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The Best Things to See in Bali

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in Bali
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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We enjoyed a four-week break in Bali during Finland's winter season. Despite being a small island, Bali has numerous fascinating spots to explore. Our firsthand experience led us to compile a list of nine must-visit attractions. Check out our article and discover what Bali has to offer.


Bali is a tropical island and a very popular holiday destination for tourists from all over the world. This island is one of the most liberal regions of Indonesia which makes it attractive especially for young travellers and nomads.

Where is Bali?

Bali is situated in Southeast Asia. Its northern side is bordered by the Java Sea, while the Indian Ocean lies to the south. This island is surrounded by other Indonesian islands, and the nearest foreign countries are Malaysia and Australia. It takes a few hours to fly to Australia, and a little less to reach the northern part of Borneo, which belongs to Malaysia. As Bali is an island, flying is the most practical mode of transportation to reach it.

Bali ricefield
The volcanic landscapes and favourable climate of Bali support the highly productive agriculture sector of the island.

Bali is located in the tropics, which means that the weather is typically hot, humid, and occasionally rainy. The temperature usually ranges from 20 to 32 degrees Celsius. The rainy season lasts from November to April and it rains almost every day. Despite this, there are still plenty of sunny hours, so visiting Bali during the rainy season is not a bad idea. You just need to plan your daily activities carefully to avoid getting caught in heavy rain showers.

Bali is easily accessible from major cities in Asia such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but if you are coming from Europe, you will most likely need to connect flights somewhere in Asia. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from the US to Bali. To find the best routes and fares for your trip to Bali, check out flights on Skyscanner.

How Many Days is Enough in Bali?

We suggest that visitors to Bali allocate a minimum of 7 days to fully explore the island. Despite its size, Bali offers a plethora of sights and experiences to enjoy, and the traffic can be congested. Due to this, it is recommended to limit the number of places to visit each day.

If you are travelling to Bali from far-off countries, we recommend a stay of at least 2 weeks. The connecting flights can be lengthy, and jet lag may also be a factor. The cost of living in Bali is reasonable, and a longer stay is usually not limited by financial constraints. However, the length of your holiday may be determined by other factors such as the number of vacation days you have from work.

Our 4-week Trip to Bali

We had a 29-day trip to Bali from Helsinki. Our trip both ways were 3-leg flights with Cathay Pacific which means we had to sit in the plane for long hours but luckily the airline offered superb quality which kept us happy on each of those flights. As we had ample connection time, we also had the chance to visit Plaza Premium Lounge in Frankfurt during our inbound flight and we visited Chase Sapphire Lounge in Hong Kong on our outbound flight.

We made a practical choice to stay the whole holiday in the same hotel: Swiss-Belhotel Rainforest Kuta. This decision eliminated the need to pack and unpack luggage during the holiday if we should have chosen to transfer to a different accommodation.

Rainforest Kuta was practically located in the north Kuta so it was always easy and affordable to hire a taxi whenever we needed one. Transportation costs were surprisingly low even though we used taxis every day multiple times.

Sightseeing Places

We list the best attractions of Bali based on our own experiences.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu is a region in the southern part of Bali. It has stunning beaches suitable for surfing and snorkelling but Uluwatu Temple is perhaps the most well-known tourist attraction in this area.

Tourists at Uluwatu temple in Bali
Visitors are required to wear a sarong when visiting temples in Bali as seen in this photo of visitors at the famous cliff-top Pura Uluwatu Temple.

The temple is also called Pura Luhur Uluwatu. The Hindu temple is on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. Its big size and location make the temple one of the busiest Hindu temples in Bali. Uluwatu Temple offers amazing views over the ocean and the temple is also home to a group of monkeys.

Cliff at Uluwatu
Uluwatu Temple is built on a cliff overtaking a view of the Indian Ocean.

We think there are three good reasons to visit the temple: It has a long rich history, the views from the cliff are fascinating and you can watch live the famous Balinese dance, Kecak in the evenings in the temple area. We recommend pre-booking a ticket to the Kecak show as there are usually hundreds of spectators and so to ensure you'll be admitted. Otherwise, you will miss it. You still have a chance to buy tickets on the spot but be noticed that only cash payments are accepted.

Sunset view at Uluwatu Temple in Bali
The best time to visit the Uluwatu Temple is just before sunset.
Monkey in the Uluwatu Temple area
There are several monkeys at the Uluwatu Temple and they are usually offered food like green peas and rambutans. These monkeys are usually friendly but still, one needs to be very careful and alert at all times since they can grab your belongings at any time like hats or sunglasses.

You can easily spend the whole day in the Uluwatu area. In the daytime, you can try one of the beaches nearby or enjoy delicious Balinese cuisine. Since the distances are long, you need a taxi to move from one place to another. A taxi from Kuta to Uluwatu temple takes 90 minutes and the price is about 10 US dollars one way.

  • Location: Uluwatu, South Bali
  • Opening hours: 07.00 - 19.00
  • Entrance fee: 50,000 IDR (Kecak dance show ticket excluded)
  • Best time to visit: before sunset
  • Book a Tour!

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are known for their picturesque landscapes which are characterized by the traditional subak irrigation system. The stunning beauty of the fields and their cultural significance have made the terraces a popular attraction for travellers every day. Moreover, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012. The terraces represent a living cultural landscape that has been shaped by the Balinese people for centuries.

Jatiluwih sign
The big Jatiluwih sign is a popular place for selfies while just behind this sign is a beautiful greenish landscape.

Visitors to Jatiluwih can hike or cycle around the rice fields, enjoy delicious Balinese cuisine or hire a guide to listen to detailed information about the fields.

A bench at the Jatiluwih rice terraces
You can feel very relaxed while visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site by just chilling on a bench or walking around.

We visited Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in the late afternoon but morning could be a better choice since the sky is usually clearer. We were surprised that there was an entrance fee for entering the area and we had also to pay the parking costs for our taxi. Our advice is to reserve enough time so you can stroll without feeling rushed and enjoy the views. After exploring the area, you still have time to go to another destination - for example, a hot spring.

Tourists sitting on a bench at the Jatiluwih rice terraces
Jatiluwih offers a beautiful view of contoured rice terraces irrigated using an impressive communal water system developed by Balinese farmers.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are in Tabanan Regency in the middle of Bali. A taxi ride from Kuta to the Terraces takes more than 2 hours and it costs about 18 US dollars one way.

  • Location: Tabanan Regency, middle of Bali
  • Opening hours: 08.00 - 18.00
  • Entrance fee: 40,000 IDR + 5,000 IDR parking fee
  • Best time to visit: Early morning
  • Book a Tour!

Ubud Monkey Forest

Ubud Monkey Forest is a sanctuary located at Padangtegal Ubud. The area covers approximately 0.1 square kilometres and contains at least 115 different species of trees. About 1,260 Balinese long-tailed macaque monkeys live in this sanctuary.

Walking at the Bali Monkey forest
We walked around the whole complex of this sanctuary and saw so many monkeys and by abiding by the rules, we didn't have any issues during our visit.

The monkey forest is a famous tourist attraction where people come to see the monkeys. Visitors can observe monkeys' daily activities like mating, fighting and grooming. The monkeys have lost the fear of humans so they continuously contact the visitors. They are not aggressive but if they suspect that a visitor has food, they may try to steal it or in the worst case, bite the visitor. That is why you should avoid eye contact with the monkeys. It is also best to keep a distance from the monkeys and in case they jump over you, don't panic but remain calm not to provoke the monkey. However, if you want to have a selfie with a monkey, it is possible to have it for a small fee and only the authorized staff can handle it to ensure the safety of the visitors .

Monkey and bottle
Monkeys at the Monkey Forest in Ubud are usually not aggressive but visitors are advised not to bring any bottles of drinks and to keep sunglasses or any other small items out of sight.

The park is forested and it has many hills and stairs. Trails let visitors access the different parts of the park easily but disabled people need to choose routes more carefully.

We visited Ubud Monkey Forest on a private Ubud tour. It was relaxing to walk around the park and watch monkeys doing their daily activities. Unfortunately, our guide had made a too-tight schedule. We could have spent much more time in the monkey forest but then we would not have seen other attractions anymore. If you intend to visit the monkey forest with a tour guide, it could be wise to ask the guide to give you a few hours and maybe you can skip a few shops on the way.

Tour guides love to take you to expensive touristy shops on the way to get their commissions.

Ubud Monkey Forest is about 1-hour drive from Kuta. A ride costs 15 US dollars one way. It is common to combine many Ubud attractions into a single tour.

  • Location: Ubud
  • Opening hours: 09.00 - 17.00
  • Entrance fee: 80,000 IDR
  • Best time to visit: morning
  • Book a Tour!

Sekumpul Waterfall

Sekumpul Waterfall stands tall at 80 meters and is considered to be the highest waterfall in Bali. The waterfall ends in a valley covered with lush greenery, and the constant flow of water keeps the air around it humid. If it has rained recently, it feels like being in a steam sauna. It is advisable to carry dry clothes to be changed on after the visit, irrespective of the weather conditions.

When you arrive at the ticketing booth, you will be asked which of the two options you will take: 1) Medium Trekking which will allow you to see the Twin and Hidden waterfalls or 2) Long Trekking Package will get you to the Twin, and Fiji waterfalls. The price of both packages includes a donation to the village, swimming in the waterfalls, and a local guide. With the Long Trekking package, each visitor will get a bottle of mineral water.

Sekumpul waterfalls
There are three waterfalls at this site. Two of them are visible from the top and the hidden one which you can only see when walking down the valley.

This scenic place is a combination of three different waterfalls. The two waterfalls are located at the corners of the valley, and the Grand Sekumpul is the tallest one situated in the centre.

Dirty water
After the rain, mud makes waterfalls look brown.

To access the waterfalls legally, it is mandatory to hire a local guide from the stalls at the official parking area. The guide will help you navigate through the valley and answer any questions you may have. A good guide will also assist you in moving safely and looking after your belongings. It is most likely that it will suddenly become rainy while visiting there late in the afternoon as we had.

Tour guide at Sekumpul waterfalls in Bali
A tour guide is mandatory when visiting the Sekumpul Waterfalls. Flip flops or water shoes are highly recommended for trekking as the route down below is rocky and wet.

We hired a taxi to take us from Kuta to Sekumpul Waterfall, which took over 3 hours. The 'official' parking area was difficult to find and there were fake checkpoints selling "tickets" along the way to the waterfalls. Fortunately, our driver ignored them. Once we arrived, we got a guide who unfortunately did not provide much value for the money. He simply followed us without giving any information about the attraction, rather he was just walking hurriedly ahead of us. We still recommend hiring a guide since it is mandatory by the local regulations.

Sekumpul Waterfalls ticket booth
The ticket booth of Sekumpul Waterfalls where you can choose between the Medium Trekking Package (15O, OOO IDR /person) or the Long Trekking package (25O, OOO IDR / person).

Sekumpul Waterfall is situated in the northern part of Bali, which is quite distant from Kuta. You should anticipate a journey of more than three hours to get there. Furthermore, your return trip may take even longer in the evening due to increased traffic, and the weather conditions may worsen. A round-trip transfer to the waterfall will be around 50 US dollars if your point of origin is Kuta.

  • Location: Sekumpul, North Bali
  • Opening hours: 08.00 - 17.00
  • Entrance fee (tour guide): 250,000 IDR / person
  • Best time to visit: morning


Every Bali visitor knows Kuta. It is a busy tourist region which is divided into smaller villages: Legian, Kuta, Seminyak and Tuban. The villages are similar but they have also differences. The best nightclubs are in Legian, Kuta is more hectic, and Seminyak has perhaps the best beach. While the Kuta area is not the most beautiful region in Bali, it is the home of many commercial services. There are big shopping malls, restaurants serving local and international cuisine, nightclubs and museums.

Busy street at Kuta
Kuta is a crowded area. You must be careful with the traffic.

Many travellers, like us, stay in Kuta. The availability of commercial services is the best thing that Kuta can offer. Kuta has also a long beach with restaurants and bars. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find peaceful nature spots in the Kuta area.

Seminyak beach
A flock of tourists gather at Seminyak Beach every evening to enjoy the beautiful sunset views.

If you stay somewhere else in Bali, we recommend spending at least one full day in Kuta exploring its villages. Aside from spending the day on the beach, allow some time to visit Vihara Dharmayana Buddha temple and Beachfront shopping mall. Kuta is full of tourist restaurants but why not try inexpensive street food which costs only a few dollars?

Vihara Dharmayana
Vihara Dharmayana is a Buddhist Temple at Kuta open for visitors without an entrance fee.

Kuta is near Denpasar Airport so the location is perfect for people arriving by air. For example, we stayed our whole holiday in Swiss-Belhotel Rainforest Kuta .

  • Location: Kuta, South Bali
  • Best time to visit: day and night

Nusa Penida

Finnoy Travel in Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida
The best time to get to the famous Kelingking Beach is in the morning to avoid the huge crowd. The view is worth it and the local tour guides surely know how to get the best shot.

Bali is a small island but its neighbour, Nusa Penida, is even smaller. Nusa Penida is about 30 kilometres east of Bali. The travelling industry in Nusa Penida is still developing so the commercial services are not of the same quality as in Bali. However, nature in Nusa Penida is lush and beautiful and the locals are friendly. As a small isolated island, the price level is more expensive than in Bali as everything must be transported to the island. Many beautiful Bali-related Instagram photos you have seen were taken in Nusa Penida.

Arrival port of Nusa Penida
A group of tourists arriving at Nusa Penida port via a speed boat from Bali.
Retribution_ticket when visiting Nusa Penida
Every adult foreign tourist is charged 25,000 IDR, while children need to pay a 15,000 IDR retribution fee to visit Nusa Penida. The money gathered is meant to be used to build infrastructure on the island.

We hired a driver for 6 hours in Nusa Penida. He fetched us from the port and returned us to the same location after the tour. Six hours was enough to see only a few major attractions on the island because it was slow to move around as the roads were not in good condition. To see all the parts, you need to stay for 3 days on the island. Our driver paid all parking fees but we had to pay an entrance fee to the island. The driver also took us to an expensive restaurant where a waitress practically "forced" us to buy lunch for the driver, too. Even though we liked the island a lot, we feel they are overcharging visitors there.

Kelingking Beach
Kelingking Beach is a place you must visit on Nusa Penida Island. We recommend walking to the beach with good hiking shoes even though the path is difficult.
Angel Billabong is a splendorous collection of jagged rock formations adjacent to Broken Beach along the West coast of Nusa Penida.

Nusa Penida can be reached by a fast boat. From Kuta, you need to take a taxi to Sanur and then continue by fast boat to Nusa Penida. The taxi ride takes an hour and the boat ride a little more. Remember to reserve enough cash because cards are not accepted in Nusa Penida and it is difficult to find an ATM.

Speed boat
There are many speed boat connections between Sanur and Nusa Penida every day.
  • Location: Nusa Penida, an island near Bali
  • Entrance fee: 25,000 IDR
  • Best time to Visit: 3 full days
  • Book a Tour!

Angseri Hot Spring

As a volcanic island, Bali has numerous natural hot springs scattered throughout its landscape. These hot springs offer a unique and relaxing way to experience the island's geothermal features and unwind amid Bali's lush forests, mountainous terrain and rice paddies.

Agseri Hot Spring
At Angseri Hot Spring, there are public pools and in addition private tubs. The environment is beautiful and relaxing.

One of the most popular hot springs is the Angseri Hot Spring. Angseri Hot Spring is a natural mineral hot spring that originates from the nearby Batukaru volcano. The water contains high levels of minerals, which are believed to have healing properties for various ailments.

Angseri Hot Spring
Angseri Hot Spring offers a mineral bath in a natural environment where guests can enjoy bathing in two of its public pools or rent private soak tubs.

There are several pools, as well as private soaking tubs, and massage services. Restaurants serve Indonesian cuisine even though the menus are simple and English is not widely spoken. The hot spring is located near several hiking trails that offer scenic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

We visited Angseri Hot Spring in the afternoon. We decided to book a private pool but after bathing privately, we also tried the public pools. The water in the pools was warm but not uncomfortably hot. It was also possible to cool under small waterfalls whose water was refreshingly cold. After bathing, we enjoyed lunch in a local restaurant. The selection was simple but the price level was also low.

It takes about 90 minutes to drive from Kuta to Ansgeri Hot Spring costing 10 US dollars one way. We recommend combining a visit to Jatiluwih Rice Terraces on the same day.

  • Location: Tabanan, Central Bali
  • Opening hours: 09.00 - 18.00
  • Entrance fee: 50,000 IDR
  • Best time to visit: afternoon
  • Book a Tour!

Luwak Coffee Plantation Ubud

Luwak Coffee (kopi luwak) is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by civets and then passed through their digestive tract. People, like us, describe the taste as smooth, and not bitter with a complex aroma. Because the manufacturing process is slow, kopi luwak is the world's most expensive coffee.

In Ubud, there is a luwak coffee plantation where you can meet civets, see how the coffee is produced and taste different coffee flavours. In addition, you can try a Bali swing in the middle of the lush jungle.

Bali Swing
At Ubud Coffee Plantation, you can try traditional Bali Swing for a small fee.

We visited Luwak Coffee Plantation on our Ubud tour. We had perfect timing: the sky was cloudy but it was not rainy yet. First, we met civets and saw how coffee was produced. After that, we tried a Bali Swing in the jungle. After the exciting swing rides, it was time for complimentary coffee and tea tasting. We paid a little extra to try luwak coffee. It had started raining then so it was the perfect time to do some coffee shopping in the plantation's store.

Coffee tasting
This coffee and tea tasting was complimentary.

The visit and a guide to Luwak Coffee Plantation were free. Trying Bali Swing, tasting luwak coffee and shopping were the paid services.

It takes 90 minutes to reach Ubud Coffee Plantation from Kuta. We recommend buying a Ubud tour which combines attractions in the Ubud area. The total price of a tour is about 40 US dollars for the whole group excluding entry fees and add-on services.

  • Location: Ubud
  • Entrance fee: free

Nusa Dua Beaches

Nusa Dua is a luxury area in Bali. It is the home of premium hotels and the environment is clean and well-maintained. If you are looking for the best quality hotels and nice beaches, Nusa Dua is the place for you. Also, travellers who are not staying in Nusa Dua can visit the beaches.

Nusa Dua Beach
Nusa Dua Beach is peaceful with white sand. The waves are moderate so a good swimmer can dip into the sea.

We visited Nusa Dua Beach in the afternoon. It was a hot day even though it was raining in Kuta when we left. Immediately, when arriving at Nusa Dua, we were surprised at how clean the area was and how well it was maintained. We could easily see that it's the premium area of Bali with the best hotels there. The beach was a nice white sand beach with moderate waves. The sea was suitable for swimming, but the waves made snorkelling impossible. Sea currents in Bali are strong so only people with good swimming skills should enter the sea.

Nuda Dua Street
You can see easily that Nuda Dua is a premium area because the street is cleaner than in Kuta.

A taxi from Kuta to Nusa Dua takes about 45 minutes and costs 8 US dollars. If you wish to save 20 minutes, you can ask the driver to use a shortcut, Bali Mandara Road, which is built on the sea. This road is fast but it has a toll fee of a few dollars.

  • Location: Nuda Dua, South Bali
  • Entrance fee: free
  • Best time to visit: daytime
Bali has its dangers too like the risk of getting infected by dengue fever or dangerous traffic. Buy inexpensive travel medical insurance from SafetyWing to cover yourself. The insurance is suitable for travellers and nomads.

Where to Stay in Bali?

The first decision to be made is if you wish to stay in a single location or move from one location to another during your vacation. Staying in a single location for the whole holiday, as we did, is practical because you do not need to pack and unpack your belongings multiple times and the total price becomes also cheaper. However, you need to use a lot of taxi services but they are cheap in Bali. By booking accommodation in a few different places, you save on time spent in taxis but the overall budget may become a little higher. It is up to your preferences which arrangement you like more.

Kuta is a simple choice in Bali because it has all the services tourists need and a wide selection of hotels. As a drawback, the area is crowded and noisy.

Ubud is another popular location for travellers but it has one major con: There are no beaches. However, Ubud has its natural beauty and one can easily experience Balinese culture there. Also, Ubud has a wide selection of accommodation options: from budget hotels to luxury apartments.

Nusa Dua is the choice for people who want to stay in luxury hotels in a safe and clean area. You will surely get good value for your money but you may also miss the real Bali. We recommend Nusa Dua only for people who are looking for relaxation without plans to explore Bali's nature destinations and cultural attractions.

Bottom Line

Bali is an excellent destination for a short or longer getaway. You can easily spend weeks in Bali and still find new and interesting things to see every day. Even though the island is small, transportation is slow and you can easily be over-optimistic with your schedules. To save some time, we recommend combining visits to a few different attractions on the same day but they must be near to each other. Use local taxi apps, like Grab, to prevent you from being overcharged.

Waterfalls in Bali
There are many waterfalls in Bali. Sekumpul waterfalls in the north are the tallest ones.

Nature attractions are perhaps the best that Bali can offer. For example, you can see how Luwak coffee is produced and taste it yourself, try a Bali Swing or cool down under a waterfall. One thing is common: There is a lush jungle around you and the air is humid. And when you get hungry, you can always find a restaurant with friendly staff and delicious food.

Are you a frequent Bali visitor? What is your favourite attraction? Share your best tips below!

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Destination: Indonesia

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