Bali Travel Guide

SD › Bali Travel Guide
Updated: December 16, 2021

The 101 best hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, shows, tours, places, and things to do in Bali, Indonesia.

See Also

Bali Travel Guide

The wonderful Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran, Bali.

Bali Hotels

1. Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay • Jimbaran • $$$$

Cascading down a hillside and facing a heavenly bay, the spacious and sumptuous villas feature stunning bathrooms, abundant windows, and private pools with infinity edges that blur into the horizon. Buggies are available to access the private beach and nearby cafés on the sand. • Review • +62 (0)361 701 010

2. Tandjung Sari Hotel • Sanur • $$$$

One of Bali’s first hotels, Tandjung Sari is designed to resemble a village, with mossy paths meandering past ponds and large stone bowls filled with lotus flowers. Bungalows are secluded behind lofty walls and feature an elegant (and often, individual) design. So serene, and just a brief stroll to endless restaurants and shops. • Review • +62 (0)361 288 441

3. The Laguna • Nusa Dua • $$$$

The grounds are filled with namesake lagoons and are vast enough to need buggies and maps. Some rooms are angled towards the sea, while those at ground level have direct access to one of seven pools. Faces a perfectly curved beach and is walkable to the mall (see #35), so it’s an ideal resort for families. • Review • +62 (0)361 771 327

4. ARMA Museum & Resort • Ubud • $$$$

Among luscious gardens within the renowned ARMA art gallery (see #64), this resort exudes tradition and elegance. Spacious rooms face the pool, gardens, or flowing creek. Luxurious, split-level villas feature massive pools, outdoor jacuzzis, and corner sofas overlooking the greenest possible rice-fields. • Review • +62 (0)361 976 659

5. Bloo Lagoon Village • Padangbai (East Coast) • $$$

Villas (with one, two, or three bedrooms) are tiered along cliffs. Each features the same jaw-dropping views as the yoga deck, art gallery, spa, and restaurant. Plenty of activities also on offer. Above a Crusoe-esque beach and a few minutes’ walk from the charming village. • Review • +62 (0)363 41211

6. Segara Village Hotel • Sanur • $$$-$$$$

Family-owned for 60 years, it’s been significantly modernized without sacrificing charm. The gardens are packed with paths, ponds, and fountains, and rooms feature a gorgeous Balinese décor and broad verandas/balconies overlooking lush grass or one of three pools. Spotless beach in front. • Review • +62 (0)361 288 407

7. Viceroy Bali • Ubud • $$$$

Opulent villas (with one or two bedrooms) and private pools perched along a hillside offering uninterrupted panoramas of the valley and rice-fields. The main infinity pool seems to blend into the jungle across the ravine. No facilities nearby, but the resort is only 10 minutes from the town center by shuttle bus. • Review • +62 (0)361 971 777

8. The St. Regis Bali Resort • Nusa Dua • $$$$

Improbably vast, with extraordinary pool, extensive gardens, and one of Bali’s loveliest beaches. All villas are very secluded and feature plunge pools, and the kids club offers more engaging activities than at most resorts. Brief stroll to the golf course and some affordable shops and cafés. • Review • +62 (0)361 847 8111

9. Hard Rock Hotel Bali • Kuta • $$$$

All rooms are luxurious and face huge gardens 200m back from the busiest corner in Kuta. The seemingly endless pools even feature sand, a stage, lifeguards, and beach club. Probably the finest resort in Bali for families. • Review • +62 (0)361 761 869

10. Indiana Kenanga • Jungutbatu (Nusa Lembongan) • $$$$

Between the gleaming sands and bustling village on an adorable island less than an hour from Sanur. Villas offer complete seclusion and a modern, funky décor. Some feature two bedrooms and a private pool each among luxuriant tropical gardens. The beachside pool adds enormously to the appeal. • Review • +62 (0)366 559 6371

11. Poppies Bali • Kuta • $$$

One of Bali’s first and finest resorts, Poppies offers an adorable Balinese design and gorgeous, detached cottages hidden behind dense foliage. Added attractions are the library, jacuzzi, and stylish pool. Serene position, and so convenient to facilities and the beach. • Review • +62 (0)361 751 059

12. Padma Resort Legian • Legian • $$$$

Perennially popular, especially among families, for its enormous gardens and appealing Balinese design. Spacious bungalows feature balconies overlooking thick foliage, while ground-floor rooms face one of several pools. The main pool facing the beach appears endless and boasts a very enticing swim-up bar. • Review • +62 (0)361 752 111

13. Rumah Bali • Tanjung Benoa • $$-$$$

Individually designed rooms and villas (some with two or three bedrooms) beautifully positioned among grounds resembling a Balinese village. Tennis court, cooking classes, and peaceful location close to abundant cafés and shops. • Review • +62 (0)361 771 256

14. W Bali • Seminyak • $$$$

Spacious and ultra-modern without feeling trendy or pompous. All rooms face the sea, and the opulent pool villas are given monikers like ‘WOW’ and ‘Extreme’. The split-level, beachfront infinity pool features ‘beaches’, ‘waterfalls’, and ‘islands’. Plenty of cafés within a short stroll along the flawless beach. • Review • +62 (0)361 300 0106

15. Amertha Bali Villas • Pemuteran • $$-$$$

Excellent property with vast gardens, a massive palm-framed pool facing a large beach, and a stunning mountain backdrop. One and two-bedroom villas feature private pools, open-air kitchen/lounge/dining areas, and charming gardens. Located in Pemuteran, in the remote northwest coast of Bali. • Review • +62 (0)362 94831

16. AYANA Resort and Spa • Jimbaran • $$$$

Luxury, elegance, and some of the most expansive grounds on Bali. AYANA features exquisite Balinese furnishings and a clifftop infinity pool that’s connected by funicular to the renowned Rock Bar and a tiny white sand beach. Shuttle buses to Jimbaran and Nusa Dua offset the isolation. • Review • +62 (0)361 702 222

Bali Restaurants

17. Sandy Bay Beach Club • Nusa Lembongan • $$$

Extra-long menu of wine, cocktails, and seafood, all perfectly grilled using traditional methods. Restaurant claims its steaks come from ‘very happy cows’. Free transport provided, but note: the glorious beach is too dangerous for swimming. • +62 (0)878 6227 4780

18. Chez Gado Gado • Seminyak • $$-$$$

Stylish beachside setting and attention-grabbing décor, yet so quiet. Especially inviting around sunset, and popular for seafood, tapas, and breakfast. Live music, children’s menu, and lunchtime specials add to the appeal. • +62 (0)361 726 966

19. Murni’s Warung • Ubud • $$-$$$

On four levels clinging to a ravine, Murni’s has been much loved since 1974 for its attentive service, classy lounge bar, and extensive menu that includes French and Thai cuisine. Patisserie and art shop also on-site. • +62 (0)361 975 233

20. Poppies Restaurant • Kuta • $$-$$$

Established in 1973, one of Kuta’s first restaurants is adorably set within a vine-covered courtyard. Impressive menu and wine list, and not nearly as pricey as expected. • +62 (0)361 751 0159

21. La Lucciola • Petitenget (near Seminyak) • $$$

Open-air twin-level pavilion fronting an immaculate lawn of palms just meters from the waves. The menu is influenced by an Italian chef, but the restaurant also specializes in seafood and Balinese dishes. Inexpensive lunchtime specials and especially intimate from sunset. • +62 (0)361 730 838

22. Sails Restaurant Amed Bali • Bunutan (Amed) • $$

Breezy setting overlooking a photogenic fishing village and 200m from a rare beach. Décor with nautical theme and a menu which includes traditional dishes such as mahi-mahi fish in banana leaves – all at pleasing prices. Free local pickup. • +62 (0)362 22006.

23. Art Café Bumbu Bali Nusa Dua • Nusa Dua • $$$

Part of a local chain featuring a lovely hotel (see #13) and fabulous cooking classes (see #50) that constantly wins awards for its exquisite traditional setting and excellent Balinese food. Also popular for happy hours and lunchtime specials. • +62 (0)361 774 502

24. Nelayan Restaurant • Jimbaran • $$$

Under a traditional-style open-air pavilion in the gorgeous Jimbaran Puri resort. Tables are also scattered along the bright-white sand just meters from the water. Menu is French-influenced, and the service, exceptional. • +62 (0)361 701 605

25. Café Batujimbar Sanur • Sanur • $$

Long-time favorite for its tempting menu which includes delicious pastries, ice-creams, and salads. Especially popular for Saturday night salsa dancing and Sunday morning food market. • +62 (0)361 284 103

26. Made’s Warung • Seminyak • $$

Perfect for trying Balinese food and admiring (for no extra charge) traditional dance/music nightly. Popular set-priced three-course menus and spacious eating area encircled by boutiques. Dinner bookings recommended. • +62 (0)361 732 130

27. Pirates Bay Bali • Nusa Dua • $$

With sandy floors and tables in treehouses, it’s loads of fun for families. Also, a playground and pirate ship to clamber about. • +62 (0)361 894 8138

28. Verdant Organic & True Food Kitchen • Nusa Dua • $$

Arguably the most inviting café among many in the outdoor Bali Collection mall (see #35). Attractive décor and wide menu focusing on healthy drinks and food. • +62 (0)812 3965 2693

29. Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3 • Ubud • $

Quietest of three nearby outlets serving nothing but the Balinese specialty babi guling (roast pig) – see #29. Try the Spesial (with rice, spicy sausage, skin, and vegetables) or Pisah (also with soup). • +62 (0)361 976 345

Best Balinese Food

30. Babi Guling (Roast Pig)

Suckling pigs are stuffed with spices, basted with juices, and roasted for many hours on a skewer. Treat for locals on special occasions, and available anytime for tourists at specific restaurants, such as Ibu Oka 3 (see #27).

31. Bebek Betutu (Roast Duck)

A duck is covered with spices, wrapped in banana leaves, and roasted over coals for about 12 hours, so the dish often needs to be ordered in advance. Always available, however, at special restaurants, especially in and around Ubud.

32. Ikan Pepes

Whole fish (ikan) – or other seafood – is covered with banana leaves and steamed over coals until mouth-wateringly tender. Available at most upmarket restaurants offering Indonesian food, but allow time for preparation and cooking.

33. Nasi Goreng

Simply translated as ‘fried rice’ and virtually the national dish of Indonesia. The ‘special’ (istimewa) will be topped with a fried egg, and many varieties are served with tasty extras like prawn crackers and beef or chicken satays.

Bali Shops & Markets

34. Beachwalk Shopping Center • Kuta

World-class collection of some 200 places to eat, drink, and shop – as well as a games arcade, child-care center, and cinema complex. Superb downtown location and not overbuilt, so there’s plenty of space and greenery. Traditional entertainment on some nights. • +62 (0)361 8464 888

35. Uluwatu Handmade Balinese Lace • all over Bali

Over 30 years of selling exquisite clothing and accessories, including jewelry, handkerchiefs, and belts, for men and women. Especially popular for wedding dresses. Thirteen outlets in malls and hotels across southern Bali and Ubud. • +62 (0)361 849 7097

36. Bali Collection • Nusa Dua

Delightful outdoor mall, with a department store and heaps of souvenir shops and cafés/bars, as well as shade, sidewalks, and zero traffic and hawkers. Free shuttle buses link most nearby resorts, and evening entertainment is featured on some nights. • +62 (0)361 771 662

37. Seminyak Square • Seminyak

More relaxed than the major malls, it offers upmarket cafés, tempting bakeries, and a street market full of clothes and souvenirs. And very user-friendly: clean toilets, seating, parking, and free Wi-Fi. • +62 (0)361 732 106

38. Discovery Shopping Mall • Tuban (southern Kuta)

Looking a little outdated these days, the beachside position is, however, fabulous and the variety, very impressive. Well-known fast-food outlets and a food court with 5-star views. • +62 (0)361 755 522

39. Taksu Galeria • Ubud

Part of a brand with a sophisticated spa and riverside café nearby, it’s the closest thing to a mall in central Ubud. Vast range of art and souvenirs (and coffee shop) at very appealing prices. • +62 (0)361 479 2525

40. Pasar Badung • Denpasar

The provincial pasar (market) in the island capital is in sharp contrast to the modern, air-conditioned malls. In a brand new multi-level building (after a devastating fire), it’s fascinating and frenetic. All prices are negotiable and haggling is half the fun. Best around sunrise, but open 24 hours.

Bali Bars & Beach Clubs

41. Engine Room Bali SUPER CLUB • Kuta

Most happening place in downtown. Multi-level bar and club attracting rowdy crowds from 6pm until 4am daily. Trendy DJs spin the latest hip-hop, and drink specials are especially inviting. Free entry. • +62 (0)361 755 188

42. Hu’u Bar • Seminyak

Unpronounceable but popular complex with a chic restaurant and fashionable nightclub. Also popular for its swimming pool, cocktails, DJs, live music, and movie nights. • +62 (0)361 473 6576

43. Agendaz Beach Club • Nusa Dua

Perfect seaside position within a cluster of bistro/bars at The Bay Bali. All-day hangout with the sort of pool, beach, and service expected at a 5-star resort. Japanese cuisine is a specialty. • +62 (0)361 894 8168

44. Casablanca • Sanur

Their motto, “Dine, drink, dance” says it all: A vibrant spot with a comprehensive pub grub menu, nightly drink specials, and rotating live bands specializing in a variety of fun musical genres. • +62 (0)361 287 263

Live Music & Traditional Performances in Bali

45. The Wicked Parrot • Sanur

Hugely popular since over 10 years for live jazz, blues, and Irish music nightly in a casual, open-air setting, surrounded by trees and palms. Also a restaurant, but guests can sit at the bar and just enjoy the music. • +62 (0)361 281 814

46. Laughing Buddha • Ubud

Eclectic array of singers and bands, mostly blues, jazz, and acoustic, as well as a restaurant, cocktail lounge, and tapas bar. Book upstairs for superior views of performers. • +62 (0)361 970 928

47. Traditional dances at Pura Taman Saraswati • Ubud

This 60-year-old temple in the town center provides a stunning setting for a variety of spellbinding performances of music and dance. The audience can sit comfortably close to the stage, with the lotus pond behind and temple as a backdrop, or enjoy the spectacle from special tables at the gorgeous Café Lotus.

48. Kecak Dances at Tanah Lot • near Seminyak

Held every night at the highly-revered and much-visited temple (see #57) is a spectacular Kecak Dance (sometimes called ‘Monkey Dance’ or ‘Fire Dance’). Up to 50 men in sarongs chant, simulate trances, and undertake fire-walking.

Bali Tours & Classes

49. Cooking Classes • Ubud

Wake up with the roosters and amble around a village market. Then, cook several traditional dishes and devour the results. Recommended among many are these two in Ubud: Paon Bali +62 (0)81337 939095 and Bumbu Bali +62 (0)361 976 637.

50. Pondok Pekak • Ubud

Charming library-cum-hangout facing the football field. Join classes in traditional wood-carving, jewelry-making, and gamelan music. Also popular for lessons in Indonesian language. Heaps of fun for the family. • +62 (0)361 976 194

51. Art & Craft Workshops • Ubud

The magnificent Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) (see #64) offers a range of enticing lessons in arts and crafts (as well as music, dance, and cooking) for even one person at a time in an open-air pavilion among exquisite gardens. Similar options are available at the Puri Lukisan art museum too, also in Ubud. • +62 (0)361 976 659 • +62 (0)361 971 159

52. Mason Adventures • all over Bali

Founded about 30 years ago (as Bali Adventure Tours), this tour operator maintains an excellent reputation for service and safety. Impressive array of adrenalin-pumping activities (e.g. rafting, mountain-biking, and buggy-riding) to more sedate ‘safaris’ in its elephant park. • +62 (0)361 721 480

53. Bali Bike Baik Cycling Tours • central Bali

Traveling on two wheels is a popular way to see the dramatic landscapes and endearing villages, and with so many downhill roads, it’s sometimes free-peddling. Tours from casual to adventurous, with backup vehicles, food and drinks, and plenty of stops. Committed, eco-sensitive, and Balinese-owned. • +62 (0)8133 867 3852

54. Daytrips • all over Bali

Despite minimal public transport, horrendous traffic, and many unsigned roads, no organized bus tours are available. So, the only option for visiting revered temples, spectacular landscapes, and quaint villages is in a chartered car with driver, best arranged through your hotel. And do NOT drive anywhere yourself.

55. Walking Tours • all over Bali

Best way to experience the ‘real’ Bali is on foot. Adventurous hiking with a guide is possible at the Taman Tirtagangga water palace (see #61), rice-fields at Jatiluwih (see #60), and historic Tenganan village (see #66). Bali Bird Walks is loved by serious bird-fanciers and anyone who just likes a gentle walk. • +62 (0)361 975 009

Things to See & Do in Bali (also see Family Fun later)

56. Danau Batur Lake • central highlands

Bali’s largest lake is nestled within the island’s most active volcano. Most only stop at a lookout or buffet restaurant along the crater rim, but a road inside the caldera leads to the cute lakeside village, Toya Bungkah. Three places offer pools of spring-fed hot and cold water. The best, Toya Devasya, also provides a stunning setting, restaurant, spa, and massive pool.

57. Gunung Kawi • Tampaksiring (near Ubud)

These gigantic yet unexplained ancient sculptures somehow carved into cliffs are flanked by gushing streams, lush rice-terraces, watery caves, and a riverside temple. Also, a delightful café at the top of the steep steps. (Not to be confused with a temple of the same name at nearby Sebatu.)

58. Pura Tanah Lot Temple • near Seminyak

One of Bali’s most revered temples is also the most visited by tourists. Within a short trip of the southern beaches, the offshore position is spectacular – but it’s only accessible to Hindus and is unreachable by anyone at high tide. Come for the legendary sunset and enchanting Kecak Dance (see #47). Before 4pm, however, the place is almost empty.

59. Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple • southern Bali

Perched on a rocky outcrop along Bali’s southwest tip, this temple is less impressive (and far less touristy) than Tanah Lot. The drawcards are the clifftop setting, genuine serenity, and extraordinary Kecak Dance at sunset. But there are very few facilities, and the monkeys are light-fingered.

60. Sunset Dinner • Jimbaran

Sections of the gleaming white sands at Jimbaran (see #74) are packed with tables and chairs for dinner and drinks at sunset. The array of fish, lobster, prawns, and squid is mouthwatering, and after dark there are fireworks, traditional dances, and wandering musicians. Very romantic.

61. Rice Terraces at Jatiluwih • central highlands

Bali’s premier rice-terraces are so extraordinary that they’re listed and protected by UNESCO. Emerald-green amphitheaters of paddies somehow carved from hills hundreds of years ago cascade down slopes surrounded by volcanoes. Popular stopover for cycling and hiking trips. Also home to buffet restaurants and family-run guesthouses.

62. Taman Tirtagangga Water Palace • Tirtagangga (eastern Bali)

Royal palace originally built with France’s Palace of Versailles in mind, then superbly renovated after a volcanic eruption in 1963. Featuring fountains, statues, and ponds for swimming, it’s so serene. Relish it properly with a guided hike of the area and/or stay at a guest house among rice fields. Better still, splurge on the regal Tirta Ayu Hotel inside the gardens.

63. Pura Ulun Danu Beratan Temple • central highlands

Built over 350 years ago, the unique shape and lakeside gardens are so loved that they feature on the Indonesian 50,000 Rupiah note. To avoid the busloads of tourists, visit early morning or late afternoon. Just down from Candikuning village, which has a botanical garden, adventure park (see #78), recreational lake (see #82), and guest houses.

64. Tirta Empul Temple & Gardens • Tampaksiring (near Ubud)

Renowned among Hindus for its sacred pools and hot springs that all visitors can enjoy, the temple is modest, but the gardens are probably the best-maintained in Bali. Easy to combine with Gunung Kawi (see #56).

65. Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) • Ubud

Finest among Ubud’s many museums and galleries. Five pavilions packed with traditional and contemporary Balinese art by renowned locals and foreigners who came to Ubud before WWII. Brightly lit and informatively labeled. Allow extra time to explore the glorious gardens and stay for a meal. Also, magnificent villas (see #4) and workshops in art/crafts (see #50). • +62 (0)361 976 659

66. Ubud Monkey Forest • Ubud

This forest is conveniently located along its namesake road in the town center, and is run by the local community. Offers a lush forest, several eerie and ancient temples, and of course, plenty of pesky Balinese Macaques – all tolerated, and even revered, as descendants of the Monkey God Hanuman. Also check out the art exhibitions and traditional performances on most evenings. Touristy, but loads of fun. • +62 (0)361 971 304

67. Tenganan • near Candidasa (eastern Bali)

Historic and beautifully preserved Bali Aga village firmly on the tourist trail. Boasting a majestic hilltop setting, it still practices traditions predating the introduction of Hinduism to Bali. Cobblestone paths lead to family compounds and workshops making unique souvenirs, including weaving, calendars, and puppets. The closest many visitors can come to genuine village life.

68. Banjar • northern Bali

A short trip from Lovina, the attractions are threefold. Up from the pretty village with its sprawling market, the excellent hot springs are in a lush, tropical setting. And only 1.5km away, Brahmavihara Arama, Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery, is serenely positioned among extensive gardens.

69. Cycling on Nusa Lembongan island

This charismatic island is virtually traffic-free, so it’s ideal for exploration on two feet or two wheels. Normal bicycles and more robust mountain-bikes can be rented in the main (and flat) village, Jungutbatu. Some roads are potholed while others are very steep in small sections, but otherwise, much fun can be had visiting seaweed farms, exploring remote beaches, and peddling through eerie mangrove forests.

Bali Spas, Massages, & Yoga Classes

70. Jari Menari • Seminyak

This award-winning spa, translated as ‘Dancing Fingers’, is wholly staffed by men. They use the perfect amount of pressure, stretching, and rhythm, especially during the popular ‘four-handed massages’ using two masseuses in tandem. Also, facials, workshops, and a boutique shop. Bookings advised. • +62 (0)361 736 740

71. Power of Now Oasis • Sanur

Set in and around a traditional-style barn in a pretty beachside garden. Daily classes in Balinese and Indian yoga and meditation, as well as training courses, multi-day retreats, treatments in Chinese medicine, and a specialty shop/café. With children’s activities, it’s also great for families. • +62 (0)878 6153 4535

72. Jamahal Spa • Jimbaran

Part of a dazzling complex of villas, this award-winning spa (open to the public) provides highly-attentive staff and an impressive range of treatments using organic products. Tandem therapies for couples – e.g. the ‘honeymoon cleansing ritual’ as well as ‘coffee scrubs’ and ‘chocolate body treatments’. • +62 (0)361 704 394

73. The Yoga Barn • Ubud

Over 100 high-quality therapies, classes, and workshops offered each week in an exquisite setting around a wooden deck amid rice fields. Otherwise, come for the healing center, garden café, yoga shop, or guesthouse. • +62 (0)361 971 236

Beaches in Bali

74. Pasir Putih • eastern Bali

‘White Sand’ beach is a fishing village backed by coconut groves, with only a few chilled-out cafés also offering massages and sunbeds. Soft sands for sunbathing and tranquil water for swimming and snorkeling. (Equipment available for rent.) Nearest hotels are at Candidasa, a beach resort 7km away without really a beach.

75. Jimbaran • southern Bali

Close to the airport and Kuta, yet comparatively undeveloped, the extended curved bay of white sand is often empty, so it’s perfect for walking. Moderate range of facilities, including some top-end resorts, and also a genuine village with a temple and sprawling market. A highlight of Bali is dinner on the sand at sunset (see #59).

76. Crystal Bay • Nusa Penida Island

Cove with white sand, blue-green water, sloping palms, rocky islets, and a hilly backdrop. Astoundingly undeveloped (so far) because it’s isolated: an hour by speedboat from Bali, and then only accessible by chartered vehicle. A few easygoing bungalows and cafés, and superb diving/snorkeling, but sometimes too dangerous for swimming.

77. Nusa Dua • southern Bali

Numerous inlets of bleached-white sand and still water. A glorious beachside path ideal for strolling and cycling stretches the entire length. Some water-sports available (and more at neighboring Tanjung Benoa). In front of the resorts are the cleanest beaches which are all open to the public.

78. Padang Padang • near Jimbaran

Remarkable setting along the craggy southern peninsula. Not too remote, with a handful of hotels and cafés perched among the nearby cliffs. Renowned for surfing but the daunting waves are distant, so swimming is safe. Younger ones can splash about the saltwater pools, but some might find the steps steep in parts.

Family Fun in Bali

79. Bali Treetop Adventure Park • Candikuning (central highlands)

Variety of activities from flying-foxes to ‘Tarzan jumps’ designed for different age groups. Educational, environmentally-friendly, and immense focus on training and safety. Beautifully set within botanical gardens which is also appreciated by parents. • +62 (0)361 934 009

80. Waterbom Bali waterpark • Tuban (southern Kuta)

Superbly positioned among tropical gardens in a surprisingly central location, this world-class facility regularly wins awards for its ecological sustainability and European-standard safety. Heaps of rides and slides for the young and the young at heart. • +62 (0)361 755 676

81. Bali Bird Park • Singapadu (near Ubud)

This immaculate and education-focused sanctuary is home to about 1,000 birds, including numerous Indonesian species. Many are necessarily kept in aviaries, but dozens roam free, such as toucans and macaws. Check the website about events, programs, and interactive feeding shows. • +62 (0)361 299 352

82. Bali Zoo • Singapadu (near Ubud)

Impressive layout populated with creatures from across the world, including Indonesian orangutans. Popular among visitors are elephant rides, after-dark tours, and the remarkable jungle-side café. Check out tempting programs like ‘Breakfast with Orangutan’. • +62 (0)361 294 357

83. Bedugul Recreation Park • Candikuning central highlands

On the other side of the stunning Bratan crater lake from Pura Ulun Danu Beratan temple (see #62), there are lakeside cafés, souvenir stores, and trips across the water by speedboat or canoe. Also, wave-free jet-skiing and parasailing. Remarkably ignored by foreigners, so it’s cheap and often uncrowded.

84. Bali Hai Cruises • islands off Bali

Terrific selection of fun-filled daytrips, including the hugely popular Reef Cruise, where massive boats dock alongside even larger pontoons off the coast of Nusa Lembongan island. Includes unlimited activities on and below the water, supervised kids club, transfers, buffet lunch, and equipment. • +62 (0)361 720 331

Outdoor Activities in Bali

85. Diving & Snorkeling

With reefs teeming with marine life and an occasional shipwreck, scuba-diving is understandably popular and easy to arrange at internationally-accredited places at Nusa Lembongan island, Padangbai, Amed, and Tulamben. Some dive agencies also own resorts with pools for instructions and courses. Places for snorkeling just offshore in calm waters are also possible at these four places and Pasir Putih (see #73). Equipment is available at beachside shacks.

86. Water-sports

On the spectacular volcanic lake of Danau Bratan, jet-skiing, parasailing, and more sedate trips on speedboats, paddleboats, and canoes, can be organized at local rates. The best selection of water-sports on the sea is undoubtedly at Tanjung Benoa, while more limited choices are also at Nusa Dua and Sanur.

87. Rafting

White-water rafting is popular and competitively priced. This often involves floating past gushing waterfalls and emerald-green rice-terraces, but the rapids can be a little scary at times. Several quality agencies, including Mason Adventures (see #51), offer excellent safety records and include island-wide transfers. Possible all year, but best during the wet season (November to March).

88. Surfing

Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak are ideal for part-timers and novices, while the more experienced and dedicated may head to isolated places along the southern peninsula, such as Padang Padang (see #77) and Ulu Watu. Interesting alternatives that offer other attractions are Nusa Lembongan island and Medewi. Generally, the best time is April to October and superior surf is along the southern coasts.

89. Cycling

Renting a bicycle and peddling along the delightful beachside paths in Sanur and Nusa Dua is great fun, while the roads around Nusa Lembongan island (see #68) are a little more adventurous. Otherwise, explore remote villages and stunning landscapes on an organized tour (see #52). With everything pre-arranged and included, and often, free-wheeling along downhill roads, it’s an ideal family outing.

Festivals & Events in Bali

90. Bali Spirit Festival • late March

One of the largest of its kind in the world is held each year in Ubud, Bali’s spiritual capital. The week is jam-packed with yoga and meditation classes, dance lessons, concerts, and all sorts of workshops. Family-friendly and community-minded.

91. Nyepi (Balinese New Year) • changeable, March/April

Remarkably, the entire island virtually closes down for 24 hours. Hotels (and usually, their indoor restaurants) stay open, but stern police will ensure that all shops, cafés, and bars are shut and every beach and road is empty. Even the airport closes. This may seem inconvenient, but the days before and after are fabulous fun for everyone.

92. Bali Arts Festival • mid-June to mid-July

For over 40 years, this government-run festival has been mostly held at a dedicated center in Denpasar, the island capital. Expect parades, markets, and traditional performances of dance, music, and puppetry from across Bali and Indonesia. As much for locals as tourists.

93. Galungan & Kuningan • changeable

Celebrates the victory of good over evil according to Balinese traditions. Streets are decorated with bamboo poles, ceremonies are held in temples, feasts of roast pig (see #29) are arranged, and boys carrying a mock ‘lion-dog’ seek donations. Starts with one day, Galungan, and ends with another, Kuningan, 10 days later. Twice a year, depending on the Balinese calendar.

Best Regions to Stay

94. Ubud • central Bali

Bali’s spiritual and cultural heartland is an overbuilt but intensely likable collection of villages. Many tourists come for the yoga retreats, art museums, cooler weather, or to escape Kuta. Numerous temples, markets, and traditional dances can be found in the town, and Ubud is an ideal base for day-tripping. Outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking, and mountain-biking are also nearby.
Best Stuff: ARMA Museum & ResortViceroy Bali resort • Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (divine opulence in an extraordinary rural position) • The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah (unique resort setting and beautiful villas) • Komaneka at Bisma (uber luxurious) • KajaNe MuaNick’s Pension HotelAlam IndahAlaya Resort UbudKamandalu Ubud (chalets and villas) • Hotel Tjampuhan & SpaPita Maha Resort & Spa (stunning pool and villas) • Royal Kamuela Villas & SuitesMurni’s WarungBridges Bali (chic riverside bistro) • Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3 café restaurant • Taksu GaleriaUluwatu boutique • Laughing Buddha bistro/bar • Pura Taman Saraswati temple (traditional dances) • Paon Bali cooking classes • Bumbu Bali cooking classes • Pondok Pekak library and cultural classes • Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) arts/crafts workshops • Puri Lukisan art museum and classes • Bali Bird Walks • daytrips to Gunung Kawi and Tirta EmpulUbud Monkey ForestThe Yoga Barn

95. Nusa Lembongan island • southern Bali

Delightfully laidback but increasingly developed island less than an hour by speedboat from Sanur. Most stay at Jungutbatu, a pleasant village with an extended beach lined with seaweed harvests, or at Mushroom Bay, a white-sand cove ideal for snorkeling/swimming. Most other beaches are picturesque but dangerous for swimming. Roads are almost vehicle-free, so they’re perfect for walking and cycling (see #68).
Best Stuff: Indiana Kenanga VillasBatu Karang Nusa Lembongan ResortDream Beach HutsSandy Bay Beach Club bistro/bar • The Deck Café & Bar (perfect bay views) • Thai Pantry café (funky, and fab outlook) • Lembongan Beach Club (trendy seaside hangout) • Mushroom Bay • Jungutbatu village • Bali Hai Cruises • diving/snorkeling • surfing • cycling

96. Nusa Dua • southern Bali

Unique gated complex of 4 and 5-star resorts around clean and wide streets with minimal traffic and abundant greenery. Each resort boasts substantial gardens and numerous swimming pools, and most face a glorious curved beach with calm waters (and water-sports). Every resort also caters very well for families.
Best Stuff: The Laguna, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Nusa Dua • The St. Regis Bali ResortGrand Hyatt Bali (massive, convenient, and faultless beach) • The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali (oh-so luxurious and excellent for families) • The Sakala Resort Bali (luxurious beach club) • Ayodya Resort BaliNusa Dua Beach Hotel & SpaSofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort (family-friendly) • Novotel Bali Nusa DuaINAYA Putri BaliMeliã BaliClub Med BaliThe Balé Nusa DuaThe Mulia Resort & Villas (opulent and extravagant) • Art Café Bumbu Bali Nusa DuaPirates Bay Bali café • Verdant Organic & True Food Kitchen bistro • Bali Collection mall • Uluwatu boutique • Agendaz Beach ClubThe Bay Bali (collection of chic beach clubs) • Museum Pasifika • cycling • water-sports • Bali National Golf Club

97. East Coast

Progressively popular as it becomes increasingly accessible. Home to a terminal for speedboats to the Gili Islands and ferries for Lombok, Padangbai is a charming village alongside a perfect bay. Candidasa is a resort without a beach, but the setting is idyllic and everything is competitively priced. Amed is a series of fishing villages with almost no beaches, off the tourist trail, and the snorkeling/diving is world-class.
Best Stuff: Bloo Lagoon Eco Village resort (Padangbai) • The Griya Villas and Spa (Amed) (fabulous luxury and extended views) • Ramayana Candidasa (family-friendly) • Palm Garden Amed Beach & Spa ResortOK Divers Resort & SpaBali Seascape Beach ClubBlue Moon VillasSantai Hotel (bungalows and beach) • Discovery Candidasa Cottages and VillasThe Water Garden Hotel (Candidasa) (tranquil garden setting) • Sails Restaurant (Amed) • Le 48 bistro (Candidasa) (so refined and facing the lagoon) • Topi Inn café (Padangbai) (great-value hangout) • Adventure tours • Taman Tirtagangga water palace • Tenganan (ancient village) • Pasir Putih beach • diving/snorkeling • mountain-biking • cycling

98. Jimbaran • southern Bali

Close to Kuta and the airport, but comparatively undeveloped and surprisingly under-visited. Long, curved bay featuring white sands and calm waters, and parts of the beach are often empty. Genuine village vibe, but fewer tourist facilities than Kuta/Legian. Before sunset, tables are set up for romantic candle-lit meals on the sand (see #59).
Best Stuff: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran BayLe Méridien Bali Jimbaran (ideal location and new) • Jimbaran Puri (beautiful beachside villas) • InterContinental Bali Resort (massive and luxurious) • The Open HouseKarma Jimbaran (luxurious and secluded villas) • AYANA Resort and Spa (luxurious and huge) • Nelayan RestaurantTaman Wantilan (classy bistro with stunning views) • Akua Bali Tapas Bar & Restaurant (chic and beachside) • Uluwatu boutique • Jimbaran Corner (quaint shopping center) • Sundara Beach Club (relaxing during the day, lively at night) • sunset dinner • Jamahal Spa • fish and produce markets • temple

99. Sanur • southern Bali

With no waves or sunsets, and limited nightclubs and shopping, Sanur is a sedate alternative to Kuta/Legian. The long stretch of beach is not great for swimming, but the lovely seaside path lined with cafés and bars is ideal for strolling and cycling. Also, a major spot for speedboats to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, and Gili islands.
Best Stuff: Tandjung Sari HotelSegara Village HotelBesakih Beah Hotel (excellent beach) • The Oasis Lagoon SanurGriya Santrian Beach Resort & SpaPeneeda View Beach HotelPrime Plaza Suites SanurPuri SantrianFairmont Sanur Beach BaliSwiss-Belresort Watu JimbarPrime Plaza Hotel SanurPrama Sanur Beach Bali (huge and family-friendly) • Maya Sanur Resort & Spa (tranquil, contemporary, and vast) • Café Batujimbar SanurUluwatu boutique • Casablanca bar • The Wicked Parrot café/club • Power of Now Oasis yoga • water-sports • cycling

100. Kuta & Legian • southern Bali

Many visit Bali just for the surf, sunsets, shopping, and clubbing, and rarely (or ever) leave the main tourist region of Kuta. However, some hate the ceaseless traffic, endless crowds, and relentless noise. Offering more space and serenity, Legian is the next beach to the north. Lanes are less claustrophobic, beachfront resorts face the sand rather than a busy road, and the sunsets are just as legendary.
Best Stuff: Alam Kulkul Boutique Resort (Balinese village-like setting) • Amnaya Resort KutaBali Dynasty Resort (massive pool with ‘waterfalls’) • Bali Garden Beach Resort (stylish and old-fashioned) • Best Western Kuta BeachFebri’s Hotel & Spa (family-friendly and affordable) • Hard Rock Hotel BaliHoliday Inn Resort Baruna Bali (family-friendly) • Kuta Seaview Boutique Resort & SpaThe Patra Bali Resort & Villas (close to the airport) • Poppies Bali hotel • Sheraton Bali Kuta ResortPadma Resort LegianMelasti Beach Resort & Spa (family-friendly) • Bali Mandira Beach Resort & SpaLegian Beach HotelThe Akmani LegianBali Niksoma Boutique Beach ResortMercure Bali Legian (new and comfortable) • Pullman Bali Legian Beach Hotel (mega and luxurious) • The Stones Hotel (opulent and convenient) • Three Brothers Bungalows (adorable and old-style in vast gardens) • Poppies RestaurantClub Havana Bali Restaurant & Bar (lively, popular, and spacious) • Waroeng Tan Poh café (tasty food and oasis from the traffic) • Makan Place bistro (spacious setting and traditional design) • Beachwalk Shopping CenterDiscovery Shopping MallUluwatu boutique • Sky Garden Bali nightclub • Paddy’s Pub (popular DJs and bands) • Ground Zero Memorial • Waterbom Bali waterpark • surfing

101. Seminyak • southern Bali

Immediately north of Legian, this sophisticated region is where restaurants are called ‘bistros’ and shops become ‘boutiques’. Plenty of secluded villas and even patches of rice fields still remain. The beach becomes greyer and less crowded further north.
Best Stuff: W Bali – Seminyak resort • Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort (luxurious and beachside) • The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa (great value and so convenient) • Blu-Zea Resort by Double-SixDouble-Six Luxury Hotel Seminyak (ultra-modern) • Puri Cendana Resort BaliThe Royal Beach Seminyak Bali (traditional and charming) • Chez Gado Gado bistro • La Lucciola restaurant • Made’s Warung restaurant featuring traditional dances • Seminyak Square shopping center • Uluwatu boutique • Hu’u BarKu De Ta (trendy beach club) • Potato Head Beach Club Bali (super-chic and perfect location) • Jari Menari massages • surfing

Read More

Get All New Content

My Travel Newsletter