Volcanic peaks, swirling waves, jungle-fringed shores and ornate temples on your visit to one of Indonesia’s most popular islands.
Lush, laid-back and gloriously scenic, Bali combines its legendary white sands and big surf with a rich tapestry of volcanic peaks, vivid green paddy fields and temples. The island's vibrant Hindu culture is a defining aspect of its character with traditional music and dance, elaborate ceremonies, and gamelan concerts everywhere you go. Away from the coast, the volcanic interior is blanketed in dense forests that sweep down to colonial hill towns and meandering rice terraces that snake around the hillsides. Here you'll get an authentic insight into Balinese life and the island's people.
Indonesia Asia specialist Chris
What I love most about Bali is its diversity. You get all the sun, surf and sand you want, beautiful hotels and spas, active volcanoes and tranquil paddy fields as well as an incredibly vibrant local culture.
Things to see and do on your holiday to Bali
Climb Mount Batur volcano to watch the sunrise
One of Bali's most sacred mountains, Mount Batur is an active volcano dramatically set inside two concentric calderas. At its summit are three smouldering peaks, which rise above a beautiful blue caldera lake.
Although it's a relatively easy climb during the day, the mountain is best tackled before dawn so that you arrive at the summit to see the sun rise over the surrounding mountains.
On your descent, you can bathe in hot or cold springs near the lake shore before enjoying lunch overlooking Lake Batur and the sacred mountain.
See the Jatiluwih rice terraces, Pura Batukaru Temple and Lake Bratan
Leaving the busy south coast behind, you'll soon discover the sleepy charm and traditional lifestyle of Bali's lush interior.
In remote Jatiluwih, a swathe of glistening rice terraces coils around the hillsides overlooked by brooding mountains. Nearby, on the forested slopes of Gunung Batukaru is Pura Batukaru, one of Bali's most beautiful temple complexes with a series of small pagodas and tiered shrines.
Ascending further into the hills you approach Lake Bratan, where the 17th century Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, with its tiered spire of roofs, sits on a small island near the edge of the lake.
See a kecak dance
Based on the Hindu epic poem Ramayana, Bali's kecak dance is a spellbinding combination of synchronised chanting and clicking performed by a large troupe of men. The dancers are surrounded by the troupe and accompanied by syncopated, undulating rhythms that reflect the changing mood of the story.
Two of the best places to see a performance are the Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah, where the show is followed by a traditional Balinese dinner overlooking the rice paddies, and Uluwatu Cliff Temple, where the dance begins after sunset and plays out against a backdrop of ocean rollers.
Scuba dive the Liberty wreck near Amed or at Menjangan Island
Bali's majestic underwater world offers diving for both novice and experienced divers. The island's most well-known dive site is the USAT Liberty wreck, which lies just 80 feet (25m) from the shore at Tulamben in the northeast. It's extremely popular by day, but come for a night dive and you'll see shoals of humphead parrot fish, massive groupers and moray eels hunting smaller prey.
Menjangan Island in the Bali Barat National Park is another excellent dive location with steep drop offs, caves, slopes and lagoons that shelter turtles, groupers, barracudas and sharks as well as bright triggerfish, lionfish and fusiliers.
Surf in Seminyak
Bali has long been renowned for its surfing and is home to some of Southeast Asia's best breaks such as the Pandang Padang pipeline. But it's also an excellent place to learn to surf, and the gentle waves and sandy shores around Seminyak are a great place to start.
The water is warm, the atmosphere is chilled out and the lessons are great fun yet very professional. The surf schools cater to all abilities and promise to have novices standing within an hour so you can legitimately claim to have surfed in Bali.
Surrounded by tropical rainforest, rice terraces and farms, Munduk is an old Dutch colonial hill station that makes a wonderful mountain retreat. Its jungle landscape and cool climate means it is ideal for trekking or cycling with numerous routes to waterfalls, traditional villages, coffee plantations, and sacred lakes.
The whole area has a languid charm and life here ticks by in a very traditional way. You can walk and cycle along mist-clad hills, swim in natural pools, learn about coffee production and canoe to ancient lakeside temples.
Take a sailing trip to Nusa Lembongan
A tiny island fringed by white sand beaches, Nusa Lembongan is an escape from the busy south coast. Its sleepy atmosphere, clear waters and coral gardens make it an ideal place to sit back and relax or snorkel and dive.
The island can be visited on a day trip from Benoa, where you board a catamaran for the one and a half hour journey. Once you’ve retreated to your hotel – we suggest either the Nusa Bay Lembongan or the Batu Karang Nusa Lembongan Resort – you can use the pool, kayak, snorkel or join a tour of a local seaweed farm.
Festivals, events and seasonal reasons to visit
- Held over five days in late March or early April, Bali Spirit is a celebration of world music, spirituality and wellbeing with yoga, meditation and healing workshops, concerts and live entertainment.
- Nyepi, Balinese New Year, is celebrated on the lunar new year, usually in March. It begins with an evening of parades where grotesque effigies are carried through the streets to ward off evil spirits. At dawn the following day, the whole island shuts down for a day of silence and introspection, which is followed by a day of temple ceremonies and celebrations.
- Galungan celebrates the victory of Dharma over Adharma, or good over evil, and is a chance for ancestral spirits to visit the Earth. The festival takes place over ten days with intricately decorated penjor (bamboo poles), laden with harvest fare outside every house. It's a very photogenic time to visit with towns elaborately decorated and streams of people in traditional dress carrying carefully arranged offerings to the temples.
- Kuningan is the last and most important day of Galungan when the ancestors return to the heavens. It’s a day of prayer across the island with sacred dance performances and rituals performed at Sakenan Temple on Serangan Island. Dates for Galungan and Kuningan are dictated by the 210-day wuku lunar calendar and change each year.
Suggested itineraries featuring Bali
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Bali, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Bali
Places & hotels on the map
Places in and around Bali
- Bali Barat National Park Bali
- Bukit Peninsula Bali
- Candidasa Bali
- Jimbaran Bali
- Lembongan Island Bali
- Lovina Bali
- Medewi Bali
- Munduk Bali
- Pemuteran Bali
- Sanur Bali
- Seminyak Bali
- Tembok Bali
- Ubud Bali
- Ijen National Park 31 miles away
- The Gili Islands 96 miles away
- Senggigi 97 miles away
- Sire Beach 99 miles away
- Medana Bay 101 miles away
- Lombok 120 miles away
- Mount Bromo 121 miles away
- Mount Rinjani 124 miles away
- Malang 142 miles away
- Surabaya 149 miles away
- Moyo Island 199 miles away
- Prambanan 289 miles away
- Yogyakarta 297 miles away
Photos of Bali
Accommodation choices for Bali
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Bali. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
A dramatic three-hour drive through mountains and villages leads you to this resort, a serene and secluded property; far from the busy beaches of southern Bali.
The 18 cottages at Puri Dajuma are located in lush tropical gardens that meet an expansive beach, home to row upon row of colorful fishing boats that head out past the breaking waters every day.
Munduk Moding Plantation is a boutique hotel and spa found on a working coffee plantation that has one of the most picturesque locations in central Bali.
The Damai consists of just eight private bungalows, all of which feature antiques, fine woods and beautiful textiles recreating ancient Indonesian patterns.
Taman Sari blends wonderfully with nature, the simple cottages and suites were built using natural indigenous materials in a relaxed setting surrounded by tranquil gardens and ponds.
Located on the hillside, this resort affords stunning views over Jimbaran Bay. The beach, although not private, offers peace and tranquility away from all the hawkers found on other beaches.
Set in the relaxed beach town of Sanur, Tandjung Sari offers traditional elegance as well as excellent value for money. One of the oldest hotels in the area, it is renowned for its fine food and friendly staff.
Part of Aman Resorts, widely considered one of the best hotel groups, Amankila is an excellent example.
The Candi Beach Resort & Spa is a charming resort located on the outskirts of Candidasa, by Mendira Beach. Its expansive grounds offer a tranquil place to stay and relax in while exploring the attractions of eastern Bali.
The Jimbaran Puri Bali is a luxury resort hotel with a simple, unpretentious and supremely romantic style. Individual luxury cottages and villas with private gardens promise the luxury of seclusion and uninterrupted sea views, beside the soft white sands of Jimbaran Bay.
Naya Gawana Resort & Spa is located on the north west corner of Bali Barat National Park, a quiet and peaceful part of Bali. The resort is the ideal base for those looking to enjoy all of the natural activities that the area has to offer.
The contemporary Balinese villas are designed to make the most of these stunning views and all have a private pool looking out over the Indian Ocean.
Without doubt the most stunning property in Bali's arid Bukit Peninsula. It has just 35 luxurious suites, all with four-poster beds and round tables for private dining, a sunken indoor bath, outdoor shower, a garden courtyard and a terrace.
Set in a lush tropical garden with two swimming pools overlooking the ocean, Blue Moon Villas is the perfect place to relax in Amed, East Bali.
The Menjangan is spread over four locations within Bali Barat and is ideal for those looking for luxury in an idyllic, natural setting.
The property is owned and run by a Swiss-couple and has only ten air-conditioned rooms, all simply decorated but clean and comfortable.
Situated on the quiet side of Seminyak Beach and bordered by the Indian Ocean, the Samaya Seminyak is set amidst lush tropical gardens only five minutes walk from the stylish restaurants and boutique shops of Seminyak.
The Legian is one of Bali's finest beach hotels and being so close to the sophisticated area of Seminyak it has numerous superb restaurants just a short walk away.
Set amidst a coconut grove, the resort is nestled between the sea and the majestic Mount Agung, Bali's most sacred mountain. All rooms and suites face the ocean.
This small boutique property has 34 rooms which are all finished to a high standard with a touch of traditional Balinese design.
A wonderfully stylish property with 23 villas situated in peaceful gardens behind the beach resort of Sanur.
Uma By Como combines a contemporary style with the feel of a traditional Balinese village, surrounded by lush foliage and just a short drive or 30 minute walk away from central Ubud.
A great value property with a traditional Balinese style , Tepi Sawah is full of character and charm. The villas are set amidst tropical gardens only a short walk from Ubud town.
A charming traditional style Balinese Resort, situated amongst the emerald green rice terraces just 5 minutes outside of Ubud town center.
This hotel is located ten minutes outside Ubud amongst lush rice paddy fields, in some of the most picturesque grounds of any hotel in Bali. It oozes style whilst remaining small and intimate and is superb value for money.
Set on a quiet rice terrace outside Ubud, the Sandat Glamping Tents are the first of their kind in Bali to blend luxurious safari-style tents and traditional Lumbung with contemporary Italian design and green philosophy.
Alila Ubud is a tranquil and secluded hillside retreat that sits high up on the edge of the rich green Ayung River valley in Bali’s central foothills.
The Komaneka at Bisma is located upon the hillsides by the Tjampuhan river valley just ten minutes walk from central Ubud.
Amandari is perched above the verdant Ayung River gorge outside the artist’s community of Ubud, it overlooks natural forest and an emerald green cascade of rice paddies, tilled as they have been for centuries.