Best Things To Do While In Bali, Indonesia
From its lush green lands, countless waterfalls, and bucket list worthy sites. It’s really no wonder Bali is one of the top tourist destinations of the world, this island really took our breath away. From when we landed, we were super curious to see how Bali would be. I think the one word that could really sum it up in a nutshell: BUSY. I don’t think you could ever have a dull moment here, there is always something to see or do every part of the day.
The city of Ubud is the hub for everything in our opinion and where we spent 95% of our time. It’s an all around great place for if you’re a lone backpacker or family of four. It has something for everyone, and is a good center point for all the best sites; waterfalls, temples, restaurants; meaning it wont take you but at most a couple hours to get to the popular spots. Ubud is the most touristy city, but its that way for a reason as it is overflowing with culture and temples. If you are only planning to stay here for a short period of time, Ubud would be our recommendation on what area to stay in.
It can be really overwhelming trying to plan out what to do when in Bali, there’s like a trillion waterfalls and temples everywhere. Everyone giving advice on what to do and what to see. In our month long stay here we were able to put together a list of our favorite things of what to do and how to live your best life here in Bali.
Top Things To Do and See In Bali
Visit the Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Pretty much every photo in Bali is of these rice terraces, and for good reason. They really are beautiful. The Tegalalang Rice Terraces are THE most popular of the rice terraces you will find in Bali .It can get super packed later in the day as tour buses arrive with people all on the same mission of wanting to get that perfect shot. Our recommendation is to hit the roads early and get there right at sunrise. If you do get there at sunrise you’ll most likely bypass the “checkpoints” along the terraces. These checkpoints are basically locals that set up shop every here and there while you walk that make you pay a mandatory “donation” fee of about 20.000 IDR ($1.50 USD). They say it’s to help keep up the fields, but who knows. So it’s a good idea to keep small bills with you as you dont want to get jipped if one of them says they don’t have change. We were able to skip a couple of these when we went before 7 am, but as time went on checkpoints started opening as people started waking up. Also bring good shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, the paths are usually muddy and slippery.
There are literally so many “Bali swings” in Bali that I really was shocked. Coming here I was under the impression there’s only one spot you go to get a picture and that’s it, no way! There’s adverts for swings at almost every waterfall and side stops along any route. One of the most popular ones is in Bali Swing Park, but this bad boy will cost you about $35 USD a person! I don’t know what kind of money these people think I have but Zach and I were not about to shell out $70 bucks for a cool selfie. SO if you’re like us and would rather spend $35 on food rather than a picture then I would head to Uma Pakel Agro Tourism. It’s right down the street from the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, so you could visit both in the same day if you’d like. The cost of a ticket will run you about $11, which is still so overpriced, but wayyyy better than the thirty-five comparably, and no one will be the wiser!
Visit the Ubud Markets
The main streets of Ubud are packed with cute shops filled with all the clothes, shoes, and accessories to cover your trip. So if you happen to lose your luggage at the airport, you can easily fill another suitcase with tasteful finds. Most of the shops you need to barter with and during my research of how to get the best price for things I read some very true words; “They wont sell it to you if they’re not making a profit”. Don’t be afraid to quote a few places either. The shop keepers are all on the same page to quote things at the same price if they are all neighbors. Walk a couple streets down and you might find a better price. For example: I reallyyyy wanted those yummy straw bags from here that are a cute fashion staple and a straw hat as well. Everywhere was quoting 200.000 IDR ($14 USD) as a starting price for the bag itself. Well, I thought it was too expensive and decided to wait and finally found a shop that we negotiated 180.000 IDR for BOTH a bag AND a hat, I was stoked. So when deciding to buy, take your time and try and find the best price. It is important to remember people need to make a living too but they’re is a difference between someone simply pricing something higher because you are a tourist and getting a fair price. Always make sure when negotiating with a shopkeeper they are still making money and getting a fair deal too.
Visit Ubud Monkey Forest
While in Ubud you can go see the grey long tailed macaques, inside the site of the sacred monkey forest. This forest is a natural sanctuary, and perfect place to walk around an observe the monkeys in action. If you wanna learn more about it read our complete guide to visiting the Ubud monkey forest.
Take a Flower bath
Lot’s of hotels in Ubud have an option of a flower bath, which is usually offered in a spa package. The most popular of them all is Udaya Resorts and Spa. Or if you like, you can have a hand in making your own. Almost every street has at least one shop that sells flowers because most of the locals use them for their religious offerings. Make a simple design on top the water and get in carefully to not mess it up!
Get a Cheap Massage
Walking the streets you can find countless spas advertising their services for extremely inexpensive massages. The thought of a relaxing massage to end the day is super tempting, but make sure you dont just walk into any shop. Trust your gut when feeling out the place when you first walk in and never go below 200.000 IDR ($7 USD) for a massage. This is because most parlors start skimping out on things like changing the sheets between customers, using those nice smelling essential oils, and giving you an REAL relaxing massage and not something that’s gonna leave you more tense than when you walked in. (Yes, we’ve had that happen) Check out reviews before you stop in, avoid places that look all around sketchy and you should be in the green.
Visit the Lempuyang Temple
Of the temples we were able to visit in our stay here, this one is takes the cake. Besides being one of, if not THE most instagram famous temples, its views are absolutely stunning. It becomes really crowded though so make sure you get there bright and early. Read all about the best time to get there and how in our post about Visiting Lempuyang Temple.
Perform A Purification Ritual at Tirta Empul Temple
Titra Empul is a holy temple for the Balinese Hindu people in which they go to perform purification rituals and luckily enough you too can join locals and travelers alike in this sacred practice. It’s a very unique experience but has some unique requirements as well.
• All persons need to wear a sarong; men can tie around the waist; women should tie around like a neck.
• Ladies, I’m sorry but if you’re on your period, you cannot go into the temple. In fact, women are not allowed to enter ANY temple of the Hindu faith when its that time of the month.
•Before you enter the water you need to sacrifice an offering in respect to the temple which you can purchase beforehand, they usually consist of a small tray made of leaves and filled with flowers and incense.
If you’re looking for a peaceful and tranquil activity, this is right up your alley.
Discover Balis Best and Hidden Waterfalls
Aling Aling Waterfall
Aling Aling Waterfall is particularly unique and I can honestly say that we had a ton of fun here. This waterfall isn’t very popular yet, mostly because it is so far from Ubud, taking well over an hour to get to. The waterfall itself is obviously what drew us to the park but there’s so much this place has to offer. Of course the waterfall is beautiful, but in my opinion the other activities you’re able to do are well worth the money and trip here. There’s a waterfall that you can actually go down like a waterslide which in itself is incredible and also a few cliffs to jump off of into cool refreshing water. When you arrive there are different treks you can take, depending on how much you wanna spend/hike. The entry ticket is cheaper if you decide to only look at the waterfall, if you want get in the water and swim the ticket is higher priced. If you are planning on swimming and taking part in the activities part of your ticket covers a guide, it seems at first ridiculous that you have to pay for a guide. However, when you see how powerful the waterfall is you can slide down and how high some of cliffs that you can jump off of are a guide is essentially there to be your own personal lifeguard and make sure you don’t die. This park is government owned so the guides that were here are mostly here so they can receive an education. You can be happy knowing your ticket money is going to preserving the natural beauty of Aling Aling and helping the locals who work here get an education. Our guide was very kind and told us funny stories of his experiences as a guide here. All in all, we give it 10/10.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
Unlike most waterfalls in Bali, Tukad Cepung is located nestled in a cave just waiting for adventurers to find it. It’s kind of a journey to get to; wading through water, walking over sharp rocks, and wedging yourself through a cliff and a huge boulder. But it’s well worth it. Hopefully you’re one of the lucky ones to see the sun rays shining down on you through the top! We did hear this one to be more on the popular side, but we were completely alone the whole time we were down exploring early one morning. So come in the morning and you should be okay with avoiding the crowds. It’ll cost you 10.000 IDR each for an entrance fee, but parking is free.
Nung Nung Waterfall
This bad boy is quite honestly one of the biggest waterfalls I’ve seen to date. When we arrived sun rays glistened on the mist, which made it seem even more magical. When you get here there’s a cute little bamboo bridge that you can cross and if you keep walking and pass over some rocks (be careful!), you can skip over to a mini beach thats directly in front of Nung Nung. Most people are too busy snapping photos so you’ll most likely have this little section all to yourself. But be mentally prepared for all the stairs you climb when leaving. We didn’t really read up too much about this waterfall before we went, when we arrived we did NOT know what we were getting into. Heading down the hundreds of stairs in is not too bad because everything is downhill, but wow its really hard going back! Take a couple stops to catch your breath and you should endure. Entrance fee: 10.000 IDR per person.
Banyumala Twin Waterfalls
The road down to Banyumala Twin Waterfall is slippery, steep, and muddy, but you’ll be greeted by a sight that will not disappoint. Greenery surrounded the rocks and area around the falls, it really seemed like this place was an oasis. Even though it was a little busy with people, we were puzzled why no one was in the water. Then we jumped in ourselves, it was FREEZING, but refreshing. I can really say this was our favorite waterfall in Bali. If you get a chance this one should be on top of your list! Entrance fee: 15.000 IDR per person.
Smaller Waterfall at Tegenungan
For Tegenungan, I think I have more bad than good to say about it. It’s one of the most well-known waterfalls in Bali and if you’re staying in Ubud, it’s only a 15 minute drive from pretty much anywhere you’re staying in town. Knowing all this we left bright and early to get there right at opening, even when we arrived early there was already a small group formed. It was also the very LAST waterfalls we went to, so maybe that contributed to my dislike of it as we had already seen many other waterfalls much more beautiful than this. In our opinion, it wasn’t anything special and so overly commercialized. There’s literally a restaurant built directly on top that really takes away from any peacefulness you should feel from a nature spot such as this. On your way out, there is a teeny waterfall off to the side that was honestly more fun to play around in than Tegenungan itself. But I guess any trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without seeing this overhyped wonder. Just make sure you avoid the massive crowds and go as early as you can! Entry is gonna run you 15.000 IDR each and 5.000 IDR for parking.
Getting a Bali Visa
Bali is one country that lets travelers from 160 countries in visa-free for up to 30 days. If you plan on staying longer than those 30 days you MUST buy a Visa on Arrival which costs $35 in order to have the option to extend your stay past 30 days. If this is your plan of staying or you haven’t quite decided yet, buy a VoA. Even though many agents say that you can buy and extend a visa when you’re already settled in Bali, it’s illegal and very expensive. So get it right when you land, there’s a desk right in the airport whose agents will be happy to help you.
So you got your visa. The show isn’t over yet. You can go about this in two ways.
1.) Hire an Agent: Depending on whether or not you HAVE the money to spend on one of these guys, it could really save you a lot of time. The process of actually extending your visa is a hassle. But the convenience will cost you. Depending on where you go they can cost you anywhere from $50 – $90 USD. But if you have got the time, doing it yourself is way cheaper.
2.) Do it Yourself: The reason people do hire agents is because doing it yourself does require you being tied down a little bit. You need to go to the immigration office 3 times during the process and since you’re on a time crunch you can’t just up and leave lets say, to go to the other side of the island or even another island for a couple days. But, if you’re not planning on doing that then this is your best and cheapest bet.The first day you go into the immigration office you’ll need your passport, plane ticket out of Bali, and visa on arrival. You’ll then fill out an application and hand over everything listed above. They’ll give you a date to come back and a receipt. Don’t lose it! Day 2: hand the receipt and money for the extension fee over, which will be about 350.000 IDR ($35 USD). You’ll now get another receipt to come back again for your passport. Day 3: show your receipt and get your passport, relax with your additional 30 days of paradise.
How To Get Around Bali
Taxis are obviously very prevalent here in Bali, as you walk the streets you’ll be asked if you need one CONSTANTLY. We rarely ever used the taxis here, just because they’re sooo expensive to go literally anywhere. The drivers know you’re a tourist so prices are hiked up significantly and they don’t use meters. So if you do use the taxis here, just haggle with them a little to get the price down. Bring small bills with you, some drivers see that you only have large bills and purposefully will say they do not have change.
Grab is essentially Uber for Asia. We’ve used it before in Malaysia and have had no problem with it… until we got here. Since we were staying at a place that was about 10 minutes outside of Ubud, we didn’t have the option of going out and finding a taxi right there on the street. So we were stoked that they had Grab available here, but it wasn’t at all like we thought it would be. There’s not many Grab drivers that work in general; finding a car in and of itself was a total nightmare. Throughout the day there would be times where you can’t find one at all, especially during the morning and dinner time. Since we were “far” from Ubud, about 50% of the drivers would cancel on us, refusing to drive the extra 10 minutes to pick us up …I guess it’s not worth the time?
Now Grab is legal to use in Bali, but there are many areas that don’t allow pickup for customers, like a huge percentage of anywhere in Ubud specifically in the main hub. You’ll see posters everywhere that warn you against the use of ride sharing apps and to use local taxis instead. Why? Since Grab and other apps like it have grown more popular in the recent years, its become very taboo to use them. Local taxi drivers say it’s taking away from their local economies and destroying their livelihood. I mean Grab also costs like a tenth of what those locals charge. Really, it’s up to you on whether or not you want to use it. Personally, I think taxis overcharge because they know they can and take advantage of travelers. Grab is much cheaper and better in every way and you should use it whenever you can.
When it come to transportation, motorbike is gonna be your best bet. If you’re comfortable enough on the back of one, this will be your greatest option as it is so so cheap to rent one and you’re not limited to finding a taxi or Grab. Zach and I rented one about 4 days after we got to Ubud for a month and it only cost us $50, which was about the same as we what we spent on taxis the first 4 days.
Renting a scooter is relatively easy; all you need is a license and the knowledge of actually driving one. There’s countless places advertising rentals and if you’re nervous about picking a place most hotels or home stays will give you recommendations if they don’t already do rentals themselves. You can rent per day, week, or month. A days rental will run you around 30.000 – 60.000 Rupiah ($2-$4 USD), a week about $14 -$18 USD, and a month for $50 – $60 USD. Gas is cheap and only cost about $4 a tank when we filled it from empty, one tank would last us seriously forever.
Just be sure you wear your helmet at all times when driving. Traffic can get pretty hectic around busy times and at any time really. Traffic laws are kinda thrown out the window and everyone does whatever they want. If you’re uneasy crossing busy streets, we recommend just going with the flow of mass traffic. Get within a nest of scooters and they’ll usually cut traffic for you or shimmy behind a car so if it gets hit… you wont.
Even though all of this sounds scary it not bad at all. Plus, once youre outside a major city its easy breezy scootin’.
So whether you’re staying a few days or a few weeks a motorbike will save you time, money, and is your best way of getting around the island.
Any other questions can be answered in comments below! Happy travels!