What are the best things to see and do in Bali?

Natalie Bailey

Here’s what our Forbes Travel Guide editors say are the best things to see and do in Bali:
 
1. Hit the beach. It’s why you’re in this island paradise. Seminyak is a great place to enjoy the beach. It has white sand and a charming town with lots of restaurants and shops, which brings us to our next thing...
 
2. Shop. The shopping in Bali is as diverse as the landscape of the island. Seminyak is great for boutiques that sell beautiful crafts. The Klung Kung Markets on Saturday, a 45-minute drive from Ubud, are also great for antiques and local handicrafts. You’ll be tempted by sterling silver jewelry, wood carvings and beautiful sarongs.
 
3. See some wildlife. Whether it’s through snorkeling and seeing the fish in their natural habitat or on a trek through the Safari and Marine Park to get a glimpse of some white tigers and leopards, Bali offers you the chance to get up close and personal with nature.
 
4. Hike. Bali is beautiful and you will only truly grasp the truth in this statement if you get out into the mountains and rice paddies of Ubud. The tiered irrigation system is incredibly tranquil and the people seem to be among the happiest on earth. Put on your sandals, hire a driver and go.
 
5. Eat. From every part of the pig to fresh fruits and vegetables, food in Bali does not disappoint. Be sure to check out Naughty Nuri’s for its legendary ribs and Ku De Ta for a gourmet breakfast with a view.

  • On May 31, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best beaches in Bali?

    A trip to Bali would not be complete without a visit to the beach. Kuta Beach is a popular destination for families and groups – it’s a busy beach with white sand for laying out in the sun and manageable waves for first-time surfers. There are a good number of locals selling everything from bracelets to ice cream, or offering their services for a quick massage of foot pumicing on the beach. This can be either convenient or irritating depending on the kind of day you are trying to have, so if you are not interested in what is being offered, the trick is to be friendly but firm!

    Canggu Beach is located not too far from the Seminyak area and boasts black sand and waves fit for intermediate and expert surfers. There is a restaurant that overlooks the sea and a handful of shops that are set a little further back from the beach, but not much more than that. Petitenget Beach in Seminyak is an amazing place to be at sunset. Take a stroll on the beach as the sun sinks into the horizon and watch the sky become filled with vibrant orange, red and purple hues.

    Heading south past the airport, you will find beaches such as Pandawa Beach in Ungasan and Padang-Padang Beach in Uluwatu. In these areas, the sand is white and the sea is a gorgeous turquoise color. Getting to Padang-Padang Beach requires descending down a hundred or so stairs between boulders – if you think this is challenging you will soon think differently when a surfer passes you barefoot in the narrow pathway with a surfboard in tow, eagerly heading to the sea to tackle the massive waves. If you don't mind paying to get to some fantastic beaches in the same area, try Finn's Beach Club at Semara Resort or Nammos Beach Club at Karma Kandara Resort – their stunning beaches are quiet and clean and great for a leisurely day outdoors with your family.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best clothing boutiques in Bali?

    The best clothing boutiques in Bali can be found in the Seminyak area along Raya Seminyak Road and Kayu Aya Road (also known as Laksmana or Oberoi). It is possible to walk along these two roads, but take note that the sidewalks are narrow and sometimes obstructed by debris and construction materials (Bali seems to be constantly building and renovating these days). Try not to get too distracted as you window-shop or else you might find yourself with your foot caught in a hole!

    On Raya Seminyak Road you can find everything from colorful men’s shorts to handbags to swimwear. A notable store to pop into is Somewhere, which offers youthful styles for both men and women. When you walk down this road towards Seminyak, you will notice that eventually the number of clothing stores thins out and interior/home furnishings stores are more prevalent. At this point it is advisable to hail a taxi and have the driver take you to Kayu Aya Road.

    On Kayu Aya Road you’ll find many clothing boutiques and much more variety. Aside from youthful shops like Somewhere and Bamboo Blonde, you’ll find boutiques like Uluwatu Lace, which offers stunning Balinese lace pieces that are appropriate for women both young and old. Another local designer to take note of is Ni Luh Djelantik, whose shoe store sits right before Kayu Aya Road. Paul Ropp offers colorful pieces that are perfect for tropical vacations and Shakuhachi offers edgy pieces for nights out where you are looking to turn heads. You will also find a number of children’s clothing boutiques along this road.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best beaches in Bali?

    A trip to Bali would not be complete without a visit to the beach. Kuta Beach is a popular destination for families and groups – it’s a busy beach with white sand for laying out in the sun and manageable waves for first-time surfers. There are a good number of locals selling everything from bracelets to ice cream, or offering their services for a quick massage of foot pumicing on the beach. This can be either convenient or irritating depending on the kind of day you are trying to have, so if you are not interested in what is being offered, the trick is to be friendly but firm!

    Canggu Beach is located not too far from the Seminyak area and boasts black sand and waves fit for intermediate and expert surfers. There is a restaurant that overlooks the sea and a handful of shops that are set a little further back from the beach, but not much more than that. Petitenget Beach in Seminyak is an amazing place to be at sunset. Take a stroll on the beach as the sun sinks into the horizon and watch the sky become filled with vibrant orange, red and purple hues.

    Heading south past the airport, you will find beaches such as Pandawa Beach in Ungasan and Padang-Padang Beach in Uluwatu. In these areas, the sand is white and the sea is a gorgeous turquoise color. Getting to Padang-Padang Beach requires descending down a hundred or so stairs between boulders – if you think this is challenging you will soon think differently when a surfer passes you barefoot in the narrow pathway with a surfboard in tow, eagerly heading to the sea to tackle the massive waves. If you don't mind paying to get to some fantastic beaches in the same area, try Finn's Beach Club at Semara Resort or Nammos Beach Club at Karma Kandara Resort – their stunning beaches are quiet and clean and great for a leaisurely day outdoors with your family.
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  • On May 31, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best water activities in Bali?

    The variety of water activities offered in Bali is extensive, with the most famous area being Tanjung Benoa. This area has been serving water sports enthusiasts for decades. Here, you can find everything from jet skiing to parasailing to banana boats (banana-shaped inflatable boats for up to five people that are pulled along by speedboats). For a bit of a slower pace, take a ride in a glass-bottom boat and watch the underwater scene transform as the boat moves from one area to the next.

    A rather recent addition is sea walking (also known as marine walking or underwater walking), where you put on headgear that is reminiscent of an astronaut’s helmet and walk along the bottom of the sea, getting up close and personal with the creatures that reside below. Aside from Tanjung Benoa, you can also find this activity in the Sanur area.

    Kayaking down the Ayung River in the Ubud area is also a fun option, and if you’re looking to dive, head to Tulamben, Amed or Padang Bai in northeast Bali. Menjangan Island, off the northwest coast of Bali, also has great diving with spectacular drop-offs and coral reefs. Snorkeling is also available in these areas.

    As for surfing, Bali is truly a surfer’s paradise. Bali’s breaks and barrels can be enjoyed by everyone from beginners to experts. Kuta Beach is the best place for beginners, while intermediate to expert surfers often head to Canggu Beach, Keramas Beach and Uluwatu. Padang-Padang Beach in Uluwatu has perhaps the most challenging surfing in Bali, with many international surf competitions held there.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best water activities in Bali?

    The variety of water activities offered in Bali is extensive, with the most famous area being Tanjung Benoa. This area has been serving water sports enthusiasts for decades. Here, you can find everything from jet skiing to parasailing to banana boats (banana-shaped inflatable boats for up to five people that are pulled along by speedboats). For a bit of a slower pace, take a ride in a glass-bottom boat and watch the underwater scene transform as the boat moves from one area to the next.

    A rather recent addition is sea walking (also known as marine walking or underwater walking), where you put on headgear that is reminiscent of an astronaut’s helmet and walk along the bottom of the sea, getting up close and personal with the creatures that reside below. Aside from Tanjung Benoa, you can also find this activity in the Sanur area.

    Kayaking down the Ayung River in the Ubud area is also a fun option, and if you’re looking to dive, head to Tulamben, Amed or Padang Bai in northeast Bali. Menjangan Island, off the northwest coast of Bali, also has great diving with spectacular drop-offs and coral reefs. Snorkeling is also available in these areas.

    As for surfing, Bali is truly a surfer’s paradise. Bali’s breaks and barrels can be enjoyed by everyone from beginners to experts. Kuta Beach is the best place for beginners, while intermediate to expert surfers often head to Canggu beach, Keramas beach and Uluwatu. Padang-Padang beach in Uluwatu has perhaps the most challenging surfing in Bali, with many international surf competitions held there.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best water activities in Bali?

    The variety of water activities offered in Bali is extensive, with the most famous area being Tanjung Benoa. This area has been serving water sports enthusiasts for decades. Here, you can find everything from jet skiing to parasailing to banana boats (banana-shaped inflatable boats for up to five people that are pulled along by speedboats). For a bit of a slower pace, take a ride in a glass-bottom boat and watch the underwater scene transform as the boat moves from one area to the next.

    A rather recent addition is sea walking (also known as marine walking or underwater walking), where you put on headgear that is reminiscent of an astronaut’s helmet and walk along the bottom of the sea, getting up close and personal with the creatures that reside below. Aside from Tanjung Benoa, you can also find this activity in the Sanur area.

    Kayaking down the Ayung River in the Ubud area is also a fun option, and if you’re looking to dive, head to Tulamben, Amed or Padang Bai in northeast Bali. Menjangan Island, off the northwest coast of Bali, also has great diving with spectacular drop-offs and coral reefs. Snorkeling is also available in these areas.

    As for surfing, Bali is truly a surfer’s paradise. Bali’s breaks and barrels can be enjoyed by everyone from beginners to experts. Kuta Beach is the best place for beginners, while intermediate to expert surfers often head to Canggu beach, Keramas beach and Uluwatu. Padang-Padang beach in Uluwatu has perhaps the most challenging surfing in Bali, with many international surf competitions held there.
  • On May 30, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best seafood restaurants in Bali?

    There is no other place to enjoy seafood in Bali like Jimbaran beach! The seafood is fresh and you can choose as much prawn, squid, fish or crab as you want – all you have to do is point, have it weighed and then wait as it is grilled or fried with your choice of spices. The seafood will come with a side of white rice and vegetables; this applies to pretty much any seafood stall you walk into along the beach. During the day Jimbaran is the perfect place to watch the waves break and see airplanes fly in and out of the Ngurah Rai Airport in the distance. As late afternoon rolls around the tables are pulled onto the beach from underneath the awnings, candles are lit and visitors start coming in hoards in search of seafood dinner and front row seats to the sunset. As you watch the sun sink into the horizon, enjoy the sounds of the four-piece acoustic band making their way up and down the beach. They are able to take requests – everything from The Gypsy Kings to One Direction – and after you’ve been serenaded you can pass some cash their way (the amount is up to you). Jimbaran beach at night is quite busy, but somehow it works not only for big groups and families but also for romantic couples. Sitting underneath the stars with a belly full of delicious seafood, while sipping on coconut water or a beer and nibbling on fresh fruit for dessert, it is hard not to be in good spirits.
  • On May 30, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What should I pack for a trip to Bali?

    Packing for Bali is not too different from packing for a trip to any other tropical country. Bring clothing that is light and made of breathable fabric, comfortable sandals and/or shoes for walking around, flip-flops for a day poolside or at the beach, a hat and sunglasses. Some restaurants in Bali enforce a dress code, so it is good to also bring “resort wear” – for women this means something along the lines of a cocktail dress and for men a button-down shirt and pair of nice slacks should suffice.

    You can pack a backpack if you are planning to go on an all-day trek or guided tour, but if you want to go places that are dense with people (markets or nightclubs), leave the backpack behind and bring a cross-body or some other type of bag that you can keep an eye on. Thievery isn’t as prevalent in Bali as it is in some other tourist destinations around the world, but you should stay on the safe side by not looking like you are “begging to get pickpocketed.”

    Sunscreen can either be packed beforehand or purchased once you get to Bali. Another thing to purchase at your earliest convenience is mosquito repellent. The mosquitos can be a bit of a nuisance, especially around sunset and in the early evenings. A good local brand to use is Autan (available in any drug store or supermarket).

    ATM machines can be found all over, so it is not necessary to bring tons of Indonesian Rupiah with you unless you are not a fan of foreign transaction fees (sidenote: beware of unofficial money changers! Use an ATM to get more cash and avoid being scammed). And last but not least, do not forget your camera. From offerings placed on the street to smiling children to jaw-dropping painted skies at sunset, you will have endless opportunities to capture beautiful moments with your camera during your time in Bali.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What language is spoken in Bali?

    Bali is just one island out of 17,000-some islands that make up the vast Indonesian archipelago. A plethora of languages and dialects are spoken in the country--not only do Indonesians speak Bahasa Indonesia (the national language, also commonly referred to by expats as simply “Bahasa”), but they also have a relatively good handle on at least one regional language and English, which is taught at schools starting in elementary school or earlier. Bali is no exception to this, with most Balinese speaking Bahasa Indonesia, Balinese, English, and sometimes Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Korean, and German. Their propensity for learning foreign languages is of course driven by the tourism, but it is also due to the Balinese inclination to make guests feel as welcome as possible. They are quite the hospitable folk, so if this means learning how to joke or converse a bit in your language, then attempt it they will!
  • On April 30, 2013
    Mutia Adisoma answered the question: Mutia Adisoma

    What are the best local dishes in Bali?

    Exploring Indonesia’s local cuisine can be very exciting and rewarding, but first be sure to give yourself enough time to adjust to being in this tropical environment before you dig into anything too exotic. This will help you avoid what is known as “Bali Belly,” an unofficial term for stomach pains resulting from adventurous eating. To ease into the local cuisine, start with Indonesian favorites like sate (meat skewers), gado-gado (Indonesian salad with peanut dressing), Indonesian fried rice or fried noodles, and soto ayam (fragrant chicken soup). Made’s Warung is a great place to try these--it has two locations (Seminyak and Kuta) and is a favorite amongst foreign and domestic tourists alike. Once you are ready you can tackle Balinese specialties such as the famous babi guling (suckling pig), betutu chicken, sate lilit (Balinese satay), and lawar (spicy vegetable and meat dish). Naughty Nuri's makes the most famous babi guling; their Ubud location is no frills but delicious. For upscale dining, Mama San in Seminyak is a wonderful option with a striking interior. Their menu is Asian fusion but highlights Balinese cuisine from time to time. Another option is Merah Putih, which recently opened in Seminyak and is the newest attempt at presenting Indonesian cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere. They have Balinese favorites like babi guling included in their menu.
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