22 Things to do in Bali that will keep you coming back year after year

For so many Australian and travellers from all over the world, the yearly pilgrimage to Bali is absolutely normal. They keep coming back each year not just because of the fabulous Bali villas also because the island has so many wonderful and exciting things to do. In fact, once Bali gets under your skin it can be quite addictive. I have heard stories of people having been to Bali well over 50 times.

If you are like most Aussies you probably love Bali for many reasons and this is why they plan at least 2 trips a year. I’m afraid no other destination for me offers the kind of experience that Bali does. So the team at Bali Villa Escapes thought we would list a few reasons why Bali is such an wonderful place and why we seem to find ourselves booking that next Jetstar, Virgin or Garuda flight as soon the holiday finishes.

Things to do in Bali

# 1 Go for a surf

Bali has world class surf spots and breaks. The whole island is dotted with the most incredible beaches and waves.  Our picks are Uluwatu, Airport Lefts, Bingin, Kuta Reef, Canggu ( river mouth & restaurants) and Padang Padang. Granted, a lot of these breaks are for the more experienced surfers due to the size of the swell and reef bottom, but there are more beginner and intermediate spots to be found at Canggu and Kuta / Legian Beach. For beginners try Old Man’s at Canggu this is where most people go as the wave is really easy and you can hire a long board which makes paddling really easy.

go for a surf in bali

surfing in bali

#2 Eat at a local Warung

I recommend at a local Indonesian restaurant, or warung where all the locals eat. The food is cheap and best of all it’s absolutely awesome.  I know you have probably heard stories about the Bali belly but in most cases these local warungs have a really high turn over of food so its cooked fresh right in front of you. Look for the busier places, grab a seat and watch the craziness pass you by. Make sure you try Masakan Padang, a real favourite in Bali – you won’t regret it. There is a really cool local restaurant in Legian called Warung Murah. It’s really cheap and you can get a great meal for less than $5. Ask any taxi driver about this place. It’s well worth it. There are tons of other warungs all over Bali and it’s worth it just for the experience and taste. Also try warring Bumi in Canggu for real value. Queues can get long here so be prepared to wait for that amazing fish sate that they are so famous for.

local warnings in bali

#3 Get a Balinese massage

Imagine indulging your body for 60 minutes with a traditional Balinese massage all for under $10 Aussie dollars. Yes, you can believe it because this is how much they cost and I know people who get a massage in the morning and evening. There are hundreds if not thousands of small locally run day spas dotted all over the island that will give you the best massage you have ever had in your life. For those wanting a more upmarket experience and want that 5 star pampering there are also heaps of other day spas. My advice is to go local first and see just how good they are. Most of the Balinese masseuses are trained in the big hotels and then go at it on their own. So you are really getting great value.

Bali massage

#4 Shop In Seminyak

Seminyak is the heart and soul of the tourist area in Bali and this is where we have most of our best Seminyak Villas to rent

If you happen to be staying near Jalan Kayu Aya or Eat Street where the highest concentration of villas are located then you are in easy walking distance of all the well known shops and brands.

Start at the beginning of Jalan Legian and work your way down towards Seminyak. You will need a full day, lots of money and and some good bargaining skills. Having said that, most of the western boutiques and shops have a fixed price and will not haggle. But, the local Balinese love to bargain a bit. Don’t go too hard with them as they still need to make a living. The area of Seminyak has become somewhat of a tourist mecca and you can find almost anything here and the shops keep and getting bigger and more of them. If you find you need to take a break or get out of the midday sun there are so many great restaurants and cafes to chill out in. Some places worth paying a visit to are: Deus Seminyak, Drifter, The new Channel Islands Surf Shop and Single Fin. Yes I have gone on a more surf slant here but hey we are in Bali….for the girls there are too many shops to mention. Just get there and see for yourself.

SHOPPING Seminyak, Bali

# 5 Sunset Drinks in Seminyak, Legian, Kuta, Canggu or Uluwatu

All you need to do is head to the beach towards 5 pm, pull up a chair, milk crate ( yes they have these), sun lounge or even a bean bag , grab yourself a cold Bintang from one of the millions of local vendors and watch the sun go down. Between 5 and 6 pm it seems like the whole of Bali has turned out to watch this spectacular setting. Well worth it and while you are there get a few selfies and pop them straight on Instagram. My advice is to get there early before the massive crowds turn up so you can get the best position on the beach. If you are staying in Seminyak and want to go to Uluwatu for probably the best sunset of your life, leave at about 3 pm as you will need 2 hours to get there and settle in.


# 6 Try some Yoga

For some Bali is all about relaxing, so why not try a spot of yoga at one of the many yoga retreats or schools found all over the island. There is even a Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga in Seminyak ( Jiwa Yoga) for those that want to push their bodies. After the class go for a dip in the ocean….nothing could be more perfect. For those that prefer a more chillaxing yoga experience head over to Canggu and definitely try The Practice or Pranayava Yoga in Berawa.

yoga in bali

# 7 Visit Ubud for the day

If you are staying in Ubud, go to point 8. For those wanting to experience the insanely beautiful scenery of Bali make sure you hire a driver and get him to take you to Ubud. It’s a 2 hour drive and along the way you will see glorious views of rice fields and terraces. It’s an experience not to be missed as you really should get out of the tourist parts of Seminyak and Kuta and see a bit of the island.

Ubud is also the cultural and artistic hub of Bali so make sure you leave enough time to visit some of the art galleries. Spend some time exploring all the little alley ways (or commonly known as gangs), take a walk through the rice fields and local nearby villages or visit the money forest. There is so much to do in Ubud that I actually recommend staying a night or two here. Take your time here, chill out, escape the madness of Bali and mix it up with the locals. You will not regret this part of your holiday if you do. If you need accommodation we can help you out with our range of great villas in Ubud. Treat yourself and try staying in a villa in Ubud rather than a hotel. Do it once and you will see the difference.

rice field walk, ubud

rice field views ubud

# 8 Visit a traditional Balinese market

It’s a real third world experience. Some people will love it, some will hate it but give it a try. These local markets are everywhere and this is where the locals go to shop for fruit, veggies and grab a quick meal. It’s best to get there early as this is where all the action happens. I love the market in Ubud. The sights and smells are really a jolt to the senses.

shop at local markets in bali

# 9 Ditch the hotel and stay in a Bali Villa

I am going to be biased here because this is essentially a villa booking website but for those of you that have never stayed in a villa give it a try – that’s all I’m saying.  I can almost guarantee you that you will never ever look at staying in a hotel again. Villas, especially the ones in Bali are absolutely gorgeous and I can’t think of anywhere else I would stay again. Imagine having your very own chef, concierge, private pool, kitchen etc etc…..IT”S A MUST! Plus it’s very good value for a family on holiday – get in touch with the reservation team at Bali Villa Escapes today and book your own Villa – we are open 7 days.

5 bedroom- bali villas to rent

# 10 Have a seafood dinner at Jimbaran Bay

Take a trip into Jimbaran at sunset for a few drinks on the beach then get stuck into a plate of seafood at the many restaurants along the beach. Tables are set up in the sand and you get to eat the best local fresh seafood caught that day. It’s a real tourist hot spot so be there early, secure a table and enjoy.

Jimbaran bay seafood

what to do in bali, jimabar bay seafood

#11 Hire a Scooter

This is not for the faint hearted or inexperienced but renting a scooter is a really convenient way of getting around Bali. You can weave in and out of the traffic to avoid the nasty jams in the southern part of the isalnd, plus you can go anywhere without always having to hire a taxi. It’s cheap, fun and above all so handy. If you are a surfer make sure you get a scooter with racks on the side. As a guide the general price for a bike would be around $10 per day.


# 12 Explore the Bukit Peninsula

This is about an hour south of the airport but you will feel like yo are a world away. The Bukit area is famous for Uluwatu, Bingin and Pandawa beach and has some of the most spectacular scenery in Bali. Whilst there are no rice fields here, this is more for the dramatic cliff top views. If you are a surfer, you should already know about this place so no need for further explanation. It’s really a day trip and mu advice is to spend the afternoon at Uluwatu and enjoy walking down to the cave entrance and if the conditions are not too rough head in for a cool dip in the ocean.If you fancy staying in the Bukit so you can really explore the area I do suggest staying in a clifftop villa in Uluwatu for a real holiday experience.

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# 13 Chat with the friendly locals

I know this doesn’t seem like this is an activity but try to at least meet a very local Balinese people. They are super friendly, charming and very hospitable. You will be amazed how willing they are to communicate with you and if you know even a few basic Indonesian words they will love you.

bali villa escapes team

# 14 Go to a club and have a few drinks

Bali is renown for it’s hedonistic nightlife. But that’s not to say that you can still go to 1 or 2 of the best known bars such as Potato Head or Ku De Ta and have a few cocktails. These bars are on the beach so why not pop in to watch the sunset, grab a meal and enjoy what the Indonesians do on a grand scale. You will see what I mean when you go there. Everything is big. Lot’s of bars, big spaces, grand architecture, super attentive staff and big bills. Watch out prices are NOT cheap so be prepared to spend up big. Below is a picture of Potato Head – not your average club, but worth it for the experience and the great sunset photos you are going to take.

potato head in bali

# 15  Visit the sacred monkey forest Sanctuary – Ubud

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is based around the concept of Tri Hita Karana, which means “Three ways to reach spiritual and physical well-being”. There are rituals that are performed in the templates, promote the harmonious relationship between humans, animals and the environment. It’s an important place for research and conservation projects as well as being a major tourist attraction in the Ubud area.

When you go make sure your leave your bags at the ticket counter and read the “Monkey Forest Tips” – they can get a little bit cheeky! Generally they won’t come near you unless you have food for them. Its well worth the trip to see the monkeys in their natural habitat and take an enjoyable stroll through the forest.


#16 Waterbom Bali

Visit one of the best water parks! Relax in the shade or take off down the water slides! Our favourite is the Super Bowl – race down the tube and come out into a huge spinning whirl pool and then get flushed out down into the pool.

If you start to get tired, retreat to the spa for a massage or dip your feet in the fish therapy pool, and enjoy as they exfoliate and leave your skin smooth.

There’s plenty of food options that will suit the whole family and a swim-up bar with tropical drinks.


#17 Sang Spa – Get a massage.

A traditional, simple spa with great service – what more could you ask for.

Relax and unwind with a full body treatment- we recommend the Holistic Sang Spa Package and Eat Pray Love Spa Package. The holistic package includes a traditional Balinese massage, body scrub, facial treatment, hair cream bath as well as manicure and pedicure. Sang Spa Ubud offers free transportation services within the Ubud area and discount services for all other areas.


#18 Karma Beach, Beach Club

Karma Beach is one of the best beach clubs in Bali. Settled in one of the most picturesque coves, a crescent of white sands leads you into a peaceful, private lagoon. Ideal for almost anyone, you can take a stand up paddle board session or explore the coast in a sea kayaking. Create a custom itinerary and enjoy the food from a sophisticated menu and award-winning cellar.


#19  Satri Coffee Plantation

Located in the Ubud area, you will learn about the plantations and the process that the coffee goes through from roasting to grinding the bean.  Taste a range of about 12 teas and coffee including the famous Luwak bean.  Known as the catpoochino, Luwak coffee consists of beans digested by an Indonesian cat-like animal called Civet. The feces of the cat are collected, finished and sold as one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world. It has a very unique, distinct taste and is definitely worth a try!


#20  Menjangan Island

Menjangan Island is a must if you love snorkelling! The renowned coral reef does not disappoint and is well worth trip to this remote location. Float through the calm, crystal clear waters and enjoy the variety of coral and tropical fish.  Visitors have been known to see clown fish, fire fish, giant sea slugs and murays to name a few.


#21 Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud

This is probably the best known treks in Ubud. It starts at the confluence of the Wos Rivers – the historical origin of Ubud. Walk along the ridge up to the Karsa Café and Spa, to enjoy breakfast and a massage. Admire the hills, valleys and green vegetation, before you continue through to the villages and rice terraces. Early morning or late evening is an ideal time to go as it can get hot throughout the day.


#22 Bali Theatre

Experience Balinese culture, with everything from music, puppetry, costumes and animals. Most performances last about an hour and keep you entertained every minute. Although they’re not spoken in English, the actors engage the audience with an authentic performance and near perfect choreography. The show includes more than 180 Balinese dancers in a modern, fully equipped theatre. The show is held daily (except Mondays), usually in the afternoon.


There you have my top 22 reasons for coming back to this incredible island. There are loads more but this should probably be enough to get you start thinking about coming back.