I fell in love with Bali when I first came here in 2016. I cannot even describe why, but deep in my heart I knew that I had to stay here for a while.
First I was curious to see all the beautiful places I saw from pictures on Instagram, travel magazines and different blogs. I went to Pura Tanah Lot, to Uluwatu, to the beaches in the south, and visited the touristic sights in Ubud.
But soon I was curious to discover more. I wanted to see what was behind all those famous spots that everybody knew. I wasn’t up to rush through all the touristy photo spots anymore. Instead, I was curious to feel the island and absorb it’s vibes with all my senses. My goal was to discover Bali on my own, to see the hidden gems of Bali off the beaten path.
So here I listed a few of my top things to do in Bali beyond of what most first-time visitors would do.
1. Get a Motorbike and discover Bali at your own Pace
First thing I recommend is hiring a motorbike. If you’re not comfortable riding a scooter, hiring a driver is also fine. Both has its pros and cons, but riding your own bike gives you a bit more freedom.
When I first came to Bali, I had no clue that literally everyone is driving a scooter here. So I jumped into the deep end and hired a scooter without knowing how to drive one. I had a friend who told me the basics and that was it – one hour later I found myself driving on the busy streets in Canggu, with a pumping heart, sweaty hands and total excitement. As I made it as a total beginner, I’m sure you can do it, too.
Since then, driving by scooter in Bali truly is a thing which I love. When feeling the wind in my hair while driving along the rice paddies, this symbolizes freedom for me.
2. Trip to breathtaking Sekumpul Waterfalls
According to the travel blog Wandersanwarriors, Sekumpul waterfall is known as one of the best waterfalls in Bali. When I went here during one of my first trips to Bali, it was already late in the afternoon. I was lucky as there were only a few people left and they were about to leave. So as we arrived at the waterfall, we had the whole place just for ourselves.
Sekumpul waterfalls are located in Bedugul area north of Bali. To get there, I recommend getting a driver or driving on your own by scooter. Once getting to the parking lot, you’ll be greeted by a few tour guides asking you to accompany you along the way to the falls. But doing the hike on your own is totally fine and easy to find as the path is well marked. You can also buy drinks and snacks along the way in case you’re getting thirsty or hungry.
The way down to the falls is a bit adventurous: most of the walk consists of steep stairs guiding you down into the valley. The hike takes around 30 minutes down and 40 minutes up but the effort is totally worth it. The view is breathtaking and the waterfalls are stunning!
3. Do a holy Water cleanse at Pura Tirta Empul
Pura Tirta Empul is a temple complex of holy mountain water in central Bali north of Ubud. The heart of Pura Tirta Empul is made of a pool offering 13 spouts for purification baths. The spouts bear holy water to purify your body, mind and soul. The ritual is as follows: Step into the pool and stop at each fountain, folding your hands into prayer and bow under the water. Then, catch the water with your hands and pour it over your head and to your forehead while silently repeating the mantra ‘OM’ three times to yourself.
Dress respectfully, bring a sarong and arrive in the early morning hours to escape the crowds. Skip the last two spouts as they are meant to purification purposes in funeral rites.
4. Visit mystic Sangeh Monkey Forest North of Ubud
If you ever heard about Monkey Forest in Bali, most people refer to the sacred monkey forest in Ubud. Yes, this well known forest right in the heart of Ubud is full of monkeys, but it is also a typical tourist spot – almost every foreigner visits this place when coming to Ubud. If you’re keen on escaping the crowds, hop on your motorbike or get a driver to Sangeh Monkey Forest north of Ubud.
The Sangeh botanical garden stretches along 13 ha of forest reserve, hosting temples, century-old nutmeg trees, wildlife and hundreds of monkeys. This place feels sacred and peaceful. You will see a few people in the park but not many. This monkey forest is not really known amongst foreigners but at least as worth seeing compared to Ubud monkey forest.
5. Eat Nasi Campur in a local Warung
No trip to Bali is complete without eating Nasi Campur in a local warung. It is the perfect way to connect with locals and taste the flavors of Indonesia. To find a warung, just look for one of the small food vendors located all along the side of the roads.
Nasi Campur (Indonesian: mixed rice) is a local dish of rice accompanied by small portions of other dishes. Including various meats, vegetables, eggs, nuts and sambal.
Many warungs offer a variety of vegan and vegetarian options where you can choose from such as green vegetables, coconut curry, eggplant, pulled jackfruit, shredded coconut, spicy sambal and roasted peanuts. The combination of flavors is making the dish so rich in taste: it tastes salty, sweet, spicy and incredibly delicious!
Ask for tempeh, a fermented soy bean originated from Indonesia. Contrary to tofu, tempeh is made of whole soy beans, which are being compressed and fermented. But watch out: the taste of tempeh can be addictive!
Feel like visiting the beautiful island of Bali and discover more? Connect it with our unique 200hr Vinyasa Yin Yoga Teacher Training and deepen your practice at our beautiful resort surrounded by tropical jungles, rice-fields, rolling hills and temples.
If you visit one of the above places, I am curious to know how you liked them. And if you’re a Bali fan like me, let me know your favorite spots off the beaten path in the comments below.