The best places to visit in Bali

Where to experience the heart and soul of the island

With its sandy shores, crystal-clear sea, friendly culture and glorious weather, Bali is an island paradise in every sense of the word. Attracting everyone from solo travellers and yoga retreat seekers to adventurous families and honeymooning couples, the isle’s laid-back and nature-focused lifestyle is enchanting.

  1. Catch a sunrise at Mount Batur
  2. Meet the monkeys at Ubud Monkey Forest
  3. Experience Bali’s magical waterfalls
  4. Visit beautiful temples
  5. Take in the Tegallalang Rice Terraces

We’ve gathered just a few of the best places to visit during your Bali holidays, from sunrise hikes to waterfall plunge pools and serene temples. Besides the glorious beach life, stunning snorkelling and delicious fresh food, here are some must-see spots and photo ops for your time on the island.

1. Catch a sunrise at Mount Batur

The peak rising above the dawn fog is one of Bali’s most iconic vistas, a sight you definitely won’t want to miss. An active volcano, Mount Batur lies in the Kintamani District in Bali's central highlands, around an hour from Ubud. Whether you rise before dawn to see the spectacular, mist-shrouded silhouette at sunrise is up to you – the scenery is stunning at any time of day. Expect a two-to-three-hour hike (nothing too strenuous) along well-marked trails with plenty of other tourists making the mini pilgrimage.

After dawn has broken, on a clear day, you’re rewarded with spectacular views across the caldera, over Lake Batur and into the jungled interior of the island beyond. For a similarly magical sunrise or sunset a little closer to Ubud, you can start from the town and hike the 9-kilometre Campuhan Ridge Walk. The paved track takes you up into the hills, with the lush valley of the Sungai Wos River tumbling away to either side and a glimpse of epic Mount Agung in the distance. You won’t find yourself there alone, especially at golden hour, but it’s worth sharing the path for these Eden-esque views.

Best for: Truly epic views

Tour or solo: Why not book a breakfast picnic tour of Mount Batur?

2. Meet the monkeys at Ubud Monkey Forest

Those in search of Indiana Jones vibes during their holidays to Ubud will find the Ubud Monkey Forest one of the best places to visit in Bali. This sanctuary is not only a vital conservation project but also an important source of income for the community at Padangtegal, Ubud. It’s home to around 700 mischievous monkeys and 186 species of beautiful trees, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. As you venture through, you'll find yourself surrounded by a dense forest of giant banyan and nutmeg trees, whose immense trunks and trailing foliage create an otherworldly atmosphere.

The site also features several temples, with moss-covered statues punctuating the undergrowth, adding to the mystical feel of the forest. Most visitors are captivated by the sight of monkeys playing and interacting with each other – a dream for keen photographers looking for picturesque moments of monkey mothers and babies bathing in the sun-dappled pools. However, be advised: the monkeys are naturally inquisitive and unafraid, so visitors are reminded to secure their valuables and avoid bringing any food to ensure a peaceful coexistence with these playful inhabitants.

Best for: A unique and ethical wildlife experience

Tour or solo: It’s a park, so you can make your own way

3. Experience Bali’s magical waterfalls

A list of the best places to visit in Bali would be incomplete without at least one stunning waterfall. Luckily, there are dozens of magical spots to choose from. One of the most popular choices is a hiking tour ending at Sekumpul Waterfall. Here, a series of torrents tumble over a green cliff into a blissful pool below, where you can take a dip and cool off. The round trip takes around three to four hours, and along the way you’ll also see terraced rice paddies, local villages, and a dense jungle of rambutan and durian trees.

Not quite as frequented by tourists, Banyumala Twin Waterfall is a taste of wild, unspoilt Bali. Quite close to Sekumpul and about an hour and thirty minutes from Ubud, a short but slightly tricky walk leads you down through the jungle to where the twin falls plummet into a beautiful swimming hole. In the north of Bali, 15 minutes from Singaraja, a visit to Sambangan Secret Garden is as magical as it sounds. You can choose from short, medium and long treks to take in rich jungle, rice paddies, and several of Bali’s most impressive falls and idyllic pools.

Best for: Revitalising adventures

Tour or solo: Jeep tours are easiest and best for making friends

4. Visit beautiful temples

Any visit to this wonderful island would be wasted without seeing a temple or two, and one of the best places to visit in Bali is Pura Tanah Lot. This tiny Hindu “temple of the earth and sea” perches atop a rocky outcrop, just northwest of Kuta. Tourists can’t enter as it is reserved for worship, but many people journey here to watch the sunset silhouetting the islet, surrounded by crashing waves, or even to walk out to it and take a closer look at the exterior at low tide.

Wend your way along tiny pathways that hug the coastline, and dip in and out of famously good coffee joints. Just along one of these paths is Batu Bolong, another sea temple with an eroded causeway linking it to the shore. Other popular complexes in Bali include Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, which features “floating” temple towers rising from a glassy lake, and the Lempuyang Temple with its iconic “Gates of Heaven”. You might queue a while for your snap at the gates, but it’s a truly iconic picture – plus, the other six or so temples climbing up the stunning mountainside give you plenty to admire while you wait.

Best for: Understanding local culture

Tour or solo: Easy to find and visit solo

5. Take in the Tegallalang Rice Terraces

Emerald-green beds of rice, stacked atop one another, rising up the hillside… this is one of the most iconic images of Bali. Rice paddies are such a huge part of the culture here, so visiting one is a must for any traveller. The Tegallalang terraces are some of the best known in Bali, easily reachable via a 30-minute drive from Ubud. Here you can wander the roads, snapping photos and soaking in the local culture – especially in March, April, September and October, during the rice harvest. Alternatively, you can gaze across the UNESCO-protected terraced landscape from the famous Terrace Padi restaurant.

About 90 minutes from the city, the Jatiluwih rice terraces are just as verdant and impressive, but a little quieter and less well-explored. They’re the largest of their kind in Bali and, if you’re as enchanted by the landscape as many others, you could easily spend a day or two drinking in the scenery, sampling the numerous local cafes and restaurants, and hunkering down at a guesthouse in the hills. Other terraces worth seeing are the Sidemen rice terrace, with the imposing Mount Agung as its backdrop, and the Payangan rice fields, encircled by the winding Ayung River.

Best for: Enjoying dreamy scenery

Tour or solo: The most popular paddies are easy to visit solo

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