The Lee’s List of 12 Things to Do in Bali!
Here’s Our Parent’s List of 12 Things to Do in Bali!
Tanah Lot | Temple in the Sea
Ulun Danu | Temple in the Sky
- Souvenir Shops
Uluwatu Temple | Temple on the Cliff
Other Balinese Temples
Taking in the Local Culture
- Elephant Rides
After landing in Bali we wanted to do some of the things our daughter did:
And definitely some other things they didn’t do:
- Watch a Temple Ritual
We also found things not to do too…
1 | Monkey Forest
# 1 out of 12 things to do in Bali is a well known sanctuary for monkeys. There’s a small entrance fee to the Monkey Forest but the monkeys roam freely in and out of the area. There were so many monkeys everywhere; old monkeys, baby monkeys with their mothers, monkeys picking lice off one another, monkeys looking to visitors for bananas. There were also many staff walking around to ensure the safety of visitors. Some visitors even got a monkey to sit on their shoulder long enough for a picture. If you absolutely, positively must go to get a close view of monkeys, go here!
2 | Tanah Lot ~ Temple in the Sea
I read a lot (pardon the pun) about the sight called the “Temple in the Sea” and how the beauty of the location is matched only by the their view of the sunset. From Ubud, Tanah Lot Temple is about 1.5 hour drive. Along the way, we stopped to enjoy some local fruits like durian and jackfruit.
Unfortunately due to less than ideal weather we weren’t able to see the sunset. However the sight of the temple on an island in the sea was quite spectacular. During low tide visitors and worshipers alike make their way to the temple from shore, but when the tide is up the path becomes submerged.
3 | Ulun Danu ~ Temple in the Sky
# 3 out of 12 things to do in Bali, roughly 2 hours away from Ubud, Ulun Danu is located about 4000 ft above sea level. This beautiful and ancient temple is situated along the lakeside, amidst a scenic garden. The lake reminds me very much of Lake Tahoe, up in the sky and quite pristine.
Lots of locals and tourists from Java visit the temple here. Along the way you can take in the local scenery as you pass through various small villages. We saw a lady who was going to the temple, all dressed up, and carrying on top of her head a very tall arrangement of fruits. It looked like it was actually more than she could comfortably handle.
One thing to notice about worshiping is that both men and women all dress up. The men are dressed in white and wearing headgear called an urdu, similar to a bandanna. While the women are clad in a white figure-hugging blouse with a yellow sash tied around their sarong. Yellow is a holy color and especially worn during the Kunigan Festival, quite literally “The Yellow”.
4 | Kopi Luwak
# 4 out of 12 things to do in Bali…
If you have seen the movie “The Bucket List” you will remember Jack Nicholson and his coffee and was later told by Morgan Freeman that it was “cat’s poop coffee”! Indonesia is well known for this and the animal that poops out the kopi (coffee) beans is the Civet Cat, known locally as the luwak.
The story is that the civet cat has an acute sense of smell and only chooses the choicest of coffee beans. However, the beans are not digested so they pooped out along with you know what! The beans are cleansed many, many times and then finally roasted.
The Result is Kopi Luwak! We stopped by a touristy kopi place, complete with gardens of coffee plants, pepper plants, etc with caged civet cats. They will serve you complimentary teas but you will have to pay for your kopi luwak for about $12 USD per cup! I have read before that it was as high as $50 USD a cup so $12 is a veritable bargain!
Personally speaking, I think it was over-rated. An espresso, for me, will do just fine. But you should give it a chance and ultimately get bragging rights on this one.
5 | Souvenir Shops
Due to an aborted attempt to go to Tanah Lot, we ended up at souvenir and gift shops selling jewelry, teak carvings, and other local handicrafts. The jewelry shop was interesting in that it has its own large compound and on the grounds were various beautiful sculptures. Jewelry is not cheap and an attendant followed us around making us feel very uncomfortable.
The wood carvings were equally expensive; going into the $100’s USD! We tried bargaining using our developed haggling skills but sadly we were not successful. In Ubud town center, there is a large market that you can also shop for all kind of souvenirs, at much lower prices.
6 | Jimbaran Beach
Coming down from Uluwatu, we stopped for lunch at a seafood restaurant on the beach at Jimbaran that is # 6 out of 12 things to do in Bali. The restaurant we went to was by the beach with nice relaxing views. You choose the seafood you want and how you want them cooked. We ordered some kebab shrimps, some crabs, and a fresh fish. All food comes with the usual salads and chili sauces. Our lunch order came to almost $100 USD.
We later found out that we could have ordered a set lunch for much less, albeit with less food. So, if you are at a restaurant, do ask if they have set lunches or dinners. It could save you a lot of money. And don’t forget to enjoy all meals with Indonesian Bintang Beer!
7 | Uluwatu Temple ~ Temple on the Cliff
Another temple, Uluwatu Temple… I told you, exotic Bali is an island of a million temples!! Uluwatu is approximately 1.5-2 hours drive from Ubud. There were many spectacular views from the temple. Apart from the views, there were supposed to be some monkeys hanging around but perhaps it was too hot that day we visited. It is a place for meditation and quiet solitude, if that’s what you are looking for. See how the worshipers are dressed in their temple garb.
8 | Kuta Town
We stopped at this beach town on the way back to Ubud from Uluwatu and Jimbaran. Kuta is a very modern town with lots of western-named hotels and malls. McDonald’s, Starbucks, and other fast food chains proliferate the town. Lots of westerners can be seen on the beach, drinking or doing water sports.
Local beach bums abound touting various services. I checked hotel prices in this area and they can run into $200-300 USD a night. Stay here if you absolutely need to be near the beach. Otherwise, Ubud is a better option, with countryside views minus the Western atmosphere.
9 | Other Balinese Temples
A lot of the other temples look very similar to me; varying in sizes locations. Keep in mind that more likely than not, you will have to don a sarong over your own clothes, especially if you are in shorts.
10 | Taking in the Local Culture
We immersed ourselves culturally with a visit to a Kechak show with the music provided by half naked, mostly older men chanting. It is actually a kind of religious ceremony with some very young female dancers wearing intricate headgear, and gracefully swaying with moving hands.
If you have been to Thailand, Malaysia, or the other Southeast Asian countries, you will find a lot of similarity in their slow swaying hand movements. The fire walking, however, was quite intense.
Another show we attended was a dance enacted from a story in the Ramayana, the Hindu holy scriptures, but I believe with a Balinese twist. There was a dance of the mythical creature called a Barong, a lion like creature, displayed slow and calculated movements to the sounds of the local orchestra’s instruments.
11 | Elephant Rides
Everyone who has been to Bali would probably have experienced a ride on an elephant. There is an elephant park, complete with a hotel that you can stay at. Nadia and John stayed there during their visit and got to bathe the elephants in the morning!
Free imported labor!
We did not do that but visited an activities park, where they had whitewater rafting, ATV and elephant rides; opting only for the latter. I found it to be a very uncomfortable ride; tossed left and right as the elephant stomped through the jungle. For a special experience, I was invited to sit directly on the elephant back instead of in the gondola with my wife. I found it to be just as uncomfortable but now on a very rough hairy hide!
After the ride, we had a massage, which was included in the ticket. The experience came with a buffet lunch but we reserved our valuable stomach space for other food. Total cost was about $30 a person.
12 | Bird Park
# 12 out of 12 things to do OR not do in Bali is the Bird Park. We went there but did not enter the park when we found out that the entrance fee was $30! Unless you are willing to spend more than half a day, which we were not going to, it was just not worth it. Cheaper in KL!!
You Go Do You
Go to Bali! Find your Bali and do what you want to do! I bet you’ll find other things not on this list to do out there.
Just don’t forget to tell us about it!
Which trip did you really enjoy?