The 5 Best, Little-Known Places to Visit in Bali

places to visit in Bali- Balinese temple - Bali - Indonesia
Typical Balinese temple entrance

What springs to mind when you think of Bali?

* Great surfing, heavy drinking binges and wild dance clubs perhaps?

* Over-crowded souvenir-laden sprawl?

* Or perhaps luxurious vacation beach resorts?

That world does exist in a small region of south Bali. But if that’s all you know about Bali, then you’re really missing Bali.

The rest of Bali, the real Bali, is blessed with volcanoes, crater lakes, mountains, hot springs, cold springs, gushing rivers, waterfalls, terraced rice fields, quiet beaches, coral reefs and rural villages.

terraced rice fields -  Bali
Terraced rice fields in central Bali

Central Bali offers scenic mountains with hiking to terraced rice fields, waterfalls and centuries-old trees. Rural coasts are lined with gorgeous coral reefs, empty beaches and stunning views.

Tiny traditional villages are scattered all over the island with local residents going about their daily lives as they have for centuries. Hindu festivals, ceremonies and daily ritual offerings fill people’s lives.

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to experience nature and authentic culture or if you get fed up with ‘tourist-trap Bali’ down south, head out around the island. Find out how amazing the real Bali is.

To that end, here are 10 wonderful places to get you started,†beginning from Bali’s northeast coast and traveling westward.†You’ll need your own transportation to reach most of these places easily, so rent a motorbike or tour the island by†bicycle.

Amed coast - Bali - Indonesia


Amed is an charming coastal region of steep headlands and small beach-lined coves situated on Bali’s far northeast coast. The area is dotted with traditional fishing / farming villages. In the mid 1980s a few low-key resorts began springing up. Since then dozens of small boutique resorts have arrived.

Fortunately, the resorts all blend into Amed’s traditional villages rather than taking over. Amed still looks, feels and acts like a region of traditional Balinese villages.

Amed is best suited for relaxing and enjoying nature. Just offshore are superb coral reefs for snorkeling and diving. Visitors can go sailing and fishing on traditional Balinese outriggers. Suntan on quiet beaches. Hike the many trails that meander through Amed’s hills. Get a massage on the beach or poolside from village women.

Location: Bali’s far northeast coast

Main attractions:†traditional†fishing villages, boutique resorts, beaches, coral reefs, †hiking, sailing

Cost: lowest priced rooms start at 150,000 ñ 200.000 rp ($16-22 US)

Natural Hot Springs at Banjar- Bali
Lash enjoying natural hot springs at Banjar village- north Bali

Hot Springs in a Jungle

Have you ever lounged in a hot springs in a forest or jungle? If so, you already know how wonderful it is. If not, Bali has a great hot spring to get you started.

The hot springs are set on a mountainside in dense tropical forest near the tiny village of Banjar, 10 km west of Lovina on Bali’s north coast. Several large stone pools have been built in landscaped gardens under the forest.

In evenings, the pools are extremely popular with locals who arrive in hordes with their families. Children run, play, jump, scream and generally turn it into a playground. If you prefer a more solitary, relaxing experience, visit in mornings or midday.

Alternatively, there’s a private pool area that few people know about, where you can relax in a hot jacuzzi under trees in complete solitude. After entering the hot springs, just follow signs for ‘spa and massage’ across a wooden bridge. You’ll suddenly leave all the noise and commotion behind.

Location: Banjar village, turn-off about 10 km west of Lovina, then about 2 km south to Banjar.

Main attractions: hot springs set in a mountainside jungle

Cost: 5000 rp / additional 10,000 rp to enter the private ‘spa’ pools. ( $0.50 / $1 US)

Munduk - north central Bali
Munduk – north central Bali


If you like hiking in mountains and admiring sweeping views of ridges, valleys, and terraced rice fields, then head to Munduk in north central Bali. Munduk is a typical Balinese mountain village that has opened a few home stays and hotels for tourists.

Munduk caught on first with French tourists and is now a thriving mountain ‘retreat’ for visitors who want to escape crowds, enjoy Munduk’s cooler air and hike. July-September can get a bit crowded, but other during months Munduk is practically empty, save for local inhabitants.

Munduk still retains its traditional village vibe. It’s primarily comprised of local residents, their homes, several little shops and local eateries set on top of a steep ridge line. Sprinkled in between are various small hotels and guest houses catering to western visitors.

The Munduk region offer many hiking options- to terraced rice fields, along steep ridges, to waterfalls, and even to a huge banyan tree. Hotels provide guests with a basic hand-drawn map showing trails, roads and attractions. Visitors can either venture out on their own, map in hand, or hire a guide to lead them.

Location: Munduk is located about 15 up a winding mountain road from Seririt city on Bali’s north coast. Seririt is about 10 km west of Lovina and 20 km west of Singaraja city.

Main attractions: mountain scenery, cool air, hiking, waterfalls, terraced rice fields, Banyan tree

Costs: budget rooms start from 100,000 rp ($11 US)

Lake Buyan- Bali - Indonesia
Lake Buyan from crater rim in Bali’s central volcanic mountains

Crater Rim Overlooking Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan

The most popular volcano and crater rim in Bali is Mt. Batur. Quite unfortunately, most of the crater rim is lined with unattractive houses, shops, tourist restaurants and hotels. Tourists who arrive on the main routes will be stopped and charged an admission fee to enter the area. In addition, the local inhabitants are notoriously pushy, even among Balinese. Simply put, Mt. Batur has become a tourist trap.

A much quieter, undeveloped and lesser-known crater rim nearby offers even more spectacular views that Batur and without the hassles. It’s located west of Mt. Batur at the volcanic region containing Lake Bratan and Bedugul town.

Truth be told, Lake Bratan and Bedugul are also swamped with tourists. However, just a few km northwest of Lake Bratan, across the floor of that vast crater, a road switchbacks up onto the crater rim’s north side. From there, the main road heads steeply downhill to Bali’s north coast.

But another road turns west and undulates along the top for over 10 km, offering astounding views to Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan, located way down below.

Scattered along that crater rim drive are many superb look-out points. A few shops and restaurants have set up tables on the edge of the crater. Visitors can stop simply to admire the views or to drink Balinese coffee or get a meal.

Incidentally, the crater rim is about 5 km north of Munduk village.

Location: central Bali. Can be accessed from either south or north Bali. ~ 25 km south of Singaraja and Seririt, ~5 km from Munduk, ~ 3-hour drive from south Bali

Main attractions: stunning crater lake views

Cost: free

rice fields - Negara-  Bali
Rice fields near Negara- southwest Bali

Rice Fields South of Negara City

Negara is a small city in southwest Bali. Very few western tourists visit. Negara city itself has few charms, but just outside of town a vast, fertile rice-growing region runs south from Negara to the sea.

Huge tracts of flat rice fields spread out for several km in every direction. Inland, they’re backed by Bali Barat Mountains. Several paved country roads and unpaved dirt tracks weave around the rice fields.

Depending on which season you visit, you might observe field workers plowing with water buffalo, planting young rice shoots by hand in long rows, cutting rice with machetes, or bundling stalks up in huge bales.

The area is so beautiful and filled with unusual sights that it’s worth a few day’s exploration. Just take any road leading south from Negara and simply wind your way through rice fields and small villages by bicycle or scooter until your eventually reach the sea.

Negara city has many small hotels catering mostly to passing Indonesian businessmen and truck drivers. Westerners are also welcome to stay. Try it out. Staying in a predominantly Indonesian hotel, as opposed to a tourist hotel, is a unique experience in itself.

Location: Negara city is located in far southwest Bali, about 3 hours’ drive from Denpasar / Kuta / Sanur

Main attractions: gorgeous rice fields and other ‘surprises’ in the area

Costs: Hotels range from 100,000 rp and up. Explorations on your own are free, of course.


You might enjoy reading Dave’s impressions of †Kuta, Bali’s main tourist trap, and his explorations inland when he visited Bali a few years back.


Which of these places would you most like to visit?†

Do you have any other favorite places in Bali?†


About the Author:  Lash, an expat American who’s been traveling the world solo since 1998, immerses herself in nature, culture and the arts of countries she visits. She aims to inspire others to follow their dreams by sharing her cultural insights, narrative adventure tales, travel tips and photos at LashWorldTour.

Lash is the author of two adventuring guidebooks to Bali, which are available in 3 eBook formats on LashWorldTour and in print on Amazon: Hiking in Bali / Cycling Bali

Catch up with Lash on Facebook or Twitter


  1. says

    This post brought back great memories of my recent month in Bali. Agreed–a couple days of the south beaches were plenty. Leaving the south, one finds the real paradise. NW corner of Bali also has awesome snorkeling and diving. And the beautiful sea temples further west get zilch tourist traffic. A few days in the Gili Islands will take you to much less crowded beaches as well. There is so much more to Bali.

  2. says

    Hi Philip.
    Great to hear other travelers also explore the more remote areas of Bali!
    I agree with your suggestions. Pemuteran and Mengagan Island in NW Bali have great snorkeling and diving. And then temples at Penulisan are interesting and with very few tourists. Good calls!

    Gili’s are great, too, but part of Lombok.

    Thanks for reading and contributing! cheers, Lash

  3. says

    Love this! When I was in Bali, it was only for a few days, and we didn’t get to explore that much. If I ever go back, I am definitely going to do more off-the-beaten path type excursions like you did.

  4. says

    Hi Alexa,

    Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it. :)
    Well, I’m glad you got to visit Bali, even if only for a few days.
    Yes, if you go back, definitely check out the island. It’s soooo amazing!
    cheers, Lash

  5. says

    Hi Tammy,

    Wow, this is perfect!

    I”m not sure why the general image of Bali is that it’s sooo over-developed and touristy. there IS that in Bali down south, but there’s so much more. I always wonder why more people don’t know about all the other stuff? That’s what I’m setting out to show people.

    Glad to hear I’ve opened your eyes to some of Bali other charms (and there are many, many more!) :)) Yes, please go enjoy Bali.

    cheers, Lash

  6. Natalie Jones says

    Hey great pictures and advice, I’ve never been to Bali but I’d love to experience it in the way you portray it :)

  7. Nicole says

    If we are honeymooning in Seminyak , is it still possible to tour, or rent a motor bike to see th rest of the island?
    Where can we learn how to surf.
    Fun, casual and affordable places to hang out, eat and have drinks?
    Lastly, Are there accessible beaches in/near seminyak or would we have to travel? I’d love to have a few times at the beach and possibly a natural hot spring.

    Thank you

    • says

      Yes, of course you can book tours to other parts of the island from shops in Seminyak (or through your hotel), and the same goes for renting motorbikes, booking surf lessons (which is popular on Kuta Beach).

      Seminyak is on the beach. How far away you are depends on the location of your hotel. Beachfront hotels are of course more expensive than the ones located a few blocks inland.

  8. Viki says

    I was wondering about the best way to see all of this great wilderness without renting a scooter or car. I love the postings here and have been to Kuta and Ubud. I plan on returning to Ubud in September and do not like to drive. Could I get a taxi from Ubud and get dropped off in Munduk and then get another taxi when I am ready to leave to go to Amed, etc. Is this a good option? Thanks, Viki and Jay

  9. Anupama Kannan says

    Hi Lash,
    I want to take my mum(who is turning 75) to Bali for 5-6 days.
    We would love to go where we could avoid the hordes and have some peace along with sampling all that Bali has to offer.
    Please give me some suggestions. I really need help!!

  10. says

    Hey, great post .. thanks. I am due to start my backpacking adventures in Bali, in 4 weeks time, and have given Bali 2 weeks. I thought it may have been overkill, as I too was thinking of tourist tack and wild parties, but you’ve given me hope that there is more to discover. Looking forward to it!

  11. says

    Hi, thank you so much for writing this insightful article. We Teach English As A Foreign Language (TEFL) courses in Bali and I will share this article with our students who are here for the course. Im sure they will find it as useful as I did! Cheers.

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