The same routine can get monotonous fast – even on holiday. Wake up, pool, beach, dinner, bar – there must be more to enjoy on this tropical island, right?
Absolutely! Bali goes way beyond beach clubs, magical sunsets and cheap beer, there is a whole world to discover.
You can hire a motorbike, find a private driver, or sign up for a scheduled Bali tour where you escape your usual route and explore the ‘real Bali’.
Here are all the best cultural tours in Bali that everyone should experience at least once – maybe more!
Bali is FILLED with amazing culture, incredible religious sights, and magnificent nature. It can be hard to know where to start. These epic cultural tours will take you to all the must-see spots, along with an experienced local guide who knows all the insider info.
Uluwatu Temple & Kecak Dance
The home of stunning tropical beaches and cliffside views, a stay in Uluwatu promises outstanding beauty. But have you ever visited the Uluwatu Temple?
Sat on the cliffside overlooking the magnificent ocean views we all know and love, Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, is thought to have been built in the 11th century with Javanese influence. A place of worship, the temple was not often visited by tourists until recent years when access became easier, and the famed Kecak Dance became a must-see.
Visiting the Uluwatu Temple is a historic, religious and beautiful experience that shouldn’t be missed. Just ensure you are properly dressed with shoulders and legs covered. It is important to respect the religious site, and its requirements.
You can spend some time taking in the beauty of the historical temple before the Kecak dance takes place. As the sun begins to set, you will be gathered into a small amphitheater-style space. The Kecak dancers start to move, sway and sing to a rhythmic drum beat. Circling a huge fire the, traditionally male, performers fall into a trance-like dance depicting the story of Ramayana.
For an easy and affordable tour in Bali, visiting Uluwatu Temple is an amazing day out.
Suggested tour: Private Tour of Bali Beaches & Uluwatu Temple
A Complete Tour of Ubud
Sitting at the heart of the island, staying in Ubud promises beauty, culture and incredible food.
Offering some of the most cultural tours in Bali, you can wander every inch of the town including art markets, rice terraces, museums, temples, jungles and the (infamous) Monkey Forest.
Along with a great tour guide, or even solo, you can stop by all the hotspots of Ubud, and really soak in the Balinese culture.
These spots are a MUST during a tour of Ubud –
- The Monkey Forest
- Tegallalang Rice Terraces
- Campuhan Ridge Walk
- Temples (Pura Tirta Empul, Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, Pura Taman Saraswati, Pura Dalem Taman Kaja)
- Barong and Kecak Dance
- Neka Art Museum
- The Blanco Renaissance Museum
- Agung Rai Museum of Art
You can can easily hit all these sights by motorbike – for those of you who are confident driving in Bali. The rest of you can hire a private driver who will know some extra secret spots to go to.
Suggested tour: Private Sightseeing Tour of Ubud
Bali Spiritual Cleansing, Healing and Shamanic Tour
Some visitors come to Bali with the hope of being cleansed, healed and helped. The Balinese culture is filled with spiritual and healing practices that are totally unique. Holy priests, water rituals, island wide celebrations like Nyepi, there is so much about Bali life that is magical – take a look for yourself!
Showcasing an amazing part of Bali culture – the practice of spiritual healing – there are tours that will take you to local Hindu priests. They will look into your karmic presence, read your palms, help align your chakras and give you a slight insight into how your life may progress. If this is not your ‘thing’, please remain respectful of the culture and healer.
The Bali healing tour continues onto Pura Tirta Empul for a traditional cleansing under running water fountains – each fountain represents a different part of your healing. Allow the water to run over your head, praying for good fortune and health.
Giving you a glimpse into the traditional practices of the island, this unique experience will stay with you for years to come.
Suggested tour: Full-Day Spiritual Cleansing and Shamanic Tour
Jatiluwih Rice Terrace & Tanah Lot Temple
Combining a tour of Jatiluwih Rice Terrace and Tanah Lot Temple is the perfect way to tackle 2 birds with 1 stone.
Where to start is personal preference. I recommend heading to Jatiluwih first, so you get some gorgeous morning light over the paddies while you roam and explore. Stop by some extra sights along the drive, before hitting Tanah Lot Temple for a magical sunset. But really, either way works!
Jatiluwih Rice Terrace is the biggest rice terrace in Bali. Situated in the shadows of the Batukaru mountain range, it is a UNESCO heritage sight, protected from any development or building to ensure their cultural heritage. Stretching over 600 hectares, the land is a stunningly beautiful sight. Dotted with restaurants and local warungs, you can wander the rice fields by bike, car or foot, and dine with expansive lush views.
Tanah Lot sits a little bit higher than Canggu, with black sand beaches and rural terrain. It is Pura Tanah Lot, or Tanah Lot Temple, that lures the tourists to the area. On top of a natural rock formation, the temple isn’t easily accessed, most visitors wander the rocky shore below to take pictures and wait for sunset.
Be warned: watching sunset is one of the Balinese people’s favourite activities. Tanah Lot Temple can be super hectic the closer you get to sundown. Get there early to get a good spot!
Suggested tour: Private Jatiluwih and Ancient Temple Tour
An Artsy Ubud Tour
Bali is an island of many talents, and art sits high on the list. Batik painting, basket weaving, wood carving and painting are some of the most popular Balinese art, especially in the small villages around Ubud. You will often find that a skill is practiced in the same village, by the same families, for generations.
A Balinese art tour will take you on an adventure around the artisan villages. You will get a first-hand glimpse at the traditional techniques used by the local artists to create stunning works of art.
A tour of a Batik factory gives you the chance to take a look at the process of how traditional Balinese Batik is handmade using unique tools and painting techniques. You can even make one of your own! There are Batik painting classes where you can try out the methods, and see if it’s really as easy as the talented craftsmen make it seem. Hint: it’s not!
Celuk Village is the next Balinese art village in Ubud, well-known for its gold and silver crafting. With talents passed down for generations, the village is packed with locals who create beautiful pieces of jewellery and art out of metals. Their prices are much more attractive than you will find at home. You are sure to find some real treasures.
Mas Village is the wood carving centre of Bali. From huge, intricate, traditional Balinese doors, to more simple small figurines, Mas is where all the island’s wood carving skills are honed.
And, don’t forget to check out the Ubud Market for souvenirs and cheap treats! Heading there with an experienced local guide will get you the best prices.
Suggested tour: Arts and Crafts Ubud Tour
Balinese Food Tour
Food is the most important part of any culture. You can really get a feel for everything about a country by their cuisine. When the family gets together to make it, how they eat – food is the signifier for all the good things. That’s why a Balinese food tour is a must!
I suppose in some way your whole Bali trip will be a culinary tour. But, if you want to find the BEST spots and hidden tasty gems, hopping on a tour with a great tour guide will show you all the things you wouldn’t find alone.
Based in Ubud, this particular tour starts in the market where you can sample fresh tropical fruits, and see the buzz of locals buying their groceries.
You will get to taste all the local favourites –
- Tahu Tek – tofu with peanut sauce
- Traditional fish – wonton skin with tofu, stuffed with fish and peanut sauce
- Sweet or spicy pork and beef sate
- Rendang – slow-cooked beef with vegetables
- Babi guling – slow roasted pork
- Pisang goreng – deep fried banana
- Kolak pisang – palm sugar and coconut milk
Head home with a fhappy, ull stomach, and a greater knowledge of Balinese culture and food style. Selamat makan!
Suggested tour: The 10 Tastings of Bali
Fun Activity Tours in Bali
When you’ve exhausted all the cultural tours in Bali, here are some options for an adventure!
Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no pro-hiker. But to spend any amount of time on the island and not venture to its vast mountain range is a sin. Surrounded by stunning scenery with unbelievable, expansive views, Bali volcanoes are beautiful. You have to at least try, or you are really missing out.
Mount Batur is the easiest volcano trek in Bali – but still requires a decent level of fitness.
You need to wake in the early hours of the morning and head out to the base site with a group of friendly tour guides. The hike should take around 2 hours, but you can take breaks as and when you need them. It is important not to rush or keep-up if you feel incapable. Take your time and enjoy the unique experience!
You will, hopefully, reach the summit before sunrise. Be sure to take a moment to catch your breath, as it will be taken away again by the outstanding sight of the sunrise. One of the most beautiful views on the island.
But, the fun doesn’t need to stop at the summit. After your hike explore the nearby local villages to find a traditional breakfast, and survey the magnificent landscapes of the volcano.
Suggested tour: Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
Ayung River Rafting
Nothing gets your adrenaline going like a rough ride down a river. For the thrill-seekers and wanna-be explorers, rafting down the Ayung River is a must-try tour in Bali.
In the heart of Ubud, an Ayung River rafting tour can include a variety of Ubud’s most popular hotspots before heading to the start of your river adventure. Kitted out with all the necessary safety gear, you will receive a safety briefing before you jump in the boat.
Tackle the current, jump over rocks, crash into the bank and, perhaps, even fall into the water, Ayung River Rafting is a fun activity to add to your Bali itinerary – even with kids!
I highly recommend stopping for a river view lunch after your exhilarating ride. Enjoy the stunning nature that encompasses the powerful water stream whilst digging into traditional Indonesian meals, or Western favourites.
Suggested tour: Ayung River Rafting
Chase Bali’s Waterfalls
Touring Bali’s waterfalls is something you can easily organise yourself, whether by bike or private driver. It just takes some help from Google maps and a little wise planning. Pick your area, pinpoint the waterfalls, and work out the best route for your day. However, if you don’t fancy the faf, there are many tour companies offering packaged tours to save you the trouble.
In Ubud, the best sequence of waterfalls starts at Tegenungan, followed by Tibumana, Dusun Kuning and Tukad Cepung. This is an intense day of all waterfalls, but it can always be broken up with a few stops to coffee plantations, scenic restaurants and local markets.
For the Northern waterfalls around Singaraja and Munduk, it is best to start your day at Nungnung Waterfall, before heading to the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls, Munduk Waterfall and Blahmantung. Again, this is a lot of waterfall activity in one day. I also recommend stopping by hillside restaurants, lake views and local villages for a fulfilling tour.
There are different levels of access and hikes to each of these waterfalls. Exploring the waterfalls by motorbike is one of the cheapest activities in Bali.
Suggested tour: Best Waterfalls in Bali Tour
Any tropical island trip needs a bit of underwater exploration. Diving in Bali is world famous, after all!
With diverse marine life, sunken shipwrecks and protected reefs, a trip below the ocean will blow you away. Snorkelling during your Bali vacation is a must!
There are spots around the island where you can snorkel right off the beach – including Candidasa, Sanur and Amed. Menjangan Island in the North of Bali is a short boat ride away, and is phenomenal. It is a protected reef that has beautiful fish and coral. There also incredibly beautiful places to stay nearby like Mangroove Bay Hostel which brings Western comforts to the North West coast.
The Gili’s, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida are incredibly impressive snorkelling and diving sites. They have crystal clear waters, majestic aquatic creatures and the island’s are pretty beautiful themselves.
It may not be the cheapest tour in Bali, but the memories will last forever.
Suggested tour: Snorkelling at Blue Lagoon
Bali Bike Tour
Breathe in the fresh air and get your bodies working during a Bali bike tour.
Not only scenic but also an educational experience, you can cycle through the peaceful streets of Ubud passing by traditional Balinese life, family compounds and farms.
Led by an English speaking guide, you will see a side of Bali not seen by car or motorbike. Stopping at temples, view points, banyan trees and pit-stops along the way, this could be one of the best activity tours in Bali for the whole family.
Suggested tour: Love Bali Bike Tour
Bali Instagram Tour
This Bali tour does what it says on the tin. It’s an Instagram baddies dream! It promises epic pictures, perfect lighting and amazing images to post on your feed for weeks to come. Hitting some of the most well-known picture spots on the island, you can get months of content in one swoop – as well as visit some of Bali’s cultural sights.
A package tour includes stops at –
- The Gates of Heaven (Lempuyang Temple)
- Mount Agung View Points
- Tirta Gangga
- Tukad Cepang Waterfall
- Tegallalang Rice Terrace
- A coffee plantation
- One of the famous jungle swings
In 1-day you will have ventured across incredible landscapes for fun activities and magnificent Bali sights.
Don’t be afraid to ask the organisers to add on a couple of extra spots, or alter the itinerary if you have already visited one of the places.
As with most of these Bali tours, you don’t necessarily need to tag along with a package. Make your own itinerary and head out to explore the vast scenery of Bali – who knows what hidden treasure you may fall upon!
Suggested tour: Bali Instagram Tour
Bali ATV Tour
Adrenaline junkies, you have to try an ATV tour!
You can power through the jungle on wet muddy tracks making a mess, noise and getting your energy pumping. It is an ideal tour in Bali for a group of friends looking for some fun.
Race you to the end!
Some quick tips –
Top tip – make sure to find a reputable, trusted tour provider if you plan to sign up for a package. If the price seems too good to be true, maybe it is.. Check out reviews online beforehand!
Top tip #2 – when committing to an adventure activity tour, make sure the company has all the safety gear required, and insurance in case of an accident.
Suggested tour: Bali ATV Ride
Great Experiences in Bali
Up next we have some fun experiences that will fill a day when you aren’t sure what else to do.
Balinese Cooking Class
Love Bali cuisine? Take the tastes home with you!
In a Balinese cooking class you can learn all the tips, tricks and secrets of Balinese cuisine to really pack a punch at your own dining table. Led by a talented local chef you will learn step-by-step how to prepare your ingredients, in what order to cook them and how to make it look professional as it’s served – perhaps not wrapped in paper..
Suggested class: Paon Cooking Class
Jewellery Making Class
At a fun and informational jewellery making class you can create your very own Bali memento.
You will be taught how to manipulate the metal into the desired shape, the best way to create a design and be handed all the tools you need to get it done.
You may not leave a pro, but you will have something that no one else on the island has!
Suggested class: Silver Jewellery Making Class
Canang Making Class
After spending any amount of time in Bali, you are sure to have seen the small offerings that are left on the floor and beside temples. They are called canang, and have a significant meaning to the Balinese Hindus. Each part of the offering has a purpose, and they need to be placed 3 times a day.
In a canang making class you can find out what each part of the offering represents, why the person making the offering wears a scarf around their waist, and how to pray as you set it down.
Adding to your understanding of Bali’s culture, I think this is one of the best classes to take.
Suggested class: Balinese Offering Making Class
Wow! What an amazing and diverse collection of tours in Bali – if I do say so myself..
Immersing yourself in the culture of Bali will really make you appreciate every little thing about the island. The canang, the ringing bells, the rice farmers, the food.. Everything has a meaning and place.
I personally love to explore the island, learning about each aspect of Balinese life and religion. The friendly people, intriguing ceremonies and seemingly nonsensical – to us outsiders – rituals only add to the richness of the island’s culture and mystery.
Whether it is your first trip to Bali, you are a returning guest, or one who never left, take some time to tour Bali and learn about the island’s rich culture – you won’t regret it.