Things to Do in Bali
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a Balinese Hindu site at the bottom of Monkey Forest Road and populated by cheeky long-tailed macaques. It's a popular site with visitors to Ubud who come to see the monkeys and the temples within the sanctuary.
There are hundreds of monkeys living in and around the monkey forest. You can purchase food for them at the entrance gate but be warned that the monkeys are aggresive opportunists - particularly in their pursuit of food. They will think nothing of climbing on you or raking through your bag in search of something edible.
There are 3 temples within the forest, Pura Dalem (death temple), the Holy Bathing Temple and Pura Prajapati (funerary or cremation temple). All 3 of these temples are sacred, as is the forest and the monkeys, who are believed to protect the area from evil spirits.
While Bali is best known for it beautiful beaches -- and rightly so -- the inland portion of the island has its own kind of beauty. Nowhere more so than at Mt Batur. Located in the highlands of Kintamani, Mt Batur rises some 5,633 feet (1,717 meters) above sea level and is one of the region’s most active volcanoes.
To best appreciate the Mt Batur experience, sign up for an early morning trek to the summit. Such excursions typically depart from Ubud at 2 or 3 am and arrive at the base of the volcano while it’s still dark. Trekkers make the two-hour journey to the top of the volcano using headlamps and the light of the moon, an effort rewarded by an amazing sunrise from the top.
Since Batur remains so active, visitors to the peak get to experience a very unique breakfast of eggs boiled on lava-heated rocks. After you’ve made the ascent and descent, nearby Lake Batur offers hot springs perfect for relaxing tired muscles.
More Things to Do in Bali
With a name that loosely translates to “something divine at the end of the land”, Uluwatu Temple has become a destination for travelers seeking incredible views of the Bali countryside. Perched on the edge of an ocean cliff, the temple overlooks some of the country’s famous surf breaks and is considered one of the six most important structures of its kind in Bali. Wander the well-kept grounds and take in the beautiful picturesque views, but do all you can to avoid the wild monkeys, as they can get aggressive quickly. Stay until sunset and enjoy one of the nightly traditional Kecak dance performances before heading back into town.
One of Bali’s holiest Hindu sites (and one of its most popular attractions) is a grotto with a history dating back more than 1,000 years. Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) has uncertain origins, but it's believed that it once served as a sanctuary for Hindu priests to meditate or even sleep.
Goa Gajah's entrance makes a menacing first impression, carved in the likeness of a gaping mouth of a demonic creature. The façade of the cave entrance features several relief carvings of various mythological creatures, and while no one is sure what they represent, local lore says that an elephant was the protagonist of the drama depicted in the carvings; hence, the nickname Elephant Cave.
The courtyard just outside the cave has more recently excavated decorative bathing pools, adorned with carvings of partially clad females pouring water from urns. The cave itself is rather small, a T-shaped space with several small ledges and a statue of Ganesh, added after the cave was excavated.
Two hours by road from Denpasar in Bali’s north-east lie several villages on the rim of the Batur caldera in an area known simply as Kintamani Volcano. At 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) above sea level, the villages (Penelokan, Batur amd Kintamani) have impressive views of the active volcano Mount Batur and the crater lake (Lake Batur).
Many visitors opt for a moderate climb to the summit of Mount Batur to watch the sunrise but less physically-able individuals can still get a good view of the surrounding countryside from the crater rim. As well as the lake and the volcano, Kintamani is home to Pura Ulun Danu Batur, one of Bali's most important temples.
The Royal Temple of Mengwi is one of the most important temples in Bali. Built in 1634 by a King of the Mengwi dynasty, this impressive complex stands on an island in a river, its inner temple surrounded by a moat. Its Balinese name Pura Taman Ayun literally means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’.
Part of a network of directional temples that protect Bali from evil spirits, Pura Taman Ayun was built as a series of garden terraces with courtyards on different levels. The entire complex was designed to symbolize the mythological home of the gods, Mount Meru, floating in the sea of eternity. An eleven-tiered meru (at the far end, in the right-hand corner of the complex) is dedicated to the rice goddess Dewi Sri. The third bale on the left is believed to be the abode of several different gods.
Pura Taman Ayun was enlarged in 1937, making some of its structures the most modern temple architecture in Bail.
Hikers love the challenging mountain trails of Mount Agung, the tallest active volcano in Bali. Its most popular routes—one starting from Besakih, and the other from Pura Pasa Agung—take trekkers through mountain temples and truly rugged terrain. Loose pebble paths and steep cliffs end with epic views of Bali countryside, and a view that visitors argue may be the best place to watch the sunrise in the country.
Guides are recommended—as well as sturdy hiking boots and a warm coat—since navigating the daylong hikes on these uneven vertical trails can be difficult. And with no water along the routes, following an expert beats getting lost.
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