Oh Bali! The land of stunning beaches, world class surfing, mystical mountains and spiritual awakening. No wonder you’re so excited about going there…but where should you go and why? What are the best Bali activities going on here?! What are the fun things to do?! Are you looking to end up with a bunch of tourists or do you want to be in the middle of nowhere?
With so many beautiful spots on this magical island, it can be hard to choose! Keep on reading for the Bali Travel Guide that’s going to give it to you straight.
Settle down with a cup of tea lovelies. Say hello to the Bali Travel Guide that’s going to list every area in Bali and show you the what’s going down in each! But first things first…
The best months to go to Bali are April, May, June and September. High season is July and August as well as the Easter Holidays, Christmas and New Year celebrations. It’s best to steer clear of all of that. Visiting just outside of the peak season means you’ll have more room to get up to your adventures and even more money in your pocket! Wahey!
Thankfully, the weather is warm and beautiful all year round, so Teacake’s backpacking packing list will cover you nicely. No winter gear needed here OK! Make sure to pack that big sarong / long shirt and pants to cover yourself respectfully in temples and a bikini for the beaches and you’ll be grand.
As always, it’s handy to have a travel adapter, money belt, insect repellent and sunscreen. I also recommend minimal make up (because it’s totally going to melt off your face) but if you do want some coverage, South Korean BB cream does an excellent job with SPF included in it.
Bali can be as expensive, or budget-friendly, as you want it to be. Choosing the area you hang out in has a lot to do with it! Regardless of whether you’re a backpacker or a lady of luxury though, there is something for you here!
For you budget backpackers out there, an inexpensive meal costs $2, a local beer is $1.50 and a one-way ticket on local transport is $0.35. Accommodation in Bali varies vastly on where you are. Sanur is the cheapest starting at $2.45 a night whereas Nusa Lembongan starts at $18. Make sure to have a look at my Best Hotels Bali Has To Offer guide to find the right accommodation for you
For those of you who have more money to spend on creature comforts, a 3 course meal will set you back around $10, an imported beer costs $3 and a taxi is around $0.50 per 1km.
Here is a breakdown of each area in Bali, with their good, OK and not so good points as well as what to do in each spot!
Welcome to the Balinese village life! This is Bali’s most unspoiled destination offering beautiful clear blue waters along a 10km stretch of relaxed and quaint coastal villages. For the divers out there, you’ve hit the jackpot! The infamous 120 metre long World War 2 US Liberty wreck is here, north of Amed, 30 minutes drive away in Tulamben. If you want to stay above water however, you can go sailing or fishing or hike up Bali’s highest mountain. Its fantastical name is Mount Agung and it’s proudly standing tall at 3.142 metres!
‘Amed is a spectacular place for freediving: you get fantastic views of Mount Agung while out on the water and it really transforms things into an almost magical experience. Freediving alone is something that everyone should try just to test the limit of their own mind and body, and doing it in Bali is just extra special. I completed my Freediving Level 1 course here and loved every minute’. Recommended by Mostly Amelie.
Covering the large central highlands area of Bali, Bedugul possesses the three wondrous crater lakes of Bratan, Buyan and Tamblingan. This is a delightful area of natural beauty with the tallest mountain peaks. Make sure to pack your hiking boots and a jumper to deter the chilly weather!
One of the most iconic sights of Bali, you may even recognise this temple from the cover of Lonely Planet. A lake shrouded in mystery and Balinese heritage, this is a sight to see and take in. The best way to explore this area would be to rent a scooter or get a driver and take it at your own pace. Get there early to avoid the tour buses and catch the dawn. Recommended by The Life Of Jord.
‘Mount Batur is the most beautiful volcano we’ve ever seen. We thought Bali was all about the beaches, yoga and spiritual seeking, so this mountain was a big surprise for us. What a sight!’ says Karolina Patryk. If you don’t want to hike it though, eat at the Panka Yoga Restaurant: ‘My friends and I were able to enjoy traditional Indonesian food, fresh fruit smoothies, and a breathtaking view’ says May.
Bukit is the ultimate slice of heaven for surfers full of a magical and mystical air. Beautiful cliffs, warm white sand beaches and the most famous surf breaks in the world are here. Most of all in Uluwata. It’s a serene and dreamlike place and if you’re looking to just watch the stars, drink a beer and relax in a luxurious hotel in Bali, you’ll find all of that here.
The Kecak Fire Dance is performed at the very spiritual Uluwatu Temple in Bali. This dance is based on the famous epic Hindu story of the Ramayana. There are no musical instruments. Instead, you have a chorus of the men chanting and providing sound effects. It is hypnotizing. Recommended by Paula of the Contented Traveller.
‘Imagine descending down a cliff through a narrow walkway, enjoying the coolness that comes from the shade of the rocks. From there, an opening, where the sun is searing, the beach is picturesque and the surfers are out towards the horizon. This, my friends, is the incredible Padang Padang Beach and one of my favourite spots in Bali. Do yourself a favour and add it to your bucket list, you won’t be disappointed’. Recommended by The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo
Hop along to this magnificent sea temple perched on top of a cliff to breathe in that fresh salty air and feel like a true romantic. Sunsets here are top-notch but make sure to arrive a little earlier to take in the Balinese architecture and ancient sculptures.
Welcome to the delightful world of sparkling rice paddies gleaming in the sun, small villages taking it easy and winding roads leading to dark sand beaches. This is the place to take it easy, hang out with the expats and get your surf on! There are surf breaks for all levels and styles and although much isn’t happening in the evenings, you can pop along to Seminyak to release the fine party and food lover within you. Take note: You’re gonna need your own transport to get around Canggu.
It’s only fair if you come to Bali to at least touch a surfboard with your hands and if you’re up for it, ride one with your feet. It’s an amazing feeling and Canggu is a great place for beginners. You can find some amazing surf schools right here.
If you’re looking for the authentic Bali experience and not to just lie on the beach, Gianyar might just be it. Extending from Sanur, it has tropical forests, beautiful beaches and fascinating cultural heritage. It’s recommended to try the food here, particularly the Babi Guling. For the surf, head to Secret and Keramas Beach! Nearby, Saba Beach is meant to be a complete getaway for all of you seeking solitude. Just you, the black sand and the odd fisherman. You can haggle at Sukawati Art Market to take home some beautiful handicrafts and in the evening, catch a show at the Bali Theatre.
‘In Bali you can find some hidden nature places that are totally worth exploring. This canyon is for adventurous people only. You’ll need to wade through deep river, climb on sharp and sometimes slippery rocks and keep going for a couple of hours’. Recommended by Life In Big Tent. The secret location is here.
Jimbaran is the kind of place to lounge around in your luxury villa, eating delicious seafood on the beach after sunset. It’s in a good spot to get to the other areas on the island and the white sand and calm waters make its beaches the safest in Bali. Good for little ones but also for you if you want to relax and watch the world go by.
Kuta has exploded in popularity in the last few decades from being a small fishing village to a full on hip and happening city which never sleeps! Expect busy, crazy, hectic and bewildering experiences. It’s a total win-win for young backpackers as the alcohol is cheap and flowing, the beach has tons of people to meet and the local food costs around $2-3 and Western dishes are $5-7. If you’re a beginner surfer, this is a great place to start too! Most of all though, this is the place to party! Come prepared with your drinking hat on.
Some kickin’ bars to get your drunk on in include Sky Room, The Engine Room and Paddy’s Pub. Just walk down the street and locals will be throwing free drink tokens at you left, right and centre. Woop woop!
Lovina really is delightful. Take a boat trip to watch the dolphins splashing around, soak your limbs in the Banjar Hot springs, walk through Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery and get lost in all of the tiny winding streets and cafe in this north coast beach town. Puri Jati and Menjangan Island are nearby for cool diving and make sure to check out Singaraja, the old capital of Bali.
‘With an early morning wake-up you can jump in one of the many local boats and set out in search of dolphins. As you set out from shore you’re treated to a spectacular sunrise over the northern coastline of Bali. Don’t be fooled though: you may see some dolphins but you WILL see schools of tourist boats. Try to avoid the weekends or Indonesian holidays for a better experience’. Recommended by The Life Of Jord.
Brahmavihara-Arama is Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery and it’s right next to the hot springs too woohoo! It has beautiful gardens, many meditation rooms and a mini replica of the world’s largest Buddhist archaeological site, Borobudur.
This high-end complex is all about the five-star lifestyle, sinking into a good massage, playing some golf and being pampered. Ooh yeah. The waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling; Nusa Dua reef is perfect for beginners! Nightlife is about you sipping cocktails as the sun goes down and for those of you who can’t stand the humidity, the beaches are known for their gentle cooling breezes.
Only 20km from the mainland, this desert island paradise has lush mangroves, charming villages and for all you divers and surfers, waves and corals to die for. I recommend heading to Sunset Beach and Dream Beach for the best activity times and watching the sunset at Jungut Bay. For even more awesome Nusa Lembongan recommendations, check out this article.
Nusa Penida is so off the beaten track, there’s only 8 hotels here so far. You’re gonna hear the wild cries of tropical birds as you trek along the rustic coast and be able to marvel at Mola Mola and Mantra Rays when diving deep into the crystal clear waters. Expect a simple life in rural settings.
“Nusa Penida is a small island located a 30-minute boat ride from the southern tip of Bali. Even though it’s so close to the mainland, not many travelers know about it – and that’s what I love about Nusa Penida. It has all the natural beauty, Balinese culture and stunning beaches of the mainland and only a handful of tourists! If you ask me, it’s definitely Bali’s best kept secret”. Recommended by Travel Lush.
Sanur is THE place for families! It’s laidback and peaceful with calm waters to take a dip in. The beaches are rad too and stretch for miles. All hotels are within 5-10 minutes of the beach and for the adventurers out there, don’t fret…there is diving, waterskiing and kitesurfing. Sanur is the oldest resort town in Bali, so overall, they know what they’re doing when it comes to your comfort.
‘Whether you are a morning person or not, it’s well worth suffering an early rise to admire the sunrise at this spot. Usually quiet at this time, you’ll have the beach all to yourself with just a few other locals. Enjoy!’ Recommended by A World To Travel.
‘Left over from a huge entertainment park project that was never fully opened, this huge abandoned area has lots of cool abandoned buildings to explore with street art all over. You’ll need at least 2 hours to get round it’. Recommended by Life In Big Tent. The location is here.
Seminyak is the most expensive district in Bali and the posher sister of Kuta. It’s more upscale and ‘ooh la la’ with its fine dining and strict dress code nightclubs particularly. The surfing isn’t bad for beginners or intermediates either. It’s THE place to go when you can’t stomach local food any more and want an infamous chef to cook your dinner for you. Get ready to feel like a princess here and indulge in the decadent delights of Bali. If you want to be here but somewhere a little quieter though, try to stay in Kerobokan, the neighbourhood right next door.
Stunning natural beauty, breathtaking temples, a magical place to meditate and wake up to yoga everyday, endless cultural museums and the place to hop on a bike and enter into the wilderness. Ubud is something special.
‘There are two basic strategies for navigating Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest. You can arm yourself with rustling plastic bags full of food (bananas work well) and wait for the monkeys to jump all over you or you can keep your distance and observe the chaos. Whether you want to interact with the monkeys (and possibly catch some weird disease) or you choose to lay low, you’re bound to have an entertaining walk through the shrines, statues and monkey gangs of this unique piece of nature in Ubud’. Recommended by Jon Is Travelling.
‘The terrraced rice paddies of Tegalalang, North of Ubud, are a popular day trip from the cultural capital of Bali. They are pretty as they are photogenic and they make for a picturesque view of this ever-present Balinese landscape’. Recommended by Once In A Lifetime Journey.
There is so much to learn from Bali and Indonesia. I’m wishing you an awesome trip! Check out the best of Bali activities below!