5 Best Places to Visit in Bali

The undisputed favorite of Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands, Bali lives up to its reputation as the quintessential tropical paradise.

While some areas in Bali have suffered from over-commercialism in recent years, there are still places to visit in Bali that appear untouched by time.

Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali’s culture is dominated by a unique form of Hinduism evident in every aspect of Balinese life, from the temples that ornament every corner of the island to the daily offerings found in every home.

Whether exploring the distinctive culture of the Balinese people, scuba diving in coral reefs, climbing an ancient volcano, or sunbathing on a broad stretch of beach, Bali has a bit of paradise to offer every visitor.

1. Ubud

Ubud is surrounded by gently rolling rice paddies which create a beautiful impression of greenness. Perched among the terraced rice fields that climb up the foothills of Bali’s central mountains, Ubud is considered the island’s cultural heart.

Ubud is home to the island’s most important museums, including the Neka Art Museum, with its expansive collection of Balinese paintings.

There are dance and music performances every day throughout the city and numerous art galleries and craft shops to explore. Although Ubud has long been valued as a great place to learn about Balinese culture, tourism in Ubud boomed exponentially after it was featured in the book and movie “Eat, Pray, Love.”

Fortunately, it only takes a short walk or bicycle ride to escape the crowds and commercialism.

2. Tanah Lot

Situated on a large rock, Tanah Lot is one of the most famous Hindu temples in Bali. It has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of 7 sea temples, each within eyesight of the next, to form a chain along the south-western coast of Bali.

Tanah Lot is one of the most popular places to visit in Bali and the whole area can be very busy, especially in the late afternoons and before sunset. The area between the car park and the beach adjacent to the temple is a maze of souvenir shops selling just about every Balinese trinket imaginable.

Once visitors have fought their way through the souvenir vendors to the beach, they will see the magnificent temple perched on a rock just a few meters offshore.

3. Seminyak

Located on the southwestern coast of Bali, Seminyak is a small town that has been encompassed by the city of Kuta’s expansive growth.

Despite its proximity to Kuta, Seminyak is one of the island’s most exclusive vacation destinations. From its high-end boutiques and five-star restaurants to its luxury hotels and spas, the city attract attracts well-heeled travelers from around the world.

Although the surf is too treacherous for most swimmers, Seminyak Beach offers visitors panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and of the professional surfers who flock to this area to ride the big waves too.

4. Pura Besakih

Located on the slopes of Gunung Agung, Bali’s highest mountain, Pura Besakih is considered the most important of the “kayangan jagat,” the nine directional temples built to protect the island from evil.

The temple was named after the dragon god that believers say lives within the depths of the mountain. The temple complex includes more than 28 structures built on seven ascending terraces. Participating in an organized tour is the best way to view the site as the self-designated guides on site can be aggressively demanding.

5. Nusa Lembongan

Part of Bali Province, Nusa Lembongan is a small island located off the southeastern shores of Bali’s mainland. So small that visitors can tour the entire island on foot in three or four hours, Nusa Lembongan is a popular day-trip destination.

The island’s beaches attract the most visitors. Named after the mushroom-shaped coral offshore, Mushroom Beach near the village of Jungutbatu features powder-soft white sand and clear turquoise waters.

Many areas around Nusa Lembongan are also suitable for diving and snorkeling, with abundant marine life and healthy coral. Surfing can get a bit crowded, but the waves are sound.