Adventures in Bali, Indonesia

What to do in Bali
What to do in Bali

What to Do in Bali

Looking for ideas of what to do in Bali? I enjoy relaxing on the beach like most, but I also like to fit in a little adventure on my travels. If you’re looking for a fun Bali tour to add something fun and adventure to your trip – read on! I’ll tell you all about our most exciting day on our trip to Bali.

In this article:
What do Do in Bali: Planning For Your Trip to Bali
What to Do in Kuta Bali
Bali Tour Cycling Adventure
Bali Tour Elephant Safari and Lunch
Bali Tour White Water Rafting Down the Ayung River

I, like many, became familiar with Bali from the book Eat, Pray, Love (which I actually thought was a bit overhyped…). The book romanced the third world country and sent tourists running to experience its lush greenery and peaceful yoga experience. Like the masses, I added it to my list and started researching what to do in Bali. I booked my trip and enjoyed 10 days there in 2013.

I think expectations are an important part of any experience, so I think it’s important to share that Bali is not this completely magical paradise. There are magical parts of Bali for sure, but it’s also a third world country with pollution, crowded cities, and crime. So, as you do your research on what to do in Bali, just be prepared accordingly. For instance, we had to walk through metal detectors to get into a bakery – a precaution of a terrorist attack a few years before.

However, I don’t think that should stop you from enjoying your trip to Bali. Just be a smart traveler!

So, now that the precautions are out of the way, let’s get to business – what do to in Bali?

On day 2 of my trip to Bali, I enjoyed one of the coolest adventures I’ve been on so far in my travels. We rode bikes through the rice fields, we enjoyed lunch with some beautiful elephants, and we relaxed in the rapids of the Agung River.

Planning For Your Trip to Bali

I always like to do research before any trip, and in my search of what to do in Bali before I found the perfect adventure tour. Spontaneity is fun, but research gives you discounts! The Bali tour we decided to go with was a bike ride through Balinese villages, lunch and an elephant ride at the Safari, and then some (lazy) white water rafting. We booked our hotels, transportation to and from the neighboring island, Lomboc, and a trek up Mount Rinjani. Other than that, we were open to exploring!

Our first hotel in Bali was pretty nice for as cheap as it was (I think about $15USD/night), and it was only about 5/10 minutes from Kuta Bali, one of the main cities in Bali. We dropped out things in the room and then headed to Kuta beach for some food and a cocktail.

What to Do in Kuta Bali

Our tour of what to do in Bali started with exploring Kuta Bali. Kuta Bali is a pretty big city for a small island like Bali. There is a main strip along the beach with some local restaurants and bars, but also the usual American junk like McMcDonald’sStarbucks, etc. There are also touristy-shops nearby if you’re looking for souvenirs and such. The strip itself is nice – there is a lot of higher end shopping and restaurants, which I hadn’t expected. It’s also slightly removed from the high-traffic areas. It would be nice to stay right on the beach, but we opted for the cheaper option a few miles away, especially since we would only be there for 2 nights and would mostly be exploring.

After flying for what seemed like forever (flight to Taipei was about 12 hours with a 3-hour layover, and then about 6 hours to Bali), I was appreciative of the Starbucks junk and got myself a nice iced coffee to sit with on the beach for a beautiful sunset. We walked the strip and beach a bit but were pretty tired from traveling. We caught a cab back to our hotel and made it to bed around 8 pm.

Our hotel in Kuta Bali was nice – simple, but modern. The room was pretty small – for the two of us, it was fine, but for anyone with a family it might be a tight squeeze. There is a restaurant downstairs, and Agoda has an option for including breakfast with your reservation for a very reasonable rate.

The next morning we woke up and went to the bakery down the street before our ride came to get us for our Bali tour. It seemed like a great place aside from the metal detectors and the fact that I got yelled at for taking a photo inside. Tourism is such a big deal for the island that the threat of terrorism means extra precautions even at bakeries. Pastries in hand, looks of awe on our faces, we headed back to our hotel to meet with our tour bus.

Bali Tour Cycling Adventure

The van for our Bali tour was prompt, and there was another girl, Laurente, already inside traveling by herself. She was French but spoke English very well, and it was fun to have someone else to share the day with!

First, we drove about 45 minutes or so to a vista point near Lake Batur where we were able to get out and take pictures. From there, we drove to the tour office to check-in and register before setting off on the cycling portion of the tour. There was no place to leave our things, so we took them with us in the van as he would be with us the whole day.

From there, we got back in the car and drove nearby to another location where we got out and found our bikes waiting for us. They were mountain bikes, nothing spectacular, but luckily the whole ride was a gradual downhill (nicely planned!) so you didn’t have to be in excellent shape for this trip. I was a little disappointed since it would have been nice to get a little workout in, but it was still incredible!

With a group of fewer than 10 people, we set off on our bike ride and got to see some super cool back villages that you wouldn’t normally get to see driving along the main roads, or in the real touristy areas. If you’re looking for what to do in Bali, this is a great way to see things you may not reach otherwise.

Bali is mostly Hindu, although the surrounding islands of Indonesia are heavily Muslim. Everywhere you look in Bali, there will be a beautiful Hindu temple. They call Bali the land of 1,000 temples, although I think they may need to update that number because there were far more than 1,000!

It was really cool to be able to see Bali this way – we were able to stop, look around, learn about the communities who make stone, and others who harvest rice. Our guide was great – he was very knowledgeable and had a lot to teach us! We visited a place where they make Lewak coffee, which can be very expensive. Basically, the local Lewaks eat these coffee beans, poop them out undigested, and then they use those beans to make coffee. I tasted it, and I’m fine with my Dunkin Donuts coffee.

We also stopped at one point for our guide to show us this freaky looking gigantic spider that apparently doesn’t bite, so Sarah decided to let it crawl all over her. Crazy girl. I was perfectly content playing photographer. I may be big on the outdoors, but I am NOT a fan of spiders.

Panoramic view of Bali
Panoramic view of Bali

Bali Tour Elephant Safari and Lunch

Eventually, we made it to the Elephant Safari on our bikes where we got to enjoy a delicious buffet lunch and then rode the elephants. I have to say, this part was a bit tough for me. I had been really excited to get the chance to be so close to elephants because they’re such incredible creatures, but I’m always torn on the subject. The elephants may be safer at the Safari than they are being hunted by poachers, but ideally, they really shouldn’t have to worry about that, except people suck. They should be able to run free as the incredible, beautiful, smart creatures that they are. Riding along I felt sad, and luckily we didn’t stay around long after.

Often, these safaris provide a safe place for elephants to flourish, but it’s hard to tell how nicely they’re treated behind closed doors. Ideally, they really shouldn’t have to worry about poachers at all, except people suck. They should be able to run free as the incredible, beautiful, smart creatures that they are. Riding along I felt sad, and luckily we didn’t stay around long after.

Riding along the trail on our elephant I felt sad, and luckily we didn’t stay around long after.

As for their treatment, the elephants seemed well taken care of for the most part. Some were chained up on display at the entrance or walking around in corrals which was somewhat sad to watch. However, one of the baby elephants chained up was dancing and having a jolly old time which made me feel a little comforted with the idea. I’m not sure how long they are left like that, but I’m hoping it’s short and then they get to play!

Bali Tour White Water Rafting Down the Ayung River

After the elephant tour, we got back in our van and drove back to the office where we started briefly, and then off to another location to gear up for White Water Rafting. In terms of what to do in Bali, this was probably my favorite. Here we changed into clothing more suitable for “white” water rafting and met our new guide. We put on our bathing suits, life vests, and helmets, took our oars, and set off on the hike down to the Ayung River. They gave us waterproof stuff sacks to put our things in so we didn’t have to leave anything behind in the van.

The hike down to the Ayung river was intense – it was like 400+ stairs! The view was incredible on the way down, though.

We loaded into the boats with our oars and set off down the river. There were a few boats together, but we luckily had our own for the 3 of us and our guide. There were some rapids, but they weren’t very intense. We were surrounded by jungle, though, and it was beautiful! If I had thought cycling through Balinese villages was cool, rafting through the Balinese jungle was that much cooler.

We saw monkeys hanging on vines, and when we hit areas of calm water we were able to jump out and float alongside the boat. We stopped at this area that we thought seemed like it had been carved into the side of the hill long, long ago….but really our guide told us it was quite recent. The stone carvings were beautiful and were crafted to represent the Story of Rayamana, a Hindu story meant to teach the values of ideology, devotion, duty, relationships, dharma, and karma.

As we paddled on, we came upon this incredibly beautiful hotel that I would love to stay in. It’s really not very expensive as far as hotels go, but for our trip, we were on a tight budget and looking to spend less than $50/night for hotels. We paddled on to the end and then continued to walk up the approximately 200 stairs to the top. It sure beat the 400+ down!

The one thing I regret is that in all the excitement is that we didn’t even think to tip our guide until we were already in the van on our way home – terrible faux pas on our part! I know in some countries tipping isn’t expected, but these guys were great and deserved it. If anyone knows the guy with the funny face – let me know!

Overall, the day had been a great one and if you’re looking for what to do in Bali, I highly recommend this experience. I left a little sad about the elephants and next time would consider skipping that part, but the cycling and rafting were so much fun and such cool experiences. You do have to be in decent shape, but mostly just for the hike down to and up from the Ayung river which can be tough. Otherwise, it’s not exactly an adrenaline-pumper type of adventure, but more of a leisurely, fun adventure.

We continued our trip to Bali with other adventures, both of us getting sick at different times and separating being one of them, but we ended up back together to close out the trip and as always, it was well worth every penny and every minute!

“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” – Andre Gide 



0 Responses

  1. OK you lost me at the spider. Oh hell no….

  2. Ahhhh looks amazing. So gutted I didn’t get to fit Bali in on my recent RTW trip. This has given me an even bigger yearning to go….like right this minute!

Thanks for reading - feel free to add comments or questions below!