Hey there travelers and welcome to my post where we will check out my top 10 free things to do in Bali this year. For many, Bali is an enchanting island known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture and warm hospitality. And whilst you can choose from a plethora of luxurious resorts, restaurants, beach clubs and ‘tourist trap’ attractions, you aren’t always able to empty your wallet to experience the beauty and charm it has to offer.
And trust me, I know the struggle. You want to do everything however the cost of activities can add up quickly, leaving you stressed about overspending. As someone who has explored Bali on a shoestring budget, I’ve discovered a wealth of free activities that are just as exciting and enriching as the paid ones.
So for you, the the budget-conscious traveler, I’ve put together this list of free things to do that will give you a taste of Bali’s magic without costing a dime.
Free Things to Do in Bali
Before we begin here however, it is important to remember that even though Bali is a relatively small island, moving around is not always as easy as you would think. So even though the activities and attractions listed below are free, you are usually always going to have to pay a driver of some sort to get there. Just something to keep in mind.
Ok, now let’s check out my top 10 things to do for nix below.
1. Visit the beaches
Bali is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, and luckily, most of them are accessible to the public free of charge – especially if you arrive on foot. The most popular here include:
- Kuta Beach – located in the southern part of Bali and famous for its wide expanse of golden sand, energetic atmosphere and fantastic surf breaks, it has become a hub for surfers, sun-seekers and beach enthusiasts alike. You can enjoy a leisurely swim in the refreshing waters, relax under the shade of a beach umbrella, or simply bask in the sun while observing the vibrant beach scene.
- Seminyak Beach – situated just north of Kuta offers upscale ambiance, luxurious resorts and trendy beach clubs. However if you leave these alone, the area also offers a more sophisticated beach experience where you can take a stroll along the shore and admire the beautiful coastline. Seminyak Beach is also known for its vibrant nightlife, making it an excellent place to unwind and listen to some music whilst enjoying the buzzing atmosphere after the sun goes down.
- Nusa Dua Beach – this pristine stretch of coastline on the southeastern coast of Bali boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters, powdery white sand and a peaceful ambiance. Nusa Dua Beach is an excellent choice for those seeking a quiet escape or a romantic stroll along the shore. The calm waters make it ideal for swimming and snorkeling allowing you to discover an underwater world teeming with colorful marine life as well.
Check out my: 10 Best Beaches in Bali
2. Explore the rice terraces
Bali’s iconic rice terraces are not only visually stunning but also offer a glimpse into the island’s rich agricultural heritage. One of the most famous rice terrace destinations in Bali is Tegalalang Rice Terrace, located north of Ubud where you’ll be greeted by terraced fields of vibrant green, meticulously carved into the hillside.
There are lots of tourist traps here but you can generally take a leisurely stroll along the narrow paths that wind through the terraces for free allowing you to appreciate the intricate irrigation systems and traditional farming methods that have sustained the Balinese people for centuries.
Another remarkable rice terrace area to explore is Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in central Bali, Jatiluwih showcases vast expanses of terraced rice fields surrounded by majestic mountains. As you wander through the terraces, you’ll encounter local farmers tending to their crops, providing a glimpse into the daily lives and agricultural traditions.
Jatiluwih is not only a scenic wonderland but also offers several hiking trails that allow you to delve deeper into the countryside and experience the serenity of rural Bali as well.
3. Visit the water temples
Bali is renowned for its numerous water temples which hold great cultural and spiritual significance to the Balinese people. One of the most iconic water temples on the island is Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, situated on the shores of Lake Bratan in Bedugul. Dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danu, this temple showcases traditional Balinese architecture with its multi-tiered shrines and pagodas. Here you can take a leisurely stroll around the temple grounds, admire the ornate stone carvings, and soak in the peaceful ambiance.
Another notable water temple to visit is Tirta Empul Temple, located near the town of Tampaksiring. Tirta Empul is renowned for its holy spring water pools which are believed to possess healing and purifying properties. As you enter the temple complex, you’ll be greeted by a series of bathing pools fed by natural springs. Locals and visitors alike participate in a traditional purification ritual, where they immerse themselves in the crystal-clear waters while following a specific sequence of rituals.
The intricate architecture, the serene natural surroundings and the rituals performed at these temples offer a glimpse into the profound connection between the Balinese people and their spirituality. Remember to dress respectfully when visiting these sacred sites however just keep in mind that whilst you can generally look around for free, if you wish to participate in the rituals, there may a small donation expected.
4. Attend temple ceremonies
Throughout the year, you can find temple ceremonies taking place in various temples across Bali. These ceremonies are often open to the public – they often parade down the streets as well – allowing visitors to witness and participate in the cultural festivities. From small village ceremonies to larger temple celebrations, each event is a vibrant display of devotion, music, dance and intricate rituals.
One of the most famous temple ceremonies in Bali is the Odalan, which is a celebration to honor the temple’s anniversary where you can witness a wide range of cultural performances such as traditional Balinese dances, gamelan music orchestras and captivating processions. The atmosphere is filled with a sense of joy and spiritual reverence as the Balinese people come together to pay homage to their deities.
To attend a temple ceremony, it’s important to dress respectfully and follow any guidelines or instructions provided by the temple staff. Wear modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, and consider bringing a traditional sarong and sash to wear as a sign of respect. Keep in mind that temple ceremonies often involve offerings and prayers, so it’s essential to observe from a respectful distance and not interfere with the rituals.
And as per the water temples above, some ceremonial areas may ask for a small donation if you wish to partake in any of the celebrations.
Check out these: Best Festivals in Bali
5. Ubud Monkey Forest
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a captivating nature reserve and sanctuary nestled in the heart of Ubud, Bali. This lush forest is not only a haven for flora and fauna but also a playground for a mischievous troupe of long-tailed macaques. The park used to be free to enter however there are now two main parts, the free park and the pay per entry section.
If you don’t wish to part with your hard earned here, you can still explore the outer areas of the forest where you can absolutely observe the monkeys in their natural habitat as they swing from branches, groom each other or engage in playful antics. Be prepared for some up-close encounters, as these curious creatures may approach visitors in search of food or simply to satisfy their curiosity. However, it’s important to exercise caution and follow the guidelines provided to ensure both your safety and the well-being of the monkeys.
Aside from the monkeys, the Ubud Monkey Forest is also home to several ancient Hindu temples, such as the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal. These temples are not only religious sites but also architectural marvels with intricate carvings and ornate structures as well.
6. Ubud Market
Ubud Market is a bustling hub of activity and one of the most popular attractions in the town of Ubud, Bali. This vibrant market offers a treasure trove of sights, sounds and smells that encapsulate the essence of Balinese culture and craftsmanship. As you navigate through the market’s narrow alleyways, you’ll find yourself immersed in a kaleidoscope of colors, textures and an array of goods that showcase the island’s rich artistic heritage.
The market is divided into two main sections:
- The traditional market – also known as Pasar Ubud, this is a bustling area where locals gather to buy and sell fresh produce, spices and daily essentials.
- The art market – located adjacent to the traditional market, this is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts and souvenir hunters where you’ll find an extensive collection of handcrafted items including intricate woodcarvings, colorful textiles, traditional masks, paintings, jewelry and other unique handicrafts.
Beyond the shopping experience, Ubud Market is also a fantastic place to explore the local culinary delights with numerous food stalls and small eateries scattered throughout the market, offering a variety of mouthwatering dishes and refreshing drinks.
Now, I know it is probably fairly difficult to walk around without spending anything here, but there is certainly enough to look at without having to take out your Rupiah.
7. Hike Mount Batur
Hiking Mount Batur offers an exhilarating adventure and a chance to witness the majestic beauty of one of Bali’s active volcanoes. Located in the northeast part of the island, Mount Batur is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers seeking a memorable trekking experience.
The hike typically begins in the early morning hours to catch the sunrise from the summit, so be prepared for an early start. As you ascend the slopes of Mount Batur, you’ll traverse a combination of rocky paths, volcanic terrain and lush vegetation. The trail is moderately challenging, suitable for individuals with a reasonable level of fitness. However, it’s always recommended to assess your physical capabilities and consult with local guides before embarking on the hike.
There are free trails you can take however again, there is a cost options of guided tours with experienced local guides are available to ensure your safety and provide insights into the geological and cultural significance of the volcano. These guides are knowledgeable about the terrain, weather conditions, and necessary precautions, making your journey more enjoyable and informative. They can also share stories about the volcano’s history and its spiritual significance to the Balinese people.
Check out my: The 10 Best Hiking Trails in Bali
8. Explore Balinese art at the Puri Lukisan Museum
Ok, I am taking a small liberty with the word ‘free’ here but at a cost IDR 50.000 per person for an adult, kids under 15 years old and accompanied by their parents are free of charge. And this includes a free drink or tea so I am sticking by it.
Anyway, established in 1956, Ubud’s Puri Lukisan Museum is a captivating institution dedicated to preserving and showcasing the rich artistic heritage of Bali. The museum is divided into different pavilions, each displaying a distinct collection of artworks where you’ll be greeted by a vast array of traditional Balinese paintings that depict mythological stories, religious scenes and daily life in Bali.
In addition to traditional paintings, the museum also houses contemporary Balinese artworks that offer a glimpse into the evolution of Balinese artistic expression and showcase the fusion of traditional techniques with contemporary ideas, reflecting the creativity and innovation of Balinese artists in the present day.
9. Attend cultural performances
As with the ceremonies above, Bali is renowned for its vibrant and captivating cultural performances which showcase the island’s rich artistic traditions and provide a window into Balinese culture. Attending a cultural performance offers a unique opportunity to witness traditional music, dance and theatrical expressions that have been passed down through generations.
There are of course various venues in Bali, such as dedicated cultural centers that will charge you for the experience. However many of the higher end hotels and restaurants host regular performances as part of your stay or meal.
One of the most iconic forms of Balinese dance is the Legong dance, characterized by intricate hand movements, precise footwork, and elaborate costumes. This dance form often tells mythical stories from Balinese folklore, captivating audiences with its beauty and grace. Other popular dance forms include the Barong dance, which depicts the eternal battle between good and evil and the Kecak dance, which features a chorus of male performers creating a rhythmic chant.
10. Bali Provincial Public Library
The Bali Provincial Public Library, located in the capital city of Denpasar, offers a quiet and serene space for book lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat. This library is not only a place for knowledge and learning but also a sanctuary for relaxation and exploration.
As you enter the library, you’ll be welcomed by shelves upon shelves of books that cover a wide range of subjects including literature, history, art, science and more. The library houses a diverse collection of both local and international titles, providing a rich resource for those interested in delving into the literary world.
Browsing through the aisles, you can discover hidden literary gems, explore Balinese literature or find renowned works from around the globe. The library is a haven for bookworms, offering a tranquil environment to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. You can curl up in a cozy corner, immerse yourself in a captivating novel, or delve into a book on Balinese culture and history.
The Bali Provincial Public Library not only offers books but also provides access to other resources. It may have areas dedicated to newspapers, magazines, research materials and digital resources further enhancing the depth of information available to visitors.
There you have it, my 10 things that you can try out for free in Bali. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences here.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time.