The best things to do in Bali include not-to-be-missed cultural treasures and some of the most iconic landmarks and landscapes that you can find around this magical island. There are innumerable temples, historical sites, and spots of natural beauty spread across Bali’s 8 regencies, which were formerly kingdoms.
From Bali’s scenic vistas to exotic cultural performances, this compilation of great things to see and do in Bali will help you discover the best the island has to offer. Go east to see the majestic ‘mother temple’ and magnificent royal water palaces or travel to the island’s lush interior where rice paddies offer scenic photo opportunities.
Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot is among the island’s most iconic temples, positioned on top of a rock and surrounded by the waves of the open sea that constantly crash against its base. The temple is scenic by day against the blue ocean and sky, but the scene is most dramatic during sunsets with its silhouette creating one of Bali’s picture postcard images.
Tanah Lot pays homage to the guardian spirits of the sea, and it’s also among Bali’s key sea temples. The onshore site is dotted with smaller shrines and visitors’ leisure facilities such as shops, a cultural park where regular dance performances are shown regularly, restaurants where you can enjoy a sunset dinner with the memorable view
Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most important sea temples, positioned on a tall cliff edge on the island’s southwestern Bukit peninsula. By day, you can take in the picturesque seascape from over the temple’s walls and cliff borders and occasionally spot grey long-tailed macaques that inhabit the surrounding forests.
In the late afternoon, you can wait for the dramatic sunsets, or book early for a spot at the open-air amphitheater nearby, where Kecak fire dances are performed with the sunset and ocean as an exotic backdrop. The waves below the cliff and the temple are hailed as among Bali’s best and internationally-known surf spots.
Besakih Temple, the ‘mother temple of Bali, sits on the south-western slope of Mount Agung – Bali’s tallest peak. Besakih is the largest of all temple complexes in Bali, comprising 18 separate sanctuaries that each belong to different caste groups. They surround a central complex with 3 main temples that are dedicated to the Hindu trinity, namely Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu.
Besakih was nominated as a World Heritage Site in 1995, but as yet remains unvested. There are at least 70 ceremonies or religious celebrations held each year here, as each shrine has its own anniversary. The best visiting times are in the early mornings and in the evenings when the temple complex is much quieter.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
The rice terraces of Tegallalang offer one of the best views that you can take in while up in Ubud. The village of Tegallalang is just up north of the main Ubud center. Along the main road of Jalan Raya Tegallalang, there are roadside stalls and art shops offering items and curios of all kinds, together with small restaurants offering lunch or dinner with a great view over the deep and lush valley.
The Tegallalang rice terraces spread down below and to the far opposite side of the valley. Besides enjoying the view from up high, you can also go down and follow the trail through the rice fields to greet farmers and enjoy the paddies from up close.