Hidden waterfalls, lush green rice terraces and sacred temples – it’s no secret that Bali is a major hotspot in Southeast Asia. While the island boasts endless options for visitors, Andres of The Bolivian Traveler has compiled his list of top choices for the Indonesian destination after weeks of backpacking throughout the island. Read on for options on and off the beaten path – the best that Bali has to offer!
THE BEST OF: CULTURE
Gunung Kawi Temple – This is my favorite temple in the area. Detailed carvings right on the mountain are stunning and lush nature surrounds you. As a hidden bonus, when you make it all the way to the “end” of the temple grounds (when you turn left after the bridge) follow the little path on the left until you see a sign that says “Stop” – but keep going. You’ll have a short but beautiful walk in the rice fields, forest and will eventually reach a secluded waterfall where you can go for a swim!
Tirta Empul Temple – This temple is a Holy Water temple and a great cultural experience. If you have time, partake in the purification process. You’ll need to rent a sarong and follow what the locals do for the process, but you can always ask someone and they’ll walk you through the process (for a tip!).
Tegallalang Rice Terraces – Probably one of the most famous sights associated with Bali and I believe its an absolute MUST! Go early in the morning or a couple hours before sunset – there’s less tourists around, its not as hot and the light is way better for photos! One tip: there will be locals around the terraces asking for “obligatory donations” that are the entrance fee. There is no entrance fee, so tell them someone already charged you at the top and they will let you continue.
Handara Golf Resort – I know, a golf resort? Leave the golf clubs at home since all you really need to do is to find the entrance. Located in Bedugul, it has the most beautiful Balinese gate (Gapura) on the island. I went in the morning at sunrise and I cannot put into words how amazing it was!
Drive around Canggu and get lost. There are so many beautiful rice terraces to go. You’ll be surrounded by locals, there are almost zero tourists and you’re free to walk around (as long as you don’t do anything silly!).
THE BEST OF: BEACHES
Amed Beach and Tulamben Beach– Amed Beach is my favorite beach in all of Bali. Its got black volcanic sand and one of the most beautiful views with Gunung Agung in the background. Its a super chill spot with cheap and beachside homestays. This area is the best spot to stay in for diving…there’s several diving centers to choose from. Tulamben, a small fishing village, is a 15 minute drive from the Amed area. Be sure to check out the SS. U.S Liberty shipwreck from WWII – it’s only 20 meters from the beach and it starts at 3meters and goes all the way down to 30 meters (great for snorekling or diving!).
Balangan Beach – This beach is for the photo lovers! It’s really beautiful with a long strip of sand and perfect for relaxing. There’s a nice cliff where you can go to see great aerial beach views (makes for some awesome pictures!).
Batu Bolong Beach (Old Man’s Beach) in Canggu – If you want to experience the ultimate surfer lifestyle, go to Batu Bolong. It’s more commonly known as Old Man’s beach because of the popular beach bar located there. There’s nothing better than an afternoon of surfing and then watching the sunset on the beach, beer in hand.
THE BEST OF: WATERFALLS
Air Terjun Aling-Aling – One of my favorite waterfalls (called Air Terjun in Bahasa Indonesiain) in all of Bali! There are actually 5-6 waterfalls in a row and they are all epic! You can go into the area for free, but you cannot jump in the waterfalls unless you are with a guide. My advice: pay for the guide – it’s totally worth it! The jumps start small at around 5 meters and increase all the way to over 12 meters – there’s a jump for every level of adventure junkie out there!
Banyumala Waterfall – This one is tricky to find, but its awesome! I had trouble finding it but the road that leads to the waterfalls is nearby the lookout for the twin lakes.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall – Bali has so many amazing waterfalls but this one is very unique. Tukad Cepung is only an hour drive from Ubud and the walk to reach the waterfall is so nice! You have to pass through a small canyon to get to the end where the waterfall is! It’s truly an amazing photo spot where you can play with the light and be away from the crowds of tourists.