Things to Do in Bali
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.
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.
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.
Ubud’s Agung Rai Museum of Art, or ARMA as it’s more popularly known, is a museum, gallery space and cultural center founded by Agung Rai, a Balinese entrepreneur who got exposed to the world of Balinese art while selling souvenirs in Kuta. Inspired by visits to the Puri Lukisan and Neka museums, Agung Rai began collecting paintings to which he felt a spiritual connection, including works by Balinese and international artists.
Today, that collection makes its home in ARMA, a series of traditional buildings in a vibrant garden setting. It is divided thematically into four sections: Kamasan, Pre-war, European Living in Bali and Modern Traditional. Of particular note is the collection by Russian-born German painter Walter Spies, who came to Bali in 1927 and greatly influenced the 1930s Balinese art movement with his primitivism-style paintings. Also on display are works by Raden Saleh, a pioneer of modern Balinese painting.
More Things to Do in Bali
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.
Things to do near Bali
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