Thinking of heading down to Bali for your summer vacation? We have you covered. Rather than the standard 10 things to do in Bali we are upping the anti and adding two extra activities to ensure you get up to as much as possible when travelling to this small asian island.
Lets jump straight into it.
Once the heat and humidity starts to hit you the first thing you want to do is head straight to the water. Luckily in Bali there are plenty of locations to go out and snorkel. We visited both popular destinations of Nusa Dua and Turtle Island, however it was the reef pontoon tour provided by Bali Hai Cruises that made the highlight of our trip to Bali.
The tour can be considered very expensive in terms of Balinese tour prices ($95USD per adult – whereas most tours are around $50USD) however, we found that it was well worth the day trip. The pontoon included an underwater observatory, plenty of beautiful reef to snorkel around, banana boat rides, water slides and more.
2. Seafood Dinner on the beach in Jimbaran
It certainly felt like a luxurious experience to have dinner on the beach. A first for us as we watched the sun set on a large beach filled with wooden tables, those torches from Survivor and plenty of fresh seafood.
There are lots of restaurants on the beach and it is as easy as taking a stroll past the many menus to see what you want to eat. To be honest we just picked the closest place that had a few patrons eating. If you are yet to have dinner on the beach, Jimbaran is a good place to start.
3. Market Shopping in Kuta
This can be a plus or minus in relation to how often you visit the markets in Bali. The celebrity nicknames they give you (ours were Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga) are cute and funny to start off with but by your 3rd or 4th visit the constant selling while pulling you into stores can get very frustrating.
However, the first two days are great – by the end of day one you are a genius at bartering down prices and by day two you start to wonder why you paid so much for that first fake Gucci bag when you got the second one for half the price the next day.
Market shopping in Kuta can be a double edged sword as you can pick up plenty of gifts and crap you probably won’t use again including those bootleg handycam DVDs of the latest cinema releases.
4. Adventure Tours in Bali
On our first trip to Bali in 2009 we wanted to ensure our 7 days were jam-packed full of adventure tours. We booked two separate day tours for around $50USD each that included a range of activities.
The first tour took us white river rafting with Bali Adventure Tours. Part of our package included lunch, a visit to the local art school, a pop into a wood shop as well as a visit to a local silver and gold shop. To top it off they threw in a a 2 hour massage and trust us it may seem like a long time – but once you’re done you can easily go again the next day.
Our second day of adventure tours included paragliding & jet skiing which we felt were safe and very fun. It was quite the experience watching 4 balinese men unpack the last tourist, pack you in and then tell you to start running… within the space of a few seconds you are high above Bali.
5. Temple Visiting
If you want to see the cultural side of Bali then you can’t go past visiting the many temples in Bali. With the main religion being Hindu the island boasts over 6000 temples. Most of them are quite small in comparison to others so here are the top three we recommend heading to:
Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple which is a Balinese sea temple located in Pecatu Village. The temple is on top of a cliff in southern Bali and we recommend heading there at sunset. You are sure to find a day tour that includes a stop over at this temple at the right time.
Pura Ulun Danu Temple is the most recognisable temple in Bali and is located on Beratan Lake of Bedugul.
Gunung Kawi is located closer to Ubud than Kuta and boasts magnificent royal tombs carved into the side of the stone cliffs. It did involve a lot of walking to see the tombs, but once you got there it was hard to not stop clicking your cameras shutter.
6. Drink Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak coffee is one of the worlds most expensive coffees. If you head to Bali you can visit the coffee farms, get a tour on how it’s made and even sample a cup of joe for around $5USD. Why is it so expensive? To put it into as little words as possible – it’s made from cat poop.
7. Drinking at Bars
Besides the standard cheap bars that are scattered throughout Kuta central, Bali has some unique and beautiful bars that warrant a visit if not just for the photographs. Your first stop should be the rock bar which is as you guess, located on a rock on the side of a cliff offering beautiful views of the ocean. Once you are done there you can head over to the ever popular Potato Head.
Though they do have unique structure and beautiful views, the prices of drinks are standard to what you would pay if visiting Australian bars.
8. Cycling Tour through Ubud
Your ride starts off by leaving a coffee plantation as you cycle through the local farms and rice fields. The ride is not strenuous and enjoyable as you see local farmers working away in the fields. The second half of the tour took us through the backstreets of Ubud and we saw Balinese homes and local markets that are out of eye of tourists driving through Ubud.
9. Visit Waterbom Park
Waterbom Park is quite a common place to visit when heading to Bali due to its central location and being a water park on a hot island. The one ride to try out is called the Climax, you are standing straight up in a closed off vertical tube in which the floor opens up and exposes you to 2.5 G-forces of speed. A fun day out if you have kids to entertain or just want to get wet after all the heat an humidity gets to you and beer just wont cut it.
10. Pancakes at Flap Jacks
A friend had recommended that after visiting the Waterbom Park in Kuta that you must head on over to Flap Jacks for pancakes. We probably spent more time on deciding what pancake to eat than the notion of scoffing down the tasty treats. We weren’t sure if they were space cakes or we were just high on sugar but we could not stop giggling after our visit. [Note – they didn’t put drugs in our pancakes – I think the combination of the water park + empty stomachs = a massive sugar rush].
11. Monkey Forrest in Uluwatu
One of the more popular destinations in Ubud due to its central location, temple sightseeing and hundreds of monkeys inhabiting the place. Feel free to purchase a bunch of bananas to feed the monkeys, but watch out as they can be quite aggressive when they realise you have food to give.
12. Climb Mount Batur, Ubud
This was one of the most physically rewarding challenges we had done do date. This was the main reason we headed back to Bali a second time, to climb the active volcano of Mount Batur. Certainly not for the faint hearted or unfit travellers as the three hour trek caused plenty of blood, sweat and tears, but the reward of watching the sunrise after the walk was beyond rewarding.
Bali is one of those dirt cheap holidays that make you wonder how you spent so little for so much. Even though we try to go to new locales rather than revisiting old ones, we couldn’t help going back for a second visit. We recommend heading to Kuta and Seminyak on your first time around and then heading to Ubud on your second visit.
Have you been to Bali? What were your favourite places?
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