Bali – Top 20

As I said on the previous article (see) , we travelled among three regions of Bali – Ubud, Ungasan (Bukit’s Peninsula) and Seminyak. So, this Top 20 will be essentially about places to visit, and activities to do, in these areas.

As I mentioned we only had 5 days to spend in Bali, and unfortunately we had to leave some of these places to another visit!


This area is considered the cultural centre of Bali. A region in the middle of the Island, surrounded by houses with altars full of offerings, markets, temples, forest and rice fields.

The serenity of its beauty contrasts with the bustle of some of the streets. but here, spirituality and nature are queens!

From Ubud is possible to visit almost everything in the Island, and being this important causes the majority of tourists to stay in this region and do everything from it.

Spend the maximum of days you can here.

In the streets of Ubud you feel the looks of the Balinese purity and smell the incenses from the several offerings to the Gods and observe spirituality celebrations.

It’s the place of craftsmen and Rice growers.

It’s the place where we get lost in the beauty of serenity even when the crowd is very loud.

The inhabitants show off their clothes, their bright and colorful sarongs, making us feel in a constant cerimony.

Everything is different in Ubud, here you breathe the true essence of Bali.

Ubud is relatively easy to visit by foot,  it has a main road, Jalan Raya Ubud that cuts Ubud from East to West, and crosses with the Jalan Raya Forest that follows South and makes the path of the Monkey Forest.

– what to visit in Ubud (and you can walk to):

1st – Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
A true Sanctuary of monkeys that promised to be one of the most magical places in this trip. And it was!

A Forest where the monkeys are kings, where they show off their tails and ask (and demand and steal!) food to those passsing by.

The complex transmits amazing peace and harmony. Surrounded by nature, full of green and waterfalls, the Hindu temples seem to be the villas of election by the monkeys.

The mission of the Monkeys Sanctuary is the conserving all the area into the concept of Tri Hita Karana – in which peace and freedom are obtained when the three relationships are observed in harmony: 1. The Gods bless life, nature, and its content; 2. Nature offers the supplies for human beings; 3. The humans have the obligation to organize a structure of villas to build temples, perform ceremonies, make offerings and resolve their problems together.

Monkeys correspond to the God Hanuman in the Hindu religion, king of the monkeys who lent his agility, velocity and strenght to Rama to help him save Sita from Ravana. He asked in return to live while men remembered Rama. So Hanuman became immortal. Symbolically, the monkey is the Superior Science, the Superior Logic, that makes possible to “measure the world”, measure the “Great Work”.

The entrance in the complex costs 40 thousand rupiahs – about 3€.
Business hours: from 8.30 am to 6 pm (last entrance at 5.30 pm).
– Don’t start feeding the monkeys or trying to get to them like you could domesticate them! That’s not going to happen and you may get an aggressive bite.
– The monkeys are in their habitat, they’re the bosses, respect them.
– Don’t bring bags with food, they’ll smell it and attack you, so they can steal it. 

– There are people selling bananas at the entrance, don’t buy them if you want a peaceful visit. And if you do at least throw them at the floor, don’t try to play with the monkeys like they’re children!

2nd – Royal Palace 
The symbol of Ubud’s royalty right in front of the market, where the royal family still lives nowadays, although not having much to say in terms of governing the city. The complex is constituted by a series of gorgeous buildings of Balinese architecture, that give it a look of sacred temple. The gardens have statues of the Gods, and one of the highlights is the possbility (paid, of course) to watch a Balinese Dance show, every evening.

3rd Ubud’s Market 
The commercial centre of Ubud is an authentic feast of traders! You’ll find a bit of everything, food, crafts, clothes, and the strangest things!

If you can negotiate you’ll find the most fabulous prices ever, if you can’t you’ll for sure be robbed!

The complex is constituted by several stores and there’s stands around the stores, everyone will try to sell you something!

It’s a great place to observe the culture and the bustle of the Balinese life. A mandatory place, for sure. We bought fruit, sarongs, and absorbed the art of negotiating of these charismatic people!

The phrase that gets caught in your ear: “how much do you want to pay?”!
Business hours: 8am to 6pm

4th – Lotus Café
Next to the Royal Palace is one of the most famous cafés/ restaurants in Ubud, Lotus.
This iconic place has more than 30 years welcoming tourists from all around the world and cherishing the locals. The entire place has a magical environment, from its gardens with the mythical lotus lake, to the temple next to it, the Pura Saraswati.

A place to relax and enjoy.

There are also Balinese dance shows in the evenings, except on fridays – the ticket is sold in combination with dinner, and only this way, the prices change according to the distance from the stage.

5th – Pura Saraswati
Located in the heart of Ubud, the water temple is one of the most accessible in the region, right next to Lotus. The temple was projected by Gusti Nyoman Lempad, one of the most important artists and architects in Ubud; it’s filled with artistic sculptures covering the temple in honour of Saraswati, the godess of knowledge and art, but its main attraction is the picturesque lagoon, full of lotus flowers.
Free entrance.

6th – Balinese Dance
One of the activities you should definetely do is watch a Balinese Dance show. It can be of several types, all equally fascinating.

You can do it in the Royal Palace, at Lotus Café and at Pura Saraswati. It will be worthy in each of these places.
The shinny clothes, the smiles and delicate moves make us forget the daily life and transport us to another world.

– What to visit from Ubud (nearby): 
Here the ideal is to request the services of a private driver who’ll take you to all these places during an entire day and still does the tour guide part, as I said before (see).

7th – Pura Goa Gajah
The Temple of Goa Gajah, also known as Elephant Cave due to a huge rock which entrance looks like an animal or a demon creature (in my opinion nothing like an elephant!), dates back from the IX century.

This was one of the temples I found less interesting. By the side of the cave we can see a stone altar, sculpted with the three figures of the Holy Trinity (know more).

Next to the chapel there’s a beautiful fountain – maybe the most interesting thing in the complex.
The entrance at the temple costs 15 thousand rupiahs – 1€.
Business hours: 8am to 4pm.

8th – Pura Gunung Kawi
This temple is located at around 15km from Ubud, it was one of my favorites. You have to climb hundreds of steps but nothing of that matters, because they’re adorned with magical rice fields landscapes.

This temple, from the XI century was built for King Anak Wungsu and his wifes and its composed by majestic stone altars in a cliff.

The entrance costs 15 thousand rupiahs – 1€ Open from 7am to 5pm.

9th – Pura Tirtha Embul
One of the most important temples to the Balinese is located at around 20km from Ubud in the village of Manukaya. Built in the X century, it is a place for the purification of the body and mind.

It was one of the most spiritual places in the entire journey. Here there’s a water spring that purifies all those who bath in it.

You can observe closely the Hindu belief of Bali, at the same you feel the need to purify ourselves.
It’s a magical place, pure, a place with a spiritual weight that goes beyond all I ever saw or felt.

The entrance costs 15 000 rupiahs – 1€
Open from 9am to 5pm.

10th – Tegalalang – Rice Fields
By this time you must be asking yourselves about Bali’s postcard! Right? The imposing Rice Fields! Well, I can assure you they are even more amazing live!

We visited the Tegalalang rice fields and we were astonished with the architecture. The feeling we get is that the universe built a series of green steps to take us to heaven.

The combination of the green from the fields and the blue of the sky is worthy of one of the best images in the world.

The rice is the basis of the Balinese gastronomy and a part of the local culture.

Its cultivation is done accordingly to millenary rituals, linked to the local religion and philosophy.

The planting and irrigation system is known as subak. The soil is cut in layers or terraces so water builds up in certain spots, but also flows, naturally, from the top to the lowest area.

The main idea is to cultivate the rice in harmony with the Gods, with Nature and with the others. Respecting the basis of the Tri Hita Karana.
You can observe the rice fiels from afar or go in the terraces.

Another field that promises to be even more idyllic is Jatiluwih.

11th – The coffee – kopi Luwak
Did you know the most expensive coffee in the world is produced in Bali? Neither did I! And do you know how it is produced? I also didn’t knew but I found out!
So, it is called Kopi Luwak and it is produced in a somewhat peculiar way!
It’s production is made from the beans extracted from the faeces of the civet (Asian carnivorous mammal) – yes, faeces!!

They choose the best beans when eating and only digest the pulp, with the seed staying intact, just suffering the action of the batecria and enzymes of the stomach. The result are beans that give a much more tasty and soft (I didn’t got to taste it), and also rare coffee: with a production of under 250 kg per year and a kilo can cost up to a thousand dollars in places like Europe and Japan.

In Bali you can taste it for a much lower price!

12th – Lake Batur and the Batur volcano
Lake Batur is located at the feet of the Batur and Agung volcanoes, around 37km from Ubud, its the biggest in Bali.
It is for sure one of the places to include in a travel plan to Bali, it’s amazingly beautiful and the feeling of freedom is imposing.

You have two ways to visit, organize yourselves and schedule a walk around the Batur Volcano, experience the adrenaline of climbing it and have an astonishing view from the top.

Another option, which can be combined with the first, is walking at the lake Batur and visit a village nearby.

One of the most interesting is Trunyan, and its sacred cemetery, “village of the dead”. The Balinese usually cremate their dead, but this village follows a different tradition!

The bodies (that must have been married and death of natural causes) are taken in a canoe to the cemetery and placed in a land area next to the hill, at a sacred tree with more than a 1000 years, said to be able to absorb the smells of the decomposing bodies, as well as the water of the lake (reason why there’s no smell even with the bodies outdoors).

You can go there by boat, from the margins of Lake Batur.

13th – Pura Tegeh Koripan
This temple is located next to the Gunung Batur mountain, and considered the oldest in Bali. You must climb hundreds of steps to get there, but they’re worth it. They say it’s very mystical at dawn.

BanyantreeU - 27BUKIT PENINSULA 

This region in the south end of Bali, almost seeming to be separated from the Island, is one of the areas surfers choose for their adventures.

Besides Uluwatu, there are other two main areas, Ungasan (where we stayed at the wonderful Banyan Tree Ungasan) and Pecatu. The peninsula extends from Jimbaran to Nusa Dua.

What to see in Bukit:

Bali - uluwuatuPura Luhur Uluwatu*

14th – Pura Luhur Uluwatu
One of the most beautiful temples in Bali. Located on the edge of a cliff, with view to a paradisiacal beach, was strategically constructed to protect the Island from the bad spirits.

Watch the Kecak at Uluwatu:

A typical dance, Kecak, a religious and artistic manifestation representing the Ramayana, Hindu legend in which Hanuman saves prince Rama from the evil King Ravana.

You have to be careful with the monkeys in this area, they are aggressive and steal everyting they see!

Bali - Green BB2Green Bowl Beach *

15th – Beaches 
– Pandawa Beach – the secret beach, with white thin sand and a calm environment. According to the locals, one of the best in Bali.

– Dreamland Beach – beach of the surfers, very beautiful but not that interesting to those wanting to just stay in the beach (the entrance costs a few cents).

– Blue Point – the favorite of the surfers (the acess to the parking lot is paid).

– Padang Pandang – the place for sunbaths. It has a series of street food stands and sunbeds for rent (beaches of Eat, Pray, Love).

– Bigin – another white sand beach. Of difficult access but worth it (the entrance costs a few cents).

– Green Bowl Beach – a paradise (recommended to those who like to climb up and down, it has access through hundreds of steps (the parking lot is paid).

– Nusa Dua – full of luxury resorts, in which the most part of the main beach and the best taken care of is of exclusive access to the guests of those resorts.
But in this region you can’t miss the sunrise, seeing the locals picking up starfish at the beach and the Nusa Dua Art Market.

There are more beaches in this peninsula, these are just a few of them. Explore, some you will love, others not so much! I still think Bali is much more than a beach destinantion, moreover there are much more interesting places for that.


This is place of animation, bustle, confusion, almost gives us the impression we’re in Albufeira not in Bali! Very different from the serenity and spirituality of the most part of the Island! It has mandatory places, with famous beaches, for sure, but it did not win my heart, honestly. But fortunately the Hotel Peppers Seminyak (see article) made that job!
It’s located very closely to the Bukit Peninsula, West from it.

Bali - tanah lotTanah Lot *

16th – Tanah Lot
A Temple or magic sanctuary that translates to “Land in the middle of the Sea”. It stands alone on an escarpment in the western coast of Bali. We didn’t see it but the sunset there is said to be one of the most beautiful moments of nature.

17th – Sunsets in Seminyak
– Ku De Ta – One of the most famous spots in Seminyak, a must visit! A restaurant, bar and one of the best Sunsets in the region.

– Potato Head Beach Club – Another mythical restaurant/bar right on top of the beach with a menu full of cocktails to enjoy the warm and joyful evenings.

– Mozaic Beach Club – from the family of the Mozaic in Ubud (see article) comes this beach club where western cuisine, influenced by southest Asian flavors can be enjoyed with the ocean breeze and the wonderful sunsets, in a party and relaxation environment.


18th –  Lovina Beach and Gitgit waterfalls
Lovina is known as one of the most peaceful beaches in Bali. Outside the chaos and the tourist boom of Seminyak and Uluwatu, outside the surfer beaches.
It’s a beach with calm waters and dark sand.
Although peaceful it’s not paradisiacal and the highlight is the boat ride to see the dolphins. Where the beauty of the moment is taken to the extreme when it happens before sunrise. It can cost (per person) around 4euros, if negotiated! Some of the closest hotels offer this service.
Next to the beach, through a trail inside the forest we are taken to Gitgit, a beautiful waterfall with around 35m of height, inside an authentic tropical forest.

19th –  Pura Ulun Danu
Ulun Danu or Temple of the Lake, built in the XVII century, is a place with a very special atmosphere. There’s a symbolic relation between the temple and the water, and it seems to float over the lake.
Located in the margins of the Bratan Lake, in the mountains next to Bedugul, Pura Ulun Danu impresses by its beautiful architecture and offers us the richness of the Balinese culture and spirituality.
Being located in a higher region, between mountains, its a bit colder, so take a coat.
The entrance costs 30 000 rupiahs – 2€.


bali - Gilli TrawaganGili Trawangan *

20th –  Gili Islands
Bali is a vulcanic Island and absolutely touristical, meaning many of the beaches with dark sand are either full or dirty (or all together). There are beautiful beaches, but paradise is a bit more to the side, at the Gili Islands! You can get there through Pandang Bay (East of Ubud), by boat, in  a 2h travel.

They are three small islands: Gili Trawangan (or Gili T), Gili Meno and Gili Air. They’re located northwest from Lombok, still in Indonesia, and all the beaches have white sand and water of different blue tones, warm and with a paradisiacal look.

Gili T is the biggest of the 3, the closest to Bali, with more structure and full of lodging options to every wallet, and it’s where the night life’s at!

Gili Air, on its turn, is closer to Lombok, a more peaceful option, also with good structure and lots of restaurants and hotel options, but without the night crazyness of Gili T.

Gili Meno is the less structured of the 3, there are restaurants and lodging, but fewer, but it is considered the most beautiful.

If you go to Bali for several days, take one or two nights for this paradise. Get settled in one of the Islands but travel among the three of them. They are pretty small, so you can easily walk around. Another option is snorkeling. If you don’t want to do activities just don’t, this is simply paradise! And here the beaches are perfect!

 The unforgettable Bali childs

Where to stay
Banyan Tree Ungasan
Peppers Seminyak
Bisma Eight

Versão Portuguesa

Text: Cintia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses and Isabel Costa (marked with *)

Flavors & Senses in Singapore with the support of Samsonite.

This is the 2nd of two articles for our Bali Guide

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