If you are planning a trip to South East Asia, then your Indonesia itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a stint on the diverse and stunning island of Bali. Crowned as the World’s Best Destination 2017 by Trip Advisor, there’s no shortage of things to do in Bali, and this Bali Bucket list covers the best-of-the-best.
It’s clear to see how the island gained its title and why thousands of tourists’ flock here each year. With a ton of things to see in Bali, there is plenty of choice for every type of traveller.
In this guide for Bali, I’ll tell you about bucket-list-worthy things to do and see. I’ve also enlisted the help from some of the industry’s top bloggers and influencers, who also tell you about Bali’s unmissable sights. You won’t be disappointed.
So whether you’re just looking for travel inspiration right now or you’re already booked your flights and are on to the planning stages and wondering where to go in Bali, scroll through this Bali bucket list to give you some awesome ideas.
So, stop what you’re doing for 5 minutes (the pictures alone are worth a peek) and check out some of the most stunning temples, beautiful beaches, unusual local wildlife, magical looking infinity pools, iconic rice paddies and jaw-dropping waterfalls as well as loads of locations which are Instaworthy – honestly, you’ve got to check out The Hanging Gardens of Bali and The Gates of Heaven!
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to planning your Bali itinerary, so to make it easy for you I’ve even included a handy downloadable and printable checklist to make sure you don’t miss out on any Bali highlights. Pssssttt, it’s at the end of this article.
Excited muchly?! Hell yeah! Read on to find out what’s on the ultimate Bali bucket list!
Disclosure: Some of the links below might be affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you , if you click one of them, I may receive a small commission (for which I am deeply grateful) but it helps me create more awsome stuff like this post.
ADVENTUROUS THINGS FOR YOUR BALI BUCKET LIST
View the iconic Rice Paddies and jungle while swinging on the ‘Big Swing’
You’ve probably seen the stunning images of the ‘Big Swing’ overlooking the iconic rice paddies and jungle below numerous times on Instagram. Well, you can find the Big Swing on Bali.
There are numerous ‘Big Swings’ dotted around the island, but the hub of them are around Ubud.
The most famous of them to add to your Bali Bucket list is located in Bongkasa Pertiwi. It has 15 swings to choose from in a variety of heights; 10 meters, 15 meters, 20 meters, and 78 meters from the ground.
Other ways of viewing the stunning scenery if you don’t fancy the adrenalin rush of the swing is from the giant hanging nests. The nests are suspended in the trees, where you climb up the ladder and into the nest for another great photo opportunity.
For more information including booking your ride on the Big Swing, click here.
Get PADI Qualified and go diving around Bali
Recommended by sustainable travel bloggers Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
Many people may not realize that Bali is one of the best places to dive in all of Indonesia! If you want to experience the underwater world, going scuba diving in Bali is a must-do.
Because diving in Bali is suitable for all levels, it’s the perfect place to get PADI qualified or if you’re already a diver, to experience some more challenging dives. There are drift dives and wreck dives which are suitable for more advanced scuba divers as well as shallow reefs which are suitable for newbie divers. However, no matter how long you have been diving, you are bound to find dive sites in Bali interesting and full of life. The waters around Bali are teeming with fish and macro life as well as bigger creatures like octopus, Manta Rays and sharks.
Diving in Bali is good year-round however, we would suggest you visit from May to November for optimal conditions. The waters tend to be a bit colder during this time of the year (average 26-27°C) and water visibility tends to be better. Between November- April, water temperatures can reach up to 30-31°C. If diving is at all on your radar, Bali is a great place to do it.
If you’re not PADI qulified, this tour is perfect for beginners and newbies to have a go at diving.
Alterntively, you could get your full PADI Open Water Dive certificate, which allows you to dive anywhere in the world.
Hike up Mount Batur to watch sunrise
Recommended by Ashley Jansen from Jet Set Jansen
If you’re looking for something unique to do in Bali, try the sunrise hike to Mount Batur. Mount Batur is an active volcano a little ways outside of Ubud. Pickup for the hike in Ubud is around 3AM and after a quick stop for banana pancakes, you’ll arrive at the base sometime after 4AM. Flashlights are provided and the hike itself is moderate, though at times it can be fairly steep. Good shoes are a must, as are layers of clothing because it was quite cold once we reached the top.
The view is beautiful and we were lucky to have an amazing cloud cover roll in. There is plenty of time to watch the sunrise and tours provide a banana sandwich and a boiled egg prepared from the steam of the volcano to snack on. A few blankets were handed out at the top, but even with a windbreaker and a blanket, it was pretty chilly.
Once the sun rises and the temperature warms up, you’ll begin the decent. The dirt/ash mixture is thick at the top and the way down can be pretty slippery. You’ll walk by cracks with volcanic steam and potentially, a group of ornery monkeys who are ready to steal any loose belongings.
Our group of five had a nice leisurely hike and the experience was much more than I expected it to be. It’s an early morning, but definitely worth the effort!
To book this outstanding sunrise hike up Mount Batur, click here.
Test your nerves on an exhillarating white-water rafting adventure
If you’re an adrenalin junkie, one of the top adventure activities to do in Bali is white water rafting. There are several rivers you can do this on in the region in varying grades, suitable for beginners (including families) up to more daring rafters.
The two main rivers to raft on are the Telaga Waja River located on the slopes of Mount Agung or along the Ayung River near to Ubud.
If you’ve never experienced white water rafting at all, then I highly recommend adding this exhilarating activity to your Bali Bucket list. You’ll be safe in the hands of your qualified guide and all equipment is provided. After you’re kitted up, you’ll get a briefing on how to control the raft before setting off along natures white-knuckle ride.
It’s a great way to check out the surrounding jungle and even try to spot wildlife as you navigate your way down the river with your fully qualified guide. Depending on the route you take, you’ll often get a chance to jump out and swim or body raft in the calmer parts of the river.
Check out this all inclusive White Water Rafting excursion along the Ayung River which also includes a delicious and well earnt lunch.
No time to read the full article now, then why not save one of these Inspirational Pins for later?
RELAXATION FOR YOUR BALI BUCKET LIST
Chill at the ‘best swimming pool in the world’ and lounge in the famous infinity pool at The Hanging Gardens of Bali
For the ultimate relaxation experience to add to your Bali bucket you can’t miss the infamous Hanging Gardens of Bali. It’s also a firm favourite for Instagrammers.
Situated in the heart of the jungle in a village just north of Ubud you’ll find Bali’s most famous infinity pool. This luxury five-star resort offers 44 private suites and individual villas. Each one also has its own private infinity pool looking out over the jungle below.
This multi-level award-winning pool has been crowed “best swimming pool in the world” numerous times and it’s so obvious to see why. Just look at it! Not only has it been listed as the best swimming pool, it also boasts other prestigious recognitions, including the World Luxury Spa Awards and the World Luxury Restaurant Awards.
However, for all that luxury, The Hanging Gardens of Bali will set you back about $600 per night, minimum!
Two great alternatives which also have stunning infinity pools but WITHOUT the crazy price tag are the Padma Resort Ubud or Adiwana Dara Ayu Villas. You’d be hard pushed to be dissapointed at either of these!
Enjoy the naturally therapeutic waters at Banjar hot springs
Recommended by Larch from The Silver Nomad
For a relaxing day out in the north of Bali, try the Air Panas Banjar Holy Hot Springs. A short 10km drive outside Lovina, the Hot Springs are open seven days a week from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.
After paying the 20,000IDR entrance fee, wander down the road towards the entrance to the Hot Springs past the shops offering clothes, hats and souvenirs.
Inside Banjar Holy Hot Springs, there are changing rooms (small charge) and showers to use before and after your swim.
The Banjar Holy Hot Springs has 3 separate pools set in lush tropical surroundings. There is a long 1-metre-deep children’s pool, though adults use it too; a large square pool which tapers to 2 metres deep and a shallow pool you stand in and are showered from above. The soft green water comes out of the mouths of Naga – stone-carved mythical creatures.
The therapeutic sulphur water is an agreeable 38 degrees and will ease away any aches and pains you may have. If you need more relaxation, there is a private Jacuzzi and massages available.
After your swim, you can relax by the edge of the pool or one of the shaded seated areas around the grounds. There is also a restaurant for meals, tea, coffee or a Bintang, the local beer.
A word of warning, if you have coloured or bleached hair tied your hair up and keep it out of the water otherwise it might turn slightly green. The same goes for light coloured bikini or costume wash them out well after use.
Take a relaxing hot air balloon flight for beautiful panoramic views
A balloon flight makes for one of the most unforgettable experiences and one of the top things to add to your Bali Bucket list.
Imagine peacefully floating 50 metres above the vibrant jungle and iconic rice paddies with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, even as far as Mount Agung.
Included in the excursion, passengers on the morning flight will enjoy breakfast before or after your balloon experience and afternoon flights include tea and treats. If you book n to the evening flight, then dinner is included in the price.
Find out more about taking a hot air balloon flight and booking options here.
TEMPLES FOR YOUR BALI BUCKET LIST
Watch sunset over Tanah Lot Temple, Beraban
Set out on a rock formation overlooking the sea, you’ll find the picturesque UNESCO listed 16th-century Hindu temple Pura Tanah Lot (“Tanah Lot temple”). It’s popular with both worshippers and tourists so watch out for the crowds at peak times.
Depending on how the tide is, you can walk right out to the foot of the outcrop, however, tourists cannot climb the winding stairs leading up to the temple.
The temple is located about 20km from Denpasar, so it’s could be done as a whole day trip on a bicycle (for the ambitious), via TukTuk or Taxi.
The temple is surrounded by well-manicured gardens as well as a slightly naff market (there are better and cheaper souvenir markets on Bali) as well as a handful of restaurants and cafes.
For more information about watching sunset over Tanah Lot, click here.
Walk between the Gates of Heaven at Lempuyang Temple
One of the most Instagrammable sites in Bali is taken at the Lempuyang Temple. Here you’ll find the famous split Gate of Heaven with the scenic backdrop of Mount Agung.
There are several temples spread out around the hiking trails around Mount Lempuyang which are also worthwhile visiting if the crowds around the Gate of Heaven are too much. Lempuyang is a Balinese Hindu Temple built in the 10th Century AD.
Because of its popularity, it’s worthwhile getting to the gate early in the morning. You’ll be given a ticket with a number on it which tells you where in the queue you are. There are numerous locals sitting about the gate who will take your photo for you. Watch out for some of the scams through and the ‘lake reflection’ photo, there is a no lake and this is a camera trick that the touts use.
Despite the crowds, the Gate of Heaven definitely needs to be on your Bali Bucket list.
To the iconic shot like the one below (as well as the reflective camera trickery one where it looks like the Gates of Heaven are in water) you can book onto the Instagram Tour of Bali which takes you to a load of Insta-worthy spots on Bali in a day.
Watch the blessing ritual at Pura Tirta Empul
For well over 1000 years, Balinese Hindu worshippers have been coming to Pura Tirta Empul to be blessed in the waters. The word ‘Pura Tirta Empul’ translates to Holy Spring Temple in Balinese. It’s considered one of the most sacred water sources in Bali. And a must-see for your Bali bucket list.
Starting at the left-hand side of the pool, queues of worshippers wait waist-deep in line to dip their heads under the fountains of water. They then join the next queue, working their way long the fountains and repeat the process until they have cleansed themselves under each of the fountains. This purification ritual is known as ‘melukat’.
You might notice two spouts where no one is lining up for, these are reserved for the cleansing of the dead.
In recent years’ tourists come to this temple to watch the blessing rituals as well to bathe in its cool and fresh sacred water. This is a sacred site, so if you choose to do this you will have to wear a sarong.
You can see the blessing ritual of Pura Tirta Empul as part of this full day tour, which also includes other locations including the Elephant Cave temple, rice paddies and the Tegenungan Waterfall.
No time to read the full article now, then why not save one of these Inspirational Pins for later?
NATURAL WONDERS FOR YOUR BALI BUCKET LIST
Spot Manta Rays and MolaMola (Sunfish) in their natural environment
One of the top places to see Manta Rays in Bali is at Manta Point (the name kinda gives it away). Snorkelling and Scuba trips to Manta Point can be booked either on mainland Bali (usually from Canguu, Kuta and Seminyak) or nearby Nusa Penida.
Most excursions to Manta Point also include scuba diving or snorkelling in Crystal Bay. Here you will see a multitude of tropical fish or perhaps a sea turtle. However, the critter you really want to see here is the bizarre-looking Mola Mola, also known as a Sunfish. Although they range in size, the Mola Mola is the world’s heaviest bony fishes, a fully grown adult can weigh up to 1000kg! They usually reside in the deeper cooler water, however, they come to the surface to warm their plate-like flat bodies and sightings of them are relatively common around Crystal Bay.
For the best chances to see both the Manta Rays and MolaMola (Sunfish) book onto a full day snorkelling trip which goes to Manta Point and Nusa Penisa. Check out the top reviews for this tour too!
Catch chilled beach vibes and traditional fishing boats at Amed Beach
Recommended by Allan Wilson from Live Less Ordinary
Amed is a laid back beach destination found on the lesser-visited east coast of Bali beneath the backdrop of Mount Agung which is likely Bali’s most infamous volcano. To reach the area most people arrive following a 2-hour journey from Ubud which passes Besakih Temple, an attraction definitely worth stopping at, and it passes the surround Mount Agung area. It is possible to visit on a day-trip itinerary but is forever recommended as one of the best places to stay in Bali, at least for a night or two, to properly experience the charm of this black sand beach and the surrounding coastal areas.
Amed would likely be best known for its proximity to some of the best scuba and snorkelling spots of Bali, but it is also a serene escape for charm in local beach life where fishing scenes through the day are really quite fascinating. It is recommended to be there in the early morning, not just for the beautiful sunrise, but this is when the local fishermen set out with their nets and there is a toing-and-froing of traditional jukung fishing boats along the beach and coastline. At sunset the fishing boats return to shore with their catches for the day, bringing a load of local bustle to the area which is fascinating to watch from the laidback beach life and restaurants that line the perimeter of the shore.
Explore the natural cliff bridges and sheltered pools at Broken Beach
Recommended by Penny Fernandes from Globe Trove
Have you ever heard of Broken beach? I know it is an odd name, but it is such a gorgeous location to visit. Broken beach is located an island called Nusa Penida which is a popular day trip that tourists take when visiting Bali. The island is famous for its gorgeous cliff faces and dramatic landscapes. The broken beach is one of them. The iconic beach is actually a collapsed cave that has left a rather large hole in the ground (there is a lot of fascinating geological information when it comes to its formation!) and the sea has found its way into the collapsed area turning it into a rather beautiful sight.
The Broken beach area can get its fair share of tourists through the day despite the rather challenging route that you need to head out on to get there. Luckily, there are a lot of places for people to wander around in, so you really don’t feel the crowds. If you do want to click one of the iconic photographs you may have to stand in line though. There are a number of spots, so it isn’t all that bad. It is also close to another iconic spot on the island called the Angel Billabong. Alternatively, you could stay overnight on Nusa Penida and get there super early to miss the crowds.
Go chasing waterfalls
Recommended by Sean Lau from Living Out Lau
Many visitors know Bali as a place with amazing turquoise water and extravagant beach clubs. But did you know Bali has some much to offer besides those things? Hidden far away from the popular tourist destinations such as Seminyak and Kuta are some of the lushest landscapes in Indonesia that many travellers do not see; Volcanoes, rice terraces and other natural wonders including beautiful waterfalls in Bali.
My favourite attraction in Bali is the Nungnung Waterfall. Measuring at approximately 50 meters in height, Nungnung waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls in Bali. Nungnung waterfall is located about 75 minutes away from Ubud. Since it is so far off the beaten path, the best way to reach this gem is to rent a motorbike or a private car and driver.
Don’t be discouraged by the amount of effort it takes to get there because this hidden gem is worth the trek. When I visited, I had the waterfall to myself for 30 minutes before other people arrived. That was in the middle of the day. It is incredible how this hidden gem of Bali is so unknown to the majority of visitors.
FOODIE THINGS FOR YOUR BALI BUCKET LIST
Learn to cook authentic Indonesian cuisine
Fragrant, fresh and flavoursome; just three words that sum up authentic Indonesian cuisine. To make the memories of your holiday last long after you return home, it’s a great idea to learn to cook all those delicious dishes; such as Gado-Gado, Nasi Goreng and Rendang.
You’ll get to learn about the various herbs and spices which go into each dish while creating a variety of mouth-watering meals. Sometimes a cooking class includes a trip to the local market to discover some of the unusual locally grown produce on sale.
Check out this award winning cookery class set on an Organic farm, you have the option of learning to cook dishes from the regular Indonesian menu or the vegetairan/vegan menu (select when booking)
Eat food the way nature intended at the famous Clear Cafe
Recommended by Erika from Erika’s Travelventures
Out of all the towns on Bali island, Ubud is known for being the cultural, hippie, and vegan capital. Countless art galleries, trendy cafes, earth-friendly businesses, and yoga studios call Ubud home. One of the best cafes in Ubud is the Clear Cafe which was founded on the principles of establishing a healthy eating and living community, and creating a space to escape from the hustle and bustle and feel at home.
One of their mottos proudly presented on their menu is “Eat the food you wish to be.” Their menu is filled with delicious health food and drink options, made with locally sourced products and labelled with allergen information. Visitors will undoubtedly struggle to pick just one drink and one meal, out of their extensive lists of “Tonics & Elixirs”, “Power Drinks” and “Fresh Juices”. They serve “World Flavors”, or traditional dish favourites from different parts of the world, sure to delight all travellers to Bali. They also have a “Raw and Macro” menu for the super health-conscious.
The Clear Cafe’s claim to fame is not just their healthy food menu. The entire atmosphere of the cafe takes you off of the busy Bali streets into a save haven, perfect for disconnecting and having face-to-face conversations. The famous front door of the Clear Cafe is a rotating Hobbit door, which makes you feel like you are literally entering a portal to another, more relaxed world. The interior is designed beautifully, and is a combination of natural greenery, comfy seating options, and is open-concept to let the wind flow through the premises.
While you’re exploring all the best things to do in Bali, be sure to visit Clear Cafe in Ubud for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
How many of these things are on your Bali Bucket list?
So which incredible activities are your favourite? There’s something in this Bali bucket list to suit every style of traveller on any budget, which ones are you going to do?
I’ve created a downloadable and printable list just for you to make sure you don’t forget to add any of these to your Bali itinerary.
You can click here or on the image to download your FREE BALI BUCKET LIST.
Travelling to South East Asia? You might find these articles useful…
- See ‘Rang-Tang’ in the Wild – Jungle Expedition & Orangutan Tour, Sumatra, Indonesia
- The Perfect 4 Day Bangkok Itinerary: 4 Days In Bangkok.
- Visiting The Ruins Of Ayutthaya Temples – The Ancient Kingdom of Siam, Thailand
- Stunning Murals & Beautiful Street Art in Phuket Old Town, Thailand
- The Best Temples in Bangkok – Self-Guided Bangkok Temple Tour
- Indonesia Photo Tour: 67 Beautiful pictures to give you wanderlust
Pin it for later
If you loved this post, or know someone that will, then please like and share. Or if you’re planning a trip to Bali, then why not pin it for future reference to see how many you can do?
Have you visited Bali before? What other amazing things are worthy of being on the Ultimate Bali bucket list? I’d love to hear from you.