Every country, every island, every corner of the Earth has its own ‘TOP’, so called ‘the must see’. The same happens to the Indonesian island of Bali. It is obvious that most of those ‘TOP’ found on various lists are generally deliver from subjective points of view or depend on the number of tourists visiting them. Unfortunately, historical value or function the given object got in the past, are those of a minor attention. Frequently, a target is decided to be ‘the must see’ just on the base of its localisation, as those hard-to-reach, deep in the jungle, high in the mountains or even far from airports and roads are not attractive at all for tourists.
All of ‘TOP’ lists are controversial as there always occurs someone who can undermine their credibility. That is why creating the right list is hopeless. Therefore the draft that is presented below is nothing more than a subjective list created on the base of our own experiences and feelings, so that it could reflect the Balinese world as clear as possible. We can assure that by following it you can easily learn that world and explore its mysteries and enigmas moreover you can also reveal its secrets.
If our list doesn’t meet your expectations you are welcome to share all your feeling with us. We are here to make your Balinese trip unforgettable.
Tanah Lot Temple
Pura Tanah Lot Temple is really worth visiting as apart from being of a high historical value it is also located in spectacular area. It stands for earth (Tanah) and sea (Lot), quite appropriate considering its spectacular setting on top of an impressive rock overlooking the sea. It was constructed in the 16th century and since that it has been one of the most magical, astonishing and breathtaking temples in Indonesia. Local people claim that Tanah Lot guards the shoreline. It is located not far from Kuta in north-western direction.
Pura Lahur Uluwatu
Uluwatu is located in the southern end of the island. Not only is it one of the oldest temples but also one of the most eye-catching because of its magnificent location. Uluwatu is perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 80 metres above sea level. Pura Uluwatu is dedicated to protect Bali from evil sea spirits. Moreover it is a place of worship of Siva Rudra, the Balinese Hindu deity. Pura was built in the 10th century by Hindu monk who had arrived there form nearby Java. So devoted was he to Pura Lahur, that he chose this place to be his tomb. Therefore for Balinese people this place is very important as a place of worship. The additional attraction of Pura Lahur are the ubiquitous monkeys. Javanese macaques are rather obtrusive and tourists have to be very careful not to be robbed by them. Monkeys can be a real pain in the neck, however tourists love them much.
Tegallalang rice fields
Doubtless, it is here where the most spectacular Balinese views can be found. Fabulous, intensely green fields covering all nearby hills are magnificent, I would even say thrilling by the charm. They are alluring. Absolutely picturesque area. Indonesia is a world-renowned rice producer so such views are pretty popular in here. Central part of Bali is all covered by such amazing fields.
Monkey Forest, Ubud
Among all places, National Park is the most prone to be put on a ‘TOP’ list. In the area are located three Hindu temples dated on 14th century. However, despite being of an unquestionable historical and spiritual value, mainly for local people, it is not these factors that attracts thousands of tourists. The magnetic attraction are monkeys. Macaques, who happily romp around attracting people at first but then terrifying them. Those mammals are not afraid of people so we can easily witness their everyday life, their pranks and games, feeding babies and the rest. Those who want to visit the park must pay an entrance fee.
Pura Besakih Temple
This is the biggest temple on Bali. It consists of unique complex of 60 temples and 23 sanctuaries. It is known as Bali’s ‘Mother of Temple’ and was built in 10th century of stone wood and bricks. Besakih is first mentioned in a written form in 1007 and it is the biggest and holiest of the island’s temples. It is surrounded by breathtaking and scenic rice paddies, hills and mountains. Being located pretty high on the slope of Mount Agung Pura is often covered by clouds. That actually makes it even more attractive, creating an atmosphere of mysticism and spiritualism. The temple represents seven layers of the universe. Tourists can visit the terraces but only Hindu can enter the temples.
Taman Festival – the ghostly abandoned theme park
Southeast Asia is commonly known from countless abandoned places. From Mjanma, Thailand and Vietnam to Indonesia, we can face forgotten sites and buildings being absorbed by nature. Almost every single place can be explored: numerous temples, the cemetery of old planes or water parks. They are located all over the continent, not leaving Bali. Here many deserted places can be found, the most interesting of which is Taman Park. Not only being the most interesting but also very mysterious site, it attracts many visitors. Taman Park project, which was to cost $100 mln, included the biggest swimming-pool, rollercoaster, 3D cinema and laser show. The construction had begun, but the opening never came. Few reasons caused such a situation, the most crucial of which were financial and law problems.
All abandoned places are believed to be have been settled by itinerant spirits. According to local people that park in particular attracts spirits living all over the island, that why it is called the most haunted place ever. They called it ‘The Ghostly City’ and are terrified to enter the place. However Taman is open for tourists, especially for those who are fascinated by mysterious places and like taking photos of spiritual theme.
The oldest tribe lives in here, in the neighbourhood of Batur lake, the People of Aga. There is nothing worth being seen in the village at the first sight, however, after the second thought we can learn some more things. We find out that the People of Aga live in a complete isolation having no contact with the outside world. They even hardly speak Indonesian. They live in accordance with nature, seasons of the year and beliefs of their ancestors, paying homage to primeval traditions and customs. They live in two different villages, Tenganan and Trunyan located on both slopes of the Agung volcano. In their society no private property exists. Villages are surrounded by the fence with four gates which face four sides of the world. Every house is equal, impossible to differentiate, marriages are taken only within their community which caused many handicapped kids to be born. If someone dares to break the rules is immediately expelled. Funerals are another very characteristic ceremony. Dead are buried within three cemeteries: one is dedicated to handicapped, those who were murdered, suicidal, and victims of accidents; another one is only for kids and teenagers and the third, the most controversial one, is located on the small island on the lake and is called Seme Wayah. Here are bodies of those whose lives were somehow significant for the community. The process of funeral is very unique and not understandable for Europeans, as the body is left under the 1000 years old holy tree called Taru Menan. After decomposing the skull is put on a stone monument and bones are spread all over the cemetery. This is absolute magical place, unique, only for those, who were chosen.
Balinese accuse the Aga People of cannibalism, claiming that Aga eat their dead men just to keep their magical power. No one knows if it’s true. However, it is certain that in Tenganan village another ritual called ‘me kare kare’ takes place. It is ancient blood ritual, extremely important for Aga. Men fight each other using sharp pandam leaves and rattan shields. The fight lasts for about 10 minutes until the first drops of blood are seen. It takes place at the turn of June and July.
Aga are as well known for their unique beautiful material ikat, hand-woven, that according to them has some magical power and can protect the owner form evil ghosts.
Goa Lawah Temple
The Temple was created in 1007 by Mpu Kuturana, Javanese monk. Goa is one of sixth temples built by him on Bali. It is famous for a big cave where thousands of bats live. There is actually countless number of those mammals hanging up-down. According to a legend the cave is also a home for enormous snake called Naga Basuki. Goa Lawah is a very important worship place for local people who come here to pay tribute to their ancestors and talk to them. For tourists it is an amazing place surrounded by abundant nature, the place where they can touch a real magic and mystery. Sound of gamelans and voices of prayers and blessing make the atmosphere even more unusual. Everyone wears white, and women have baskets full of fruit, vegetables and flowers that are gifts for their deity. Absolutely amazing place worth being visited.
Bengkala- the village of silence
It is extremely unusual as all its inhabitants are deaf. Its singularity is even bigger when it comes to talk as they use and understand only kata-kolok, sign language created by themselves. More or less 3000 people live here, most of who have been deaf since birth. This is mainly caused by the gene that has been preserved in this society for seven generations, however local people believe their deafness is caused by the curse thrown on them by their ancestors. There is a primary school in the village with about 80 pupils. Customs and tradition is very important in this community, that’s why they are the perfect source of knowledge dealing with native tribes.
Munduk is another awesome village located in the north part of the island. From there extensive plantations of spices can be seen which makes that place even more attractive by the spectacular view. Munduk is 500 m above the sea level and it is often gloomy and foggy but it doesn’t have a wrong impact. On the contrary, bleak and murky days make the village spooky and even more attractive. All you need to have in mind is to take a warmer jacket with you. In the past the Dutch colonised the site so we can face some amazing traces of breathtaking colonial architecture, that is not common on Bali. It is them who set up most of the plantations. The village is surrounded by the jungle which hidden many spectacular places. Some of them are beautiful waterfalls Tanah Barak, Melanting and Golden Valley. It is calm, secluded where you can easily relax.
Bali is commonly known from its spectacular picturesque beaches. Most tourists come here because of them. It would seem that all of the Balinese seaside’s secrets are discovered, commonly known and popular. Nothing could be more wrong! Unknown, amazing shores are being discovered all the time. Some of them are of an easy access, which means that they are pretty crowded, some are still pristine, practically unknown, only because of their location. One of such places is Perasi beach, amazing one with crystal water and golden sand. It is about 20 minutes’ drive north from Candidasa but about 2 hour-drive from Kuta. Not all visitors want to drive for so long and that’s why this beach still remains clear and seductive.
Sideman rice fields
They can be found in the east part of Bali and are of a high beauty. Walking around takes us many years back. Tiny villages are surrounded by rice fields and ceremonies in honour to local spirits are held in numerous temples. Mount Agung, that guards the area, makes the place even more dignified. The best way to visit Sideman is by renting a bike or a motorbike. Rice fields, mountains, valleys, Unda river and many coffee and cacao plantations hide many fantastic and mysterious corners. Sideman is a perfect starting place to trek to Mount Agung. Not only being a volcano but also the highest peak on the island Agung can be extremely interesting destination for tourists. Local agencies offer various types of trek each of them is worth our effort.
Amed is a very unusual place. It is a small village in the north-eastern part of the island. It is a traditional Balinese village, pretty calm one with no visitors inside. People who live there do not subordinate their live to tourism, they live their own lives. Apart from breathtaking views Amed tempts by its stunning beaches that are covered by volcanic sand hence their colour is almost black. Beaches of Amed are perfect places for diving and snorkelling. There are awesome coral reef all around with astonishing underwater flora and fauna, mostly endemic. More professional divers can find here another awesome attraction. The wreck of Japanese ship is sunk here and it lies diagonally at the bottom about 6-12 meters below sea level. Don’t forget to take your camera with you as photos taken underwater are awesome.
Another attraction in Amed is Gunung Agung, the highest Balinese peak. Trek there is really unforgettable until you go with a professional guide, just not to risk your life.
Bali Safari and Marine Park
Not everyone visiting Indonesia has an opportunity to face its awesome flora and fauna. It is not easy and needs a lot of time and money, as Indonesia consists of 17 500 islands, each of which is different. On Bali we can easily experience all the most significant creature living in this huge archipelago. It doesn’t mean that all of them live on that one island. It is so because there is a huge theme park on Bali dedicated mainly to younger group of tourists. Visitors can easily meet flora and fauna of Indonesia which is really fantastic. They can see elephants, tigers, orangutans, and those of world-fame, endemic Komodo Dragons or sea mammals that are loved by all of us. To meet all attractions that are offered by the park people have to spend all day in there. Theme park in in Gianyar and is easily accessed from Kuta. The best option is to take taxi or motorbike.
Pemuteran is located in the north-western part of Bali. It is an hour-drive from Lovina and it is definitely one of the most unknown places on the island. The village is surrounded by green hills, all houses are circled by gardens where cows graze peacefully. We can feel the time stopped in 80’s. Those who come here are guided by a different goal. Not only beautiful, crystal beaches, but diving is the aim of a large group of people. Water is very clear, and coral reef as beautiful as nowhere else. There is a fabulous underwater garden located nearby, with beautiful stone sculptures covered with underwater fauna that makes photos taken there amazing.
Pemuteran is easily one of the most interesting places on Bali, as it has many to offer. Everyone can find something suitable for them here, both those who love spending time on beach and those who prefer explore underwater world. Apart from that it is a very peaceful place with no tourist, clear beaches and spectacular views.