Tropical Paradise: Planning a Vacation to Bali, Indonesia

The Indonesian island of Bali is a world-famous destination. It is best known for its sandy beaches, fantastic surfing, and, in recent years, a vibrant nightlife, but it has so much more to offer travelers of all ages and budgets. 

At just 70 miles long and 95 miles wide, Bali packs diverse features and attractions into a small area. Whether you like history, culture, adventurous activities, beach life, hiking, wellness, or food, you will find it all in tropical Bali. 

You’ll also be spoiled for choices regarding where to stay in Bali. Options include luxurious oceanfront resorts, boutique family-run hotels nestled amongst rice paddies in central Bali, and wooden treehouses offering elevated jungle or river valley views. 

Best Time to Visit Bali

temple on a lake in Bali
Photo Credit: [@shalamov/DepositPhotos]
Bali is an incredible destination year-round, and temperatures do not change much between the wet and the dry seasons. 

For consistent sunny days, visit in the dry season between April and October. These months offer the best weather for all the fabulous outdoor activities Bali has to offer.

November to April is the wet season. It won’t rain all day every day, but heavy, short showers are common on most days. Bali sees its highest number of visitors during the peak season months of December, January, and June through August. 

Things to Do in Bali

Bali, Indonesia
Photo Credit: [@kamchatka/DepositPhotos]
Bali, with its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes, offers experiences for every kind of traveler. This Indonesian island paradise blends adventure, relaxation, and exploration in a unique tropical setting. This Indonesian island paradise invites you to explore its rich variety of activities set against breathtaking natural beauty.

Explore Ubud

Puri Saren Agung in Ubud, Bali
Photo Credit: [@kovgabor79/DepositPhotos]
Visit Ubud in central Bali to discover its cultural heart. This less-developed part of Bali offers a rich landscape of thick jungle, rice paddies, cascading waterfalls, and historic temples. You can visit Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Agung), hike the Campuhan Ridge Walk, or explore the Tegalalang rice paddies. Dine on street food at Gianyar night market, pick up a souvenir in an art gallery, visit the Taman Saraswati temple, or stroll through the sacred Monkey Forest. 

Ubud is an excellent base for a Bali vacation. It has good transport links to other destinations on the island. It offers a taste of authentic Balinese life, which is hard to find in some of the more developed coastal resorts. If you’re wondering where to stay in Ubud, the area offers wide-ranging options for romantic getaways, tranquil family vacations, and rural get-away-from-it-all breaks. 

Watch Kecak Dance in Uluwatu

Kecak Dance in Uluwatu, Balii
Photo Credit: [@swisshippo/DepositPhotos]
The Kecak Dance is a culturally significant Balinese dance that tells the Hindu story of the Ramayana. It is performed by 50 – 100 seated men chanting in a circle, with dancers enacting the story in the middle. No instruments are used, just the men’s voices. It is a mesmerizing performance. Uluwatu is one of the best places in Bali to see a Kecak Dance. Many hotels in Uluwatu offer easy access to the iconic Kecak performance at the historic Uluwatu Temple. 

Visit Tanah Lot Temple at Sunset

Tanah Lot Temple in Bali
Photo Credit: [@praewa_koreashopping/DepositPhotos]
Tanah Lot, near Canggu, is one of the best places in Bali to watch a sunset. The small temple sits on a rocky outcrop jutting out into the ocean, offering an uninterrupted view of the western horizon. Locals can only access the temple itself, but you can walk around the grounds or watch the sunset from the adjacent sandy beach. 

Visit the Famous Tegalalang Rice Fields

Tegalalang Rice Fields in Bali
Photo Credit: [@urf/DepositPhotos]
Also known as the Tegalalang Terraces, these rice fields have been carved into steep hillsides nine kilometers north of Ubud. It’s a scenic spot that can be accessed by car or on foot via local trails, though you can only explore on foot once you arrive. The rice terraces are best visited in the early morning to catch the best light and avoid the crowds. 

Spend a Day at a Beach Club

Finns Bali Beach Club
Photo Credit: [@galitskaya/DepositPhotos]
Bali is famous for its beach vibe – and is legendary for its partying. As a result, there are many beach clubs where you can relax and socialize in the sunshine. Top recommendations include Single Fin and Ritual in Uluwatu, Finns, and The Lawn in Canggu. All beach clubs offer bookable day beds, all-day food and drinks, and nighttime live music or DJ sets. 

Ulun Danu Beretan Temple in Munduk

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple in Bali
Photo Credit:[@dudewayap/DepositPhotos]
The Hindu temple Puru Danu Beretan is on the shores of Lake Bratan in Munduk, northern Bali. Its simple but imposing Hindu and Buddhist architecture blends beautifully against the lake’s backdrop. The temple complex is small; only local worshippers can enter the four temples on-site. When the lake level rises in the wet season, the temple is cut off, which is how it got its nickname, ‘the floating temple.’ 

Take Surfing Lessons

Surfing in Bali
Photo Credit: [@trubavin/DepositPhotos]
Bali is world famous for its waves, which attract pro-surfers from all over the world. It is also one of the best places to learn how to surf. Batu Balong, Kuta, and Sanur Beach are suitable for beginners. These beaches have shallow waters, a sandy bottom, and gentle, consistent waves. Several surf schools in these areas offer one-off lessons or longer learn-to-surf programs. Pre-booking is advisable in peak season. 

Party in Canggu

Canggu, Bali
Photo Credit: [@dinogeromella/DepositPhotos]
Canggu is Bali’s newest party hotspot. It’s no longer Kuta, where young crowds stay for a party-filled vacation, but Canggu, which offers some of the island’s best nighttime entertainment. It attracts surfers, digital nomads, backpackers, and wellness travelers. Check out Finns Beach Club, Atlas Beach Club, and Old Man’s. 

Swim in Sekumpul Waterfall

Sekumpul Waterfall in Bali
Photo Credit: [@RoneDya/DepositPhotos]
Sekumpul Waterfall in northern Bali is the island’s highest waterfall. Surrounded by jungle, the waterfall looks like it has stepped out of a fairy tale. 

The twin falls plummet over 262 feet to the ground and are at their most impressive during the wet season. It’s worth the winding 2-hour drive from southern resorts such as Kuta and Canggu to see this stunning waterfall. 

After paying your entrance fee, a guide will accompany you down the steep steps to the waterfall’s base, which will take around 30 minutes. If you’re visiting in the wet season, wear good gripping footwear. 

There is a small pool at the base of the falls, perfect for a shallow, refreshing swim before the climb back to the car park. 

Food to Try in Bali

Soto Ayam - Indonesian Soup
Photo Credit: [@ArisSetya/DepositPhotos]
Although Bali provides international cuisine, you cannot visit the island without trying a few local specialty dishes. Popular Balinese dishes include Nasi Goreng (fried rice with meat or fish, sometimes served with a fried egg), Soto Ayam (a spicy chicken and noodle soup), and Laklak (a cake made with rice flour, coconut milk and sugar). You’ll find these on menus all over Bali, but the best restaurant to try local food is Warung Local, which has branches in Canggu and Uluwatu.  

Day Trips From Bali

village women in Bali, Indonesia
Photo Credit: [@chenws/DepositPhotos]
A day trip from Bali opens the door to discovering the enchanting wonders that lie just a short journey away. It offers a chance to explore the region’s captivating blend of natural and cultural treasures. 

Nusa Penida

Kelingking Beach on Nusa Penida island near Bali, Indonesia
Photo Credit: [@MyGoodImages/DEpositPhotos]
This idyllic island lies a 45-minute boat ride off the southeast coast of Bali. You can visit Kelingking Beach, famous for its rocky headland shaped like a T-Rex, or go snorkeling off the pristine beaches of Crystal Bay or Atuh Beach. If possible, don’t miss the scenic coastal views from Thousand Island Viewpoint or the rolling green landscapes of the Teletubbies Hills. The warm, clear waters of Nusa Penida are also a great location to swim with manta rays. 

Mt. Batur

Mount Batur at Sunrise in Bali
Photo Credit: [@Stan_pit/DepositPhotos]
Mount Batur is an active volcano that, at 1717 meters high, dominates the landscape of Bali. One of the most popular activities in Bali is hiking to the top of Mount Batur to enjoy the sunrise. 

The trail is suitable for beginners, and depending on your fitness level, it will take between 2 and 4 hours to summit. Dress warmly, wear good gripping footwear, and bring plenty of snacks and water. Most visitors climb with a guide as part of a tour, but it is possible to do it on your own—though for safety, you should always hike with others. Your efforts will be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of Bali. 

Dolphin Watching in Lovina

Dolphins in Lovina, Bali
Photo Credit: [@gabriel.ccx/DepositPhotos]
The waters around Bali are home to whale sharks, whales, manta rays, and dolphins. Dolphin-watching trips from Lovina are popular with visitors of all ages. Lovina is an excellent location to choose as local boat operators prioritize dolphin welfare and follow stringent guidelines to minimize disturbance to the dolphins.

Plus, the boats used are traditional low-lying boats that only carry a maximum of six passengers so that you won’t be jostling in a crowd for a faraway view on an elevated ship. The best time to see dolphins from Lovina is May through to January. 

Vacationing in Bali

Bali, Indonesia
Photo Credit: [@oneinchpunch/DepositPhotos]
Bali is a diverse and captivating destination. Few places offer beaches, volcanoes, jungles, waterfalls, and river valleys in a small geographical area. Cultural and historical attractions for all ages, a thriving food scene, and nightlife make Bali have it all. Many people come to Bali, fall in love with the tropical island, and never leave. If you’re planning your first trip to Bali, know it will unlikely be your last. 


Tropical Paradise: Planning a Vacation to Bali, Indonesia
Mal Hellyer

Mal Hellyer is a digital nomad and travel blogger who has made Bali her home base. Alongside her partner, she spends six months of the year traveling the world and dedicates the other six months to living an island life - surfing, working on her blog, and catching up with friends.