Best Things To Do In Bali, Indonesia
Whether you are seeking a traditional Balinese experience or a more relaxing retreat, Bali is the ultimate dream destination for people traveling in Indonesia. Read on to discover a list of the best things to do in Bali— top attractions, the ultimate foodie guide and the best Bali sightseeing for first timers!
1. Monkey around at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary Ubud
Arguably the most thrilling, and terrifying, experience in all of Bali. Upon arrival at the Bali Monkey Forest, you are presented with warning signs about the monkeys reading things like, “Do not panic”, “Do not run”, and "Do not look the monkeys in the eyes”. While this is a truly incredible experience and I would highly recommend visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest if you are in Bali, I should caution you of a few things. Remember that these monkeys are wild animals, not pets, and you must be mindful of the rules in place at the monkey forest.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary Top Tips:
Do not bring food into the monkey forest.
Do not look the monkeys in the eyes (I’m being serious). I did this purely on accident while getting a close-up shot on my camera, and my friend and I were nearly attacked. Fortunately, the monkey got distracted by something in the distance and ran off before anything drastic happened.
Hold onto your phone for dear life, and place it somewhere safe when you aren’t taking photos. The monkeys will try and grab everything they can- especially phones.
I would suggest leaving anything loose, small or valuable at home if you can. If you do bring something loose, such as a small bag, hold onto it securely.
In general, be smart about what you choose to bring into the Ubud monkey forest.
As long as you are mindful about your visit to the Bali Monkey Forest, you shouldn’t run into any issues! Walk around the entire nature reserve and take in the scenery, and just appreciate the fact that you get to witness over 800 monkeys roaming around this beautiful Indonesian temple! The Sacred Monkey Forest is definitely one of the best things to do in Bali, so don’t miss out on the experience!
Want to learn more about the Bali Monkey Forest? Check out this article for more tips!
2. Download GO-JEK
How to get around in Bali
Alright- this technically isn’t a thing to do in Bali, but it is most certainly worth mentioning. For both Bali residents and expats alike, GO-JEK really is the dream app (honestly, I’m not entirely sure how I’m surviving without it now!). So, go ahead and do yourself a favor and download the app as soon as you arrive to Bali!
GO-JEK is a phone app that offers services for home-delivered food from all of your favorite restaurants in Bali (if you’re looking for great pizza, Pizza Fabbrica Bali is the bomb dot com… just take my word for it), cheap transport options (Uber & Grab), on-call cleaners, in-villa massages (crazy, right?!), personal shoppers AND postal services- all available right from your smart phone!
Is Uber legal in Bali?
You will most likely notice “No to Uber and Grab” signs spread throughout Bali. There is a “taxi mafia” in Bali, and the Balinese local governments strongly oppose ride sharing apps like Uber and Grab. This is to support local taxi and private tour drivers. Therefore, just be cautious when ordering transport with Go-JEK. And if you order a driver late at night, they will more than likely up-charge you because they know it’s difficult to find a taxi that late (and they are at risk by using the app to drive you somewhere).
3. Have Brunch at Kynd Community
Kynd Community is what every Instagram lover’s dreams are made of… no, seriously. This plant-based cafe located in Seminyak, Bali is filled with beautiful, bohemian decor… and lots of pink!
This restaurant didn’t just become popular for the decor… the plant-based food at Kynd Community is absolutely delicious (just look at those waffles below!) The restaurant offers fresh juices, smoothies, sandwiches, vegan burgers and salad bowls. I may or may not have spilled the letters in my smoothie bowl (“Paradise” pictured below) all over the floor after my photo was taken. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to spill just the letters and nothing else, but I’m just glad I finally got to taste one of Kynd Community’s fresh smoothie bowls.
If you want that perfect Instagram shot, then definitely add Kynd Community to your list of things to do in Bali!
Kynd Community Bali Tip:
If you take a pretty photo of your Kynd Community food spread, then make sure to add it to your Instagram story and tag them in the post! I did, and I received a message from the Kynd Community Instagram account offering me a nice discount for the next time I returned. A little effort goes a long way!
4. Play in the Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Without a doubt, Tegalalang Rice Terrace is the most iconic rice terrace in Bali. The terraced layout of the rice fields is a traditional Balinese irrigation system, better known as subak. You can upload this photo to Instagram without so much as a caption, and most people familiar with Bali will immediately recognize your location!
The Tegalalang Rice Terraces offer scenic views overlooking the rice fields and surrounding lush landscape. Because the weather in Bali is relatively humid and hot, I would suggest arriving to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace early in the morning to beat the crowds and avoid the heat. Once you enter the rice field, you will see some of the iconic photo opportunities such as the ‘Love Bali’ sign and a number of Bali swings spread throughout the terraces.
Throughout the rice terraces, you will most likely see a group of local Indonesian children crowding around the more touristy photo opportunities. They won’t move out of the way and let you take a decent photo until you hand them a donation, so just go ahead and hand over a little cash (hustlin’ from a young age- gotta give them some respect!). While the Tegalalang Rice Terraces might not be the “Eat, Pray, Love” moment that you anticipate, just go in with an open mind and appreciate the beautiful atmosphere offered by the rice fields.
One of the most visited tourist attractions in Ubud (and rightly so), the Tegalalang Rice Terrace should definitely be added to your Bali itinerary.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace entrance fee:
Make sure to bring cash with you for your entry fee. There are a number of entrances to Tegalalang Rice Terrace, each of which determines the price you pay. In general:
General entrance: 10,000 IDR
Other entrances: Donation only (we entered through a donation only zone)
Depending on how much of the Ubud rice terraces you want to see, there are also a few checkpoints with additional entrance fees. After a few checkpoints and Instagram shots, you will probably have seen enough (although I’m not sure I could ever get enough of the beautiful rice terrace views!).
5. Avoid Bali Belly!
While this probably won’t be on your list of things to do in Bali, it should definitely be added to your list of things not to do in Bali. Bali travelers are often affected by what is known as ‘Bali Belly’: an upset stomach typically caused by bacteria found in local Indonesian foods or drinking water. My friend and I got Bali Belly almost as soon as we arrived in Bali. Let me tell you… it was not a fun experience. We were confined to our beds for 48 hours straight, and could only stomach chips and bottled water. We still don’t know exactly what caused it, but we certainly steered clear of local Indonesian foods for the next week.
If you get Bali Belly, you can visit a local doctor and get some medication for the illness. However, it will typically clear itself up within 24-48 hours.
How to avoid Bali belly:
Easing your way into the Bali diet and lifestyle within the first few days of your trip will help minimize the chance of getting Bali Belly! Unfortunately, you’re going to want to try and avoid drinking water in Bali. Instead, purchase bottles from the local shops. And to avoid consuming tons of plastic (which is of course no bueno for the environment), try buying gallon water containers instead!
6. Head to a Bali Beach
A trip to Bali is incomplete without heading to one of the beautiful Bali beaches (especially if you love surfing). Regardless of which beach you choose, you can almost always rent a surfing board or even sign up for a one-time surfing lesson! Most of the beaches will also provide quick access to local shops, markets and Indonesian restaurants.
Padang Padang Beach
Unfortunately, we didn’t choose the best Bali beach, as we were short on time and needed to find an option that was somewhat close to our Airbnb. Don’t get me wrong here- Padang Padang Beach is beautiful. You can explore local markets, rent a surfing board and grab a fresh coconut from one of the nearby stands. You might even see some monkeys roaming around the cliffs and along the edge of the beach. However, I’ll note that it is a bit crowded, and you could probably do some research to find a more private, secluded Bali beach. I’ve heard great things about: Melasti Beach, Green Bowl Beach (which has bat caves!), Balangan Beach, and Nyang Nyang Beach.
Remember to bring cash, as many of the Bali beaches require a small entrance fee! I believe that Padang Padang Beach’s entrance fee was 10,000 IDR.
Bali Beach Safety Tip:
Make sure to watch your belongings, and don’t leave anything unattended. The Bali beaches can be crowded, and there are supposedly people who scour the beaches for opportunities to snatch up expensive goods from tourists. Just be mindful of your surroundings!
7. Grab an ice cream at Mad Pops Seminyak
Well known for it’s neon lighted sign that reads “Ice Ice Baby”, Mad Pops is a vegan ice cream shop that is truly a must-do while visiting Bali. The ice cream is so incredibly delicious that you would never guess it was vegan (my personal favorite is the salted caramel flavor… always my go-to).
We took the photo below while visiting the Mad Pops Seminyak location, but they actually opened up a new location recently in Canggu. And I’ll admit, we went to that one too… a few times.
Best Travel Tip:
Both the Mad Pops Seminyak and Canggu locations are relatively small inside, so be prepared if you want to take a photo or two for Instagram. Get your camera ready to go (just in case Map Pops starts to get busy!).
8. Hang out like a local in Canggu
Canggu is pretty well known for being an Instagram influencer’s paradise, and rightly so. This trendy little town is filled with colorful, picturesque photo spots, rocking bars and nightlife, and the never-ending list of Balinese restaurants that specialize in incredible vegan delicacies (that are Insta-worthy, too!).
Where to eat in Canggu
My personal favorite Canggu food spot is Crate Cafe. Try to head there when it opens to snag a table, as it has recently become quite the popular brunch spot! Alternatively, there is an adorable little seating area owned by Crate Cafe (off to the side of the main restaurant) that is rarely ever crowded.
Things to do Canggu
If you keep up with my Instagram stories/ highlights, you probably know that I like to get down on the dance floor from time to time (I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve requested ‘Get Low’ by Lil Jon to the DJ). And my favorite place to partake in these festivities is hands down The Lawn along Batu Bolong beach (now being claimed as the hangout on Fridays in Canggu). Quite frankly, dancing the night away at The Lawn might have been my favorite memory of all of 2018. This swanky little spot has a beach-facing infinity pool and some of the best cocktails you could ask for in Canggu. The DJ plays some pretty good jams too, and that’s what I really care about (if we’re being honest here). In regards to nightlife, The Lawn is definitely one of the best things to do in Bali.
9. Sip on Bali’s Best Coffees
If you aren’t an avid coffee drinker before visiting Bali, you just might change your mind by the time you leave. From delicious cold brews and french presses to fresh coconut lattes… Bali truly has everything a coffee lover could ever need. Some of my favorite Canggu coffee joints include Give Cafe (they are an AMAZING non-profit and sister cafe to the ever-popular Kynd Community that I mentioned previously), The Loft, Cafe Organic- Garden Gangstas and DOJO (co-working space).
Cafe Organic Bali
Cafe Organic is one of the most beautiful cafes you will ever step foot into, all while retaining it’s very relaxed atmosphere. The outside patio is a mini jungle, displaying greenery galore, a cozy hammock and a few seating options. Once inside, the pristine, white decor, friendly staff, and chilled atmosphere will make you never want to leave! Aside from the fresh coconut lattes and endless coffee options, Cafe Organic also offers cold-pressed juices, fresh smoothie bowls, and delicious (yet healthy!) menu options. With locations both in Seminyak and Canggu, you have no excuse not to add this cafe to your list of things to do in Bali!
You could also opt for a truly unique Bali coffee experience and head to a coffee plantation in the quiet hills of Bedugal. If you are a coffee lover like me, then visiting one of the many coffee joints should definitely be added to your list of things to do in Bali… bring on the caffeine!
10. Play with the Bali Dogs/ Puppies!
Playing with adorable puppies definitely makes it onto my list for one of the best things to do in Bali!
The roaming street puppies/ dogs of Bali are very much a part of the Bali landscape and culture. The ‘Bali dogs’ actually tend to get a pretty bad rep, as they are often born into poverty with dog owners who can’t afford proper sterilization and hospital visits. Local governments in Indonesia organize the culling of dogs on streets and beaches using poisoning as a solution to the quickly-growing Bali dog population (and hundreds of Bali dogs are affected each day).
This is a big reason why it is SO important to support animal welfare organizations in Bali. While not everyone can foster a Bali dog (or Bali cat!), there are a number of ways to help these animals avoid the poverty, disease, neglect and horribles deaths they are often faced with. The Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) is a non-profit organization based in Bali that works to relieve animal suffering by offering emergency response and rescue services, adoption programs, food and medication and rehabilitation. Not only does BAWA care for the Bali dogs and cats, they will respond to alerts of any animal in distress (from snakes to dolphins, they do it all).
BAWA is able to keep the lights on with donations and relies heavily on a staff of very dedicated volunteers. With donations, BAWA is able to sterilize and support roughly 60-70% of Bali dogs in the Ubud region. Visit www.bawabali.com to find out more about how you can help make a difference in the lives of Bali dogs.
I hope that ya found this guide useful for scouting out some of the best things to do in Bali, Indonesia! Feel free to leave a comment below with more suggestions; I would love to learn more about your Bali experience(s), and know which sites and activities that YOU recommend! :)
If you are planning on visiting Bali and have any questions for me about the experience, feel free to drop a comment below and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.
If you found this guide useful in your Bali travel planning process, feel free to save it for later by pinning one of the images below to your Pinterest account!
Hi there! I’m Fallon. A Florida native who, after receiving my masters degree in the U.K., decided to nix the 9-5 path in search of something more. Now, I run my graphic and web design business straight from my laptop, all while traveling the world. I’ve now traveled to over 25 countries and have knocked some pretty big adventures off my bucket list… and I’m just getting started. Follow along my journey as I present tips, guides and resources on solo female travel, photography, videography, entrepreneurship & the crazy lifestyle of a digital nomad.