Bali is not just about the wonderful people and fabulous beaches! If you want culture, action and adventure or just want to see the countryside, then you certainly won't be disappointed with the Bali Attractions! We love to explore and every visit we always find something new to experience.
You will be amazed at the amount of sightseeing there is for such a small and compact island, and all of these suggestions are detailed on the Guide to Bali page. This page, Bali Attractions is exactly what is says! So here's some ideas to start you off!
BALI BIRD PARK
Stunning! It's the word I would use to describe Bali Bird Park. There are dazzling displays of exquisite birds from every continent wandering about in enormous aviaries. You too can wander through, crossing high bridges and ducking and dodging our feather friends en route! There are also various open and closed displays to watch throughout the park and the opportunity to get up and close with many species.
The Bali Bird Park opened in 1995 and is not just a tourist attraction but it also plays a major part in conservation with breeding and research programmes. Set in substantial mature grounds, it is a very special place to experience and definitely not to be missed.
BALI REPTILE PARK
Bali Reptile Park is a fascinating and entertaining place and although next door and of similar high quality, is independent of the Bird Park. Pay a visit and you will not be disappointed! Waterfalls, Komodo dragons, flying lizards, frogs and an abundance of other creatures all add to the Jurassic Park feel. You also get plenty of opportunity to hold some of the reptiles, but don't worry you won't have to hold the Komodo dragon!
BALI ELEPHANT PARK
Bali Elephant Park opened in 2000 and until recently, we had never been there. For some reason, we had this pre conceived idea of tourist attraction/exploitation of the elephants. Anyway, to write about it, like every detail of this website, you have to see it, feel it, touch it - and we certainly did all of that here! Guess what, we thoroughly enjoyed every moment!
The Sumatra elephant is an endangered species and with deforestation on the island, the elephants were rescued and together with their mahouts, were brought to Bali, where they now enjoy the safety and comfort of the Elephant Park. Of course they earn their keep and are certainly not shy when it comes to interacting with us camera welding visitors, but they do seem to be genuinely continent and enjoy themselves, a mutual experience for all!
The grounds are immaculate and there's a very interesting elephant museum, plus restaurant, shop etc. If you want to ride the elephants, you can take a trip on one through the Taro rain forest, wade through water and then have a bonding session with her afterwards! The whole ride feels quite personal with man and beast! Its definitely worth the extra money!
There are several horse riding centres in Bali, offering hourly or daily rides. Bookable locally direct with the riding centre, through agents or your hotel.
There are 5 golf courses in Bali, all in the southern park of the island. I can claim a hole in one, goodness knows how; I put it down to one of those great mysteries of life! I therefore don't think it qualifies me to recommend which course is the best, so here's the websites for you to decide:
There are some great places to cycle, especially around the area of Ubud. It really is the best way to see and appreciate the countryside. There are organised tours available or you can just hire a bike locally.
BALI TREE TOPS
Bali Tree Tops is a tree climbing 'Tarzan like' experience which is located in the hills in north central Bali. The botanical gardens invite you to test your skills on the Tree Tops Circuits. This is not for weak or faint hearted, as I discovered, but wannabe adrenalin seekers! There are 5 circuits at varying heights of 2 to 20 metres. Two of these are designed for children, whilst the others are for adults. There's also another zone for you adrenalin junkies which is even more challenging! Don't panic, everyone is attached to safety lines, phew!
I remember the first time years ago, when we took the kids and decided to trek up Mount Batur. The boys were not exactly delighted as we had to get up before dawn! Nyoman took us up to the slopes only to be greeted by the local mafia wanting his 'local lads' (who probably should have been in school) to escort us for a fee up the slopes! The 'main man' wore a bright pink 60's Cliff Richard style jacket and shades!
We couldn't stop laughing and we still have a chuckle to this day! We always believe it's important to 'shop locally' so to speak and contribute to the local economy, only on this occasion, the contribution was more localized to his back pocket!
As I said, this was many years back and these days, it is much more organised with the local communities benefiting from tourism.
There are plenty of other trekking options available (including on the flat!) or alternatively, you can just take off around the rice fields of Ubud on your own and see where it takes you!
ALL TERRAIN VEHICLES (ATVs)
There are a couple of places on Bali that you are able to hire ATVs, both in the lush rainforests of the interior. Travelling past farmers tending their crops, paddy fields and sleepy villages, you get the chance to see part of the real Bali!
There are several places in the south and the east of Bali for Paragliding. Tandem flights and also courses are available if it seems like a fun thing to do, and it definitely is!
I am someone that won't let go of a handrail on steps, but when I finally took 'the big leap', I closed my eyes and mentally transporting myself into running for a flight. All that fear and trepidation just disappeared when I opened my eyes and I was free, (well except for that guy following behind me)!
BALI WATER BOM PARK
If you like the water and thrilling rides, then Bali Water Bom Park, Kuta is definitely the place for you! There are 10 water rides, including the 'Climax' (new for 2010), a 19 metre high slide with a g-force of 2.5! There are other attractions as well, but one or two are at extra cost, so just check first
There are 1 or 2 day passes available (2 days must be used within a 7 day period). If you are planning to go, check out their website as they have special promotions now and then.
There are several main surfing areas on Bali. Kuta, (probably the most famous), along to Canggu, the area around Uluwatu in the south of the island and Medewi on the west coast.
I'm an armchair surfer only, but even just to watch, the real 'hot spot' for surfing is Keramas Beach on the east coast where you will find beginners and professionals. There are other areas along the coast which you could get the chance ride the waves. The island of Nusa Lembongon is also a very popular place to go surfing with a few good surf breaks.
If you are into Kite Surfing, you can rent equipment at Sanur beach, (next to the Mercure Hotel). Best time for the winds is usually after 2pm.
Bali is world famous for its dive sites, including the World War II wreck 'The Liberty' by Tulamben on the east coast. Read about the various dive sites and diver centres on the Guide to Bali page and the guides to Lombok and the Gili Islands pages.
If you are not confident enough to trying a diving course, there is a company that does 'seawalking' tours where you wear a helmet and breathe through an air line. This enables you to have an escorted walking tour around under the sea to view the marine life without even getting your hair wet!
There are tours available for River Kayaking on the Ayung river, Lake Kayaking on Lake Tamblingan and Sea Kayaking on the east coast at Amuk near Candidasa or Jimbaran Bay in the south. Read about some of the kayaking tours on the Guide to Bali.
Rafting down the Ayung river for 8 kilometres will certainly get the adrenalin pumping! There are 27 rapids to negotiate, (class II/class III) amid spectacular scenery of rainforest and rice terraces. Read more about some of the various options in the Guide to Bali.
Canyon tubing is one of the latest attractions to open north of Ubud. The tubes are like small rubber rafts with no paddles that you sit in outstretched. It is all quite sedate as you float slowly down the Siap river through the beautiful virgin rainforest spotting wildlife. The journey takes about 3 hours on the raft, which includes having to use the Flying Fox to navigate one part of the river.
Lombok is often described as 'Bali 30 years ago'
We first went to Lombok in the late 90's at the time when there had recently been ethnic tensions. Kuta beach in the south of Lombok was earmarked by international hotels and apart from a small cluster of hotels in Senggigi, the main resort, Lombok was pretty much undeveloped.
One of our more adventurous moments was to climb Mount Rinjani. I don't know what comes over me, whenever we are away, I get the urge to play the part of some great 19th century explorer, yet when I'm at home, I would drive up the aisles of a supermarket! It was absolutely amazing to see the crater of Mount Rinjani with its turquoise blue waters and for us, a real achievement, being 2 regular couch potatoes! Never to be forgotten nor regretted!
Today, tours for Mount Rinjani are far more organised as local villagers have realized its potential for providing much need income to their communities. If you can afford the time, do it and you will never forget it for all of the right reasons! Don't worry, you don't even have to be remotely super fit to climb it, as we can testify, in fact, as long you have a pulse, you'll be fine!
Recently we took a trip back to the island. On the surface, not much seems to have changed. The international airport is still not built yet and now Senggigi looks like it could do with a facelift. However, slightly further afield, there are some wonderful new places to stay, including our favourite in the whole wide world! But as a whole, the island still retains a certain charm and beauty. When the new airport is finally completed (and who knows when!), the influx of tourism will inevitably change that, although I'm not sure it will ever reach the levels of 'mass tourism'.
Of the three islands, Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan, Gili Trawangan (Gili T, as its known), is where most of the action is. Don't get me wrong, it's fairly quiet and doesn't even get off the blocks as far as somewhere like Ibiza is concerned! It's very relaxed, has accommodation and restaurants to suit all tastes/budgets and bars and cafes are plentiful across the island. There is just, well, a great feel about the whole place. Power cuts happen every now and then which are mildly irritating, but everyone just takes it in their stride. Now that's laid back especially when you have a/c!
Gili Air and Gili Meno are the least developed of the islands and are more for the 'get away from it all' feel. The choice of accommodation has increased over recent years and there are some really nice options to choose from these days. There are ferries that travel between the Gilis and Lombok, together with the fast and slow boats back to Bali. See the page Getting Around Bali for more information about the ferries to Lombok and the Gili Islands.
There are day cruises that sail from Benoa Harbour which is between Sanur and Kuta. The cruise includes the opportunity to snorkel, lunch and see a little of Nusa Lembongan.
When we went across to Nusa Lembongan, we caught a fast ferry from Sanur just north of The Grand Bali Beach Hotel. If you do this instead of a tour, when the boat arrives on the island, you will find a handful of people offering their services for you to rent a bikes or scooters so you can explore this small island yourself. The bikes sounded too much like hard work and as we we are not very proficient on scooters, we ended up with two scooters and two drivers! The lads were good and took us around the island happy to stop anywhere for us. It was a like a private tour taking us through the villages and mangroves to the surfing beaches, Mushroom Bay for lunch and then bringing us back in time for the ferry. It was a real fun day and we loved every minute of it all, better we thought than doing a group tour.