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25 Must Do Experiences on Your Bali Trip

See Bali beyond its touristy facade and get to know its heart

Last updated: 24 Nov 2022 - 14 min read

If you're looking for the coolest things to do in Bali, here are the top ones. You won't find the Bali swing here, but you'll discover adventures with a lot of heart and get to know the real Bali. See the sunrise over Mt Batur on an alternative (more scenic) route, hop on a "jukung" (traditional boat), and even try Balinese martial arts!

Want more? Check out all our Bali experiences here!

Absolute Must Dos in Bali

1

See Mt Batur without the Crowds

Mt Batur is by far the most hiked route in Bali, as it's a short, beginner-friendly hike that offers up a stunning sunrise view (if it isn't cloudy!). There are many different ways to experience Mt Batur. You can do the usual summit hike, you can take a jeep up or you can even cycle around the volcano.

Our favourite Mt Batur experience is the alternative non-touristy Batur caldera trek. This route goes around Mt Batur caldera, instead of up to the summit - so instead of the usual 600 hikers, you'll only see 20-30 on this trek. While this trek doesn't take you all the way to the top, you'll enjoy a beautiful panoramic view in peace, plus you'll get to take a magical night-time boat ride in the Batur caldera lake 🤩

Great for solo travellers, couples and groups of friends.

2

Visit the Gorgeous Island of Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida with its dramatic landscapes, small winding roads and farming community is known for being like Bali 20 years ago. Though it has gotten increasingly touristed in recent years, the island still only receives 10% of the visitors that mainland Bali gets, and is still very much a worthwhile visit.

The most popular way to see the island is to do a day trip that usually covers all the IG-famous spots, followed by snorkelling to see Manta Rays. (You'll need to be a good swimmer as the currents here are strong!) If you have a little more time though, we would highly recommend staying overnight to really experience the magic of the island. When the daytrippers have left for the day, you can truly experience the idyllic beauty of the island, and soak in its wonderful community vibes where everyone is still very much a family.

Great for solo travellers, couples and groups of friends.

3

Visit a Local Market and Learn Cooking!

The Balinese love their food so much that there isn't one way to make any given traditional dish. Every village will have its own beloved way of making Babi Guling, Ayam Betutu or even the humble sambal chilli! One of our favourite ways to experience local Balinese culture is to do a cooking class because the locals are so passionate about their food and produce.

Here, you'll get to visit a vibrant local food market in Ubud, see how local produce is harvested at an organic farm, and then finally get to cook your own Balinese meal using farm-fresh produce. Elsewhere they celebrate this as farm-to-table cooking, but here in Bali that's just how traditional cooking has been done for generations - wholesome, organic and incredibly tasty.

Great for solo travellers, couples and families.

4

Visit an Eco-Coffee Farm (No Luwaks!)

Bali may not be as famous for its coffee as for its temples and waterfalls, but for those in the know, Bali's rich volcanic soil actually produces high quality beans which are sold the world over.

A uniquely Bali product is luwak coffee, which is coffee processed after the "luwak" (palm civet cat) has partially digested the raw beans. However many of the luwak coffee farms in Bali aren't sustainable as they keep the wild civet cats in tiny cages. So we would highly recommend instead to visit coffee farms which are run by sustainably and ethically minded farmers, like the one here.

Great for solo travellers, couples and families.

5

Try a Balinese Purification Ceremony

Even the most skeptical visitors find that the spirituality vibe in Bali is strong. One of our favourite local things to do in Bali is the traditional Melukat (purification) ceremony.

The Melukat is something that local Balinese people do as often as once a month, and also at every important occasion. The ceremony usually takes place around waterfalls as water is believed to be able to cleanse your energy. You can also do the ceremony at local temples where you'll be led through various stages of offerings, in order to cleanse your energy. We came away from this ceremony feeling deeply refreshed and connected to the Balinese way of life.

Great for solo travellers and couples.

Cool Things to Do in Ubud

6

Make Bamboo Furniture with Balinese Craftsmen

As you make your way around Bali you will notice how essential bamboo is to everyday life - everything from furniture to food may include this rapidly growing plant. At Bamboo Creative, you will be able to work with local craftsman that will teach you all about bamboo furniture making. Don't worry about the size - it comes apart so you can pack it up in your bag and reassemble it when you arrive home!

Great for solo travellers, couples and families.

7

Learn About a Balinese Super Food

The foods of Bali are not just unique and colorful but also rich in nutrients. One of the local gems, that now has a global reputation is turmeric. Take the time to learn about the nutritional value of this orange root and see how the locals like to make it into a potent superfood potion called Jamu. Afterwards, take some deep breaths and enjoy guided meditation.

Great for solo travellers, couples and families.

8

Experience Sustainable Farming

Farming is big part of Balinese life. Not all of it is done in the sustainable, environmentally friendly ways of the olden days. But there are several farming collectives around the island which are very consciously trying to introduce environmentally sustainable farming practices that will not only help local communities take better care of their land, but hopefully also spread these climate conscious methods around the world. While visiting the The Astungkara Way collective, you will be able to get your hands dirty, maybe even take a full on dip in the mud!

Great for solo travellers, couples and families.

9

Climb Mt. Agung, Bali's Highest Peak

This is one of the most challenging climbs in Bali, but also one of the most worthwhile. At 3031 meters, Mt. Agung is the tallest peak in Bali, as well as the most active volcano and most sacred to the local people. The Balinese believe that Mt. Agung is the exact replica of Mt. Meru, which in Hindu religion is the center of the universe. This volcanic mountain continues to make the most rumbles on the island, even as it has been recently re-opened for hiking. It's a great activity to do if you are staying in Ubud, since it is less than 2 hour drive.

Suitable if you do regular cardio, or are an intermediate hiker as this requires a 8-10 hours climb time.

10

Make Your Own Balinese Offering

Walking through the streets of Bali, it's impossible to miss the tiny basket of fresh flowers outside every house and shop. These tiny baskets full of flowers are gifts to Balinese gods, and integral to Balinese daily life. If you're curious about Balinese culture, learning about this sacred tradition is a perfect place to start.

These offerings are small, but result from a very long hand-made process: each day, women make the basket, assemble the flowers in a meaningful placement and carry out a symbolic ritual. Here you'll learn all about the significance of the offering to Balinese culture, how to make it, and you can even choose to wear the ornate traditional outfits worn by the locals.

Great for solo travellers, couples and families with children.

11

Learn the Art of Batik

Another famous Bali craft is the making of Batik. This elegant fabric painting by wax and dye can be extremely intricate and time consuming, but have no fear, the experts will guide you through it and you will have a beautiful fabric canvas to show off back home. Best of all you will get to work with and support young local artisans of Keliki Village, a place known for its tradition of art, even boasting its own unique painting style.

Great for solo travellers, couples and families with older children.

12

Learn Pencak Silat, Traditional Balinese Martial Art

Thinking of picking up some self defense moves? Why not try Pencak Silat?! This local martial art is not just a series of punches and kicks but more like an elegant sequence of movements which looks more like a dance. You will be able to learn from a professional athlete who has competed around the region. He'll not only introduce you to the moments, but also teach you about the origins of the art.

Great for solo travellers, couples and families with older children.

13

Make Traditional Silver Jewellery with a Master Craftsman

Learning from an experienced craftsman is one of the beautiful traditions the world over. Here in Bali you can take in the experience of the local silversmiths who use very traditional techniques and tools to make silver jewellery with a local taste. Added bonus is the cozy workshop surroundings. This workshop is a bit of hike from Ubud, but you won't regret visiting Sidemen. You can even make a side trip to the Gates of Heaven.

Great for solo travellers, couples and families with older children.

14

Cycle Around Ubud Rice Terraces

Looking for a way to see more, faster? Hop on an ebike and head out to see the lush green surroundings of Ubud. As you speed down the quieter side roads you will be able to see beautiful rice terraces, traditional villages and even meet a local family and visit their home. You will finish the journey with a delicious lunch.

Great for solo travellers, couples, families with older children or a group of friends.

Cool Activities near Canggu/Kuta

15

See the Sunset from a Balinese Jukung Boat

There are many sunset spots in Bali, but watching the sunset on an old-school Balinese jukung boat tops the list!

This isn't a chilled ride, and is definitely an adventure. You'll get to take a traditional Balinese fishing boat across the waves of Uluwatu, around Middle-Earth like cliffs, to see the sunset at one of the best spots in Bali. The waves can be rough so come prepared to get wet!

𝗧𝗼𝗽 𝗧𝗶𝗽: After your sunset cruise, stay a while to feast on the freshest seafood at Jimbaran beach. Here the catch is brought in by local fishermen daily! 😍

Great for a couple or a group of friends.

16

Visit a Local Winery

Didn't expect to find locally made wine in Bali? That's the best part of Bali, all the surprises that it holds. Wine making is still a young tradition here, but it has done surprisingly well in the tropical climate, with the wines even winning a few international awards. Spend an afternoon getting to know the winemakers, exploring the wine making facilities and enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting paired with cheese and other local delights.

Great for solo travellers, couples, and groups of friends.

17

Paraglide over Bali's Coastline

Love an adrenaline rush? Then take in the birds eye views of Bali while you paraglide. Your take off will be in Nusa Dua so you will get some great panoramas of bold surfer waves and beautiful beach villas. Depending on what time you go you can even catch some magical sky changing colors.

Great for solo travellers, couples, and groups of friends.

18

Discover More Cool Snorkelling Spots

If you love the water, take advantage of staying in South Bali and go snorkelling as much as you can! If you've already seen the mantas, head to some less frequented spots such as Buddha Point where you can see a Buddha statue as well as bell shaped stupas (like the ones in Borobudur) submerged in clear waters. Or head to Mangrove point where you can see pink corals!

Great for solo travellers, couples, families with older children or a group of friends.

19

Cheese Tasting in a Lovely Garden

Cheese may not be the first thing you think about when you think of Bali. But the Balinese do have a tradition of cheese making and are also taking in recent global influences and putting a local twist. If you have a spare afternoon, there's no better way to spend it than nestled in a lush green garden tasting local cheeses.

Great for solo travellers, couples, and groups of friends.

20

Mud Wrestle Like the Locals

This is a super cool way to understand local Balinese culture, and immerse in their traditional practices.

Here you'll to try Mepatingan, a uniquely Balinese martial art which takes place in the rice paddy mud. This martial art was created by a local who wanted to honour Balinese nature, culture and infuse it with existing martial arts tradition (Pencak Silat). Once you've had an exiting tumble in the mud with your friends and family, you can enjoy a mud sauna, a coffee scrub and a cup of java followed by a delicious local lunch!

Great for families, or a group of friends.

Awesome Adventures Near Canggu

21

Visit a Chocolate Factory

Ah, the sweet, melty goodness of chocolate! If you are even a half hearted fan of this delightful sweet, you should take the time to see where it comes from. Bali has quite a few cacao farms around the island, and in addition to selling the commodity bean overseas, it also makes it's own tasty treats. Visiting the Primo Chocolate Factory is a great way to support locally made goods, even if that's an excuse to satisfy your sweet tooth craving.

Great for solo travellers, couples, and families/groups.

22

Learn About Permaculture and Enjoy Local Lunch

If you wanted to learn more about sustainable farming techniques and how you can implement them in your own home garden, the Bali farming community is a great resource. Here you can learn how to compost and layer soil. Best of all is that you get treated to a tasty lunch made of veggies grown using these techniques.

Great for solo travellers, couples, and families/groups.

23

Rock Climb in a Secret Location

Perhaps you picked up a new hobby or two during the pandemic when you couldn't travel? Rock climbing has been on the rise! Why not take your skills from the indoor wall to the great outdoors! Accompanied by Bali's only climbing gym instructors, you will get to experience unspoiled nature as you make your way up a cliff, located in a secret location. This is a great activity to do while staying in Canggu since the trip starts from there, plus you will be in good company with other adventure seekers like yourself.

Great for solo travellers, couples, and groups of friends.

24

Buggy Ride Through Villages and Rice Paddies

You won't be able to see the wild beauty of Bali by staying on the beaten path. If you really want to get to know this island, and its many forests and villages you'll need to get on the dirt road in an off-road vehicle! Here you will be able to get much closer to nature, and see rice terraces, coffee and clove plantations and even some hidden waterfalls! Plus it's a super fun adventure 😉

Great for solo travellers, couples, and families/groups.

Bonus: Overnight Trip from Bali

25

Witness the Blue Flames of Ijen Volcano

While this isn't in Bali, we would highly recommend the otherworldly Ijen volcano trek if you have an extra day to spare! You can do this as an overnight trip from Bali, with return transport from your accommodation in Bali.

Ijen is one of the world's most unusual volcanoes, where otherworldly rivers of light flow at night. Home to one of the last active sulfur mines in the world, volcanic gases and molten sulfur combine here at night to burn electric blue flames. You'll leave Bali in the evening to arrive at Ijen at midnight to commence your hike. You'll slowly climb the volcano to see the incredible blue flames, and a gorgeous sunrise at the summit.

Suitable for novice hikers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bali known for?
When you mention Bali, people mainly think of its rice fields, volcanoes and surfing. Since Eat, Pray, Love, Bali has also become known as a wellness destination for yoga retreats, meditation and other spiritual experiences such as purification and shaman healing. Bali is a large island though so when you get to know the island better you'll find that different parts of Bali are known for different types of experiences. If you're looking for cafe culture and surfing, head to Canggu. If you're looking for ricefields, volcano hikes and wellness experiences, head to Ubud. If you're looking for glam beach bars, and advanced surfing, head to Uluwatu. Conferences are mainly held in the Nusa Dua area and Seminyak/Kuta used to be where people would go for clubs and parties. Our favourite area though is Sideman which is where you'll find the gorgeous serenity of rice fields, volcano views and waterfalls without the crowds of Ubud - it's basically like Ubud before Eat, Pray, Love! Sideman is also where you'll find epic places to stay such as glam treehouses with infinity pools.
How many days in Bali is enough?
Depends on what you're in Bali for, and how far you've travelled :) Generally a week in Bali is enough to have a mix of relaxation and must-do activities, but 10 days is perfect if you want to truly experience Bali beyond the tourist crowds, or if you want to base yourself in multiple locations (e.g. Canggu for half the time, and Ubud for the other half). Even two weeks in Bali may not be enough if you're looking to see Bali beyond its touristy experiences because Bali is so huge and there are so many incredible things to do. For e.g. if you only have a week, you can do the day trip in Nusa Penida for a day but you'll only get a very superficial impression of the island. However, if you spend 2-3 days in Nusa Penida you'll get to really see how special it is and immerse in the local community vibes. If you have longer in Bali, you can also venture further afield to really special places like Menjangan National Park where deer roam and incredible coral reefs abound, or do an overnight trip to see Mt Ijen, the otherworldly volcano with blue flames.
What do people do in Bali?
The touristy things that people do in Bali include: the Gates of Heaven Lempuyang Temple (popularised by IG), the Bali swing, Monkey Forest, Mt Batur sunrise hike, Tegalalang Rice Terraces and Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Temple. Usually people in Bali will also try a cooking class, and a yoga and surfing lesson as well.
What are the hidden gems in Bali?
If you love hiking, we would highly recommend doing the Batur caldera trek instead of the usual Batur summit trek, as it's far less touristed with a similar panoramic view plus you'll get to take a cool boat ride across the Batur caldera lake. If you're super fit and looking for a challenging hike, definitely try hiking Mt Agung which is far less crowded and a more challenging and interesting hike. Agung requires 8-10 hours of hiking vs Batur's 1-2 hours - so it's not for the faint hearted! If you have an extra day or two, you should definitely do an overnight trip to Mt Ijen, the volcano with otherworldly blue flames that you can hike on an overnight trip from Bali (guides can provide transport from Bali). To really understand Balinese culture we would highly recommend doing a purification ceremony (which the Balinese do once every month, and at every important occasion) which is believed to help with the cleansing of negative energy in the body with water in sacred parts of Bali. The other thing that's awesome to try is Balinese martial arts which really helps you understand the role of community and tradition in the local villages. If you're a foodie, you should definitely try a cooking class that includes a local market visit so that you can really get to see how the food is sourced and produced - which is a really big part of the local culture. Also, if you're based in the Canggu/Kuta area you should definitely go for cheese tasting, and visit the winery - it's fascinating to see how the Balinese have adapted modern food production methods and made them Balinese. Also do go on a Babi Guling hunt for the best Babi Guling - it's the most famous local Balinese street food and the best versions of Babi Guling are actually in a local's house - ask us if you'd like recommendations! If you're looking for an adventure, definitely try waterfall canyoning! It's super fun as it is basically an outdoor playground in nature, where you can get to slip, slide and play in the great outdoors. There's canyoning for every level from beginners to advanced. We would also highly recommend (tandem) paragliding as you'll get to see Bali from a totally different viewpoint and it's surprisingly zen! Also, if you love chasing sunsets you should definitely do the sunset cruise on a traditional Balinese jukung (fishing boat) - it takes you across the Uluwatu cliffs, across Middle-Earth-esque dramatic landscapes, and to the best spot in Bali for sunset viewing.

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