What once used to be just one of the uprising tourism centers in Indonesia, is today the icon of Indonesian tourism itself. Topping the charts for the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia is Bali, in Indonesia.
From long stretches of pristine white sand and turquoise sea, ancient temples and active volcanoes to tropical greenery teeming with wildlife, Bali has something for every type of traveller. Here’s a quick guide taking you through the best of Bali tourism, listing out the places that you just cannot miss on a trip to Bali.
1. Monkey Forest, Ubud
True to its name, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud is home to over 600 crab-eating macaque monkeys. The nature reserve has been well preserved to maintain the natural habitat of these monkeys, as well as to serve as home to several rare plant species. Paved pathways winding through the dense foliage cuts you off completely from the concrete world, and also takes you to ancient temples housed within. The 14th century Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple, the ancient bathing temple of Pura Beji right next to a stream are some of the temples here.
2. Mount Batur
Among everything mundane, Bali offers something that is truly adventurous and daring – a chance to explore and trek up the sometimes-active volcano peak, Mount Batur! The 1,717 m tall peak is situated in the most dramatic region in the northeast of Bali, which includes four craters, several villages and Lake Batur as well. The sunrise trek in Mount Batur is a popular activity as it can be easily accomplished by anyone with reasonable physical fitness. One of the 9 major Hindu temples in Bali – Pura Ulun Danu Batur is also located here.
3. Pura Tanah Lot
Set on a beautiful location – a rocky islet by the sea, the iconic Balinese temple of Pura Tanah Lot is a sight to behold. Though its not possible for foreigners to enter any of the temples, one can clamber over to the main temple at low tide. Built in the 16th century, the temple is believed to be built at the request of the priest Nirartha after he spent a night at the seaside on the rocky outcrop. Batu Bolong, another beautiful sea temple can be visited from here too.
4. Pura Luhur Uluwatu
This is another of the nine Hindu temples in Bali, set on a spectacular site at the edge of a limestone cliff top that juts outward towards the sea. Built in the 11th century, this temple has statues of Ganesha flanking the entrance. Visitors are allowed to tour the grounds of the temple complex, exquisite photography opportunities are guaranteed with the stunning architecture of Megalithic origin from the 10th century and its location. Kecak fire dance performances can be enjoyed here every evening.
5. Sekumpul Waterfall
A breathtaking view of the Sekumpul Waterfalls would be a welcome respite from the concrete world. Blend with the elements of nature as you take the 3-4 hour round trek to Sekumpul Waterfalls, whose series of seven falls is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Bali. The trek takes you past rice fields, tropical jungles, across a stream and local villages, giving you more insight into the region.
6. Tirta Empul Temple
The Tirta Empul Temple is yet another beautiful temple located in Manukaya Village in Central Bali which should definitely be on any Bali Itinerary. Divided into three courtyards, this temple is famous for its large rectangular pool where purification rites take place. The water from the mountain spring that feed the pool is said to have healing powers. You can saunter along the temple grounds which is adorned by lush gardens and statues.
7. Mount Kawi
Mount Kawi or Gunung Kawi is one of the largest and oldest monuments in Bali, where you can find 10 shrines carved out of the massive rock face. 270 steps would take you to the top of the monument, where overwhelming views of the town and ancient rice terrace fields can be witnessed. The Gunung Kawi temple at its base with its luxuriant gardens, lotus ponds and charming antique structure is a must visit.
8. Green Bowl Beach
Among the many beaches in Bali, the Green Bowl Beach remains one of the hidden gems inaccessible to the regular throng of tourists owing to its secluded location. During low tide, the rocks and green hill surrounding the beach gives it the shape of a massive exotic green bowl – hence the name. It is a great spot for surfing, but is inadvisable for beginners.
9. Besakih Temple
Known as the ‘Mother Temple’ of Bali, the Besakih Temple is the most important of the 9 Hindu Temples in Bali. It is located at the magnificent location of a height of 1000 m on the side of Mount Agung – the highest volcano mountain in Bali. The impressive structure of the temple complex includes 23 temples that are still largely unexplored, the most striking of which is the six terraced levels of Pura Penataran Agung.
10. Yeh Leh
Located in Jembrana is a stretch of shoreline littered with smooth rounded pebbles and boulders – the Yeh Leh is a pristine beach unknown to many. It is located just off the Denpasar-Gilimanuk highway, easily accessible especially when it is low tide. The thousands of glittering boulders smoothed over by the crashing waves make a unique sight, especially during the sunset.
Bali is an exotic blend of natural beauty, culture and heritage, that never ceases to amaze those willing to explore its depths. This list puts together everything that makes it exotic – places that should be on every Bali tourism itinerary.