7 Cultural Things To Do in Bali, Indonesia
There are more cultural things to do in Bali than you could ever accomplish in a year. Balinese culture is magical, rich, and vibrant. Experiencing festivals, food, performances, and temples are only some of the things to do in Bali. So if you’re planning a trip to this island, you have some hard choices ahead. The good news is that the cultural things to do in Bali are also amazing.Balinese culture is magical, rich, and vibrant.Click To Tweet
Makepung Water Buffalo Races – Thrilling Things to Do in Bali
One of the most unique and exciting things to do in Bali is watching water buffalo races. Despite weighing 1000 pounds or more, the buffalos can reach speeds close to 40 mph. Even the ground trembles with excitement as they thunder around the track. These have got to be the best-dressed buffalos in Bali!
You can find the races at Negara city in western Bali, about 3-4 hours from the airport at Denpasar. The most thrilling races are from June through October, during the series of Grand Prix events. The stakes are high and the local crowds go crazy.
In addition to the races, there is typically a fancy water buffalo parade. Races begin at 730 am and continue for about 5 hours. Unlike most things to do in Bali, admission to the races is free. There are also many food and drink options available at the venue.
From June to October, most races are on Sunday, but the specific schedule and location are subject to change. They use about 8 different racetracks around the city. Your best bet is to rely on local assistance. There are 2 good options.
Contact a local hotel in Negara. Let them know the general dates of your visit and that you want to see a race. It is the biggest event in the Negara, the staff will know the schedule. Book a room for that date. If there are any last minute changes, they will be able to assist you.
Book a day tour from the main tourist areas in southern Bali. These tours include several other cool attractions in western Bali.
Mepantigan Mud Games – Messy Things to Do in Bali
These Mud Games are one of the messiest things to do in Bali, but also one of the most fun. This is your chance to experience the lighter side of Balinese culture. You get to splash around in the mud with locals, playing traditional, silly games. Games include muddy frog catching, muddy tug-of-war, muddy pillow fights, muddy horse racing, muddy massage, and more.
The main event is (family friendly) mud wrestling in rice paddies, but there is also a fire dance, traditional music and drama, and Balinese martial arts demonstrations. Yes, you will get dirty, but they provide you with traditional Balinese clothes to wear during the festivities. Afterward, they have good shower facilities and changing rooms. They even serve a traditional Balinese meal.
Suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Price: $40 USD
Address: 93 Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, 80582
Phone: +62 361 8461934
Balinese Cooking Class – Delicious Things to Do in Bali
Cooking classes are some most popular tourist activities on Bali. The island now has almost as many cooking classes as it does temples! Most classes are very convenient with hotel pickup and drop-off. They usually begin with a morning visit to a neighborhood market, where you learn to shop like a local. Then you’re in for hours of delicious instruction that culminate in grand feast of classic Balinese dishes. Here are 2 of the hottest classes and things to do in Bali.
Balinese Farm Cooking Class
After pick-up, this class begins with a tour of a local market, but it’s only a tour. The special feature of this class is that you get to pick ingredients right from their organic farm. It doesn’t get any fresher than that. After the cooking lesson, you share your feast under their outdoor pavilion and enjoy expansive views of the farm.
Price: $35 USD
Phone: +62 812 3953 4446
Paon Bali Cooking Class
This popular class is in the home Wayan and Puspa, a Balinese couple. It is now the most popular cooking class in Ubud. The hosts are warm, friendly, and great teachers. The setting is intimate. And the food is scrumptious. Make reservations well in advance.
Price: $27 USD
Phone: +62 813-3793-9095
Exotic Ancient Temples – Spiritual Things to Do in Bali
There are literally thousands of temples on the island. With so many, temple visits are one of the unavoidable things to do in Bali. But these numerous temples are also beautiful and inspiring, making them one of the unmissable things to do in Bali. No visit to Bali is complete without checking out some temples. The most spectacular ones are set in areas of stunning natural beauty. These ancient sites are not just historical relics. They are vital and vibrant spiritual centers for their communities even today. These are a just a few of the fantastic.
Tanah Lot Temple
The splendor of Tanah Lot is legendary. It is an ancient Hindu Temple carved into a massive rock that becomes an island at high tide. As if the ancient sea temple weren’t enough, the surrounding cliffs, crashing waves, and endless expanse of Indian Ocean will overwhelm your senses, especially at sunset.
Uluwatu Temple is perched on cliffs, 230 feet above the ocean. The sea views from these dizzying heights are simply staggering. You access the temple via a long paved walkway that stretches along the neighboring cliffs and offers more amazing views. On the way, you will meet hundreds of monkeys who live on these cliffs. At sunset, you can watch a Kecak Fire Dance performance with the temple, ocean, and setting sun as the backdrop. It is magical.
Taman Ayun Temple
Taman Ayun is one of the most intricately beautiful temple complexes on Bali. For centuries, it was exclusively for the king, but now you can enjoy the regal gardens, mote, and fountains that surround the temples.
Traditional Dance and Music – Artistic Things to Do in Bali
Kecak Fire Dance
The centerpiece of a Kecak performance is a male chanting chorus. The haunting vocal music is rhythmic and primal and enthralling. These chants are the soundtrack for a dramatic narrative dance that culminates in the characters launches real fireballs around the stage.
There are several Kecak performances all over Bali. The best and most famous is at Uluwatu, Temple. There are daily shows at sunset. You can also see a sunset Kecak dance at Tanah Lot Temple and at many other locations.
The Barong dance is a religious performance depicting the eternal struggle of good versus evil. The live traditional music and elaborate costumes are some highlights of the show, but the dramatic gestures and facial expressions are the most memorable moments. The dance showcases the rich diversity of Balinese culture, which is a uniquely Balinese version of Hinduism.
The are several great Barong performances every day of the week. The best Barong Dance is at Pemaksan Barong Tegal Tamu, near Batu Bulan village. The show begins at 9:30 am and runs for about an hour.
Address: Jalan Baka, Batubulan, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali
Legong Dance has a long history as regal performance for the king. Like most Balinese dances, slow, delicate hand gestures and over-the-top facial expressions are the signature moments. Young girls wearing ornate costumes and full make-up traditionally perform Legong. The best performances are at the Ubud Palace. There are performances 5 days a week at 7:30 pm.
Price: 75000 rupiah ($5.50USD)
Ubud Palace Address: Jalan Raya Ubud, Ubud, Gianyar, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Traditional Villages – Historical Things to Do in Bali
One of the most charming aspects of Bali is the way ancient art, architecture, and spirituality seamlessly blend with modern innovations. But most visitors also want to glimpse what traditional Balinese life was like. Luckily, there are a few villages that preserve some the old ways and invite us in as guests.
Tenganan is one of the oldest villages on the island, and visiting is one of the richest things to do in Bali. The locals are the remnants of the ancient Aga, Bali’s original indigenous culture. The Aga maintain a millennia-old way of life with many of the same practices, ceremonies, rituals, and rules of their ancestors. Tenganan is located in the far eastern side of Bali. Independent visits to Tenganan are possible, but many tours offer a more immersive, insightful, and rewarding visit.
The Penglipuran Village is much more contemporary than ancient Tenganan, but it offers valuable insight into the traditional Balinese lifestyle. Penglipuran is also more accessible physically and culturally. The village is less than an hour from Ubud, and many residents speak a bit of English. Meeting locals is certainly one of the best cultural things to do in Bali. The best aspect of Penglipuran is meeting real Balinese people and spending time with them in their homes.
Bali’s Rice Terraces – Natural-Cultural Things to do in Bali
Bali’s rice terraces are a cultural treasure as well as a natural one. They are gorgeous, an engineering marvel, and an inspiring tradition. Imagine the genius it took to design them, the effort to build them, and the dedication to maintain them for countless generations. The rice terraces achieve a harmony with nature that is beautiful to behold.
There are several rice terraces in Bali. Tegalalang is most popular and accessible.