Free Things to Do
Bali is actually a very affordable place to spend a great vacation. There are various festivals, natural wonders and even donation-driven sanctuaries that you can go to for little to no cost at all. The amount of free things to do in Bali is endless. To maximize your stay, you should fit in as many free things to do as possible. After all, the best and most beautiful things in life are free and that certainly applies in Bali.
In the below list are some of the best things to actually do in Bali, such as the Tagalalang rice terraces, watching the sunset, exploring its beaches and Udub water palace. Three are actually in the top 10 to do list so if you haven't done them already we strongly recommend you to. The fact that there free is just an added bonus.
Ubud Water Palace
The Ubud Water Palace is a paradise located on Jalan Ubud Raya, which is very near the market and also located right next to the Lotus Cafe. The water palace itself is a beauty in the day, with large lotus ponds reflecting the gorgeous Balinese architecture of the Palace.
At night, this water palace becomes a form of mystical beauty. What you will see in this palace is more than just a place of former royalty, the elegance and brilliance of its architecture is yet another wonder in Bali that you should not miss out on.
Ubud Water Palace can be reached roughly an hour's drive north from the provincial capital of Denpasar. The location of the palace makes it a convenient stopover, as it is strategically the focal point of Ubud. The Ubud Art Market, various local and international restaurants just step away along the main Jalan Raya Ubud. The community meeting hall or bale banjar is just across the road from the water palace. The famous Babi Guling Bu Oka warung, serving acclaimed spit roast pig, is also found alongside the road.
During certain weekdays, a local "women's only" dance troupe performs in front of the Palace. Although the event is commonly swarming with tourists both local and foreign, it is still well worth the visit. The dancers are gracious and well-trained. This form of dance has been passed on from generations to generations, from mothers to daughters and hopefully their future daughters. You could say that this cultural dance is a highlight of the Ubud Water Palace but that is not the only one.
The sacred monkey forest of Padangtegal is just down the southern intersection, following through the Jalan Monkey Forest Road. This forest is a good stopover in the afternoon, right before you visit the water palace. As you might have already guessed, this place is a good starting point for other locations you may want to visit. The Ubud Water Palace is a central figure on the places that you can visit for free in Bali.
The best festivals in Bali are the ones that add an unprecedented amount of colour to your visit, whether you're looking for unique moments to capture in a photograph or immersive gatherings with the religious locals. These annual Balinese events range from arts and cultural activities to various musical beach festivals in one of the world's top music events. When you find yourself in Bali, you can be sure that the people there are celebrating something special every day. Furthermore, festivals are a really good way to actually save up money while in Bali
Immerse yourself in the different facets of Bali’s rich arts and culture through a month-long festival in Bali’s provincial capital of Denpasar, or head down to Sanur in August where the whole coastal village is exhilarated with a variety of exhibitions and games on the beach that you can also take part in.
For something truly unique, witness and participate in the noisy celebrations and fiery parades of papier-mâché ogres before Bali’s ‘day of silence’. The amount of festivals that Bali celebrates does not end here yet.
You could also head down to Bali’s provincial capital between the months of June and July for the island’s long-running Bali Arts Festival. The opening parade of the Bali Arts Festival is one to behold, traditionally held in Denpasar’s Puputan Renon Square (in front of the Bajra Sandhi Museum), where the whole island’s wealth of traditional dance and drama is on display. There are also legates from other islands in Indonesia who come to contribute to the competitions of the festival. Throughout the month, you can enjoy a variety of exhibits and live performances scheduled at the Taman Werdhi Budaya Arts Centre in Denpasar.
As you visit Bali, you might notice that there are more than enough festivals that you can join. Regardless if you visit in the warm or cool seasons, there is always an event going on. Many hotels, especially the high-end ones, often put on musical festivals that feature international A-list stars. The amount of free events that you can join is possibly limitless in Bali.
Bali Arts Festival Denpasar (June-July)
Bali Kite Festival Sanur (June-August)
Nyepi Eve Island-wide (around March)
Galungan and Kuningan Island-wide (varies, following local calendar)
Nusa Dua Fiesta Nusa Dua (October or November)
Sanur Village Festival Sanur (August)
Bali Spirit Festival Ubud (March)
Perang Pandan East Bali (June-July, following local calendar)
Lively Legian Beach Festival Legian (August)
Ultra Beach Bali Seminyak (September)
Turtle Conservation And Education Center
By now, you might have already understood that Bali takes its conservation of certain animals very seriously. Indonesia and Bali, in particular, is rich in marine wildlife. Unfortunately, there are those who seek to profiteer from these marine animals. Additionally, there are instances when the environment becomes a hazard to certain animals because of neglect. The Turtle Conservation and Education Center is here for that matter.
The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre (TCEC) at Serangan Island south of Sanur is doing the important job of educating both the local community and school children to help end the turtle trade and support conservation. Turtle meat (and eggs) has long been consumed in Bali, and is still used in certain religious rituals, by employing and educating locals they hope that this practice will cease. After all, turtles are an important part of the marine eco-system.
Serangan Island was formerly an island. The land has been reclaimed and now it's just a bump on the coastline and the area is somewhat developed with housing and other infrastructures. Unfortunately, the local turtles still think that it is a good place to lay their eggs. And so, the centre collects the eggs from the busy tourist beaches and raises the hatchling until they are ready to start the big journey into the ocean alone.
As part of a strict conservation effort, you absolutely cannot buy a turtle egg. But for 150,000 rupiahs you can take part in their release into the sea. Release programs run when they have hatchlings usually between the months of July and October, generally mornings from 09:00-10:00 and afternoons 15:00-17:00. By doing this, you can support the conservation efforts of this facility and thereby help the local turtles.
For a beautiful place such as Bali, experiencing the sunset is such an amazing part of the trip. This Indonesian island is best known for its stunning beaches, so one can expect great sunsets as well. In fact, Bali has become a popular travel destination for scenic beaches and all the lovely features it offers to each wanderer. So frolic in the Bali sand, laze around with friends and booze, hang out on beach bar of choice and chill with the perfect sunset view as you welcome the night sky.
Gazing at the horizon where the sun is setting to pave a way to the evening — most preferably with a bottle of beer or a cocktail at hand—is highly encouraged. This list offers you the best locations to see the sunset.
Your Bali trip to Bali, I tell you, will never be complete without chasing its beautiful sunsets.
Saraswati Temple Ubud
The Pura Taman Saraswati is another beautiful water temple in central Ubud, accessible from the Jalan Kajeng side street off the main road of Jalan Raya Ubud, which is just behind Café Lotus. This temple is an excellent stopover along your leisure walks through Ubud town. The place itself offers sightseeing and photo opportunities. Its classical Balinese temple architecture and a beautiful foyer featuring ponds filled with blooming pink lotuses are among the most beautiful sights in Bali.
The entry into Pura Taman Saraswati is free but, as with any temple visit in Bali, a sash and sarong around the waist are compulsory. As you might have already noticed, the Balinese take their religion seriously. The attire is only first among other rules that everyone should observe when entering any Hindu temple. Immerse yourself in the culture of Hinduism by following these basic codes.
You can also drop into Café Lotus for a minimum dinner cover charge of IDR 200,000 or USD 15, which will get you the best view over the lotuses. The temple’s open stage is where regular traditional dance performances are held in the evenings, which are commonly crowded by tourists because it is a good free event after all. It is recommended to attend these events. Maximizing your visit to this temple should include the dances after all.
You can enter the temple behind its amphitheatre at any time of the day and admire the calm atmosphere. The architectural features and sandstone bas-reliefs that honour the Hindu goddess of knowledge and arts, Saraswati, is a mystical work of art that wonders artists from all over the world. The Saraswati temple is a great place to go for a free visit so long as you can observe the rules of the temple.
Tagallalang Rice Terraces
Rice fields are among the technological wonders of the ancient age. For generations, this technique of agriculture has supplied the people of South East Asia with a bounty of rice crops. Bali is no exception to the rice fields. In fact, Bali has many internationally-acclaimed rice terraces that are protected sites. Even better, visiting these rice fields is a free venture for everyone.
The Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud is famous for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies involving the subak which is the traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system. According to history, this irrigation technology was passed down by a revered holy man named Rsi Markandeya in the eighth century. Tegallalang forms the three most splendid terraced landscapes in Ubud's shared region, with the others being in the villages of Pejeng and Campuhan.
Tegallalang and its neighbouring rice terraces offer a scenic outlook that spreads down before you and away to the rice paddies on the slopes across the valley. The high roadside location is calming and breezy and it is a well-known spot for tourists to stop and take scenic photos. Painters and nature lovers also adore visiting this spot. Art-lovers will undoubtedly love the numerous art kiosks and cafes near the ledge offering their artisanal wares.
The rice terraces serve as a highlight photo-op in the Tegallalang area and souvenir shopping options abound along the roadsides. The trip to Pakudui village is also worth its while. Pakudui is reachable after a right turn up from the famed rice paddy outlook. With that in mind, Bali is truly blessed with the wonderful gift of agricultural engineering known to man. Visitors would be in awe of the magnificence of these wonders.
Campuhan Ridge Walk
The Campuhan Ridge Walk is a free and easy nature trek. The walk is popular among repeat visitors to the central highland town of Ubud. The region itself provides a great haven from the more hectic parts of the island. This trail presents an even more untouched trail to escape from the contemporary cityscape of Jalan Raya Ubud. The hike allows you to enjoy the cool fresh air and probably the most gorgeous hillside vista in the region. Furthermore, it also allows you to do an impromptu exercise session with its nine-kilometre hill track.
Getting to the starting point of the Campuhan ridge walk is actually simple. Those staying at the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas and Spa have the best starting point to the Campuhan Ridge Walk as the primary access is a concrete path just down from this boutique hotel’s main entrance. There are small letterings under the signage of the Warwick Ibah which says “Going to The Hill” with an arrow pointing to the left. As soon as you take on this path, the lush green surroundings of the Campuhan Valley is a heavenly sight that you should experience.
The Campuhan Ridge Walk itself spans an approximate nine kilometres in total, passing over the tropical valley of the Sungai Wos River. On clear days, you can delight in a breathtaking backdrop of Mount Agung and remote small village huts. As you go on north along the ridge the tall grass transforms into the paddies of the small village of Bangkiang Sidem. Karsa Café of the Bali Rice Terrace Villas resides here, providing a convenient pause for refreshments or a quick bite while admiring the view.
Casual walkers may also want to take the trek back to Ibah, while the more adventurous trekkers can carry on west towards the outskirts of Bangkiang Sidem, down to the Sungai Cerik River then ascending up towards the hills of Payogan in the village of Kedewatan. On your way back, you may also want to relieve your muscles with a great Balinese massage at one of the small spas that line the main Ubud road. All in all, the trek at the Campuhan Ridge walk is an endeavour of a lifetime.
The Angel’s Billabong is an enormous rock formation on Nusa Penida island's southwestern cliff edges. It's another popular site with unique limestone formations. It offers a scenic seascape for photo opportunists. You can descend into its crystal-clear rock pools for a swim or a soak, but only during low tide. The rock pools are one of the must-sees for visitors to Nusa Penida. The island itself is famous for its beautiful cliffs and pristine coastlines.
It’s a good idea to explore Broken Beach first. Take in the splendour of its natural limestone arches over the blue waters. Then, head off to take a dip and perhaps a swim in the natural pools of Angel’s Billabong. The place is also a good spot for a photo opportunity. It is even spectacularly more beautiful in the late afternoon while the sun is setting.
Rented scooters are widely available from locals starting from around IDR 50,000 to 80,000 or USD 4-6. They're the best way of getting around to these far-reaches of the island if you don’t have a local guide to follow. There are clear signposts along the dusty pathways that lead you to both sites. However, you’ll need to take the trail from Broken Beach by foot.
You should take extra caution at all times when descending into Angel’s Billabong. You should avoid going down if it's a high tide. The waters from the open Indian Ocean are rough and the jagged rocks turn it into a treacherous landscape as there have been fatal incidents in the past. If it happens to be low tide, you should cautiously descend the sharp rocks. You can still enjoy a dip in the crystal-clear pools amongst its seaweed-covered floor. As an extra precaution, it is a good idea to come with reef shoes. In the end, the Angel's Billabong, with care, is a great place for free sightseeing and a dip.
Bali Sea Turtle Society
The people have long been of two minds about endangered sea turtles. Some seek to profit from their species which creates a harmful impact on the environment. There are groups, however, like the Bali Sea Turtle Society that aims to help propagate their species. Visiting them is a good start to learn more about the conservation efforts of the turtles.
The Bali Sea Turtle Society is doing the important job of educating both the local community and school children to help end the turtle trade and support conservation. Turtle meat (and eggs) has long been consumed in Bali, and is still used in certain religious rituals, by employing and educating locals they hope that this practice will cease. After all, turtles are an important part of the marine eco-system.
But increasingly, the desire to save the turtles is winning, especially among younger Balinese. The effort of this group has sowed the seeds of efforts in the younger generations. There seems to be higher awareness when it comes to conservation to turtles in Bali. Undoubtedly it is because of the effort of the Bali Sea Turtle Society and other groups. The island truly owes it to these groups of men and women who dedicate their time for the turtles.
As one of the more responsible turtle hatcheries in Bali, re-releasing turtle hatchlings into the ocean from Kuta Beach, around the afternoon from April to October. The release is organized by the society in an effort to protect olive ridley turtles. You may also join the queue to collect your baby turtle in a small plastic water bath; pay a small donation, and join the group to release them. See for yourself the positive feeling of helping to conserve these majestic creatures.
Explore The Beaches
If there were things that Bali could not do without, it is their prestigious beaches. Bali was once under the radar from the rest of the world back in the 1950s and was only a secret location among the locals and adventurous tourists. In only a few short years, Bali has made international recognition – mainly for its magnificent white sand beaches and surfing waves. Since then Bali's beaches have been developed into an important economic industry, yet the beaches themselves have remained pristine through the help of the locals and concerned travellers. Click here to see a list of our recommended beaches.
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