5 Free Things to Do in Bali
Here’s our roundup of the best things you can see and enjoy in Bali, without needing to spend even a dollar or Rupiah bill. After all, who doesn’t like keeping the budget down while on holiday? In compiling this list, we wanted to include not only the obvious free attractions and activities available, but also the odd and unusual that you might’ve not even heard about before. Bali’s affordability is one of the factors that make it a favourite holidaying destination and it offers many things to enjoy on the cheap. Getting around might require you to shed just a bit off your travel money, but trips spanning popular beaches to scenic hills and valleys provide great value for budget travellers, as the discoveries on each journey end don’t cost you any extra!
1. Walk the beaches… and malls!
Bali owes part of its fame to its collection of beaches, mostly public and easily accessible. The popular ones, such as Tuban, Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua have additional footpaths that allow for leisure walks at any time of the day, especially sunrise and sunset. The cliff-fringed beaches of the southern limestone Bukit peninsula require much more effort to get to, with stone pathways and crags, but with scenic views and quieter scenes. Kuta Beach is more urbane, with modern malls the likes of Kuta Beachwalk on its northern half and Discovery Shopping Mall on its south – both freely accessible from the beachside and great for window shopping after a day out on the sand.
2. Ride the waves… or go under
While in Bali, surf to your heart’s content. Surf spots abound, and range from sand breaks to challenging (barrelling) reef breaks – there’s a fair share beginners and pros around. Surfers from across the globe bring their own boards and head to these favourite spots as soon as they get out of Ngurah Rai Airport. You can enjoy the underwater wonders of Bali’s colourful coral gardens by snorkelling for free, too.
3. Hike mountains and discover hidden temples
If you’re the adventurous type, Bali’s mountains are free to climb but the more gruelling ones such as Mount Agung and Batukaru, two of the island’s highest, usually require an acknowledgement or permit from the local village community organisation or the forestry department (for safety issues). No extra charges, however. Some lower mountains offer ‘modest’ climbs, such as Mount Lempuyang in Karangasem, East Bali, with its lush forests, hordes of timid grey macaques, and the prized discovery of an ancient temple named after the mountain at its peak.
4. Walk the Campuhan ridge
As one of the best attractions in Ubud, the Campuhan ridge is free to access. It’s also a relatively easy nature trek, with a well beaten trail that leads you into the vast green valley expanses of this highland area. While the hike lets you enjoy cool fresh air and probably the most gorgeous hillside vista in the region, it also allows you to shed off some calories too with its nine-kilometre hill track. Some consider it a must-see and do while in Ubud, just to escape the urban and traffic scenes of town and discover a more pristine side of Bali.
5. Witness the creation of a masterpiece
Make your stop at any of Bali’s major art markets where you can find stall after stall of arts and crafts, curios of different shapes and sizes. Then consider how they are made. A visit to any of Bali’s artistic villages and communities of craftsmen, such as the Pakudui village in Tegallalang, or the gold and silversmith communities of Celuk and Mas, south of Ubud, can be eye-opening where you can see how woodcarvers shape intricate Garuda statues, or how silversmiths craft gemstones into their shiny and sophisticated jewellery pieces. Most workshops allow you to witness the process (in hopes that you buy something in the end… well, that’s all up to you).