The Getaway
Reasons to Book a Bali Vacation

Located in the Lesser Sunda islands of Indonesia, the province of Bali is known for many things, including its natural beauty and history. Romanticized by anthropologist Margaret Mead, its culture combines Chinese, Indian, and Hindu influences across eight regencies and neighboring islands.

It grew to international prominence during the thirties, and currently, tourism accounts for 80 percent of the province's total revenue. Considering its warm year-round climate and favorable foreign exchange, it is an attractive getaway for snowbirds.

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01 Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

sanctuary tunart / Getty Images

Known locally as Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, the Sacred Monkey Forest sanctuary attracts approximately 120,000 monthly visitors. While it's a nature conservatory with a variety of protected animals, the Balinese long-tailed monkeys are the main draw. Different groups of monkeys occupy separate territories within the sanctuary. Visitors can observe, photograph, and have limited interactions with them. Additionally, touching the monkeys and feeding them human food, such as cookies or bread, is strictly prohibited. That doesn't stop the monkeys from sometimes accosting tourists if they feel there's food.

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02 Tanah Lot

Bali traveler

Founder of the Shaivite priesthood and traveler Dang Hyang Nirartha came to Bali from Java during the 15th century. His travels led him to the rock island, where he told some fishermen to build a temple because he felt it would be a holy place to worship Bali's sea gods. The mythology surrounding Tanah Lot and its Hindu temple has been around for centuries, and the site has been the subject of many tourist photographs.

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03 Ubud Royal Palace

Bali royal kovgabor79 / Getty Images

Ubud Royal Palace, known as Puri Saren Kangin, was built from 1800 to 1823 by the late ruler Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel. It's a complex that contains the houses for Ubud royals and their families. During the last king's reign, famous entertainers and artists visited and helped Ubud become Bali's cultural hub. Ubud Royal Palace is free to visitors, who can hire a guide to learn more about its history

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04 Sanur

Bali sanuri

The history of Sanur tells of invasions of Dutch and Japanese forces during the first half of the twentieth century. However, in 1963, it saw a boost in tourism thanks to the Bali Beach Hotel, built by the Indonesian president. These days, Sanur is becoming a popular location for villa resorts. While it has beaches that offer panoramic views, a major attraction is the Bali Orchid Garden. Opened in 1999, this landscaped garden has species from Indonesia as well as abroad.

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05 Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Located in the Gianyar district, Tegalalang Rice Terraces offer visitors an authentic rural experience. While terraced rice fields are all around Bali, Tegalalang is home to the Subak system, a cooperative irrigation system that was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2012. Visitors can walk through the rice terraces, which have an entrance fee as well as mandatory donations at certain access points. The terraces are at their greenest in September, October, March, or April, which are rice harvest times.

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06 Goa Gajah

caves Bali

Known as the Elephant Cave, some speculate that Goa Gajah was built in the 9th century, while others postulate that the style is from the 11th century. What is known is that the complex contains images of Hinduism and Buddhism. One example is the main stone-carved image that was thought to be an elephant but was, in fact, a statue of the Hindu God Ganesh.

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07 Celuk Village

village Bali South_agency / Getty Images

For centuries, Celuk Village in Gianyar has been known for handcrafted gold and silver jewelry. Celuk started as a farming community. Over time, each learned how to manipulate metals, and today, it's home to traditional artisans who have passed down their expertise through the generations. Tourists can check out some of the pieces on display and may even commission custom pieces from certain artisans. In rare instances, some smiths may allow visitors to create their own jewelry.

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08 Nusa Islands

Bali islands

Off the coast of Bali, in the Klungkung Regency, is the Nusa Islands. These three islands are known for their beaches and natural landscapes, but they're also bird sanctuaries. Nusa Lembongan has white sand beaches and limestone cliffs, and on the other side of the yellow suspension bridge is Nusa Ceningan, known for its surf breaks. These three islands are vacation spots on their own, and travel experts recommend booking a few days to explore and enjoy.

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09 Balinese Folk Dancing

folk Bali brytta / Getty Images

When artists fled Java for the island, Balinese dances became a way for the people to teach and showcase historical events and beliefs. While there are many types, visitors to Bali tend to appreciate the Kacak, Legong, and Barong dances. Legong tells the story of a king finding a lost maiden who he holds captive, and the Barong tells of a fight between good and evil. There are many dance performances daily in the temples and palaces of Ubud for visitors to enjoy.

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10 Pura Ulun Danu Beratan

Bali

Built in 1633 to honor the Balinese water, lake, and river goddess Dewi Danu, Pura Ulun Danu Beratan is a complex of four sacred buildings with multiple tiers and tropical foliage. This floating temple is also a major part of the subak system, which uses Bali's second-largest lake, Lake Beratan, to irrigate the local village's crops. The temple is open for worship 24 hours, but for visitors who want to learn more about its history, it's open from 8 am to 5 pm.

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11 Surfing

Mature young mother rides early morning wave Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa / Getty Images

The coastline of Bali is a paradise for any surf enthusiast. Its dynamic range of wave intensities makes it a perfect playground for both seasoned surfers and those still learning to catch their first wave. The vibrant surf culture in Bali can be felt from its pristine shores to its bustling towns, particularly in popular spots like Uluwatu, Canggu, and Seminyak. Here, surfers can battle challenging waves under the golden rays of picturesque sunsets. Each spot in Bali radiates its unique charm, with local surf schools enthusiastically guiding beginners through the basics of surfing, ensuring a safe and pleasurable surfing experience.

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12 Scuba dive with Manta Rays in Nusa Penida

scuba dive and manta rays Global_Pics / Getty Images

Taking a dive into the crystalline waters of Nusa Penida, one can share the waters with the graceful giants of the ocean - manta rays. The ethereal beauty of the underwater world is accentuated by these majestic creatures, elevating scuba diving in Manta Bay into a surreal experience that's likely to be vivid in memory long after they've dried off. Apart from manta rays, the dive sites around Nusa Penida are also home to vibrant coral gardens and a diverse range of marine life. This rich underwater tapestry is there for divers to explore, and the serene calmness of the ocean makes it an unforgettable escapade.

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13 Cycle the Sidemen Valley

Aerial landscape of Sidemen village in Bali Indonesia joakimbkk / Getty Images

A little off from the bustling tourist hubs in Bali lies the serene Sidemen Valley. Lush rice paddies, traditional Balinese villages, and the imposing silhouette of Mount Agung in the distance paint a replica of the island's authentic rustic charm. Cycling through this untouched gem is a soul-soothing experience. As you pedal through narrow village trails, you can meet friendly locals, visit ancient temples, and drink in the overwhelming beauty of Bali's countryside. The gentle terrain in Sidemen Valley is pleasant for a leisurely ride, and the tranquil ambiance, punctuated with panoramic vistas, is always enjoyable.

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14 Wade into the infinity pools

Ubud Hanging Gardens in Bali Indonesia zxvisual / Getty Images

If one considers the luxury of Bali, perhaps the best representation of it would be its stunning infinity pools. Whether perched on cliffs overlooking the sea or nestled amidst lush jungles, these pools offer a tranquil escape with views that seem to stretch endlessly into the horizon. Venues such as the Hanging Gardens of Bali and Munduk Moding Plantation are where people can enjoy this luxury. The calm waters of the pools, the gentle hum of nature, and the magnificent views combine to create a serene retreat where time appears to stand still.

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15 Shipwreck at Tulamben

Scuba Diving Inside the USAT Liberty Wreck in Bali Brent Durand / Getty Images

The USAT Liberty Shipwreck at Tulamben is a riveting sight that transports divers back in time. Coral-encrusted remnants of this World War II cargo ship sat rusting underwater, providing a habitat for thriving marine life. The scene creates a tableau of how nature reclaims its path, and the dense assortment of fish species, corals, and other marine organisms marks the past's palpable memory. Each dive at Tulamben reveals new scenes, as sun rays filtering through illuminate the historical relic.

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16 Relax in a flower bath

Bath tube with tropical flowers, spa, relaxation, body care, therapy. Top view olegbreslavtsev / Getty Images

Indulge in a sensory feast as you let your body soak in a luxurious flower bath. The mix of aromatic petals and essential oils creates a vivid backdrop against Bali's soothing natural beauty, offering a rejuvenating experience as much for the soul as for the body. The gentle touch of flower petals, the soothing aroma, and the calming ambiance ensnare your senses and leave you relaxed. Bali's various wellness retreats often incorporate this holistic experience into their regimes, combining traditional Balinese spa treatments with the serenity of nature.

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17 Enjoy smoothie bowls

Tropical vacations concept. Healthy breakfast with smoothie bowl on swimming pool edge Oleg Breslavtsev / Getty Images

Bali showcases a health-centric cafe culture, and one of its trendy representative dishes is the smoothie bowl. Cafes like Nalu Bowls and Kynd Community have become popular for serving these colorful, nutrition-packed bowls. A perfect blend of fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and a variety of superfoods ensures a wholesome and delicious start to the day.

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18 Learn Balinese culinary skills

Nasi Campur Bali, a Popular Balinese Meal of Rice with Variety of Side Dishes MielPhotos2008 / Getty Images

Immerse in Bali's rich culinary heritage by enrolling in a cooking class. Guided by local chefs, you'll venture into traditional markets to source fresh ingredients before mastering the art of Balinese cuisine. It's a delightful foray into the island's culture, leaving you with cherished memories and delectable recipes to recreate. The hands-on experience, the aromatic spices, and the joy of cooking traditional dishes create a rich tapestry of flavors and memories.  

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19 Chill on Gili Air in the Gili Islands

Gili Meno beach and island in Indonesia Didier Marti / Getty Images

A serene escape awaits at Gili Air, one of the tranquil trio of Gili Islands. The laid-back vibe here is a perfect antidote to the bustling energy of Bali. Whether it's lounging on the sandy shores, snorkeling in the clear waters, or enjoying a beachfront meal, Gili Air is a slice of paradise that beckons. The simplicity and charm of Gili Air provide a refreshing contrast to the vibrant energy of Bali, making it a perfect getaway.

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20 Nusa Lembongan

Bali, Indonesia, Traveler on Tree House at Diamond Beach in Nusa Penida Island R.M. Nunes / Getty Images

Nusa Lembongan is a haven of natural beauty. The island's pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs offer a tranquil escape from the mainland. Whether it's snorkeling, diving, or simply basking in the sun, Nusa Lembongan is a picturesque retreat that captures the essence of Bali's enchanting allure. Nusa Lembongan is a place where the simplicity of island life harmoniously blends with breathtaking natural vistas, providing a refreshing retreat from the bustling scenes of Bali.

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