Best Places to Visit in Bali For First-Timers
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10 Best Places to Visit in Bali For First-Timers

Bali might not be the largest island in Indonesia, but it’s the most popular – and with good reason. Dubbed the Island of the Gods, Bali is famous for its enchanting tropical charm, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality.

However, with so many amazing things to see and do, planning a Bali vacation isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve never been. There are certain places you simply can’t afford to miss.

If you’re planning your first visit to the island, don’t worry though – you’ve landed in the right place! This blog post covers all the best places to visit in Bali for first-timers so you can put together the ultimate itinerary.

Without further ado, let’s dive into it!

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking.)

1. Ubud

Let’s kick things off with Ubud, Bali’s arts and cultural center. Ubud is a lively town tucked away in the heart of the island among lush rice paddies, steep ravines, and Bali’s central mountains.

Here, you’ll find a treasure trove of Balinese temples, museums, arts and crafts markets, and some of Indonesia’s most famous tourist attractions. 

When you’re not scouring the art markets for handmade souvenirs or learning more about Balinese culture at one of the many holy shrines, you’ll be exploring the surrounding jungle or relaxing at a local rice terrace. 

Best Places to Visit in Bali For First-Timers
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Nature lovers will love getting to know the resident long-tailed macaques at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, while foodies will enjoy tucking into Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) overlooking the picturesque Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Other popular attractions in Ubud include the Campuhan Ridge Walk, Goa Gajah and Pura Taman Kemuda Saraswati temples, and Tegenungan Waterfall.

Campuhan Ridge Walk
Campuhan Ridge Walk

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2. Canggu

Aside from the island’s stunning landscapes and vibrant cultures, one of the things that makes Bali so popular is its unique blend of laid-back luxury, nature, and modern attractions

No place demonstrates this better than Canggu on the island’s southwestern coast. Picture scenic rice paddies, long white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, luxury private villas, countless bars, cafés, and restaurants, and you have Canggu.

This lively town is a hub for luxury vacations and entertainment.

Best Places to Visit in Bali
Photo credit: Depositphotos

You’ll spend your days surfing at Echo Beach, grabbing a bite to eat at beachside restaurants (I recommend Old Man’s), soaking up the sun in your private villa, shopping at the local markets, and partying the night away at Finn’s Beach Club

Canggu is also a fantastic place to try something new. Around town, you’ll find jewelry-making classes, wellness retreats, traditional Balinese villages, and more.

Oh, and never miss the sunset in Canggu – arguably the best in Indonesia!

Sunset in Canggu, Bali
Sunset in Canggu

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3. Seminyak

Seminyak is also found on Bali’s southwestern coast and offers vibes similar to Canggu. It’s best known for its exclusive vacation destinations, vibrant nightlife, picturesque beaches, and high-end boutiques.

This upscale resort has two beaches – Seminyak Beach and Double Six Beach – perfect for sunbathing and sipping coconuts. They’re also popular surfing spots for the adrenaline junkies out there.

Seminyak Beach
Photo credit: Depositphotos

If you’re looking for the best parties, head to Jalan Raya Seminyak and Jalan Dhyana Pura. These areas have the highest concentration of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in Seminyak.

Seminyak is also an excellent place to visit if you enjoy art. The town is home to several local and international galleries.

You don’t want to miss the Nyaman Art Gallery and Felizeye Art Painting Gallery Seminyak. They both sell original artwork from local and international artists.

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4. Kuta

Not too long ago, Kuta was a sleepy fishing village. However, after an enormous growth in popularity, it’s now one of the most popular vacation destinations in Bali, particularly with Australians.

Kuta is one of the best places to visit in Bali for first-timers because of how tourist-friendly it is. Found very close to the international airport, it’s almost an unmissable destination when visiting the island.

Admittedly, Kuta isn’t the most charming town on the island, but it has something to offer every tourist, and there are loads of things to see and do.

This coastal town offers affordable and luxury accommodation options, spas, shopping centers, and excellent surf. It’s also home to the Bali Sea Turtle Society

Here, you can help release baby sea turtles into the wild. How cool is that!

Other points of interest in Kuta include Kuta Beach, the Hard Rock Hotel, Waterbom Bali, and Beachwalk Shopping Center.

5. Jimbaran

Jimbaran is also on the southwestern coast, just a short drive from Kuta. It’s a sleepier fishing village famed for its delicious seafood, long white-sand surfing beaches, and luxury vacation retreats.

The village offers a serene and laid-back atmosphere, making it a popular honeymoon destination. Along the 3 km crescent-shaped bay, you’ll see luxurious honeymoon suites with private pools.

Jimbaran hasn’t much to do, but it’s a great place to unwind, indulge in fresh seafood, and de-stress.

Best Places to Visit in Bali
Jimbaran Beach

The perfect day here consists of relaxed walks along the beach, rejuvenating treatments at a local spa, and a cold Bintang (local beer) as the sun sets.  

If you want to do more, the 122-meter-tall Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue isn’t too far away. This statue has enormous cultural significance in Bali, so it’s worth visiting. For the best surf, grab a board and head to Jimbaran Beach.

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6. Sidemen Valley

If you’d prefer to see more of Balinese culture and the island’s natural beauty, you’re better suited to Sidemen Valley on the island’s eastern side.

This breathtaking valley features beautiful landscapes, traditional Balinese villages, and classic terraced rice fields

A visit to this part of the island gives you the opportunity to experience Balinese life, explore the great outdoors, and enjoy a peaceful retreat from the daily grind

Sidemen Valley
Rice fields in Sidemen

Some of the things you’ll enjoy doing include hiking through the countryside, cycling through rice terraces, and staying in authentic homestays.

Be sure to visit the local craft markets, too, where you’ll find artisans crafting the most amazing handicrafts.

If you want to enjoy peace and tranquility at its finest, try yoga at one of the many yoga retreats. Alamdhari Villa is set in a gorgeous natural setting, and a wide variety of yoga disciplines are taught daily.

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7. Uluwatu

Located on the Bukit Peninsula in the south of Bali, the clifftop town of Uluwatu is where you’ll find the island’s most legendary surf.

The best surf can be found at Dreamland Beach and Balangan Beach, where waves can reach up to 8 feet/2.4 meters tall

Despite their size, the swells here are suitable for beginners and pro surfers. In fact, Uluwatu is arguably the best place in Bali for beginners to surf, as there are surfing schools dotted all over the town. Bali Swell Surf is one of the best.

When you’re not surfing or tucking into grub at a local warung (café/restaurant), explore Uluwatu Temple.

Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu Temple

This Balinese Hindu sea temple is dedicated to Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa and is considered one of the most important temples in Indonesia.

You can learn more about the Hindu religion at the temple, admire the fiery Balinese sunset, and witness Kecak (traditional dance).

Look out for the macaques though – they’ll try to steal your things!

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8. Nusa Dua

Many people traveling to Bali for a luxury escape choose to stay in Nusa Dua, a resort enclave best known for its luxury resorts, quiet beaches, and upscale experiences.

In my opinion, Nusa Dua isn’t the best place to stay in Bali because it’s quite remote compared to other resorts. However, it’s well worth visiting for a day.

In Nusa Dua, you’ll find crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches perfect for outdoor activities like snorkeling and jet skiing. 

If you don’t want to get your feet wet, you might prefer golfing at the prestigious Bali National Golf Club. Alternatively, lie back and sunbathe at one of the many palm-lined beaches such as Nusa Dua Beach.

To experience local culture in Nusa Dua, stop by the Pasifika Museum, which showcases a vast collection of art from the Asia-Pacific region.

I also recommend checking out the Water Blow Waves phenomenon, where waves crash against the rocks to create a unique water spray.

Water Blow Waves phenomenon in Nusa Dua
Water Blow Waves phenomenon in Nusa Dua

9. Lovina

At first glance, Lovina is another seaside resort town famous for its crystal-clear waters and stunning beaches. However, this charming north coast town has something unique to offer.

That something is dolphins. As such, this town is a popular wildlife-watching destination. There are two main species of dolphins in Lovina: spinner and bottlenose.

The spinner dolphin is famous for its unique spinning leap, which is a sight to behold. You can get close to the spinner dolphins on this sunrise and dolphin-watching tour

Dolphins in Lovina, Bali

You can also get in the water and snorkel with various species of tropical fish. On dry land, explore nearby attractions like the Brahma Vihara Arama (Buddhist temple) and Banjar Hot Springs

Compared to the south, Lovina is quite remote, so you might want to visit some of the main attractions in Northern Bali while you’re there. The waterfalls of Sekumpul and Fiji are only an hour away.

Brahma Vihara Arama
Brahma Vihara Arama

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10. Munduk

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas, head to Munduk, where you’ll find the island’s hidden beauty. It’s one of the best places to visit in Bali in the north.

Nestled between rice terraces and forests, this small mountain town offers a more authentic Balinese experience, incredible views, and activities everyone will enjoy. Munduk is also a lot cooler, which can be a refreshing change.

In terms of things to do, you’ll likely spend a lot of your time hunting down the best waterfalls in Bali, picturesque temples, and scenic lake views.

Best Places to Visit in Bali

If you’re looking for hidden gems, Twin Waterfall, Banyumala Waterfall, and Munduk Waterfall are a few lesser-known beauties.

Munduk is also home to Ulun Danu Bratan, probably the most stunning temple in Bali. This temple is located in Tamblingan Lake and can only be accessed by boat.

Keen photographers will love taking photos of these places, as well as the famous Handara Gate and Twin Lake swing viewpoints.

Ulun Danu Bratan in Bali
Ulun Danu Bratan

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Final Thoughts

There you have it, the best places to visit in Bali for first-timers. There are many more places to visit, but these are my top recommendations for travelers planning their first trip.

Bali is a fascinating island with exciting attractions, unique cultures, wonderful people, and endless vacation opportunities.

Whether you’re looking for a laid-back beach getaway, an adventure vacation, or a luxury private villa stay, the island has something for everyone.

To top things off, when you’ve finished with Bali, you can return and explore the tropical islands that surround it, starting with the iconic Nusa Penida and its breathtaking cliffs.

We’ll save that for next time!

Until then, why don’t you start planning your epic Bali itinerary?

Check out: The 8 Best Vegan Restaurants in Bali You Must Visit


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Do you want to travel like me?
Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:

Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!

Accommodation: Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, thus I book an Airbnb every now and then.

Travel Insurance: There are many reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without one. I use the simple and flexible one from SafetyWing that protects me against unforeseen events.

Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.

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