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“There’s magic in Bali” stated my homestay manager, Wayan, as we drove from the airport to his guesthouse at
To give you the backstory, I first visited Bali in 2016. Flash forward a few years and I was itching to refresh my memories of rolling rice fields and elephant gods. However, when I next opened my eyes as I snoozed in Wayan’s car, it was to the busy road that ran through Ubud.
Mexican restaurants had popped up in places I didn’t remember and ticket touts assured me I had to get to the back of the queue for the Bali swing.
Was I underwhelmed? Not exactly. You’d be mad to come to Ubud expecting an undiscovered village and I’d like to think I’m not THAT delusional. I knew Bali would be busy but I was keen for culture shock.
Alternative temples Bali tour
That’s how I ended up on an alternative temples tour, exploring the hidden gems around Bali. You’ll get to visit 6 temples in one day including the Besakih Mother Temple, soaking in spectacular landscapes as you.
This temple tour is a private one so the more people you get together, the cheaper it’ll be!
Another option is to do your own research (or just use this guide, I got you!) and take a customisable tour by aircon car, letting your driver know what you’d like to see!
Bali off the beaten track
With so many visitors
I visited some of the locations in this blog thanks to the Trip Guru tour, while entries have been submitted by my travel blogger friends. I hope you enjoy these hidden places in Bali and leave them as you found them!
Bali SIM card (30 days, 6GB)
Copy of Lonely Planet Bali
Pre-book your airport to hotel transfer
Accommodation: Browse hotels on Booking.com // hostels on Hostelworld
Travel insurance: World Nomads
Bali hidden gems – Central & East Bali
Klungkung Royal Courts of Justice
Semarapura is the capital city of the Klungkung Regency and lies a 45-minute drive from Ubud. This sleepy area would be the perfect base for seeing Bali’s less touristy sights, and a quick browse on Booking.com tells me it’s cheaper than Ubud.
The main attraction in Semarapura was one I’d never heard of: the Klungkung Royal Courts of Justice. Prior to the days of judges and lawyers, the king personally sentenced criminals here. It was a one-man jury so you were in big trouble if he didn’t like you!
As well as a rich dose of history, a trip to Klungkung is a warm-up for a day’s temple hopping. The architecture is typically Balinese with terracotta engraved pillars and angry gargoyles manning the property. I learnt that’s exactly their purpose.
The Balinese place great importance on their statues, carrying god-like ones many miles on pilgrimages, and deeming outward-facing gargoyles the protectors of their property. The ceilings at Klungkung were something special with insanely detailed artwork telling the tales of the island’s history.
Entrance to Klungkung Royal Courts costs 15,000 IDR and you’ll probably want to spend one hour there.
Goa Lawah Temple
Next is the majestic Goa Lawah Temple, an important religious monument for the Balinese. It’s easy to forget as we admire the Bali temples and snap photos of ourselves that they aren’t built for aesthetics but for the Gods. Our guide told us that Goa Lawah is dedicated to a dragon sent from heaven to protect the balance of nature.
A visit to Goa Lawah is an important part of Balinese cremation ceremonies. If you’ve been to Indonesia you may know that when a member of the family dies, the events last for days and involve the entire community. Goa Lawah is one of the holiest places to visit during the ceremony, and we were lucky enough to experience the practices whilst we were there.
Entrance costs 10,000 IDR and you can spend 1-2 hours wandering around.
When we arrived at the Besakih Temple complex I knew we were in for a treat. While this temple is better known than some places in this blog, it’s by no means on the level of Lempuyang’s Gates of Heaven.
Our guide told us now is a good time to visit because the entrance fee was ridiculously high until 2017 and has recently been adjusted. Not many tourists are aware of this change and it’s mainly frequented by locals (who I would imagine are paying an entirely different rate to the tourist ticket).
My first thought was we walked through Besakih was a strange one: I felt like I was at Glastonbury Festival! A buzz hung in the area while colourful, tasselled awnings swung in the cool breeze. The clamour of the temples close to Ubud had evaporated.
The temple site is massive and gets more impressive the higher you get. Make sure you don’t miss these stunning gates at the top… Insta, eat your heart out!
Entrance is 60,000 IDR including the services of a local guide. If you’re already travelling with a tour guide, they’ll have to wait at the entrance while a new local guide escorts you to Besakih. The entry ticket includes a scooter ride to the top of the hill where Besakih is located but you’ll have to make your own way back down (it’s about a 10-minute walk).
We spent just one hour here but if I was visiting independently, I’d probably have spent between two and three exploring this lovely Bali hidden gem.
For a total contrast to the enormous Besakih Temple site, don’t miss this Kehen Temple. You won’t find this on many Southeast Asia bucket lists but, for me, the magic of Bali is in the sleepy villages where local life is at its peak.
Cempaga village is one of the best locations for finding hidden places in Bali. As I watched a local woman light incense while presenting an offering to the gods, I slowly breathed out. This was the Southeast Asia I’d first fallen in love with. Not the tourist offices nor the other backpackers but access to authentic, real life.
Kehen Temple is an unusual one, our guide told us. Staring at the temple to work out what he meant, we noticed some blue terracotta plates built into the walls. These are apparently Chinese ceramics gifted to the village as a celebration of diplomatic relations between the countries.
Entrance is 30,000 IDR and you can spend a quick 30 minutes exploring.
Bukit Jambul Viewpoint
The magic of Bali is alive and well in the rice terraces. As we started reaching higher elevations en route to Besakih, the countryside became even more beautiful than usual. We stopped at Bukit Jamal Viewpoint which is somewhere you should visit if you have a chance. The green landscape stretches out as far as the eye can see.
This is a free place to get off the beaten track in Bali. You can stop to spend a few minutes snapping photos.
Penglipuran Traditional Village
This preserved village is a hidden gem in Bali and a learning experience for tourists: somewhere they can experience a traditional Balinese lifestyle minus modern influences. This now makes it atypical as most Balinese settlements are developing with the rest of the world, but it’s an interesting stop.
We ventured inside a traditional Indonesian bamboo house, simple and compact with just the most basic living facilities. Walking through the sleepy streets scattered with colourful offerings to the gods, I felt we’d really got off the beaten track in Bali. We wandered up to the bamboo forest which was dense and blocked out all daylight.
Entrance is 30,000 IDR and you’ll want to spend 1-2 hours visiting.
Related activity: full-day tour to Penglipuran village and bamboo forest
Subak Juwuk Manis Rice Fields
Tegalalang might immediately come to mind when you think about Bali rice fields. But at the end of a little side road in downtown Ubud lies the magical Subak Juwuk Manis Rice Fields. They are indeed a Bali hidden gem since you won’t have to share the rice fields with a hoard of tourists or worry about motorbikes getting in the way of your peaceful walk.
It’s best to visit in the late afternoon and there are a few cafes where you can relax and enjoy the sunset with a coconut in hand, for example, Sweet Orange Warung. Once you’ve explored the rice paddies, you can retrace your steps or exit through Jalan Kajeng.
From Ubud Art Market, walk towards Saraswati Temple until you see a wooden sign reading Subak Juwuk Manis (Magical Rice Fields in Ubud). Many people miss the turning to this charming hidden place in Bali; don’t do the same.
Entry submitted by Stephanie from Let’s Venture Out.
Amed is a collection of fishing villages stretching for 10km along the east coast of Bali. Depending on which part you visit, there may be a few other tourists around, but you may be lucky and have the place to yourselves.
There are two big draws to this quiet area of Bali, the first being the volcanic black sand beaches. A far cry from the usual beaches in Bali, the black sand is stunning, especially set against the backdrop of Mount Agung. If you’re looking to get off the beaten track in Bali and experience great scenery, won’t be disappointed.
Another main reason to visit Amed is the amazing scuba diving, There are a heap of great dive sites for all skill levels including beginner. Bunutan Point is a gentle drift dive alive with colourful corals, sponges and fish. At nearby Tulamben, you’ll find the famous U.S.A.T Liberty wreck which can be accessed directly from the shoreline and is shallow enough to see from the surface.
Other than the stunning scenery and epic diving, Amed as an area is tranquil and relaxing: the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the more popular tourist areas in Bali.
Entry submitted by Sophie from Australian Coffee Lovers.
Sidemen is undoubtedly one of the most attractive and relaxing hidden gems in Bali. Located in East Bali, it’s often described as Ubud 20 years ago, which certainly seems the way when you visit. Sidemen is significantly quieter than Ubud and arguably even more breathtaking. This beautiful area of Bali is bursting with wonderful rice fields and serene scenery.
You can take a walking tour of the rice paddies with a farmer to learn about the process and snap some beautiful photos along the way. You can also take a bike ride throughout the village and stop by Jembatan Kuning Tukad Yeh Unda bridge for unrivalled countryside views.
Another popular activity is the Sidemen Swing which hangs between coconuts trees on top of a hill, offering spectacular views of the river, rice fields, and Mount Agung.
Sidemen is a perfect place if you want to relax in the true Bali surrounded by epic beauty. You can easily reach Sidemen via your own moped or by hiring a driver.
Entry submitted by Bradley of Dream Big, Travel Far.
Candidasa is an off the beaten path Bali destination perfect for avid divers. It provides easy access to the island’s best dive sites and an authentic Balinese experience that you won’t find in major tourist towns in Bali.
The coral reef just off the coast of Candidasa is bursting with marine life including Manta Rays and sharks. It’s one of the best dive sites in Bali with options for all levels of ability. More advanced divers can challenge themselves to drift dives and wreck dives whereas newbies will be comfortable with shallow reef dives close to shore.
Candidasa is located just 2 hours from the international airport in Kuta. However, due to its small size, accommodation options in this part of Bali are quite limited. Book early if you do decide to visit.
Entry submitted by sustainable travel bloggers Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel.
Bali hidden gems – South Bali
The influx of tourism in Bali has seen a number of local communities focus more heavily on eco-living and organic farming. One of the best hidden gems in Bali for eco-conscious travellers is the Green Village. This community venture has fully embraced this style of living by immersing sustainable practices into everything they do.
Perched on the Ayung River, the Green Village consists of over 50 modern-designed structures, built entirely out of bamboo. The village is surrounded by the lush green Balinese jungle and includes a school, an eco-resort, an organic farm, a bamboo factory and event spaces.
Tourists are invited to visit the Green Village and learn first-hand about the sustainable living practices adopted by this community. During the tour, you’ll wander around the village learning about how bamboo is harvested and assembled to create the beautiful structures home to many locals and rented out to international visitors. Tours must be booked in advance.
Just a short drive from many of the main tourist areas, this is the perfect place to get off the beaten path in Bali. If you’re staying in Ubud, Kuta, Seminyak or Canggu, Green Village is under 1-hour drive away. It’s best to hire an air-conditioned vehicle and driver to get you there. Alternatively, you could opt to stay a night in one of Green Village’s bamboo villas and wake up in the jungle.
Entry submitted by Amanda from Bucket List Seekers.
If you want to explore hidden places in Bali, checking out Taman Festival Bali is a must. Taman Festival Bali was once primed to be a million-dollar theme park with carnival rides and laser beam light shows.
Just as the park operators were about to cut the red ribbon and showcase its opening, an economic crisis occurred and the park investors went bankrupt. Taman Festival Bali quickly fell into a state of disrepair, with the jungle reclaiming Taman Festival Bali as its own.
Today, you can visit the old park and wander through dilapidated buildings covered in street art. Vines wrap around old pillars and creep up building walls.
Because the park is thought to be haunted, you will rarely find a crowd. The broken glass, art pieces up the walls, and lush foliage in the park have created a strange yet intriguing vibe you cannot find elsewhere in Bali. Taman Festival Bali is found in northern Sanur, set back from the beach.
Entry submitted by Chantae from Chantae Was Here.
Hidden gems – North Bali
Pemuteran is a seaside village on the North Coast of Bali. It also happens to be one of the few destinations in Bali that offers an authentic local feel but still has a decent amount of amenities and accommodations to suit any budget.
One of the top Pemuteran’s tourist attractions is Bio Rock, an underwater coral growth project a few metres from the coast. But the most popular activity is a day trip to Menjangan Island. A small island just off Pemuteran’s coast, Menjangan is home to deers that swim over from mainland Bali in spring.
However, the real beauty is below the surface with its vibrant marine life colourful corals covering the seabed.
Although Pemuteran is over three hours’ drive from Kuta or Denpasar, it is the most scenic ride in Bali. There are two options which both include renting a car with a driver for the day. Either take the scenic route along Jalan Antosari, a three-hour drive along tumbling rice fields surrounded by tropical jungle and Balinese villages. Alternatively, take the main road that passes by some of Bali’s most popular attractions.
Entry submitted by Jacqueline from The Travel Deck.
Ghost Palace Abandoned Hotel
The Ghost Palace Hotel is without doubt one of the weirdest and most wonderful hidden places in Bali, set within the abandoned Bedugul Taman Hotel. For those brave enough to enter this haunted hotel and explore, it’s a 45-minute drive from Canggu. When you arrive, you might need to tip the security guard to get in. See it as an informal entrance fee or a bribe.
There are a couple of theories as to why the massive luxury hotel was abandoned before it was finished. The first theory is that the hotel is haunted by the ghosts of several workers who died during the construction of the hotel. Locals supposedly shun the site and taxi drivers refuse to enter the grounds because of the evil spirits lurking in the hotel.
The second theory is that Tommy Suharto, the son of the President at the time, was building the property in the 1990s as an investment project. Tommy was sent to prison in 2002 for ordering the assassination of a judge who had been responsible for convicting him of drug charges in a previous case. Once Suharto went to Jail in 2002, the building project ceased as funding and leadership went amiss.
Today, the Ghost Palace is covered in vines, bushes, trees and moss. The elegant tile floors are now damaged and dirty. The walls are covered in spider webs and vines and if you are super adventurous, you can explore the cellar which is strangely filled with sand. This really is Bali off the beaten track!
Entry submitted by Jackson from Journey Era.
Munduk is a hidden gem in Bali that many people fail to add to their list. The region is covered in lush greenery with fewer tourists than the bustling streets of Ubud.
Wanagiri Hidden Hills in Munduk have amazing photo opportunities and an abundance of manmade scenic points with bird nests and lesser-visited Bali swings. However, the main attraction of Munduk is the array of stunning waterfalls it has to offer.
Some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Munduk include Sekumpul Waterfall and Kroya Waterfall. It’s 100% worth getting off the beaten path in Bali to have these refreshing pools to yourself.
Munduk is situated in North Bali within the mountains. Travelling from Ubud will take you around two hours with a jaw-dropping scenic ride, winding through the mountains. You will even come across wild monkeys being cheeky on the side of the roads.
Entry submitted by Kerrie & Woody of Just Go Travelling.
Bali hidden gems – secret waterfalls
Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall
Banya Wana Amertha Waterfall is a real hidden gem of Bali. It is one of four incredibly picturesque waterfalls in North Bali, nestled in a valley in the Sukasada region.
While all four are amazing, Banya Wana Amertha is the most scenic. The water flows down mossy rocks and into a small pool of water in which you can sit and relax. Furthermore, it’s possible to swim at the other waterfalls. As it’s rather off the beaten track in Bali, you might end up having the entire waterfall for yourself during all hours of the day.
The area around the waterfall is full of lush green trees and tropical flowers. There are also several wooden bridges and sitting areas that allow you to picnic in the area.
Getting to the waterfalls requires a short hike down a hill and through the trees. It’s a relaxing walk with only the sound of animals and running water in the distance. The hike back to the parking lot requires a moderate level of fitness.
The best way to get to Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall is to hire a scooter or a private driver. The ride from Canggu is about 2 hours and 1.5 hours from Ubud. It’s close to other very popular waterfalls so the visits can be combined.
Entry submitted by Steph from A Nomad’s Passport.
Taman Beji Griya Waterfall
A short drive from Ubud, this lesser-visited waterpark is perfect for getting off the beaten track in Bali. For a small entrance fee, a local woman will supply you with a sarong to wear down to the purification waterfall. There are lockers if you need them.
Walking down to the waterfall area is a beautiful sight. One option is to let a Balinese local guide you through a purification ceremony. They can then explain each part of the ceremony and lead you down past the waterfall to the hidden canyon. The light filtering from above makes this a magic place to clear one’s mind.
There are a few steps down to the river so this waterfall is not suitable for wheelchairs and younger children who may find the steps too steep and slippery. To visit the waterfall, you will need a driver or a motorbike. It’s best visited from Ubud which is a 25-minute drive away.
Located in the mountainous Munduk village, Red Coral Waterfall (also called Munduk waterfall) is somewhere to truly get off the beaten path in Bali. The sound of this single stream waterfall echoing off the encircling lush green rocks will transport you to a spiritual place in your mind.
If this isn’t persuasive enough, just picture your tiny self standing unobstructed, away from the chatter with no one in between you and this beauty!
This waterfall is an easy 20-minute hike downwards from across the road, besides the parking lot marked as ‘Munduk Waterfall Parking’ on Google Maps. The entrance fee for this uncrowded scenic spot is 20,000 IDR.
These falls are around 1-2 hours away from the tourist hubs of Ubud and Seminyak, so why not make your trip worthwhile and check out these other must visit hidden gems in Bali while in the area?
Submitted by Harshi and Aman from Trot.World.
I hope you liked these Bali hidden places!
Check out my other Bali & Asia posts:
- The ultimate Bali 2 week itinerary
- The 10 best Balinese foods to try
- How to spend 2 days in Uluwatu
- 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking route
- 101 Asia backpacking tips
- The ultimate Asia bucket list
- How to spend 3 days in Ubud
- The 20 best things to do in Ubud
- 11 best Ubud warungs
- Where to eat breakfast in Ubud
- Ubud coffee & cafe guide
- Climbing Mount Batur at sunrise
- Guide to visiting Lempuyang Temple
See you next time for more adventures,
Ps. Liked my guide to Bali off the beaten track? Pin it for later!
Bali useful links
Flights – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Stay connected with a Bali SIM card (30 days, 6GB) for pick up at the airport or, for use all around Southeast Asia, an e-sim data plans that doesn’t require delivery or collection. Just scan the QR code.
In my opinion, Lonely Planet offer the best guidebooks. Get the latest Copy of Lonely Planet Bali.
I use Booking.com for accommodation. They have the best range of hotels and self-catering apartments, plus you can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
For activities, I use GetYourGuide and Viator as they both have a huge range of affordable tours.
Need travel insurance? I use World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and tips!