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Known as the “Island of the Gods,” it’s no surprise that many of the best places to visit in Bali are sacred sites. Some 20,000 Balinese Hindu puras (temples) dot the lush landscape of Indonesia’s most beloved island, with their incense-burning offerings and age-old traditions offering insight into the unique local culture.

But the best places to go in Bali aren’t just spiritual. Lush, dense rainforests hiding waterfalls frame the island’s emerald rice paddies and terraces. Sweeping golden sands await surfers and sunbathers. An entrancing medley of cultural customs adds an aura of magic to royal palaces and rural villages.

On top of this, you’ll find an enticing culinary scene, colorful art, and a warm welcome from the gentle Balinese people as you explore this enchanting island.

Pura Ulun Danu Temple

Pura Ulun Danu Temple, one of the best places to visit in Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Temple

Pura Ulun Danu Temple, perched on the edge of the picturesque and frequently mirror-like Danau Beratan Lake, is one of Bali’s most iconic sights.

It’s set in the highlands, where a microclimate of mist and low-hanging clouds adds to the allure of the complex’s four Hindu and Buddhist sacred buildings. Constructed in the 17th century, each one is dedicated to a different god or goddess.

On a breeze-free day, the pointed roofed towers, or pelinggih meru shimmer in the lake’s flawless reflection. Unlike over-photographed Pura Lempuyang’s “Gates of Heaven” further east, Pura Ulun Danu allows you to enjoy the spectacle in a more tranquil and authentic way.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, one of the best places to visit in Bali

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Some of the most beautiful places to visit in Bali are the tiered rice terraces and paddies that dot the island’s landscape.

As arresting as they are agriculturally important, these staggered cultivation areas were assembled over centuries to grow and reap rice across the rugged mountainous terrain.

Far from just being a mealtime staple, these rice terraces play an integral part in Balinese society, and you’ll often spot small shrines dedicated to Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice and fertility dotted amongst the reed-like rice plants.

Irrigated by a ninth-century system called subak, now listed by UNESCO, they are also a marvel in engineering.

Lush landscape of Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Close to Ubud, the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is one of the easiest to access. But head further west and you’ll encounter the more untouched Jatiluwih Rice Terraces.

Amble along the trails that weave through the impressive 1,500 acres of cultivated land, sip the juice from a fresh coconut, and then bathe in the nearby natural Belulang Hot Springs. This is Bali at its rejuvenating best.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple, one of the best places to visit in Bali

Uluwatu Temple

Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of Bali’s most prominent sea temples, crowns a sea cliff high above the foaming waves 230 feet below.

The complex was founded in the 11th century and further expanded by the Javanese sage Empu Kuturan. Nowadays, mischievous long-tail macaques prowl around. The soundtrack of swell from the ocean below and the fragrant flower-lined paths leading to cliff-edge lookouts all add to the temple’s allure.

As magical as the temple is in the day, Uluwatu is considered one of the best places to go in Bali for sunset. Not only will you witness the spectacle of a crimson-burning sun, but you can also catch the spectacular early evening performance by a nearly 100-strong cast of fire and Kecak dancers in the temple’s amphitheater.

The Beaches of the Bukit Peninsula

Beach in Bukit Peninsula

Bukit Peninsula

There is no shortage of sweeping beaches inviting sunbathing in Bali. Kuta is where you’ll find a party-like atmosphere and Seminyak serves up plenty of trendy beach bars. But those in the know would often say the best places to visit in Bali for sun and sand are around the Bukit Peninsula.

Nusa Dua has some of the most typical palm-backed, calm beaches in Bali, such as Sawangan and Samuh Beach, while Uluwatu’s wilder waters are ideal for those eager to surf.

Restaurant along Jimbaran Bay

Jimbaran Bay

For jet-skiing and water sports aplenty, venture to Benoa. And if you’re seeking fresh seafood, stroll along the comma-shaped curve of Jimbaran Bay, stopping at one of the many small shack-like restaurants to dine feet in the sand.

Read: Best Beaches in Southeast Asia

Ubud Palace

Exterior of Ubud Palace in Bali, Indonesia

Ubud Palace

Over the years, Ubud has established itself as one of the best places to visit in Bali for spiritual and creative enlightenment. From traditional temples to more contemporary yoga barns and vegan restaurants, this highland town encircled by vegetation has long been a favorite retreat for rejuvenation.

Central to it all is the Ubud Palace, which is still the home of the local Balinese royal family, although they no longer retain official powers. Thankfully, the complex is open to visitors, although much of what you can see today was reconstructed following the 1917 earthquake.

On occasion, traditional Kecak Dancers can be observed practicing or performing in the palace’s main pavilion. The attached Puri Saren Agung temple is considered to be even more ornate than the palace itself.

Mas Village

Mas Village, one of the best places to visit in Bali

Mas Village

To the south of Ubud, visiting the Mas Village is one of the best things to do in Bali. The village has long been considered Bali’s foremost producer of high-quality wood carvings.

Many expert artists, celebrated for their intricate work on flower motifs, labored on the design and construction of Ubud Royal Palace. Several are local to the village, which has helped earn its royal approval.

Wood carving in Mas Village

Mas Village

Souvenir shops are plentiful, selling everything from small wooden animal trinkets to complete furniture sets. But to truly comprehend the workmanship that goes into these culture-defining pieces, visit one of the village’s exhibition spaces.

At Setia Darma House of Mask and Puppets, you’ll be bowled over by the thousands of masks and puppets displayed across a handful of traditional joglo, equally elaborate wooden Javanese houses. Rudana Fine Art Gallery also presents wooden marvels alongside a collection of Balinese paintings.

Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple, one of the best places to visit in Bali

Tanah Lot Temple

Often considered the poster child of the Island of the Gods, Tanah Lot, an undersized temple crafted around a small offshore rocky islet, is one of Bali’s most notable sights.

Dedicated to the sea god Bhatara Segara, the location has been considered a spiritual setting since at least the 16th century. As the legend goes, the powerful priest Dang Hyang Nirartha used his supernatural powers to shift the rock island further into the sea and conjured a snake to defend the temple.

Regardless of the temple’s origins, it’s long been deemed one of the best places to go in Bali for spiritual reflection. Time your visit with low tide to be able to access the temple by foot.

Penglipuran Village

Street view of Penglipuran Village

Penglipuran Village

Classified as one of the “best tourism villages in the world” by the UNWTO, Penglipuran is a well-preserved example of traditional Balinese architecture and community.

This is one of the best places to visit in Bali for a glimpse into the past, despite the fact that beyond the facades of the homes, modernity prevails. But the village’s age-old customs are on full display.

Traditional house in Penglipuran Village

Penglipuran Village

Strolling down the immaculate narrow main street, flanked on either side by traditional homes and penjors, decorative bamboo poles, feels like stepping back in time. Let all your senses be taken over by the scent of incense, which lingers from the many Canang Sari. These small palm leaf offerings laden with rice and flowers dot temples and sacred statues.

To learn more about Balinese symbols, culture and traditions in the most magical of settings, consider joining a locally guided tour led by one of the villagers.

Pura Tirta Empul and Pura Mengening

Sacred water in Pura Tirta Empul

Pura Tirta Empul

On this beautiful Asian island with some 20,000 temples, whittling down which to visit is no easy task. Yet some of the island’s puras stand out for their purpose, and those with holy springs shouldn’t be missed.

Perhaps the most famous of these Balinese Hindu water temples is Pura Tirta Empul. Locals and tourists mingle at the complex, which was founded more than 1,000 years ago, to submerge themselves in the sacred petirtaan (bathing place).

Here, a melukat (purification ritual) from one of the three holy springs is performed. Witnessing the cleansing ceremonies to wash away all evil spirits and purify the soul is incredibly moving, and visitors are also offered the chance to partake.

Lush landscape of Pura Mengening

Pura Mengening

Still, with Pura Tirta Empul being frequented heavily by locals, it can be a slightly overwhelming first-time experience being led into the busy bathing place wrapped in a sarong. As an alternative, you may want to visit the nearby and less crowded Pura Mengening for your cleansing ceremony.

West Bali National Park

West Bali National Park, one of the best places to visit in Bali

West Bali National Park

Devoid of development and a world away from the resorts of the south coast, West Bali National Park, a peninsula that practically touches the neighboring island of Java, remains blissfully unspoiled.

If you’re lucky, you might spot the Bali starling, an eye-catching white songbird. However, the variety of habitats, including acacia scrubs, mangrove forests, and even parched savannas, ensure an abundance of other birds and wildlife can be sighted year-round.

West National Park, one of the best places to visit in Bali

Menjangan Island

The ocean’s waters around the park are also some of the best places to visit in Bali for snorkeling.

Menjangan Island, a short boat hop from the mainland, is fringed by soft coral reefs. Angelfish, clownfish, and parrotfish all flit around the corals, while turtles and larger species are usually glimpsed near the reef’s tail end.

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Lush landscape of Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Ubud’s attractions are plentiful, but none is more famous than the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

Part wildlife conservation reserve, part spiritual retreat, the woodland is home to more than 1,000 gray long-tailed macaques, making it one of the best places to go in Bali to spot the island’s primates up close.

Macaques spotted in Bali


But don’t get too near. These cheeky creatures make it clear they are the forest’s protagonists, often stealing any chance of appreciating the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple.

They will also gleefully pilfer mobile phones and sunglasses from visitors, so keeping your belongings well secured is a must.

Away from the main troop of macaques, there are still some moments of serenity to be encountered. Winding paths lead to fern-clad bridges adorned with moss-coated statues of fierce mythical creatures, all under the shadow of overhanging Banyan tree roots.

Munduk’s Rice Terraces & Waterfalls

Lush landscape of Munduk Rice Terraces

Munduk Rice Terraces

Overlooked by many visitors, the small mountain village of Munduk remains one of the best places to visit in Bali for a more tranquil taste of Bali’s life and traditions.

At Pura Dalem Tamblingan temple, alongside cloud-shrouded Lake Tamblingan, you can often witness local Hindu traditions untouched by tourism.

But the main reason to venture to the highlands is the wild landscapes and contrasting, well-manicured rice terraces. Here, you’re far more likely to encounter a local farmer working their fields than a procession of visitors streaming through.

Majestic Golden Valley Waterfall

Golden Valley Waterfall

Beyond, a cluster of cascades tumbles into rock-carved pools, ideal for a refreshing dip. Two of the most impressive are the Golden Valley Waterfall and Air Terjun, easily reached on a short trekking trail through the overgrowth.

Munduk is also a terrific place to sample Balinese dishes in a traditional family-run warung restaurant. A plate of nasi goreng, a dish of fried rice, egg, meat, and vegetables from Made’s Munduk, with its leafy views from the terrace, is the perfect reward following a waterfall-chasing walk.

Lovina Bay

Quiet beach in Lovina Bay

Lovina Bay

In the north of Bali, Lovina Bay is a laid-back land of black sand beaches, often overlooked temples, and excellent coral reef snorkeling.

Yet the village’s main attractions lie offshore: pods of dolphins which thrive along this stretch of coast. Traditional jukung boats, small wooden outriggers, often painted in bright colors, offer short trips to try and spy playful dolphins in the wild.

Spinner dolphins are the most common sighting, with bottle-nosed and spotted species occasionally making an appearance.

Klungkung Kerta Gosa

Beautiful landscape of Klungkung Kerta Gosa

Klungkung Kerta Gosa

Situated in the heart of Semarapura town, the Klungkung Kerta Gosa complex is the former court of justice of one of Bali’s most important kingdoms. Renowned for being a historical seat of importance and for its intricate, myth-narrating painted ceilings, the site has earned the status of a National Monument.

To understand the importance of the Klungkung Kingdom, start your visit in the Royal Palace and Semarajaya Museums, where artifacts and brief introductions to former kings are given in the 18th-century halls.

Pretty landscape of Klungkung Kerta Gosa

Klungkung Kerta Gosa

Outside, the open-sided bale kambang (floating pavilion) is moated by a soothing lotus pond and weathered statues of characters from the Sutasoma stories, an epic that recalls how the king was kidnapped by a demon.

Don’t forget to look up; the ceilings, adorned with wayang-style paintings—two-dimensional puppet art—are the complex’s most impressive feature.

Read: Best Time to Visit Bali

Mount Batur

Majestic peaks of Mount Batur

Mount Batur

Mount Batur, an active stratovolcano situated in the UNESCO Geopark of the same name, is perhaps the best place to visit in Bali to understand the island’s volcanic nature.

A popular hiking trail clambers to the crater’s edge, with the option to continue to the highest point at 5,633 feet. From either vantage point, far-reaching panoramas of deep lakes, smoking fumaroles, protected forests, and lush-coated valleys spill outwards towards the Indian Ocean.

While it’s not for the faint-hearted, the moderate trek can be completed in less than four hours, round-trip, making it ideal for an afternoon outing.

Couple praying at a temple in Bali

Temple in Bali

Ready to relax among Bali’s beaches, temples and traditions? Peruse Celebrity’s cruises to Bali to start planning your next unforgettable Asian escape.

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