One of the things I love the most about traveling is finding off-the-beaten-path places that aren’t part of the usual tourist route.
Inspired by the recent success of one of our top-performing articles about unusual places in Thailand, I decided to go on a hunt to find the most unusual places in Bali, Indonesia.
While the island of Bali is extremely popular amongst tourists, there are still some pretty sweet places that you that are pretty unusual. From abandoned airplanes to spectacular fire shows, here are a few things to add to your things to do in Bali list.
- Witness the Majestic Blow Hole, Nusa Dua
- Explore all the Abandoned Airplanes in Bali
- Take Cooking Lessons
- Snorkel Through the Underwater Temple Garden in Nusa Lembongan
- Visit the Skulls at the Trunyan Cementary
- Wander Around the Rugged Tunnel Cliffs in Nusa Penida
- Go Scuba Diving
- Visit the Unique Car Temple in Nusa Penida
- Watch the Kecak Fire Show in Uluwatu
- Go Snorkeling with Manta Rays
- Transport Around Bali
- Safety in Bali
Witness the Majestic Blow Hole, Nusa Dua
While this attraction is pretty popular and is recommended as a highlight when in Nusa Dua, I still know a few people who have never heard about this natural phenomenon.
Surrounded by steep jagged cliffs, there is a footpath leading along the cliff face on one side of the rocks where visitors can feel the sheer force of mother nature as water blows high up to the sky due to the strong surge of water due to the waves and currents.
The best time to go see this natural phenomenon is during high tide as the water is at its highest and the splash is strongest. Sometimes, the area is closed, especially if the waves are too big. Do note that the waves and the splash can be rather unpredictable so unless you have a waterproof camera, be a bit cautious.
How to Get There: From Nusa Dua Beach, it is possible to walk towards the blowhole. The stroll is pleasant and it takes you about 30 minutes. Located in the Southern Peninsula, this place is easily accessible by car or motorbike. | Nusa Due Blow Hole Location
Explore all the Abandoned Airplanes in Bali
For some weird reason, Bali has quite a few abandoned airplanes that are free to explore. For urban travelers who are looking for something besides basking in one of Bali’s many beaches, you can literally rent a motorbike and set off on a hunt to find all these abandoned aircrafts.
From large commercial jets like Boeing 737, these planes were rumored to be purchased with the aim to turn them into tourist attractions only to be later on abandoned.
It pays to have a sim card in Bali if you plan on visiting these places so you can navigate with ease!
Boeing 737 Kuta
Located in the Southern part of Kuta, there is an abandoned plane sitting about 500 meters from Benoa Square. No one really knows why this plane is there but you can definitely snap a few photos of it from afar. | Location of abandoned airplane in Kuta
Airplane by the Abandoned Gate 88 Mall
What used to be the setting of a futuristic mall with grand plans of a spa, restaurants, and a sky bar, this now-abandoned gate 88 mall is where you can find yet another airplane parked right on top of the rooftop bar.
When traveling from Canggu to Denpasar, you can easily spot this plane which now just serves as a jarring reminder of the mall’s failure. Nowadays, there are a few stores and commercial places up for rent in the complex. |Location of the abandoned airplane by gate 88 mall
Boeing 737 in the Bukit Peninsula
Probably the most popular, this abandoned airplane is commonly seen all over Instagram. Located 5-minutes away from Pandawa beach, the plane is located on a private property so you can’t technically go close to it. However, there are containers or areas around it which you can scale to take aerial images of the plane. | Location of the abandoned airplane by the Bukit Peninsula
Editor’s Note: Looking for the Best Villas in Bali? Here are our top picks!
Take Cooking Lessons
While going on cooking classes isn’t too unusual when traveling, we do love some of the unusual recipes and ingredients used in traditional Indonesian fares. We recommend checking out Cookly which has loads of cooking classes in Indonesia.
Snorkel Through the Underwater Temple Garden in Nusa Lembongan
During one of our most recent trips to Nusa Lembongan and Penida, we spent an afternoon snorkeling through the underwater temple garden which has a number of unique Buddha statues that have been submerged. This snorkeling trip from Bali will take you to the best spots on the island!
Over the years, these statues have become home to a variety of coral life and fish, making the entire experience even more exciting. While some people opt to dive the area, you can most definitely just snorkel it as well (make sure you get fins!).
I suggest making this part of your Nusa islands itinerary when you visit the islands of Penida and Lembongan as it is easily accessible from land.
How to Get There: There are daily boats from Sanur or Padang Bai to the islands of Nusa Lembongan or Penida. We hired a local tour operator and asked him to take us to the famous manta ray point near Penida and the underwater temple garden in Nusa Lembongan.
Visit the Skulls at the Trunyan Cementary
Located in by the eastern shore of Mt. Batur, you will find the mountainous village of Trunyan which has become popular due to their more than unique burial rituals. In this ancient tribe, people weren’t buried.
Instead, their bodies were placed in open bamboo cages and were left to rot under a large Banyan Tree whose smell would mask the decaying bodies. Once the flesh from the bodies have decayed, the skulls would go through a cleaning ritual and would then be placed at the bottom of the tree to create a shrine.
While there are now mixed reviews about visiting the place (apparently, the locals have started offering their services as tour guides), when we went a couple of years back it was still an interesting attraction of Bali that we found completely unusual.
How to Get There: You can either hire a motorbike and include this in your itinerary for exploring a few of the lesser known parts of Bali or you can arrange for a car to take you there.
While the place is interesting, I would combine with a few other places along the way to make the entire trip worthwhile. | Location on the Trunyan Cementary
Editor’s Note: Heading to Bali? Don’t forget to check out our Bali Packing List
Wander Around the Rugged Tunnel Cliffs in Nusa Penida
While Bali is known for its wavy shoreline, the cliffside views in Nusa Penida takes it to the next level as you see underground tunnels carved from years of erosion and wave bashing. Pasih Uug Beach or Broken Beach is an impressive structure showing unique tunnel cliffs.
Unfortunately, we went during high tide so we weren’t able to see as much of the tunnels as we would have liked but we saw glimpses of it as the tides washed the water in and out.
How to Get There: As mentioned, there are daily boats from Sanur or Padang Bai port heading to Nusa Penida. As soon as you get to Nusa Penida, you will need to rent a scooter to get around the many sights and hidden beaches. Alternatively, you can also go on this Nusa Penida tour from Bali.
Related: Best Beaches in Indonesia
Go Scuba Diving
One of the reasons why we love Bali so much is due to its diverse landscape- both on top and underwater! If you are looking to explore a more unusual side of Bali, we recommend a day (or two) of scuba diving, exploring some of its best reefs.
Check out this article on the best scuba diving in Indonesia for more details!
Visit the Unique Car Temple in Nusa Penida
After you’ve explored the rugged cliffs in Nusa Penida, another interesting stop to add to your list is the unique car temple called Pura Paluang. While there are many places of worship around Bali, this one is pretty unique because instead of the usual shrines, they have two stone cars instead.
While this place has been frequented by both locals and tourists alike, it is still a place of worship so make sure you cover up, especially when there are locals in the area just as a sign of respect.
Watch the Kecak Fire Show in Uluwatu
Now, bear with me on this one. While this activity is already pretty popular, I can’t even begin describing the number of people who ask me what a Kecak show is. Easily put, these cultural dances is a great way to get to know the Balinese culture and is something we recommend people doing while in Bali.
While you can find Kecak shows all over Bali, the one in Uluwatu is our recommendation of choice due to the insanely scenic views that you get. Check out this Uluwatu Kecak and Temple tour for those that want to save time.
The show is done in their natural amphitheater which overlooks the entire ocean, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset. The only thing we warn you about is to stay clear of the pesky monkeys who are notorious for grabbing sunglasses, water bottles, and other loose items of clothing.
How to Get There: You can easily reach Uluwatu temple by motorbike or by renting a car or a driver. While there are loads of tours offering this, you can most definitely opt to do this by yourself and just purchasing tickets by the entrance of the temple. If you want a unique view of this temple be sure to check it out from Uluwatu beach.
Related: Best Villas in Uluwatu
Go Snorkeling with Manta Rays
If you’re looking for a fun day out- check out this tour which takes you straight to Nusa Penida to go snorkeling with manta rays. When we did this, we opted to stay overnight but had to sort out the accommodations and transportation ourselves.
If you are short on time, this manta ray snorkeling tour is pretty convenient as it takes care of all the logistics. Soon, you will find yourself in the water, swimming with some of the most majestic creatures imaginable.
Transport Around Bali
For information on how to get around Bali, we recommend using Bookaway or 12Go website to view bus, boat, and train schedules ahead of time. We’ve used these websites all over Asia and it saves us the hassle of lining up in travel agencies or bus stations.
The Bluebird taxi app is also very useful when in the main towns in Bali. Sadly, other convenient services like Grab are generally frowned upon due to the taxi monopoly. While you can still use it, be very discreet about it as the local taxi drivers aren’t too happy with it.
Safety in Bali
Generally speaking, Bali is pretty safe but petty crime is very common. Unfortunately, we’ve heard of horrible villa break-in stories as well as motorbike accidents.
With that being said though, we’ve always felt safe when we were there. We’ve lived there on and off a couple of times every year and have not let this stop us. We just make sure that when we do go, we take out extra coverage for our electronics.
Hopefully, these attractions have given you ideas on things to do in Bali apart from the usual surf/eat-pray-love sojourn.
One of the things that I love about this place is the fact that no matter how many times I go, there are still new and exciting places left to discover.