Think you’ve seen it all in Bali? We are more than pleased to inform you that you haven’t. Yes-Bali has an amazing coast and a uniquely pleasant atmosphere, but the really amazing part lies in eerie tourist locations, weird unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Making a ‘curious tour’ of Bali will not be so difficult. Regardless of where you are located (the central part or at magical Lembongan), you can always deprive from the resort’s comfort and strive towards something more peculiar. You will discover that Bali’s uniqueness can always become more exceptional, expose places which are beautiful and strange at the same time, and can satisfy every taste, as curious as it may be.
All adventurers on board? Let us show you around! These are the 10 ‘weirdest’ Bali’s experiences:
1. Taman Festival
Location: Jalan Padanggalak, Padanggalak Beach, Sanur
Good ways from Sanur Hub lies the creepy Taman Festival, a ‘Ghost town’ on Pandanggalak Beach where hundreds of tourists gather every year for unique sightseeing. What they are looking for is not the once awesome theme park, but its’ massive, spooky remains. This park used to be the favorite pastime destination, both for locals and tourists, but it was closed only few years after it started working (1997). Apparently the reasons were finances and marketing. Afterwards, the ruins were handed over to the national government, which did nothing to revive it.
Even at daytime, Taman Festival creates a ‘bristling’ scene: a rusty gate, which used to be marvelous and lead hundreds of smiling children to the ‘world of fun’; a completely abandoned ticket desk; deserted cafeterias and partially demolished buildings with no roofs. It is almost the kingdom of neglected vegetation, with nasty vines covering broken windows and indomitable moss on the huge, even lonelier ornaments. It really feels like discovering a post-apocalypse world: fear instead of happiness and a strong regret of ‘borrowing’ such wonderful area to the ‘lost souls’.
Once there, take care how you are walking: Wherever you go (Jalan Padanggalak, Padanggalak or Sanur), structures are slippery and almost completely demolished.
2. Trunyan Necropolis
Location: Trunyan Village, Batur, Kintamani
An abandoned theme park is not frightening enough for you? You might consider directing your trip to the highlands, where the ancient Bali village of Trunyan will greet you with coldness and peril. Trunyan is located on the Eastern coast of Batur Lake and there is no way to approach it unless taking a boat. What you wouldn’t be aware of is that such trip has a ‘creepy story’ attached to it.
Unlike typical Balinese Hindus, known to perform cremation ceremonies for their deceased, the locals from Trunyan have a ‘harder time’ saying goodbye to their loved ones. They wrap them, put them on the boat and take them to the village graveyard, where instead of burying them, they keep them in special wooden caves and protect them from lurk animals and weather conditions. The caves are laid around an ancient stem, believed to have magical powers: The ‘Taru Menyan’ tree grows exclusively in this village and has a unique fragrance, believed to absorb the decomposing odor of the dead. Still, the remaining scene of mossy skulls and bones is not appropriate scenery for an emotional person.
3. Goa Lawah
Location: Jalan Raya Goa Lawah, Pesinggahan Village, Dawan District, Klungkung
There are three things you could associate the Goa Lawah Temple with: cave, bats and legends. Besides the wonderful scenery, locals will make sure you explore the wildest corners of imagination, by explaining you there is a 25km northeast passage from Goa Lawah to the famous Besakih Temple in Mount Agung. According to them, the passage if full of secrets and traps, and there is no way for a contemporary human to cross it. Does it really exist? We leave this to your ‘Indiana Jones’ spirit!
The story of Goa Lawah may not be as obscure as the one of similar Bali temples, but it is equally exiting. The Goa complex is built halfway between Candidasa and the Eastern coast, within a hardly accessible cave. The cave is a bosom for thousands nasty bats, which use every opportunity to feast on insects or ‘play’ with unexpected visitors. Ideally, the closest unorganized experience to an actual visit is at dusk, when one should observe the cave from the opposite side.
On the other hand, if you are really into discovering how the temple looks, we recommend a stopover during the Piodalan Temple Anniversary. You would witness the absolute opposite: an exotic celebration of devoted pilgrims, and colorful banners and parasols which crash the dullness and warm your hearts.
4. Bengkala Village
Location: Bengkala Village, Kubutambahan, Buleleng, North Bali
We are about to tell you an incredible story of a perfected deaf people community. The people from Bengkala transformed their deficiency into an advantage, and created a strong community and a unique way of life. The ‘collateral damage’ is their village’s incredible popularity.
The fact that over two percent of Bengkala’s population suffers from damaged audition would probably be less strange if it didn’t go on for seven generations. It is also true that locals did not put special efforts into explaining the background of this phenomena - instead of suffering, they chose to believe it was a divine decision and to glorify a ‘Deaf God’ who guides even the hearing among them. Solidarity transformed their disability: Not just the deaf (known as Kolok), but all Bengkala locals have their special roles, they are able to use the ‘Kata Kolok’ language; perform holy rituals through deaf dance and develop art masterpieces. Admirable, isn’t it?
5. The Lost Airplane
Location: Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai, Jimbaran
Somewhere on the way between Ngurah Rai and the airport of Nusa Dua, approximately 500m from the Benoa Square, you will discover a confusing scene: the remains of an old white Boeing 737!
Don’t worry! It did not crash!
What crashed were the owner’s plans of making a fancy restaurant inside. Or he just parked it in a yard to create a remarkable sight for observers? Nobody knows that.
6. The Second Lost plane
Are locals really so rich that they could simply ‘let go’ of their private jets and move on? It seems like! Unlike the first one, the owner of this flying giant had no interest in showing off and hid the plane in a carved limestone area, a kilometer north from Pandawa Beach.
He had a similar idea of creating a restaurant and a chill-out bar. Within this wild, fairly deserted area, a place like this would really look cool! Let’s hope it’s not just a rumor!
7. Goa Gala-Gala
Location: Lembongan Village, West Nusa Lembongan Island
Believe me, there is no way you’ll miss on Goa Gala-Gala on your ‘must-see-in-Bali’ list! In fact, it was an ambitious project for building an underground labyrinth, but developed to the construction of a proper hidden house.
Once down, it will take you a while to discover all of the well-connected and spacious chambers the house has to offer. And it looks absolutely amazing! The owner Made Byasa did his best to turn this seven meters-deep hole into a proper living space, with bedrooms, kitchens and all necessary facilities.
History tells us that it all began with Made Byasa’s idea to create a ‘hiding cave’ for modern Pandawa heroes, but ended becoming a decades-long project, finally accomplished in 1976. According to the story, the owner was deeply affected to the Mahabharata epic and the way in which soldiers managed to avoid Koravas persecution by remaining in such cave.
8. PI Taman Rekreasi Bedugul ‘Haunted Hotel’
Location: Jalan Raya Baturiti, Batunya, Bedugul, Central Bali
On your way to the central highlights, especially if stationed on the Ulu Danu Temple or the coast of Lake Beratan, you will be greeted by a massive, fairly old and hotel-like building. That would probably not surprise you, unless you are aware that the facility in front of you has no living soul inside.
Once again, we are asking you to observe infrastructure through ‘Balinese eyes’. The PI ‘Haunted hotel’ was supposed to be a luxury resort, but the project failed in the early 90s, due to financial issues.
If this project was located elsewhere in the world, it would not be surrounded by such veil of mystery. Balinese people, however, the same as in the case of Taman Festival, prescribed the darkness and demolishment of such place to the possession of lost spirits, and did nothing to use the economic potential of this project.
9. Goa Gong Temple
Location: Jalan Goa Gong, Jimbaran
The Goa Gong Temple is among Jimbaran’s last authentic monuments. The rapidly modernizing region puts admirable efforts to preserve this stalactite miracle: once you visit it, you will understand why!
Once outside Jimbaran’s central area, you’ll encounter the small Batu Ngonkong community, which will show you the way to the cave’s entrance. You’ll be greeted by the famous pair of enormous cat statues, colored in red and dressed in chequered garbs.
As you move forward, you will understand that surprises in Goa Gong never end: You will feel incredibly protected while walking the gargoyle-stairs under gorgeous tamarind and banyan crowns and you will arrive to the hidden, breathtaking stalactite structures. Inside this timeless paradise, your feelings dance to the sound of dripping water while your eyes move slowly towards to the biggest stone shrine. In fact, the shrine still performs the role of a holy gong during anniversaries and celebrations.
What you should have in mind is that entrance is only possible with the presence and approval of the temple’s supervisor priest Mangku Gurun Simpen.
Impressions? It is hard to believe nature really designed that!
10. Goa Peteng
Goa Peteng, or “Dark hole”, as translated in the local language, is a breathtaking cave located near Ayana Resort and Spa. The cave lies inside a limestone sinkhole and it is the private ‘treasure’ of farmer Pak Ketjuh’s family.
Cave explorers would be delighted to discover Goa Peteng’s magic: The fresh banyan breeze decorated with sunny beams hide 150 meters of impressive darkness built of eternal stalactites and stalagmites. The carved walls are covered with long vines which neutralize the guano smell spreading through the dense air, but as you go deeper and daylight disappears, the smell becomes harder to stand. That’s why most tourists give up on exploring the Goa completely, so in case you are really keen to do it-bring the right equipment!
The non-quitters among you will certainly discover their reward down there: Their senses will be refreshed by a magnificent pool of ice-cold water. The legend says that when the moon is full, the water starts running through a narrow passage, showing observers the secret way to an ancient chapel.