The best Bali tours to take

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 11.06.2024

Bali, the Island of the Gods, is a paradise for travellers seeking a blend of natural beauty, culture, and adventure. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan your itinerary. That's where tours come in – they provide a hassle-free way to explore the island's many wonders with expert guides and well-organized itineraries. Whether you're into temple-hopping, jungle trekking, or beach-hopping, there's a wide variety of tours in Bali. From off-the-beaten-path adventures to popular tourist attractions, here are some of the best Bali tours to make your trip unforgettable.

1. Climb Gunung Agung

Bali’s highest peak, the dramatic, 3031m-high Gunung Agung volcano, is home to a number of important religious sites. Summitting Bali’s holiest peak requires a very strenuous guided climb, but the ascent and descent can be managed in one day.

Climbing this iconic volcano is one of the best Bali tours, but be aware that this is a serious climb. It’s strongly advised hikers book an established trekking guide. You’ll find many guide services in Sidemen village, 18km from Pura Pasar Agung; as well as Selat and Tirtagangga.

In the resorts, there’s Bali Sunrise Trekking and Tours in Ubud and Perama (bookable through their offices in most tourist centres or at www.peramatour.com). Else climb with Gung Bawa, a good-humoured, highly experienced and dependable guide who speaks excellent English.

Travel Tip - planning to go to Bali? Check our Bali trips or go directly to the "Best of Bali" trip.

View from Gili Trawangan on Gunung Agung, Bali © Shutterstock

View from Gili Trawangan on Gunung Agung, Bali © Shutterstock

2. Take a yoga class

Taking a yoga class in Bali is a transformative experience that combines the beauty of the island with the serene practice of yoga. As the gentle ocean breeze rustles the palm trees, you find yourself surrounded by lush greenery and a vibrant spiritual atmosphere.

The picturesque setting provides the ideal backdrop for your yoga journey, allowing you to connect deeply with nature and your inner self. The classes are often held in open-air studios or on pristine beaches, enabling you to soak up the breathtaking views while immersing yourself in the ancient wisdom of yoga.

Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a beginner, Bali offers a wide range of yoga styles and retreats, catering to all levels and preferences.

Make sure to read our article about the best yoga retreats in Bali or check out our 7 day Bali Yoga retreat

Yoga practicing © Denis Moskvinov/Shutterstock

Yoga practicing © Denis Moskvinov/Shutterstock

3. Summit Gunung Batur

Just like climbing Agung, climbing Gunung Batur, is one of the best Bali tours. On a clear day, no scenery in Bali can match that of the Batur area. With its volcanic peaks and silver-turquoise crater lake, the scale and spectacle of this landscape remain unrivalled.

The best way to see it is from the top of Bali’s most climbed mountain, the 1717m-high Gunung Batur (Mount Batur).

Wisps of sulphurous smoke still drift from smaller cones on the slopes of this ancient volcano, which last erupted in 2000. Given the scenery, it’s no surprise that this is one of Bali’s most popular tourist destinations.

Most only visit on a day trip but stay overnight in either lakeside Toya Bungkah or Kedisan and hike to the summit to experience the magic of the scenery at sunrise. A guide is essential for sunrise treks. Use the Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides, which has offices in Toya Bungkah and Pura Jati.

Batur sunrise Bali © Shutterstock

Batur sunrise in Bali © Shutterstock

4. Explore the rice fields around Ubud

There are several popular rice paddy walks on the outskirts of Ubud, some of which can be combined into one almost circular trek. Each has views that are perfect real-life versions of the Walter Spies-style paintings you see in Ubud's museums and galleries.

Cutting across the rice fields, the track becomes totally indistinct at times. But these narrow paths that run along the top of the dykes look out across to the amazing Gunung Agung (cloud cover permitting) as conical-hatted farmers work in the glittering rice paddies with the mountain in the background.

Travel tip - if you're looking for a bit of relaxation, our "Rest and Relaxation" trip is perfect for you!

terrace-rice-field-ubud-bali-indonesia

Terrace rice field in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia @ Shutterstock

5. Enjoy a snorkelling day trip to Nusa Lembongan

Protected as a marine conservation area, the reefs around Nusa Lembongan attract divers from all over the world, not least for the chance to swim with manta rays and the one-tonne legendary local giant, the mola mola (oceanic sunfish), from early July to the end of October.

The diving here is unquestionably the most dramatic in Bali, but also rarely benign, as currents and waves can be fierce. Many of the reefs are rewarding for snorkelling. Prime spots off Nusa Lembongan that are accessible from the shore if the tide is right are Mangrove Corner and Mushroom Bay.

Virtually every guesthouse and hotel on the Islands can organize trips or contact one of the several dive centres on the island. Seek out five-star PADI dive school Big Fish Diving at Jungutbatu.

Make sure to read our article about the best areas to stay in Bali and our guide about the best time to visit Bali.

Mushroom bay on Nusa Lembongan Bali Indonesia  © Shutterstock

Mushroom Bay on Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia  © Shutterstock

6. Take a day tour of one of the Gili Islands

Fringed by dazzling white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and reefs that teem with turtles and fish, the trio of the tiny Gili Islands just off Lombok’s northwest coast are strikingly beautiful and have exploded in popularity.

With no motorized vehicles allowed on any of the islands (just horse carts and bicycles), and swathes of the dusty interiors still taken up with coconut plantations and sandy tracks, the Gilis are as close as you can get to living the tropical dream.

Island life here can be incredibly seductive, and most visitors revel in long days spent snorkelling the reefs, eating fresh seafood and enjoying the spectacular views, with the volcanic profiles of Bali and Lombok filling the horizon.

It's one of the most popular Bali tours, as it's possible to visit any of the three on a day trip from Bali.

Gili Trawangan is the most developed. Diminutive Gili Meno, next east of Gili Trawangan, is the smallest and quietest of the Gilis, with no nightlife except a laidback bar or two. East again, Gili Air falls somewhere in between, with plenty of restaurants and bars but a much larger population of islanders to balance out the tourist influx.

Dive deep into Balinese culture with this tailor-made trip to Bali's Culture & Gili's beaches. Visits include rice field walks, the Gates of Heaven, water temples like Tirta Empul and Tirta Gangga as well as a traditional cooking class. Your trip ends with the beaches of Gili Air and Jimbaran.

Aerial view of  Gili Meno, Gili Air and Lombok © Shutterstock

Aerial view of  Gili Meno, Gili Air and Lombok © Shutterstock

7. See dolphins, waterfalls and temples in Northern Bali

A cool, less populated landscape of morning mists and forest, inland north Bali feels like a different island when compared to the crowded southern plains. The Bedugal highlands is an area defined by mountains, lakes and waterfalls with swathes of clove and coffee plantations around hilltown Munduk.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, an important temple and a destination for Balinese-Hindu pilgrims, is also here. In the east is the active Gunung Batur volcano where occasional puffs of smoke waft from black rock, one of Bali's most popular sunrise hikes. At its base are other walks over parched, ethereal terrain peppered with giant boulders ejected from the earth's core.

Dolphin-spotting boat trips are wildly popular around Lovina and cultural activities including cooking classes are on offer too. Lovina’s proximity to good snorkelling and diving sites, and as a base for day-trips to nearby waterfalls and temples are another key appeal and make this area a good spot to try different activities. The Buddhist monastery and hot springs (air panas) at Banjar, 10km west, and temples and waterfalls east of Singaraja make a good days out.

bali-dolphins-watching-lovina-piotr-kala

Bali, Lovina @ Piotr Kala

8. Explore Bali's best beaches

Exploring the best beaches in Bali is an enchanting adventure that unveils a world of sun-kissed shores and turquoise waters. From the iconic Kuta Beach to the hidden gems like Nusa Dua and Uluwatu, each beach offers its own unique charm.

Kuta Beach, with its lively atmosphere and vibrant surf scene, attracts sunseekers and water sports enthusiasts alike. Seminyak Beach, just a stone's throw away, boasts trendy beach clubs and luxurious resorts, making it a hotspot for both relaxation and entertainment. For those in search of tranquillity, the pristine shores of Nusa Dua beckon, offering pristine white sand and calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

Further north, the black sands of Lovina Beach allure visitors with its serene ambience and the opportunity to spot playful dolphins at sunrise. There are tons of tours in Bali that take you to the best beaches. Our "Beaches and Temples" trip takes you to all the best places.

Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia © Shutterstock

Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia © Shutterstock

9. Go whitewater rafting on the Ayung River

Looking for adventurous Bali tours? On the Ayung River just west of Ubud, Sobek specializes in whitewater rafting and kayaking tours on the Grade II–III rapids of Bali’s longest waterway. The river is suitable for all levels of rafters and kayakers, from beginners to experienced paddlers, and offers a mix of gentle rapids and thrilling drops.

Courses generally last around two hours long and cover about 8km. Sobek also provide free transfers across southern Bali. Book in Kuta.

10. Take a cooking class in Southern Bali

Once you tire of sea, sun, sand and shopping, you will be able to find more cultural and spiritual pastimes amid the hedonism of Southern Bali, with lots of opportunities to learn a new skill. Cookery Classes Cookly is a listing of independent chefs and cooks throughout Bali who teach classes, or run traditional Balinese organic, vegan, market and farm tours. Most are family-friendly.

Nasi goreng in Indonesia

Nasi goreng in Indonesia

11. Visit the great Lake Bratan and surrounding waterfalls

Lying just below Candikuning at 1200m above sea level, Danau Bratan (Lake Bratan) is the largest and most visited of the three spiritually charged crater lakes around Bedugul. Thought to be 35m deep in places. It is surrounded by forested hills, with the bulk of Gunung Catur (2096m), the caldera’s highest peak, rising sheer behind.

The trail to the summit begins at Gua Jepang, caves built by Indonesian prisoners of war during World War II, and passes through agricultural fields ending where dense forest and the ascent begins.

The last few kilometres require climbing over exposed tree roots on muddy trails and at the top is Pura Puncak Mangu, a simple temple built by the first Mengwi raja and, of course, spectacular views of the three lakes below.

Nearby in Munduk, the most accessible of several falls in the area is the pretty Tanah Barak waterfall, also known as Red Coral Waterfall or simply Munduk Waterfall.

Pura Ulun Danu temple panorama at sunrise on a lake Bratan, Bali, Indonesia shutterstock

Pura Ulun Danu temple panorama at sunrise on a lake Bratan, Bali, Indonesia @ Shutterstock

12. Take a bicycle tour

One of the best Bali tours is exploring its landscape by bicycle. A thrilling and immersive way to connect with the island's natural beauty and cultural heritage. As you pedal along, you'll be captivated by the ever-changing scenery, from lush rice terraces to cascading waterfalls and dense jungles.

Bicycle tours are particularly popular in Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, and meander through its surrounding countryside. The iconic Tegallalang Rice Terraces are a sight to behold, with their intricate green terraces sculpted into the landscape. Take in the breathtaking views as you ride through the rugged terrain, passing by ancient temples and traditional Balinese architecture.

Did you know our Love trip to Bali includes a bicycle tour?

13. Ride a hot air balloon above Ubud

Experience the stunning natural beauty of Bali from a whole new perspective with the Island of the Gods' first and only ballooning adventure. Take to the skies in a 23-metre hot air balloon and soar above the breathtaking Tanah Gajah area, located amongst the legendary rice paddies of Ubud.

From the comfort of a cosy wicker basket, you'll climb to a thrilling 50 metres above the lush rice fields and float at the end of a tether, enjoying awe-inspiring panoramas of the tropical forests surrounding central Bali with Mount Agung on the eastern horizon.

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 11.06.2024

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