Despite being a part of the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is distinguished for its entirely unique identity, from the landscape of lush rice fields, dramatic volcanoes and the coastline it’s fringed with, to the rich cultural identity that can be seen so clearly through the island’s ancient temples, theatrical arts and fragrant cuisine. We take a look at the best things to do in Bali to experience what sets this island apart.
The traditions that are so deeply integrated into Balinese life can be seen in every corner of the island, from the flower offerings that are placed on the ground and at shrines, to the Hindu temples dotted across the island. Considered the cultural capital of Bali, Ubud abounds with opportunities to gain insight into the traditions, temples and arts here. One of the most striking arts is Balinese dance, which can be seen in the Devdan Show at the Bali Nusa Dua Theater. Among the island’s most impressive temples, meanwhile, is the temple complex Pura Besakih, which sits on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali and is considered the most important Hindu site in Bali. Tanah Lot also attracts particular attention; this offshore rock formation is home to the temple Pura Tanah Lot, which is a pilgrimage site and cultural icon, as well as one of the island’s most revered sunset spots.
With such captivating landscape of emerald green rice paddies and volcanoes, cliff-tops and stretches of wild coastline, Bali is worth exploring on foot, by bicycle and both on the water and beneath the surface. With this in mind, luxury hotels and resorts cater for their guests’ desire to set out on sunrise volcano treks, charter sailing boats and join scuba diving excursions, as well as venturing to the island’s best preserved villages and rice fields. Begin by paying a visit to Batur volcano in the Kintamani Highlands, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Jatiluwih rice terraces, and the traditional village of Penglipuran in the Bangli Regency. For aerial views of the landscape and coastline, join a helicopter tour over sights such as Mount Agung, Mount Batur and the Kintamani Highlands with Air Bali Helicopter Sky Tours.
One of the most memorable aspects of traveling here is often the world-renowned cuisine, which just like the culture and landscape of Bali is unique to the island. Here, a spectrum of spices are combined with the island’s fresh vegetables and herbs, meat such as pork, and seafood and fish that’s caught off of the coast, and served with the Balinese staple, rice. From the atmospheric street markets and local festivals, to lauded fine dining restaurants and luxurious hotels, this cuisine is served in a profusion of ways, with cooking classes provided for those who want to take home the knowledge to prepare Balinese fare in their own kitchens.
Find inspiration on where to eat in Bali by going over to our pick of the best restaurants in Bali.