morning and afternoon at the beach
There were a lot of people attempting to sell things to tourists on the beach, but after a while, it’s easy to just ignore them and enjoy walking in the water, laying out or whatever you want to do there. Beach chairs are available for rent, or if you’re staying at a hotel on the beach, it’s much more convenient to just hang out in the hotel’s private beach space.
There are many places to eat along the beach, but I chose to find a cafe that had both indoor and outdoor options in case I got hot since I knew I’d be hanging out there for a while. All the random eating spots are also good places to take a break from the salespeople if you get tired of being approached on the beach.
There are so many different areas of Bali to explore and sights to experience, that this list just barely touches on everything there is to do on the island. For those of you who’ve been, what were your favorite Bali experiences?