Best Destination Bali

Best Destination Bali

Bali is one of the most evocative and popular tourist islands of the entire Indonesian archipelago. A visit here sparks the senses. As soon as you arrive, the intoxicating fragrance of incense and clove oil hangs in the thick tropical air. Peanuts sizzle at roadside stalls, petal-strewn offerings smolder on busy sidewalks, and traditional gamelan music jangles against the buzz of mopeds. Despite the clamor and chaos of the main tourist areas, the island is rich in natural beauty, with attractions for every kind of traveler.

1. Pura Tanah Lot

About 20 kilometers northwest of Kuta, Pura Tanah Lot (“Pura” means temple in Balinese) is one of Bali’s most iconic temples thanks to its spectacular seaside setting on a rocky islet surrounded by crashing waves. For the Balinese people, it is one of the most sacred of all the island’s sea temples. (The largest and holiest Hindu temple in Bali is Pura Besakih, but recently local hagglers have been harassing visitors.) Every evening, throngs of tourists from Kuta, Legian, and Sanur find their way through a labyrinth of lanes lined by souvenir sellers to watch the sun setting behind the temple. Pura Tanah Lot was built at the beginning of the 16th century and is thought to be inspired by the priest Nirartha, who asked local fishermen to build a temple here after spending the night on the rock outcrop.

2. Mount Batur

Every day in Bali’s predawn darkness, hundreds of visitors begin the trek up the 1,700-meter summit of Mount Batur to watch the sun rise above the lush mosaic of mist-shrouded mountains and the caldera far below. This sacred active volcano lies in Kintamani District in Bali’s central highlands, about an hour’s drive from Ubud, and the hike to the summit to watch the sunrise has long graced the list of top things to do in Bali. The hike along the well-marked trails is relatively easy and usually takes about two to three hours. Guided treks typically include a picnic breakfast, with eggs cooked by the steam from the active volcano. On a clear day, the views are spectacular, stretching all the way across the Batur caldera; the surrounding mountain range; and beautiful Lake Batur, the island’s main source of irrigation water.

Sturdy hiking shoes are essential, and it’s advisable to wear layers, as the temperature can be cool before sunrise. You can also combine a trip here with a visit to one of Bali’s most important temples, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, on the lake’s northwest shore, and a therapeutic soak in hot springs at the beautiful village of Toya Bungkah on the banks of Lake Batur.

3. Uluwatu Temple

Presiding over plunging sea cliffs above one of Bali’s best surf spots, Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) is one of the island’s most famous temples, thanks to its magnificent clifftop setting. In Balinese, “Ulu” means “tip” or “land’s end” and “Watu” means rock, a fitting name for the location of the temple on the Bukit Peninsula along the island’s southwestern tip. Like Pura Tanah Lot, sunset is the best time to visit, when the sky and sea glow in the late afternoon light.

Archaeological finds here suggest the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating from around the 10th century. The temple is believed to protect Bali from evil sea spirits, while the monkeys who dwell in the forest near its entrance are thought to guard the temple from bad influences (keep your belongings securely stashed away from their nimble fingers). A scenic pathway snakes from the entrance to the temple with breathtaking viewpoints along the way. Only Hindu worshippers are allowed to enter the temple, but the beautiful setting and the sunset Kecak dance performances that take place here daily are more than worth the visit.

Sturdy hiking shoes are essential, and it’s advisable to wear layers, as the temperature can be cool before sunrise. You can also combine a trip here with a visit to one of Bali’s most important temples, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, on the lake’s northwest shore, and a therapeutic soak in hot springs at the beautiful village of Toya Bungkah on the banks of Lake Batur.

4. Ubud Monkey Forest

Only 10 minutes’ walk south of the town center in Ubud, the Monkey Forest, also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, is one of the top attractions in this tourist town and a must-see for animal lovers and photographers. Besides the entertaining troops of grey long-tailed macaques that make their home here, a large part of the appeal is the evocative jungle setting where the monkeys roam free. Paved pathways lead through thick forests of giant banyan trees and nutmeg, where moss-covered statues and ancient temples loom through the dense foliage, imparting an almost mystical feel. The forest is intended to represent the harmonious coexistence between humans and animals. It also conserves rare plants and is used as a location for researching macaque behavior, particularly their social interaction.

On the southwest side of the forest is one of the three temples found in the forest, the 14th-century Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, where hundreds of monkeys swing through the trees and clamber over the walls. In the northwest of the forest, an ancient bathing temple, Pura Beji, nestles next to a cool stream and makes a beautiful backdrop for watching the monkey’s antics. While visiting the forest, make sure to secure your belongings and avoid direct eye contact with the animals (and smiling), as this can be interpreted as a sign of aggression. It’s also a good idea not to bring any food into the area.

5.Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

On a small island along the western shore of Lake Bratan, in the cool highlands of central Bali, the 17th-century Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of Bali’s most picturesque temple complexes. Set against the imposing backdrop of Gunung Bratan, the thatched temples reflect on the lake, and when the water levels rise, they seem to float on its surface. Lake Bratan is one of Bali’s main sources of irrigation and drinking water, and the temple complex is dedicated to Dewi Danu, goddess of the sea and lakes. An unusual feature is the Buddhist stupa on the left of the entrance to the first courtyard, with figures of Buddha meditating in the lotus position in niches on the square base. The stupa reflects the adoption of Buddhist beliefs by Balinese Hindus. This sacred Hindu temple complex is best seen in the soft morning light, before the tourist buses arrive, when cool mist sometimes cloaks the lake and the mountains beyond. You can also hire a canoe and paddle out on the lake to explore the meru (thatched shrines) at close range.

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