We’ve spent over 6 months in Bali in the past 3 years or so. Over the time we’ve grown to love the island to bits. The daily rhythm of life in Bali is seductive but if you want to head out for a few day trips and excursions around the island, here are a few of our favourites.
Getting Around in Bali and planning your day trips
Renting a car and driving it yourself isn’t ideal in Bali as rental cars are expensive, roads can frequently be narrow, and the traffic manic. However if you’re confident driving a scooter, we’d definitely recommend getting one in Bali. A rental scooter costs anything between $3 – $5 per day, so it’s extremely cost effective. If you’re quoted a higher price, just bargain. Scooters are ideal for outings in your immediate vicinity or slightly further afield.
However if you are planning to visit a place which is over 30 minutes away from your hotel, we’d suggest booking either a guided tour or renting a car with a driver. We have booked a few of our excursions and day trips in Bali with Bali Bliss Tours – We first booked a sunrise trek with them in 2015 after reading glowing reviews online. Truth be told, we were apprehensive about a cab picking us up at in the dead of the night (at 2 am). But everything went seamlessly and we’ve just stuck to booking all our tours or renting a car with a driver with them ever since.
Now that the logistics are out of the way, let us tell you about some of our favourite day trips and excursions in Bali
I) Tegalalang rice terraces
A number of panoramic balconies and cafés close to Tegalalang village offer panoramic views of Ubud’s iconic rice terraces. You could stare at the terraces and marvel at the unique irrigation system as you sip on a coffee or you could get down and dirty and go for a walk on the terraces and prance amidst paddies. You know which one we opted for don’t you? 😉 The walk is free but locals request a donation. The drive to Tegalalang village is dotted with numerous shops full of tie & dye goodies, tribal jewellery, and ethereal dreamcatchers (of course I bought a few, you know my love for dreamcatchers!).
II) Mount Batur
Let’s be honest – how many times do you get to hike an active volcano in the dead of the night, reach the summit and stare at one of the prettiest sunrises in the world, examine black lava rocks lining the slopes after the last eruption, and boil an egg using the steam from the volcano? Those are just a couple of reasons why you might want to head to Mt. Batur when you’re in Bali.
We booked our excursion with Bali Bliss Tours as I said above. We were picked up at our villa at 2:30 a.m. and driven to the starting point of the hike. We started the hike at 4 am. A 2 hour hike through rock and rubble led us to the summit just in time for sunrise. Mt. Batur is said to be one of the best sunrise spots in the world and it’s true – we couldn’t get enough of the clouds suspended over the lake. We coupled this with a visit to a coffee plantation where we sampled 9 types of Indonesia tea and coffee, including the (in)famous Civet Coffee. The entire excursion (cab, hike, guide, and breakfast) cost USD55/£37 per person. Of course you need to be fit to tackle the hike because it gets quite steep and rough in parts. Other than that, it’s highly recommended!
III) Danu Bratan and North Bali
Bali has temples by the dozen. But few are more scenic than Danu Bratan, situated in the middle of a lake. It is even possible to take a boat ride in the lake surrounding the temple. Danu Bratan is gorgeous to catch sunrise but do keep in mind that it’s covered with clouds more often than not. Go early and you’ll be the only one – it gets SUPER crowded after 8 am.
Combine a trip to Danu Bratan with a quick stop at one of the famous gates in Bali – the entrance gate of Handara Golf Club and Resort. It’s so popular now that you’ll have to pay a fees of IDR 30,000 per person to take a photograph. Well, all thanks to social media 😉
You should also drive further up to Lake Tamblingan and check out the floating temple there. It’s really gorgeous and in all probability you’ll have the place to yourself. There is an entrance fees but there was a lot of confusion regarding how much it was – they asked for IDR per person 100,000 but Gede (our driver) told them we didn’t want to go for a hike and they then asked for IDR 50,000 for both of us.
And to end this trip, we suggest visiting a playground for adults – when you drive back from Tamblingan, you’ll see many hoardings with swings, nests, and what not in an area called Wanagiri Hill – all claiming to have that perfect selfie spot. Just enter whichever looks good to you, pay the entrance fees (IDR 50,000 per person) and shoot away. They even provide reflectors to make sure that the lighting for the photographs is ideal – talk about providing a good service 🙂
We booked this day trip with Nyoman from Bali Bliss Tours and were picked up from our guest house in Ubud at 4:30 a.m. and dropped off at noon. Gede, our driver, spoke good english and was knowledgeable about the area 🙂
IV) Lempuyang Temple
The sacred Lempuyang temple is one of the most spiritual sites for Balinese locals. But the gates of the temple also make for a gorgeous photograph with the Mt Agung standing tall in the backdrop. We suggest combining this outing with a stop at the surrounding villages when you can see Mt Agung stretching out beyond the paddies in all it’s glory. You could also visit the Jemaluk Viewpoint, a scenic point overlooking Jemeluk Bay, on that day itself. This is a gorgeous spot for sunset. Do consult the weather forecast before planning this trip as it makes sense to plan this road trip only on a clear day when Mt Agung is not covered with clouds and the sea at Jemeluk is sparkling blue.
It will take you a good couple of hours to get to this area from Ubud. We suggest starting from your hotel at around 4 a.m. to reach the temple at the crack of dawn. We went with Bali Bliss Tours as always and Nyoman was accommodating to send a driver at that odd time to pick us up.
V) Taman Ayun
The temple of Taman Ayun is a pleasant 30 minute drive away from Ubud. It’s a small temple, worth visiting if you’re there for a longer time in Bali. Let me warn you. You’ll spot this sign outside Taman Ayun and many other temples in Bali. We’re all for respecting cultural idiosyncrasies and despite being atheists, we love visiting religious sites when we travel (purely out of anthropological curiosity!). But this kind of stigmatisation of bodily fluids in the name of religion really annoys us. It reinforces sexist mores and gender inequality, something both of us oppose strongly. If you look past that, Taman Ayun offers a pleasant enough walk around the temple complex. Entry is USD 1/£0.70 per person. Expect to spend 30-40 minutes looking around the temple – it’s a pleasant enough walk but not unmissable
VI) Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot is an hour’s drive away from Ubud. It’s famous for the gorgeous sunsets. The temple, perched atop a cliff makes for a pretty sight. But it can get very crowded. We didn’t enjoy it as much as we thought we would but we’d recommend giving it a go if you are in Bali for a week or more. Entry is USD 3/£2 per person.
VII) Tegenungan waterfall
A 30 minute drive from Ubud will bring you to one of the area’s beautiful waterfalls: The Tegenungan waterfall is a bit of a local secret and locals love dropping by for a relaxing swim. Try going early in the morning – it’s absolutely spectacular in the magic morning sun. Entry is 1.5 USD/£1 and there is ample parking available on site.
VIII) Small waterfalls surrounding Ubud
Ubud is home to lots of other cascading waterfalls as well. If you are staying in Bali for longer, try visiting the little known Pengempul Waterfall, Nung nung waterfall, Tibumana Waterfall, Kanto Lampo Waterfall, or Tukad Cepung Waterfall. They’re all little gems in their own right. But do beware – they’re at their best during monsoon months and thin down considerably during summer months. Also, always try to visit these waterfalls first thing in the morning as they tend to get crowded after 9 a.m.
Watch out for more updates from us in the coming weeks and months – we are always on a mission to find the best excursions in Bali 🙂