Bali Sights & Attractions
Bali offers a huge choice of attractions from glittering temples to ancient wonders. And – at just 5632km² in size – the island is easy to explore on day trips from any of the beach resorts south of the capital Denpasar.
Here's some of the most compelling must-see attractions in Bali:
Bali offers an amazing array of temples and shrines. Here is a small selection to get you started:
Bali’s largest and most venerated temple, Pura Besakih, sits at 1000m above sea level on the southern slopes of Mount Agung, Bali's highest and holiest mountain.
Alternatively known as the Mother Temple, Besakih is named after the dragon god believed to inhabit the mountain, which is considered sacred. The temple complex consists of around 22 multi-tiered temples and numerous shrines that sit on parallel ridges that cover an area of around 3km.
Read more about Pura Besakih…
Discover Bali's most important temple after Pura Besakih. The temple (also known as Pura Ulun Danu, Pura Batur or Pura Bat) is dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Ida Bhatari Dewi Danu.
Read more about Pura Ulun Danu Batur…
Explore this classical Hindu thatch-roofed meru (multiroofed shrine) that sits at 1200m above sea level on a tiny island surrounded by the shimmering waters of Lake Bratan. Stroll through manicured gardens and past an impressive stupa to reach the lakeside temple.
Read more about Pura Ulun Danu Bratan…
With its multi-roofed meru shrines and pavilions, intricately carved wooden gates, ponds and grassy courtyards all surrounded by a moat, Pura Taman Ayun is considered one of the most beautiful temples in Bali.
Read more about Pura Taman Ayun…
Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most visited temples in Bali. Built on a lava rock 200m offshore and especially photogenic at sunset, Tanah Lot is only accessible at low tide.
Read more about Pura Tanah Lot…
Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, Pura Luhur Uluwatu sits on a 70m-high cliff-top with spectacular views overlooking the surf at Uluwatu. Constructed in black coral rock, the temple is one of Bali’s sacred directional temples and is the southwest guardian against evil spirits.
Read more about Pura Luhur Uluwatu…
Explore one of Bali's oldest and largest ancient monuments. Ponder the significance of the 10 candis or shrines that sit in 7m-high sheltered niches cut into the cliff face (above photo).
Read more about Gunung Kawi…
Examine carvings that honour Dewi Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of art and learning, then catch one of weekly dance performances or simply admire the lotus blossoms in the lily pond from Café Lotus, which sits just in front of the temple.
Read more about Pura Taman Saraswati…
Get an insight into Balinese spiritual life by visiting the sacred springs at Tirta Empul Temple. Watch as Balinese from every corner of the island purify themselves in these holy waters.
Read more about Pura Tirta Empul…
Stroll around a series of elegant and well-preserved pavilions in the heart of Ubud and later enjoy an evening dance performance, held in the palace courtyard.
Read more about Puri Saren Agung, Ubud…
Discover a grotto of elaborate stone carvings from the 9th century, with a ceremonial bathing pool nearby. Ponder the impressive entranceway, a dramatic carved facade of what appears to be menacing creatures and demons.
Read more about Goa Gajah…
Theatre and dance is an integral part of Balinese culture. Weddings, birthdays and religious festivals are all occasions for dramatic dance performances that are inextricably linked with the Balinese religion and are often related to the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana.
Some of the most enchanting Balinese dances include:
The ‘barong’ or lion dance is a classic dance depicting the conflict between good and evil through the actions of Barong, a mystical long-tailed creature
The ‘legong keraton’ is a classical dance of grace and femininity performed by young girls in colourful costume.
In the ‘kebyar duduk’ a solo dancer interprets every nuance of the music in powerful facial expressions and movement
Although the frenetic ‘kecak’ or monkey dance was probably first performed in 1930, its origins go back much further. The chorus originates from the ancient ritual of ‘sanghyang’ or trance dance.
During the ‘sanghyang’ or trance-like state, it is believed that a person communicates with God or the ancestors.
In this mesmeric dance, up to 100 bare-chested men sit cross-legged in tight concentric circles, swaying in unison and repeatedly chanting the phrase ‘ke chak ke chak’, as Balinese dancers weave in and around them using powerful facial expressions and movement to illustrating an ancient tale.
The haunting sounds of a Balinese gamelan orchestra is typically performed to accompany the ‘barong’ and ‘legong’ dances. Often up to 30 musicians play an array of instruments including native metal gongs, drums, chimes, cymbals and xylophones.
Take the challenging 5-hour climb to the summit of Gunung Agung (3142m), Bali’s holiest mountain and the highest point on the island. For an easier hike, try the lava slopes of nearby Gunung Batur (1717m).
Bali’s most active volcano sits at the heart of two concentric calderas and offers superb panoramic views. The large southeast caldera is known as Lake Batur, home of the picturesque Pura Ulan Danu, one of Bali’s most important temples.
Note: Both Gunung Batur and Gunung Agung are active volcanoes, with eruptions as recent as 1997.
To see and photograph emerald-green rice terraces dating back more than 2000 years, head to the river gorge north of Tegallalang village in central Bali and Sayan near Ubud. Other photogenic sites include Pupuan, Jatiluwih, Tabanan and Tirtagangga.
Bali’s centre for music, dance and fine arts offers the perfect opportunity to learn more about Balinese culture. Wander narrow streets crammed with arts and crafts shops, museums and art galleries.
Browse market stalls, trinket stores and chic boutiques then cool-off with a cold drink at an open-air café and restaurant – try the beautifully sited Café Lotus, which sits in front of the Pura Saraswati temple and water garden.
In the evening enjoy a dance performance in the dramatic setting of the elegant Puri Saren Agung (Royal Palace).
Read more about Ubud…
Latest update on Bali honeymoon destination: 2 June, 2017