Known as the land of thousand temples, Bali is also hailed for its artistic communities and incredible landscapes. Its natural wonder goes beyond the white-sand beaches, the paradise for surfers, in the southern part of the island. Venturing further north will promise a wider range of activities for the nature lovers; from hiking active volcanoes, to taking a dip in the majestic waterfalls and even scaling through the canyons.
You don’t need an entire week or month to indulge in these activities amidst the hectic schedule. Just a weekend tuck away from the nitty-gritties of cities, you will be rejuvenated.
1) Scale through the Hidden Canyon in Sukawati
Holding true to its name, this canyon is a new-found attraction in Guwang village and is relatively hidden as compared to other more populous spots in Bali. However, it is becoming increasingly popular over the months as the locals decided to open it to the thriving tourism.
This canyon is more commonly known as Beji Guwang Sukawati among the locals as “beji” to them means purified fountain. Waddling in the chilly spring water, most of the rock formations are about 20 to 30 metres in height, patterned by the river erosion.
The trek takes about 2 hours, and requires a bit of stamina and agility.
Majority of the trek is done barefoot.
30 minutes drive from Denpasar Airport; 30 minutes drive from Ubud.
Cost: Entrance fee of 10,000Rp each
2) Take a dip in Nungnung Waterfall
Bali is home to many picturesque waterfalls, most of which are off the trodden path. Slightly further up north from renowned Tegenungan Waterfall is Nungnung waterfall. Nungnung Waterfall is off-beaten and you will have the whole place to yourself, and you would not have other visitors in your photos.
Nungnung Waterfall is perched 900 metres above the sea level in a rural residential area of Bali. You must first descent 509 steps to reach the falls, but it is quite an easy feat with the refreshing scenery and the accompany cool air. The relaxing sounds of the cascading waterfalls get louder as you reach the bottom of the gorge.
The trek takes about 1 to 3 hours, depending on the stay at the waterfall.
Bring a change of clothing if you intend to enter the pool.
Be in slippers.
Cost: 3,000Rp each
3) Watch the sunrise from the crater of Mount Batur
Indonesia is hailed for its volcanic mountains but other than planning a trip purposefully for one, what are the odds of an easily accessible and achievable one? Mount Batur is an active volcano in central Bali, with the most recent eruption in 2000.
1,717 metres may not sound intimidating, but the trek to the top gets increasingly challenging as the gravelled, rocky paths are replaced with volcanic ash and most climbers would struggle to ascend.
Hikes to Mount Batur take place throughout the day, however to catch the sunrise, the trek starts at around 4am. The guide will then bring climbers to explore the three younger craters and residential mountain monkeys.
The trek takes around 4 to 6 hours in total.
Wear the right shoes, descending might hurt your toes.
Dress in layers as it gets colder at the peak before sunrise.
Pack a torch – some guides may provide; it might not be enough for everyone if the group is big.
Approximately 1-hour drive from Ubud.
Cost: varies between different tour agencies; starting from USD25
4) Experience the Holy Water at Tirta Empul
Legend has it that the sacred spring bath was created by God Indra. Tirta Empul is also known as the Temple of the Holy Water where it features a pool for public bathing. Although there is no clear documentation of the founding of this temple, the earliest inscription dates back to 926AD. Since then, devoted Balinese have come to bathe in the sacred waters believed to have healing and spiritual merits. Locals not only bathe in the pool but you can see a number of them collecting the holy water in bottles to be used at local ceremonies.
While this temple exudes a sense of calm for the believers, visitors are welcome to join in the ceremonies as long as rules and regulations are followed and respected.
Bring a change of clothes and footwear.
Located within Ubud; 30 minutes drive from the city centre.
It gets crowded during festive period.
Adult – 15,000Rp
Child – 7,500Rp
Parking – 2,000Rp
Opening hours: 7am – 6pm daily.
5) Visit the abode of Balinese culture at Pura Besakih
Perched nearly 1000 metres on the slopes of Bali’s highest mountain, Agung, the temple stays rooted amidst the clouds and expansive views. Pura Besakih is crowned as the Mother Temple of Hindu in Bali as since the Gegel Dynasty of the 15 th century, it has been regarded as a central temple for the entire island.
Pura Besakih is a complex comprising of 22 temples and 6 rising terraces, where it offers a wide panoramic view to the ocean crashing on to the borders of the island. This is the abode of Balinese religion and culture.
Find a local guide before you enter the compound as the locals might get aggressive to
Bring your own sarong along.
1 to 1.5 hours drive from Ubud.
Additional costs for donations are needed.
6) Be culturally-immersed with heads in clouds at Temple Lempuyang
Locally referred to as Pura Lempuyang Luhur is one of Bali’s oldest and highly regarded temples. Pura Lempuyang Luhur is one of Bali’s nine directional temples and holds a great significance to Balinese culture and religion.
Lying at 1,177 metres above sea level, on the peak of Mount Lempuyang, this temple is the highest one in Bali. The hike to the top covers flights of steep staircases over 1,700 steps with attractions dotted along the way. For early risers and sunrise fanatics, this is the best spot for sunrise in Bali where the sun rays unveil Mount Agung and the Balinese seas.
For those who are reluctant to take the treacherous hike, there is already a very welcoming view from the parking lot.
The locals strongly believe that besides maintaining respectful behaviour and speech to your
surrounding, climbers should not complain on your way up, else you will never reach the
The hike takes about 3 to 5 hours in total.
2 hours drive from Ubud.
7) Food not to miss out on:
a. Babi Guling
Also known as ‘suckling pig’, this dish is one of the local favourites. The pig is stuffed with spices with the usual suspects – turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper, and garlic – before getting spit-roasted.
The locals and tourists alike have it for lunch or dinner and it is usually served with small chunks of succulent flavoured pork, pieces of crispy pork skin, vegetables and white steamed rice.
Ibu Oka is crowned the best place for this and you can now find three outlets within Ubud itself.
Jalan Suweta, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Jalan Raya Mas, MAS, Ubud, Kabupaten, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Jalan Tegal Sari No. 2, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Starting from 60,000Rp
b. Bebek Bengil
Another local delight is Balinese deep fried duck. This dish translates to ‘dirty duck’ in English; but it is nothing near dirty. Imagine a simple deep-fried duck that is crispy on the outside but with tender flesh on the inside; with the seasonings to the bones.
c. Nasi Campur
Nasi Campur is basically a mixed rice dish where you can pick on multiple small dishes to go along with white steamed rice. From grilled fish, seasoned meat to vegetables and even crackers to go with it, this is the dish to go for if you want to have a sample of the variety of spices in Bali.