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We have no idea if Walt Disney ever actually said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” But if he did, he first said it on a trip to Bali in between smashing Bintangs on the beach and traipsing through rice terraces in an impeccably coordinated outfit. Like Walt (would have) says, Bali is a magical place where you can do just about anything you dream of.
Not sure where to start? We’ve created a bucket list of 10 amazing things to do in Bali.
The most amazing things to do in Bali
1. Admire the sunrise from the top of Mount Batur
Trek through the night and be rewarded with views of the sun rising over Bali’s bucolic landscape. Trekking to the top of Mount Batur is a spectacular experience–especially if you do it in shoulder or low season, when the trails aren’t as heavily trafficked. Sip on a cup of Balinese coffee as steam vents blow puffs of clouds into the sky.
2. Get lost among the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
Rice harvesting in Bali embodies a concept called the subak system, where water must pass through a Hindu temple before irrigating the rice paddies below. This method of agriculture dates back thousands of years and connects the physical, human, and spiritual realm.
Walk through fields of emerald paddies at Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, one of Bali’s lesser-known rice fields on the foothills of Mount Batukaru. Come for sunrise to watch the rice stalks shine with a soft green hue.
3. Venture up 1,700 stairs to the top of Lempuyang Temple
Lempuyang Temple recently became popular among tourists thanks to social media and its iconic gates. However, beyond the popular photo stop are a series of seven temples that are only reached on a path of 1,700 moss-cloaked steps. Be warned, monkeys await at the top of the journey,
4. Catch a wave at Padang Padang (or just watch others do so)
Padang Padang is where you’ll find one of the island’s best waves that barrels in the right conditions. Fast, hollow, and shallow, needless to say it’s a wave for experts only–though those who want to watch will be well entertained from the shore. The Rip Curl Padang Padang Cup only takes place when the waves are pumping.
If you’re just learning how to surf, check the wave on the other side of the beach, colloquially called “Baby Padang Padang.” It’s much friendlier, and you have a chance of ending the day without leaving some skin on the reef.
5. Be mesmerized by a kecak fire dance at Luhur Uluwatu Temple
Every evening just before sunset, tens of Balinese dancers adorn ceremonial clothes to perform a kecak dance at Luhur Uluwatu Temple. Performers tell the story of Ramayana and the White Monkey through chant, dance, and fire. When it gets too tense, the monkey runs into the crowd to release the tension.
The temple makes for a memorable spot at sunset, yet is overrun with cheeky monkeys. The little buggers have no qualms about pickpocketing, so keep your valuables close.
6. Snorkel with Manta Rays off of Nusa Penida
Bali’s governance extends beyond the island of Bali itself to the three islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida. Off the shoreline of Nusa Penida are oceanic manta ray hotspots, where mantas circle snorkelers and scuba divers who brave the boat ride there.
7. Scuba dive at the USAT Liberty Wreck
The USAT Liberty Wreck is a WWII cargo ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. It ran aground on Bali’s formidable reef off of Tulamben in 1942 and since then has become encrusted with corals. The shallowest part of the ship stands at 5 meters and can be spotted by snorkelers when the visibility is good. Scuba divers can enjoy the wreck at up to 30 meters deep.
It’s not uncommon to spot sea turtles, pufferfish, triggerfish, barracuda, and reef sharks cruising around the wreck. If you look close, you might see nudibranchs, pygmy sea horses, and other forms of macro life.
8. Place an offering at Pura Besakih, Bali’s Mother Temple
Considered the holiest of all temples in Bali, Pura Besakih is what each structure and other temple is built around. Ceremonies take place daily at Pura Besakih, with many sections reserved to only practicing Hindus. Still, there are plenty of sections of the temple to see for yourself.
Bring small offerings, called canang sari, to place at the temple during your visit. These offerings are used to harmonize the spiritual, natural, and human worlds.
9. Practice yoga in Ubud
While Ubud was once a small town known by few outsiders, the boom of Eat Pray Love saw the town receive tourists by the droves. Crowds tend to stick to Ubud’s main center, so escape to solitude by taking an unmarked path to an open rice field. Ubud is the creative hub of Bali, home to artists and those seeking serenity–sometimes in a yoga shala, sometimes in a vegan cafe. Let us know if you find it.
10. Sip a cold Bintang on the cliffs of UIuwatu
Uluwatu is the wave that put Bali on the map of the surfing world. An iconic left, the wave breaks in front of a cliff face with ramshackle warungs and souvenir shops nudged in wherever they can.
Sip a cold Bintang, Bali’s local beer, and watch as some of the island’s best surfers dance along the face of the wave. A short stop at Single Fin bar is a rite of passage for any who venture here.
What would you like to do on your next trip to Bali?