Life Like an Expat: Bali’s Best Kept Secrets

Bali-bound and in need of inspiration?

We’ve teamed up with South East Asia travel journalists Far Features to bring you six of the most memorable activities for you and your mates to experience island side.

Get into the surf at Canggu

Surfers at Echo Beach, Canggu

Whether you’re a surfer or not, Bali is one of the best places in the world to give it a go. Far Features recommends a day trip to Canggu, the quieter, cooler cousin to the booming tourist beaches of Seminyak and Kuta. Head to either Echo, Batu Balong or Berawa beaches, then pick up a board and a surf guide for just 300,000 rupiahs per hour. Whether it’s sunrise or sunset, the waves here are ideal for beginners. Canggu’s beaches are also a great spot to watch the sun go down, with beach shack bars selling cheap beers alongside views of the tangerine skies.

A beach shack serving beverages at Echo Beach, Canggu.

Visit Mount Batur volcano

View from the summit of Mount Batur volcano.

Wonder where all that black sand comes from? Bali is a volcanic island, and a visit should include a day trip to one its towering peaks, be it Mount Agung or Mount Batur. While Agung is the larger and more majestic of the two, it’s a tough hike, making it best suited to experienced climbers. If you’re short on time and energy, Far Features recommends a day trip to Batur to tackle the gentle sunrise hike to the summit, or simply to take in the sights. Visitors can also stop in at one of the many hot spring baths that line the region’s thermal lake, as well as numerous coffee plantations and fruit farms on the drive back south.

See a local mask performance

The Kecak Fire Dance performance at Uluwatu Temple.

More than 20,000 Hindu temples are scattered across the ‘Island of the Gods’, and these are where you’ll find many cultural performances taking place. While the nightly sunset Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Temple draws big tourist crowds, Far Features recommends trying to attend a local mask dance in Ubud or Mas, the artisan quarters of the island. You can also visit numerous mask workshops and even try the craft yourself. Be sure to ask the staff at your hotel ahead of time to find out if there are any local mask performances scheduled during your stay.

Experience the Monkey Forest in Ubud

Monkeys at the Monkey Forest in Ubud.

Head to the village of Ubud and you’ll find relaxation time, massages, healthy food – and monkeys. The Monkey Forest is a big draw for tourists to the area, but arrive early and you can enjoy a lonely stroll around the sizeable and beautiful jungle walkways before the midday heat sets in. A word of warning: don’t tease the monkeys with food. Given the chance, the monkeys will clamber all over you, meaning you could end your holiday with an unplanned visit to the emergency room. If you’re willing to brave the up close contact, however, Far Features considers this a must-see attraction in Ubud.

Explore Jimbaran Fish Market and bay

Fishing boats at sunset at Jimbaran Bay.

While many tourists know about the Jimbaran Fish Market, not many people give the surrounding bay its due attention. Each evening, locals come to sit on the dock and watch the fishing boats idle home while airplanes land at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, located just beyond the beach on a runway that juts out into the ocean. Jimbaran Bay is also home to some of Bali’s best and most affordable seafood fare. Visitors can easily spend a whole day eating fresh fish from beachside shacks, strolling through the market or simply sitting on the dock as as planes and fishing boats ease onto the shore.

Discover white strands on a black-sand island

View of Balangan Beach from the cliffs.

It’s not all black sand on Bali. Despite its reputation, there are plenty of picture-perfect white-sand beaches to explore. One of Far Features’ favourites for a day trip is Balangan Beach on Uluwatu, which is flanked by steep cliffs. Get there early and take a walk along the bluffs overlooking the ocean, or wait until low tide, when a secret cave at the other side of the beach can be explored. Surf here is also consistent and popular, and local warungs line the beach serving traditional fare perfect for salty-lipped beachgoers. Got time to go further? Other white-sand beaches Far Features recommends include Padang Padang, Suluban, Bingin and Nyang Nyang.

Discover Bali’s best kept secrets for yourself. Book Mates Rates sale flights with Virgin Australia today.

Images by Far Features.

Quick Facts 
Time Zone GMT +8
Languages Indonesian, though English is widely spoken
Currency Indonesian Rupiah
Electricity 110/220 volts AC (50 Hz)
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