Secret spots in Bali – 7 Best places to visit in Bali that are not touristy
18th September 2019
Having lived in Bali for about 6 months, we found the best non-touristy places to visit there and amazing secret spots in Bali to get the relaxed vibe you always wanted.
After indulging in the rural scenes on Mt. Bromo and Probolinggo East Java for almost a month and seeing beyond its touristic side, I was excited to see more of authentic Indonesian culture. I was looking forward to more locally made nasi goreng, spicy mie gorengs, women and men chatting outside their intricately adorned gates, those mini rituals that they do every day, and kids flying their kites on vast rice fields.
The reality in South Bali
Imagine my horror when we arrived in Seminyak and found massive hordes of tourists walking about narrow streets lined with western shops. This wasn’t exactly what I was hoping to see.
We were already keen on going away to nearby islands such as Lombok and Nusa Penida but we chose to stay in Bali.
We wanted to see the real Bali that is
somehow relatively devoid of western influence. Luckily, in the next two months
of exploring Bali, we found some of the most scenic routes, quaint and
traditional villages and less crowded viewpoints to very stunning landscapes.
Here are some of the secret spots in Bali – the best places to visit in Bali that are not touristy.
Amed is a small fishing town located on the east of Bali. A cliff in Amed town offers an astounding view of Mount Agung at the background and the coast down below lined with black sand beach and the water so clear you can see the corals from above the cliff.
Amed is known for the dive spots close to it. The town has a number of dive shops, accommodations, and restaurants. The road from the east to Amed is very scenic with views of Mount Agung along the way, and the cliffs that look out on plains and the sea is very stunning. Although it sees hundreds of tourists, it is still much quieter and laid back than Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu on the west coast of Bali.
Jati Luwih Rice Terraces
Perhaps the best rice terraces in all of Bali (maybe in all of Indonesia), the one in Jati Luwih deserves a visit from anyone who wants to have the most relaxed, picturesque, and quiet walk and bike ride through the rice terraces.
Jati luwih rice terraces cover most of the upland villages of the same name, which is 600 hectares big and follows the terrain of the slopes of Mount Batukaru. With its huge area, you can definitely have your own quiet hike and crowd-less photography of the verdant rice terraces that many landscape photographers want to capture.
As one of the best places to visit in Bali that are not touristy, Jati Luwih definitely beats Tegelalang Rice Terraces on the south of Bali in both beauty and tranquility. The Rice Terraces is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perhaps, it also helped that before you enter the village, the guards collect 80,000 rupiah to help preserve Jati Luwih.
Munduk village is located on the cool highlands of Central Bali and is a perfect getaway from the heat of the south. The road to Munduk is long and windy but also offers a great view of Lake Bayan along the way and the vast thick forest below when going uphill.
Unbeknownst to plenty of tourists, the village is a good vantage point where you can see the sunrise on the east and set on the west.
The village also has something to give to the adventurous ones – hike its trail through the forest, or simply take a bike and get lost to the many small roads that can go up the hill and lead you to smaller villages. A few waterfalls are also scattered in Munduk. This is definitely one of the best places to visit in Bali that are not touristy. You’ll feel Balinese culture here.
Danau Bayan and Danau Tamblingan Twin Lakes
We wanted to go to Ulun Danu, the very popular water temple in Central Bali so I had set the location for Ulun Danu in our Map app. Little did we know that we’ll be led to one of the best secret spots in Bali.
It turns out that there was another Ulun Danu temple, and although it’s not exactly on the lake, it is located off Lake Bayan, another lake just a few kilometers from the more popular Ulun Danu Water Temple in Lake Beratan. There were only the two of us at the temple that time.
Then, we decided to go around the lake. Driving uphill, you’ll be rewarded with the amazing view of the lake. Just further ahead is another lake, the Lake Tamblingan – together they are called the Twin Lakes. We took a stop at one of the places at the cliff where you can have food and drinks. The view is just spectacular. The Lakes are divided by just a thin strip of land with some vegetation. The weather is cool, which is nice after a long drive from the south.
Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang
The Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang in Sukawati really lives up to its name. We couldn’t believe our map when it led us to an unassuming village in a busy town! Then we saw small signs that lead to the canyon, which turns out to be located deep into the village where you have to descend through a passageway. It is truly one of the secret spots in Bali.
Get ready to climb rocks, wade through up to waist-deep pools (depending on the weather), and lots of hiking. The rock wall is created by the water erosion from thousands of years ago leaving a nicely carved wall now covered with some moss that gives it charming colors.
The canyon has three parts with different levels of difficulty and so it is recommended to get a guide for a minimal fee of 100,000 each. The hike can last for hours. This is a great place for the adventurous ones who want to escape crowded Bali.
Sidemen is a quaint little village in the southwest of Bali that is still relatively unspoiled. It is an ideal place to experience what Bali is really like without the heavy influence of tourism.
We drove around the villages to see the rice terraces and it was very relaxing and amazing to see the people just going about their usual life. People tend to their rice fields, some attending a local ceremony, the kids were playing at the river, and the local adults were most accommodating.
This is also where you’ll find some traditional weaving practices that you can witness. Some parts of Sidemen also offer a great view of Mount Agung. The village is a good set off point for Mount Agung hikers.
Tulamben town seems like a totally different world than the rest of Bali. Located on the east coast, just north of Amed, Tulamben is dry and arid that somehow adds charm to the relatively quiet town. It kind of reminds me of the Wild West in the USA only there’s the towering Mount Agung at the background.
Tulamben is popular to divers for its rich and diverse marine life. However, the most popular dive spot is the Liberty Shipwreck, which is just 25 meters offshore and can be reached at 3-30 meters deep. The ship, which was torpedoed by the Japanese in the 1940’s, is great for beginners and experienced divers alike.
Like Amed, Tulamben has a laidback atmosphere, and it is a great escape from the very crowded hot spots in southern Bali.
There you have it, our best non-touristy places to visit in places in Bali. We just got tired of going to the same places where hundreds of tourists go to at the same time.
So, if you’re looking for a quiet time to really appreciate Bali for what it is, its people, its natural beauty, then this list of secret spots in Bali is for you.
We also want to emphasize that since most of the places on the list are relatively devoid of western influence, we urge everyone to travel responsibly, respect the locals, wear proper clothes, don’t leave anything but footprints and take nothing but memories when hiking or going around (this cliché is still very much applicable, yes!). Enjoy your travels.