Where to go in Bali, Indonesiacategories: asia travel
Welcome To Bali
Sometimes referred to as ‘The Island of the Gods’, Bali is one of the top destinations for travelers worldwide. For those that have been lucky enough to visit this South-East Asian gem, tales of pristine beaches complimented by tropical islands are never far from their lips. Looking into where to go within the island can be a daunting task as thousands of photos and write-ups, each more tantalizing than the last, tell you of a different unmissable experience. Luckily, despite the attention the island receives, there are still a few hidden gems left to explore. Read on to discover all the best places to visit on your trip to Bali, from unmissable attractions to areas that are certainly worth your time but often fall off the radar.
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Canggu is one of the trendiest spots on the island to both stay in and visit. Its artsy vibe and great surfing provide a varied scene with art galleries, bars and eateries sitting alongside a variety of chilled out surf shacks. The beaches around the area aren’t the islands most beautiful, but they do provide a very challenging surfing experience for those looking to get out onto the waves. Even if you’re not a surfer yourself, it’s worth heading down that way to see both locals and visitors show off their skills.
At night, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to eateries as both high-end restaurants, and small warungs (local cafés and eateries) provide a wide range of traditional dishes. You’ll find that almost everywhere in Bali caters to both vegetarian and vegan diets. If you’re looking for a seafood feast at an affordable price, there are a few fish suppliers that double up as restaurants, serving plates of the freshest seafood for only 2 USD a kilo.
This up and coming area plays host to a black sand beach and offers up some stunning views of the Indian Ocean. A favorite with domestic and foreign tourists alike, it’s another surfers haven to explore with powerful swells that provide an exciting challenge. Although it’s not the best place to go swimming on the island due to the surf and strong currents, the sunset views you get from the beach are reason enough to check it out.
Pererenan itself offers up a bit more of an insight into traditional Balinese life. If you take a short walk inland, you’ll be greeted with a smattering of Hindu temples, boutiques selling exquisite crafts and quaint rice paddies.
For those looking to truly relax, Seseh ticks all the right boxes. This cosy little seaside village is nestled amongst some of Bali’s iconic rice paddies. Like Pererenan, the black sand beach here has a fabulous vista of the Ocean. Seseh leans towards a more peaceful, quiet vibe. You won’t find the luxury dining options located around many other parts of the island, but you will find a nice collection of warungs that offer delicious, cheap eats throughout the day.
Seseh is a mecca of relaxation. In terms of things to do, strolls around the rice paddies, mingling with the Balinese villagers and putting your feet up with a good book would be the order of the day in this chilled-out part of Bali. Because it’s located away from the hubbub of the busier areas, you can expect to find much cheaper rates when it comes to guesthouse accommodations, making it perfect for those on a tighter budget or who are looking for a long term stay on the island. It’s also not too far from the nightlife happening in Canggu.
No visit to Bali would ever be complete without visiting the island’s spiritual centre, Ubud. This town, located in the uplands amongst the central foothills of Gianyar, is surrounded by lush rainforest and features some of Bali’s most exquisite temples and shrines. If you’re looking to delve deeper into Balinese Hinduism, which sits at the heart of the island’s arts and culture, this is the place to explore.
Due to its location and ease of access to popular tourist sites, Ubud has turned from a somewhat sleepy little town to a bustling tourist centre. If you’re going to explore the local temples, such as the famous Goa Gaja, then get there around 8:30 am to avoid the crowds. If you’re keen to avoid the usual tourist traps, I recommend you stay further out of the town. If someone does offer you a ‘temple tour’ and you’re keen to explore but want to see something a little different away from the tourist groups, most will have a ‘hidden gems’ option that focuses on the quieter, but equally as interesting, shrines.
Want to explore Balinese cuisine? Ubud has some of the island’s best vegan and vegetarian food, with locals and tourists traveling here to feast within the wide range of specialist restaurants.
Often coined as the Yoga centre of Bali, Ubud has some fantastic places for beginners and experts to practise Yoga, but it’s certainly not the only place on the island where you can find studios and retreats. Spending a few days here is often enough unless you’re a shopaholic or keen to hit up the famous “Eat Pray Love” Instagram spots as the markets and famous terraced rice fields of Tegalalang may keep you there longer.
Amed & The East Coast
Sitting upon the North East Coast of Bali lies Amed. This 14km strip of seven fishing villages is a quiet place but has some great, affordable guesthouses and cafe’s for a wandering nomad to unwind in. The local food is fresh, cheap and beautifully prepared, and it doesn’t take long to find yourself imitating the laid back nature of the village locals.
But what draws so many people to this particular part of the island? That would be the world-class diving. Amed has a great range of top tier, certified diving centers that offer a variety of tours. For a genuinely unmissable experience, you can book a trip wreck diving in nearby Tulamben, where the USS Liberty lays at the bottom of the Ocean, now covered in coral. The wreck’s deepest portion sits at around 30 meters below; this can be a little daunting for beginners, so before you jump in the deep end, try out some fun dives around Amed and Tulamben to find your feet (or flippers) first.
West Bali National Park
If it’s an adventure you crave, look no further than West Bali National Park. This protected area covers around 190 square kilometers of land. Due to the many endangered species of flora and fauna within the region and some endemic wildlife, only certain parts of the park are open to visitors, but what you can visit is certainly worth the trip. The park is unique as it covers both the jungle and coastline. Travellers can hike through the mangroves and delve deep into the wilderness to discover the islands unique wildlife or head over to the stunning Menjanngna Island, featuring pristine sandy beaches and some otherworldly snorkeling adventures. If you’re heading to the island, keep your eyes open as this beautiful spot is the habitat of Muntjac Deers (Barking Deers), who are often spotted bathing in the sea.
When visiting the National Park, you will be required to pay an entrance fee, and most treks require a guide. The West Bali Coastal Loop is one of the best hikes and is moderately trafficked, so parts of it are fairly overgrown. It’s classed as ‘intermediate’ in terms of difficulty, so it should be an easy enough adventure for most people wearing suitable footwear. Still, at 17.7 kilometers in length, it could take around five hours to walk and is quite a commitment. The payoff? You will wander through all the aspects of this parks natural beauty, from tropical monsoon forests to coastal savannas and eventually through the mangroves. You’re more than likely to experience wide range of mesmerizing wildlife throughout the trek so do keep a camera handy.
Gili Putih Sumerkima
So you’ve explored Bali by land and sea, but you’re still looking for that desert island vibe, something extraordinary and secluded? Gili Putih is what you’re looking for. An island in constant flux, Gili Putih is just a tiny strip of sand surrounded by crystal clear waters located in the north of Bali. The ebbing of the tides constantly alter its shape, so each visit is likely to be unique. It’s still reasonably uncommon for tourist groups to visit there as most organized tours don’t currently head out that way.
Visiting the area will depend on the tides and the willingness of local fishermen to sail you out that way. The easiest way to get there is to head to Pemuteran, a sleepy little village around four hours from the popular area of Kuta, in the morning. There’s a harbor in the area of Sumber Kima. Once there, it’s a case of asking around the village to see who has a boat free to take you on the adventure. Expect to pay around 40,000 IDR for a boat ride out, but this price could increase as the area becomes more popular.
Although getting to Gili Putih sounds like a bit of a hassle, almost every step of the journey is an adventure within itself, and what you are greeted with when you arrive is genuinely, truly spectacular.
Sambangan Secret Garden
Sambangan Secret Garden is a real wonder and one of Bali’s few remaining, true, hidden gems. This beautiful jungle area surrounds the northern village of Sambangan. The general entrance fee sits at around 20,000 IDR but if you’re looking at going deeper into the region, expect to pay at least 125,000 IDR for a knowledgeable guide. Make sure you’re well equipped as you’re about to venture into some pretty dense jungle, and remember to bring a swimming suit. There are a variety of treks available, each with varying difficulties; the best is a tough one but will take you to one of Bali’s most incredible waterfalls, Aling Aling.
To get there, you’ll be crossing through rice fields and climbing around 350-400 meters, so suitable footwear and plenty of water are essential. Restrictions tend to vary on swimming, you may not be able to bathe under some waterfalls due to strong currents, but if you need a refreshing dip, there are plenty of swimming holes for you to dive in. Cliff diving is popular with the locals, so if you’re feeling brave, ask them where to jump, and they’ll show you some great spots.
Hot Tips To Ease Your Travel
Entry Requirements & COVID Measures
- All travelers entering Bali with a mobile device should register their IMEI number at least 24 hours before. If registered within 24 hours of arrival, you will not have to pay customs tax on devices valued at less than 500 USD. If you’re carrying anything above that, and it is proven, you may be liable to pay 40% tax at customs. If you haven’t registered, then you will have to pay the 40% tax regardless. The easiest way to register your device is to visit Indonesia’s Customs Website. You will need to input your phone details, IMEI number, flight arrival ticket information and passport detail.
- Current COVID regulations state that all travelers must be signed up for the PeduliLindungo application. This application tracks users by location, and you will be required to give access to location, storage and camera on your application settings. Foreigners are expected to be vaccinated. To verify your government-issued vaccination card, register on the Vaksinln website. Currently, this application is in use everywhere, and you need to use the QR code scanner to access almost anywhere throughout the island, from beaches to supermarkets, temples, to restaurants. Masks are expected to be worn at all times. To find out the most up to date information on restrictions, check out Borderless, which goes into all regulations relating to COVID in detail.
Safety & Scams
- Be aware of visa scams. Make sure when applying for visas you use agents who are officially registered with the government. Agents offering things like ‘nominee structures’ and ‘investment KITAS’ may be illegitimate; make sure you take an in-depth look into their business and clarify the requirements for these kinds of visas before agreeing to anything.
- Although Bali is generally a safe and peaceful place, avoid the open use of expensive devices on the street and don’t leave your phone or valuables unattended.
- Gojek and Grab are great applications that offer reliable taxi services and around the clock food delivery.
- Many tourists like to get around the island by scooter. It is against the law in Bali to drive without a license; however, most countries can provide an International Drivers License for as little as 15 USD, which the Balinese authorities should recognize. Be aware that not all insurers will cover you for riding motorized vehicles. For peace of mind, Safetywing offers tailor-made medical insurance to Nomads and covers travelers in Bali who are licensed and safely operating a scooter whilst wearing proper safety equipment.
Bali really does have everything on offer a traveller can possibly dream of, and you’re never far from an idyllic beach or a jungle paradise. So what’s left to do? Pack those bags, book a flight and head out on an adventure of a lifetime and whilst exploring, make sure you pay a visit to some of these unique locations that offer up the best of what the island has to offer.