The Indonesian island of Bali is a profoundly spiritual and harmonious place filled with verdant forests, white sand beaches, and serene temples. It’s the ideal destination for a restorative adventure (and after visiting, you’ll see just why Indonesia made our list of Asian countries to have on your travel radar!). There’s so much more to do here than just relaxing on a beautiful beach—though you’ll still get a healthy dose of sand and sun when you join us on our Bali & Java: Culture & Landscapes of Indonesia tour. From visiting rice farms and monkey forests to attending yoga lessons and water purification ceremonies, you’ll never be at a loss for what to do in Bali, Indonesia. Read on for more Bali travel tips and our list of the best things to do in Bali.
1. Visit a rice farm and immerse yourself in the island’s harmonious culture
One of the first images that may come to mind when you think of Bali’s lush landscapes is the emerald-green terraces of the island’s rice farms. On our Bali & Java: Culture & Landscapes of Indonesia tour, you’ll stroll through a rice farm and learn about the production and cultural significance of Bali’s most sacred grain before sitting down to enjoy lunch surrounded by the scenic rice paddies. Want to know one of our best Bali travel tips? Bring home some lessons learned from the Balinese way of life. Balinese rice farmers are masters of work-life balance—mornings spent working quickly and efficiently in the rice fields allow them time to relax and recharge later in the day.
2. Leave an offering at a Hindu temple and receive a blessing
Tiny moments spent practicing grace and gratitude are built into Balinese daily life, and learning to embrace those moments is one of the best things to do in Bali. There are thousands of temples scattered across the island, and most homes contain a private shrine or temple where families leave daily offerings, known as canang sari. (You’ll also likely see the beautiful baskets placed in front of homes and businesses each morning.) When you join us on a tour of Bali, you’ll learn how to craft your own canang sari from leaves and flowers before carrying it to a village temple to place the offering. There you’ll meet the village priest, who will bless you in a ceremony meant to bestow spiritual harmony.
3. Explore Ubud Monkey Forest and snap a selfie with a monkey
At first glance, Ubud Monkey Forest appears to be the most peaceful, tranquil place on earth, with its moss-covered statues and quiet temples—and then you notice the monkeys, which add a healthy dose of excitement and humor to all that serenity. There’s a reason why a visit to the monkey forest is on our list of the best things to do in Bali. The area is home to hundreds of long-tailed macaques that have free reign of the space. You’ll see them climbing through trees, over stone dragon statues, and even onto the heads and shoulders of visitors. There are guides on hand to answer any questions about the forest and help you snap the perfect monkey selfie—the ultimate souvenir from your trip to Indonesia. Want to practice a Responsible Travel tip? Enjoy watching the monkeys, but don’t feed them, and be sure to give them their space (unless of course a curious macaque chooses to hop on your shoulder!).
Check out this tour
4. Nourish your mind, body, and soul
Of all the serene Asian destinations we visit on tour, Bali has a special way of healing and rejuvenating those who embrace it. While there are countless temples and natural wonders to explore, we think the best trips to Bali should also include some time for self-care. Start one of your mornings practicing some physical and emotional balance with a personalized yoga class, and take a traditional Balinese cooking class where you’ll learn to make colorful, nourishing food with flavorful local ingredients. Immersing yourself during a cooking class is one of our favorite ways to experience food and wine while on tour. Wondering what to do in Bali in your free time? Cap off your self-care day by getting a Balinese massage. It’s one of the most popular wellness activities to do in Bali among visitors and locals alike, and it’s surprisingly affordable—an hour-long massage costs less than 150,000 Indonesian Rupiah, the equivalent of about $10.
5. Take part in a water purification ceremony
Visiting Tirta Empul, a holy Balinese water temple, is one of the spiritual activities to do in Bali that’s equally popular among travelers and locals. The more than one-thousand-year-old temple was built on a natural spring that is thought to have been created and blessed by the gods. Visitors to the temple line up to be purified under the sacred waters, which gush from a series of stone waterspouts into a crystal-clear pool. The ceremony is meant to purify your body, mind, and soul while washing away negative energy.
6. Attend a Balinese dance performance
Join us on the Balinese Dance Show & Dinner excursion offered on our Bali & Java: Culture & Landscapes of Indonesia tour, and see one of Bali’s most expressive art forms. Balinese dance is deeply rooted in the island’s culture and features colorful costumes, bright makeup, and intricate hand and eye movements. Some Balinese dances are recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage, including the Kecak Dance, a fire dance that tells the story of Ramayana, and the Barong Dance, which depicts the King of the Spirits dressed as a lion.
7. Enjoy the famous Balinese sun, sand, and surf
No trip to Bali is complete without some time on one of the island’s legendary beaches. Round out your adventure with a bit of leisure in Nusa Dua, one of Bali’s most luxurious beach towns. It’s the ideal location to remind yourself that while Bali is so much more than beaches, there’s a reason why the island is famous for sun and sand. “Nusa Dua is a highlight simply for relaxation—if you’re going to Bali, you want that beachside experience,” said staffer Tom, who helped design our Bali & Java: Culture & Landscapes of Indonesia tour. Relax on the beach, watch the surfers, or head out on the water on our Nusa Lembongan Catamaran Cruise & Lunch excursion for an afternoon of snorkeling, kayaking, and sunbathing.