Things to do in Bali ( UPDATED 2020 )
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. This is why we keep on updating this article ( recently Jan 2020 ) to keep everyone informed about the best things to see and do in Bali.
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, Malindo, Virgin, Qantas or Garuda flight as soon the holiday finishes.
10 Things to do in Seminyak
1. Learn to surf
Seminyak Beach is a great place for newbies to try and get the hang of surfing. Head over to Double Six Beach and rent a board or go for a lesson or 2 with one of the local surf dudes. The price for a two hour lesson is Rp 300, 000 or AUD $30. This is such great value. Before you know it, you are riding the waves to shore one after another. One note of warning: surfing is very addictive and you’ll want to be doing it every day in Bali!
There are lots of surf schools dotted along the beach where you can rock up and just ask one of the guys there for a lesson. There are however a few surf schools online where you can book in advance. Try Surf School Bali
2. Shop till you drop at unique shopping boutiques
Seminyak is the most famous shopping haven in Bali. Oberoi Road is the place to be for a shopaholic’s treasure hunt. Start at Cornerhouse at the beginning of Jalan Kayu Aya and stroll down to Seminyak Square. After the shopping malls, you can continue walking towards the Petitenget Strip – this is a shopping paradise! You will stumble upon unique designers ( such as Magali Pascal ) boutiques and celebrated fashion stores, finding the most beautiful dresses, jewellery and homeware items. You can also find some local vendors selling souvenirs. Head to a place called the Flea Market or Kaya Aya Village which is about 100 metres from Ku De Ta. Here you’ll find about 50 stalls selling the usual T-shirts, wood carvings, sarongs etc.
3. Sunset drinks
Most people come to Bali for sunset drinks and Seminyak is Bali’s top destination for sunset gazing in style! Head over to La Plancha for a relaxed beach vibe and chilling out on bean bags while sipping cocktails or coconuts. Other famous places to go for sunset drinks are (of course!) KU DE TA and Potato Head. Try them all! There is also a huge addition to the Bali beach club scene called Cafe Del mar which opened it’s doors late 2019. It’s got tghe usual pool, bars and 5 star dining but the best thing about Cafe Del Mar ( other than the sensational beach views and music) is the private cabanas and master suites you can rent for the day. Check out the beach club areas for rent here.
4. Hot yoga in the centre of town
For some people, a trip to Bali is all about relaxing. There are plenty of must-visit spas around but why not tick all of the boxes and go for a hot Bikram yoga class at Jiwa Yoga in Petitenget. After the class, go for a dip in the ocean… nothing could be more perfect. Pure bliss for your body and soul!
You can take a look at the website of Jiwa here to see their daily classes and rates.
5. Wining & dining
There is no shortage of world-class fine dining restaurants and fabulous beachfront venues to go for dinner in Seminyak. You are up for wonderful evenings of wining and dining. Traditional Indonesian, Italian, Mexican, Indian, Asian Fusion, Japanese, Greek – you will find it all in Seminyak!
La Lucciola ( Italian on Petitenget Beach ), Ginger Moon, Sarong, Metis, Merah-Putih and Motel Mexicola ( for a night of fun with lots of Corona beers and tequila). These are just a handful of excellent restaurants, go find your own favourites!
6. Ditch the hotel and stay at a gorgeous Seminyak 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.
7. Dive into Seminyak’s trendy coffee culture
Yep, the coffee culture is alive and trending in cosmopolitan Seminyak. More and more specialty coffee hubs are opening up in the centre of town and they serve delicious cappuccinos with amazing latte art but also manual-brew, organic and single-origin coffee – any coffee freak is in coffee heaven here in Seminyak. Try Revolver Espresso, Pison Coffee, The Koop, Monsieur Spoon, Expat Roasters and Coffee Cartel! Probably the most popular cafe is Revolver and as you can see from the video it’s a little tucked away down an alley off Jalan Kayu Aya, but the vibe is just as good as the coffee.
8. Don’t miss out on the luxury spas
You can get a great Balinese massage almost everywhere in Seminyak but for the ultimate spa experience, go for a spa package at a renowned luxury spa. The tranquil environment, quality oils and professionally-trained massage therapists really do make the difference!
Our favourites include: Bodyworks, Prana Spa, The Blow Bar and Sundari Day Spa. A lot of people who don’t want to fork out the $100 or so for an hour at one of these spas with often opt for the cheaper alternative by having a massage or facial at the local spas that are found up and down the main strip in Seminyak. Here you can get an hour massage for $10 per hour. It’s better value but somehow it doesn’t quite offer the same experience as you would expect from the more stylish day spas.
9. Spend the day at Waterbom Bali – Asia’s #1 water park
Need I say more? Waterbom is voted #1 water park in all of Asia and it is not to be missed, especially when travelling with kids. Exhilarating water slides, a kiddies pool, lady river – great fun! Not quite in Seminyak, ( it’s in Kuta ) this place gets a mention as it’s a super popular way to keep the kids entertained. Have a look at the Waterbom Bali website here.
10. Eat at a local warung and taste the real flavour of Bali
Two of our favourite local warungs are located in Seminyak. Cheap, local and delicious. Free from MSG and lots of veggies to go with your rice and chicken or beef rendang – go get your plate of ‘nasi campur’ at Warung Murah (near Double Six Beach on Jalan Arjuna) and Warung Melati (close to Jalan Nakula). Warung Melati is only open for lunch but Warung Murah is open from early morning till late at night. Don’t forget the sambal and see how much spiciness you can take.
10 Things to do in Canggu
1. Beach vibes and parties
There is one thing Canggu does best: beach parties! Straight after the surf, it is time for chilling out with cold Bintang beers, gazing at the sunset and listening to live music. Right after, the party kicks in. The most famous place to go partying is Old Mans, close to Batu Bolong Beach but there are many more. Other places to check out are Gimme Shelter, Pretty Poison, The Lawn, La Brisa and Finns’ Recreation & VIP Club.
Note: not all of them are located on the beach.
2. Get a 24K Gold Facial at Goldust Beauty Lounge
Who would’ve thought you could get a 24K gold facial in Bali? Gold Dust Beauty Lounge Bali is a fabulous luxury spa where you can get pampered inside out! Bring your girlfriends and your day can’t go wrong – it’ll be the ultimate golden glamour party!
3. Check out the trendy and eco-friendly weekend markets
Canggu has the most weekend markets going on if all places in Bali. Colourful, lively, trendy, eco-conscious – they’re all that and more! Love Anchor Market is open 7 days a week and every Sunday morning, it is time to had over to Samadi Bali to buy handicrafts and organic produce directly from the artists/farmers. Old Man’s has a market going on once a month on a Saturday and Tamora Gallery is hosting a night market, also once a month.
Find out more here: The Hippest Hipster Markets You’ll Find in Bali
4. Have great family fun with the kids at Finn’s Recreation Club
A water park with amazing waterslides, bowling alley, trampoline centre, tennis court, kids clubs, spa and more – Finn’s Recreation Club is the ultimate family hang-out haven for the family! A must visit to keep the kids happy and burn off that holiday energy.
5. Lounge at all of the fabulous beach clubs
There is no lack of beach clubs in Canggu. They may not be as famous as KU DE TA or Potato Head over in Seminyak but they are just as trendy and happening! Finn’s Beach Club tops it all with 4 swimming pools, 9 bars and 6 restaurants but we also love the boho-chic La Brisa and the brand new Ibiza-inspired Cafe Del Mar over at Batu Belig. There is also the super popular Old Man’s or The Lawn at the end of Jalan Batu Bolong. Let’s not forget the beach bar at 707, Tropicola or all those fabulous mini beach clubs where you can watch the sunset and listen to music in Berawa’s Hidden Beach & Echo Beach.
6. Family-friendly cafes in Canggu
Canggu is extremely family-friendly. In fact, the town is bursting with family cafes, complete with playgrounds and activities to keep the little ones entertained for hours. Milk & Madu is the most famous one, always packed with food fanatics and families. Tamora Gallery is a great place to stop for lunch and do some shopping while the kids have fun at the outdoor playground and play in the virtual reality area.. Made’s Warung (formally The Joglo) is another must-visit and La Casita is also a lovely family spot. Other family friendly cages include: Peleton Supershop in Berawa, Shady Shack and Crate just off Batu Bolong or the popular Deus. There’s also Bottega for great hand made pasta, Finns Club which has a pool and a children’s menu, Milu by Nook and Wahaha for amazing ribs.
Related: Cafes with kids’ playground in Bali
7. Eat organic and do yoga
While Ubud used to be the best place for yoga and organic food, Canggu is catching up quickly! Who doesn’t love to combine yoga & beach time or even better, yoga on the beach? How about yoga on the beach, healthy food and a surf lesson or two? You can do it all in Canggu and while you’re at it, you can also shop for eco-conscious recycled and super fashionable yoga wear. For yoga you can go to Pranava, The Practice or Samadi which as all great studios. And, for organic food go to Shady Shack, Cafe Organic or Give Cafe along Jalan Batu Mejan.
You can see:
The Practice Yoga Studio website here for classes & time tables: www.thepracticebali.com
Samadi Yoga Studio website here for classes & time tables: www.samadibali.com
8. See the iconic Tanah Lot Temple
Just a short drive from Canggu, just further up north on the pristine black sand coastline, you can visit one of the most famous and iconic Bali temples: Pura Tanah Lot. Tanah Lot is one of the island’s most important sea temples, protecting Bali from evil sea spirits. It can get crowded around sunset but it is a beautiful temple, not to be missed!
9. Rent a scooter!
Let’s not make it sound any better than it is: Canggu is quite a stretched out area and unless you are staying in a villa on Batu Bolong Street or Jalan Pantai Berawa, you better rent a scooter. Regular taxis, Go-Jek, Uber – they are all banned in Canggu which makes getting around a bit harder than in neighbouring Seminyak. Also, it is great fun to rent a scooter and just go drive, exploring the rice fields and beaches and see the street amazing street art that is to be spotted everywhere in Canggu.
Note: as you can imagine traffic jams and traffic chaos happen everywhere in Bali and Canggu is definitely no exception. Be prepared to meet some insane traffic queues especially in the more popular areas and when it’s peak hour. As you can see below, this type of chaotic traffic is not uncommon in Canggu. Having said that, once you get through it all the area is amazing when your driving around on your own scooter. Also, make sure you have an international drivers license with you at all times.
Also: the most popular scooters to rent are the Vario 125cc or the Scoopy 125cc & will cost you Rp 60, 000 per day or $6 AUD.
10. Get a tattoo
There seems to be a tattoo parlour on every corner in Canggu. This hipster hang is where loads of people come to get their first tattoo or perhaps get their second or third. There are too many tattoo places to mention but one comes to mind in Berawa called Fox Mulder. It’s probably the most popular but if your thinking about getting inked in Canggu do your homework first before committing.
Also read: 5 Amazing Tattoo Studios in Bali – this should point you in the right direction.
10 things to do in Ubud
1. Wander around in the Sacred Monkey Forest
Located right in the centre of town: a sacred monkey forest… now isn’t that something unique?! As the name suggests, Ubud Monkey Forest is a forest in the city with ancient trees, a streaming river, Balinese statues and a whole lot of monkeys. Wander around to experience real close encounters with these cheeky little macaque monkeys. You can feed them, take some cool photos and enjoy this lovely nature city stroll. Do be careful of your belongings and put away anything the monkeys can easily grab because if they’ll get the chance, they’ll take it!
2. Do the Campuhan Ridge Walk
Though the centre of Ubud is always busy and happening, you don’t have to walk far to get into nature and escape the hustle and bustle for a little while. Ubud is surrounded by rice terraces, river valleys and tropical jungle. The Campuhan Ridge Walk is a gorgeous rice paddy trail and yes, you can walk there from the city centre. The trail is approximately 2 km long and you get to enjoy a splendid 360-degree view of Ubud Town and the surroundings. Best time to go is in the early morning or afternoon as there is almost no shade.
3. Go rafting on the Ayung River
Who doesn’t love to have some adventure on the river?! Just a short drive from Ubud, there are several rafting companies taking you to the starting point of the rafting trip. You’ll be rafting through a deep valley and the surroundings are completely stunning and unspoiled. The water of the river is cool and there are some areas where you can swim which is just wonderful on a hot summer day. Rafting on the Ayung River is great fun and very safe, also perfect for families with kids! The trip takes around 2 hours. If you’d like to book your white water rafting tour – click here!
4. Rent a scooter and see the landmarks near Ubud
There is nothing more fun than getting away from the city on your motorbike, driving through villages and jungle to discover amazing places and Unesco World Heritage Sites. First stop could be the famous elephant cave Goa Gajah. From there, see the tranquil water temple of Tirta Empul and take a ritual bath in holy spring water to purify your entire being. Then, it is time to visit the ancient funeral monument Gunung Kawi (one of the oldest temples in Bali) and you can also stop at a local coffee/tea/cacao plantation farm if you like. On a different day, see if you can drive up to Kintamani (+- 1 hour) and be amazed by the beauty! Make sure you also drive up to the wonderful rice terraces at Tegalalang. This is where you get those amazing Instagram shots.
Ubud is one of the best places on the island to do workshops. From silversmith courses to spa product making, Balinese cooking, woodcarving, pottery, painting, Batik, coffee & latte art, Balinese dance – the list goes on and on. In Ubud, you can never get bored!!!
6. Eat vegan & raw food at trendy health hubs
Ubud is a health food haven. Just wander around in the city and you’ll stumble upon one raw food cafe and vegan restaurant after another. Organic, homemade, healthy and even if you’re not a vegan at heart, you’ll be surprised how delicious it all is. Must-visits include Alchemy, Bali Buda, Soma Cafe and The Seeds of Life.
7. Fantastic yoga studios and spas
Hands down, Ubud has got the most beautiful spas you can imagine. Rice paddy views, waterfall sounds, surrounded by jungle or overlooking a deep river gorge – there are just too many spectacular ones where you are sure to lift your body, soul and spirit. Ubud also has the most famous yoga studios including The Yoga Barn. Meet like-minded yogis and travellers on their soul search – you’ll feel straight at home!
8. Shop and learn to bargain at Ubud Market
Ubud Market is a large souvenir shopping area in the centre of Ubud. On this market, you NEED the very best bargaining skills you’ve got in store! A great place to find all kinds of gifts and handicrafts at cheap prices. The trick is to have fun with it, keep smiling and bargain, bargain, bargain. The ladies are persistent and very good at what they do. Go practice!
9. See a traditional dance performance at Ubud Palace
Located right next to the market, Ubud Palace has got enchanting traditional dance performances going on every evening. Get your tickets from the street venue and dive into the Balinese culture just by sitting and keeping your eyes and ears open.
10. Explore museums and artisan villages
There is a reason why Ubud is known as the cultural heart of Bali. Ubud is home to great artists and craftsmen and since forever, the town has attracted painters, writers, spiritual seekers and culture lovers. In Ubud, there are many museums to visit (more than anywhere else on the island) and around the town, you can visit authentic craftsmen villages of silversmiths, woodworkers and painters. These trades have been passed on from generation to generation and when visiting these villages, it seems life stood still.
6 things to do in Legian
1. Surfing and swimming at Legian Beach
Legian beach is a famous surf spot for beginners! Not as busy as Kuta, much more laid-back than Seminyak, Legian is a much-loved holiday destination. The sea is perfectly safe for swimming most of the time, there are lifeguards and the waves are great fun (not too big!). On the beach, there are many local surf schools and board rentals. Stick around for sunset and cold Bintang beers ( make sure you get a great day bed on the beach at any one of the beach cafes ) and you’ve got another perfect day on paradise island!
2. Take unique family photos at DMZ trick art museum
Dream Museum Zone is unlike any other museum you’ll find in Bali. Amazing Korean illusion artists came to Bali to create 121 magnificent trick-art murals. You can take unique photos, visiting many worlds and places from Venice to Egypt to Fairyland and back to the dinosaur era. This is a museum even kids will love!
3. Shop for souvenirs
Legian is a great place to go shopping for cheap souvenirs, even though the price may sometimes depend on your bargaining skills. There are lots of local handicraft shops where you can buy clothes, jewellery, sunglasses, sarongs, hammocks and a lot more. Garlic Lane is a good place to go. At a place called ‘Ketut’s,’ you can buy many things at cheap prices – no need to bargain! Can’t get enough of shopping? Seminyak is just minutes away. You can also walk up and down Jalan Legian ( the main road connecting Legian with Kuta and Seminyak ) where there are literally hundreds of local shops selling all types of souvenirs. Another great shop is called Abang which is packed with gifts and Bali souvenirs. You can also walk right into Kuta where you’ll have even more shopping options at Kartika Plaza or the bigger department stores like Lippo Mall.
4. Cheap eats at local Warungs
Warungs are where locals go for quick, cheap and tasty local Indonesian food and they are all over the place. Essentially, they are Indonesian street food. Legian is no exception with some really great warungs where you can pop in for lunch of dinner and grab delicious dishes from: fish, noodles, sate, veggie dishes, eggs and a variety of rice dishes. Most warungs are family run with the Ibu or Mum cooking everything. Many people might worry if the food is fresh and safe but from our experience most of the warungs cook fresh food daily. Our two favourites in Legian are Made Warung and Warung Murah. Both are fairly cheap and a family of four can be fed for about AUD $30. Y
ou will be able to find loads more warungs as you wander around the area and they generally have colourful signage or banners outside to attract customers. Most of the warungs work on a pay as you eat basis and will take a look at your plate once full and charge accordingly. So stack it high with delicious goodies and be pleasantly surprised by the amazing favours and cheap prices!!
5. Rent a scooter and explore Seminyak, Canggu & Uluwatu
Legian is only a small town where you can easily get around on foot. However, it is great fun to rent a scooter and explore the surroundings. Seminyak, Kuta, Berawa and Canggu are really close by making it impossible to ever get bored. You could even drive all the way down to Uluwatu to discover the most stunning white-sand beaches.
6. Sunset drinks at La Plancha
Did you know you can easily get to Seminyak on foot? From your private Legian Villa, we highly recommend you to take a stroll to neighbouring Double Six Beach around 4 pm in the afternoon and go chill out at La Plancha. This famous beach bar has got the best chill-out music, comfy beanbags and parasols on the beach and when sunset strikes, you just don’t know what hit you! La Plancha is one of the best places for sunset drinks in Bali!
6 things to do in Sanur
1. Sunrise on the beach
Sanur has the most breathtaking sunrises and if you are able to get up early and stroll down to the beach from your private Sanur villa, you really should! (at least once!). Fresh air, empty roads and a desolate beach – watch the night turn into day and see the world glazed in shades of yellow, gold, orange and pink. It is a spectacle. Just as much of a spectacle as sunset in Seminyak!
2. Take the kids to ABC Beach Club (Artotel)
If you’re travelling with kids, ABC Beach Beach at Arotel Sanur is a must-visit! Tucked in a gorgeous bamboo structure with ‘alang alang’ thatched roofing, this beach club boasts a shady outdoor playground and a large multi-level lagoon-like swimming pool with a large playing area for the kids as well as an adult-only pool only with a pool bar. Ocean views, friendly staff, affordable food and drinks – it’s a lovely place to spend the day!
3. Visit the Sunday Market on Mertasari Beach
This market is held once a month (every last Sunday of the month) and if you like to stroll around on markets, you will love this one! There are plenty of food stalls, there is live music and you can buy all kinds of crafts, souvenirs and gifts. The market is located on the beach (Mertasari Beach, next to Genius Cafe) and the vibe is laid-back and friendly. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
Although Sanur is considered to be a tranquil, sleepy town, there are plenty of things to see and do and on the beach, you can have loads of fun with all kinds of water sports. Paragliding, windsurfing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, banana boat rides – you name it, Sanur has it!
5. Take the boat to Nusa Lembongan
Did you know Sanur is the main gateway to get to Nusa Lembongan? Just a short 30-minute boat ride from Sanur, you can stay on a pristine little island that is still part of Bali. Great for diving, snorkelling and getting away from the mainland, Nusa Lembongan should be on your places-to-go list!
6. Lunch at Mak Beng restaurant
The most popular Indonesian restaurant in Sanur; Mak Meng is an institution and is definitely worth a visit. It serves only one dish and has been doing this successfully for decades; fish head soup with rice and BBQ fish. Te cost is Rp 60,000 per service or AUD $6. It’s delicious and the queues to get in here, especially on a Sunday are really long. It’s very informal and there are no reservations necessary so it’s come in and grab the first table you can find.