Bali is an extremely popular tourist destination. It has a lot of things to offer to people of all tastes and budgets. There're beautiful beaches, magnificent temples, majestic mountains, fascinating rice fields, and lush tropical forests.
However, even though lots of people love Bali, there are also those who hate it. Some tourists had a great experience and enjoyed the island, while others thought that it was the worst trip of their life. This difference of opinions wasn't only about different tastes or luck of these travelers. It was also about the places they chose to visit.
So, if they selected the touristy destinations, all they saw were the crowds of tourists, piles of trash, and numerous scammers. But those, whose choice was wiser, had a completely different experience. They knew where to go to avoid all the negative sides of Bali and see only the best and most beautiful places on the island.
These locations are less popular among tourists, so they offer a chance to have a peaceful and relaxed vacation, where you can be one on one with nature and yourself. No one will bother you there, offer you to take an overpriced tour, or try to rip you off.
Would you like to know these nice places, as well? And would you also like to be aware of the locations you should completely avoid on your trip? Then read on to see the ultimate guide to the things that you should certainly explore on Bali and those that should better be skipped.
20 Must-Visit: Mount Batur - Touristy, But Still Stunning
Mt. Batur is one of the most touristy locations on Bali, but, in this case, it doesn't mean that you should skip it, even if you want to avoid the crowds. Yes, there will be other people around, going up the mountain with you, and you'll have to share your experience with them, but it's totally worth it!
So if you're into stunning panoramic views, you should definitely climb Mount Batur. To make your experience even more unforgettable, do it early in the morning to see the sunrise from the top of the volcano and eat your breakfast eggs cooked in the volcanic steam. You can do it either with a guided group, or by yourself (just beware of the locals, who might turn out to be pushy, offering you to be your guide).
19 Overrated: Kuta Beach - Lots Of Trash And Scammers
Kuta is the most popular beach on Bali. Most tourists come there and some stay in Kuta during their entire vacation. But it's better to skip this location, if you don't like dirty overcrowded beaches, pesky beach hagglers, overpriced restaurants serving mediocre food, and noisy, dusty streets.
Besides, in Kuta you can meet a number of women offering you to let them do your manicure or give you a massage. Even though they might seem to be nice at first and describe their services in the best words possible, eventually you'll end up getting a lousy manicure for a huge price. So better ignore them, or, even better, don't go to Kuta to never even see them.
18 Must-Visit: Amed Beach - More Comfort With Fewer Crowds
Instead of Kuta, it's a good idea to visit Amed Beach, which presents a golden middle for the tourists. Even though it's not so popular and crowded, it still offers plenty of accommodation and dining options, as well as water activities.
On Amed Beach, you can do whatever pleases you. Find a place to live that will fit your taste and budget. Engage into diving or snorkeling, or just swim in the clear ocean waters. Go to a restaurant and try the seafood that's said to be the freshest on the whole island. And in the evening, just lie down on the black sand that comes from Agung Volcano and watch the stunning sunset.
17 Overrated: Mother Temple Pura Besakih - Con Men Trying To Rip You Off
There are lots of beautiful temples on Bali, but it doesn't mean that you have to visit them all. Moreover, some of them you should certainly avoid. Mother Temple Pura Besakih is one of such temples.
Even though it's considered to be the holiest temple on the island, you won't see it as a spiritual site. Since it's become extremely popular among tourists, crowds of people began coming there and local scammers decided to use it to their advantage. The moment you come to the temple's territory, someone will approach you and ask you to make a donation. Even if you give some money, they'll say that it's not enough. During your whole stay at the temple, you'll be followed by the people trying to rip you off. In what way is it holy?
16 Must-Visit: Uluwatu Temple - Beautiful At Sunset
For a more pleasant temple experience, visit Uluwatu Temple. It also gets quite a few visitors, but you won't meet these pesky con men there, at least yet. Besides, you can watch a beautiful sunset from the cliff, where the temple is located and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this Hindu shrine.
You will certainly enjoy visiting this temple and explore this magnificent structure, built in the 11th century and located 70 meters above the ocean on a cliff. Even if you're not into architecture and don't really like going to temples, you should still come to this place to see the picturesque view and visit a nearby beach to have a nice swim.
15 Overrated: Goa Gajah - Not Much To See There
Goa Gajah, aka the Elephant Cave, is another popular spot that's being used by some dishonest local men to get extra money from gullible tourists.
A number of tour guides will offer you to take a tour to this historical landmark. When you ask whether it's going to cost you anything, they'll tell that it's absolutely free. If you've never been to Asian countries, most likely you're going to believe them and agree to take a tour. But eventually it'll turn out that you have to pay a donation. And while donations are supposed to be given by your own will, this one will be obligatory.
So it's better to refuse from taking a tour to this site, especially since there's not much to see there.
14 Must-Visit: Local Cafes - Chat And Make New Friends
Instead of taking tours to temples, it's a great idea to experience the authentic Bali and communicate with the locals, whose job isn't to rip you off, and your fellow travelers. For this experience, you can go to a local cafe and strike up a conversation with anyone you see there. Whether it's a local guy or gal, or a tourist, who came in there to have a glass of smoothie, you'll certainly be glad that you did it.
After all, what's one of the main purposes of traveling? It's communication, of course!
So don't hesitate to make friends with someone, by asking them where they're from and what they're doing on Bali. Who knows, maybe it's going to lead to a lifelong friendship!
13 Overrated: Tegalalang Rice Terraces - Beautiful, But Too Crowded
Tegalalang Rice Terraces in Ubud are extremely popular among tourists and it's easy to understand why. They feature a stunning view of rice fields and lush green tropical forests. Once you see this magnificent landscape, you will never forget it. Besides, they're located just outside of Ubud, so it's easy to get there.
However, it comes with a price, because numerous other tourists will enjoy this view along with you. Besides, you're going to see tons of shops and cafes in the area, which will make your experience much less magical. So if you have some more time and ready to take more effort to get to another wonderful place and see the famous rice fields, better go to Jatiluwih.
12 Must-Visit: Rice Fields In Jatiluwih - Much More Peaceful
Even though it's extremely hard to find a place all to yourself on Bali, Jatiluwih seems to be one of the few. This special place is a UNESCO heritage site, so be sure to go there to see the magnificent rice fields.
Looking at these endless rice terraces will be an unforgettable experience. Probably, you'll feel like you can stand there all day long, enjoying the lush green landscapes and majestic mountains. And there won't be crowds of other tourists around (only rice field workers), so you'll have all this beauty to yourself! Even if someone else shows up, you can just walk away for a few minutes and find yourself alone with nature again.
11 Overrated: Dolphin Sightings - Too Many People, Too Few Dolphins
Even though dolphin sightings is a great experience for some tourists, we still recommend you to skip it for a couple of reasons.
First of all, you are very likely to find yourself on an overcrowded boat full of other tourists, striving to get a glimpse of dolphins, jumping out of the water. If you're traveling during the high season, the number of people can become huge, so you might get really uncomfortable. Besides, even though seeing the dolphins is the main goal of the tour, it's never guaranteed, because dolphins are wild animals, and they won't jump out of the water on command. So you'll only see them, if they're in a mood to show themselves.
10 Must-Visit: Candidasa - Explore The Balinese Culture
If you're into exploring the Balinese culture, go to Candidasa, where you can engage yourself into sightseeing for days. It's also one of the best locations on Bali, if you like to contemplate nature and want to get off the beaten track.
There're several villages in Candidasa, and each one of them will offer you something interesting to see. We certainly recommend you to visit Tenangan village, where you can immerse into the authentic Balinese culture and observe the local traditions. In this village, people still adhere to worship, cosmology, and animal beliefs. Seeing it all with your own eyes will be so exciting!
9 Overrated: The Sacred Monkey Forest - Avoid The Aggressive Monkeys
Monkeys are the rightful dwellers of Bali. Wherever you go on the island, you'll see them. But some tourists, for whom it's not enough to meet monkeys all over the place decide to also visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud.
Please, don't do it, even if you love monkeys more than anything else in the world. Since these little creatures are so used to people coming to them and feeding them with bananas and aren't afraid of them, they tend to get aggressive. They will certainly attack, if they don't like something you do (like, for example, if you only gave them one banana, instead of the whole bunch). The least thing that they can do is tear your clothes and the worst is to bite you (in which case, you have to rush to the hospital and check yourself for rabies). So stay away from monkeys and don't go to the Sacred Forest!
8 Must-Visit: Munduk - Wonderful Nature
Munduk is another great place for nature lovers traveling to Bali. It's a remote town located in the mountains, so you won't find a beach there. However, you won't mind taking a break from swimming, because Munduk is truly fascinating!
Due to its remote location, Munduk managed to preserve the original culture of the island's people. Coming there, you can experience it by yourself and see how native Balinese people actually live. Besides, you'll also enjoy gazing at the spice plantations and green fields, hike around the villages, find a huge banyan tree, see waterfalls, or take a trek up to the mountains. Whatever you choose, you'll get a wonderful experience.
7 Overrated: Pura Tanah Lot - Not Idyllic At All
Pura Tanah Lot is listed as one of the main attractions on Bali and it's considered by guidebooks to be the ultimate place for contemplating sunset. However, enjoying this contemplation is barely possible, due to having so many people around it. For this reason, Tanah Lot doesn't look nearly as idyllic in reality, as it does in the photos you've seen on the web. Besides, it's not even possible to enter the temple or chill off in the ocean, because there's no beach nearby.
So if heat and crowds of people get on your nerves, don't go to this temple and go to Uluwatu instead.
6 Must-Visit: Gamelan Music Show - The-Must For Music Lovers
If you're into music, you'll certainly enjoy attending the gamelan music show. It's more of a touristy thing nowadays than part of the culture, but in this case, it doesn't make it any less special.
The gamelan originates from the Java Island that's located near Bali. It got to Bali only in the early 20th century. The sounds of gamelan are very nice and soothing, so it's possible to understand why locals and tourists like to listen to it so much. Besides, it also works are a great soundtrack to the hot and humid weather, creating a very special atmosphere. It's possible to experience something like it only on Bali.
5 Overrated: Tegenungan Waterfall - Too Popular
The Tegenungan Waterfall is located close to Denpasar, which is a tourist hot spot on Bali, and probably for this reason it's so popular among tourists. Besides, it's the only waterfall on the island that's not located in the mountains or highlands, so it's relatively easy to reach it.
So if you want to go there and see this beauty (it can't be argued that this waterfall offers stunning views), be ready to see a crowd of other tourists, as well. And arm yourself with patience - you'll probably have to wait for a while to take a photo without other people on it.
4 Must-Visit: Gitgit Waterfall - Hard To Reach, But Worth It
If you'd like to see a waterfall on Bali, better go visit the Gitgit Waterfall. Since it's not so easy to get to it, most likely you won't see any other people there.
If you're staying in Ubud, it'll take you a two-hour drive to reach the place, but it's totally worth it, because, as a reward to your efforts, you'll see not one, but three waterfalls there! The first one is the Gitgit Twin Falls, which features two falls joining in one pool. Then there are Mekalongan Falls and Waterfall Terraced, just a short walk away from each other. Even though you can't swim in any of these waterfalls, you'll certainly enjoy the awesome views and take lots of stunning photos.
3 Overrated: Seminyak - Crowded And Overpriced
Many tourists coming to Bali choose to stay at Seminyak, due to its proximity to the airport. However, if you're looking for a relaxing and peaceful getaway, it's not the place for you. Besides, since it's a touristy area, all hotels and restaurants there are slightly overpriced and food there isn't as good as you can find in other areas of the island.
If you still decide to stay at Seminyak, despite out warnings, be ready to spend your days on a not so clean beach (even though it's a bit cleaner than Kuta) and deal with beach hagglers and aggressive shop owners. You've been warned.
2 Must-Visit: Balian Beach - Great For Surfing
For a more peaceful vacation, choose the Balian Beach, instead of Seminyak or Kuta. It's located on the western part of the island and it's a great place to do some surfing. Due to the large waves, swimming isn't so good there, but this beach still deserves your attention, even if you're not into surfing.
You can watch the local fishermen casting their nets into the ocean or join one of the yoga retreats offered in the area. Besides, the Balian Beach features Pura Rambat Siwi, a very pretty temple. Even though it's not so popular among tourists, it's one of the largest temples on Bali, so it's certainly worth seeing.
1 Overrated: Ubud Market - Not The Place To Buy Souvenirs
Ubud market is extremely popular among tourists, who come there to buy something for themselves or to find presents for their family and friends back home. Local vendors are using this fact to their advantage and sell their cheap goods for much higher prices.
So don't follow the lead of other, less experienced tourists and avoid this trap. Keep in mind that all the souvenirs and clothes sold on Ubud market can be found in any other shop or market for a much lower price. Besides, to get a much better Indonesian market experience, you should come to Sukawati Art Market. It's not as popular among tourists, but it'll offer you everything you might want to buy and you'll be surprised by the prices!