Bali-Must-See. Bali is well known as a dream destination for fantasy beaches and parties that end well past dawn. But Bali punches well above its weight for South East Asian islands. There is a tremendous amount of history, culture, and incredibly friendly people. I am going to provide a wrap-up of the must-see places in Bali.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Over 600 monkeys are packed into these 27 acres. Strolling through this preserve is an opportunity to get up close and personal with a plethora of monkeys. Do not be surprised if one or two jump on your shoulder or head. I watched a monkey surreptitiously sneak up and grab a water bottle from a tourist. You also might witness a baby monkey being made. Enjoy!
Tirta Empul is a Hindu Balinese water temple. The temple contains a petirtaan, which is a bathing structure. It is well-known for its holy spring water where the locals go for ritual purification. The locals (and a bunch of tourists) will hop into the petirtaan, and proceed from stone spout to spout to cleanse themselves.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
This temple is situated on Lake Bratan surrounded by mountains. This incredibly picturesque temple dates to the 17th century. This temple honors the lake and river goddess, Dewi Danu.
Many a postcard has been created here. The Jatiluwih rice terrace, a UNESCO heritage site, is located in central Bali. Plush, green rice fields are stacked upon each other set in a valley surrounded by mountains. This is a great place to walk through the terraces on marked paths. Take your time, take a photo, and take in this beautiful area.
Unlike the majority of Indonesia, Bali is a predominantly Hindu region, not Muslim. On every corner it seems like there is another Hindu temple. The most important and revered Hindu Temple is Pura Besakih. It rests 1,000 meters up on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali. Twenty-three temples are part of this extensive complex. The temple is thought to have been founded over 2,000 years ago. The setting of the temple with the mountain is breathtaking. It is also a very active temple with many locals making pilgrimages to pray or partake in a special event.
Warning. Despite being such a special places, the caretakers of Pura Besakih risk offending visiting tourists with scam like maneuvers. First, simply to drive on the roads in the area of the temple you need to pay a fee. You then need to rent or purchase a sarong to cover your lower half. Then I encountered the gate keepers who initially suggested a “donation” of $30 per person. There was no signage for ticket prices. It appeared the strategy was to pressure or cajole visitors to part with as much cash as possible to visit this holy temple. It is critical that you negotiate with the gatekeeper to pay a lower ticket price. And finally, all tourists are required to tour the facility with a guide who needs to be tipped. My experience at this special temple was definitely lessened by the staff. While this is a Bali must-see, you need to weigh the pros of the beauty of the temple verse the cons of the predatory staff.
Just as there are Hindu Temples on every corner, it appeared that there was a ceremony or ritual taking place at every temple. Sit back and relax and watch the devoted.
Possibly the most famous landmark on Bali beside Bintang Beer is the Hindu temple, Tanah Lot. Tanah Lot is propped on a rock that sits in the ocean. During high tide, the temple is surrounded by the ocean, and one must wade through the ocean to visit the temple. During low tide, one may approach via the beach. It is thought the temple dates back to the 16th century. Despite the hordes of visitors this is an excellent and popular place to view the sunset.
Bali has so much to offer and such an amazing place to visit. Bali has a couple of challenges. First, is the traffic and the roads. You can expect to spend a lot of time in the car when exploring the island. Second, the island is probably a lot bigger than you think and would be difficult to explore on your own via public transportation. I felt like I was forced to hire a car/driver. Third, the predatory staff at some of the temples is a distinct turn-off.
I had the incredible pleasure of being escorted around the island for two very long and full days. I would highly recommend Didi of Bali Adventures. I went on an incredible day full of photography. And I also spent a day driving around with Inyoman, who I would also recommend for more straight forward drives. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 340 297 667.
And if you need any tips on solo travel, check out this Bali solo travel guide.
Thinking about diving in Komodo? Make sure you check out Ayana Komodo Resort.
And check out one of the most amazing temples, Borobudur must-see temple.