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Things to Do in Bali

With its lush rice terraces and ancient mysticism, Bali is an Indonesian island that emanates tranquillity. Nature lovers seek out the jagged cliffs and pristine beaches of Uluwatu, while travelers desiring solace flock to the Hindu temples and shamans of Ubud. And in Denpasar, Bali’s underappreciated capital, testaments to ancient culture reign supreme. Undisputed highlights of the country come in the form of Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest, Tanah Lot Temple, and the sacred peak of Mt. Batur, while local villages, deserted hiking routes, and roadside restaurants reveal a muted yet equally majestic charm.
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Ubud Monkey Forest (Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary)
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796 Tours and Activities

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a Balinese Hindu site at the bottom of Monkey Forest Road and populated by cheeky long-tailed macaques. It's a popular site with visitors to Ubud who come to see the monkeys and the temples within the sanctuary.

There are hundreds of monkeys living in and around the monkey forest. You can purchase food for them at the entrance gate but be warned that the monkeys are aggresive opportunists - particularly in their pursuit of food. They will think nothing of climbing on you or raking through your bag in search of something edible.

There are 3 temples within the forest, Pura Dalem (death temple), the Holy Bathing Temple and Pura Prajapati (funerary or cremation temple). All 3 of these temples are sacred, as is the forest and the monkeys, who are believed to protect the area from evil spirits.

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Tegenungan Waterfall (Air Terjun Tegenungan)
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Not far from Ubud, Tegenungan Waterfall foams in a white cascade over black stone cliffs into a quiet pool. At around 66 feet (20 meters) high, it’s an impressive flow, and that’s not all the site has to offer. Besides climbable cliffs, a secret smaller waterfall, and simple food stalls, a charming grotto houses a sacred spring.
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Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah)
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One of Bali’s holiest Hindu sites (and one of its most popular attractions) is a grotto with a history dating back more than 1,000 years. Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) has uncertain origins, but it's believed that it once served as a sanctuary for Hindu priests to meditate or even sleep.

Goa Gajah's entrance makes a menacing first impression, carved in the likeness of a gaping mouth of a demonic creature. The façade of the cave entrance features several relief carvings of various mythological creatures, and while no one is sure what they represent, local lore says that an elephant was the protagonist of the drama depicted in the carvings; hence, the nickname Elephant Cave.

The courtyard just outside the cave has more recently excavated decorative bathing pools, adorned with carvings of partially clad females pouring water from urns. The cave itself is rather small, a T-shaped space with several small ledges and a statue of Ganesh, added after the cave was excavated.

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Campuhan Ridge Walk
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The classically Balinese combo of rice fields and river gorges is what makes Ubud’s landscapes so beloved, and the Campuhan Ridge Walk, the best-known walk in Ubud, is the perfect way to appreciate them. Starting at Pura Gunung Lebah, choose between a 2-hour circular route around Campuhan and Sanggingan or a longer hike to Keliki and Taro.
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Mt. Agung (Gunung Agung)
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Hikers love the challenging mountain trails of Mount Agung, the tallest active volcano in Bali. Its most popular routes—one starting from Besakih, and the other from Pura Pasa Agung—take trekkers through mountain temples and truly rugged terrain. Loose pebble paths and steep cliffs end with epic views of Bali countryside, and a view that visitors argue may be the best place to watch the sunrise in the country.

Guides are recommended—as well as sturdy hiking boots and a warm coat—since navigating the daylong hikes on these uneven vertical trails can be difficult. And with no water along the routes, following an expert beats getting lost.

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Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Agung)
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Home of Ubud’s royal family since the late-19th century, Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Palace or Puri Saren Agung) sits in the heart of downtown Ubud near the traditional art market. Explore the pavilions and gardens. There are also traditional Balinese dance performances in the courtyard each evening, a must for any visitor to Indonesia.
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Saraswati Temple (Pura Taman Saraswati)
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Dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning, wisdom, music, and art, Ubud’s Saraswati Temple is a beautiful spot for worshippers and visitors alike. Water gardens and lotus ponds flow up to the elegant structure, which is enriched with ornate carvings. The temple makes an atmospheric setting for Balinese dance performances.
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Telaga Waja River
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The Telaga Waja River is one of Bali’s two top white-water rafting destinations (the second is the Ayung River). The rafting route covers around 8 miles (13 kilometers), mainly of Class II–III rapids, with the option of shooting a 6-foot (2-meter) man-made dam at the end. The scenery is rural, but less dramatic than the Ayung River gorge.
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Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA)
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Ubud’s Agung Rai Museum of Art, or ARMA as it’s more popularly known, is a museum, gallery space and cultural center founded by Agung Rai, a Balinese entrepreneur who got exposed to the world of Balinese art while selling souvenirs in Kuta. Inspired by visits to the Puri Lukisan and Neka museums, Agung Rai began collecting paintings to which he felt a spiritual connection, including works by Balinese and international artists.

Today, that collection makes its home in ARMA, a series of traditional buildings in a vibrant garden setting. It is divided thematically into four sections: Kamasan, Pre-war, European Living in Bali and Modern Traditional. Of particular note is the collection by Russian-born German painter Walter Spies, who came to Bali in 1927 and greatly influenced the 1930s Balinese art movement with his primitivism-style paintings. Also on display are works by Raden Saleh, a pioneer of modern Balinese painting.

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Museum Pasifika
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Nusa Dua’s answer to Ubud’s art museums, Museum Pasifika, which opened in 2006, is dedicated to the art of Asia Pacific. Balinese artists and expatriates working on the island are well-represented, but galleries showcase art and sculptures from Papua, Vanuatu, Polynesia, historical Indo-China, and beyond.
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More Things to Do in Bali

Museum Puri Lukisan

Museum Puri Lukisan

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One of Ubud’s big three art galleries, Museum Puri Lukisan sits slap-bang in the heart of downtown Ubud. Collections cover not only Balinese paintings and drawings but also wood carvings and work by foreign artists. The Puri Lukisan gallery is also Ubud’s oldest art museum, founded in 1956 by a foundation established in 1936.
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Neka Art Museum

Neka Art Museum

12 Tours and Activities
In Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud, the Neka Art Museum is one of the town’s big three art galleries. Founded by Suteja Neka, its airy pavilions are home to a treasure trove of Balinese and Indonesian art, as well as a collection of wavy daggers known as “keris.” The Balinese Painting Hall is a good place to explore the work of local artists.
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Don Antonio Blanco Museum

Don Antonio Blanco Museum

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Ubud’s Don Antonio Blanco Museum celebrates the colorful life and baroque-erotic work of Philippine-born Spanish artist Antonio Blanco. Blanco arrived in Bali in 1952 and married a famous Balinese dancer. Set on a hill amid elaborate gardens and an aviary, the museum’s architecture, a hybrid of Spanish and Indonesian influences, is a highlight.
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Tanah Lot Temple (Pura Tanah Lot)

Tanah Lot Temple (Pura Tanah Lot)

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Taman Ayun Temple (Pura Taman Ayun)

Taman Ayun Temple (Pura Taman Ayun)

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The Royal Temple of Mengwi is one of the most important temples in Bali. Built in 1634 by a King of the Mengwi dynasty, this impressive complex stands on an island in a river, its inner temple surrounded by a moat. Its Balinese name Pura Taman Ayun literally means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’.

Part of a network of directional temples that protect Bali from evil spirits, Pura Taman Ayun was built as a series of garden terraces with courtyards on different levels. The entire complex was designed to symbolize the mythological home of the gods, Mount Meru, floating in the sea of eternity. An eleven-tiered meru (at the far end, in the right-hand corner of the complex) is dedicated to the rice goddess Dewi Sri. The third bale on the left is believed to be the abode of several different gods.

Pura Taman Ayun was enlarged in 1937, making some of its structures the most modern temple architecture in Bail.

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Mt. Batur (Gunung Batur)

Mt. Batur (Gunung Batur)

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While Bali is best known for it beautiful beaches -- and rightly so -- the inland portion of the island has its own kind of beauty. Nowhere more so than at Mt Batur. Located in the highlands of Kintamani, Mt Batur rises some 5,633 feet (1,717 meters) above sea level and is one of the region’s most active volcanoes.

To best appreciate the Mt Batur experience, sign up for an early morning trek to the summit. Such excursions typically depart from Ubud at 2 or 3 am and arrive at the base of the volcano while it’s still dark. Trekkers make the two-hour journey to the top of the volcano using headlamps and the light of the moon, an effort rewarded by an amazing sunrise from the top.

Since Batur remains so active, visitors to the peak get to experience a very unique breakfast of eggs boiled on lava-heated rocks. After you’ve made the ascent and descent, nearby Lake Batur offers hot springs perfect for relaxing tired muscles.

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Tirta Empul Temple (Pura Tirta Empul)

Tirta Empul Temple (Pura Tirta Empul)

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Karangasem

Karangasem

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Jimbaran Beach (Pantai Jimbaran)

Jimbaran Beach (Pantai Jimbaran)

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