Every month we’ll bring you a rundown of the best places to see, things to do and – of course – foods to eat in various states or areas around Southeast Asia. This is part of an editorial series on reasons to love various places in Southeast Asia.
There’s a lot to love about Bali, and there are plenty of reasons why people keep going back for more. The abundance of diverse natural backdrops, adrenaline-fuelled fun, and gushing waterfalls combined with the island’s laid-back atmosphere and unique culture makes Bali a treasure trove of experiences.
In case you’re still in need of convincing, these are 19 reasons to fall in love with this island.
1. It is a land of a hundred landscapes
With 2,232 square miles of vast contrasting landscapes, Bali presents coastal beach locations, expansive rice fields, lush tropical rainforests, a volcanic mountain range, sacred caves and cascading waterfalls.
2. You can dine on the edge of a cliff as the sun sets
Built into the side of a limestone cliff above the Indian Ocean, you’ll need to take an elevator down to the Rock Bar at AYANA Resort and Spa. This open-top bar sets the pace for spectacular sunset views with ambience, appetizers and cocktails to match. Feast on Mediterranean cuisine after the sun goes down and watch the stars arrive in the night sky.
3. There’s a temple floating in the sea
There are over 10,000 temples in Bali, but Tanah Lot has that extra something special. The temple was built on a natural rock formation surrounded by the sea, which at high tide makes it look like it’s floating.
At low tide, you can walk across into the temple. It’s just a 45-minute drive from Kuta; arrive before 6pm to see the phenomenal beauty of the temple silhouetted by the setting sun.
4. It is world-renowned for its spiritual and wellness retreats
Located in the midst of the rainforest and rice paddy fields, The Yoga Barn is the epitome of health, wellness and spirituality for Yogis all around the world. From yoga and meditation classes and workshops to enrichment from locally grown produce, vegan foods, raw snacks and fresh juices, the Yoga Barn is a detox and rejuvenation process for the body and soul.
5. You can swim underneath Tegenungam Waterfall
Cascading in to the Petanu River, the Tegenungan Waterfall is just one of Bali’s natural gems. Located in the low-lands five kilometres south east of Ubud, the Tegenungan Waterfall is one of the most easily accessed falls in Bali. The hundreds of stairs leading down to the waterfall will reward you with the chance to swim in the clear water surrounded by cliffs and lush greenery.
6. Climb an active volcano at Mount Batur for sunrise
The volcano’s last eruption was in 2000, and despite its currently active status it draws people from all around the world with its promise of adventure and breath-taking views. The early morning wake-up call and every step of the 1,717-metre trek are worth the experience of being atop Mount Batur with the backdrop of a new day.
7. Enjoy a cold Bintang beer on the beach
What’s better, after a tough day of vacationing, than a cold one at one of the makeshift bars on Legian Beach? Socialise with the local barmen or have a massage by one of the beach sellers while listening to bongo drums play as the sun goes down.
8. It is a surfer’s paradise
With waves during the dry and wet seasons, surfers can do what they love all year around. The peak time for surfing is during the dry season from May to September, where waves at Uluwatu reach between three to ten feet. Uluwatu is said to have some of the best surfing in the world.
9. Get up close and personal some of the world’s most exotic animals
Bali Safari and Marine Park is a sanctuary to over 60 species with opportunities to meet some of their most exotic dwellers. Whether you’re up for a ride on the back of an elephant, cuddles with a tiger cub, a python cosying around your neck, or dining among lions at the Tsavo Lion Restaurant, you can really get up close and personal with some very cute, and perhaps terrifying, creatures.
10. Your palate will be delighted by roast pork
While there are a number of Balinese culinary dishes to choose from, you can’t miss Babi Guling. It is pork dish where the pig is roasted on a hand-turned spit over an open fire, so that the skin becomes super crispy while the meat is succulent and tender. Complemented by fluffy rice, long beans and spice mix, this traditional dish is a favourite among tourists.
11. The endless selection of infinity pools
The Hanging Gardens is by far one of the most desirable swimming pools in the world. Suspended over Ubud’s rainforest surrounds, the twin-tiered pool will have in-house guests swimming above the treetops.
12. Spend a day (or two) lounging around the pool at a beach club
You could easily spend all day at El Kabron, and when it’s time to go you probably won’t want to leave. Sitting on the cliffs of Uluwatu above the Indian Ocean, El Kabron is a hidden gem with panoramic views and a Spanish menu including a delectable array of desserts and fruit-filled white and red sangria.
If you stay until the evening – which you will – at the luxurious outdoor lounge, complete with infinity pool, the 180-degree view of the sunset is a breathtaking experience.
13. Indulge on seafood in Jimbaran Bay
If you love seafood, you’ll love Jimbaran Bay. At a table pitched right on the sand, you’ll enjoy some of the freshest seafood Bali has to offer. With the mood set by the waves rolling in and a live quartet, your experience will be made more spectacular as you watch the sun go down from your table.
14. There’s a whole other underwater world to discover
Immersed in 30-metre deep water, dive among the black tip sharks, garden eels, and surgeon fish while exploring the USS Liberty Shipwreck.
Easily the most famous dive site in Bali, the ship was originally beached after being hit by a Japanese torpedo during World War II. It wasn’t until a volcanic eruption almost 20 years later that the wreck was pushed back into the ocean where divers explore it today.
15. Adventure is never far on Tanjung Benoa beach
Adventure awaits you in the sky and on the sea at Tanjung Benoa – the home of extreme water sports. Whether you’re up for parasailing over the ocean, getting a group together for a banana boat ride, cruising on a jetski or whizzing over the water in a donut ‘floaty’ pulled by a fast boat, they have the adrenaline rush for you.
Or, if you’d prefer to stay dry, you can look below the surface on a glass-bottom boat ride or take a trip to Turtle Island to meet sea turtles.
16. The possibility of complete relaxation on a nearby island
Away from the hustle and bustle of mainland spots like Kuta and Legian, Nusa Lembogan can be reached by a 30-minute speedboat ride. The island offers a quiet, safe and secluded location for a day trip with nothing but complete relaxation free of hawkers and traffic.
17. Live like royalty in a luxury villa
From RM 630 a night, you could be living like royalty in a private villa. The eco-friendly Villa Pererepan harmonises with its jungle surrounds constructed with all natural materials. The villa’s unique design features bamboo glass doors, a king-sized bed dressed with organic bamboo linen, large rain shower and a stone bath tub.
18. The cliff-guarded white-sand shores of Padang Padang
There no question why Eat, Prey, Love was filmed on the shores Padang Padang beach. Unlike the over-crowded shores in Kuta, Pandang Pandang offers a quiet hundred-metre stretch of clean white sand. Whether you want to surf the waves, soak up the sun from a beach chair, build a sand castle, dip your toes or dive into the ocean, Padang Padang is a suitable location for people of all ages and interests.
19. If a plain old spa day isn’t enough, there’s The Edge
Bali is not short of a spa by any means, but The Edge Spa is one of world-class innovation. Perched cliff-side, the spa was designed with the concept of merging the interior with its sea surroundings. To do this, they brought the “sea” inside with the spa featuring wet treatment areas where the floor is actually submersed in water.