Bali – the Island of the Gods – is high on the to do list of many travellers – the surf hungry, those in search of spiritual retreat, the all-night party animal, the nature lover, the culture-vulture and the beach bum looking for tropical coconut-palm perfection.
50 Epic Things to Do in Bali – The Ultimate Bali Bucket List
1. Learn to Surf
With a huge variety of waves for even the most experienced been-there-done-that surfer, Bali is also a wonderful place to learn to surf too.
There are plenty of surf camps and opportunities to learn to surf in Bali with spots like Kuta and Canggu offering up some beginner friendly waves.
If you fancy including a bit more adventure with your surfing, check out this Bali Surf Camp Island Hopper trip which covers Bali, Lombok AND Nusa Lembongan…perfection!
2. Ubud Monkey Forest
The Ubud Monkey Forest is the site of not one, but three jungle-surrounded and vine-woven temples, with more than a touch of Indiana Jones mystique about them.
It is also home to a large number of Balinese macaques who could be considered the delinquent hooligans of the monkey world.
Avoiding them is impossible whether you have brought bananas to feed them or not, so keep your wits about you and your valuables safe!
3. Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Beaches, surfing, night-life – Bali has lots of that, but many would tell you that you haven’t seen the real Bali until you have visited the rice terraces.
The stunning Tegalalang Rice Terraces just outside of Ubud look like a giant’s stairway carved into the hillside, draped over with greens of every shade possible and then dotted with coconut palms.
Head out to Tegalalang to escape into a stunningly beautiful landscape of serenity and timelessness as you watch the sun glinting off the irrigation ponds…and get your Insta game on with one of the many ‘swings into the jungle’!
4. Sunday Session at Single Fin
With Bali’s most iconic surf break – Uluwatu – located right out front, it’s no surprise that Single Fin is a laid-back place where surfers hang out in between sessions.
Cliff-perched and perfectly placed to take in those sensational Balinese sunsets from a huge balcony, Single Fin turns every Sunday into party time. With its live band and DJ sets, Sunday Sessions keep this little corner of paradise rocking until 1am, and trust me – it gets really messy!
5. Uluwatu Temple and the Kecak Dances
While you’re down at Uluwatu, make sure you check out the cliff-top Uluwatu Temple which offers breathtaking Indian Ocean views and the chance to meet its resident tourist-mugging monkeys (again, keep your sunnies safe!)
At sunset you can also take in a traditional Kecak dance performance. Expect fantastic masks, a little bit of fire and some incredible vocal techniques, all of which can actually be a little trippy and even scary.
Most of all expect to be completely and utterly mesmerised.
6. Party at Old Man’s
If you find yourself in Canggu then you’ll quickly discover Old Man’s, a beach bar right slap in front of the surf break, which is the centre of nightlife in this now pretty hipster area.
Come sunset, the full-on partying begins with locals, visitors and expats all enjoying the live music which could be anything from reggae to DJ sets. Expect things to be at their wildest on ‘Dirty Ol’ Wednesdays’ when beer pong and other drinking games are all part of the fun.
Plus they have some pretty epic happy hours with two for one drinks!
7. Eat Your Way Through Canggu
For the culinary curious and food-passionate, Bali is heaven. Aromatic flavourings, spices and all kinds of totally alien fruit and vegetables add up to a taste sensation never previously experienced.
Hipster Canggu has more restaurants, cafes and street food vendors than you could get round in many weeks and it is well known as a destination for those who want to keep it healthy and wholesome.
What can you eat here? It would be easier to list what you can’t. From berry-packed acai bowls to sensational smoothies and tuna poke bowls to curries, eat your way round Canggu and discover some new all-time favourite foods.
Spots like Shady Shack, Bettlenut, Crate, and Taco Casa all come highly recommended!
Check out this Canggu Guide for heaps more advice on where to eat and more!
8. Take a Local Cooking Class
If eating’s your thing why not try your hand at rustling up some local cuisine?
Typically, Balinese cooking classes also include a trip to the local market to source your ingredients.
Afterwards you’ll learn some techniques and tricks handed down straight from grandma’s kitchen while getting to use all kinds of ingredients and spices you’ve probably never previously encountered.
9. Waterbom Waterpark
Time to get wet!
Claiming top spot on the list of Asia’s best water-parks, this endless thrills and spills destination features a diverse collection of water-slides which range from mellow, through moderate to extreme.
If serenity is your priority, go for a ride through tropical gardens on an inflatable.
If you’ve come for a serious adrenalin fix, head to Climax where your ride begins as you fall through a trap door, drop a long way and eventually arrive with an almighty splash at the bottom.
The swim-up bar is the perfect place to top up on Dutch courage before taking on some of the more kamikaze rides!
10. $10 Night at Sky Garden
A mega-venue in Kuta which heaps together several pubs and clubs for the serious party animal, Sky Garden offers an all-you-can-eat-and-drink special every day from 5-9pm.
…and yes that includes alcohol!
Every night of the week has a different food theme so you can tuck into tacos, stuff yourself with steak and seafood, or pig out on pizza and pasta after which you can party until dawn or until you run out of energy – whichever comes first.
11. Try Extra Joss
Found all over Bali – although illegal just about everywhere else outside of Indonesia – Extra Joss is an energy powder drink which makes Red Bull look like a lightweight!
Said to increase endurance, push you through fatigue and sharpen up reaction time (as well as helping with hangovers), Extra Joss might be just the thing to allow you to squeeze just one more surf session in before sunset, even though you’ve got noodle arms.
Those looking to party, combine Extra Joss with vodka shots for a let’s-keep-going-all-night pick-me-up…yum yum yum!
12. Watch the Surf at Uluwatu as the Sun Sets
Sunsets in Bali are sensational, with perhaps those on the south and west coast the best of all as you can watch the orange globe sink into the Indian Ocean, turning the sky and water tangerine, scarlet and bronze.
While choosing the best of the best sunset spots is beyond tricky, you have to take in at least one sunset at Uluwatu.
Watch the epic sets rolling through over the reef as the sun sinks into the ocean – all with an ice cold Bintang in hand.
And yes we’ve already mentioned Single Fin as a good spot to hit, but if you’re on a budget head down the steps a bit and grab a beer at one of the local bars to save yourself a good chunk of change!
13. Get a Massage
Dirt cheap and offered just about anywhere you wander in Bali, massages are likely to be your new addiction here!
Locations can be the stuff dreams are made of too. How about stretched out at the riverside or the foot of a waterfall surrounded by jungle while someone’s soothing hands sort out your knots?
Or perhaps absolute beach-front in the shade of coconut palms as the sound of waves lap the shore would be more your thing?
It’s all here and waiting for you…perfect after a hard day exploring or surfing.
14. Haggle for Trinkets
Haggling for souvenirs and handicrafts is not just accepted in Bali, but practically expected.
It is supposed to be fun and all part of the experience so just keep smiling – and hold your ground to avoid getting ripped off!
One of the best places to try your hand at this art is the wonderful Ubud Market where vendors purposely mark up any price they quote you at the beginning by a huge margin knowing that some lively haggling is sure to follow.
15. Hot Air Ballooning
Something of a newcomer to the Bali adventure menu, hot air ballooning in Bali delivers scenery of the sensational kind.
Take in Mount Agung and Batur, the lush greenery of the Ubud jungle and the highly photogenic rice paddies from on high.
Choose from sunrise, sunset or moonrise rides to add extra colour and magic to your birds-eye view of the Island of the Gods.
16. The Natural Hot Springs – Air Panas
The Island of the Gods serves up some truly lovely natural hot springs – ideal places to head to work out those surf or hiking kinks.
Arguably the loveliest of all is a collection of sacred pools which you’ll find not far from Lovina Beach. Nestled amid lush tropical jungle, Air Panas is really just an endless series of the almost ridiculously photogenic.
Sink into the healing waters where giant naga spouts move the waters from the upper to lower terrace.
If you want something a little more vigorous, another pool delivers higher pressured water spouts which are akin to a massage.
17. Ulun Danu Temple
When it comes to deciding which of Bali’s many temples is the most scenic, Instagrammable, or atmospheric, it really comes down to personal definitions.
The island-located and garden-surrounded Ulun Danu however surely must be a top contender in each of those categories.
Often called the Floating Temple because that is exactly what it appears to do, this extra-special 350 year old gem has mountains as its backdrop and is nothing short of mesmerizingly beautiful.
18. Start the Day with Yoga
Bali draws a diverse range of people – the party animal, the avid surfer, the spa-seeker, the adventure backpacker – Bali keeps all of these and many more travellers happy.
It is also a destination for those in search of spiritual retreat and this was the case long before Eat, Pray, Love became a sensation.
As a result yoga is a big thing on Bali especially in Ubud and Seminyak; those who are well-versed in such things rate Bali as one of the best destinations anywhere on the planet.
Sign up for a one-day trial or retreat for weeks on end and start every morning with a session – the choice is yours.
If you want to go all out your can also complete your Yoga Instructor Training course whilst your here too!
19. White Water Raft the Ayung River
If you love a bit of action packaged adrenaline Bali’s wonderful white-water rafting opportunities are somewhat less famous than the surf but nevertheless there for the thrill seeker.
The Ayung River near Ubud is one of the country’s top spots with a mix of calm serene stretches and the gut-churning and more turbulent sections which will appeal to adrenalin junkies.
If you get the opportunity to soak up your surroundings as you are spun, catapulted and otherwise spat along you will be enchanted by scenes of jungles, rice paddies and gorges of the dramatic kind.
20. Go Tarzan at Bali’s Botanic Gardens Tree-top Course
Made up of a gorgeous collection of serene lagoons, exquisite sculpture, cascading waterfalls and meandering pathways among exotic flora the huge Botanic Gardens are enchanting.
If such things don’t register as quite thrilling enough however bring out your inner Tarzan with the tree-top course here.
High level swings, bridges, zip-lines and some truly epic leaps of faith which will have even the most adrenalin-addicted pausing for thought are all on the menu here.
Go it alone with a DIY kayak rental or sign up for a guided paddle exploring lakes, ocean, rivers and lagoons.
Not everywhere on Bali’s coast is pounded by powerful surf waves – there are also all kinds of tropically idyllic secret coves and sheltered bays.
Enjoy some tranquility paddling amid scenery which will take your breath away and in waters so crystal clear you can pause for a while and just watch the marine life beneath the water.
One top spot is the lake at Mount Batur or head to Nusa Lembongan for a multitude of choices.
22. Sunset Bintang at the Beach
Pick a beach…..any beach….grab an ice-cold Bintang and watch the sun sink down the sky before turning everything you can see a set of colours which range from the Instagrammable and fantastic, to those which will move you to tears.
You get to choose your sundowner vibe – perhaps a tiny cove tucked away and tranquil or maybe somewhere with swathes of sand where the waves crash dramatically.
23. Paragliding in Nusa Dua
Stepping out into thin air from a cliff top is probably not for those of a nervous disposition but if that sounds like your kind of fun head to Nusa Dua.
Here at the 100m Timbis cliff you can take a tandem glide with a pilot in charge of all the technical bits so you can concentrate on enjoying the breath-taking beauty of the coastal glory spread out below you.
24. Jungle Trekking
On a jungle trek in Bali waterfalls and wildlife are practically a given while added extras might include temples, remote villages, sacred sites and perhaps a canoe paddle up a tiny river as monkeys play in the forest canopy above you.
Opt in for anything which lasts from a few hours to a few days with perhaps the most adventurous and wildest trekking found in the mystique-infused West Bali National Park.
This area, packed with wildlife, is still surprisingly unexplored in parts.
25. Bungee Jumping
More adrenaline fuelled fun!
If leaping from a platform at the beach with a piece of glorified elastic strapped to your ankle lights your candle head to Seminyak.
Here you will find an A.J. Hackett constructed bungee which at 45m hardly ranks as one of his more hard-core options around the world but nevertheless still qualifies as bucket-list worthy.
26. Horse riding at Yeh Ganga Beach
Anyone who has ever seen a movie clip with the hero or heroine galloping and splashing through the water on horseback along a beautiful beach, hair streaming in the wind and not thought ‘I want to do that’ is probably a rare breed.
At Yeh Ganga beach you can live that dream although whether you walk sedately or get up some pace will depend entirely on your horse-riding skills.
27. Tackle The Flow Rider at Flow House Amada
A hybrid of surfing, skateboarding, skim-boarding and snowboarding, flowboarding is guaranteed fun and at Amada’s Flow Rider you get all kinds of other treats thrown in besides.
When you’re not busy tackling the artificial wave have a few cheeky drinks to get you amped for the next session!
Come sunset the Flow House becomes a high-energy party venue with live music, competitions, live sports streaming and all kinds of laid-on entertainment.
28. Chocolate Fix at the Pod Chocolate Factory
Chocolate-making is big in Bali and of epic quality – it’s home to some of the best cocoa beans anywhere on the planet.
Nestled amid rice paddies you’ll find the Pod factory where you can come and see how a bean is magically transformed into those mouth-watering creations you see in the shops.
You can tour the plantations, learn about organically-produced cocoa, sample the wares and eve have a go at making some chocolate yourself.
Failing that try a bar at the local shop…it’s super tasty!
29. The Bali Swing at Ubud
While giant swings are now found all over Bali the one at Ubud is the original and most would agree the best.
Here, on a choice of 12 swings you can take your swooping pendulum ride out over the palm-filled jungle, canyon and waterfall for that simply perfect Instagram shot which makes you look ultimately intrepid and fearless.
You don’t need to tell anyone there are actually clips holding you on!
30. Setia Darma – The Bali House of Masks and Puppets
While museums might not typically register as a thrill the quaint and incredible Bali House changes the game.
With thousands of masks and puppets sourced from every continent and traditionally used for shamanic rituals, theatre, native dance performances and more the selections here range from the fantastically beautiful to the downright terrifying!
31. Batik Factory
Almost everyone comes home from Bali with a batik of some kind whether its wall-hanging, t-shirt or sarong.
How much more wonderful is that souvenir if you actually make it yourself?
Head to one of the batik factories and you can do just that where, under the expert guidance of the batik artists, you can get messy with wax and dyes and make your own masterpiece.
I gave out a go and it’s heaps more difficult than it looks!
32. Drink from the Fountain of Youth – Goa Gajah
Around 1000 years old, Goa Gajah is a gorgeous mix of tranquil bathing pools, a meditation cave and ancient carvings and sculpture – some of them carved directly into the rock face – where the sounds of waterfall and fountains create a soothing sound track.
Of great historical significance and as a place infused with spirituality, Goa Gajah invites all its visitors to taste the waters which stream from six statues and are believed to offer eternal youth.
33. Grab a Day Bed at One of the Epic Bali Beach Clubs
Perched on sea cliffs, sitting right on the bleached-white sands at absolute beach front and even nestled amid lush jungle, the Bali beach club selection is the stuff dreams are made of.
Ranging from casual and party-vibe infused to the heights of exclusivity and luxury trying to pick a favourite among so many idyllic gems is an almost impossible task.
Among the choices are The Lawn with its ocean sunset views or Finn’s with its gorgeous infinity pool and swim-up bar.
34. Sunrise Encounters with Dolphins at Lovina
If you don’t mind an early morning set the alarm and head out from Lovina Beach in a traditional outrigger to start your morning with dolphins…and who doesn’t love dauphins?!
Sitting in the island’s far north this fishing town is a dolphin hotspot with five species of dolphins calling these waters home.
Pods are sometimes huge and if you encounter either dusky or spinner dolphins you are in for a treat.
These are the most acrobatic of the dolphin species and grand leaps, twists and somersaults are all part of their repertoire.
35. Scenic Helicopter Flight
At ground level Bali is breath-takingly beautiful. However, the views of temples, jungles, ocean, mountains, lakes and rice paddies you can drink in from above shift it to a whole other level.
Taking a scenic helicopter ride allows you a bird’s-eye view of this sensational island with operators offering flights in different locations.
Try a Bedugal Lake flight with views of the ‘floating’ Ulun Danu temple or perhaps opt for a Kintamani Volcano tour which includes a flight along the coast too.
36. Visit Some of the Amazing Waterfalls
Ever dreamed of setting off through tropical jungle to discover a secret waterfall where you can swim in a pool as rainbow-coloured birds flit around you?
Well your wish is granted because Bali is the land of a thousand waterfalls and many of them fit this description. Options range from the easily accessed such as Tegenungan and Kanto Lampo while others require some hardcore trekking.
For something completely different check out Aling-Aling in northern Bali where you can slide down the 35m falls into a pool of cooling crystal water.
37. Canyoning at Kerenkali Canyon
Canyoning grabs a whole bunch of thrills, mixes them all together and produces an awesome experience for the adventurous.
Think abseiling, climbing, scrambling, waterfall rappelling, swimming and otherwise sliding, jumping and leaping off things.
Bali has plenty of places to get your kicks in this way but arguably the best is the jaw-droppingly lovely Kerenkali Canyon in the north.
38. Walk Across the Millennium Bridge
Elegant and visually stunning, the 23m-long Millennium Bridge across the Ayung River just happens to be made entirely of bamboo – one of the largest on the entire continent.
Besides being simply gorgeous to gaze upon in an area surrounded by nature of the loveliest kind, the Millennium Bridge is actually a green-living demonstration of how bamboo can be used to replace steel or concrete to which, surprisingly, it can be compared with regard to strength.
39. Watch Sunrise from Mount Batur
Hiking to the summit of Mount Batur is right up there on the list of Bali’s best treks.
Making the effort to get here for sunrise will reward you with the kind of experience which will stay forever etched in your soul.
In the hush of pre-dawn you will watch as the deep blues gradually transform into smudged lilac before the first golden glow rises from the horizon.
Once the sun lifts its head you will be able to see the sea of clouds surrounding you and feel like you are standing on the roof of the world.
40. Cliff Jumping
If leaping off ledges, cliffs and high places into impossible blues of crystal ocean is how you get your kicks Bali is going to deliver just what you need.
There are spots everywhere for Indian Ocean water-bombing opportunities such as Devil’s Tears on Nusa Lembongan although you’ll want to steer clear of this when there’s a big swell on.
Other options include the rock arch at Atuh on Nusa Penida and the Aling-Aling cliff jump which you could combine with visiting the amazing waterfall rock slide near here.
41. Get Inked
You will unearth tattoo parlours just about everywhere you go in Bali and as an island that attracts artsy types you can get some incredible and highly unusual designs. Prices are attainable for even the most penny-pinching backpacker and you can try out your haggling skills to get an even better bargain.
If you can’t quite drum up the nerve to go permanent there are plentiful opportunities to get some high-quality temporary tatts which can last for a couple of weeks.
42. Rent a Moped and Explore
Renting a moped or scooter gives you the freedom to do things on your own schedule while also allowing you access to all kinds of places you might not otherwise be able to get to.
If you want to get off the beaten path this is definitely the way to go.
Rentals are possible all over Bali but Nusa Penida is a great place to head out on two wheels with all kinds of hidden beaches to discover and a series of cliff-top look outs each more lovely than the last.
Just be sensible and wear a helmet!
43. Sample the Food at Some Local Warungs
Cafes and restaurants are ten-a-penny in Bali but if you want to sample the most authentic Indonesian foods at the best bargain prices you will need to check out the warungs.
Sometimes these are nothing more than a lady with a steaming pot on the pavement while others are shacks with a table or two or even cafe-like set-ups but they are always small, simple and family run.
You won’t find many of these places in guidebooks or tourist literature – you have to stumble across them yourself which just adds to the fun.
Wahrung Indonesia (betwehe Poppies 1 and 2 in Kuta) is certainly one of my favourites though!
44. Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Anyone can do it and that is part of the reason why SUP’s popularity has made it the fastest growing water-sport of all time.
You don’t need a wave to paddle board and Bali’s endless series of beyond-beautiful sheltered coves, lagoons and rivers make it SUP heaven.
For some of the ultimate paddling paradises head to Nusa Lembongan with a plethora of tranquil lagoons which could have jumped straight from the pages of a Tolkien novel or Nusa Penida. To access some truly secret gems sign up for a guided tour.
…and some bonus ones!
Okay okay I know the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida aren’t technically part of Bali, but since many people include them in their Bali itinerary here are 5 bonus items to add to the list…
45. Get Your Insta Game on at Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida
Wonderful Nusa Penida can at times feel like an endless series of Instagrammable views but it also happens to have something which qualifies as extra special – Kelingking Beach.
As you gaze from the cliff tops here you will be forgiven for thinking you’ve just spotted a T-rex on the beach below. In truth it’s a gorgeous jut of greenery covered rock stretching out into the ocean and bordering a white-sand cove which resembles a dinosaur.
If you want to get down to the beach be prepared for a challenging steep scramble.
Keep an eye out for manta rays too which can often be seen cruising in the shallows.
46. Get Your PADI Dive Certificate
The world beneath the waves in Bali is a vibrantly-hued coral wonderland teeming with manta rays, turtles, sharks and fish of every colour imaginable.
Diving here is pretty epic and if you’ve always wanted to scuba dive the low costs for intro dive and open water courses in Bali make your visit here the ideal time to do just that.
One of the top locations is the Blue Lagoon in Padang Bai while the idyllic Gili T offers several dive schools. If you choose one of the outfits on Nusa Lembongan you will have the opportunity of learning in a manta ray hot-spot.
47. Chill in a Beach Bungalow on the Gili Islands
Is there anyone who doesn’t dream of lazing away some sun-drenched tropical island days at a sparkling white-sand, turquoise ocean-lapped beach backed by coconut palms?
In the Gili Islands this is super easy to find with beach bungalows at prices which make the idyllic within the reach of all-comers.
Book into a beach bungalow at any number of spots to fall asleep to the sounds of the waves and awake just steps from the sand.
For a beach bungalow with a difference check out Gili Trawangan’s luxurious tree-houses at Pemenang.
48. Free Dive on Gili T
Once the almost mythical craft of an elite few, free-diving training can now be found on Bali so you too can make like a dolphin and head down into watery depths completely free of any breathing equipment.
Gili T is considered one of the world’s go-to hotspots for learning the process of channelling inner peace and having what most consider one of the most amazing experiences of their life.
I’ve upped my personal best to a 2.5 minute breathe hold and 25m depth here!
49. Snorkel with Manta Rays on Lembongan
Encountering majestic manta rays in the coastal waters of Bali is far from uncommon but for an almost guaranteed experience head to Nusa Lembongan.
Here you can snorkel in vibrant blue waters with incredible visibility to really make the most of your up-close-and-personal meeting with these 5m gentle giants.
The mantas here appear curious with humans, often gliding towards you and veering off at the moment just before collision in balletic movements which seem more akin to flying than swimming.
50. Snorkel with Turtles on Gili Trawangan
Just as Nusa Lembongan is manta ray central so Gili T has got a name for itself as turtle central!
The snorkelling in these crystal-clear idyllic waters is exceptional by anyone’s standards but once you throw a plentiful supply of two different turtle species – green and Hawksbill – into the mix it is heaven.
No need for an organised tour either , just rent a snorkel and mask and set out directly from the beaches to get turtle-spotting which is bets at high tide in the morning.