From fire dances to waterfalls: the most extraordinary experiences in Bali

An island like no other, Bali is a dreamy jungle paradise with an undeniable spiritual atmosphere. As you walk along its streets, speckled with burning incense and offerings to the Hindu gods in the form of small sweets, flowers and strangely, cigarettes, you’ll feel this divine connection emanating from everything. Discover what makes this destination so extraordinary, whether you choose to explore its ethereal temples, make friends with the local monkeys, dive with myriad marine life or get your adrenaline pumping on jungle swings.

Sunrise in Bali, Indonesia. Image: iStock/Yarygin

Climb Mount Batur in time for sunrise

As the sun rises over Mount Agung, orange glimmers peeking through the clouds, you’ll be more thankful than you could imagine that you crawled out of bed at 2am to climb the sacred Mount Batur. It’s not an easy trek through the dark jungle, but it will all be worth it when you’re sitting above the clouds, munching away on breakfast cooked on the steam of an active volcano.

Holy water purification process at Tirta Empul Temple. Image: iStock/Timon Peskin

Attract good Karma in the Tirta Empul Temple

Hindus believe that the water at Tirta Empul is sacred, created by the god Indra, and that it contains curative properties. For over 1,000 years Hindu worshippers have been drawn here, and to cleanse yourself with the holy water is an incredibly spiritual experience. Locals say that if you believe in Karma you should wet your head and pray at each of the water spouts, which cleanse the body, the mind and the soul.

Ayung River. Image: iStock/Mac99

Try your hand at white water rafting on the Ayung River

For an adrenaline-filled adventure head to the Ayung River near Ubud, where the dramatic rapids and jungle surrounds create an experience that will put you right in the middle of Tomb Raider. Along the way you’ll pass by waterfalls, incredibly intricate stone carvings, dangling vines and even monkeys, all coming together to create an unbelievable experience in nature – just make sure you don’t fall in!

Scuba diving in Bali, Indonesia. Image: iStock/Bicho_raro

Scuba dive to the underwater temple garden

A deep 30 metres underwater in Pemuteran, you’ll find a paradise for divers, and one of the world’s most unique dive sites. Though manmade, this underwater playground is a sight to behold – full of submerged statues colonised by corals and inhabited by a stunning variety of marine life. A project in marine conservation, this garden also creates job opportunities for local fishermen, who have been trained as reef gardeners and work to maintain this fascinating site.

Lempuyang Temple. Image: iStock/TimArbaev

Make the pilgrimage to Lempuyang Temple

Not for the faint-hearted, the awe-inspiring Lempuyang Temple with its iconic gates sits in a prime position, 1,700 stairs from the base of Mount Lempuyang. Locals believe that those with a heavy heart or weak will cannot make it to the top, especially if they complain along the way, so fill yourself with optimism and prepare your body for the climb. After several hours, weary pilgrims will be rewarded with jaw-dropping scenery, a peaceful place to rest and a mystical, spiritual atmosphere like no other.

Aling-Aling Waterfalls, Bali. Image: iStock/CasPhotography

Discover nature’s playground, the Aling-Aling Waterfalls

The Aling-Aling Waterfalls are a natural wonder, actually made up of seven different waterfalls, with all the thrill of a water park – courtesy of mother nature. Many herald them as Bali’s most impressive falls, and for good reason. Jump into the waters from a height of five, 10 or 15 metres, or whizz down the natural rock slide to really get your adrenaline pumping. The hike isn’t half bad either, with views of cocoa and rice plantations along your route through the jungle.

Kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia. Image: iStock/cheechew

Witness a spectacular Kecak fire dance at Uluwatu Temple

Though well known and well attended by tourists, the Kecak fire dance is no less exciting for its popularity. The best and most authentic place to see this traditional spectacle is Uluwatu Temple at sunset. With the ocean as an entrancing backdrop, dancers will descend to the stage to fill the night with chanting, traditional dancing and fire, as they tell the story of two young princes.


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