For many, Bali is a dream destination.
It probably has something to do with the lush green rice paddies, ornate temples and the fact that you can easily get luxury on a budget.
But there’s also a lot more to Bali than you might realise.
Which is where our Bali bucket list comes in… to show you all the top things to do in Bali and what you simply cannot miss while you’re there.
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Bali Bucket List Destinations & Things To Do
And here’s our Bali bucket list in detail – have fun dreaming, planning and wandering!
1. Watch the monkeys at Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest
Balinese long-tailed monkeys (macaques) are some of the most famous in the world – and they are such fun to watch!
Head to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud and you can spend several hours watching hundreds of them roam free around the forest playing, grooming… and stealing.
Yep, these monkeys have a bad reputation as thieves stealing everything from bottles of water and food to sunglasses and tobacco from unsuspecting tourists.
But if you keep your distance and just quietly watch the monkeys then you’ll likely be left alone and in total awe of what these monkeys get up to in the forest.
Plus there are three Balinese temples in the forest to discover too.
They’re usually closed to tourists, so you’ll probably have to look at them through the gates. But they’re still cool to find during your wander!
2. Pose for a photo on the Bali Swing
It’s a bit of fun and you can get some cool photos there, but you should expect long queues when visiting during peak times (11am-3pm) and in popular months (April-September).
Word of warning though!
Only do the Bali Swing if you’re interested in getting a cool Instagram photo as that’s the main reason for visiting. It’s not so much a fun theme park but actually a photoshoot type of place!
3. Indulge in delicious Balinese food
Whenever we write bucket list posts, you can be sure food is involved.
After all, how can you say you’ve been somewhere if you haven’t at least tried their most famous foods and dishes?
In Bali, some of our favourites you must try are:
- Nasi Goreng: Indonesian fried rice served with eggs, vegetables and meats. You can usually order this dish in a restaurant for breakfast, lunch AND dinner!
- Mie Goreng: The same as above but with fried noodles instead of rice.
- Sate Lilit: Grilled meats marinated in a delicious concoction of coconut milk and spices and served on skewer sticks.
- Babi Guling: A type of suckling pig dish seasoned with spices and local herbs.
- Klepon: Sweet rice balls filled with a sugary syrup and coated in coconut. They’re often served in banana leaf cones if you buy them from a street vendor. They’re seriously delicious (thank you to our tour guide who gave us some to share!)
IMPORTANT: Be careful if trying Balinese Luwak coffee (one of the world’s most famous and expensive coffees), which believe it or not is made from civet poop. It’s very hard to find an ethical cruelty free Luwak coffee as the animals are often caged and made to only eat coffee beans, which goes against the Luwak’s natural diet.
4. Go sea walking with the fishes
Before planning our Bali honeymoon, we had heard of snorkelling and scuba diving – but sea walking was a new one for us. So we just had to try it!
It was so surreal to wear a diver’s helmet and our swim gear while hundreds of colourful fish swam all around us as we walked across the seabed.
Surreal? Yes. Fun? Most definitely!
Head to Benoa Bay in the south to try sea walking alongside a bunch of other fun watersports.
5. Try all kinds of epic watersports
Like parasailing, banana boat rides, tubing… the list goes on and you can do it all at Benoa Bay.
During our Bali itinerary, we had a full morning of watersports before spending the afternoon at GWK Cultural Park and the evening at Uluwatu Temple.
It was an incredible and total bucket list kind of day!
6. Wander through a Balinese rice paddy
Another of Bali’s biggest draws are its emerald green rice terraces or rice paddies. And they are simply incredible to see and wander through!
Alongside these famous rice paddies, you’ll probably also see smaller ones when walking or driving through Bali. Our hotel in Ubud even overlooked one!
7. Marvel at the gigantic GWK sculpture
GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) Cultural Park is in south Bali and is home to one of the island’s most iconic landmarks: a gigantic 120 metre high statue of the Hindu God Wisnu atop his mythical eagle mount Garuda.
There are also a number of other statues to see in this 60 hectare park as well as various temples and gardens, so you’ll definitely want to carve out a few hours in your day to do it justice.
8. Enjoy a traditional Balinese massage
Although we’re often subjected to travel fails when trying to get a massage abroad, we can’t help but see what all the fuss is about.
From Moroccan Hammam massages to a traditional Balinese massage, it’s interesting to see how techniques differ throughout the world…
And hopefully it’s also a relaxing way to spend an hour or two on your trip!
Bali’s massage technique uses a combination of soft and firm strokes but it’s likely to be much firmer compared to what you’re used to.
I certainly heard a few of my own bones click and crack under the pressure but it was still an enjoyable experience for sure.
Plus Balinese massages are much cheaper compared to what we’d pay in the UK or US.
Even our luxury hotel only charged £48 for the pair of us to have an hour-long full body massage plus a 15 minute foot massage… HEAVEN!
9. Learn all about the Balinese culture
From knowing the etiquette of visiting temples to understanding why you see Canang Sari (Balinese offerings) everywhere you walk, the Balinese culture is so interesting to learn about.
Read our detailed guide to the Balinese culture to help you prepare for your trip.
10. Admire ornate temples all over Bali
Speaking of temples; did you know that Bali has over 20,000 of them? So visiting a few of them must surely be on your Bali bucket list!
In hindsight, this was a long tour with a lot of time spent in the car (it takes forever and a day to get anywhere in Bali!), but it suited us as we had limited time to spend in and around Ubud.
But whichever temples you decide to visit in Bali, be sure to read up on etiquette tips and rules for visiting temples before your trip.
11. Watch a Kecak Fire Dance Show
The Kecak Fire Dance is one of Bali’s most famous shows where you’ll be mesmerised by a ring of men chanting and singing around fire while the main actors tell the story of Sri Rama, Prince of the Ayodhya Kingdom.
The tale is one of betrayal, kidnap, rescue and monkey kings, but even if you’re not sure exactly what’s happening at the time, you’ll be in total awe of everything you’re seeing and hearing anyway!
You can see Kecak performances all over Bali, but the one at Uluwatu Temple is one of the most famous and is framed by an incredible sunset and sea views.
12. Island hop to the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are a set of islands close to Lombok – and they are seriously beautiful!
Gili Trawangan (nicknamed Gili T) is popular with backpackers and party people, Gili Meno is often described as ‘The Honeymoon Island’ while Gili Air is a bit of a balance between the two.
But they ALL have a couple of things in common: a) they’re home to paradise white sand beaches and b) have some of the most incredible diving and snorkelling spots surrounding them.
It takes a few hours to get to the Gili Islands by boat from Bali (even when using a fast boat), so you’ll probably want to spend a few days on the islands rather than trying to do them as a day trip.
But taking the time to do this is so worth it and definitely deserves a place on your Bali bucket list!
13. Enjoy a candlelit dinner on the beach
Head to Jimbaran Beach on the south west coast and you’ll find restaurant after restaurant serving delicious food right there on the beach… at sunset… and by candlelight.
This is definitely one hell of a romantic way to spend your time in Bali and you’ll likely want to eat dinner this way over and over again!
14. Walk the length of Campuhan Ridge
Close to the heart of Ubud, you’ll likely see signs or hear people talking about the Campuhan Ridge Walk.
The full walk is just short of a mile long and is an interesting walk that curves its way past hilltop views, thousands of trees and a river.
You’ll also come across a Hindu temple (Pura Gunung Lebah) at the start of the walk… and maybe even spot a local or two walking the stretch of Campuhan Ridge barefoot. At least, we did!
Head here early (before 9am) for a relaxing start to your day and to beat the tourists that just want to take photos here.
15. Hire a moped and explore Bali on two wheels
When you think of Bali you probably think of scooters/mopeds.
Because of horrendous traffic (especially in Ubud), Bali is full of people riding mopeds all over the island, so they can zip in and out of traffic jams.
You’ll probably even see entire families on one bike – and maybe some dogs too!
However, ONLY take part in this Bali bucket list idea if you already know how to ride a moped… and we definitely don’t recommend fitting four of you on one despite what the locals are doing!
16. Soak in a relaxing flower bath
Most midrange and luxury resorts in Bali will fill your bath full of flower petals – and sometimes even your private pool if you have one.
Let’s face it; it’d be rude not to indulge during your trip wouldn’t it?!
So lie back, soak in flowers and hot water and just let yourself think: “Now THIS is what Bali is all about!”
17. Sip on Bintang at the beach
Bintang is Indonesia’s own brand of beer/lager and is a must to try when you’re over that way.
Bintang is best served ice cold while you’re sinking into beanbags on the beach… at sunset.
18. Buy handcrafted souvenirs
One of the best things about travelling is being able to shop for local products and bring back a suitcase full of beautiful local goodies you can treasure forever.
In Bali, some must-have souvenirs you should definitely look for are:
- Batik artwork and fabrics
- Gamelan balls and instruments
- Traditional wood carvings
- Basket bags / Bali bags
- Barong masks
19. Try scuba diving for the first time
Indonesia has some of the most incredible diving spots in the whole world where the water is warm, corals remain colourful and bright – and even turtles are a common sight!
Plus it’s much cheaper to learn or try scuba diving here than closer to home.
In Bali, head to Tulamben and Nusa Lembongan to try scuba diving at some of Bali’s most iconic dive sites.
You could also try scuba diving on the nearby Gili Islands (like we did on Gili Meno!) if you’re staying there for a few days during your trip.
20. Snorkel with sea turtles
But if you’d rather not totally submerge yourself underwater then the next best thing is to snorkel where you might still see some sea turtles!
Some of the best snorkelling spots in and around Bali include:
- The Blue Lagoon at Padangbai
- The eastern shores of Nusa Lembongan
- Manta Point near Nusa Penida
- Turtle Point near Gili Meno
- The Gili Meno Statues
21. Hike Mount Batur at sunrise
If you’re into hiking and really want a bucket list Bali trip to remember then a hike up Mount Batur at sunrise simply has to be on your list!
It’s a strenuous 2 hour hike in the dark to the top and certainly not for the fainthearted – but the views from the top once the sun has risen are nothing short of magical!
22. White water rafting along the Ayung River
Another Bali bucket list day trip is white water rafting along the Ayung River.
There are lots of tour companies offering this as a half-day trip with hotel pickup from popular places like Ubud, Jimbaran, Seminyak and Kuta.
We prefer to use Get Your Guide for all our tours as their prices are fair, they have a huge selection and a really generous cancellation policy!
23. Stay in a luxury villa
Beyond Bali’s incredible landscapes and attractions, you’ve probably also seen thousands of photos on Instagram of gorgeous luxury villas with private pools, balconies and floating breakfasts surrounded by trees or rice paddies.
Believe it or not, getting this sort of luxury in Bali is easy and surprisingly affordable!
And we paid far less than you might think for all this luxury!
24. Or stay in a tropical treehouse
And then there are incredible treehouses you can stay in in Bali too… now that’s what we call a bucket list Bali trip!
25. Go in search of amazing waterfalls
We hope you liked our Bali bucket list! Which places and things to do are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below…
Dreaming of Bali? Pin this Bali Indonesia bucket list now and dream about Bali some more!