When you plan on going on a vacation to Bali, you’ll obviously want to experience everything the island can offer to satiate your need for wanderlust. Bali is a hip, colorful, bustling, modernised, yet is still rich in age-old traditions and culture that brings throngs of tourists from around the world. So here’s a little guide to help you choose which area of the island to spend your holiday at–you’re welcome!
While you’re bubbling with excitement to come here, there’s a couple of things you need to know before you book that first class flight. The best times to visit Bali are between June and September, and mid-December to early January. What else do you need to know? Bali is home to many extraordinary locations that begs to be discovered. You’ve possibly heard about Bali’s white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, but did you know about the island’s scenic paddies, enigmatic stone temples, and breath-taking locations you can check off your bucket list (even if you don’t have one)?
Whatever your reason is to visit Bali, it’s always a good idea to look at each of the island’s hotspots to better understand the activities you can do on paradise island.
Only one-sixth of the island’s population lives in North Bali. This place is often overlooked by travelers who directly go to Ubud for the sun, sea, and sand. North Bali offers a tranquil retreat that’s a perfect match for people who want to get away from the bustling crowds and sounds. The area features the iconic Bedulgul mountain range and emerald-green rice paddies.
North Bali is well known for its sacred hot springs called Air Panas in Banjar. These hot springs are a must visit for anyone who’s never dipped in one before. The springs contain sulphuric water from volcanoes and it is believed the water’s healing properties can help those who suffer from rheumatic diseases. The best time to visit the hot springs is before 10 AM where there’s virtually no visitors and you can hog the pool for yourself. After a relaxing and muscle-soothing dip, you can hop to a restaurant nearby that sells cheap and delicious cuisine you should not miss out.
If you’re more of a thrill seeker, you can go diving or snorkeling around Menjangan Island, spend a day trekking to discover bewitching waterfalls, or book dolphin watching tours.
The heart of Bali beats here, in South Bali. This area is the location to be if you want to be in the middle of everything. South Bali attracts many visitors from around the world to experience the wild and colorful parties, shopping districts, gastronomic food, and unmissable cultural hotspots.
Here’s a couple of activities you can do while in South Bali. You don’t have to travel to every part of Indonesia to get a firsthand look at the country’s rich and vibrant cultural dances. You can go to the Bali Nusa Dua Theater to watch all the dances performed under one roof. Here, you’ll watch intense Javanese sword fights, free-flying Borneo lovers, and a kecak performance.
Other cultural hotspots to not miss includes Garuda Wisnu Kencana, one of the island’s largest and most impressive statue to date. The statue is expected to tower at a staggering 470 feet which depicts the Hindu god Vishnu riding the legendary winged mount, Garuda. Visitors are encouraged to stroll around the complex to absorb the size and scale of the statue, plus the level of detail etched into it.
What about shopping? Where should you shop in South Bali? Jalan Legian boasts high end and quality items that include artworks, home décor, and beach wear. On Jalan Sahadewa and Jalan Melasti, you can grab cheap, mass produced souvenirs. You can try your hand at haggling, but you’ll get amazing prices when you buy stuff in bulk.
Where to stay in South Bali? Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach is a five star, beachfront hotel boasting impressive sea views located in the pulsating neighborhood of Seminyak. This is a boutique hotel, catering to guests who wishes to indulge in luxury while surrounded by Bali’s authentic, colorful cultural vibes. The hotel’s rooms are spacious, chic, and trendy, and each room is designed with a Balinese twist in mind.
The surrounding area is complete with flavorsome local eateries, a must-visit art gallery that promotes local and international artworks, open-aired markets, and temples. There is an abundance of sights to see and do in and around Seminyak many of which are conveniently reachable by foot. Nevertheless, you can always choose to flag down a taxi or hop onto the bus; it’s just that simple.
East Bali is recognized for its outdoors excursion and it’s no surprise to see why; this part of Bali is known for its untouched, amiable beauty. The region is home to some of the most attractive mountain ranges and The Great Mount Agung. This behemoth stands at 3,142 meters above sea level and its peak serves as the perfect vista for jaw-dropping sunrises and exquisite views of Mount Rinjani of Lombok.
You need to start your trek up the mountain at 11 PM as it is a 5 – 7-hour climb. But the result is worth every aching muscle.
The Eastern Bali coastline is home to the world’s richest marine environments on the planet. Here, you can book snorkeling tours to Pondok Vienna Beach and Lipah Bay in Amed. You’ll dive into crystal clear waters teeming with animals in their natural habitat. As a bonus, you might be able see the US Liberty wreckage up close and personal, too.
On land, you can spend a day at two of the island’s iconic temples; Luhur Lempuyang and Besakih Temple; you won’t be disappointed by historical facts taught to you by knowledgeable guides. If you happen to be an archaeologist-in-training or an overall history junkie, you’ll love the temple’s intricately carved stone art native to the island that will make your jaw drop.
And not to be left out, you can also book a Kawasaki motorbike to ride across the land to truly appreciate East Bali’s natural beauty.
Unlike the rest of the island, tourists scarcely visit West Bali, and they’re missing out on the island’s most historical, important, and sacred landmarks. Here stands Pura Tanah Lot, one of West Bali’s iconic temples and most photographed structure. The temple rests on a rock that’s been artfully reconstructed and restored as one third of the rock due to years of erosion.
The best time to visit the temple is during low tide; you’ll be able to walk across the soggy ground to reach it. Nevertheless, keep in mind non-Balinese people are prohibited from entering. If this dampened your spirits, don’t worry; your next go-to destination is Pura Taman Ayun temple. This is a Hindu temple is surrounded by serene beauty and served as the main temple in the Mengwi Kingdom.
The temple was constructed in 1634. In 1937, it was extensively renovated and presently boasts a large space for visitors to stroll the temple grounds in peace.
Moving away from history, another place of interest is Joshua District in South Tabanan. This a hip and modernized creative complex that features a slew of must-visit stores made from shipping containers. The complex promotes environmental awareness and lessons in sustainable lifestyles.
The ever popular Balian Beach is the place to go to for some R&R, surfing, and bodysurfing the waves. Located at the mouth of the Sungai Balian (Balian River), it’s 800 meters south of Lalang-Linggah. What’s there to do other than surfing and swimming? You can wander between cafes, make new friends, and watch the picturesque sunset from the comforts of the rolling shores.