Beautiful, beautiful Bali. This lush paradise is a bucket list destination for travellers around the world thanks to its rich turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and plethora of ancient temples and it’s a great destination for solo travellers. It’s a safe country to travel around, with plenty of friendly locals to help you on your way. There’s a wide range of cultural trips and activities that you can easily join solo and you’ll quickly find plenty of like-minded travellers.
While most head to the coast, you’d be missing out on a lot of what Bali has to offer if you don’t venture further inland. We’ve pulled together the best places to visit in Bali for solo travellers and thrown in our top tips on what to do when you get there.
Most popular: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan water temple
Top recommendation: Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
The coastlines of Bali are a huge tourist draw, but you would be missing out if you didn’t venture inland. Amidst ancient volcanoes and mysterious mountains, you’ll find Bedugul, a lake resort which offers welcome relief from the high coastal temperatures thanks to its cool mountain air. Much of Bedugul’s draw is centred around its three crater lakes, Bratan, Tamblingan and Buyan Lake. Dotted with exotic temples and set amidst lush landscape, this is definitely a spot to break out the fancy cameras.
The temple that brings all the tourists to the lakes is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan water temple. This major Hindu Shaivite temple is located on the shores of Lake Bratan and when the conditions are right, it appears to float on the surface of this volcanic lake. Fog is also fairly common here, adding a mysterious air to this illusion. Colourful flowers adorn this sacred site and you’ll be able to see more in the botanical garden next door.
Explore more of Bedugul’s lush landscape at Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, where undulating slopes and shimmering rice fields gleam under the Balinese sun. Take an afternoon to peruse the fields and learn why the irrigation methods used here are so unique to the island.
Most popular: The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Top recommendation: Mount Batur
Ubud is one of those places people visit and never want to leave, hence its rather large expat community. This town in the uplands of Bali is the cultural heart of the island, where history and tradition merge with sustainability, design and delicious gastronomy. From rice fields to dance festivals and the museum of art, Ubud is a richly colourful town that hasn’t abandoned its roots as it pushes forward, albeit at a pleasantly relaxed pace.
Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, also known as Ubud Monkey Forest, is a sanctuary and home to more than 600 long-tailed Balinese macaques. While they may look cute in pictures, they are wild animals and will happily help themselves to tourists belongings and sometimes even bite, so it’s definitely worth heeding the sanctuary’s guidelines. It’s a real privilege to seeing these animals in the wild, but its not fun getting mugged by a monkey. Heading into the lush green jungle, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot macaques and explore the temples.
In the same area is Mount Batur, an active volcano situated in the middle of two concentric calderas. It’s one of Bali’s most sacred mountains and we think the two-hour climb is best attempted before sunrise, where the cool mountain air will awaken your sense while starlit skies stretch on ahead of you. The early start is rewarded with spectacular sunrise views from the volcanic summit.
Most popular: Trawangan Night Market
Top recommendation: Snorkelling between the islands
For a slice of paradise, head to the Gili Islands. With postcard-perfect beaches of palm-tree lined white sand that meets rich turquoise waters, as well as a laid-back island lifestyle, the Gilis are the perfect spot to unwind. A trio of islands makes up the Gilis, each with their own distinct personality. Partygoers should head to Gili Trawangan, where a buzzing nightlife and host of upscale restaurants should keep anyone busy through to the early hours, while Gili Air balances out raucousness with rest and Gili Meno has the strongest Balinese character.
Over on Gili Trawangan, the bustling night market lures many a tourist away from the bars to sample Balinese delicacies. There are plenty of budget options in this public dining spot and it shouldn’t be a surprise that fish and seafood dishes are particularly popular. There’s a huge range of food options but look for the stalls frequented by locals for the best dishes.
Seeing the Gili Islands from land is great, but venture beneath the surface of those rich turquoise waters to see them from a whole different perspective. Grab a snorkel and head down to explore forests of coral reef located just off the shore and keep an eye out for the mysterious underwater statues that the Gili Islands are known for.
Most popular: Lotus Lagoon
Top recommendation: Lempuyang Temple
This beautiful seaside town resides on the edge of a freshwater lagoon and is home to a number of luxurious hotels, complete with infinity pools. Candi Dasa is a treasure trove of hidden beaches and ornate Balinese temples, so there’s plenty to lure you away from the pool.
One of Candi Dasa’s most well-known landmarks is Lotus Lagoon, where vast swathes of the water’s surface are adorned with bright pink and fuschia lotus blooms. They’re at their most spectacular in full bloom, but the vivid greens of the lily pads are beautiful at other times of the year too.
Set atop Lempuyang mountain, Lempuyang Temple (also known as the Gates of Heaven) is quite a sight to behold. It’s one of the oldest temples in Bali and its huge significance to Balinese culture and religion means you’ll often see Balinese families from around the island visiting in full ceremonial attire. Here, you’ll find breathtaking views and a plethora of ancient structures to explore.
Most popular: Kelingking
Top recommendation: Crystal Bay
This relatively undeveloped island situated south-east of mainland Bali is the perfect spot to explore Bali’s flora and fauna. Still largely undiscovered by tourists, on Nusa Penida you trade tourist hotspots for a slower pace of life and a spot of exploration.
Search out the secluded Kelingking beach, where white sand and rich turquoise waters are enclosed by a steep cliff and headland. The price of reaching this piece of paradise is a 400m rugged cliffside hike, but the views before you even reach the beach are worth the trip alone.
For the more adventurous beach-goers, we’d recommend a trip over to Crystal Bay, where big waves abound. Grab a surfboard and ride those waves, or explore beneath the surface with a spot of snorkelling before grabbing a beachside drink and taking in the beauty of this secluded ocean cove.
Most popular: Garuda Wisnu Kencana
Top recommendation: Seafood barbecue at Jimbaran Bay
Skip the tourist hotspot of Kuta and instead head a bit south to the small fishing village of Jimbaran. Here, you’ll find long sandy beaches, fish restaurants galore and a backdrop of tropical forest. Towards the north of Jimbaran, the shores are dotted with colourful boats bringing in the catch of the day to the open-air Kedonganan fish market. If you fancy trying to catch dinner yourself, hop on a local fishing boat tour to try your hand at catching marlin, Spanish mackerel or ruby snapper.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana is an artistic cultural park and home to a colossal statue of God Vishnu and Garuda. Climb to the top of a limestone hill to see this stonework artistry up-close. Make sure you stretch your visit until 5 pm when a daily Balinese parade takes place.
When you’re in a spot that serves such spectacular seafood, it’s only right to sample it on style. A plethora of fish restaurants reside on the beach and many will provide you with barbequed seafood delights. Grab a spot at sundown to feast on fresh fish while taking in a beautiful Balinese sunset.
Most popular: Batu Bolong Beach
Top recommendation: Tanah Lot
This stretch of land between Kerobokan and Echo Beach is filled with villas and casual cafes, attracting travellers looking for a relaxed pace of life. Once just a tiny village overlooking the Indian Ocean, Canggu has developed into the spot to visit thanks to its surroundings of lush rice fields and, if you gravitate a bit further out, long stretches of sandy beaches.
One such piece of paradise is Batu Bolong Beach. It’s so popular with those looking to surf its waves that board rental spots are plentiful. You can take a break from the surf and head to the surrounding shops and restaurants to while away an afternoon at your leisure.
Tanah Lot is probably one of the most photographed temples in Bali. Tanah Lot translates as earth and sea, very appropriate considering its spectacular location on a rock formation overlooking the sea. It’s one of the seven sea temples located on the coast of Bali and has been featured in Balinese mythology for centuries.
Most popular: Bajra Sandhi Monument
Top recommendation: Sakenan Temple
Bali’s capital can seem a daunting and chaotic place at first glance, but spend some time wandering the tree-lined streets of Renon and you’ll find a calmer side of Denpasar. While it might be tempting to head straight to the Balinese countryside, Denpasar is as much a part of real Bali as the coastlines and rice fields, so it’s worth adding to your Bali itinerary.
You’d be a fool to visit Denpasar and overlook a trip to Bajra Sandhi Monument. This vast monument to the struggles of the Balinese people throughout history is the centrepiece to a popular park and features dioramas of historical events, including a portrayal of the 1906 battle with the Dutch where the King of Badung is literally depicted as a sitting target. Finish your trip to the monument by climbing the spiral stairs to the top where you’ll be treated to 360-degree views of the surrounding city.
Sakenan Temple plays a very important role in Hindu-Balinese culture. Historically, people have travelled far and wide by both wooden boat and foot to visit this sacred site as a pilgrimage during the 210-day celebration of the piodalan temple anniversary. Little has changed about this pilgrimage over the years and it’s the opportunity to see a largely unchanged part of Balinese culture. The architecture of the temple itself is beautifully crafted and this spot also offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape.