Are you going to Bali for the first time? Follow our guide of sites and things to see so you don’t miss anything on the Island of the Gods.
- 1 Take a road trip
- 2 Discover Kuta
- 3 Indulge in diving
- 4 Eat local
- 5 Admire the rice fields of Ubud
- 6 Relax on its heavenly beaches
- 7 Go to Menjangan Island
- 8 See Munduk Waterfalls
- 9 Climb Mount Batur
- 10 Getting to Pura Besakih Temple
- 10.1 Balinese cuisine
- 10.2 Cooking class, something original to do in Bali
- 10.3 Lakes of Bali
- 10.4 Surfing, the sport you have to do in Bali
- 10.5 Tanah Lot, one of the most beautiful temples to see in Bali
- 10.6 Uluwatu Temple, another top site to see in Bali
- 10.7 Rice fields, quite a spectacle to see in Bali
- 10.8 Bali Markets
- 10.9 Batik course, something fun and interesting to do in Bali
- 10.10 Related
Take a road trip
For a first time in Bali, it is better to rent a scooter to get around and discover places that are more difficult to access. If you plan to take a road trip in Indonesia and visit its islands, do not miss the important regions of Bali, either Kuta, Ubud, Batur or Amed. The ideal route? Start with Kuta, go through Denpasar, then Ubud, Besakih, Batur, Pénulisan, Amed to finish in Padangbai.
Opinions are mixed regarding Kuta. It is the city par excellence of parties and excess, where you find tourists from all over the world, crowded streets, giant screens like in Times Square… If you want calm and rest, go your way. If, on the other hand, you want to party, bask on white sand beaches and go surfing, this is the perfect place for you.
Indulge in diving
It would be a shame to go to Bali for the first time and not go diving. There are plenty of places on the Island of the Gods that allow you to explore the seabed. The wearing of Pandangbai is a small port, where life is good and where it is possible to snorkel or dive. You can thus see the manta rays and the rest of the very preserved marine flora. The province of Amed is also famous for its diving and snorkelling spots, right on the beach, with the help of a fisherman.
Eating local is a must when going to Bali for the first time. A word of advice: don’t miss the Nasi Campur, a typical dish made with rice, meat, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and shrimp crisps. You can taste it in a small warung, a kind of groceries or family restaurants, which allows you to eat well without having to worry.
Admire the rice fields of Ubud
Between tropical forest and steep ravines, the province of Ubud is a Balinese jewel, a paradise of rice terraces on the hillside. The opportunity to see the locals grow rice and learn about agriculture and land irrigation. At 600 m above sea level, Tegalalang, the most famous spot in this little paradise, offers breathtaking views of the rice terraces and the jungle as far as the eye can see.
Relax on its heavenly beaches
Bali, turned entirely towards the ocean, has very beautiful beaches, each one more astonishing than the next. Kuta Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia and the meeting point for most surfers. With its immaculate white sand and turquoise water, it is also distinguished by its tubular waves. In addition, the beach is fenced by the airport runway, which lets you see the planes landing: a breathtaking experience.
Go to Menjangan Island
Menjangan, the “deer island”, is a small island located off the northwest of Bali. Uninhabited and protected, it is part of the Bali Barat National Park. In addition to being able to snorkel there, you can visit its temples and its deer, protected species, which live there and come to bask on the beach.
See Munduk Waterfalls
Looking for an off-the-beaten-track destination in Bali? Go for Munduk. In the heart of the mountains, this small typical village is perched in hills covered with jungles and rice fields. It is also distinguished by its three lakes bordered by volcanoes, but also by its impressive waterfalls. Unlike Kuta and Ubud, there are no souvenir shops or street vendors in Munduk. You will be in direct contact with the local population and in total immersion with the surrounding, luxuriant and rich nature.
Climb Mount Batur
Climbing Mount Batur is a must do when you go to Bali for the first time. According to Hindu beliefs, Mount Batur is a sacred mountain. Perched 1717 meters above sea level, this active volcano is located in the village of Batur in the Kintamani region. A trek of a few hours, very accessible, will allow you to reach the summit of the volcano. The journey, quite long and tedious, is well worth it. From up there, you can admire Mount Rinjani on the island of Lombok as well as the panoramic view of Lake Batur and the archaeological site of Gunung Kawi.
Getting to Pura Besakih Temple
Festivals, rites and ceremonies are an integral part of the life of a Balinese. The opportunities to see them and therefore to attend them are numerous and allow you to be closer to the locals. To attend one of the ceremonies, you have to go to the Pura Besakih temple, reputed to be the “mother temple” of Bali. But beware, the temple of Besakih is worth it because you have to climb several steps before reaching its 1000 meter high summit.
Immerse yourself in Balinese Hinduism (a religion unique in the world) at Pura Besakih , Bali’s mother temple and the most important on the entire island, located on the slopes of Mount Agung. Actually, more than a temple, it is a group of temples since it has 22, yes, the largest is the Pura Penataran Agung.
Remember to cover your knees and shoulders (or take a sarong/pareo with you to cover yourself). Contrary to what they may tell you, it is NOT mandatory to hire the services of a tour guide: you can visit the Pura Besakih for free.
> Address: Desa Besakih, Rendang, Besakih, Rendang, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80863, Indonesia
Enjoy Balinese cuisine , for us one of the best in the world: spicy but delicate. Do not stop trying:
- perkedel kentang (some potato croquettes that drove us crazy),
- satay with peanut sauce,
- satay lilit (some spicy fish skewers),
- gado-gado (vegetable salad, prawn crackers and peanut sauce),
- pisang goereng (fried plantain).
One of the best ways to get closer to traditional cuisine is to eat at warungs , cheap and delicious local restaurants! Do not be afraid of the quality of the food: if there are locals, it is because you eat luxury (and the food is fresh, of the day!). By the way, try one of the most loved drinks by Indonesians: bothol tea . It didn’t drive us particularly crazy but shhh, don’t tell anyone about that.
Cooking class, something original to do in Bali
If you want to learn how to cook your favorite Balinese dishes, do not hesitate to sign up for a cooking course (they cost from €20). I did it in Lovina with her friends from work (we met there to celebrate Adela’s 30th birthday) and we had a great time. What a birthday banquet hehe.
Lakes of Bali
Another of the best things to see and do in Bali is to enjoy a route through the most beautiful lakes on the island: Lake Bratan , Tamblingan , Buyan (on the road that goes to it you will find a lot of viewpoints and instagram spots -friendly) and the batur . We visited the 3 of them doing a little motorcycle tour (alternating visits to temples, viewpoints and warungs hehe).
Danau Beratan Temple
The one we liked the most was Lake Bratan since right there you can also visit another of Bali’s essential temples: the Danau Beratan or “head of the dragon”. It is known as the floating temple since it really seems to be floating on the calm waters of the lake. The 11-level roof is striking. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of water – Dewi Danu.
Surfing, the sport you have to do in Bali
Surf : whether you are a professional surfer or have never been on a board before. Bali is one of the world surf paradises, take advantage of it! The best area is from Kuta down, on the beaches of the west coast of the Bukit Peninsula .
⭐ Have you never surfed? Bali is an ideal destination to start. You can take individual classes or even multi-day courses ( this includes surf classes, yoga classes, and snorkeling excursions).
Tanah Lot, one of the most beautiful temples to see in Bali
If you want to enjoy an unforgettable sunset, go to the Tanah Lot temple (for us it is another of the best things to see and do in Bali) in an idyllic setting. It will be a magical moment, although you will be accompanied by a few more travelers -everything is said-.
Did you know that this is the temple of the land and the sea? Perched on a rock surrounded by the sea, the Tanah Lot was built in the 16th century and its guardians are said to be mysterious and legendary sea serpents.
Uluwatu Temple, another top site to see in Bali
You can’t miss one of the most beautiful temples in Bali (and the world): Uluwatu , which was built on top of a cliff above the sea. A few monkeys usually swarm here: don’t touch them and be careful with them hehe, they are very mischievous.
Rice fields, quite a spectacle to see in Bali
One of the most famous images of Bali is that of its rice fields , here the green acquires a unique and indescribable color! The best ones for us are those of Jatiluwih, although close to Ubud are those of Tegalalang (they are beautiful but have already become a bit of a tourist circus).
You can find other beautiful rice paddies in Bali at:
And we cannot fail to mention the Campuhan Ridge Walk , a little walk between rice fields, which is done from Ubud.
Lose yourself in the fruit and vegetable markets : always full of color and happy faces. A true treasure for photography lovers. Take the opportunity to talk to the locals, especially outside the tourist areas: you will be surprised to see the surreal and funny situations that are formed by interacting with the locals .
In Bali you will also find a lot of craft markets, where you can buy bowls, clothes, furniture, batik paints and/or fabrics.
The best markets in Bali
We leave you a brief list with some of the best markets in Bali:
- Pasar Badung Market
- ubud market
- Gianyar Street Market
- Sukawati Art Market
- Bedugul Market
Batik course, something fun and interesting to do in Bali
Many travelers take advantage of their stay in Bali to get closer to the culture of the island by taking themed courses and classes. One of the most popular is the Batik course : a decorative technique that consists of making drawings with liquid wax on fabrics. It’s really pretty and super typical of Bali.
If you don’t dare with the course, buy at least one sarong (pareo) made with this technique. It is probably the best souvenir to take home.